The Edible Birthday

Birthday Cake

I’m a September baby and this year, I treated my friends at work to the most scrumptious cake I’ve ever seen. What better way to remind us of transformative journeys along the Yellow Brick Road than with the Rainbow Cake by Hummingbird Cafe.

Folks ummed and ahhed at the sight of the multi-coloured layers of this beautiful cake only to be further and pleasantly surprised by the bubble gum flavoured icing as they savoured their slice.

“If I still wrote software, this would be the kind of software I’d create,” I mused, drunken on sugary goodness.

“Don’t you think that would smack of over-engineering?” remarked a fellow cake-connoisseur.

Of course, what I really meant to say is that I marvel at the thought of creating something so thoughtful and thought-provoking as the Rainbow cake. A work of exquisite (and, optionally, edible) beauty that would brighten the world and remind us of what passion, creativity and craftsmanship can produce.

All this serves as a timely reminder that we need to live our dreams to make them come true.

Here’s to enjoying the rainbows on your journey of a lifetime. Happy Birthday one and all!

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches

Food for Thought

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches is the new addition to my mini series inspired by the style of Paul Coelho‘s “Manual of the Warrior of Light“. You can find the first 7 habits here.

BONUS: You can download the entire series published in the PragProg Magazine:

For more ideas on personal and team development, take a look at “The Dream Team Nightmare - Boost Team Productivity Using Agile Techniques“. Happy Coaching!

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches: Habit 14 – Harness Your Empathy

Habit 14 – Harness Your Empathy

Some say it’s impossible for a man who’s warm to understand a man who’s cold. Empathy is the first step towards understanding. It’s a key skill that all of us can develop. Empathy begins with an open mind.

Exercise: Lunch with “The Other”

Choose a colleague who often has opposing viewpoints to yours. Invite them to lunch. Explain you’d like to better understand their thinking and that you’d appreciate if they’d be open to yours. You promise to both keep an open mind and listen deeply. Bon appétit!

For more information, see: Ted talk by Elizabeth Lesser on Take ‘the Other’ for Lunch.

About This Blog Entry

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches is part of a mini series inspired by the style of Paul Coelho‘s “Manual of the Warrior of Light“. You can find the first 7 habits here.

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches: Habit 13 – Motivate with Flow

Habit 13 – Motivate with Flow

One of the greatest sources of satisfaction is achieving flow in what you do. Instead of motivating people through reward and/or recognition, create an environment where people have the chance to practice and get good at what they do. The satisfaction derived from flow will be greater than anything extrinsic has to offer.

Exercise: Free Flow

Identify a goal and a timebox (eg 15 minutes). Then do an activity in that timebox that enables you to get closer to your goal. Notice how you felt as you focused on the task at hand. What did you achieve? How can you flow again? How can you flow on demand?

For more information, see: Ted talk by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on Flow, the secret to happiness.

About This Blog Entry

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches is part of a mini series inspired by the style of Paul Coelho‘s “Manual of the Warrior of Light“. You can find the first 7 habits here.

Bounce: How to harness your resilience in a changing world

The Challenges We Face

Are you feeling stressed? Do you feel uncertain about the future? Everyday we find ourselves facing different challenges, accomplishing various tasks and constantly adapting.

As mankind has evolved, we’ve become more conscious and informed of who we are and how our minds work. Resilience, previously considered a personality trait, is now a vital modern-life skill which can be developed to help us better deal with everyday challenges as well as great adversity.

My friend Lauren L’ecaros and I have created a brand new 75-minute session to help us all better understand how resilient we are and figure out how to become more resilient in order to overcome our next big challenge.

Check out this presentation complete with speaker notes on Slideshare released under the Creative Commons Share-Alike-By-Attribution licence. Have fun with your colleagues, friends and family:

Bounce: How to harness your resilience in a changing world from Portia Tung

Going for Hope

During our search to increase our resilience, we noticed 4 key factors common in helping us tackle our challenges.

We call it the HOPE model.

Help – We can benefit from asking for help as much as giving it
Openness – Being present and daring to be vulnerable with the things we share with others
Perseverance – Never give up. If at first you don’t succeed, try something different
Ease – Strive to perform at your best

Why not give Hope a go?

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches: Habit 12 – Dare to Be Different

Habit 12 – Dare to Be Different

Nothing stays the same but one thing’s for certain. Things change. Choose to challenge and change the status quo for better. Be the beacon that encourages people to stand up and stand out. When you’re bold and brave, you can transform the grey into a rainbow.

Exercise: Be a Super Hero

If you were a super hero, who would you be and why? Or perhaps, if you had a superpower what would it be and why? Take turns answering either or both of these questions over lunch with your friends at work. How can you leverage all your superpowers to transform the way you work for the better?

For more information, see: Watch a film or read a comic about a super hero (eg Kick-Ass). Ideally, do this with friends. It’s more fun and so much more empowering! Repeat the exercise and see what new ideas you can come up with. The more “out there” the idea, the better!

About This Blog Entry

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches is part of a mini series inspired by the style of Paul Coelho‘s “Manual of the Warrior of Light“. You can find the first 7 habits here.

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches: Habit 11 – A Good Teacher is a Good Student

Habit 11 – A Good Teacher is a Good Student

An effective coach is an effective teacher. An effective teacher listens. They recognise the needs of the student. They help a student think through a problem by asking open and genuine questions which challenge their assumptions and beliefs.

An effective coach understands the importance of continuous learning, both learning something new or expanding existing knowledge as well as practicing the skill of learning.

Exercise: Get and Give

Ask someone for help or advice. Reflect on the conversation afterwards. Identify what worked well during the conversation then apply one of the techniques the next time someone comes to you for help or advice. Last, but not least, reflect on how effectively you’ve applied what you’ve learned.

For more information, see: The Yellow Brick Road – Insights Through Peer Coaching an Agile Fairytale for learning the 4 key coaching skills of Questioning, Observing, Listening and Feedback.

About This Blog Entry

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches is part of a mini series inspired by the style of Paul Coelho‘s “Manual of the Warrior of Light“. You can find the first 7 habits here.

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches: Habit 10 – Use What You Know

Habit 10 – Use What You Know

Reading lots may make us feel cleverer, but it doesn’t necessarily improve our effectiveness. Knowledge through study without practical experience makes reading a hobby at best and, at worst, a waste of time. To get the most from our knowledge, we need to apply it.

Exercise: Personal Practice

Pick a tool you’d like to learn more about. Share it with a friend. Take turns applying the tool then reflect on what you’ve learned – about yourselves, about each other and figure out together how you can use the tool to solve a common problem.

For more information, see: The Johari Window – a tool that gives you a view on how you interact with other people around you.

About This Blog Entry

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches is part of a mini series inspired by the style of Paul Coelho‘s “Manual of the Warrior of Light“. You can find the first 7 habits here.

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches: Habit 9 – Know Thy Self

Habit 9 – Know Thy Self

Socrates’s gentle reminder “wise is he who knows himself” remains one of the hardest things to do. As coach, you need to know yourself better than anyone else. Befriending the person in the mirror may not be easy or comfortable, but it’s not until we take a good look at ourselves that we can become more congruent and effective at what we do.

Exercise: Personal Reflection

One day, at sunset, find a quiet place to sit. Have a sheet of blank paper and a pencil to hand. On the lefthand side of the sheet of paper, list your personal values. On the righthand side of the same sheet of paper, note down at least one concrete example of how you lived that value today. Come up with one example per value. Take a look at the output. How quickly did you write down your values? How easy was it to come up with the examples? What have you learned about yourself from this exercise?

For more information, see: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… Why Me? an Agile Fairytale for leveraging individual strengths and weaknesses of your team.

About This Blog Entry

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches is part of a mini series inspired by the style of Paul Coelho‘s “Manual of the Warrior of Light“. You can find the first 7 habits here.

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches: Habit 8 – Play to Stay Alive

Habit 8 – Play to Stay Alive

As time passes, you will develop a reputation as an effective coach. This is when you’re at your most vulnerable because it’s easy to become complacent. You rely more and more on talking the talk. You grow lazy and stop walking the walk.

That’s pretty much what happens to the adult sea squirt, a creature that gets so comfortable bobbing along while stuck to a boat’s hull it ends up devouring its own brain since it doesn’t need it anymore. Coach beware!

Exercise: Move It, Move It, Move It

Play is one of the most effective and efficient ways to get us moving. Look out for opportunities to play, especially during your working day. Play for at least 5 minutes a day to reinvigorate the body and refresh the mind. Play isn’t just for children. Adults need play, too.

For more information, see: The Power of Play, a presentation by Portia Tung, based on the book Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown and Christopher Vaughan.

About This Blog Entry

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches is part of a mini series inspired by the style of Paul Coelho‘s “Manual of the Warrior of Light“. You can find the first 7 habits here.