Monday, 23 April 2007

"Go and help people"

When I first decided to set up my company I asked Mentor Mike Pegg how I should go about it.  He said "go and help a few people using the skills you have".

That's exactly what I did. I went and listened to people telling me about the challenges they had personally or at work regarding communication. I asked  a lot of questions and then finally started to say what I could do to help. I have found this is really useful for the potential client in that they get exactly what they want and also allows me to do my best work. Its about being honest and saying what you can and can't deliver. Its not about trying to get someone to buy something they don't want.

Below is part of an interview with Mike about his MAGIC OF WORK book. I hope you find it useful. It tells you a great deal about the man.

* What prompted you to write this book?

Encouragers have given me a lot during my life, so I wanted to give other people encouragement. Looking back 35 years, perhaps the hardest step for me was to move from working in a factory to doing work I loved. The process took around 6 years. Encouragers helped me to make the transition. Let’s hope the book helps people to shorten the period it takes them.

Anybody can do work they love, the art is getting somebody to pay you for it. People want three things from work: Money, Meaning and Magic. Money feeds the stomach, but meaning and magic feed the spirit and the soul. A key challenge facing people today is: “How can I balance my mission and mortgage, my finances and fulfilment? Do I start from my joy and create a job around it? Or do I find a job and try to weave joy into it?” The book focuses on how you can follow your vocation, find the right vehicle and do valuable work.

* How can people best use the book?

Depends on their Agenda. When doing Career Mentoring, for example, I find that people come with many different challenges. The Chief Executive of a company may want to explore how they can return to doing what they do best---and give most benefit to the business---rather than get locked into being a cop, chasing others to do their jobs. The 22 year-old who is a self-starter and has just left home, for instance, may want to explore how they can be creative and yet retain their integrity in a commercial world. Think it is a good idea for people to clarify ahead of time what they are looking for in the book…then take the best and leave the rest. The book also suggests other reading that people can follow up to pursue their particular interests.

* Is focus really more important than flexibility?

Both are important. Great performers balance apparent contradictions. When performing superbly, for example, they picture the overall vision whilst also seeing the details. They are good finishers and deliver on their promises. They are both focused and flexible. How? They build on their strengths, do a few things and do them brilliantly. Within this niche, however, they are able to be agile, customise and help the customer to achieve success. By the way: Focusing on strengths does not mean that you ignore the ‘fall out’ from your weaknesses; it simply means that you find ways to compensate for them. World class performers are extremists: they make extreme use of their natural talents.

* How do you see the world of work changing?

Great employers will always want to hire great contributors. If you want to stay ahead of the game, build on your strengths and do superb work, but still think like a freelancer. Why? There are no safe jobs anymore, so stay in charge of your destiny. Successful businesses will want two kinds of players in the future. They will want ‘Soul Players’ and ‘Star Players’. (They will have little time for ‘Semi-Detached’ Players.) Soul Players will embody the spirit of the company; Star Players will bring their unique talents to add that ‘little bit extra’. Enlightened employers are already taking steps to retain key people who want to be creative. They are encouraging them to take charge of their future and craft fulfilling roles that benefit both themselves and the business. Whatever path you choose to follow, keep taking initiatives, rather than become institutionalised.

* What do you think makes the difference between a company that keeps innovating compared to one that has a single innovation and milks it for years?

Pacesetters are different. They take the lead, maintain the lead and extend the lead. They make the new rules for the game.  Pacesetters create ‘Positive Prototypes’ that work. They create the rules that others copy and follow in the future. People, teams and companies often follow five steps towards making breakthroughs in particular fields. They focus on their:

Passion: They follow their passion.

Purpose: They translate their passion into a clear purpose.

Professionalism: They do highly professional work.

Peak Performance: They achieve peak performance.

Pacesetting: They make the new rules for the game.

* How important will leadership be in the future world of work?

 Good to remember there are different kinds of leadership. Great leadership teams, for example, have people who fill the roles of Energiser, Environmentalist and Executor. Energisers provide the inspiring vision. Environmentalists provide a nurturing climate that encourages people to grow. Executors make sure the work gets done. Everybody may be a mixture of all three, but teams work best when there are clear demarcation lines. (Energisers who dip down into executing every detail can cause chaos.)

* Have you any thoughts on the subject of leaving a legacy?

People like to do worthwhile work and leave a legacy. Sometimes they only move onto the latter stage after achieving their original picture of ‘success’. Why? They embarked on their professional lives aiming to achieve an ‘external purpose’, such as gaining riches or climbing the corporate ladder. Later in life, however, they focus on an ‘inner purpose’. They concentrate on ‘doing what they were meant to do.’ As they grow older, people also find ways to pass on their wisdom. They may act as a positive model, be a mentor or find others ways to share their knowledge. As the old saying goes: “We have no choice as to the talent we are given. But we do have a choice as to what we do with that talent.” People who find and follow their vocation have a gift for life…and they frequently want to pass on the fruits of this gift. Providing they are able to follow this journey, they often echo Noel Coward’s words that: “Work is so much more fun than fun.”

5 comments:

Antonio said...

Great post Katie, very interesting stuff.

It's funny, I always used to use the three Fs - is it Fun, Financially rewarding or does it push you Forward?

Lots of other useful thinking in there too. I've done quite a bit of informal mentoring in the past and have found that not only is it altruistically rewarding but it also always gives me lots of new ideas too. I'll definitely check out some of Mike's books.

I also recommend Mark McGuinness' blog at http://wishfulthinking.co.uk/blog as a great resource about coaching - the stuff he does hits some of the same points you've raised here.

Katie said...

Antonio,

thank you for the recommendation. Like the idea of the 3 F's as well.

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Kaylee said...

Help people means help myself, I always are ready to help others.

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