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. 

Meet the values: Craftsmanship

Craftsmanship is how you go about your daily tasks. It involves skill, often physical, acquired through hours and hours of practice until it becomes muscle memory. It also involved expertise, knowing how something is done, which tools to use, what good looks like and what the process steps are to achieve it. And often, it is embedded in a community of practice, a group of people doing similar things, using the same craft, that challenge and support each other and develop the craft as a whole. Medieval trade guilds worked like that.
Nowadays, we seem to have forgotten some of this as a lot of our world has become more and more digital and commoditized. We long for something physical, that shows the touch of the creator. The handmade bowl, the precision haircut, the wooden table, the perfect flat white, the bespoke suit.
Becoming a good craftsman takes time, practice and dedication. Whether you are apprenticing as a hair dresser or as a video editor. Too often, we want the results, but without really wanting to give people the time and space to develop into this, or without the willingness to pay for good craftsmanship.
When craftsmanship is present and valued, it is one of the most beautiful things of human interaction, it is the market working at its best. The craftsperson puts their heart, soul and skills into something, and finds it valued and enjoyed. The compensation they get stems from the other craftsperson performing their craft and getting fairly rewarded. Everyone brings their gifts to the table. Everyone wins. This might be romantic, but just imagine for a minute what work, what life would feel like if this was true. And then go and make it so…
Some thought starters how to bring craftsmanship to life: 
  • What does a day look like that fosters craftsmanship and respect for it?
  • How do you do that bit of work?
  • Does this influence your lunch and food choices?
  • Your after work shopping?
  • How you interact with people?
  • How you seek out and reward expertise?
  • How you respond to and make use of other people’s contributions? The feedback you give, the feedback you receive?

Want to go deeper?

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

On speed

Our lives consist of multiple facets that all grow and develop. Just not all at the same speed – remember puberty? (Hormones vs neocortex in the neverending battle of “is that actually a good idea”). Later, as our adult lives are chugging along, unless we get pushed from the outside, we rarely stop and check in with ourselves, our loved ones, our environment. We rarely take step back and check where we are, and how the puzzle of our different areas of life fits together, and what might need attention before things blow up.

It’s a bit like a dance choreography, or square dancing, where different parts can do their own thing for a bit, but then there are key points where everything needs to come together for this to work to not have your or others’ toes stepped on. Sometimes we need to take a look how these different sections work, in isolation, but also in their combination. Where are pain points? Where are things that just constantly drain energy?

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

On perfection (stop that)

When making changes, we often make the mistake of comparing our old established, well-rehearsed old life with something new we haven’t even built yet. It is completely unfair to expect that level of perfection. Unfair to the new thing, and unfair to ourselves as well. This is not how new things materialize. We get scared of the new thing not being perfect, sometimes before we even start. Perfection or bust.

Really? Ask yourself, is that really true? (assuming your “new thing” is not recreational neurosurgery or something along these lines)

Don’t let the quest for perfection prevent you from taking action. Stop gilding the lily and start getting your hands dirty.


Want to go deeper? Get in touch. The shop is open.

Values and integrity

This is where stuff gets real. It is of course all nice on paper, but at some point, as you start living your values out loud they are going to be tested.

This is where the stuff happens that truly matters, and when you are going to have to take action to preserve what you are looking to create for yourself.

When you get hurt, it will hurt more and deeper as it will matter on a whole different level. This work will lead you to bigger questions and decisions and they might be disruptive in the short-term.

In the long-run (reminder: this is your life, this is the long run) you will be better off in an environment that embraces you for who and how you are and where your values flourish. The deeper you get into this, the more the bar will shift for what good leadership and a helpful organizational culture looks like. For yourself as your own ongoing practice, and for the people you want to surround yourself with.

Your planning horizon becomes more long-term. You will no longer get lukewarm reactions as people will either gravitate towards you, or you will exit each other’s orbits. That is not a bad thing. You both become more humble/compassionate and more fierce/radical at the same time, and in this tension discover strength and radiance second to none.

What have your experiences been with that so far? What helps you on your path?

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