Newsletter No. 15 April 2009

We can finally welcome spring! The last few days have been lovely and sunny and such a joy after the cold, grey of winter. Our last newsletter on Values touched a chord with people, and the recommended book (The Art of Possibility) inspired Estelle Clarke of Lloyds Register to send us a speech she had given around the book. She was lucky enough to have seen Ben Zander in person and the Art of Possibility is what she talks about. You can read it here.

We are firm believers in Abundance, not scarcity (or Scare City – a vivid description that sums it up beautifully). Abundance is what we are sharing this month – how living and working in abundance, abandoning deficit thinking, can make a tremendous difference to your business.

In this issue:

Best wishes from the LASA Team

Latest thinking

Abundance, WIN/WIN and "enough-ness"

Why would Abundance be important to a business? Don’t we, after all, want to beat the competition? As in: WE win business over others and THEY lose?

That is one view of how things work. We think it is a limiting view. The most important thing that we find with Abundance and win/win thinking is that it opens the doors to possibility and with possibility comes opportunity.

Our definition of Abundance doesn’t mean that there is far more of anything than any of us could possibly use. It does mean “enough to go around; enough for all.” It is the opposite of scarcity thinking which frequently leads to this kind of attitude: ”Well, since there can’t possibly be enough for us all, I’ve got to grab whatever there is for me at the other’s expense, else I will starve… “ (also known as WIN/LOSE).

In practice, Abundance means that you don’t have to fight with someone to get ‘your share’; you can all work win/win and go for the greatest benefit for everyone. For example, in cases where only one organisation can win a contract, perhaps you might join forces with another and work together. Or you might recognise that another organisation is better suited than you are to do a particular piece of work with your client; abundance thinking enables you to allow that organisation the opportunity to work with your client – and your client to benefit from that decision.

Indeed, with Abundance thinking you might see other ways entirely of solving issues, which you could not have seen before when applying a win/lose, deficit, not-enough-to-go-around mindset.

Abundance thinking is extremely important to us as a business and, speaking personally, defines who I am. I was introduced to this approach in the early 90’s when a friend and mentor, Win Nystrom, recommended a now well known book by Stephen Covey called ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ (see book review).

Antidote to deficit thinking

Abundance thinking is the opposite of deficit thinking. It concentrates on what is working well, rather than what isn’t working well. You can’t actually build on what isn’t working, but you can build upon and expand what is.

We’re taught to solve problems by dissecting them, by reducing and condensing until we find the root cause of what’s going wrong, what’s failing, what’s negative, and then putting everything back together having ‘solved’ the root cause.

However, while this may work well for ‘mechanical’ problems, where people are concerned it may not even work well with simple problems. Once you begin to deal with complex problems in the context of the larger system of which they are a part, this doesn’t work. Looking for a single cause and single solution to “what’s failing” in, say, a large organisation simply isn’t tenable. First, it may not be just one cause and second any one change is likely to impact the entire system. Without considering the entire system you can’t really solve the perceived problem, the “failure”. That is why when one problem is solved in isolation, frequently another one (or even several) emerges.

Taking the Abundance view, you concentrate on what is working well within the larger system and see what is missing – or preventing - the healthy whole from fitting together. By keeping the healthy whole as your focus, rather than the single perceived problem or failure, a clearer picture emerges of the changes required – which may or may not involve that original perceived problem.

Room for possibility

Abundance thinking gives you room to expand and grow. Instead of cutting and condensing, converging until you find the one root of the ‘problem’ as described above, abundance thinking allows you to take a positive, open, holistic view.

Deficit thinking concentrates on the negative; it shrivels enthusiasm and innovative solutions; it concentrates on the past. Abundance thinking enables you to see what is possible in the future: it opens up different, creative, perhaps even radical routes to successful solutions.

Rule No 6.

Rule No. 6 comes from Ben and Rosamund Zander’s book. It is: Don’t take yourself so darn seriously!! It is certainly something I need to keep reminding myself!

Rule No. 6 and its underlying message of being relaxed, objective and positive is one of the foundation stones of abundance thinking, as it encourages openness. Possibility, change and innovation are much more likely in this mindset than when deficit thinking is in play, with its stress on worry, failure, lack and negativity.

Rule No. 6 reminds us that life – and business – is so much more rewarding when we take part in a joyful state of mind and spirit.

(By the way, if you are wondering about the other 5 rules, here’s the answer: there aren’t any. Remember what Rule No. 6 says…?)

Future focus

Abundance thinking is pragmatic and accepting: it starts from where you are now and looks towards the future, not back to the past. It recognises that you cannot undo the past, but you can take what you have now and use it to make the best you can for the future. There is no place for blame in abundance thinking. At worst there is a place to learn from what didn’t work and to say, “How interesting!” as you plan what you will try next.

Fair to all parties – fair is sustainable

Abundance thinking is fair to all parties and being fair to all is the bedrock of sustainability and durability. Start with the premise that you CAN work win/win. Trust this new way of thinking and act accordingly: it may feel strange at first, but in our experience the results are rewarding, enriching and inspiring.

Abundance thinking can change your life

When I first wanted to work in Nepal, I was told it would be impossible because I had not done VSO work in the past. I paid little attention and began to do some volunteer work with an INGO (International Non-Governmental Organisation). They paid only my expenses for the first two months and after that we agreed that, if they wished me to continue, they would pay for my work.

After the first two months, I was asked to continue. I sat down with my boss, Michael, to discuss how we would work this. I wanted to be paid fairly, but also be affordable for him. So I shared with him what my expenses were and between us we came up with a daily rate that would work for both of us. It was enough to cover my expenses and pay me a bit for my work and it was a reasonable price for him too – one he could defend to the board. My heart had been in my mouth when we were negotiating – I’d never played win/win before – but I was very happy with the outcome.

Many years later when we met again, Michael told me how life-changing he had found that conversation. He hadn’t noticed that I had been nervous; what he DID recognise, immediately, was the rightness of abundance thinking and how it shows equal respect to all parties. That conversation, he told me, changed the way he has worked and lived his life.

Necessary for today’s leadership

Things need to change – everyone hears this regularly at the moment. One of the best things to change is your attitude – from scarcity to abundance. Start looking for abundance in your life. Start looking for win/win. Start looking for those things you are grateful for; what is going right for you. This is the kind of leadership our world needs right now – expansive, emergent, abundant and creative. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always had… so let’s change things, let’s open the door to possibility and innovation. Let’s live in abundance! Go forth and multiply your possibilities.

© Patricia Lustig, 2009

Latest Books

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

By Stephen R. Covey
Simon & Schuster 1989
358 pp.

Re-reading my old copy of this book reminds me of how much I have got out of it – it was the foundation of my win/win philosophy and it is well used and scribbled upon as I made notes for myself. It helped me to identify the paradigm out of which I operated and viewed the world at that time, and it then helped to change that paradigm. The book teaches that principles are the territory and values are the maps.

The book aims to take us from Dependence to Interdependence in 7 moves. We start by working on what Covey calls the ‘Private Victory’ using the first three habits: Be Proactive; Begin with the End in Mind; and Put First Things First (this is the “important vs. urgent” dilemma). When these three habits are part of you, you are Independent.

From there you move into the “Public Victory”, with the next three habits. These are: Think Win/Win; Seek First to Understand and then to be Understood; and Synergise.

The final habit – when you have achieved Interdependence – is Sharpening the Saw or Renewal. This means looking after yourself on all levels. This is frequently the one that people find most difficult. Even after 20 years, this book still has some great nuggets to offer and some profound lessons to teach.

The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness

By Stephen R. Covey
Simon & Schuster2004
409 pp. plus DVD

The Eighth habit follows on from the first seven and it is about finding your voice and inspiring others to find theirs. It is about calling and the legacy you want to leave behind. This book builds on the previous book and develops the idea of legacy and voice further. It is still based on things like recognising the paradigm that colours what you see and on working on yourself to become the best that you can be. A fundamental underlying belief is that leadership is a choice people make and that all of us can choose to be leaders. To do so we have to be willing to take responsibility for the choices we make.

As with 7 Habits, there are exercises and questions and answers to help you work through the book. It is illustrated with examples from around the world and you finish it feeling inspired. Both books have the abundance mindset and will help you to achieve that for yourself - if it is what you want.

Tech Corner

SatNav

Finally we got a SatNav – a Navigon 2100. Navigon isn’t a brand that we hear a lot about, but it did have good press when it arrived in the UK. The thing I like best about it was that I could use it right away – and no, I don’t like to read the handbook. It is intuitive and does what it says on the tin.

The second thing I like about it is its size – it fits easily into a pocket or a handbag and is very light. This is useful if – like me – you want to figure out where you are going (and the route to take) before you get in the car (this could be because you are arguing about the shortest vs. fastest route).

And it has got me to places I would not have managed to find easily on my own (especially after I found out that google maps don’t always work). Like all SatNavs it can tell you that you’ve arrived and you can see where you want to go but due - for instance - to one-way systems, you can’t get there. It is only as good as the software that is downloaded into it and if the one-way system isn’t in the software, you won’t know about it.

And we have a new game now – if we’ve chosen to go a different way than it tells us to, it can get uppity. But it then recalculates and soon we’re back working together.

We’re really delighted with it and it does save us time… it becomes one of those things that you don’t know how you lived without.

Interesting Links

Herb Paris flower
Herb Paris flower
© PMLustig December 2009

Latest News from LASA

  • Tricia facilitated another Creating the Future – Beyond Profits workshop, this time in Bristol on a lovely spring day in March. Great sessions and very exciting going forward.
  • Tricia organised and facilitated two focus group sessions in Gloucestershire for Natural England looking forward to 2060. One was at Pate’s Grammar School with secondary school children; the other was with local business people at The Inn at Fossebridge. Both were very interesting and yielded great information for Natural England’s 50 year foresight project.
  • Nic began work on a project for The New Business Development Agency (TNBDA) updating their website.
  • Tricia continues to coach several senior managers/ CEOs of SMEs on how to navigate their business through these interesting and turbulent times.
  • Tricia ran a series of Action Learning Sets as part of a Henley Leadership Programme for a large engineering firm across the UK. She ran sessions in Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle and a virtual (video conference) session with a team in South Africa.
  • Nic’s search engine optimisation expertise (where the client’s website is moved up the Google search list) is in growing demand.
  • Tricia gave a keynote session at the Applied Positive Psychology Conference on creating community using Appreciative Inquiry (a positive method for organisational change).

Quotes

Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance. ~ Epicurus

To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance. ~ Buddha

The world is full of abundance and opportunity, but far too many people come to the fountain of life with a sieve instead of a tank car; a teaspoon instead of a steam shovel. They expect little and as a result they get little. ~Ben Sweetland

Abundance does not follow giving until giving becomes its own reward. ~ Jan  Denise

If you want love and abundance in your life, give it away. ~ Stephen R. Covey

Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into. ~ Wayne Dyer

Life is a field of limitless possibilities. ~ Deepak Chopra

Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life. ~ Wayne Dyer

When you focus on being a blessing, God makes sure you are always blessed in abundance. ~ Joel Osteen

Joke corner

1. One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.....

2. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

3. If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?

4. The main reason that Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.

5. I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, 'where's the self-help section?' she said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.

6. What if there were no hypothetical questions?

7. If a deaf person signs swear words, does his mother wash his hands with soap?

8. If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

9. Is there another word for synonym?

10. Where do forest rangers go to 'get away from it all?'

11. What do you do when you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?

12. If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?

13. Would a fly without wings be called a walk?

14. Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?

15. If a turtle doesn't have a shell, is he homeless or naked?

16. Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?

17. If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?

18. What was the best thing before sliced bread?

19. One nice thing about egotists: they don't talk about other people.

20. How is it possible to have a civil war?

22. If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest drown too?

23. If you ate both pasta and antipasta, would you still be hungry?

24. If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?

25. Whose cruel idea was it for the word 'lisp' to have an 's' in it?

26. Why are haemorrhoids called 'haemorrhoids' instead of 'assteroids'?

27. Why is it called tourist season if we can't shoot at them?

28. Why is there an expiration date on sour cream?

29. If you spin an oriental person in a circle three times do they become disoriented?

30. Can an atheist get insurance against acts of God?

LASA Website

If this interests you, there are other interesting resources on the LASA Insight website so why not take a look by going to www.lasa-insight.com

Comments and Feedback

If you have any comments or feedback on - or suggestions for - this newsletter then please email them to us  here

@Patricia Lustig 2009