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Posts Tagged ‘self-confidence

Opportunities From Chaos

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Detroit down town

Detroit downtown

Louis Pasteur said, literally, that « luck only smiles to well-prepared minds ». Often, life does not happen as expected, and even though, you are prepared to deal with the unexpected, it is not impossible that you have to face the chaos.  What is precisely chaos?

There are few definitions of chaos, but in this present article, the following definition is the most appropriate. Chaos is a condition or place of great disorder or confusion.  And this disorder induces stress, a feeling for uncertainty or insecurity. The chaos is apprehended differently by each of us, and the induced stress is negative for some, and positive for others. Negative for some, because it is an unexpected change, the loss of references, the end of certainties. For others, it is the opportunity to build something new, to discover something new, to know oneself better. Yes, for some of us, chaos is a source of opportunities. It is only a question of mindset.

As freelance interim manager, I remember a colleague telling me the circumstances in which he became a freelance interim manager.  Working for several years for a multinational company, he was fired. It was the chaos for him, thinking that it would not be easy to find a new job. By contacting recruiters, one of them suggested to him to start a freelance interim manager, as he had a strong experience and background that can be valued in this kind of job.  When he started his first assignment, he came quickly to the conclusion that to be fired was probably the best thing that happened to him. Working as freelance interim manager was for him the opportunity to work on different assignments and so to have more diversity of work, the opportunity to learn faster and to build stronger skills. At this stage, the induced stress become positive by discovering a new challenge we are able to face, empowering our self-confidence.

Another example of chaos is the fall of the city of Detroit in the United States of America. Detroit was the capital of the automobile industry, “the Motor City” or “Motown”.  The 3 main cars brands, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, located in Detroit, in addition to a relocation of their production since 1950, experience an unprecedented crisis.  The consequences are the loss of 400.000 jobs since 2008. In some neighborhoods, the unemployment rate reaches 50%. And last but not least, in 2013, with a debt of 18.5 billion of dollars, the city is asking for bankruptcy.  Public services are disappearing and criminality is spreading. Detroit becomes a ghost city. At this stage, Detroit has no choice that to reinvent another future. Detroit is suffering the inequalities between people are important, but people who stayed in town remains united and are creating innovating solutions.  One source of urban resilience is the development of urban agriculture on the abandoned land, providing fresh food for a low price. What people can’t by, they are producing themselves. It is also the starting point of the development of a local economy integrating social justice and solidarity for the most disadvantaged people.  Alongside these initiatives, some investors like Dan Gilbert, invest in real estate renovations and recreate attractive neighborhoods. Dan Gilbert, native from Detroit, decided also to relocate his ten or so companies and around 12.000 employees in Detroit, and is investing in start-up projects in order to rebuild an economical network.  There is still a lot of work to do, but here, chaos was the opportunity to rebuild a city based on another paradigm.

Chaos appears as something negative, of course because it is the result of an imbalance situation, but also because it seems to have no solutions to go out of this situation. But the cause of such perception is also a question of mindset. In the example of Detroit, the chaos has a negative impact on the people who certainly suffer from poverty, insecurity, the unpleasant environment of a ghost city. But chaos is perceived as negative in the way that failure would be definitive and that there would be no other alternative. Such perception results also from the end of certitudes and the questioning of a model.

In our complex society, change is not a variable….but a constant. And change and certitude are antithetical. Change means evolution, but evolution is not always linear. Change is not necessarily a projection of the past, but is sometimes a change of paradigm, a disruption. Change does not mean necessarily chaos if we don’t consider failure as definitive and fatal, but an opportunity to learn and to build new alternatives. Perpetual change makes that it is more and more difficult to predict the future, and it is probably also a cause of anxiety in the face of it.

But facing chaos is something we can learn from, if we see it as an opportunity to experience new things and probably to know a bit better about ourselves. It is in the adversity that we can really learn who we are, what we are able to do. Malcom X quote says nothing else: “There is no better that adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.” We cannot really know who we are if we don’t face hard times, or negative experience that gives another look at things. Such experiences make us stronger if we take this as an opportunity to learn. It makes us stronger, “anti-fragile” as described by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book of the same name. Antifragile is not the opposite of fragile. The opposite of fragile is unbreakable. If you drop a crystal glass on the floor, it will be broken, and this state will be different that the one before, but irreversible. If you do the same with a piece of metal, it will remain intact, in the same state, unbreakable. Anti-fragile is the stage when an object, or somebody, suffers a damage, so, changes of state but still reversible. A state where you keep track of a bad experience, but that makes you stronger because you learn from it. A state that triggers a process of resilience.

Chaos can make us stronger, more agile, and mostly if we can face it on a collective way. To come back to the example of Detroit, there are communities of people who decided that the falling of the city was not a fatality, but an opportunity to rebuild something new. They saw an opportunity to meet other people, to share knowledge, experience and skills, in order to build together a new project, a new vision of the future of the city. And knowledge, skills, are the only things each people have more than before when it is shared, contributing to empower our self-confidence. Chaos provides opportunities if we consider it as a catalyst that helps you get out of your comfort zone. It does not mean that chaos becomes something stressless, but induces a stress we have more control on, a stress inducing a positive energy to image and build new and innovative solutions.

 

Picture from Paul Barbieux (Brussels)

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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

March 25, 2019 at 07:57

Culture is good for morale

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img_2572Few weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast on the web talking about culture. According to the chronicler, referring to the book “Sauver la culture” (Save the culture) from Patrick Béziers, culture is an efficient antidepressant. How to reach this conclusion?

Culture is in the books, in the museums, theater, photography, in the painting, in languages and many other things. All these forms of culture express emotions, ideas, are sources of inspiration and an excellent way to stimulate serendipity. Just to remind you, serendipity is the fact to discover or invent something unexpectedly as a result of a fortuitous combination of circumstances, and often as part of a search of another subject.  In other words, it’s finding something other than what you’re looking for.

Culture can make us discover new horizons, and discover new center of interest or hide talents. For instance, you take your children to see a photo exhibition, and after, they would like to try to take photos too. It will be probably an opportunity to discover a new passion, to visit places to make a small photo trip and to learn things about these places. A kind of virtuous circle feeding your culture and knowledge.

Another example, as member of a non-profit association, you are asked to be the community manager and to take care about the blog or the website of the association. You discover the pleasure to write, to relate events or news from the association, or to develop a topic related to the object of the association. With the time, you develop the talents of chronicler or writer, you learn about social media world. On other words, you develop transversal skills.

img_2573Based on these two examples, we can say that culture allows you to find your potential of creativity. In the example of the chronicler for the non-profit association, you start first by writing editorials or articles, then you improve your writing style, you try to develop original ideas you will communicate about. Based on that acquired experience, you can think about opportunities to develop your passion to write. If you build a good reputation thanks to the quality of your writing style, why not to develop a commercial activity as writer or content provider?  What is important and we will see why, is to define a goal that will motivate you to improve your skills, to push your limit ever higher, in order to catch new possibilities.

Why is it important to push your limit higher? Because it is a good way to reinvent yourself, to be more creative and to imagine to start a new activity, a new life. You are not afraid of the future, and you are enough self-confident to move to unknown territories, to new experiences. Looking back, you will find that your life did not go as you thought, and that the fear of the future is a bit irrational. Only self-confidence will help you to face the future, and your capabilities will be a good way to empower your self-confidence.  The famous quote, “The best way to predict the future is to create it”, credited to both Abraham Lincoln and Peter Drucker, make sense.  The self-confidence has a positive impact on your moral. That is why culture that is part of knowledge, is the basic element to build future projects, to develop happiness. That is why culture is good for moral.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

January 9, 2019 at 19:42

Age is a question of mind

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There is no age to have an active life.

There is no age to have an active life.

Some of you know the famous quote from Mark Twain “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter”. I remembered this quote during a meeting with some entrepreneur friends. One of them is a retired lady who made a career as teacher. When she was retired, she decided to stay active, and developed interest for new technologies. During our discussions, we were talking about the advertising world and the consumer society, where advertising is addressed to a target public, where each person is categorized. She was telling us that when she is hearing or seeing these advertisings, she did not feel concerned by this, because she was not the target of such advertising trying to promote our wellness by acquiring products and services. I can easily understand her feeling, as we are often more considered in our society as consumers before human beings.

By jumping into the world of new technologies and precisely in the internet world, she was telling us that it was a wonderful discovery for her, a wonderful tool allowing us to share knowledge and information by participating to forums on several topics, an unlimited way to expand our knowledge, to conquer our freedom. She did not stay only a user as many of us, but became a real actor by creating a blog, and a militant promoting the accessibility to the web for people suffering of poor eyesight. She attends conferences about web on a regular basis in different countries, brainstorming sessions in co-working spaces, and built a strong network of contacts in different countries. A network of IT guys, entrepreneurs that she had the opportunity to meet, people she could not imagine to meet when she was teaching at school. The teacher became a real connected geek, and is clearly a important member of a community. And what about our discussions about several topics? It is very inspiring and an example of cross-generation relationship.

Such person makes me think about different things about life and self-confidence. We are the owner of our life, and only us, we can decide the way we want to take. A negative point of our society is to make us believe that we cannot access anymore to knowledge or leisure because we are too old, that our life is programmed to do this and not that. The consequences are that we are stuck in limiting thoughts, leading us in a way without goal, in a passive way of life. I remember also this quote from Confucius: “We have two lives and the second begins when we realize that we have only one of it.” There is no age to be aware of this, but one of the messages is that we can discover a passion, of start a project at every moment of our life. The fact to have goals making that you will build a structured life has a positive impact in term of wellness and self-confidence. Our friend realized such goal, such dream because she listened to her inner voice. The age is not a criteria that defines what you can do or not do. It is just a question of mind, and the mind is specific to each of us. We can have the power to follow our own desire and not to be formatted to what others say we should do.

We need to have the courage to pursue our dreams, to transform them into reality. There is no age for dreams, no age to realize them.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

February 24, 2013 at 00:20

How to face the uncertainty?

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How to deal with uncertainty?

By having a look around you, by reading newspapers about several subjects, you can note that uncertainty is increasing, and that we have to face it more and more. When we think closer to that subject, we can wonder ourselves if there are still certainties. You never know what can happen tomorrow with your health, with your job, with many things. There are different types of uncertainties. There are things happening by coincidence, and things we can more or less predict but we can not say if these things will happen or not. To make predictions becomes more and more difficult, because things are changing faster than before. What was true yesterday is not true anymore today, and it is hard to make predictions on a long term basis.

We can talk about uncertainty in different areas, but here, let us talk about the daily uncertainties we have to face in our job or in our business environment. Uncertainty can impact positively or negatively our career or business perspectives. Another question is to know how are we facing uncertainty. And we can note that for some people, uncertainty is something there are scared about, but for other people, it is a source of motivation, giving them a lot of energy. Is it something impossible to be able to face uncertainty? Certainly not, but as in many things, in many goals you want to reach, you can implement different strategies, in function of the constraints and the circumstances. As in each problem, you can find a solution, if you decide to take care of it.

The first point is to face the uncertainty. By burying your head in the sand like an ostrich, you will certainly be heading straight for disaster. You need first to analyze and understand the source of uncertainty, determine the potential issues and what are the different alternatives you can develop to solve the issue, what are the solutions that will help you to maximize your chance to succeed by facing uncertainty. It is important to be ready all the time, and not to think about things when you only need them. With other words, I could say that uncertainty is probably something which can make avoid putting you in danger. A too comfortable situation makes you falling in a routine, where you don’t see the necessity to make efforts, to improve yourself, and when you perceive a danger, when an issue appears, it is most of the time to late to take action in order to escape to the troubles.

You can decrease uncertainty by maximizing the potential opportunities. But as mentions Philippe Gabilliet, a French professor in leadership of a MBA school, in order to attract the opportunities to you, you have to be an opportunity yourself. To be an opportunity, you have to offer added value, to be an expert or to offer a bundle of competences, to be able to show proven experiences, and to show a fair attitude. By optimizing these assets and by building a good network, you can maximize your chance to have opportunities. Don’t forget also that most the time, you get once an opportunity, not twice. Each opportunity can bring a lot of lessons, reveal new interests and capabilities. Each opportunity can contribute to improve our knowledge base, to improve skills. By expanding your skills, your knowledge, by having a curious mind, you maximize the potential opportunities you can face, and you can profile new career or business perspectives. By maximizing our chance to be able to face new opportunities, we become more self-confident, and we can face the uncertainty on a confident way.

To be able to face uncertainty implies also to have margins. As mentioned before, by improve our capabilities and skills, contributing to increase our chance, we are creating us margins, allowing us to face uncertainty on a more confident way. The margins allow us to have the time and the possibility to develop different alternatives in order to get out of a difficult situation. Never forget also the material margin. For your business or for your own life, keep always financial margins. It is the challenge we have to face everyday.

The key points to face uncertainty are anticipation and long-term view. I mentioned it is difficult to predict things on a long-term basis, but by analyzing different trends, you can develop and implement alternatives bringing long-term effects. Anticipation will allow you to have solutions before the problems occur, and you will be prepared to use the appropriate solution in function of the circumstances. And even you will probably find another solution than the one you prepared, because by pursuing such process, you become more creative, your mind is used to deal with that.

I could summarize this topic as follow. Imagine you are falling into the water. You will probably be scared if you cannot swim. If you are facing the problem, you will be convinced that you have no other choice to swim. Your natural reflex will be to try to swim, or at least, to try to keep the head out of water. But before to be confronted to such problem, learn to swim. It is important also to be trained on a regular basis in order to improve your endurance. If after this, you should fall into the water, you will not be scared, because you are trained to face the situation. And if you are a bad swimmer, and you suspect that there is a possibility to fall into the water, think about another solution: take a lifebelt with you!

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

July 26, 2011 at 21:17

Change, responsibility and self-confidence.

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Self-confidence & responsibility, ingredients to feed change?

When change is considered as new opportunities by some people, it is seen as a danger by others. Change is a question of mind and some people are not used to change. But the question to be asked is why there are not used to change. Or maybe why have they no motivation to operate changes.

If we are going back to many years ago, and maybe still today in some public organizations, people were supposed to do their job as it was told to them. They were not allowed to take initiatives or to change some rules. The change was only driven by some managers or responsibles, and the employees were only allowed to do things as it was decided. But is it still possible to manage things in such a way, in a fast moving environment? No, it is not.

The development of technologies has an important impact in term of organization in companies and institutions. Each change of operating mode needs also some changes in term of people management. But in order to drive this changes successfully, people have to be motivated by changes. It is only possible if some conditions are met.

  • Function and job description: people needs to have a clear job descriptions, to have a good picture about their function in the company and the implication of their work within the organization

  • Targets and objectives: Peter Drucker was saying that management by objective works if you know the objectives. Ninety percent of the time, you don’t. If people know their objective, they can organize their work to reach the objectives.

  • Team spirit: personal objectives are part of global objectives, the objectives of the company, of the organisation. Global objectives can only be reached if people are working together on an organized way. It implies to know how to work, who is doing what. Let us keep in mind that there is no personal success without common success.

  • Responsibilities: By defining a function and goals for each people, you are giving responsibilities. With the development of technologies, where each function requires more skills and capabilities than before, each people is playing a key role, but need to have the feeling that this role is taken into consideration by the management. People assume and are motivated to take their responsibilities if it is recognized by the management,

  • Feedback: Feedback is important. If people are doing mistake or are not going in the direction of the assigned goal, colleagues or management need to give feedback about what is going wrong, analyse the reasons of the mistake, and to discuss about the appropriate actions to be taken. We are learning more from our mistakes than from our successes. It will help people to anticipate potential mistakes and to be more proactive, and to increase the quality of work.

  • Self-confidence: By assigning clear goals, by helping people to reach these goals and by recognizing the added value of their work, people have the feeling to be part of the organization and become more self-confident. This self-confidence will make that they will not hesitate to take initiatives to improve the processes of the organization. It is clearly a win-win situation, where people are acquiring added value and the organization benefits from the work quality of dedicated people.

As we can see, change is not something we can decide in one day. It is not only a question of mind but also a question of culture of the organization. It is obvious that culture is conditioning people, but in a fast moving environment where flexibility become a key factor of success, people can only face revolutions if they are used to work within an evolution process. And in an environment where flexibility and adaptability become important factors of success, it is obvious that people have to be used to work within an evolution process.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

April 11, 2011 at 20:51