Devil’s advocate – your new best friend

We humans want to be liked. We want people to like what we do. It feels great. It also seriously limits the scope for our decision making. To really get a sense of the lay of the land, to analyse, generate options and then come to a sound conclusion, we need as broad and realistic a picture as possible. We need to inject dissenting views into the picture to add more depth and dimension.

There are several ways to do this. One role is the so-called “devil’s advocate”, the person arguing the opposite case. I am deliberately calling this a role, not a person, this is a key distinction. A person can play this role without having to disagree, and you don’t need to invite your biggest adversary to the table if this is not going to be constructive.

Somebody playing devil’s advocate is performing a key service to you, to the quality of the decision making, to the process of the group. You can share this role around. If you are by yourself and don’t have a “phone joker” you can pull (tip: Develop a network of people who can be your “phone joker”), you can also step into this yourself. It might be better to do this with other people. But even doing this all by yourself is still better than not doing it at all as this is likely to surface additional helpful aspects.

How do you ensure balance and diversity of input in your decision making?


Check out the values worksheet here.
Or go deeper and get the book.
Or ping me about how coaching might help. 

…but is it art? (and who cares)

Creativity might be part of your core values. As an activity in your own life, or in appreciating what others do. The question then might become “is it art”, and therefore possibly “is it worth it”. If you are not in that field as an “industry” and you can put your inner critic on pause (no mean feat), this question becomes less important over the magnificence of the act of creation itself, and the sheer number of possibilities this unlocks for yourself and, by extension, everyone around you.

If you didn’t like drawing at school, don’t worry. Creativity really is for everyone. In the broader sense has something to do with taking inspiration from the outside, linking it to something inside of you, and making this into something new that then comes alive on the outside again. Or, if you will, some form of putting spirit into matter. The outcome could be all sorts of things. A new recipe for a salad, a solved engineering problem, an insight translated into a conversation or vice versa, a beautiful framework to cut through a thought-mess, a vision becoming reality. Or, actually, nothing; aka something that isn’t quite done yet (and never fully might be), and that’s OK too.

It’s about not getting in the way of what wants to materialize, realizing none of this is linear (while still doing the work). On bad days it may feel like being in a chain gang with your-selves in endless painful grinding minuscule repetition with no end, outcome or goal in sight – in your least favorite weather while being ridiculed by the entire village. On good days it might feel not like doing, but more like bearing witness to an emerging miracle, so breathtakingly beautiful that tears replace words.

It doesn’t matter how big the outcome is, how visible, and if it is going to win any awards. As long as we know it is there. We are doing the work. We are sticking with it and eventually, we will have created something out there. It will then need to start walking by itself, make its own friends and find new creative ideas to mate with. And we have no idea what that might lead to, and that is the beauty of it.

What we create and put out there can change a day or a life for a person, and we might never see the longer-term implications this might have. Maybe that person then felt great as a result and had a really important conversation with their kid at home that will come to full fruition 10 or 20 years later. Or they muster the courage to embark on a journey of creation themselves. In all likelihood, we will never know. All we can do is keep the intention, do the work, get out of our own way, and create things. If we do enough of that, this will result in some next steps somewhere down the line that make a positive difference. Whether it’s art or not (that’s a picture of radishes).

Check out the values worksheet here.
Or
go deeper and get the book.
Or
ping me about how coaching might help. 

How values help getting an overview

You are somewhat aware of your most important values. How do they play out in your life? In all likelihood, not all of them are flourishing in equal measure. Which ones are at the forefront? Which ones could do with a bit of TLC? And sometimes there is one that always seems to be on the backfoot unless something major happens.

How fulfilling is your current setup to their flourishing? How do they influence how you planned your week? Keep a list of your key values around when you plan your week, your day, your next big priorities. What sorts of things let your values flourish? Can you get yourself more of these?  For example, if collaboration is a key value, do you get enough of it? Anything you could tweak? Or if you value creativity, and there is not enough of it in your work, what about that artistic project you have been pushing back? Catching up with your little niece? Maybe that’s something to consider on the weekend.

How did your Monday go? Anything on a practical level you could do to allow your values to flourish more throughout the rest of the week? And the weekend?

This is not just about knowing what your key values are. Unless you make some changes in your daily life, they are just nice-sounding words on paper. And that would be a lost opportunity for a big increase in happiness…


Check out the values worksheet here.
Or
go deeper and get the book.
Or
ping me about how coaching might help. 

Meet the “wildcard”

“Wildcard” is one of my key values. Initially “wildcard” was meant as a placeholder for adding your own values in an exercise I did in a training session. Very quickly I realized this is a thing in and of itself to me, something in its own right.

The Wildcard is an umbrella concept for some very key aspects of who I am and what I do. The out-of-the-box stuff, creativity, pushing boundaries, breaking patterns. The role of the court jester, saying it how it is while just about avoiding any impending “off with the head” scenarios. Key ingredient and driver for innovation. “Wildcard” is not seeking power for its own sake, just enjoys using it to increase the wiggle room for all, to shift mindsets and to bring on change where needed, playful and without an excuse for an easier, more conventional way out.

The last part of course being some of the downsides, every strongly played aspect has them. The never-settling. The not-being-quiet-when-it-is-healthier-to-shut-up. The perpetual “oh but what if” that can drive people absolutely bonkers. The sweet seduction of what might be next, compared to what is and what was. That is why it is good to have a balance, and that is where other aspects have to come in.

What drives you to innovate, to push the boundaries? What kind of environment do you need to allow yourself to show up that way? Please share!

Check out the values worksheet here.
Or
go deeper and get the book.
Or
ping me about how coaching might help.