Conversations about leadership, learning, coaching and change.

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Learning

What children can teach us about change

What children can teach us about change

by Moyra Mackie on July 3, 2016

Yesterday was a big day for our family.  My twenty-year old son moved into a flat.  With his girlfriend.

He’s studying Economics and Finance at university and his third year is a placement in industry.  Tomorrow he starts work in the Finance department of an international car manufacturer, whilst his girlfriend looks for work in a new town, knowing no-one.  They’ve yet to get a broadband connection or work out which utility companies they want to use or even where they will shop for groceries.

That’s a lot of change

Yet, as we spent the day unloading boxes I noticed how easily all of this seemed to sit with them.  This is when I was reminded of the work of Dr William Bridges who makes a key distinction between change and transition:

Change vs Transition

These two twenty year olds had already made that psychological transition, before they’d even packed a box, let alone unpacked it.

Our youth is full of involuntary change

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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That’s what vulnerability feels like according to Brené Brown.  She also says:

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness….The intention and outcome of vulnerability is trust, intimacy and connection.”

The problem is we all have our naked in public memories

This is mine:

When I was at junior school I loved to spend school break times on the climbing frames in the playground.  I grew up in Zimbabwe and my memories are that climbing trees and building forts were equal opportunities activities – we weren’t locked in a pink ghetto back then.

However, being a girl did present some challenges.  This was the seventies and school uniform was a very short blue and white checked dress.  The answer was that we all also wore school issue matching “knickers” to preserve our dignity, if not our sense of style.  This allowed me to indulge my eight year old passion for hanging upside down or swinging round and round on high parallel bars.

Except one day, as I flung my legs over the bar and let myself fall upside down, I realised something felt different. read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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As a coach, clients ask me into their business to help them get better at what they do. Whether it’s an individual leader, a team or even a whole company, these clients are always interested in improvement.

Most of the time they’re pretty successful (sometimes extremely successful) but they’re looking for something a little bit extra. Some of them realise that what got them to this point may not get them to where they really want to be.

At the beginning big nouns are bandied about: “leadership”, “engagement”, “collaboration.”  I know that big consultancies make big money from trying to grapple with big nouns.

Perhaps foolishly, I start with a few small verbs. Because that literally is where the action is.

There are three verbs – three actions – that guarantee improvement

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Forget body language and eye contact

Forget body language and eye contact

by Moyra Mackie on March 7, 2016

Whenever I ask clients about how they might improve their communication skills, particularly listening and presenting, their answers tend to include:

“eye contact…body language”

And I always tell them to forget these comforting, but distracting, ideals.

Why?

Because when it comes to real communication, intention is everything

Thinking about body language is starting in the wrong place.  The place to start is with really caring about the other person.

When you care about the other person, nothing else matters as much.  Your body language will mirror your intention.

Stress impedes connection and hampers communication

It affects our listening certainly and I can provide you with ways of helping you to focus your attention and check your intention here and here.

Instead, I want to focus on the times we need to make a connection when presenting.

Presenting is nothing more than the ancient art of storytelling

Our brains are hardwired for stories. A well-told story releases oxytocin, a chemical response in our bodies also referred to as the hug hormone, cuddle chemical, or moral molecule.

Facts don’t persuade, powerful stories do

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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The perils of perfectionism and other life stealers

The perils of perfectionism and other life stealers

by Moyra Mackie on February 4, 2016

My name is Moyra Mackie and I’m a recovering perfectionist.

Even though I know that perfect is not possible, I hear the siren call of perfectionism whenever I’m under pressure.  This might be a tight deadline when I’m tempted to research one more fact or fine tune (again) the design of a slide deck or report.  Or it might be when I’m facing a stressful situation like negotiating a contract, presenting to a large audience or going to a networking event.

The upside of attempting to be perfect is that I will prepare.  Really, really well.  The downside is that I will over-work or become paralysed by doubt and fear or hyper critical of myself and others.

Perfectionism is rightly described as a life-stealer

“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.”
Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

We all have Drivers (and potential life-stealers) 

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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The memories that make us

The memories that make us

by Moyra Mackie on August 15, 2015

I’ve been reflecting on the power birthdays and anniversaries have to provoke powerful memories and emotions.

This Sunday it’s my best friend’s sixtieth birthday.

We met in the Customer Service department of a local manufacturing company.

We were both starting out

I was searching for my first graduate job, whilst Larraine considered she was in her “first proper job” having left school at 16 to have her son.  I had just returned from a gap year travelling through Africa, whilst she had never strayed too far from her home town in Hertfordshire.

I was 22 and Larraine was 33.

Yet there didn’t seem to be an age gap 

It wasn’t that I was particularly wise, or she particularly young at heart; our differences either enriched our relationship or seemed insignificant.  What I notice looking back is how present we were; we accepted each other how we were, with the past and future being a lot less important than the connection we were forming in the present.

Larraine had “no side” – she just wasn’t the kind to bitch and moan or the kind to hold grudges.

Being with someone so forgiving was good for me

Larraine’s kindness hid a toughness and determination.  I remember her telling me how determined she was to be the best mother she could be because, “at sixteen everyone was expecting me to fail.”  Ditto her determination with her marriage. Her two children were indeed kind, lively and loving, although her marriage was more volatile.

Larraine frequently said that she lived her life backwards

When she was in her teens she was a responsible stay at home mum and in her thirties she started work and discovered a social life.  In the decade after I met her she found the courage to leave her husband and carve out a career for herself.  She formed new relationships, and started travelling, just as I settled down and had my son.

And still the differences didn’t matter

The one thing that began to count was that like a lot of sunny people, Larraine wrestled with depression.  She also suffered from debilitating headaches which could keep her in bed for days.  Sometimes I wondered if the two were linked.

She was the only one of my friends who came to visit me when I lived in North Carolina in the nineties – providing some incredibly happy memories of renting a beach house in the Outer Banks and spending hours walking along the beach or sitting on the porch, all the time talking and laughing.

When my son turned three it was Larraine that helped me – now eight months pregnant – hold a party for a dozen hyperactive kids.  When everyone left we ate what was left of the Thomas the Tank Engine cake and talked about what it would be like when my second son was born.  She had just become a grandmother and we talked about how great it would be for them to play together.

It was a lovely sunny spring day and I had been given four birch saplings by a neighbour.  I gave one to Larraine and we parted after we had crammed a birch sapling into her car.  She drove away with the branches sticking out of the window, sounding her horn and shouting goodbye.

It was the last time I saw her

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Emotional Intelligence: The difference that makes the difference

Emotional Intelligence: The difference that makes the difference

by Guest contributor Liam Barrett on December 13, 2014

For years, in school, you are taught that good grades is how life works. That getting straight A’s and doing your homework is all that matters.

While being smart, and doing your work is a must, there is more to life than just “being smart”.  Employers are starting to recognize that the real prize is emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence is the difference that really makes the difference

Emotional intelligence is the ability to react and adjust to your own emotions;  properly controlling and moderating them.

Many people measure how successful they will be on how smart they are.  But some of our toughest tests are those we face when we leave school – getting turned down, failing, or hitting a roadblock. How we cope depends a lot on our EI.

Becoming a master of emotional intelligence helps your chances of success and fulfillment at home and at work.

There are many ways to increase your emotional intelligence

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Guest contributor Liam Barrett

Guest contributor Liam Barrett

Liam is a young entrepreneur from Boise, Idaho. He is always looking for ways to become a great, influential leader. Everyday is another day to achieve his idea of success, and he believes that only one's self is responsible for the daily life that you live.

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In the absence of other metrics on leadership effectiveness, let’s take employee engagement levels as a way of working out how well managers are leading.

Given that record numbers of staff are disengaged, we can safely say that current leaders are failing on a massive scale.

But what to do about it?

Spend on leadership development continues to rise.  Yet according to many surveys, including a summary of research by the Corporate Research Forum, dissatisfaction with results is also on the rise.

From the mountains of research and 15 years of helping organisations to develop leaders and their teams, I would summarise the reasons as follows:

  • A confusion with the difference between training and learning
  • Too much or too little “classroom” learning
  • No scope for individualised learning tracks
  • Lack of management buy-in and involvement
  • Too much focus on strategy and not enough on measurable skills
  • Inconsistent follow through
  • Lack of focus on the science of change

The red herring in the room: 70:20:10

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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It was a sunny Saturday morning in Shoreditch. Thirteen of us sitting in circle in a light filled room, heads down writing.

All strangers.  No introductions, no knowledge of what might connect us or divide us.

The only thing we knew for certain is that this was day 1 of a weekend Freefall Writing as Creative Therapy class.

Moments before, we had taken our seats, whispering hellos. Politeness, anxiety and curiosity hanging in the air.

We needed to leave the safety of our heads and jump

Our facilitator, Angelika Wienrich, invited us to think of her approach to writing as similar to parachuting.  Sitting on the edge might be scary, but the falling could be an intense experience that moves us beyond the rational to access our emotional and physical responses.

The aim of the next two days was to break down our fears, suppressed feelings and self-imposed ideas about what “good” writing is in order to tap into our creative potential.

We needed to start viewing writing as a physical activity

Which meant taking a pen to paper and not stopping writing until we were told to do so.
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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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How to make filing inspiring

How to make filing inspiring

by Moyra Mackie on May 24, 2014

I hate filing and I love TED Talks.

So in an effort to motivate myself to keep up with all the necessary admin involved in running a business, I make sure I listen to a TED talk whilst wrestling with paperwork.

Sometimes it doesn’t work.  Because sometimes the talks are so compelling that I have to watch as well as listen.

I’m far from on my own. The TED website estimates that they receive 17 page views a second.

This is TED’s mission:

“TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.

We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. On TED.com, we’re building a clearing house of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.”

My 100 inspirational minutes

So this week I thought I would post my all time favourite top 5 TED Talks and see what you think. In total, they add up to 100 minutes of inspiring and thought-provoking ideas.

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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