Psychology

Do you remember the headlines in 2017?

Screen Shot 2017-12-28 at 07.59.04.png

I decided to capture the news headlines for the whole year of 2017. About 3 headlines every single day. 

Why?

To illustrate how we’re all being manipulated by the daily media without us even realising it.

By March I started regretting it, but I continued and have added screenshots of those headlines to a Pinterest board. 

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/stayingaliveuk/headlines-2017

I’ve captured 1,100+ headlines about an average of 3 headlines per day. 

How did I decide what to pick?

Well I basically decided that if my eye, my attention, my internal guidance system drew me to a particular headline then that’s the one that got selected. Of course I did look out for the major ones, the big news items too. Unfortunately Donald Trump and Brexit obviously feature in abundance because there was some news on both every single day. 

I used the Apple News app to tap into the daily news and locate those headlines. 

I am delighted to nearly have completed the exercise with just 3 days left and will be taking 2018 off from even looking at the news app.

Have a look through the board and some of the headlines might surprise you. 

Enjoy!

How do you know if you are being authentic?

@stayingaliveuk.png

This article was inspired by my LinkedIn connection Rebecca Bell, who posted an update about the case of self-proclaimed titles, like ‘Thought Leader’, 'Influencer’ or ‘Visionary’.

See the post below.

The discussion has been fascinating and you can see how many likes and comments are clocking up on this topic, it really has never-ending opinions.

This topic has touched a nerve with many and it’s making me wonder why do we try and big ourselves up so much. Is it because we need that recognition to feel good about ourselves? Is it because the world around us has conditioned us to claim titles for ourselves, so we can be seen by others as important and they will believe in us?

Most of us have heard the saying ‘people buy people first’ and that means someone has to be in your company, face to face (or at least a video call) before this can take place. But because we now spend most of our time in the digital world, the non-physical, we are making up our own non-sense titles to impress and be bought by our connections and sometimes to manipulate search results too. 

Have you ever heard anyone at a networking meeting say. Hello my name is Michael and I’m a visionary or I’m a thought leader or I’m an influencer. Probably not. Recently I was invited to connect to someone who calls themselves a 'Business Maven'. Who encouraged him/her to use this title to suggest that they are maybe better than you or me, better qualified than anyone else to be an expert in the world of business?

A better description, title or headline for any of us would be:

'Have learnt everything I know from others and therefore thank you to all for the great lessons'. 

Because when we came into this world, we knew diddly-squat, nothing, absolutely nothing. Everything and I mean everything we know we had to learn from others. Sure we put our own spin on it and we create some amazing technology because we may think of a different approach to others, but really every tiny bit of knowledge we own, someone gave it to us.

So let's be more humble, grateful for what we know and NEVER proclaim that we are better than anyone else, NEVER!

@stayingaliveuk

Is it really all about politics or is it about leadership?

There are only two types of leaders. Those that instruct and those that trust.

I've never known a more exposed situation and narrative in connection with our countries’ leaders, whether it’s the USA, the U.K., the EU or further away, our leaders are being exposed for what they truly stand for. 

No longer can they be hiding in the forest and just send their troops out to face the battles. Their faces have to be seen, their words have to be heard, every move, every tweet, every bite is under scrutiny being analysed by the media and more importantly by everyone watching, the electorate, ‘The People’.

You might be watching via the TV, the Newspapers or Social Media and you're all forming your own opinions, your views on whether they are performing or not. It's like watching the latest blockbuster movie to see if it lives up to your expectations. You are literally awarding those leaders stars in your head. It's either 1 star or 5 stars, you decide. 

And then you can't help yourself by expressing your opinion via Twitter or Facebook, just like our leaders are now doing. After all we copy what our leaders do, for better or for worse. I've read some incredible debates on Facebook, where inevitably the unfriending happens and maybe ‘rage quitting’ from Facebook too. It's sad to see that colleagues and friends are falling out with each other. This is exactly what our leaders are hoping for, that  we chose one side over another and in the process fall out with each other.

Then there's the comedy, the GIFS, the stand-ups, the meme’s, the late late shows, the comedy news programmes and of course Saturday Night Live, the Russel Brands, the Russel Kanes of this world who are all joining in the discussion, the ridicule, further exposing our leaders with comedy but every time there's also a serious side behind it all. I never saw that much comedy about Barack Obama in his two terms in office, but now I see comedy every single day about Donald Trump and other U.K. leaders. The comedy is not flattery that's for sure. 

And whether those leaders believe that they are being prosecuted by the media or anyone else, they only have themselves to blame. 

The fact that those leaders are in office at the moment is a massive GIFT to the world.  Those ‘elected’ leaders are literally a mirror to all other leaders in the world. Whether we love or hate them, they are a reflection of how the top leaders in the world are treating their ‘People’. And with ‘People’, I mean the electorate, the citizens, the employees, the unemployed, the elderly, the sick, the poor, the homeless. 

And whether we like what we see or not, it's time we all take responsibility for our own actions and how we treat each other. Leadership starts at home, it starts in the office and it starts in your community. When we change our own leadership only then will our leaders change.

Does this mean there will be a revolution? Absolutely there will be. It has already started and will continue to grow. It's hidden and it's visible at the same time. There are new leaders emerging, but we haven't met them yet. They are not the ones you can see and hear in the public arena yet.  They are planning and watching in the background, creating and developing a following. I liken it to the 2nd World War underground movement. I'm not talking about terrorists although our current leaders and media (who are owned by governments) may call them terrorists. They are definitely not, their work is being done in a very peaceful way.  

Those new leaders will emerge like a breath of fresh air to most, not everyone of course will embrace them, but the majority of us will. They will speak a new truth, develop trust and put their self importance last.  It will be totally and directly the opposite of what we have in our world today.  But it will be a very very welcome change. The timing will be exactly right.

I'm for one looking forward to that day. Happy leadership! 🙌

PS. By the way, not sure if you're into numerology or not, personally I don't understand it that well, but a fun fact to consider.  When the big crash occurred in 2008, that year number adds up to 2+0+0+8=10 1+0=1, the start of a new cycle is always a number 1. Guess what 2017 adds up to? Correct it's also number 1.

Watch out for major changes in 2017 still yet to come.

We have a saying at home ‘expect the unexpected’.

One day we will all just be 'OLD'!

I agree it's a dreadful thought or is it? When we get closer to visiting our Maker, we start to forgive those that have done us wrong, we ask for forgiveness for what we may have said to or about those we did wrong, realising that actually we only have a few hours left on this planet. 

One day that is exactly what will happen to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. What they have said to each other will have hurt the other at some level, whether it was the truth or not, it doesn't matter. Throwing verbal abuse at each other is massive negative energy and will affect the other individual. Just think back to when someone verbally abused you. How did it make you feel?

Hillary and Donald are supposed to be the top leaders of the western world, they are supposed to be role models for other leaders, for teenagers and for children who aspire to achieve greatness themselves one day.

Many adults (we're all leaders in our communities by the way) around the world joined in with the verbal abuse, whether it was on TV, the press, Social Media, all of us showing younger people how to behave when things don't go our way. And the abuse continues and will continue for many years to come. This election will NEVER be forgotten, because we will be reminded of it, when every day the media will scrutinise every tiny little detail of Trump's Presidency. 

Can we truly look at ourselves in the mirror and honestly say to ourselves that we are outstanding leaders in this world of ours? Truly?

Watch this fascinating video interview with Simon Sinek, who stated that Donald Trump is a reflection of us. Ironically this interview was posted on YouTube on June 23rd, the day the UK voted for Brexit!

For me what the US Presidential Election of 2016 has shown me is that we as leaders have a very very long way to go to realise what true leadership is. And often we become great leaders when we reach a very mature age, an age when you realise how fragile this life is, an age when forgiveness comes easy, an age when you realise what you did and said wasn't actually that great. And by the way that age is obviously not 69 (Hillary) or 70 (Donald). 

One day we will all just be 'OLD'.

@stayingaliveuk

Are you practising Mindfulness?

There is an issue with the word ’Mindfulness’. It sounds like ’Mind-full-ness’. It should be called ’Mind-emptiness’

As I viewed my Apple News app for my daily fix of world headlines, I’m totally blown away by almost every other article talking about the US Presidency. Whether it's tapes, emails, quotes, the constitution it's all over my News app. There's almost no space for anything else. I really should stop looking. 

But that's the problem, it's hard not to. We're so wired-in to streams of content from all directions, that trying to ignore it is almost futile. 

It really is like living inside a Star Trek episode featuring The Borg. 

This is their quote:

“We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.” 

Seriously that's how I feel sometimes. And when someone says to you, ’did you see...’ and I act all clueless, they look at you as if you've committed a crime. So does that mean we all get sucked in to mindlessly having to read, watch and absorb content that we'd prefer not to?

Being distracted by so much content is becoming a task in itself. How to decide what to read, what to watch and how to relax is now as stressful as work. I'm convinced that there will be a new career in helping people to switch off from ’content overload’. Helping them to identify the real things that are truly important in their lives and will move them forward in achieving their goals and dreams. One thing’s for sure, spending mindless time on Social Media and watching TV is not going to deliver that for us.

So what advise should I give you? I haven't a clue yet is my honest answer, as I've also been assimilated. However my goal is to chunk my time in 20-minute slots. I now even teach people what to do on LinkedIn each day in just 20-minutes per day. Feel free to have a browse through the slides below.

When you chunk your time in say 20-minute slots you will not feel as overwhelmed by it all. If you do need your daily fix of news and social media, just spend 20-minutes per day on it, that's it no more and no less. 

Test it our for a day. 

  1. Catch up with the news for 20 minutes in the morning.
  2. Sit down for breakfast for 20 minutes.
  3. Catch up with email in the office for 20 minutes.
  4. Perform some of your outstanding tasks for 20 minutes at a time.
  5. Attend or chair a meeting, make it last just 20 minutes.
  6. Spend some quiet time during the day, take 20 minutes.
  7. Maybe go for a walk for just 20 minutes.
  8. Spend some time with your kids, even if it's 20 minutes.
  9. Catch up with the news in the evening for just 20 minutes.
  10. Workout for a power exercise session again just 20 minutes.

And I could go on. Chunk it down into 20-minute slots and you will be surprised how much you can achieve. Be patient with yourself, experiment and try it out, even if you don't apply it to everything. You could never watch a film in 20 minutes and that's okay. Just try it out on a few things, especially Social Media. I'll be doing the same!

Let's share how you're getting on and enjoy the process.

LinkedIn created a brilliant eBook with my favourite illustrator. @gapingvoid (Hugh Macleod) creates the most amazing messages through his illustrations. Read more about him and @gapingvoid here: http://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/team-members/hugh-macleod/

Regularly I will share one of the articles and illustrations from the eBook and give you my opinion, interpretation, insight and meaning of the words and illustrations.

@stayingaliveuk

Have you ever wanted to step off the world?

On the 8th December 2015 at 15:50 when I received a call from Clair, my darling wife, I certainly wanted to step off the world.

Luke, my 14-year old stepson, ran away from school apparently very upset, he ran for over a mile and jumped 40 feet of a structure to hit the ground with force to try and commit suicide. I will deal with the ’why’ later.

In case you're wondering, he is alive, but...

He has multiple injuries and has been in several hospitals every since, indeed so has Clair, nurturing, supporting and encouraging him back to life.

His injury list makes painful reading, multiple skull fractures, brain injury, eye socket fracture, multiple fractures in one elbow, punctured lung, pelvis fractures, spinal injury, nerve damage to his bladder (causing him to be currently incontinent), broken ankle, crushed heel. He's had major surgery to his pelvis and spine and to his elbow.

Needless to say he's receiving some counselling for his state of mind as well.

This is going to be a very very long journey and currently this is without doubt THE biggest mission Clair, Luke and I are facing so far during our lives.

We’d like to think that our thought process is different compared to most and indeed we have learnt a lot from many thought leaders over the years, which will help us to get through this very challenging episode of our lives. However nothing can prepare you for something like this, not even the most enlightened and trained. It certainly has knocked my positive mindset for six. I’m sure it will be back, but it will be a while that’s for sure.

We believe ’Intention’ is hugely powerful, we use it in our lives every single day and now more than ever in our lives we are asking everyone we know to hold an intention for Luke’s healing and recovery. The ’Intention’ is shown in the image below. If you are interested in joining us with this ’Intention’, we would of course be delighted.

We know that already in a very short period of time our ’Intention’ has resulted in a positive change in Luke’s condition. I wrote and circulated the ’Intention’ within hours of Luke's accident. Luke was placed into sedation to assist his pain and also prevent any brain damage, as he did have some bleeding on the brain. When after a few days they brought him out of sedation and then when he could communicate slightly, he was able to know who he was, how old he is, who his family members are and all their birth dates. The consultant doctors thought this kind of a recovery of his brain injury was nothing short of miraculous (their words). 

I first learnt about intention setting during the summer of 2006, where I participated in the first ever group ‘Intention Experiment’ hosted by Lynne McTaggart in London with very interesting and successful results. Lynne is the author of The Field, The Intention Experiment, What Doctors Don’t Tell You and The Bond. You can check out her website and learn more about her.  She certainly has done some fascinating research.

I won’t even try to explain how intention setting works, because I have no idea, except that I have read studies and witnessed many of my own personal examples. You can probably divide the world into 3 camps, the scientific, the religious and the spiritual (non-religious). And there are some that hover somewhere in-between. I completely acknowledge the fact that some of you will say that 'Intention’ is just ‘prayer’ and at some level I do agree with that too.

Anyway for now you have to decide whether you believe or not.

Apart from creating some images with the intention words, I have also asked Lynne McTaggart if she could share the intention with her audience. She has very kindly agreed to send an email blast to her database asking them to take part. This will have potentially hundreds and maybe even thousands of people who are going to be taking part. Here is the link to the email that went out on the 8th January for a global multiple intention on 10th January.

I have also created a meditation audio track, which you can listen to on Mixcloud or YouTube. The embedded tracks are below.


I promised to share with you why Luke decided to commit suicide.

Truthfully we will never really know, except to say that he had planned it and had even written a suicide letter, which he handed to his ex-girlfriend, who he had only 48 hours previously broken up with. This was Luke’s first ever proper girlfriend at the very young age of 14 years. Luke is a very balanced young man and committed to his word. We believe that he had to follow through with it because he had committed himself in writing. He has managed to briefly speak to Clair about it at times when he has wanted to. The good news is that he does want to get better and fit again.

Back in 2014, I wrote an article about suicide to highlight the dangers of those thoughts in young people. Far more needs to be done to help younger people have a better understanding about their emotions in early relationships and that they need to talk about their feelings. Easier said than done.

Thank you for reading and thank you so much if you are deciding to take part. I will of course post an update on Luke’s progress in the coming weeks and months.

Much love and gratitude ❤️

Is Creating Content the Elephant on the Web?

IMG_1214 Recently I joined a twitter chat #sshour (social selling hour) and the subject of content curation was being discussed. I too have been busy organising my content stream, selecting the articles I enjoy reading and sharing them on my preferred platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. And I love scheduling them using Buffer.

And my reason for doing this? Thought leadership? Just sharing ‘stuff’, which my connections might like to read? Wanting more followers, likes and comments?

Does anyone really give a damn?

And what's our outcome? Is it more engagement with our buyers, receiving more enquiries for our products and services? Or is it ’FOMO’,  fear of missing out? Or ’FOBLO’, fear of being left out?

Social Media has a lot to answer for. It’s changing human behaviour across the planet. We never shared so many intimate details of our lives, so publicly. And as we are so obsessed with sharing content surely we are trying to look interesting, relevant and impressive to our connections and followers?

No wonder there are 630 million search results on google to my question ‘how often should I blog?’

I asked the question last year: ‘Do Social Networks Sell Drugs?’

I know it’s a great feeling when your article/blog or your shared post gets noticed by your followers. Ever time this happens somewhere deep inside of us we say, ‘Wow she/he loves me’.

And by just pushing out more and more content and posting regularly, are we hoping that we’ll get noticed by some big shot CEO who will approach us to come and do some consultancy or maybe even work for them? There's news there too for us. They aren't reading them.

I believe there are two tribes who do all the blogging and posting. Folks that are self-employed and are making it part of their own personal marketing strategy or folks that work for big business and their job is in marketing anyway.

Everyone in between either don’t really care or are just too busy at work to bother.

I’d love to hear your opinion. Are we overdoing it and heading for blogging/posting burnout?

IMG_1209

How Do You Test Competence?

The biggest challenge facing the UK economy is 'Skills Competence' and not 'Skills Shortage'. Everyone always looks at the glass as being half empty instead of half full. So focussing on 'Skills Competence' is better than focussing on 'Skills Shortage', don't you think? Competence is the holy grail, because assessing someone’s competence allows you to directly know whether they are equipped to do the job or not. We have a competence issue in organisations not a skills issue.

Competence: the ability to do something successfully or efficiently.

Appraisals, Annual reviews, Objective setting, 360 degree reviews or whatever your name is for reviewing someone’s performance doesn't assess competence. You can only test competence by asking the employee directly if they know the answer to a very specific set of questions that relate to ’what’ they need to know as an absolute minimum to do the job competently.

In every organisation things change. New products or services, new managers, changing procedures and processes, re-organisation which causes job changes, new sales and customer service processes, etc.

Job competency is always under pressure when change happens in an organisation and that's all the time.

To truly understand your employees’ competence you need to test them, regularly. Once you know their competence levels, you can do something about it.

Deploying learning materials in large silos (Learning Management Systems) or any other method of e-learning will allow you to teach skills but not competence. When you teach just skills, you have no idea if the learner has remembered the new skill and whether they've actually become competent in that skill. Indeed it takes time to become competent in any skill and usually it takes repetition of carrying out that skill before you become competent.

IMG_0970

We all know the following 4 phases of learning something new, like learning to drive a car:

1. Unconscious incompetence 2. Conscious incompetence 3. Conscious competence 4. Unconscious competence

The 4th phase is where we want our employees to get to as soon as possible, whether it's with Onboarding (Induction) or learning new skills/knowledge.

Every minute, hour, day, week or month that we take to get them as competent as possible, means the organisation is potentially losing money or not growing as fast.

The Psychology of Study goes as far back as 1932, when Mace wrote his book 'Psychology of Study' and the idea of ’spaced repetition’ was first muted. Earlier still we had Ebbinghaus who told us about the forgetting curve. It tells us that for centuries we've been debating how we can get humans to remember more than how to walk.

Let's take learning languages. If you've ever tried to learn a new language, then you'll know that only by repetition will you become competent in that language. Using flash cards are an even better way of learning to remember a new language. Put the English on one side and the translation on the other. Start with 50 cards on day one and when you know you have mastered a few, take those out of the pack and repeat the others. Keep going until you've mastered them all. It's fairly basic but it works.

It's the only way to become competent in that language. Of course you may decide to repeat it in 3 weeks, because unless you are using these sentences regularly, the chances are that you will forget them.

Take this concept into any skill in any organisation where you require it to become a competence in the person who is performing it and you will rapidly and successfully increase competence throughout the organisation.

Deploying this method is now easier then ever, allowing employees to become more competent through the power of mobile. Not only can you test competence and teach new skills, you can report on the overall competence of a group, a department, a division or the overall organisation. It allows you to succession plan, recruit for competence gaps, evaluate competence levels for new projects. It even tests the individuals who took the course, at the point when they are deemed to be ready to be tested over the phone by a real person. A great motivator for the learner to get up to speed and learn properly.

What if such a tool was available today? What a difference it would make to UK "Skills Competence', to the UK economy, to UK competitiveness, to the Economy of Organisations and especially to the people that work in them.

If any of the concepts above touched a nerve with you and you can see an application inside your organisation, please get in touch with me in the first instance. We’ll get a proof of concept rolling out for you within hours and start your organisation’s journey towards 'Skills Competence' quickly.

Wishing you massive success always.

uk.linkedin.com/in/stayingaliveuk/

@stayingaliveuk

 

Do you Appreciate Diversity in Social Media?

I engage with dozens of individuals each and every week and discuss the merits or otherwise of Social Media. Nowadays the workplace consists of different generations all trying to work together to fulfill a company’s mission.

The trouble is most of us don't have a clue how we can ensure that all the different generations get on together, let alone catering for them in the social media stakes.

IMG_0769

Let me share what I mean in a bit more detail.

Born between 1925-1945, you're a traditionalist, 1946-1964 and you are the famous baby boomer, the largest population group on earth. Gen X 1965-1979, Gen Y 1980-2000 and Gen Z 2001-now.

If you're a traditionalist you may already be retired or you will be in a mentoring and/or chairing capacity or very likely to be working in the 3rd sector.

As a traditionalist you value respect above all else. So being mentioned in a tweet incorrectly, accused of some wrong doing, you’ll be on the phone to your lawyer promptly. Not being shown respect is a major issue for you.

20140225-203343.jpg

Baby boomers really value relationships. That's probably why this group is one of the largest on Facebook, which in essence is a massive relationship community.

Believe it or not Gen X value life/work balance and these will be CEO’s who tell their teams to leave on time and spend more time with their families, making them more productive at work and satisfied with life. Social Media more than likely is a way to relax for them. Something traditionalists and boomers would never even consider as relaxing!

Gen Y, want to be heard, they are likely to be the most prolific on twitter, making their opinions known to the world and feel happiest when they receive likes or retweets. It means someone’s listening to them.

Gen Z, are too young I know, but watch out, they will be there soon and despite age restrictions on social networks, they've already been active for a couple of years and by the time they get to work, they will have been active for 7 years or so.

Most of us have only been active for a few years!

With all of these different generations working side by side, you can learn a huge amount about them from just watching their social network activity or maybe even the lack thereof.

It allows you some insight into how they relate to the other generations too.

Would you put a Boomer alongside a Gen X and get them to learn from each other or do you let all the Gen X and Y’s sit together in a pool and feed of each other?

Respecting diversity is important in communities, appreciating how they behave on social media, with some of THE largest communities on the globe, is becoming even more important.

Wishing you massive success always.

Michael

http://www.linkedin.com/in/stayingaliveuk

20140225-204222.jpg

Why?

20140202-162147.jpg I recently re-discovered Simon Sinek’s work on The Golden Circle. To familiarise yourself watch his TED Talk video. (audio quality does improve when he changes microphone)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zFeuSagktM

In essence he challenges us to think differently about how we present ourselves as businesses and especially how we create our marketing messaging to convince prospects to become clients.

Most of us have a tendency to articulate ’what we do’ and ’how we do it’. And rarely do we say ’why’.

Why is a really powerful word and very underused.

However kids say the word continuously as they grow up and as such this word is actually hard-wired in your brain, without you even knowing it.

Before you decide to buy anything your subconscious asks this question automatically.

20140202-163030.jpg

You may not even realise it, but you do, especially if someone is pitching you a new product or service for your consideration. If they can't answer the ’why’ question for you, it’s unlikely you will buy from them and look elsewhere.

Of course we do buy stuff based on the what and how and usually you will fill in your own why, if the seller hasn't been able to articulate this for you clearly.

So your mission if you choose to accept it, is to review your marketing messages, especially your LinkedIn profile and start looking at ’why’ you do what you do?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PH8uJEPOYDQ

Wishing you massive success always.

Is your Social Media Policy liked?

I read with interest a recent newsletter with guidelines and policy on electronic communication and social media. Electronic communication has been around for a while and whilst it’s good to be reminded about what should and shouldn't be done, especially for new starters and young workers who may not be so used to email, in general it’s well established and most people know what is and isn't allowed. Social Media though is a different matter all together. The first question we have to ask ourselves is ’Why is Social Media so popular?’ Well because it releases dopamine in the brain, inside our pleasure/reward centre and that in turn makes it addictive. I wrote a paper on this last year, ’Do Social Networks Sell Drugs?’.

IMG_0656

As it’s addictive, it means for many it's almost impossible to leave it alone. Think about it, whenever someone, likes, shares, retweets, follows, invites, accepts, pokes or any other social network activity that has become part of daily behaviour, we feel good about ourselves. We feel like someone approves of us, in a world where mostly we receive criticism, it means we feel like we are getting praise. And of course that feels good and if it feels good, it becomes addictive. Especially young people, who get criticised by parents and teachers alike day in day out. Therefore when they are on social media they (mostly) will get positive messages. I know it has its down side too.

So now we need to think this through, because if it’s addictive and people can't leave it alone, will we still be as harsh on them when we catch them accessing their personal social media networks, whilst at work? Or do we accept, actually this is part of the modern world now and very little we can do to fight it.

Research from 2012 suggests that smart phone owners check their devices 150 times per day, about once every 6 minutes. But we're now in 2014, so we can safely assume it has gone up significantly? Americans aged 18-64 who use social networks say they spend an average of 3.2 hours per day doing so, according to research conducted in November 2012 by Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange (OTX). (http://styin.me/1b1O73t). I'm sure the UK is not far behind them and that figure will have gone up too.

flickr | rockerictic

One way to allow your employees to engage in social media activities is to supply them with an internal social media platform, which connects everyone inside the business, across geographical boundaries, allowing everyone to learn from each other and to collaborate on projects. Also allowing colleagues to like and comment on posts. This way you are distracting them from their personal networks, by allowing them to still engage in similar activities and satisfy their addiction. Actually personal Social Media, is allowing millions of workers to train themselves in order to assist their learning inside the workplace. Think about it, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have provided free online training. Make sense?

Of course there have to be some rules, but we have to recognise that there is a bigger picture and we need to be conscious of that too.

Wishing you success always.

Do You Have Suicidal Thoughts?

Most of you who are reading this are no longer teenagers. But do you remember having suicidal thoughts when you were? It’s being reported regularly that teenagers these days are very prone to having suicidal thoughts and there may be no logical explanation for it. However it appears to be contagious.

Research showed that 32 per cent of young Britons have had suicidal thoughts, while a similar proportion (29 per cent) of young adults deliberately harmed themselves as teenagers. And more than one in 10 (12 per cent) felt a failure almost every day when they were under 16. http://styin.me/1ewlGuB

- flickr | Ktoine

I read some teenagers twitter feeds (no I wasn't stalking) I was intrigued and yes I was spying on my stepson’s feed because he was saying stupid things and he thought it was private!

But one feed lead to another and I could see a pattern of comments for example; ’I wish I was dead’ and ’I'm so close to taking as much pills as I can right now’ and ’Guys, don't any of you ever kill yourselves. If you are ever feeling suicidal just dm me, you can trust me, and I will try to help you <3 xx’.

At home we even had to call the police, because someone said on twitter that they had actually swallowed a load of tablets. When we also reported this to the head teacher at the school of this youngster, she confirmed that the instances of these are on the rise.

So why are youngsters having these thoughts and why are they sharing these openly with not just their followers, but if they realised, with the whole world!

Is it just attention seeking or is something fundamentally wrong with society, education, parents, nutrition (sugar overdose), lack of exercise, social media, television, gaming, greed, government or something else?

I know teenage years are about self-expression and finding your place in the world around you and yet for some reason they appear to be obsessed with wanting to end it all?

How do parents and teachers deal with this heightened threat of suicidal thinking in kids? Surely this must be playing out in their minds all the time and putting them in a place of fear themselves?

Do teenagers even realise what they are doing with this behaviour? Do they realise this behaviour increases further stress on their parents, who are already under pressure having to deal with a world of expectation, financial worries and keeping their kids happy.

Does one tell them to stop behaving so stupidly or do we take them to counselling? Is it just a phase of hormone development or are there serious underlying issues?

I can't help thinking that when they finally want to find a job their social feeds will be explored by employers (it's not illegal yet), who will find all sorts of silly communication on there and thereby making up their mind about whether to give them that job or not. And unfortunately teenagers don't see that as a potential threat at all!

- flickr | ohmann alianne

If we want our kids to be successful no matter what their background, then we seriously need to tackle this epidemic of suicidal thoughts in young people.

Should this become part of the curriculum at schools, should teachers openly discuss this with students and get them to open up and discuss these feelings in group sessions? Should we encourage their friends to speak up about those that are openly declaring these thoughts?

I haven't got the answers but one thing’s for sure something needs to be done.

What are your thoughts? And if you have youngsters go and talk to them and find out what's going on in their heads, that is if they'll tell you!

Success

Have You Ever Studied Ants?

flickr | samantha henneke I was recently in Greece and with temperatures in the 30’s, it's best to take it easy lie by the pool and observe the world around you, OK maybe people watch sometimes!

However even people watching gets boring, so whilst resting on my sun bed in the shade, I started studying the floor beneath me and to my amazement saw this fast moving highway of very small ants. Now usually in hot countries ants are very big, but these weren't and that made them all the more interesting.

As I studied them, I noticed that although their movements appeared random, many were carrying food crumbs back to their colony, which had entrances along a short section of a raised plant border wall. One by one several of these very efficient creatures were collecting these crumbs from all around the pool and taking this very important food stuff back to their colony.

By the way none of them actually ate the food on their journey back, which if you saw how far they were travelling, you would not have blamed them if they had. Now if this was a human doing this, ’collecting free food’, the chances are that it would have been eaten by the time they had completed the journey back.

I also noticed to my amazement that with larger crumbs 2 or even 3 ants would work together to carry it, as it was too big for just one.

This gave me an idea, next time someone in my party came back with cake at tea-time, I would use one of the crumbs and give those hard working ants a challenge. A super large crumb to see how they would manage this.

Have a look and see what happened, I recorded it on video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChZGj9BEQRk

What did I learn?

Ants are ’Team Players’, one ant who passes the crumb and checks it out, decides to start moving it and immediately another ant starts assisting, and then another and another until I counted 12 ants moving a massive crumb. Nobody said, ’that’s not my job’ or ’I’m busy doing something else, or ’its not in my job spec’. They just did it because they know that one ant will never manage it on their own and therefore they just started helping out. The ants who joined in just happened to be passing by, they weren't called from the colony, didn't get an email and nobody checked their calendar to see if they were available.

For me it was just the best possible demonstration of excellent team-work. Wow if business could learn just one lesson from ants and if employees and HR teams could stop their compartment thinking, what a different world we would have around us.

Each morning a few scouts would be up early looking for anything that they might have missed and as the day moved on and more holiday makers sat around the pool, eating and drinking, more ants came out scouting the neighbourhood. Obviously they had developed their knowledge that more crumbs would be available later in the day.

Accordingly more troops were scouting in the afternoon.

So here are 3 takeaways from this story:

  1. Be open to helping out anyone in your wider community or organisation, without being asked for help, ’Just Do It’.
  2. If there is a big task or project happening, go and ask if you can help out. They probably will say ’no thanks’ but make sure you insist, even if it is to make the coffee!
  3. Teach your kids or colleagues the power of team work and share the story of ants. I found this great film on YouTube, which will explain and share the story of ants and their incredible behaviour. Watch it together with your kids or colleagues. Teach them how they can adopt the same approach in life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-gIx7LXcQM

Success!

What can The Workplace learn from Social Media?

culture map flickr - dgray_xplane For decades organisations across the globe, are searching for the holy grail, ’Employee Engagement’.

Engagement levels are on the rise globally but shifting across regions. Although the economic impact of the recession continues to rebound in some areas and recess further in others, engagement levels rose slightly to 60% in 2012, up 2 percentage points from 58% in 2011. We see the largest engagement increase in Europe (improving 5 percentage points) and Latin America (improving 3 percentage points). North America’s engagement decreased slightly by 1 percentage point—particularly in the U.S., where engagement dropped 3 percentage points—and Asia Pacific remained the same. [Source: AonHewitt: http://www.aon.com/attachments/human-capital-consulting/2013_Trends_in_Global_Employee_Engagement_Highlights.pdf]

So globally we've pretty much stayed about the same, which means 40% of employees are NOT engaged. But what does engagement actually mean?

Does it mean they show up but nobody is at work? They do the basics but nothing extra? They prefer not to get involved in those famous ’let’s be a team’ activities?

Or...people are busy with life, work is just a part of it and they carry their worries with them wherever they go including into the workplace? After all we have just one brain and leaving your troubles at home, just doesn't work, because our brain goes with us wherever we go.

But Social Networks have exploded and people are very engaged there! So what happened there?

I've been fascinated by Social Networks for the past 5 years, not only have I actively engaged with them, I've wanted to understand why everyone loves them so much.

That's when I decided to write ’Do Social Networks Sell Drugs?’

So here's the bombshell, we are not loving our workforce enough it’s as simple as that. Many years ago I was involved in the Health and Wellness industry and tried to alert organisations of the need to improve their wellness efforts at work. One of the ways that I suggested they did this was through an online survey called the ’Wellness Inventory’.

I remember presenting this to a major building society in the UK to the HR Director. One of the items on the ’Wellness Inventory’ that people had to answer questions for was an item called ’Love’. He saw this and immediately said; ’actually we don't think that is appropriate here’.

I realised in that instant that I was pushing water uphill with this inventory and getting organisations to adopt it and sure enough I had to change direction after a few months of getting nowhere.

I hear stories every day now from employees who work for small, medium and large organisations. Those stories confirm to me that people at work are not loved enough.

It's time to examine the success of Social Networks and take on board the tactics that these Social Network giants adopt to gain more members, more engagement and share the love.

It's not a bad 4 letter word, you must just try it!

Do Social Networks Sell Drugs?

As published in The Non-Significant Journal of Business & Consumer Psychology Issue 2.1 - Spring 2013

Background

In recent years, an increasing number of scholars have sought to study and measure the impact of social networks (social media).

Social media network connection concept
Social media network connection concept
  • A 2010 study by the University of Maryland suggested that social networks may be addictive, and that using social networks may lead to a "fear of missing out", also known by the acronym "FOMO" by many students.
  • It has been observed that Facebook is now the primary method for communication by college students in the U.S.
  • According to Nielsen, global consumers spend more than six hours on social networking sites.
  • Consumers continue to spend more time on social networks than on any other category of sites—roughly 20% of their total time online via personal computer (PC), and 30% of total time online via mobile.
  • Tim Berners-Lee contends that the danger of social networking sites is that most are silos and do not allow users to port data from one site to another. He also cautions against social networks that grow too big and become a monopoly as this tends to limit innovation.
  • According to several clinics in the UK, social media addiction is a certifiable medical condition. One psychiatric consultant claims he treats as many as one hundred cases a year.

Introduction

Networks are not new; they have existed since the very first existence of cells on planet earth. It's quite amazing to know that our cells work together in networks to achieve tasks together. One such example is wound healing. For wound healing to occur, white blood cells and cells that ingest bacteria move to the wound site to kill the microorganisms that cause infection. At the same time fibroblasts (connective tissue cells) move there to remodel damaged structures. This is a wonderful example of how cells behave together in networks.

Even our brain neurons wire together in associative networks to create our memories and skills. Cell division even mirrors the way that networks grow.

We humans are no exception in nature. We exist and flourish as part of networks. We seem to have some inborn instinct to behave in this way, actively involving ourselves in many different systems of connections.

Thumbs up like button on white background.
Thumbs up like button on white background.

The first network we experience in our lives is the immediate family, where we learn how to be social by watching our parents and siblings. Beyond that, we soon learn how to ‘network’ with other groups of adults and children. We then start our social journey by joining many different networks, the nursery, primary and secondary school, the college and university and then our work and leisure networks.

The size, membership and complexity of these networks may grow or contract during our lifetime, but they always remain an important part of our experience. There are several theories put forward to explain this networking phenomenon, from Social Comparison Theory,Role Theory,Homogeneous Theory and the Social Identity approach. The evidence seems to point to the conclusion that networking is in part driven by our genetic make-up.

Tribes

These networks have a major impact on our lives. They determine how we see the world and how we see ourselves; we constantly monitor how we are accepted in our various networks.

Perhaps another word for these networks could be 'tribes'.

Belonging to a 'tribe', gives us the feeling that we are part of ‘something bigger’ then we are. It helps to give our lives more meaning and significance. The belief that you belong to a ’tribe’ is reinforcing, as it encourages you to relate more strongly with the other individuals in that ’tribe’. It helps with the identity that you have given yourself as you became an adult.

When your ’tribe’ behaves in the same way that you do, you will consider them the same as ’you’ and somehow feel a connection. It triggers an automatic approval, telling yourself that they are OK as they behave in a similar way to you.

The way that this translates in social networks is that individuals will follow people on twitter, send each other friends’ requests on Facebook or ask to be connected inside professional networks, like LinkedIn. We may have never met the person but for some reason we want to share intimate details of our lives with them.

Facebook
Facebook

Never in the world have we seen this kind of behaviour before. It did not exist before social networks appeared on the worldwide web. You could not have imagined walking up to strangers, people you have never met and suddenly start sharing your personal life with them. It just didn’t happen. We as humans need to trust someone first before we will share personal details. In social networks personal details are being shared all the time without any apparent shyness or reservation.

And the only reason this happens is because we have connected at some level with this stranger in a social network where their behaviour mirrors our own. In social networks we behave for around 80% of the time exactly the same way as everybody else. Just the act of being in a social network together, posting updates, sharing content means you are doing the same as everyone else and that makes you part of that tribe.

Significance

Social networks give us a platform for significance. According to Anthony Robbins, significance is one of the 6 human needs as per his Human Needs Psychology model.  We all have a need to be significant in our lives and when family and friends, like, comment or respond to our activity inside social networks, we feel good, we feel loved, we feel significant.

Dopamine is closely associated with reward-seeking behaviours, such as approach, consumption, and addiction. Recent research suggests that the firing of dopaminergic neurons is motivational as a consequence of reward-anticipation. This hypothesis is based on the evidence that, when a reward is greater than expected, the firing of certain dopaminergic neurons increases, which consequently increases desire or motivation towards the reward. This is why social networks are so addictive and why games inside social networks (e.g. Farmville) are so popular. Equally though, aggression is also evident in social networks and recent studies indicate that aggression may also stimulate the release of dopamine.

Why do humans enjoy social networks?

Humans are social beings, they thrive around other humans and other humans make them thrive. Without human interaction we have no reason to exist. Compassion and love is a ready built-in operating system, which we are born with. Without the love we experience on the day of our birth we would probably die. Throughout our lives we crave that love and connection with other humans. Especially as those humans are the same as us or expressed in another way, exist in the same tribe as us.

Anthony Robbins’ Human Need Psychology says that one of our 6 human needs is love and connection15 .

Physical social networks, whether it’s the family unit, our workplace unit or other tribal social networks, which we belong to for our sport, hobbies and political activities, all exist because there is some love and connection that takes place.

Virtual social networks via the web also exist for the same reason. The creators of these networks have been able to create certain activities to allow us to feel love and connection with a connection or a tribe that exists inside these networks. Whether it is ’liking’, ’commenting’, ’sharing’, ’re-tweeting’, ’favouriting’, ’re-posting’, the user feels good when this takes place or in other words they do feel loved. This is very addictive and when dopamine is released in the brain, we want to experience more of this feeling16 .

As human beings we also want to give out love and this is another one of the human needs and is called ’contribution’. And therefore in social networks we also like to contribute to our fellow human beings.

The way that this translates inside of virtual social networks is no different. For example by actively ’liking’, ’sharing’, ’commenting’, it makes us feel good and drives us to do more of it, whenever the recipient rewards us in some way for taking this selfless action. And guess what happens more dopamine is released and the more addictive it becomes.

Put on top of that Ivan Pavlov’s dog experiment

and ’ding, ding, woof, woof’, every time our mobile device makes that familiar notification noise, we know that this could mean more dopamine and more love, so we’ll react instantly to the need of that possibility.

How social learning grows networks

In 1961 Albert Bandura conducted a controversial experiment known as the ‘Bobo-Doll ‘experiment, to study patterns of behaviour associated with aggression. Bandura hoped that the experiment would prove that aggression can be explained, at least in part, by social learning theory, and that similar behaviours were learned by individuals modelling their own behaviour after the actions of others. The experiment was criticised by some on ethical grounds, for training children towards aggression.

Bandura’s results from the Bobo Doll Experiment changed the course of modern psychology, and were widely credited for helping shift the focus in academic psychology from pure behaviourism to cognitive psychology. The experiment is among the most lauded and celebrated of psychological experiments.

Penguin points
Penguin points

This study can be viewed as quite significant and why social networks grow so fast. When we see the activities of others in social networks, we start to wonder if we're missing out on something and whether we need to start involving ourselves. When we then discover that our tribe, (whether family, work, hobby or other tribe), is doing the same, we will stay and investigate it further. And that is when we start enjoying shots of dopamine in our brain and when the addiction of this social network interaction starts working.

CAUTION: NOT SUITABLE FOR MINORS

Conclusion

Social networks are here to stay, they've always existed and whether they are physical or virtual they are an important piece of our human make-up. My personal view too is that back in the times when humans went through war and terror they would draw closer to each other and grow closer socially. For example, during World War II, it was easier to connect with our fellow humans as we were all going through the same terror and strife. We would look out for one and other and support each other.

Basically we were giving each other a lot of love.

Bird Doodles
Bird Doodles

As the human population has grown and spread across the globe, some of the physical connections may have been lost. Virtual social networks have allowed us to make that re-connection with each other and in fact get in touch with people who we may not have seen for many years.

Of course this makes us feel loved and appreciated too.

And now, because these virtual networks show us how many fans, followers, and friends we have, this is proof to the world and ourselves how popular we are.  We take this metric as an important measure of how many people approve of us or rather love us, a kind of ‘love-o-meter’!

...or in Bryan Ferry’s - Roxy Music words...”Love is the drug I’m thinking of...”