One of life's most important personal growth experiences is discovering the difference between form - the outer self - and substance - the inner self.
For many years, the Japanese have approached the process of problem- solving with a strategy known as "the Five Whys". Peter Vajda explores how this helps us find better solutions.
Leadership is impossible without self-knowledge and self-development. But if you're really set on failing as a leader, here are some key behaviors that will go a long way towards creating a toxic, disengaged, distrustful and low-performing organization. Do any of them describe you?
Do you wear "crazy-busy" as a merit badge? Have you ever thought that it might be a good idea to slow down and not try to keep every possible option open? Or does that thought fill you with dread that you'll miss out on something?
One of the most irritating elements of work is not just the number of unnecessary meetings,but the incessant, aimless talk that never seems to go away and seldom leads anywhere. It's rather like endlessly moving the furniture around in a room.
When you mess up or miscalculate, do you tend to point to some external factor as an excuse rather than admit you were at fault? But when someone else messes up, how often do you point to some flaw in their character as the reason they behaved as they did?
People are often the greatest barrier to change. But without them, change cannot happen. The effect that change has on individuals is the toughest area of change for most organizations, but the one that determines its success or failure.
Whether or not Yahoo's new office-bound strategy will be successful is anybody's guess. From the outside looking in, the key issue is whether Yahoo realizes that to be a healthy organization and deal with resistance you first need to deal with fear.
Power and passion are woven into our life's purpose; they are part of why we are on the planet. But when we lose our sense of power, we feel deficient and invisible. What results is anger.
It's easy to point fingers at others, especially amid the current epidemic of public figures being accused of actions that are either immoral or unethical if not technically illegal. But many of us are just as prone to similar ethical lapses when it seems convenient.
You compose the music of your own life. When you experience upset of one kind or another, it's usually because you're out of harmony with yourself. When you experience difficulty in your relationships at work or at home, it's most often because your music and the notes of your life are not on the same page.
Empathy springs from the heart, not the mind, which is why we can never talk ourselves into being empathetic. Empathy requires a higher state of consciousness, and cognition and consciousness are poles apart. They are not synonyms, but sit at either end of a continuum.
Our workplaces – and many other areas of life – see far too many individuals happy to mistreat, abuse and devalue others in order to achieve their desperate desire to get what they want - behaviour that is fuelled by a toxic blend of competition and anxiety.
Regardless of your personal circumstances, there are always good reasons to be thankful. Gratitude and thankfulness are extremely healthy emotions and ones that can be cultivated, opening us up to being even more to be grateful and helping to unlock abundance.
Everyone experiences insecurity in some way. And while most of us can deal with our insecurities without becoming paralyzed, there are those who are consumed by them, damaging not only themselves, but also their relationships with those around them.
Without mud, you cannot have a lotus flower. And over the years, I've become a devout believer that you cannot heal, grow, become "conscious" or deeply self-aware, without suffering.
From being a system enabling us to share goods and services to meet our needs, economics has become a zero-sum game that encourages individuals to become selfishly obsessed with gaining an ever larger piece of the pie at the expense of others.
Leading others is like dancing. It requires technical skills, but on their own they aren't enough. The key to effective leadership is emotional connection. And the reason so many organizations have such a negative climate is that their leaders are severing their emotional ties to their workforce - assuming they had any ties to begin with.
Whether we are aware of it or not, many of us "trade" for friendship by doing things for others in the hope of buying their approval. We forget that authentic friendship is an "inside job", not something that can be bought or sold.
Even as adults, we are still children. Why? Because the patterns of behavior we learned as children stay with us throughout our lives. So like it or not, we all bring our families with us when we go to work and we all play the roles – both visible and invisible – that we have been playing since childhood.
Many of us have been on a self-help journey at one point or another, often with little success. Sadly, much of what is considered to be "self-help" doesn't result in any real change. That's because it only engages your mind rather than encouraging you to examine yourself at a deeper level.
Disengaged, under-performing employees damage morale and hurt the bottom line. But people don't become disengaged by accident. It's the culture of the organization and the behavior of leaders and managers that determine whether employees are turned on or switched off.
In the current climate of political, social, financial and workplace uncertainty, it's hardly surprising that many of us are experiencing feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. But what can we do about them - and what's the positive side of these troubled times?
"Weisure" is a term coined by sociologists to describe the blurring the line between work and leisure. What a con! Taking real time out from work a non-negotiable necessity if we're to to maintain a healthy mind, body and soul.
Do you live a Photoshopped life? Are taking people for a ride by the image you put out? Do you project your real and authentic self? Or do you try to persuade the world that you're somebody you're not?
In our electronic world, more people are connecting, but fewer are relating. And even as it becomes easier than ever to stay "in touch", our capacity to really touch one another is slipping away. Like it or not, you can't be intimate from a distance.
Relationships are at the heart of life – even life at work. And the secret sauce that creates a healthy relationship is trust. So does your own behavior help to build trust or does it contribute to creating mistrust?
Whether we are aware of it or not, our lives are giant webs of inter-connectivity. How many people do you interact with every day? And how many of these do you see as being real people to be seen, acknowledged, appreciated and valued?
Many people exhibit 'presenteeism' in just about every aspect of their life, choosing to live with the hand they have been dealt rather than being proactive about changing their life or lifestyle. But next week and the week after that need not be carbon copies of this week or last week.
Many business leaders are intelligent. But they're not wise, or even aware that they lack wisdom. And that's something that no amount of left-brain thinking, "operations-focused" education or experiential learning is going to change.
Does your workplace have a culture of collusion? Are you happy to turn a blind eye to the misdeeds to ensure a quiet life? If so, beware. Collusion is a progressive drug. We need to lie and collude more and more to maintain that false feeling of emotional safety
Does your organization encourage open and honest communication? Does it empower individuals to engage in healthy conversation? Because healthy communication begets healthy relationships - and healthy relationships beget a healthy organization.
Why do some people always seem to need to run other peoples' lives? Why do they prefer to judge, evaluate and tell others how to deal with the struggles of life rather than getting to know themselves? And how can they close the book on other peoples' lives and start to author the book of thier own?
How do you deal with those at work or at home, who you feel have "wronged" you, treated you unfairly, or damaged your spirit? Do you seek revenge? Do you lash out? Are you an "eye for an eye" type? Or are you forgiving, compassionate and understanding?
Are you curious? When was the last time you re-invented your business, your relationship, yourself? How do you feel about the notion of re-inventing? Exhilarated? Or is your life so mechanical that there is no room for curiosity or inquisitiveness?
Many New Year's resolutions are not conscious choices. They are knee-jerk reactions to something we don't like about ourselves – and it's usually about our "packaging" or some surface issue. Creating true resolve requires a deep, inner and conscious process.
What are the issues you're facing in your life? Are they the same issues you faced last year, or the year before that, or even earlier? If they are, you're carrying a dead horse on your shoulders. And that's a very tiring, debilitating and self-sabotaging burden to bear.
More and more of us are suffering from neophilia – the obsessive desire to experience whatever is NEW, be it gadgets, cars or even the latest management fad. Symptoms include confusing appearance with substance, the external with the internal and net worth with self-worth.
When you ask someone how they are or how things are going, do ever actually stop and listen to their response? Do you really care how they are? Do you think about how you meet and greet others Or are you just asking so that you can tick some box?
If you experience something everybody knows cannot happen, you must be crazy. But if you do not tell anyone and forget about it yourself, you will be just fine. But cracks in our reality do happen - uncanny events, something for which you have no conditioned categories for explanation.
We seem to be inundated with information about change and why it is so difficult to achieve, even when our brains are supposed to be "plastic". So why is it so challenging to make lasting changes? Here's one perspective. See how it works for you.
Mistrust is a fact of life in many workplaces. But mistrust is brought to the workplace - it doesn't originate there. Mistrust in the workplace is a consequence, often unintended, of perceiving others through the lens of the child they once were.
Violence – be it in the workplace or elsewhere - is about one issue, and one issue only: power. And only when we understand this and understand the disconnection that leads up to violence can we start to learn how to cope with situations without resorting to violent behaviour.
The foundations of good character are honesty, integrity and courage – even when no one is watching. Once we become dishonest, even when no one is watching, the toothpaste is out of the tube, and mistrust, lying and deception will start to define who we are.
"Age quod agis" is a Latin phrase we were taught in elementary school. In essence it means "whatever you do, do it well" - do it with your whole self, not only from the neck up. So what does this imply in today's context?
When two people spend an inordinate amount of time pursuing their careers, is there also time to pursue their relationship? The answer, of course, is "it depends". Here are some signs that a dual-professional relationship might be in trouble – and some ideas about how to fix it.
It's not uncommon for professional couples to find themselves in gridlock. The demands and stress of work are exacerbated by differences about life at home, particularly when you have dreams that are not heard or respected by your partner. Resolving this requires dialogue and understanding.
When we look at the world, how much of what we see is real and how much is created by tour interpretation of what we're seeing? The answer to this question can help us understand why we experience so much conflict in dealing ourselves and with others, be it at work or at home.
In a workplace where employees are self-aware, conflict can be minimal and constructive. But if the majority of employees are not self-aware, conflict can be insidious, toxic, all-pervasive and destructive. In fcat, a workplace will only "work" when people are in alignment with one another.
We all know the feeling. You're in the middle of a conversation when all of a sudden, it goes south. Someone hit a raw nerve. But why? What's going on here - and what can we do about it?
They have all the social skills required to create professional relationships, so why do so many high-profile figures in politics, business, sports, arts and entertainment fall from grace as the result of personal relationship issues?
The dividing line between work and leisure is becoming more blurred than ever – and most of those who do go away on vacation will remain electronically tethered to their work. But as Peter Vajda reminds us, that's not a spiritually, emotionally, physically or psychologically healthy place to be.
We hear a lot about change, be it at a personal or organizational level. But as Peter Vajda discusses, the reason change so often fails to take place is that change means being willing to allow old ideas and beliefs to die. You cannot change and still be the same.
Our society seems to have become inundated by folks who are dishonest and untrustworthy. So how is it that some people routinely behave in ways that are unethical, immoral and lacking integrity and yet never experience any guilt?
Transparency ought to be so simple. But if transparency is a behavior in high demand, why are so many people unable or unwilling to behave transparently – at work or in their relationships?
What is it about work that leads so many to be so dissatisfied? It's easy to blame external factors - "it," "him," "her" or "them" – but the real reason lies far closer to home. It's about the inner person, not about the externals.
In the current economy, it seems obvious that having a job - any job - is better than having no job at all. But as far as your mental and psychological well-being is concerned, that isn't necessarily true.
So, you're having a conversation. Everything starts off well. But all of a sudden, the conversation derails, beset by misunderstandings and conflict. Why does that happen? Here are some classic reasons for mis-communication.
Almost all new year resolutions are about change. But change is challenging and demands you face some tough truths. Without this, you will never start your journey towards meaningful transformation. So if you make only one resolution for 2011, consider this. Tell the truth - to yourself.
Do you want to experience 2011 in a different, less stressful way than 2010? It's a sad fact that far more of us fantasize about inner peace than actually get to experience it. Most of us seem to live our lives caught up in conflict, agitation, upset or stress. But it doesn't have to be that way.
This week many of us are gathering with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving. And although many of us are struggling both emotionally and financially, we need to remember that there are some very good reasons to be thankful about life, regardless of what our personal circumstances may be.
It's no use trying to emulate somebody else's idea of success. Being successful requires a conscious exploration of what success means to you. It's far more than just achieving results.
At home or at work, the path to happiness is paved with commitment. No commitment, no happiness. That's why those who consistently say they are unhappy at work, at home, or in their relationships are so often lacking commitment.
The reality of life is that life comes with problems. The two come as a package deal. And the secret to dealing with them rather than being overwhelmed by them is all about our perspective and the way we chose to approach them.
For many of us, stress is a wrapper surrounding our lives. Surrounded by crisis and conflict, it is all too easy to be knocked off course. But it doesn't have to be this way. In difficult times, probably the most important quality we can cultivate is equanimity - the evenness of mind under stress.
In Western culture, the sarcastic, demeaning put-down has become part of the fabric of everyday conversation. More and more people seem to view such behavior as no big deal. Well if that's your attitude, I've got news for you. It does matter and it isn't acceptable - at home, at work or anywhere else.
Today's workplaces are full of growing numbers of disengaged, unproductive, underperforming, exhausted, unhappy, depressed and electronically-addicted employees. Blurring work and vacation is one reason for this. Taking time for one's self is a non-negotiable "must" to maintain a healthy mind, body and spirit.
From time to time I receive feedback about my pieces. This is usually in response to the piece itself, but not always. Sometimes, it is the list of "questions for self-reflection" following the piece that attracts comment. And it is these I find most interesting - and most welcome.
This time, I want to talk about BMWs. No, not BMW as in the car. BMW as in Bitching, Moaning and Whining. Because while the car might make you feel good about yourself, spending time with human BMW-ers won't do you any good at all.
It's not a fact of life that a "problem" means defeat. That's a connection you're choosing to make. Like beauty, a problem is in the eye of the beholder. There's no need to tack towards the negative as soon as a problem presents itself. In fact in many cases, a problem can be a blessing in disguise.
The anger, mistrust, and intolerance which infect our culture can't be reduced by cognitive understanding. We can't just "think" ourselves into empathising with those who push our buttons. Because empathy is not a matter of cognition, it's a matter of heart.
A vast segment of our population spends their lives doing things that they hate to make money they don't want to buy things they don't need to impress folks they don't like. All in the vain attempt to experience happiness. Is that you?
This year, as every year, 98 per cent of those who make New Year's resolutions will have given up or failed by Valentine's Day. One of the main reasons for this is that we're stuck in a victim mentality that blinds us to the reasons why we resist change and fail to follow through on our intentions.
For many people, the holiday season is a mental, physical and emotional ordeal, not a time of joy and happiness. So I'd like to share some perspectives to support you to create a nurturing holiday experience resulting in peace in body, mind, and spirit.
I'm often asked what I mean when I refer to 'spirituality' or 'soul' in the context of life at work, at home or in a relationship. So let me explain what it is and why it matters.
The New Oxford American Dictionary has announced that its 2009 Word of the Year is "unfriend", as in to remove someone as a 'friend' on a social networking site. But what about the deeper emotional experience of "unfriending" and what does it tell us about online friendships?
In the midst of the upheaval that seems all around us, it's not surprising that so many of us feel a sense of anxiety and hopelessness. But these challenges also have much to teach us about ourselves – if we choose to stop, explore and ask for the teaching.
One of the major causes of disconnects and friction between individuals is our tendency to not only make observations about their behavior, but to use these as the basis make snap judgments about their character.
We seem to be moving towards a society in which people skills are unnecessary, where verbal violence is acceptable and fewer and fewer care about civility, decorum or respect. But why? And what can we do about it?
One way we measure success and greatness is by assessing our failures – or rather, what we learn through these failures. That's why perfectionism is an illusion - because failure a the catalyst that fosters improvement, growth and greatness.
If the brain is as plastic as science suggests why is permanent change such a difficult thing to achieve? Peter Vajda believes the answer might lie in a bowling alley.
There's no question that managing millennials – Generation Y - is a hot topic. Many of my generation view Gen Y as a different species, a pain in the neck or just plain subversive. But I've never come to any of these conclusions. Why? Because I just manage them as I do any other employee.
Competencies, skills, talent, intellect, technical expertise and drive define many of today's leaders. But that's not enough. What about empathy? What about emotional connection?
"Weisure" is a term coined by sociologists to describe the blurring the line between work and leisure. What a con! Taking real time out from work a non-negotiable necessity if we're to to maintain a healthy mind, body and soul.
We live in angry times. While the stimulus for our anger may be external, the source is always within. Understanding why we feel anger - and that anger is an energy - makes it far easier to deal with.
Change is all around us. Past assumptions about how our workplaces function are outdated. Transformation is necessary. But many business leaders are either waiting for external forces to create change or simply reinforcing what isn't working.
For millions, the current crisis will be a life-changing experience. And so two important questions need answers spring to mind: "how will this change my life" and "how will I choose to face this journey?"
Many of us spend enormous amounts of time and energy trying to convince ourselves that we are big fish in small ponds or even bigger fish in larger ponds. Maybe it's time we tried a different pond.
The message I took away from the Super Bowl ads this year is a depressing one. They told me that disrespect, abuse, deceit and cheating are funny, "business as usual", and that's just the way it is in our world.
With the economy in turmoil, folks losing their jobs, bankruptcies on the increase and so many struggling to "be somebody", it's no surprise that a many people are caught up in a spiral of envy.
Most of us respond to betrayal by becoming non-trusting. We'd like to trust others, but we just can't bring ourselves to do so. But we can respond to matters of betrayal in another, far more positive way.
Many people claim to have huge online networks thanks to their non-stop communicating with others on MySpace or Facebook. But they don't have many – or even any – real friends. So what's the difference between connecting online and real friendship?
Most of us seem consistently to feel the need to be right – and not only to be right, but to prove the other person wrong. But why? And what might happen if you let go of this need to always be right?
Worrying is a self-perpetuating process. Worrying only produces more worry, more fear. It solves nothing. But worrying and being fearful is a choice. Releasing fear and worry is also a choice – and action absorbs anxiety.
What shouts out at me about the current financial crisis is an issue deeper than economics. It is the systemic breakdown in relationships and erosion of trust, one caused in large part by the fact that we're becoming more and more disconnected from each other.
Whether we're aware of it or not, our deeper voices of wisdom and intuition are continually sending us messages. The question is whether or not we are listening. And that depends on our level of conscious awareness.