Insights from one of the World’s Leading Consultancies (#866)

One of the really enjoyable things about having written a book called The Inside-Out Revolution is being pointed towards more and more places where the revolution is already happening.

This week, I was introduced to the work of Senn-Delaney consultants and in particular company founder Larry Senn, who has taken insights gleaned from spending time with George Pransky and Sydney Banks and put them to use with dozens of Fortune 100 CEO’s, governors of US states, university presidents and members of two U.S. President’s cabinets.

While there is clearly much of Larry’s own insight added into the mix and some fairly outside-in tools, I had some wonderful insights of my own going through his new book Up the Mood Elevator and the Senn-Delaney course manual The Human Operating System.

Here are three concepts shared in the material that I’m finding particularly thought provoking. As always, what follows is my interpretation based on what I’ve read and not intended to be an accurate representation of Larry Senn’s thoughts or Senn-Delaney’s material…

1. The Unhealthy Normal

I went to a business lunch in London a couple of weeks ago when a conversation broke out about which blend of “green juice” was healthier. As I’d been living on sugar, caffeine, and Advil for much of my trip, I abstained from the conversation, but it did occur to me that maybe it was time to revisit my diet with less of an eye towards my waistline and more of a eye towards living long enough to have a relevant opinion about my waistline.

What I find equally interesting is what else I’ve come to accept as normal in my life, including being consistently tired and “zoning out” when I’m in non-work conversations. The moment I bring these “unhealthy norms” to my own attention, my behavior seems to change all by itself. Not because I am willing myself to a healthier lifestyle, but because the pre-existing intelligence behind the system kicks in as soon as I recognize that my feeling states are offering me feedback about my thinking and not about what I’m up to in the world.

As my thinking naturally ebbs and flows, I may still go through moments of being zoned out and tired, but I will no longer get stuck in them. And when it’s really OK to be tired, it also becomes really OK to rest.

What’s your “unhealthy normal”?

You may be surprised at how when you bring it to your own attention, the naturally healthy functioning of the mind begins to take care of you by resetting the system and guiding you back to your naturally healthy state.

2. Blue Chip Time Management

Imagine you are sitting in front of a table filled with white poker chips. Towards the back of the table there are some red poker chips, and there are a few blue chips scattered about as well. You have one minute to gather up as many chips as you can. Ready? Steady…. go!

How did you do?

What if after gathering up as many chips as you can you found out that the white chips were worth $1, the red chips were worth $10, and the blue chips were worth $1000? Would you employ a different strategy going forward?

I’ve known about the 80/20 rule for years – the idea based on the work of Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto pointing out that 80% of our results in life come from 20% of our actions. Yet somehow seeing my daily activities in terms of blue chips, red chips, and white chips has been helpful.

For example, I’ve spent my morning today doing a charity walk with my daughter, speaking on the phone with a client, and writing this tip – all blue chip activities. Later, I’ll be doing more “blue chipping” by having a nap (say goodbye, Mr. Unhealthy Normal! 🙂 and dinner with the family. I’m sure I’ll do a bunch of white and red chip things too – but I know they’ll happen organically and don’t need to be scheduled or planned around.

What are your blue chip activities for today?

Notice how your schedule begins to effortlessly rearrange itself (with a little help from you) as you become more aware of what matters most.

3. The Shadow of the Leader

When my father died back in 1992, I realized that while I remembered very little of what he had told me about life, I was a living, breathing example of the kind of a man he had been. Fortunately for me, he was an extremely good man. When Nina first got pregnant a couple of years later, I felt like I had about nine months to become a shining example of everything I wanted my son to be in the world.

While I no longer think the cause/effect equation is as direct as it looked to me then, I do find it interesting to see how my teams at work seem to reflect both the best and worst of my own habits of thinking and behavior.

What “shadow” are you casting in your family and at work? Is it one that you’d like people to emulate?

As with each of the previous concepts, the key here is awareness, not judgement. Simply by beginning to notice how you show up in the various environments in your life, it will not only make sense of a lot of what happens around you, the way you show up will begin to change as well.

This key is perhaps best summed up in a story I first shared in You Can Have What You Want:

William Penn was a 17th-century British nobleman who accepted the land that became the state of Pennsylvania as payment for debts incurred to his family by Charles II.At the age of 22, Penn became a Quaker and was immediately faced with a profound dilemma. As the scion of a proud aristocratic family, it was unheard of (not to mention potentially dangerous) to walk around without a sword. Yet if he was to adhere to the letter and spirit of Quaker teachings, carrying a sword was bordering on blasphemy.

Young Will took this quandary to a Quaker elder, who gave him the following advice:

‘Wear your sword with full awareness for as long as you can.
When you can’t wear it anymore, stop.’

The elder knew that by encouraging the young aristocrat to bring his full consciousness to the problem, it would resolve itself in the most natural way possible.

The same is true in our own lives. When we decide to ‘wake up’ and live consciously, bringing as much attention and awareness to each moment as we can, our daily dilemmas fade into the background while the full magnificence of life as it is fills the screen. When we can see that the ‘bars’ of our prison serve our favorite emotional cocktails, life becomes easy, effortless and fun. When we see that we are the ones keeping ourselves stuck, we can often let ourselves go – just like that.

Have fun, learn heaps, and happy exploring!

With all my love,
Michael

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