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Friday, December 19, 2014

Simple’s Complexity

After my rant and rave about simplicity, I have had a few sleepless nights on the matter as is my custom when something I have said comes back haunting in karma style. I have always had a great deal of respect for people who practice what they preach and as the God of Abraham is my witness, I do make a fair attempt of my own. But my attempt at keeping things simple all the time has not always yielded the expected results. Do people really want simple? I think the answer is a YES but must be preceded with a very long …errrrrm trailed by an endless scratch on the head. Think about it carefully. Have you ever told some one that you didn't like them? You will think that will be considered honest, straight to the point and most of all; simple. get absolutely no applause whatsoever for that kinds of comment.

No I have not made a turn around. First of all, it takes complex to (Make that the one thing you must walk away with from reading this article). What brought the iPad to its one-button simplicity is nowhere near simple. I mean think about the number of things that needed to happen for the product to be created. The years of R & D and the number of people and resources it took. Now although Steve Jobs himself is a champion of the Keep-it- simple idea, he himself was not among the simplest persons of his day. His methods from what I hear cannot be described as people-friendly. In fact an article in a recent offering of the Harvard Business review warned against replicating his methods. He was not that nice a guy and that’s the simple fact.

All the simple stuff you enjoy were made possible by very complex processes. Take a blink of an eye. You have no idea how many things have to happen for it to occur. When I learnt about the number of muscles it took to frown, I didn’t have a choice but to smile. A single step you take is made possible by very complex processes involving brains cells, bio-chemicals, muscles, bones and countless other entities you haven’t even heard about. Imagine your every single step is a project from the cells point of view. Yet you consider it is a simple matter—it is after all just a step. From all indications, this is the very character of nature itself. It is how God has created the world. It uses complexity to make things simple. An orange is a much more complex entity than the simple fruit you see.

So if the blink of an eye is such a complex event, imagine how complex a person is with his trillions of cells doing all kinds of things. With the many thoughts and emotions and the actions that result from the need to stay alive, complex doesn’t even begin to describe a human being. The more people you have in a setting the more complex things get. This is what makes socio-emotional competence possibly a harder subject in practice than rocket science.

I have tried the keep-things-simple in the social arena. Say when you don’t like something and tell the truth so you can be free. Go straight to the point and don’t waste time on useless preliminary. In my hometown, a conversation with elders must first begin with a five minute introduction and continue with an expedition into the lives of people who have no interest whatsoever in the conversation at hand. William James will make a terrible elder in Ada where going straight to the point is literally a taboo.
I cannot count the number of times I have sat there screaming in my head “why don’t you just say what it is you want” in a conversation as my counterpart continued with a well rehearse dance around the real issue. Of course these days I don’t let it out because it returns a lot of negatives and I already have too much of that. Now, I am more like give him time, he will get there eventually. Often, I have walked away from conversations without a clear picture of what had gone on-- you are not allowed too many questions either. I have to allow myself some decrypting time as it were.

I have come to respect those police officers who directly ask you for a bribe, they are easy to understand so you can figure what to do with them. I have had more trouble with those who expect you to figure things out by yourself. I have come to learn also that people are very cautious with simple. They find the complexity of pretense more comfortable. You can’t tell a woman she looks ugly. You can’t tell her, her she needs to cover some things. You can’t tell women not to come to church in topless dresses (I don’t know what else to call them).You can’t judge a book by its cover. You can’t tell a person you are tired of their company and that in fact you never liked them in the first place. You can’t tell a friend you need some me time. In effect you are in a system where you are told every day that you must tell the truth all the time. Yet you are hated for it if you even try.
Ok so maybe I am overstretching the people side of things. Maintaining relationships is a complex matter of balancing subterfuge and uprightness. One of the above alone is not enough or you are bound to become a social misfit. Ironically the lesson here is simple; there are two sides to the matter, your side and the world’s side. If you present simple to the world, it will love you for it and you will make some progress. But for this to happen you need a lot of complex work done on your side of things. You cannot present simple unless you have done complex. Simple is only possible because of complex.  In business, it is important to make things easy and simple for the customer. Those who have succeeded at this can be said to have gone the extra mile. Extra mile might sound simple in concept but perhaps you now understand why many organizations and individuals find it an impossibility.

I would like to give you a simple to-do-list that will make you the best in your field. And believe me I have tried that like many motivational speakers do. The fact is that this does not really work or we will all be supermen and women by now. People who function at a high capacity have a mentality that you can’t just tell people about. They have to develop this thinking through a series of complex processes. A person’s life is made up of so many departments and unless each one functions at appreciable level, the ultimate output will not be the best. Those who are willing to tackle the complex are able to give simple and will always be ahead of those who avoid complex. So hopefully you get it; make things simple by doing the complex work.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Anatomy of Trapportunity

A trapportunity is a trap masquerading as an opportunity. It is not a real word. It was coined by the CSD Africa research team during the development of the Uptimetrics® training program. We were looking for a label for this phenomenon that even though so common, was difficult to define. What you cannot define is difficult to fix and our intention was to find solutions to the problem.

Clearly the phenomenon is a two part entity with each component quite self -sufficient. A trap can stand on its own (or can it?) much like an opportunity can stand on its own. But we see in practice that traps need the image of an opportunity (evil needs to mimic good). A mouse trap needs the aroma of meat much like the hook needs the covering of bait. No fish wants to sallow cold steel of course. So that one must come to the terms with the expression; not all that glitters is Gold.

With this understanding then, everything must be checked for substance regardless of how good they look. This is also the exact story of fakes and originals. The need for due diligence then is well placed as we will find that things very often must go through a certain process in order to be authentic. It is nature’s way. As soon as we detect the need to skip processes or laid down procedures that are designed to check trapportunities, red flags must be raised. For eveil by its very nature is incapable of doing the right thing. It must deceive. What trapportunity really does is to derail a goal, slow it down by misleading and many are they who have suffered major setbacks that have impacted negatively on their performance.

Some traps are so bad they will hold you forever. You feel like you are in a spiders web; helpless as you are being drained of your very essence. They come in different forms and shapes too. Sometimes it’s a person, other times it’s a job. It could even be a car. Frankly it can be anything that takes you of your course. Whiles it may be possible to get out of literally any trapportunity, the magnitude of effort often required for the recovery process can be painfully expensive and is best spent on the goal itself.

Trapportunties can occur on both macro and macro levels causing problems for your occupational and life performance alike. As we have seen, the micro things determine the outcomes of the macro things. So that if you suffer from trapportunituies in your daily activity, it will accumulate into a major setback in your quest to maximize your larger existence. This is then is how trapportunities can affect performance. The easiest way to avoid trapportunities is to stick to the procedure and always let systems run their course. Easy short cuts and superficial evaluation of things will not allow you to see beyond the bait and you will become the hook’s victim.

A person with a great future ahead of him who by some action based on what seems like an opportunity ends up in prison for the rest of their life has fallen for a trapportunity. There is a clear difference between trapportunity and self sabotage of course but I shall save that discussion for another post. In the meantime look out for the trapportunities, they are all around you. Joseph faced one in Portipher’s wife but luckily, knew what to do.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jael to empower the world with KOB

Every now and then you encounter something that inspires you to do something new and exciting. We have all had that moment at some point in our lives but creative people experience this the most. Regardless of the depth of talent you might have, inspiration can trigger a powerful engagement for you. Talent will remain a potential until engagement but engagement has driving forces and inspiration is one of them. During engagement, it is also what we believe, think and feel that ensures that we stay engaged and ensures we are able to be the best that we can be.

Inspiration comes from all kinds of sources. Sometimes it is just something you see or hear, taste or feel. This is because we collect information through our senses and decode them with our brain bringing interpretation to the raw data. It is raw material that can be used to fuel performance. For this reason, any source of inspiration is valuable. However, like anything else, some sources can be more effective than others.
This week my attention was brought to a music video that has been making the rounds on both traditional and new media. Whiles the video is new, its main character is not new to Ghanaian and international music circles. It was the unmistakable face and figure of the inspiring and adorable Jael Wiafe-- a Ghanaian gospel artist who never forgets to add a dash of inspiration to her already exciting gospel recipe. I ran into her a few months ago at Capital TV where we naturally broke into an informal conversation about her music and ministry. She was quick to point out how important inspiration is to her. People empowerment is a major part of her ministry and she has sung many inspirational songs in the past. But this new one; keep on believing is like no other.  It is an outstanding piece of art that does more than accomplish its purpose. Anyone who hears that song and doesn't feel inspired may have a relationship of a sort with the darker side of our universe.

What is also fantastic is the video. From story-line to scenery and characters, the producers left nothing to chance. Now perhaps you are wondering about the overall effect of great music, great video and a great artist coming together into one product. The result transcends anything you have ever felt before as it comes at you through all your senses completely trans-mogrifying you into a highly inspired individual who is bound to affect others towards a more inspiring world. I guess that’s what a great product does; we all become carriers of the ripple effect that must reach the banks of the universe. Jael gave meaning to a key concept in performance theory; it is not enough to have a great product, you must also delivery it powerfully and she has succeeded on both levels scoring 2/2 on the structure and content analysis. If you have already seen the video then perhaps you won’t mind my getting all technical and analytical with it. Chances are you are just as inspired as I am.

I don’t know what is on your to-do list for tomorrow but I can promise you that if you start your day with the keep on believing video, you will go on to have a fantastic high performing day. It is not surprising then that there are rumors of the song becoming the theme song for a larger empowerment project to be dubbed KOB (keep on believing) and to be run by an organization called the EL Empowerment Center. Personally I find Jael inspiring as a person and I have no doubt that she is on her way to transforming lives through her music and empowerment ministry. Her new album promises to be ground-breaking as it features major international acts like Papa San and a host of others. Look out for the album review as I already believe it is the next big thing after Cwesi Oteng’s Mercy project. Be sure to let us know what you think by leaving a comment

Monday, November 10, 2014

When big is not better

There are two kinds of people in the world. Actually that’s not exactly true. How many kinds of people there are in the world or the whole of the universe is directly dependent on the system you use and there are countless number of systems that attempts to categorize people.  In this article however, I am concerned with the big picture and small picture people idea. For me any attempt to bring structure  to anything (or systematize it)is a fantastic idea. And it is not necessarily because the structure is a good one but I have a firm believe that a bad system is by far better than no system as an existing system makes for easy trouble-shooting. You can fix something that doesn’t work well because it exists and it is identifiable.  

A typical Big Picture person sees things in large pictures. But of course it is expected. They are visionaries who see the larger system than the small details. If you are a big picture person;

You can quickly see patterns in complex problems
You like to come up with new ideas and new projects
You have a low tolerance for busywork, tedious errands, and filling out forms.
You are great at outlining what needs to be done, but filling in the details can feel painfully exhausting.
You are a visionary in fact as you can see far into the future

Small picture people also referred to as details thinkers are almost the opposite of the big picture people. Whiles big picture people tend to be messy, small picture people see the details and like to keep things tidy. They are orderly and are good at running systems. What big picture people find difficult to do, this bunch will do with incredible ease. It is in their very nature to dot the Is and cross the Ts even when it seems unnecessary. If you are a small picture person then

You think about things in great detail and sometimes miss the big picture.
While you are certainly smart, others may joke that you lack common sense.
You would prefer to edit or tweak a plan than to come up with it from scratch.
Highlighting study notes doesn’t work for you, because you end up highlighting everything.
You have excellent attention to detail and you always spot the small errors that big picture people miss.

While the two may seem like opposites and may lead to conflict when working together, they work incredibly well when people understand their nature and how they complement the nature of others. One is not superior to the other although big picture people may often be the leaders because of their visionary nature. Nevertheless, they need the details to be filled in by small picture people in order for the mission to be accomplished.Small picture tidy up things and make them work. The dynamics of the two are called into play very often in entrepreneurship. Many people have not understood the fact that creating a venture is significantly different from presiding over the day-to-day detailed administration of it. And that in fact the two task may not manifest at their best in the hands of one person.

This is one of the many reasons why self-knowledge is an important component of the SPiD-UP® workshops. The many systems you are tested in reveals you in new ways and allows you to understand yourself better. So whether you are a big picture or small picture person is really not important. What is important is that you know which one you are and how to apply your strength whiles tapping into that of others. Understanding which of the two you are will have a great influence on your performance as it will point you to the strength which you must function by. Don’t forget peak performance is possible only when you are more of what you already are.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Shatta Wale II: A walking paradox

After my last article on the self-proclaimed dancehall King, founder, leader and life patron of the Shatta Movement(SM), I thought it will be fair to know the man a bit more. Something in his temperament and upbringing must account for his lifestyle. I left a half an hour conversation with a close confidant of his convinced that he was not merely an attention seeker. He is in fact a perfectly good man with an emotional intelligence deficiency worsened by the badman ideology.

According to the source, he is in fact the shy type. He extremely introverted with an incredible capacity for showing respect to others. He is described an extremely generous and self-sacrificing beyond reason individual. He is also very trusting and quite dependent on the people he loves and trust. Quite a contrast you might think—perhaps.  But this personality is not a very rare one per se. Such persons who easily sacrifice themselves and trust others tend to expect the same treatment from others. In our beloved Ghana, you don’t get a lot of that kind of integrity and hence disappointment is the other of the day. The self-sacrificing individual suffers.

Temperaments like his; possibly melancholic is a bit of an extremist. They are either being too nice or reacting too violently. This violence whiles not their nature results from the depth of emotions. This character is also a deep thinker and we know that actions are the result of thoughts. In between is the emotional alarm system that warns us. Deep thinking begets extreme actions and the individual appears unrestrained. Yet those who are close will tell you what wonderful person they are by nature.

In Shatta’s case, he may need a good understanding of his temperament and the reason why he behaves the way he does. He must also understand the nature of his environment and learn to accept how it works. So that he will be clear on how he fits into it and how he can influence it with what his has towards an achievement of his goals. He must also understand that he is influenced by the dancehall culture which is to a large extent abusive and violent. This makes his extremism even worse. Yet he can control himself from the thought level but only if he understands enough.

He must finally realize that what he does on a daily basis will culminate into his larger life and therefore the amount of positives he accumulates in the seconds and the hours are what will determine if his life is a positive or negative one. Shatta Movement like most tools in the hand of individuals is like a knife, he can cook dinner with it or he can stab someone with it. What will be King Wale?

Shatta Wale: Another case of self-sabotage Pt.I

I recently wrote a piece on Gifty Anti and her self-sabotage at springboard. Perhaps I should mention that these articles are not meant to attack any personality but to analysis the conduct of very visible individuals and how it affects their occupational and life performance. In effect they are performance analysis and it is hoped that readers will learn a thing or two from the situations.

Barely a fortnight after the Gift Anti article, the self-sabotage alarm bells went off again. This time, it was a bigger catch or is it. Shatta Wale have managed to get himself sued for 10 million GHS by entertainment event giant Charterhouse. Doesn’t sound good but believe me it is worse than it sounds. Even if by some miracle Charterhouse decides to drop the charges, Shatta Wale would have had a close encounter with bankruptcy barely two years after his breakthrough. It is not fun by any stretch of imagination and it could actually mean career death.

Anybody who lives in Ghana knows that Shatta Wale although extremely, talented only just started peaking after so many years of obscurity in the industry. His contemporaries; most of who are in possession of only a fraction of his talent left him behind as he struggled to gain the recognition that he truly deserves. Many years ago, I was flipping through radio stations when I heard his voice verbally assaulting an ace producer. That was the first time I heard him speak and got my own helping of his famous venom. He is not a very nice guy when he is unhappy. It takes a specific kind of person to release such insults on a well-respected public figure especially when the whole world is listening. Shatta Wale is that guy and he left no stones unturned and he dealt with Mark Okraku Mantey.

Not too long ago I started hearing his voice on X fm as a regular on a show hosted by one Mr. logic. They donned the dancehall “badman” badge and proclaimed its manifesto complete with the extreme negativity and profanity that characterizes the Jamaican dancehall. In the midst of the cacophony they called radio broadcasting, Mr. Logic constantly chanted praise to Mr. Wale as he pointed the whole world to his talent and the authenticity of his rebel mentality. He projected Wale as the true dancehall artist as he has  not only the talent but also the attitude. They had fun for a while but nothing lasts forever.

The two apparently got into a misunderstand for reasons I have not bothered to find out. But it wasn’t long before Wale’s constant appearance on xfm or perhaps the magic of Mr. logic’s management skills paid off. His Dancehall king single took the whole country by storm and before one could say Ananse; Shatta Wale is off the ground. But there was no Mr. logic with him. Then came the dis songs and the counteractions. Lyrically and musically the two were at each other’s throats and apparently it hasn’t ended.

I have deliberately decided not to mention his well know brawl with Samini for obvious reasons. It seemed Shatta Wale is not a very patient man and that in more than one way accounted for why it has taken him so long to get off the ground when talent wise he had more than it takes. I saw some of his famous videos on YouTube. The same videos that have earned him a 10 million GHS law suit and I struggled to understand what he was getting at besides the obvious burning passion to abuse charterhouse and its owners. He seemed very good at it which can only be the result of years of practice – you see being disrespectful is a mainstay of the Jamaican dancehall. They even have competitions about it. If you can’t dis, you are not cool.

Wale epitomizes the self-sabotage phenomenon- building something you treasure with a lot of hard work over a long period of time and by your own action destroying it in a day. There is no negative behavior that results in positivity and those who do not understand this little moral law tend to row against the tide when they can sail downstream aided by a strong yet gentle breeze.  But to understand these moral laws are the realm of structure. In my work I have talked extensively about the important influence of structure on content and how it is structure that determines the direction of content. Our friend in question obviously has a weak structure though he carries great content. That he is a very talented individual cannot be challenged. He generates a lot of power applying his gift but he has a problem knowing how to use this power. This is what has made it possible to use it against himself coming close to destroying everything he has built over years of struggle.

Think about it this way; when the ordinary person records a video abusing a powerful institution, it doesn’t really attract that much attention. But when a person with as much power at his disposal as the founder and life president of the SM movement does it, it attracts a law suit. So he does have power but what can he do with that power. But let’s just assume that he doesn’t understand these things; how is it that those who have a commercial interest in his work did not know better as their cash cow is on the path of self-destruction. If indeed his managers are capable, we must see a tactful handling of the matter and a resulting drastic change in behavior. Otherwise they may all need the service of a life coach who might help them answer the questions concerning how your regular activities will determine how your life will ultimately pan out.

From where I stand, Shatta has a few problems; wrong thoughts that will without fail lead to wrong behavior, lack of emotional intelligence leading to a low level of socio-emotional competence and a weak structure to manage the great content he has. A weak structure is like a cracked glass trying to hold precious water. The solution to his problems is a simple one, he needs more than his managers, he also needs a life coach.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Your eight or so intelligence systems

Your eight or so intelligence systems
In this post I attempt to address the Howard Gardner multiple intelligence system developed by the Harvard professor of developmental psychology. In his 1983 book, "Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligence," Gardner distinguishes seven kinds of human intelligence: linguistic, musical, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, and two types of personal intelligence. He proposed that people who exhibit intelligence in one domain do not necessarily exhibit it in another. Each person's unique blend of competences produces an individual cognitive profile. This means that one may have a variety of levels on the testing matrix and this can be used to determine which field they can naturally excel in. It is a simple understanding of where you are strongest so you can put your best foot forward.

In my work as a performance coach, I have encountered many an individual who really have no idea where their strengths lie. Some are partially aware but are not sure if its worth following. This is matter that needs more attention than is often given. In the self-knowledge section of this blog, we treat other test systems that help to identify strengths to help guide you to a good choice. If one’s life enterprise is the only thing they live for then what they use to undertake this enterprise must be handled with utmost care.
I must warn however that whiles articles like this might provide a good idea of the system, it is not a good enough substitute for reading the work of its creator and Wikipedia is a good starting point.
You must however find the book itself and read it. For those who attend our workshops however, you will receive a guidance on how to use the testing system and receive analysis and recommendations by experts. So it is prudent to attend the next SPiD-UP workshop. But if you do read the book or attend the workshop, here is a taste of what you might learn:

# 1 Musical–rhythmic and harmonic
While we all love music not all of us have the gift to create or perform it. In fact, some friends of mine are completely tone deaf. They can’t sing one song right- they just don’t have it. This area of intelligence has to do with sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, tones, and music in general. Such people are able to sing, play musical instruments, and compose music. They generally excel in music and related fields.

# 2 Visual–spatial
This area deals with spatial judgment and the ability to visualize with the mind's eye. People who are visual-spatial learners excel in the arts and sciences. They are also leaders and strategic planners who are intuitive and have the ability to see the big picture.

# 3 Verbal–linguistic
People with high verbal-linguistic intelligence display a facility with words and languages. They are typically good at reading, writing, telling stories and memorizing words along with dates. They excel is careers related to words, speaking etc as they have a natural flair for it

# 4 Logical–mathematical: This area has to do with logic, abstractions, reasoning, numbers and critical thinking. This also has to do with having the capacity to understand the underlying principles of some kind of causal system. People with this kind of intelligence excel in math and related fields. They are good at strategy games, have a mind "like a computer", enjoy science experiments, organizing things by category, Abstract thinking, looks for a rational explanations, Wonder how things work. I think I might know somebody who is heavy in this area of intelligence except the math part. They make good Scientist, Mathematician, Lawyer, Doctor, Accountant, Bookkeeper, Computer Programmer, Researcher, Financial Planner etc.

# 5 Bodily–kinesthetic
The core elements of the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are control of one's bodily motions and the capacity to handle objects skillfully. Gardner elaborates to say that this also includes a sense of timing, a clear sense of the goal of a physical action, along with the ability to train responses. People with high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence excels in athleticsdancing,  acting. They also make good builderspolice officers, and soldiers etc.

# 6 Interpersonal
This type of intelligence is characterized by a high presence of Social skills. This area has to do with interaction with others. In theory, individuals who have high interpersonal intelligence are characterized by their sensitivity to others' moods, feelings, temperaments and motivations, and their ability to cooperate in order to work as part of a group. They make good sales persons, politicians, managers, teachers, counselors and social workers.

# 7 Intrapersonal
This area has to do with introspective and self-reflective capacities. This refers to having a deep understanding of the self; what one's strengths/ weaknesses are, what makes one unique, being able to predict one's own reactions/emotions. Having this kind of intelligence as it helps one to have a deep understanding of themselves.

# 8 Naturalistic
This area has to do with nurturing and relating information to one’s natural surroundings. Examples include classifying natural forms such as animal and plant species and rocks and mountain types. This ability was clearly of value in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in such roles as botanist or chef. This sort of ecological receptiveness is deeply rooted in a "sensitive, ethical, and holistic understanding" of the world and its complexities–including the role of humanity within the greater ecosphere.

Of recent times there has been discussions concerning what some refer to as spiritual intelligence. Whiles Howard Gardner himself has not committed to the idea, he has proposed an existential intelligence as a more acceptable construct. Personally, I subscribe to the idea of spiritual intelligence idea. In the the x-Gen component of the SPiD-UP® workshops we treat spiritual awareness as a full topic as we are aware of how much influence it can have on a person’s output. In Christianity it is thought to take the post of the most important intelligence system available to man.