Reverse Mentoring

I love this idea around Reverse Mentoring. Creating a safe place where Millennials and Baby Boomers can gain a true understanding between themselves is an awesome idea.

I might need to use some of these ideas in my team…

Well written Carl (

theknowledgebiz's blog

Reverse Mentoring

Traditional mentoring involves someone with greater experience developing a less experienced person, with its origins often cited as being in ancient Greece from where the term is derived.

During the pre-industrial age, when craft work was the norm, mentors would typically be master craftsmen that would support apprentices on their professional journey, i.e. apprentice – journeyman – craftsman – master craftsmen. Such journeys would often culminate in membership of a professional guild … and an attendant responsibility to mentor the next generation of craft workers. Such practices were well suited to a world in which technological, social and intra-generational change progressed at a slow pace and the skills and practices learned by one generation were relevant to the world occupied by successive generations.

Reverse Mentoring is a relatively new concept brought about by:

  • The rapid (inter-generational) evolution of new and emerging technologies, and
  • A separate but related acceleration…

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The importance of stress

Stress is a given in life – both at work and at home. It comes in different levels and in different ways. It shows itself in different ways too. And quite often, people see stress as a negative thing. As something to stop. As something that we should all try to avoid.

And to a degree they are right.

Too much stress can be a bad thing for a person – physically, mentally and emotionally. It can have harmful effects. 

But, I believe too little stress can be just as negative. 

When I was just starting my career, I was asked by one of my colleagues about how I deal with stress. Being a young, up and coming person, I replied back with “I don’t tend to get stressed”. And at that point I believed it.

But I was wrong.

I had experienced stress. I had experienced stress when I was a child going through a challenging family set up. I had experienced stress when I was at school to meet the expectations that people put on me – and the expectations I put on myself. I had experienced stress getting a job, getting married, buying a car, and in the everyday journey of life.

But I had ways of dealing with it, of channeling it, and of using to push myself forward.

I’ve always used stress as an adrenaline kick. As something to give me a boost. As something to make me do a task I had put off. So many times during my life I have put things off until the last minute so that I get the adrenaline kick and focus that the stress of a pressing deadline gives me. 

Sometimes I’ve done this too much over a period of time, without any real drops in my stress level, so I have suffered physically, mentally and emotionally. And sometimes I have had periods with too low levels of stress for too long which means I lose a lot of my energy, my focus and my ability to complete tasks. 

But when I get the balance right, I feel alive, I feel full of purpose, and feel like I’m being a better me.

Whilst meeting up with the super insightful Carl Taylor we’ve often talked about stress and what it does to me. And I’ve come to realise, that when my stress levels are getting too high I seek a retreat. Not a retreat like my wife would have – a spa day! Not a retreat like many men have – a golf day.  

No. My retreat is something else. The high levels of stress, adrenaline and focus make me more creative. Ive realised that enough stress brings out my superpower. [see one of my earlier posts to see what I mean by superpower!]

I seek new ways to let it out – such as writing this blog, or writing books, stories and poems, or drowning myself in creative inspiration. 

The right levels of stress just seems to light a fire in me, to connect new bits of my brain together, to give me new inspiration, and to be a better me.

That’s why I believe that the right level of stress for the right length of time is important, it is something that everybody needs, and it does have benefits. It should be nurtured – it shouldn’t be allowed to become too big or too small. It shouldn’t just be looked at as a bad thing. Stress can be good for you. Stress is good for me.

Stress is helping me to do life, better.

The importance of understanding individual perspectives

One of the most important things that I’ve learnt that a team needs during my career is a shared vision, a shared understanding of where the team is going. In other words, a shared team purpose. 

‘Great teams’ have worked this out. ‘Great teams’ stay true it. ‘Great team’ live and breathe their purpose.

My team wasn’t clear about ours.

So as the leader of team, I needed to understand what each person on the team thinks the teams purpose is.

Carl Taylor of The Knowledge Biz was one of the first people to teach me this when I was just beginning my career. In his leadership and management training courses that attended when I was an aspiring leader at 20 years of age, he used the story of ‘Zen and the Art of Cathedral Building’. 

[He has since used it in his book, and more recently, within his app.]

Through this story, and his brilliant story telling ability, Carl shows the importance of a team manager and leader understanding the different perspectives that each member of the team has and how this can significantly impact on their work – especially when changes to the team are coming about.

This is a lesson that I had forgotten when I started working with my team to turn us into a great team.

After one of my regular catch ups with Carl over a drink, he said something that has stuck with me. I was talking to him about what I was trying to do, how I was trying to give my team a purpose as we worked towards becoming a great team, and how I was trying to make the team see the work as more than just work. And he replied with a simple question along the lines of – “why should they see the work as more than just work. Most people don’t, they just go to work to do the work in order to get paid”.

And that made me realise that he was right. Most of my team probably wouldn’t see the work as more than just work. 

So, I realised that I had to tap into them. To understood what made the work tic for them personally. To understand what they thought our team’s purpose was.

I had to see it from their individual perspectives.

So I set about personalising my approach. Making my conversations hit the buttons for them. Whether that’s about giving people who the organisation struggles to hear from a stronger and more effective voice in the organisation. Or whether it’s about feeling that their work is making a difference within the organisation. Or whether it was about better illustrating how our new way of working was based on and shaped by their previous working styles and experience. 

Carl had reminded me of a valuable lesson. A lesson that I would not forget again. A lesson that would shape how I approached our changes.

Now I had remembered this, it was time to start looking at a single, jointly written, team purpose statement. To help with that, I turned back to Teamworks.