2019 and a New Year’s Resolution that I might actually keep……. 2/2

“Several years back I started my own company in Cambridge. Capitalising on the areas’ status as Europe’s “top tech’ hub” and the availability of local talent and business expertise, things have gone from strength to strength. I have financial backing and a full order book. I also have a great family, good friends and colleagues. I earn well and am respected by my peers.  I’m ‘living the dream’.  So why do I feel unfulfilled?”

Continuing the theme of ‘living in the present’ and the work of Eckhart Tolle https://cambridgeap.com/blog/2019-and-a-new-years-resolution-that-i-might-actually-keep/ , he goes on to suggests a number of tactics for separating the mind from the body:

‘Ruminatus Interruptus’ or, breaking the continuous flow of thought.  With your new awareness of the power of your mind and the ways it influences your thoughts and actions (&happiness!), ask yourself the following: “What will my next thought be?”

 If you commit to this action you will interrupt the flow of/ from the mind.  Doing this regularly will allow you to interrupt at will, reduce the power of the mind and separate yourself from it. Judging requires you to engage the mind and so plays into its hands. Focus on avoiding making judgements. If, in the middle of your working day, your body tells you it wants to run… don’t analyse the emotion, follow the impulse instead.   Later, when your (nagging) mind tells you that you’ve wasted time and should have been working, don’t judge.  Accept the sentiment but don’t act on it. You’ve broken the link between your mind at the need to follow its every command.

Judging requires you to engage the mind and so plays into its hands. Focus on avoiding making judgements.  If, in the middle of your working day, your body tells you it wants to run… don’t analyse the emotion, follow the impulse instead.   Later, when your (nagging)mind tells you that you’ve wasted time and should have been working, don’t judge.  Accept the sentiment but don’t act on it. You’ve broken the link between your mind at the need to follow its every command. 

[Those of a certain age might fondly recognise the picture on the left.  For the rest of you –Google it, you’ve been missing out.]

Tolle’s 3rd suggestion for separation of mind and body is “active waiting”.  This is the idea that anything could happen at any time, it could be important, and you need to be ready for it. 

 As a result, your focus must be on the NOW. There is no time or space for daydreaming, planning or recalling past memories.  

This focus also promotes further awareness of the body which may be called upon to be ready for anything and so the senses are heightened. 

So, we’re better at living in the NOW, managing the mind’s control over us and we’re a “coiled spring”, ready for action.  Excellent, we’re on the path to personal happiness, fulfilment and, (for the spiritual amongst you), enlightenment.  Things are looking up ….

“I’m now living mainly in the present – this is good.  

Unfortunately, my partner has left me – this is not good. “

Living with someone who is ‘fully in the present’ creates challenges for those who share their life. 

The ego of the partner may find the peace and calm exhibited
by their newly enlightened ‘other half’ both challenging and threatening.   

Strong opposites struggle to co-exist in close proximity andthe partner’s ego may become problematic by trying to disrupt the peace, or continually referring to the past.  In dealing with this issue it’s important to recognize that this is not the partner’s conscious behaviour.  

By not judging, criticizing or attempting to change thepartner you have the opportunity to see and deal with them as they really are.  Obviously, if they perceive that your new outlook is driving your happiness and fulfilment, they can choose to follow a similar path.

“This is great – I’ll never feel pain again….”

If you never feel pain, you’re one of the following:

 Clinically insane

Heavily medicated (in which case, sharing can be  good…)

Dead

(Please select as appropriate)

Even if you are fully ‘in the present’, feelings of pain and sadness are natural and unavoidable.  So, should you suppress them and pretend everything is fine?   (Answer:  No)

Not all pain is self-created – some is beyond our control.  For example, the death of aloved one – this pan is real and unavoidable. Living in the present allows us to mourn and feel sadness. It also allows us to accept the situation as it is and that it can’t be changed –thereby avoiding additional and unnecessary pain. Accepting the situation, while feeling sad means you’re not wasting your time and energy on wishing things were different. 

Finally, does living in the present mean living a passive life; unwilling to address things that irritate or trouble us?

Not really.

It is an internal process and insights that need not preclude appropriate action to improve your situation

Rather than accept the status quo, the insights derived allow for a rational analysis of the changes needed, breaking them down into individual and manageable issues to be resolved one by one. Focusing on the present, keeping the past and the future where they belong, allows an assessment of what’s wrong NOW and provides a framework for making the necessary changes.  

As mentioned at the top of this blog, I’ve not yet experienced a major life-changing impact from practising Tolle’s techniques andtactics. I have however seen some positive changes and hope to benefit furtherby ongoing application.   If you would like to comment or discuss further, please contact me via the CAP website… https://cambridgeap.com/contact/

Chris Taylor


2019 and a New Year’s Resolution that I might actually keep…….

1/2

“Several years back I started my own company in Cambridge. Capitalising on the areas’ status as Europe’s “top tech’ hub” and the availability of local talent and business expertise, things have gone from strength to strength. I have financial backing and a full order book. I also have a great family, good friends and colleagues. I earn well and am respected by my peers.  I’m ‘living the dream’.  So why do I feel unfulfilled?”

As a Cambridge-based business consultancy focused on
supporting local growth, we’ve heard the above comment (or a variation thereof)
on many occasions. Indeed, many of us will have been through the same
‘navel-gazing’ exercise ourselves. 

As a confirmed cynic / realist (delete as appropriate), my default
position is that ‘that’s just how things are…who am I to expect such a level of
personal satisfaction… etc.’

However, a project recently undertaken for one of ourclients provided the impetus and time to seriously consider what’s may bepreventing people from feeling truly happy. 

In doing some reading around the subject, I came across ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle. Tolle is known as a ‘bestselling author and renowned spiritual guide’.  Whereas the latter descriptor jars somewhat with my own views and beliefs (see above: cynic/ realist), I found his hypotheses interesting and began to put some of his ideas into action. I can’t claim a ‘Road to Damascus’ type epiphany as a result but I am seeing some positive signs in my self-management and ability to detach myself from negative and (essentially non-productive) thinking.  My take on and understanding of Tolle’s approach follows – for your consideration, comment and critique: 

Contrary to the image, the general consensus is that we wantbetter lives, inner peace and ‘enlightenment’. Tolle’s conjecture is that all of this is available to us if we ‘live inthe present’, thereby limiting / avoiding “pain”. In order to achieve this, weneed to look at how we control our minds. 

We spend most of our time living in the past or thinking about the future.  We’re either reminiscing / regretting past actions or planning for actions to come (often with a degree of trepidation). We spend most of our time living in the past or thinking about the future.  We’re either reminiscing / regretting past actions or planning for actions to come (often with a degree of trepidation). 

Ever put off a major work task – it’s too big, too complex,it requires too much time….? Did you worry about the amount of work you’d need to do orthe fact that you’d already missed opportunities to make a start? The resultantparalysis is a common outcome. Living in the NOW though, you can break the task down into aseries of (manageable) current issues that you can focus on and resolve. 

Tolle definespain as the mind’s inner resistance to external factors beyond its control.This resistance drives a negative emotion (pain). 

Have you ever become really angry in a disagreement?  What was the real impact of that anger? Were you thinking clearly / acting rationally? The likely answer is No! In fact, your anger almost certainly added to yourfrustration and increased your pain.  But, the pain is real – so what can we do about it?

The ego (or “Happiness Police”) is the auto pilot thatexercises control over your thoughts and actions – without your knowledge. Think of a discussion / argument where (with the benefit of hindsight) you mayhave overreacted. (Go on – try…)

Your ego had taken control – this is its “raison d'être”.   If you’ve ever fallen out with your partnerover something essentially trivial (and who hasn’t?), it’s likely to have beenyour ego asserting itself to ensure it remains the most dominant and importantpart of your mind.

The mind is responsible for pain – it constantly brings upthe past (regrets) and plans for the future (anxiety). You can’t actually affect either of these so you’re experiencing pain for pain’s sake.

Tolle suggests that we need to reduce the power / impact ofthe mind and proposes that to achieve this we develop a greater awareness ofand focus on, the body.  My next blogwill continue this theme and explore further tactics, issues and implicationsof “living in the present…”

Chris Taylor 


Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Exploiting new technologies - Repurpose your governance

The World Economic Forum “The Global Risks Report 2017: 12th Edition” initiated a discussion on Emerging Technologies. It commenced with “The emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) will inevitably transform the world in many ways – some that are desirable and others that are not” and went on to discuss the following twelve key emerging technologies.

WEF 12 emerging technologies

  • 3D printing
  • Advanced materials and nanomaterials
  • Artificial intelligence and robotics
  • Biotechnologies
  • Energy capture, storage and transmission
  • Blockchain and distributed ledger
  • Geoengineering
  • Ubiquitous linked sensors (IOT)
  • Neurotechnology
  • New computing technologies (quantum and biological computing, neural network processing)
  • Space technologies
  • Virtual and augmented realities

Whilst we may disagree with some of the perceived benefits or adverse consequences of the technologies that made the list, it is clear there are significant risks for all enterprises with the accelerating emergence of new technologies.

How to govern these emerging technologies is a complex question. Governance regimes need to be sufficiently robust without being constraining. As the report makes clear, the governance of emerging technologies is patchy, both from a regulatory point of view, where the legal profession just is not keeping pace, and commercially.

Emerging technologies exacerbate both global and enterprise-wide risks, but their potential benefits are also huge if managed correctly. To do this you’ll need to assess the risks and manage them. Independently test and, where needed, refresh your governance arrangements. The old accepted norms don’t give you the balance and agility required. They will either impede progress or expose you to unintended consequences. Be prepared to embrace new thinking and exploit emerging technologies better than your competition.

Cambridge Advisory Partners was founded to provide clients unfettered access to the type of innovative thinking only possible when you’re constantly observing and analysing how different worlds intersect and collide, and when you are informed by experience but energised by the future. CAP doesn’t provide “repeatable propositions” delivered en mass. Everything we do is re-imagined for your specific circumstances and delivered by Partners recognised for their relevant expertise.

2018 has to be the year to revolutionise your business. Be bold, stand out and lead from the front. Contact us to find out how we can help you realise this.


Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Our year in review

For us, 2017 will forever be remembered as the year that Cambridge Advisory Partners was founded. A year of seriously hard work but rewarding in ways we could never have expected. The creation not just of an organisation, but the founding of a completely new way of working, embracing diversity because it makes us whole, exploring different because that’s where development thrives and creating collaborative systems that morph and evolve.

By February 2017, we had the nucleus of a vision. By March the leadership team was emerging and in May we were officially formed. The energy was immense and the team dynamics truly creative. We had a web site up and running within a month and, three months ahead of plan, we were delivering engagements. It can be honestly said that across three of the “Big 4” partnerships, nothing has been so exhilarating, so real and so meaningful.

By the start of September we had signed a lease on new office space and by the end we were delivering engagements in Cambridge and London for SMEs through to FTSE 100s. We were doing it through Specialists, experts in their own fields, each committed to giving practical, pragmatic advice that was always advancing through a commitment to continuous development. Not the “repeatable” propositions that are the domain of large scale consultancies, but tailored, partner led, targeted interventions that got to the heart of matters without delay.

In October the concept of “consultancy repurposed” was gathering pace and after our mid-year partner strategy review in November, we concluded that we needed to redevelop our website to deliver the full #ConsultancyRepurposed experience. The focus for December was developing our “capability” offer for earlier stage growth companies.

So, roll on January and 2018 for more momentous developments here at Cambridge Advisory Partners! If you want to be part of our journey then let us know!


Photo by Paul Bence on Unsplash

Balancing stress with Professional Management

A recent survey by The Chartered Management Institute identified that, for those individuals who had invested in professionalising their skills:

  • 93% had developed greater self-awareness which allowed them to connect more effectively with co-workers
  • 86% had heightened self-confidence
  • By making significant “better decisions” they delivered, on average, £362,176 in added value to their organisations

But what does investing in professional management mean?

Stress against performance graph

Professional management, or professional managers, covers many areas of people’s working lives. One such important area is stress, as a motivator and a detriment.

Too much stress can lead to a cataclysmic drop off in performance needing weeks if not months of recovery time. We also know that without enough stimulation, or background stress, performance suffers and motivation dips. It’s a fine balancing act to ensure that performance is optimised without risking overwhelming. As people are often an organisation’s most valuable asset, professional managers need to understand what drives this and which interventions to be apply.

Professional managers set goals and objectives to manage that balance. In setting goals that are achievable with the resource, skills and talent that exists, they also support the development of a company culture with employees’ values.

Stress and goals chart

When goals are set which can be delivered entirely within the control of a given individual, as long as they are sufficiently challenging, stress levels should remain low and objectives should be met. More often than not an objective requires team co-operation or enablement from another. In these cases, the objective may initially heighten stress but as the individual accepts and starts to act on the need for support, realising that it is coming, goals and objectives should be met without undue stress.

However, once it becomes clear that the goal cannot be met either alone or with others, problems start to arise. This is when it’s necessary to look at alternative options or to re-set goals and objectives. Decisions need to be made if the individual is to avoid the dreaded realm of overwhelmed.

These will range from recognising the impossibility of the situation and retreating from the environment, compromising on values to achieve the desired outcome, or struggling on attempting to succeed but knowing that failure is inevitable and recurring. Clearly, neither the second or third options are acceptable, and the first is only acceptable if there is a fundamental mismatch between the individual and the organisation, at both a capability and values level.

This is where professional management needs to step in. The professional manager will look to how individuals and teams can be supported, joined and enabled for success. No-one goes to work with the aim of doing a bad job. The professional manager will facilitate access to people or tools that can help. They will allow sacred cows to be challenged and support new ways of working.

Investing in professional management is to create more “Win Win” situations for both the employee and the company. And where this isn’t possible, to say “No Deal”.

To put your people first, come and talk to us today.


Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

A strong, stable and dynamic base

An U12 cricket squad and business. They’re more alike than you think. The success this season of this group of able, but not unnaturally talented, individuals can be attributed to the same skills and approaches used to consistently create successful businesses.

Cricket squad

This team has always been good. It has always performed well but it often lacked belief and consistency. Over the course of the last 12 months however, it has won every match it has played and, in the course of that, won both the winter indoor league and the main summer league. No mean achievement. So, what has brought about the change?

This team does not rely on just one or two players, it understands that mistakes happen. It accepts that no one makes them on purpose. It also knows that when something doesn’t go to plan, the player(s) concerned know it and feel it more than anyone and don’t need to be told they got it wrong or what they should have done. This team is supportive, understands it’s strengths and looks to execute against them. It also has fun and finds ways to enjoy the time it has together, exactly what a good business should do.

An experienced cricketing coach has a number of tools in their kitbag:

  • Instruct
  • Demonstrate
  • Analyse
  • Observe
  • Listen
  • Question (and discuss)
  • Silence

In the cricket team the balance of these tools has changed over time and, as players have taken greater personal responsibility for their own growth, results have improved.

As a consequence, the coach takes a facilitator’s role, creating an environment that allows the team to succeed, shape its own future and defines its ambition. The coach helps it go further, faster and more consistently. Effectively, using tools 4 - 7 much more.

So just as the team’s mantra of “strong, stable, dynamic base” works in junior cricket, so it will in business. Do you agree? Let us know!