Monthly Archives: July 2013

Know yourself – an introduction


In a lot of my previous posts I have always said to be successful in most endeavours you have to know yourself. Self-awareness can be a big differentiator in the business world. There are many tools and models out there to help you understand aspects of your personality. All are flawed and debated in one way or another.

So where do you start?

Well if you have chosen to become more self-aware then you have already made the first step. If you are reading this and are curious you have the most important tool to becoming more self-aware. Alongside this you must be driven to discovering more about yourself, particularly in times of difficulty. The third skill you will require is honesty with yourself. We are all pre-programmed to protect ourselves physically and we learn to protect ourselves mentally as well. No one likes to know they are bad at something or have it pointed out. The skill of acknowledging your flaws will allow you continue to be curious and determined.

The first tool you will need is to find out your preferred learning style. If you want to learn more about yourself, tapping into your preferred learning style will make this happen quicker and easier. 

So step 1 into better self-awareness is your learning style.

There are 2 main models of learning style which are in general use. These are:

Honey and Mumford’s learning styles which are activist/reflector/pragmatist/theorist. You can learn more about this model here.

The second is the VAK learning styles – visual/auditory/kinaesthetic. You can learn more about this one here.

Both of these models display preferences and you may have a mixture of these. Indeed, there may be parts of these and other models which resonate with you together. If this is already happening then you are more self-aware than you realise. If not don’t be discouraged. This is where your curiosity and determination will come into play. I would recommend learning more about these tools and others until you find things that make sense to your actions. 

Alongside all these models I will offer my own perspective on learning. I believe that learning preferences, particularly in the case of skill development,  can fall on 2 continuums: social or individual and imposed and free learning. 




A social learner will receive learning points and evaluation from others while an individual learner will create their own learning objectives and will self-evaluate, however representative this may be.

Structured learning will have a set of criteria and objectives often using a curriculum like a school class to increase learning where free learning is born out of experience and reflection on that experience. Free learning does require more curiosity as it can have no start point or end point. 

You may place your own comfort area on both continuums which will land in one of the four quadrants. Examples of learning situations from all quadrants are;

Someone who is a social free learner may observe and reflect on skills in social situations or may discuss issues with a coach.

Someone who is an individual free learner may improve skills through practice, such as speech giving in front of the mirror.

Someone who is an individual structured learner may learn from textbooks, online courses or in classroom situations.

Someone who is a social structured learner may learn best in group tasks such as team building exercises or may conduct a 360 degree feedback exercise and pull together their conclusions.

If we look back to the honey and mumford and VAK models, these would resonate most with individual structured learners. In opposition there may be some of you who would like to discover your learning style and may want to discuss this with a group, being a social free learner.

The important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong answer to self-awareness and that these tools or mindsets can only be used by you to help discover more about yourself. 

If you are still interested in becoming more self-aware then my next few blog posts will cover more tools and ideas to help discover more about yourself and how you can use this knowledge to achieve more.

Thanks for reading.



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Don’t just chase performance, create it!


So Andy Murray has just won Wimbledon today. His playing was of the highest degree against Djokovic. Now what would we think if Andy Murray was a business? Or, as a manager, your team?


I have never been much of a business person. I’m definitely more of a people/organisational psychology kind of worker. So I have never been much of a ‘chase after things’ kind of guy. I’ve always thought that performance can be planned. Absolutely.

I’m at odds with 98% of all management around the world.

Now Andy Murray had to chase down a few balls today to win the points and that is something most managers (excluding me) are great at. They will track figures, give team talks, work on weaknesses or weak performers, drum the importance of targets and make that their sole focus.

But Andy Murray didn’t win just by playing games. He trained. He did drills, he did weights, he did stamina training, he probably did dietary training as well. He had a coach to support him and provide advice. Every hour of his week was geared towards winning Wimbledon.

So what can businesses and teams do to work towards world class performance?

1. Have a coach. It doesn’t need to be someone more senior but someone who can cast a different view on things. That way when it comes to match time, performers are better prepared.

2.Do drills. For example let’s take a sales role. Now people can refine their sales practice using tacit learning over time. To speed things up break down sales into the components that make up each step of the way. Practice these over and over separately. This will improve things a lot quicker and can be applied to any role.

3. Build periphery skills. Interpersonal skills and wider industry knowledge are top of the list here. They may not be directly related to a role but can help elevate a good performer into a great performer.

4. Wellbeing. Now with this I don’t mean giving your staff fruit or gym memberships. This comes down to mental wellbeing. Everyone’s needs are different so this will take a lot of patience understanding and curiosity on your part. Find what everyday mechanics help people feel comfortable and what stops them being comfortable.

5. Strike the balance between supporting performance and driving performance. You need a bit of push and pull to reach the top.

6. Believe that you and your team can perform. Mental determination can really sustain improvement. I talk a little about how to do it here with your team.

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Do you have a personal brand?

ImageSocial media is maturing and it’s links with the workplace are strengthening. Many people know the missteps of causing harm to your personal image but here are my tips for strengthening you personal brand in the job market.

1. Know yourself. This should be the first point on every list. You have to know exactly who you are before you think about what you want your personal brand to be. The better you know yourself the stronger your brand can be.

2. Brand visibility. Make a presence on all the social media sites you think will be valuable in your area. LinkedIn and twitter have the strongest business use but don’t rule out the likes of pinterest or instagram for the more visual fields. Keep these up to date and regular. No one likes an unsociable media page.

3. Connect. Your personal brand can be defined by who you associate with and how you work with those connections. Strong links to many ethical organisations may stand you in good stead. The opposite is also true.

4. Speak up. Offer your thoughts and opinions however you think is suitable. Blogs, forums and messages all represent you. Be proactive with this. Many people appreciate you offering first before asking for something in return. If you offer help, you may just become the name that comes to mind when someone is in crisis.

5. Curate. Market yourself in the most appealing way. Websites are easy to create by yourself. Use wordpress or another tool to bring together all the good things about you. Think of it as a new style of CV. Be creative. You may not always carry a paper CV with you but you can always tell someone a weblink.

These are some basics on building your own brand which in turn can help you stand out from the crowd. And the more you stand out, the more you will be seen.

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