Yep, almost time for BM 2018.
Watch this immersive video on the BM experience to get your creative and expressive juices flowing:
Growing exponentially, or exoscaling, as a business leader requires a very special mix of attributes.
I look for the kernel of these attributes in the people I love to work with and help them build up these capabilities to the point where they are humming like a well-tuned engine.
I like to call these the Awake Attributes: because they require you to be awake to your situation and surroundings; you are aware, conscious and mindful of the present.
By contrast are the people who exude the Asleep Attributes: they follow the herd, never questioning, permanently stuck in the commute-slow lane of life; they are totally unaware of the illusory cravings that they and society have constructed, they are reactive, making knee-jerk decisions that negatively impact those around them and themselves.
Here are my top four Awake Attributes:
1. Drinking from the fire hydrant. A passion for learning every single detail of your business and universe: they have no off switch when it comes to their focus area; every detail, no matter how big or small is treated like a gift, savoured and assimilated into your knowledge base, and applied back into your life and business in unique ways.
2. Treating life like an obstacle course. The resilience to tackle difficult situations with relish and achieve better than expected outcomes as a result. Problems don’t phase you, as all you see are opportunities to grow yourself, the people around you and your business. Leaders love challenges and positively frame what emerges. Exoscaling leaders thrive on directionally-correct chaos.
3. Competing with yourself, not the status quo. A desire to win that transcends the world around you, and which leads you to massively outperform your potential competition.
4. Looping feedback and translating that into action. Always being open to input from others requires a mix of assuredness and mindfulness.
These Awake Attributes are like muscles in that they can be strengthened over time. By constantly checking in with yourself to see if you have the right mindset you can become stronger and stronger at being more and more awake.
Here are my top ten mindset enablers for strengthening your Awake Attributes, exoscaling as a leader and achieving peak-awakeness:
1. Problem finding rather than problem solving;
2. Ask questions, don’t provide answers;
3. Focus on being in service of society, not in service of industry;
4. Operate for how the world will be, not how the world is;
5. Think beyond futures, and explore parallel worlds;
6. Make the unreal real, not the real real;
7. Think implication, not application;
8. Innovation is so yesterday, it’s all about provocation;
9. Build to make us think, not to make us buy;
10. Ethics trumps user-friendliness.
Fred Kofman, who until recently was VP of Leadership Development at LinkedIn, is best known for his book and teachings around Conscious Business. I suspect that is about to change and he will become even better known for his latest work on transformative leadership, thanks to his new book, The Meaning Revolution: Leading with the Power of Purpose, which is now out.
He defines transformative leadership as helping staff to feel connected to a great mission or purpose, and empowering them to discover the ‘immortality project’ at the core of your business.
The book is a call to arms for the pandemic of disengagement amongst employees and it provides actionable advice for finding more dignity and meaning in work.
Part 3 of the book explores self-transcendence and includes part of the story of my sudden cardiac death in the Chapter titled Die Before You Die. As Fred says, my brush with death gave me a greater understanding of purpose and was the trigger for my personal transformation.
I wanted to bring this book to your attention, not only because it includes my experience, but also because of the masterful way in which Fred weaves together how we can find meaning and live our lives with purpose, while also empowering the people who we lead to do so as well.
Acclaim for The Meaning Revolution includes:
“The Meaning Revolution makes the case that leadership isn’t just about the mind. It’s also about the spirit. Fred’s book shows how when we set goals that reflect our values as well as our interests—when our teams strive to make a positive impact on the world together—we can achieve more than success. We can find greater purpose and meaning.” —Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook
“I believe culture needs to be about realizing personal passions and using the company as a platform to pursue those passions. Fred Kofman explores that notion even more deeply through vivid stories and truly profound reflections on business leadership and conscious capitalism. What is your noble purpose? Are your kids proud of your company’s mission? Why might the biggest beneficiary of your business be your competitors’ customers and employees? Read on!” —Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft
“As Fred Kofman makes brilliantly clear in The Meaning Revolution, real leadership is not about hitting your numbers—it’s about creating a culture of purpose and meaning, and inspiring others to realize that they can make a lasting difference in the world around them.” —Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global
The intention to set new goals often outlasts their pursuit.
This is the depressing truth as you start the new year all shiny, happy and ready to take on the world.
But hey, don’t let that reality stop you from dreaming big. Because the uplifting truth is that the more courageous, the more consequential your goals, the more open to possibility you will be.
Goals of Consequence share a common attribute, courage: it takes courage not to dismiss Goals of Consequence out of hand as too hard, as too out there.
Compare this usual goal:
“My goal is to write an article for my local newspaper in the next 3 months”,
to this Goal of Consequence:
“My goal is to write a global best-selling book that is translated into 11 different languages within 12 months.”
And this one from the corporate arena:
“My goal as CEO is to increase the share price by 15 percent over the next 5 years”
“My goal as CEO is to reinvent global transportation over the next 5 years.”
I write extensively about setting Goals of Consequence and creating an operating system for your life and business in my book Fierce Reinvention: A Guide to Harnessing Your Superpowers for Entrepreneurial and Leadership Success. It is available on Amazon and other leading online bookstores.
Sometimes life just sucks. You are totally bored with the everyday drudge of commute, work, commute. Your boss doesn’t get you. You don’t get the company. The same route to the office, day in, day out. And the weather. I could go on.
Life would be so much better if you could just escape for a few weeks: go some place warm; go some place where you can find peace; go some place where you can shut out everything that is causing you anxiety and stress.
But here’s the thing: you take your anxiety wherever you go. There is no escaping it.
You will be in a constant state of anxiety: when you try to get away from the things causing you stress; when you hold tight to the things that make you happy.
It is far more practical to relax with the things that are stressing you out; to relax with your life as it is, right now.
The immediate benefit of relaxing into your reality will be an overarching sense of ease in your life.
The path to peacefulness is counterintuitive. Instead of running from your current life, run toward and into everything.
You will discover that peace is not found at some exotic location.
Peace is right here, with you. And as a bonus: you can return to it anytime you like.
I want to highlight an article in the NY Times about the Big Sur, California-based Esalen Institute reopening. Why this is so interesting is because its new mission is “to help technologists who discover that ‘inside they’re hurting”.
Entrepreneurs and business leaders, particularly from the technology industry are starting to get one of my key messages: “Technology without meaning is like work without fulfilment: purposeless noise.”
As Ben Tauber, the new Executive Director at Esalen, puts it:
There’s a dawning consciousness emerging in Silicon Valley as people recognise that their conventional success isn’t necessarily making the world a better place. The CEOs, inside they’re hurting. They can’t sleep at night.
Another nearby centre, 1440 Multiversity, which lies nestled in the California redwoods near Santa Cruz, has a similar message in its goal: to recognise that the blazing success of the internet catalysed powerful connections, yet did not help people connect to themselves.
1440 was founded by Scott Kriens, Chairman and former CEO of Juniper Networks, with the rationale that there is “great power in immersion learning – setting aside daily urgencies and dedicating uninterrupted time and energy to focus on our more important, but often more elusive, priorities.”
One of the key questions technologists are starting to ask themselves is whether they are doing the right thing for humanity. It’s all very well building a highly addictive, behaviour changing piece of technology, but if it doesn’t progress humanity in some way then what is the point?
Before heading up Esalen, Ben Tauber had created a real-time celebrity geo-stalking service called JustSpotted and then joined Google as an acqui-hire. He then decided his work was causing harm. “I realized I was addicting people to their phones. It’s a crisis that everyone’s in the culture of killing it, and inside they’re dying.”
As former Google chef Bodhi Kalayjian, who now bakes bread at Esalen says, “Everybody’s got a soul. It’s about finding it.”
The article also quotes Gopi Kallayil, Google’s chief evangelist of brand marketing. He has been wondering about the impact of his work and said that many of the people who came to him had floundered this year.
Ultimately, it’s about finding meaning in your work and ensuring that what you invest your precious time into is something that you can feel proud of.
Tim Chang is a Silicon Valley-based venture capitalist and truth seeker who has spent years experimenting with optimising his performance. He suggests a do it yourself body/energy hack that will give you visibility to how your body and energy levels react to various inputs and, based on this real time feedback, you can then personalize what you consume and increase your performance levels.
Here are Tim’s 5 steps:
1) wear a continuous blood glucose monitor like the FreeStyle Libre for several days.
2) observe how your levels rise and fall based on specific foods you eat, as well as how much and when you eat them — you may be surprised by how your body reacts specifically to different types of foods vs others!
3) do a bit of A/B testing with different regimens, and see how your blood sugar levels respond to: no/low sugar; no/low carb; intermittent fasting [“IF”] (daily IF 16/8 split vs. weekly or monthly 1-3 day IF).
4) explore some of the cutting edge supplements out there like Ketone Esters, and experiment with synthesizing the effects of fasting and ketogenic diets — Tim got to try an early sample of HVMN’s ketone esters, and was amazed to see how his ketone levels jumped in real-time, as well as the sustained energy boost afterwards… it made him ponder the future of consumer ketone esters as a 5-hour Energy & Red Bull-killer, and perhaps as a gateway towards the benefits of intermittent fasting and ketogenic diets.
5) most importantly, NEVER blindly follow or accept anyone’s prescribed regimen or methodology* — hack for yourself, on yourself, and see what works or doesn’t for you 🙂
(* Tim has definitely learned to back off of his own previously espoused formulas and regimens, after finding that stacking paleo + minimal carb + IF + heavy-meat/high-protein body-building diets for years led to formation of kidney stone crystals, and potential onset of gout!)
What if everything you’ve aspired towards as an actualized person turned out to be an incomplete life objective?
Everyone knows that Abraham Maslow created a hierarchy of human needs, with self-acutalization at the apex. Right?
But here’s the thing. Later in life he began to refine his thinking and eventually placed self-transcendence as a motivational step on top of self-actualization.
Think about it! Your personal positioning is no longer the pinnacle of your life’s journey. This is tantamount to discovering the world is not flat!!!
It has far reaching consequences for the meaning of life, as well as how you view altruism and wisdom.
Let’s take a step back. Way back to 1943 when Maslow crystallised his initial motivational theory using the following logic:
“…man lives by bread alone – when there is no bread. But what happens to man’s desires when there is plenty of bread and when his belly is chronically filled? At once other (and higher) needs emerge and these…dominate the organism…human needs are organised into a hierarchy of relative prepotency.”
He set out five motivational levels and provided a description of a person at each level:
5 Self-actualization – seeks fulfilment of personal potential.
4 Esteem needs – seeks esteem through recognition or achievement.
3 Belongingness and love needs – seeks affiliation with a group.
2 Safety needs – seeks security through order and law.
1 Physiological (survival needs) – seeks to obtain the basic necessities of life.
In the late 60’s, Maslow added a sixth motivational level:
6 Self-transcendence – seeks to further a cause beyond the self and to experience a communion beyond the boundaries of the self through a peak experience.
By ‘beyond the self’ he meant service to others, devotion to an ideal or a cause. He also included a potential desire to be united with that is perceived as transcendent or divine. A ‘peak experience’ may involve mystical experiences and experiences with nature, aesthetic experiences, sexual experiences or transpersonal experiences in which a person experiences a sense of identity that transcends or extends beyond the personal self.
He believed there was a special cognitive ability at work when transcendence was at play and he called this “Being-cognition”. He saw the “goal of identity (self-actualization) to be simultaneously an end-goal in itself, and also a transitional goal, a rite of passage, a step along the path to the transcendence of identity.”
While Maslow crystallised a linear logical progression from one need to the next, he was aware that some people were able to jump from any level to self-transcendence.
Importantly for our modern day self-obsessed society, he noted that people who are struggling to gain higher levels and are striving more for self-transcendence than self-actualisation are better off than those who have arrived at self-actualisation and, seeing this as the pinnacle of motivational needs, are resting on their laurels:
“The ones who are struggling and reaching upward really have a better prognosis than the ones who rest perfectly content at the self-actualisation level.”
Victor Frankl, the psychotherapist, transcends Maslow’s hierarchy. Interred in a Nazi concentration camp Frankly experienced severe deprivation of every type imaginable except one: he maintained his quest for meaning. In doing so he jumped across the entire motivational hierarchy and found the bliss and joy of self-transcendence. His bestselling book, Man’s Search for Meaning is a must read.
Why is this important for you?
Firstly, beware of blindly following constructs and paths created by others. They may be incomplete, they may be censored (the American Psychology Association allegedly tried to muzzle Maslow’s theory on self-transcendence). Chart your own path, feel what works for you and resonates within you, not an an ego level, but deep within amongst the quiet soulful spaces of your being.
Secondly, find ways to transcend your selfish needs and wants and focus on finding meaning by rising above your self. Look for ways to be of service to others. Set self-transcendent goals that enhance and amplify your purpose in life.
If you want to delve more into Maslow’s self-transcendence theme and especially how this plays out in business I recommend Chip Conley’s Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo From Maslow.