What I talk about when I talk about running

ImagesHaruki Murakami is best known as the author of “Norwegian Wood”, and the “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” – and many other books. If you haven’t read his books I highly recommend you check them out. But recently I discovered that he is a long-distance runner as well and has written about his running.

I have just finished “What I talk about when I talk about running”, and It is excellent. As a runner I related completely to his journey, his challenges and successes, his apprehension and self-doubt before races, and the acceptance of the unpredictability of marathon-length races.

The philosophy he bring to running – that you need to be as healthy as possible to be effective at what you do, and how maintaining health (in his case by running and doing triathlons), needs to be balanced with what you do. To be mentally sharp and focused requires a healthy body.

He says:

To deal with something unhealthy, a person needs to be as healthy as possible. That’s my motto. In other words, an unhealthy soul requires a healthy body. This might sound paradoxical, but it’s something I’ve felt very keenly ever since I became a professional writer. The healthy and the unhealthy are not necessarily at opposite ends of the spectrum. They don’t stand in opposition to each other, but rather complement each other, and in some cases even band together. Sure, many people who are on a healthy track in life think only of good health, while those who are getting unhealthy think only of that. But if you follow this sort of one-sided view, your life won’t be fruitful.
Almost everything he had to share could have been written by me, or for me. Although I am convinced that any long-distance runner would feel exactly the same.

It is a short and easy read, but a book to be dipped into, reread and digested over time. To get full enjoyment from the book you probably have to enjoy running, but there is plenty to learn regardless of what get you up in the morning.

Speaking off the cuff – a resource

You often hear me speaking about the value of impromptu speaking, and why learning to speak off the cuff is as important as learning to speak prepared.

Here is a great resource; an entire website dedicated to the art of “table topics”, or speaking impromptu.What I like about the site is  that he gives you a lot of templates, or outlines you can use for practising unprepared topics.

Here is an example:

Split Personality

Number of participants: Two

The majority of the information we convey doesn’t come from what we say, but from how we say it. Bodily gestures are a large part of this. The goal of this template is to separate these different aspects of communication between two people. One participant does the talking, the other does the gesturing.

There are two ways to use this template. Either one participant talks, and the other creates the corresponding gestures, or one uses gestures, and the other talks about what the gestures are indicating.

Doing this effectively requires a reasonable amount of cooperation from the participants. It can weaken the delivery if both participants end up gesturing (once you do it, it can be a difficult thing to put down temporarily!). This should possibly be made clear to the participants.

It’s interesting to see the different ways people can take this, sometimes you may have one participant controlling the flow of the entire topic, while others will work together to figure out how the talk or story will evolve.

The purpose of this template is to give people the chance to carefully consider what their gestures are saying to an audience.

Thanks to Andrew William’s for creating the resource.

A few lessons from Gary Bailey

Gary Bailey
Gary Bailey

Some tips I picked up from Gary (ex goal keeper for Manchester United) at our Toastmasters conference. Enjoy!

Manchester United:

  • Is a $1 billion business
  • Has 300 million customers
  • Delivers weekly to its customers

The principles of a good soccer team apply to business as well…

  • Be tough- learns to takes knocks
  • Build on gratitude
  • Appreciate staff and all those around you
  • Things go wrong for everybody at some time
  • It’s how you deal with life, not what happens to you that is important
  • Plan for the future
  • Don’t send emotional emails because there is no emotion in email
  • Make time for others
  • Raise your energy
    • Body; food & exercise
    • Spirit; helping others
    • Mind;
    • Emotions;

Are you planning for the unexpected?

In the last month, two people that I know have lost substantial amounts of data that was stored on their laptops. The first was due to a laptop that was stolen at a conference, the second due to a drive failure. Both of them are experienced computer users, and both are educated about the importance of regular data backups.

Neither of them was keeping any backups. Why? Because they didn’t think that it would happen to them. They were taking a risk, and not expecting the unexpected. This doesn’t just happen to computers; it happens everywhere.

  • How long can you survive without a job until your car or house is taken away?
  • Are you keeping yourself competitive and employable?
  • Are you looking after your health?
  • Do you have an emergency fund?
  • Do you backup your computer?

What contingency plans do you have in place?

How much effort are you prepared to put into your passion?

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods

I was listening to an interview with Malcolm Gladwell recently on the Radiolab podcast in which he was speaking about the performance of Jamaican athletes when he was growing up. He made a comment that part of the reason for their performance is that they trained harder than anybody else.

When Darren la Croix won the 2001 World Championship of Public Speaking, he said that he did not want any of the other competitors to be more prepared than him – he wanted to out-prepare all of them, and he won.

When I was in school, I studied music as one of my matric subjects. In my final year, I would probably practice about 2-3 hours a day, and I was a far better pianist then than I am now. It was because I was putting in the time to prepare.

Tiger Woods is such a great golfer partly because he puts in approx 6 ½ hours training every single day, as well as about 2 ½ hours in the gym  . I have no doubt that if I put effort into golf every day for a few years, I would be a mighty fine golfer as well. Maybe not as good as Tiger Woods, but a lot better than I currently am.

According to Fortune Magazine,

“The evidence we have surveyed … does not support the [notion that] excelling is a consequence of possessing innate gifts…. that nobody is great without work…There’s no evidence of high-level performance without experience or practice.”

Ok, so the bottom line is that you can be excellent at just about anything that you choose, but you will need to put in the effort to get there.

How much effort are you prepared to put into your passion?

What image are you projecting? 10 tips to selling yourself

  1. Be on time for meetings. If you are late, you show a lack of respect and self-organisation.
  2. Respond to messages. Even if it is just a one line to say that you received the message, let the sender know that you are onto it.
  3. Dress for the occasion. You don’t have to wear a suit and tie, but dress appropriately for the occasion. Whether you like it or not, first impressions count a lot, so make a good one.
  4. Only make commitments that you can stick to. If you cannot stick to a commitment, don’t make it. Have you ever been promised that a job will be completed by a particular date, and being annoyed that it is a week late? Have you ever overpromised. Rather under-promise and over-deliver.
  5. Smile
  6. Greet people by name. It shows an interest in others.
  7. Always have business cards with you. They should neat and presentable. Simple cards are not expensive to print, and home-made cards can look tacky. Get them professionally printed.
  8. Be positive.
  9. Listen. People like to listen to themselves. Let them, and they will think how great you are at conversation. Understand your customers’ needs before responding with a solution.
  10. Remember rule #6 – don’t take yourself so seriously (there are no other rules).

The Halo and the Noose – stories in business life

I recently attended the book launch of The Halo and the Noose – the power of story telling and story listening in business life, written by Dorian Haarhoff and Graham Williams.

The book uses stories to illustrate the stories being told in the corporate and business world – meta stories, so to speak. While I have not read the book yet, a quick look through the table contents promises a good read, including:

  • listening
  • service
  • silent stories
  • belief
  • money
  • teams and diversity
  • strategy
  • conversations
  • coaching
  • mindfulness

The book is high up on my reading list.  I will give you a review once I have read it.

Update: Dorian and Graham will be running “storytelling in business” workshop in Cape Town on 5 May. The cost of the full day workshop is R2500. For details and bookings, please contact Johleen van Dyk on 021 913 3507 or email [email protected].

Ben Zander in Cape Town – 25% discount

I had the opportunity of seeing Ben Zander speaking last year, and it was a remarkable experience. He is a world-renowned conductor and an inspirational  speaker on Leadership and the ?Art of Possibility? (he co-authored the book ?Art of Possibility? with his partner Rozamund Zander).

Ben is speaking in Cape Town on 21 and 22nd August. The kind folks at Symphonia have offered a 25% discount to tickets for the Cape Town presentations, provided your tickets are purchased before 31 July – just mention my name for the discount. Both Lois and I have secured tickets, so we would love to see you there. I promise you, it will be worth every cent!

Ben has appeared five times as a keynote speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

You can watch the video of Ben’s presentation at the TED conference earlier this year. This is a short 20 minute exposure to Ben’s presentation style. The 1,600 people in attendance responded with a standing ovation and called this presentation the most inspirational talk of the conference http://blog.ted.com/2008/06/benjamin_zander.php

You can download the full details of all the presentations as well as the 4 concerts in Cape Town from Symphonia’s website http://www.symphonia.net/thought_leaders.html

Benzander

?Zander is a fairly frequent visitor to South Africa. Apart from an obvious affinity for the Rainbow Nation, he has also been “discovered” by corporates who bring him over to help articulate visions and share ideas on the New Age manager. Occasionally outsiders are invited. Should you happen upon the opportunity, grab it. After putting his ideas to the test, who knows how many shining eyes might soon greet you at the office??

Alec Hogg, Moneyweb website

Ben has the ability to ignite and inspire large groups of people in a 3 hour session ? he uses the power of music to galvanise people to action and a sense of possibility.

For more information about Benjamin Zander:

www.benjaminzander.com

COSTS PER PERSON (before 25% discount)

For bookings received after 1st June: R1,350 + VAT

A 10% discount applies to group bookings for more than 10 people
 
PLEASE CONTACT

Johleen van Dyk
for a registration form
([email protected])

Louise van Rhyn
to enquire about special pricing for large group bookings
([email protected])

Are you an expert communicator?

Expert_2I have always believed that to get ahead in life, you need to be an effective communicator, regardless of what your field of work is. You need to be able to communicate to:

  • your peers
  • your boss
  • your clients
  • your prospective clients
  • your service-providers
  • your subordinates
  • your partner
  • your children
  • your parents
  • your …

There is an interesting article by Dustin Wax on Lifehack, "How to be an expert", in which he speaks to this.

Dustin says that

"expertise without the ability to communicate is practically pointless",

and you need to 

"learn to use whatever technologies you need to present your expertise in the best possible way",

and

"an expert should be able to explain to you exactly what they?re doing and why".

It all boils down to the ability to communicate. No matter how knowledgeable you are, your knowledge is worthless if you cannot communicate. Here are a few ways to improve your communication:

  • Practise
  • Get coaching
  • Watch and listen to great communicators
  • Join Toastmasters
  • Get to the point
  • Listen to others

Good luck

(image source)

Ben Zander to present Possibility Thinking in South Africa

Ben_zanderI had the privilege of seeing Ben Zander when he was in Cape Town last year. He left a huge impression on me, and I strongly recommend you all to attend. You will not be disappointed – he gives a remarkable and inspiring presentation.

For more information about Benjamin Zander please see www.benjaminzander.com

  • Ben Zander is a world-renowned conductor and an inspirational  speaker on Leadership and the ?Art of Possibility? (he co-authored the book ?Art of Possibility? with his partner Rozamund Zander)
  • Ben has appeared five times as a keynote speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Alec Hogg (Moneyweb) saw him in Davos in January 2008:

Zander is a fairly frequent visitor to South Africa. Apart from an obvious affinity for the Rainbow Nation, he has also been "discovered" by corporates who bring him over to help articulate visions and share ideas on the New Age manager. Occasionally outsiders are invited. Should you happen upon the opportunity, grab it. After putting his ideas to the test, who knows how many shining eyes might soon greet you at the office?

– Alec Hogg, Moneyweb website      http://www.moneyweb.co.za/mw/view/mw/en/page32979?oid=188857&sn=Detail

Book now for Ben’s "Art of Possiblity" presentation

  • Johannesburg: Friday, 15th August 2008 at VodaWorld (Midrand)
  • Cape Town: Friday, 22nd August 2008 at Artscape (Cape Town)

Costs per person:

  • For bookings received before 30th April: R1,100 + VAT
  • For bookings received after 1st May: R1,350 + VAT

A 10% discount applies to group bookings for more than 10 people

Please contact