Great Change Management and Thrive! Workshops with Alan Weiss in Berlin

On the 12th and 13th of January, I kicked off the year by attending two workshops from Dr Alan Weiss, also known as the Million Dollar Consultant. I've been in his mentoring program for some time and it really transformed they way I do business, not to mention all the positive things associated with that. Helping other people be at their best is one thing, developing oneself is another. So, I took care of that. As the healthy self-esteem motto goes: put your oxygen mask first if you want to help others. So, get help in getting better if you want to make others better. These happened in Berlin, at the Ritz Carlton. There could be a worse venue indeed.

Ritz Carlton Room

As far as accommodation goes, things were premium grade. Especially the bed, which tends to be really bad in a lot of hotels.

Ritz Carlton Room Redux

A great room, a great LCD TV, splendid bathroom, you name it. I picked the 9th floor to be quiet, and god, was it quiet. Super nice. Not to mention the outstanding spa and the awesome 1 hour massage that I treated myself with. What counts in life is living the experience. And a visit at this kind of hotel without a test of the amenities is not really doing it justice. Let's get back to the workshops. These were conducted in a very interactive manner and I learned a lot. The fact that world class consultants attended was also a big plus. We had people from UK, Italy, Denmark, the US, Belgium, and Germany. The networking dimension is really superb and I connected with high grade people, especially in the psychology field, which happens to be so important when it comes to dealing with change. What made the change management workshop of particular importance is that it fitted one my current interventions that is just starting. I do not think that I would have approached it the same way would I have skipped the workshop. Now, I really focus on the future state and works backwards on how to get there. This may be simple, but as consultants we are often called in to help the client get "unstuck" from a locked situation. And Alan's process is really a great way to get results. Back home, I checked on the Process Consulting book and found additional interesting material, especially on "dynamic learning" and on how to use "delivery mechanisms" to get the word through. Getting help from the client people to support the change from day one is also a key takeaway. Observing behavior and letting my own biases aside is also really useful. I did several interviews today and learned a tremendous lot about the persons making up the customer team. They are great people and also are eager to see positive transformations. Sometimes, all they need is a catalyst. Especially a catalyst aiming at raising the bar for improved performance. We also learned about the greatest single loyalty factor and motivation factor ever. But that will be for another time.

A great team of World Class consultants

World Class consultants (from the other side)

The Thrive! workshop was something completely different. Subtitled "stop wishing your life away", it aims at helping developing oneself into an thriving individual. It is indeed hard to help customers achieve excellent results if we do not apply the motto to ourselves. Would you listen to a consultant for success if he wasn't being so himself? I seriously doubt it. So there we had it, delivered by the master, Alan himself. Alan has walked the path, delivered, and inspired a ton of people. He is not throwing around fads and fancy ideas but instead focuses on proven principles and risk taking in very pragmatic ways. One thing is sure, I am not the same after this workshop. I am much more confident in my abilities for success (not too bad before, but now much reinforced). That's indeed a key factor: healthy self-esteem. Which should also be couple with "healthy selfishness," because burning oneself out and not being able to stay up is really a bad idea. What came out is a process to improve our own personal condition and enjoy life. It really was great to be there, especially with similar minded souls. The workshops made tremendous sense together, at last for me. It also gave me my first time face to face meeting with Alan who has influenced and mentored me for quite a while. This is proof that given modern technology, you can get great results no matter where people are in the world. But face to face encounters add an extra dimension, namely that this is real and occurs. Giving oneself the right to attend such an event is also very useful to open one's mind to what is possible working as a lone wolf in the consulting profession. I am sold to the idea! And after such a great time, I packed my stuff, eager to apply what I learned from the master:

Ir Philippe Back and Dr Alan Weiss in Berlin

When you think you are there, here comes the new challenge.

Making Diamonds

When coaching people, I usually notice that they reach a given level of expertise that allows them to perform well on a given subject. Well, only to fall onto another challenge that originates from the fact that they have mastered the previous level. And this goes on and on until they reach the maximum possible level that their organization challenges allow for. Which may take a bunch of years indeed. For example, I was coaching a system analyst on how to write specifications and handle features. He turned out to be very proficient at that and the project at hand was a complex one. Obviously, reaching that level made visible a set of other issues that do exist in the organization, namely the fact that once specifications were put on paper, people realized that what they explained in the first place was wrong or was pretty incomplete, leading to change cases. This led to demotivating the analyst. He put a lot of effort in doing his best only to see his "child" being criticized. Well, he shouldn't be ashamed of what he has produced since it is key to helping people surface their concerns and agree on scope and difficult issues, or unresolved conflicting terminology. Hadn't he done that, the organization would have started working on producing a completely worthless solution missing the boat. As I tend to say, you'd better stop the train before it runs full speed ahead into the wall. Which happens to be made of top-notch concrete. So, all that to say that frustration is going to be part of reaching the next level since new challenges will have to be faced and dealt with. There is no way out of that. But it is the path to growth and self accomplishment. One has to learn to feel good about having got results and appreciate the assets he brings to the table. And also one has to learn to dissociate his own worthiness from his work products. The work products is just representing evidence that one went trough a given thought process and took care of a given number of concerns. Nobody can think of everything, especially on paper. The point is to take care of the key risks and make sure the we aren't going into the wall. Obviously, management has to be aware of this kind of dynamic and behave accordingly, providing support. Otherwise, why would people grow if their own enlightened self interest tells them that engaging in growth means being crushed down when things go harder? Even if self evident, the crushing behavior happens more often than not. Too bad for everybody. Lots of pain and suffering, and ultimately lost money, lost opportunity down the line. Now, what about you? What is the next level you are wanting to reach or busy going to? Are you aware of the new challenges that you can possibly face? You may not yet be able to tackle them, but at least you can see them in the distance and prepare to get help on dealing with them when the time comes. Knowing when, how, and to who to ask for help is the sign of a confident person. Know it alls aren't going to survive here, since this is a path of never ending learning. So, be proud of reaching new heights and be excited that the journey is going to continue. And you aren't there to please everybody, but to do good work and reduce the risk profile. This is not a job for the faint of heart since it requires a great deal of courage to confront ideas, produce a conceptually coherent picture and reconcile diverging interests in a solution. Making it a success has been more of the exception than the rule in complex endeavors, so ease it a bit on yourself.

Belgium: now citizens have had enough!

I like that the guys on "the other side" share the same feelings! On the street then! What about a flashmob or two? If you are not familiar with the tongue of Vondel, check the french subtitled vid:

Self-Esteem: How to feel good about yourself?

Today, I was meeting with one of my friends. He's good. He's even very good at what he does. He should be self confident and proud of what he delivers. Point is that he isn't. He feels like a low life. He feels like crap. In fact he came to me for advice and help. A typical case of low self esteem. Luckily, curable.

Focus on your strengths

One key to enhanced self-esteem is to focus on your strenghts. Those strenghts that make you achieve results. You see, we discussed his successes and he felt alive again. If you focus on your limitations, what do you think will happen? It will depress you: guaranteed!
Know your weaknesses and limitations. Cherish them. They help you avoiding going the wrong way. And get help to deal with them. I hate accounting, so I hire a good accountant. I hate configuring servers, so I use a great hosting company. Outsource most of what is related to your limitations. Cleaning, ironing, drinks, accounting, graphical design, you name it. I still need to outsource all of th eprogramming tasks I still do because, ableit interesting, they do not pay well compared to applying some other skills I do have. I am a darn good coder but not a stellar one. I have no interest in becoming a stellar coder. I can recognize and hire one who will be happy to work for me (since I'll at least be able to understand and appreciate what he does). So I have still to learn to let go of that to make room for my core strenghts even more than I do today. I should move coding to my hobby time. I'd better be mentoring teams on how to work well together, helping formulate and implement working strategies, or helping people craft great systems. And the net result will be a known one: a breath of fresh air, a boost to my self esteem, new interesting challenges, and better compensation for making my customers utterly better off.

Get help when you need it

If you suffer from low self esteem, you may not seek help as often as you should. Someone with good self-esteem is not afraid to call for help. Calling for help is a sign that you can deal with your shortcomings and are not afraid of what people may think.
I called upon Alan Weiss for mentoring me some years ago and it transformed my life. As I write this article, I am looking at those boarding passes and reservations for next week. I am attending Alan's workshops in Berlin: Change Management and Thrive! It all happens at the Ritz Carlton. Not a low end place for sure. People who will be there are mostly over achievers. Why do they go to such events then if they are so good already? Mmmh, it's because they aren't afraid to ask for help when reaching for the next level! As you can see, walking the talk is also a good thing. And I'll never be afraid to ask for help anymore.

Act instead of brewing in your own juices

Anxiety is a sign of self-esteem problems. Take notice that you can't be involved in the action and anxious at the same time. Taking action is a good remedy against anxiety. And it will contribute to produce results while applying your skills. So, stop those dark toughts and act upon something. Anything. Even sorting out that drawer of yours, getting the trash out, writing a paper, talking to your significant other.

Stop listening to confidence vampires

You may know them. They are the ones who push your red buttons and move you into that state where you feel bad, guilty, worthless. Get them out of your lives, confront them on their bad manners. Ignore them. Do what it takes to keep them at bay: you deserve better than that. They do provide feedback for their own benefit, clearly not for yours. Stop listening to them. Just stop it!

Let's summarize

  1. Focus on your strengths and outsource the limitations related duties
  2. Get help when you need it
  3. Stop listening to confidence vampires
  4. Act instead of brewing in your own juices
This will go a long way in enhancing your life. I have walked that path and am much better now. My self-esteem is rooted in my true skills and strenghts. I take action to make things happen. I wish that you make the same come true.

What matters is the attitude

The economy goes up and down. It is a cyclic movement. So does our moods and lives. In such a changing environment, how to make it such as we aren't feeling insecure, at the mercy of events? It's all in the attitude. We haven't control over what happens to us. But we do have control over how we react to the events. If we believe that we will learn something from the experience, good or bad, and will be better off from that, we develop our self esteem and act accordingly: in a resourceful way. In this age of professional victims, this will put one ahead of the crowd for sure!