4 aha! moments from 2016

 In Happiness, Insights, Life decisions, Productivity, Realizer Blog

One of the huge-but-unexpected bonuses of training and coaching other people is that you learn so much yourself in the process. Here are some aha! moments from 2016 that I wanted to share with you, in reverse order of importance.

In fourth spot…storytelling

We’ve always featured the skills of storytelling in our presentation course. Evidence shows that stories engage much more of the brain and are more memorable and persuasive then other ways of presenting information. But this year we tried storytelling in a range of new places….and it just kept on working.

First off we used storytelling in training leaders how to pitch to new clients – this led to the company successfully overhauling how they present the history of their company to prospective clients.

We followed that up by working with a sales team to show how storytelling can help you write awesome proposals.

And currently we’re using the skills of storytelling to plan a 2 day conference.

The classic “hero’s journey” structure (one of 7 basic plot structures) often works the best – helping you focus on the hero (your client?), the big challenge, the quest you went on to overcome it, and what you learnt. All leading to a happy ending. The easiest way to start structuring presentations, proposals or even conferences like this is to look at how Pixar use the hero’s journey in their movies.

In third spot….happiness

In 2016 I committed to starting work on a book about the link between happiness and decision-making. That meant doing some serious research into the science of happiness. Eventually that led me to an aha! moment…I rediscovered the latest work by the father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman. He has released an updated five factor approach to happiness, showing that you need to work on 5 things to increase your well-being

  1. Positive Experiences
  2. Engagement
  3. Relationships
  4. Meaning
  5. Achievement

This PERMA model has turned out to work really well in coaching to help people focus on what’s important and to make decisions now that will pay off later. I also regularly  use it to guide my decisions and business strategy….after all shouldn’t businesses increase their employees’ well-being?

In second spot….coaching

I set out on a journey this year to become the best coach I can be. I’ve been reading, practising and privately journaling about my experiences. Across the year there were some real highs where coaching helped people resolve huge dilemmas, make big choices, manage difficult people, change career, be less stressed and more besides.

I have a business coach myself and that’s also helped me redefine my business vision and strategy. The reason it works for me? We rarely if ever get a chance to really think through issues. So by having someone listen and ask questions, and helping us stay with one topic, we can make better decisions than we can alone. Sometimes I realise 1 minute into a topic what the answer is, but I’d been loosely thinking about it for months. As one of my clients wrote to me after a session, “What could have taken me years to solve on my own, took us an hour.”

In first spot…productivity and flow

Above all, this was a year when we dived right into productivity. We launched a new course in January, ran a number of long term pilots working with a design company and a not-for-profit to embed new behaviours, and tracked the results.

Of all the things we tried – many of which were successful – probably the highest impact has come through getting people to minimize distractions and get themselves into a state of “flow” – deep concentration for 30-60 minutes. If you want to do great work, you need to be able to access that mindset. If you don’t, and you try and multitask, for example if you check emails at the same time as writing a presentation – then research shows your work will take 40% longer and you’ll lose 10 points of IQ. By doing this, we have helped companies find an hour extra per person per day to focus on great work. And that’s a huge win. After all, if we’re going to spend 80,000 hours of lives at work, we might as well do great work.

Your aha! moments?

So it was a year of aha! moments. What did you learn? Let us know in the comments.

We’ve now got 5 test and learns planned for 2017 to generate more aha! moments. What are you going to try?

Written by Rob Pyne