Can a leader or aspiring leader learn strategic thinking?

Yes, is the short answer. How? Learn by doing.

John C. Maxwell in his book “Thinking for a Change” set out some steps which I have adapted from my own experience and learning to express below.

Be clear, why you want to learn strategic thinking skills and how you will recognise that you have acquired them.

Choose what you want to think about. Start small.  This may be a problem, an improvement or an aspiration.

Break down a big issue to explore it – is it immediate, a little in the future or further in the future? Who does it concern – a few people in a team/group or many people in many groups?

Ask “Why?” before “How?” The urgency in a fast-paced world to find a solution, may in fact be slower if one’s initial efforts are abandoned and re-worked. The answer to Why? will provide a wider perspective and options for a solution.  Admittedly, this may not be appropriate in some emergency or tactical circumstances.

Evaluate where you are now (A) & accept the situations, your strengths, weaknesses. Then identify where you want to get to on the specific issue (B). Evaluate how to realistically get from (A) to (B). An assessment of opportunities for getting to (B), other opportunities and threats to achieving (B), would deepen your understanding.

What else is going on? Getting the bigger picture, creates context for the issue and options for resolution. Your Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental context matters when considering choices and their consequences. The structure and the behaviour of your Competitors may also influence your choice of options.

Check your resources – skills, funds, people, competences that make you uniquely successful need assembling and nurturing.

Decide – your decision-making will be best if it takes account of your thinking (head), feeling (heart) and possibility visioning (courage).

Develop actionable steps to start is a mantra for success because as we know, action brings change.

Repeat the steps often and learn lessons from the successes as well as the failures. Utilise these lessons to influence future actions.

Practice these steps and observe your outcomes to see benefits of strategic thinking. I hope it is worth it for you, as it is for Joseph.

Author: Joseph Ogbonna

Personal confidence

How much do you believe, in your quiet moments, that you are valuable and can see evidence of your value, even if others don’t admit it?  If you don’t believe, you’ve got make the effort to find and believe the evidence.   It will take some time and you may need a mirror in a trusted person.  Wounds can heal.

Fisherman out on a boat (Credit: pixabay/Mhy)


As usual, I started with curiosity: What do I know about work-life balance? What do I even know about Balance? Is my own work-life balanced? What does it mean to have a balance, really? What is in balance and what is out of balance?

My assertion is that the mindset one chooses in a situation affects one’s experience of balance. Although a bold statement, it is true of my experience. Do you know someone who works punishing hours and appears contented? It strikes me that individuals either define their own balance or go with the default that is in-built.

In giving a meaning to ’balance’, a picture of evenly weighted scales flashes up, but is this it? Our uniqueness must show up in balance. Individuals weight experiences differently, after-all. If this is so, one person may for example, consider ‘balance’ from a specific time perspective different from another’s. Examples may help. If Kim was awake for 16 out of the 24 hours in a day, and worked for 8 of them, that may be balanced for her but not for John, her friend. A third friend, Eby may consider balance from a weekly or even monthly perspective – with questions like how much time did I spend sleeping, with my family, in leisure, and so on this month? This change of time perspective would change the experience of balance for Kim, John and Eby. Considering balance from this viewpoint may suggest that everything else stands still while one finds balance.

Context changes the experience of balance. Missing an opportunity to watch a child’s performance by whilst at work, would alter the individual’s experience of balance. If working long hours for many years, doing what I enjoy doing, results in ill-health, my perspective on balance might change. From an external impact perspective, if loved ones don’t see enough of one, their reaction could affect one’s experience of balance. Many major family stresses can be traced back to similar differences in perception. Getting a promotion could change the experience of time and effort invested in work, if that promotion enables a more fulfilling life. This raises the question of what value life would have without work, a question may be contemplating and many more are likely to ponder in the later 21st Century.

An inheritor of considerable wealth would experience work differently from the creator of that wealth. I confess that I enjoy working and so do not consider my life to be on hold whilst I work. Does this mean I lack balance or I’m incapable of defining it?

Thinking through this, I conclude that an individual’s definition of balance is the starting point for finding work-life balance. Their selves, what is important to them in the long term, and in the short term. It is only when one knows these, that one can choose what balance is, in daily actions and in developing the awareness to recognise balance. For one person, it may be writing code or designing campaigns for many hours, then switching off completely to spend a few quality hours with oneself and in non-work related family or charitable activity. This is fine if it works for her.

“Carry on as before”​ – who gave ‘New Year Resolution’​ a bad name?

More and more people I meet won’t bother with a resolution, because “it won’t last anyway” or “I gave up last year after failing, after the 1st month”. Well, it can last if one is committed enough to give some attention ahead of the new year. Starting like now.

The New Year is not 1st January but the whole of the year 2019, in this case. The resolution is not to be made just on 1st January but on all 365 days of the year. If you want to commit, grab writing material or a keyboard, keep reading and be true to yourself in answer to any questions. Or else, don’t bother reading further.

Some people plan, whilst some don’t believe they can plan, preferring to just start, and still succeed. Provided your commitment takes you through, then start cold and review.

Why would you want to give up something you enjoy or something you already tolerate anyway? Now, imagine what it would it feel and look like when you have succeeded with it. This can motivate you if it is desirable. What would you lose by stopping this, by the way? What is it worth to you? What if you didn’t give it up, then what? If you have decided that the sacrifice is worth making, consider this. Nature does not allow a vacuum, so if you want to remove something from your behaviour, choose something desirable to replace it with. Let’s say you want to stop reacting angrily to someone – what would you do when that someone says something that annoys you? Feel or see in your mind’s eye what it would be like, even practice it. What could get in the way of your intended action and what would you do about each obstacle?

If you wish to start doing something in 2019, what outcome do you desire from this? Imagine how it would make you feel when you have succeeded. Remind yourself why you want to take up this behaviour (physical or mental). What would happen if you didn’t start this? What sacrifice would be involved with doing this? What could get in your way and how would you respond to each one?

It is important to prepare the ground you wish to walk on. Relationships are important to most people, so remember to have any conversations needed to enlist support or send an alert – some may attempt sabotage. There are a number of great Apps which are helpful for forming habits – Strides for iPhone, HabitBull for Android are worthy of mention – so embrace Technology to smooth your path and challenge yourself by tracking your daily success %.

So if you fall off, you have all year to make it work, therefore pick yourself up and choose to go again. Remember that like a baby who wants to walk and won’t stay down, commitment will get you through. Send me a message, if you want my support with this. Have a great year, whatever you choose.

A 360 degree mural (Credit: pixabay/Hermann)

Musings on my Blogging

I feel a need to blog more often but I am not, so I am wondering what this is about.  Granted, some of it is not having the time but that is because I have not prioritised and set aside the time for blogging.  So how come, if I feel the need?  Perhaps the need I have can be fulfilled by other media and deep down I feel blogging is therefore not that important for me.  This would explain the lower ranking on my list of priorities.

However, if I step back and think of my long terms aims, I may have to re-order that list.  My calling is to reach people where they are and help them to realise that more is always possible than we first think and that taking action or attempting something is often all it takes to unlock potential.  I am getting the daily opportunity to speak with people and follow this calling.  In fact, I started blogging in order to raise my web profile. This is the first time I have considered it as serving my calling.

Perhaps I am being content with less that the best that I can be. Blogging in addition to my face-to-face contact will reach more people and so serve me better as an alternative medium of communication.

A road sign that reads "Success Ahead". (Credit: pixabay/geralt)

The redundant employee still has a choice

The Chartered Institute of Personal Development estimate that about 120,000 workers would have been made redundant in 2012. Redundancy from a job is one of those events that stay with you many years after it happened, because it is life changing from an emotional and a financial perspective, raising questions about much of what we take for granted.

For the company, it may just be a re-alignment of resources to adapt to the business environment. For the survivors, it is a reminder of how transient the job is and often results in feelings of guilt, fear and mistrust. But for the redundant, it is the end of the world as it was and a step into an unknown where identity, self esteem, raison d’etre may be called into question. Self-doubt, loss of self-confidence, negative self-talk, low energy, frustration, anger, loss of control are some symptoms one might feel. This is normal in the circumstances and the thing is to acknowledge but fast-track them.

The individual can keep going by choosing to take control of life and what happens next.

  • Remind yourself of what is really important to you. What core values underlie the desires you have cherished and the goals you have pursued before now? Power, money, happiness, friendship, ecology, humour, inner peace, God’s will, faithfulness, beauty and so on? Was professional life to-date really fulfilling or would you like to pursue other options for getting or being what really matters to you?
  • What are you good at and enjoy doing? Update your CV with positive performance appraisal reports and recorded compliments your received
  • Become clear about your desired vision for the future beyond your present circumstances. Capture your vision in a tangible format – possibly a simple line drawing or a future-dated letter to yourself- to inspire you.
  • Learn to immediately recognise and deal with “negative self-talk”. One way is to practice acknowledging and firmly asserting positive counter-talk which states actual previous successes. You get better at doing it with practice.
  • Starting now, make a concerted effort to build a “reserve” of friendships, kindness to others, money, sleep, healthy food, fitness, maintenance of your means of transport and anything else you are likely to need. For instance, learning a breathing exercise can help calm you, focus on your body and help you get back to sleep.
  • Your job is but one aspect of your life, so take stock of where you are in the various aspects of your life and choose one action a day to make progress on each one. This one-action-a-day reminds you of your control over most aspects of your life and will increase feelings of personal power. Be patient with yourself, because deep wounds take time to heal.

Redundancy is not a personal verdict being delivered on the employee’s ability. It is therefore imperative that the redundant employee gives themselves the appropriate breathing space to step back and plan out an approach that will facilitate the achievement of goals that ultimately lead to a happier and more fulfilling life.

This is all possible with appropriate support, which is “there” at all times to acknowledge, challenge, help the individual to clarify their vision and come up with creative strategies to achieve even more.