Forget ADHD its #SAD!

Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 1.42.30 PMI have this practice of taking one picture a day and sharing it via Instagram. Like many practices, the practice itself has no special meaning other than doing the same thing over an over again. But as many practices, there are “collateral” benefits -so to speak- that emerge out of simple repetition. This unexpected outcomes, typical of practicing, turn out to be in fact, decisive.

So, my practice consists on remembering through the day to look for “images” that I can capture. Now, this might seem simple -and indeed it is- but there’s a rather complicated thing to it: my life is very, very monotonous. It’s not that I am exposed to an amazing diversity, both geographical and cultural, as most of my time is spent working with clients, hoping in and out of airplanes, in meeting rooms or hotel rooms. And then back home to my family, my house, my community. And although I am very fortunate to some times travel for work to very exotic destinations, it is work! Nine to six working, exercise, dinner…and life goes on.  Some times it’s late at night and then I remember I haven’t taken my picture yet. 

I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, and at the beginning it was quite awkward, as I would take whatever I’d find while “hunting” for my image during the brief moments I remembered and I was “free” from work or other distractions. Very often I ended up uploading images that my very extensive fan base of a couple of friends and my daughters would ignore and not “like”. That was fase one: “O my god it’s late and I haven’t taken my picture…ah..maybe that spot on the hotel window curtain makes a great image”. Morning after, zero likes and a feeling that I’m not image “hunting” correctly.  But I kept on trying, and phase two kicked in: images began to appear, to emerge. To reveal themselves.

I remember a special one. I was standing by my hotel window in Bogotá, Colombia. It was a rainy day and I had been writing the whole morning. When I glanced outside I saw a big white arrow painted on the street that grabbed my attention. It was raining and the street was empty. Then a man came walking in the sidewalk in oposite direction and the image revealed in my mind. I grabbed my iPhone and captured the moment. It was a pretty simple image, but different. For me it was more like it had emerged right in front of my eyes. I wasn’t “hunting” for images, I was just paying attention.

As in every practice, the goal  (in this case to take one picture a day -or #onepicaday-) is just a means to achieve other things: experiences or skills that while being critical to improve results, impact many other dimensions or areas of development. In other words, my observation has become more effective or as I like to think, I have become more able to be present at certain moments, and with that my photos are improving. Please mind that I am certainly not looking for likes or consider myself by any means an accomplished photographer. I am completely aware of my lack of talent and my eternal search of  l’instant décicif. I am truly not concerned with anything other that taking one picture a day.  However this practice has given me the chance to be a more present observer of the flow of things. 

However, one thing that I’ve come to realize in my observations is a sad fact. We are all connected to our screens. And here comes the beautiful learning for me: as I am! Specially if I am taking pictures and pictures with my “screen-phone”. I call it #SAD (Screen Attention Disorder) and it is really sad. #SAD is screens all over the place hijacking our attention, limiting our presence. Its SAD to see we are loosing impact and effectiveness to the illusion of connectivity.

#SAD is a paradox. Because truth is we have never been more connected in evolution as today, while being so disconnected from the present moment. Without a doubt, I can point out that while working in high performance corporate cultures, the single most deterrent impacting productivity  is hyper-connectivity. But we don’t see it. Because we truly believe we are being present in a meeting while whatsaping someone maybe in the other side of the world. We are not. And we are no more effective at the task level. We have experienced it over an over with C-Level Execs. When they disconnect from the outside and connect to what’s going on, they are able to solve challenges in ways they wouldn’t have suspected they could. Over and over we see it in our client work.

The same thing happens at the personal level. We are loosing effectiveness with our spouses, partners and friends in sharing our life journeys and, most importantly benefit from full presence. With all the good things and the not so good. In fact, it has become easier and easier to go back “home” -literally by hitting the screen button- than remaining open and embracing whatever arises. We are screen-distracted and it’s sad. I know I am! I’ve noticed that my eyes and attention immediately respond to any screen appearing in my landscape. It could be driving and encountering one big “screen-billboard-“ or my car’s screen. It’s in TV’s everywhere. Restaurants full of screens, airports with hundreds of personal iPads for people to sit and connect while they eat. And everywhere I go, I catch myself glancing at the screen often. It’s no longer an attention deficit, but screen attention highjack.  We need to stop. We need to be able to put screens aside, tu turn off the meeting room projector and sit in a circle, to have the conversations that matters and let things emerge, embracing whatever arises. More and more were are working with our clients, as I am doing with myself. Sit. Listen. Share. No distractions. Be present. Fully present. And better things happen. Probably painful, many times rejoicing, but certainly more effective and sustainable. Try 30 minutes full attention at your next meeting or while dinning with friends. Pay attention and embrace what ever arises. The world, the people we care about and ourselves need us more present.

Forget ADHD its #SAD!

The boss isn’t right …But he defends order


“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Peter Drucker

Competition is the dilemma we all face while climbing the business ladder. For someone to win, someone else has to lose. This is how the system has worked for years and we have had good, and even extraordinary results. Nonetheless, as we have said many times before, it seems as though it is not enough anymore, and it’s also not the best strategy.

There are many examples of such leadership success in business, but despite its concrete results, we can also see that they have a side that, rather than build, destroys. The problem is that the leaders of organizations have been successful, generally, because they have clung to being right. Certainly, in many cases their point of view and their actions are assertive and have had business results. Therefore, for many, exploring other paths could result besides unnecessary, unprofitable. Nonetheless, there is another type of leadership. There are leaders who, over time, have left a positive balance, not only on the organization’s bottom line, but also with their business teams and other stake holders. Both types of leadership share passion, dedication, focused energy and discipline. Their difference lies in how they solve business challenges.

Imagine two different scenarios: in the first, the leader has achieved success through competing and winning, through showing power and strength, and through having a business position cultivated by proving his or her point of view and by achieving results. In the second scenario, the leader has achieved the same results, but not by proving he or she  is right, but by integrating their team’s perspective to address challenges. This leader isn’t always right, but the entire team including him or her is. This leader has learned to effectively address challenges while  feeling at peace and being aware of his or her team’s development. We call this conscious leadership, a path that leaves behind self-realization and growth.

Although the first leader’s results are effective, there is a risk. It is likely that, at some point, these leaders will fail precisely by defending their point of view. Someone else will show up proving to be right and having better results than they do. It is also likely that their team members are satisfied with the results, but dissatisfied in working with them. It is likely that team members will be fighting under the table, trying to prove they are right so that they can have a better place in the team, because they need to be competitive in order to win. Over time, performance cost can be very high for the organization, thus not sustainable. If the marketing manager, the production manager, or the finance manager would focus on proving they are right, then they would only make decisions with a potentially high cost for the company, based on proving their point. It’s precisely their arrogance of trying to prove ‘I am right’ the cause for a probable low performance.

In the second scenario, the leader with whom their team is used to integrating perspectives, dialogue is the foundation to find better solutions, and therefore agreement upon what’s true for everyone yields admiration—not only for the leader, but for everyone. Self-admiration comes from the teams performance, their sense of success and their sense of accomplishment. This scenario would be nearly impossible to achieve with a boss who’s orientation would be to win by means of proving his or her point.

In both scenarios the boss has the final say, it is his or her prerogative and responsibility. Nevertheless, the leader of the first scenario runs the risk that, because he or she has ignored the team’s perspective during the strategic process, the opportunity to change the course of business will be lost. While the leader of the second scenario gives only the last word after having made sure that everyone expressed their perspective and that everyone has understood the perspective of others. From the economical and performance point of view, the second scenario is much safer and much more profitable. Those teams lead by a person whose mental model is of humility and self-realization, besides being more effective, can also have an impact, which will be significantly more successful for the business.

The boss isn’t right …But he defends order