Filed under: Business, Change, Goals, Innovation, Leadership, Personal Discovery, Society, Sustainability, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: AIESEC, alumni, exchange, internship
It’s been a long time since it was called a time to move on for me. Since then, I have grown up a lot and I must accept that it was hard to learn to get by without you but I have done so while keeping you in my heart. I didn’t want to be like those creepy ex-boyfriends that show up uninvited.
Every time someone talks to me about becoming an alumnus, a dinosaur, head for the future, going into the life long connection or however you want to call it nowadays I tell them exactly the same thing, and AIESEC, the problem is that you get so deep into our hearts and go so much into the core of who we become, that letting go is initially a pretty hard thing to do; Accepting that it is someone else’s turn to learn and experience the amazing lessons and friends you gave me was a hard task initially and it required me to make a clean cut, a hard cut. So I wasn’t in touch for a while. I needed to catch up with myself without you.
And as your acronyms changed; Careers progress, people move countries, continents and new lessons are learnt; Life continues and one moves on, unavoidably. It seems that all that time I spent with you passed in a heartbeat and it seems that life is going by even faster than that, if my head could comprehend.
It is only after a couple of glasses of wine and in the company of those who shared you with me that I dare to say things like “Years later and I haven’t found anyone that understands me as well as my AIESEC friends”, because it is once or twice a year that every alumnus, dinosaur, headed for the future or life long connected accepts they are nostalgic. It doesn’t matter really how many years we spent with you we all get it here and there. If there is no wine confession, there will be a cryptic Facebook post.
And you were so good to us AIESEC… Many of us are getting ahead in many ways. The business skills that completed my academic education… You made it happen. May we be successful artists, technologists, scientists or business people, entrepreneurs, activists or politicians, we are conscious citizens in this world thankful to that, which made us who we are today: YOU.
There are few magical moments like having a conversation with a truly inspiring person, a real change agent in the middle of a conference on any imaginable topic only to discover they are too an AIESECer.
And then, the question that I really want to ask you pops in our heads… What is the job of an alumnus? Here is the advice I gave to some soon to be alumni:
- Join an alumni association.
- Give advice when you are asked for it.
- Act as a mentor of current members that want to learn something from you
- Chair a conference, a workshop or a local planning weekend when you are asked to.
- Get a trainee.
- Pass on your piece of history to those that can use it.
- Let AIESEC know you are there when it needs you.
- Remember ONE roll call and keep an AIESEC T-shirt; you will need it once.
- If honoured with the invitation, become a member of a BoA or an auditor.
- Show in small and meaningful ways that you will always be an AIESECer.
AIESEC, you have changed so much too. It is hard to keep up with what happens with you in only a few years time but any alumnus can feel nothing but pride when as I went back to you this weekend I discovered
- You do twice as many exchanges in my country as you did (2000!).
- You are present in twice as many universities as when I left you (1700!).
- You change the lives of three times as many students (86000!).
- You expanded to 30 new countries, making a total of 110
Who wouldn’t be proud to be part of a legacy like that?
We had an identity and now a way; We have done projects, leadership, issue based learning, programs and many more; There was 1996, 2005, 2010 and now 2015; there were green forms, pink forms, Match, Insight, Insight 2, myaiesec.net, the orange one and the blue one and many more will come, but there is one thing we all believed for the last 65 years and we will believe in forever: Exchange.
AIESEC, don’t let this letter be only the nostalgia of one that remembers the incredible rush of selling, matching and realising a management internship or the feeling of that full bucket of cold water spilling over my head…
For you are not only an organization for us, you are our life long cause. We are out here, millions of us. Find us.
I am back from an AIESEC National Conference in Germany. Truly inspired by AIESEC’s evolution and success, believing in the impact that AIESEC and its alumni can have together. In this post I think of every AIESEC member in the world, and the two alumni that with their role during my active time in AIESEC , starting in Mexico and until the culmination of my AIESEC International term, changed my life. I am forever thankful to Juan Manuel Ferron and Victor Loewenstein.
Filed under: Business, Change, Goals, Leadership, Personal Discovery, Society, Sustainability
Filed under: Business, Change, Meditation, Personal Discovery, Planning, Technology, Uncategorized | Tags: Change, dynamic climate, life-work balance, personal style
My life is changing so fast at this point that I can barely cope. As exciting as it is to the outside, it is uncomfortable, it makes me feel insecure and I start feeling the need of proofing myself once again, even if I thought I was completely exhausted of this process. What is the world demanding of me? Of everyone? Can we even say “enough is enough”?
As the saying goes, the only people who like change are busy cashiers and wet babies. We find change disorienting, creating within us an anxiety similar to culture shock, the unease visitors to an alien land feel because of the absence of the familiar cues they took for granted back home.
Unfortunately as much as I (and you would too, I bet) would like to think that your life will become stable at some point, the matter of fact is that in this century, as an active member of the global economy…
Change is a business fact of life
Is your company is currently undergoing major changes that will affect the lives of all of its employees? These changes are probably in response to the evolving needs of your customers. They are made possible because of improvements in telecommunications and digital technology. They are likely guided by accepted principles and practices of total quality management. And you can expect that they will result in significant improvements profitability–a success that all employees will or will not share. Because our customers’ needs are NOW, we must make changes swiftly, which means that all of us must cooperate with the changes, rather than resist them.
But people do not like change all that much. It doesn’t matter how good you are at adapting, there will always be those fluctuating moments when change gives you the feeling of an “empty stomach”. We tend to respond to change the same way we respond to anything we perceive as a threat: by flight or fight. Our first reaction is flight–we try to avoid change if we can, we seal ourselves off from those around us and try to ignore what is happening. This can happen in the workplace just by being passive. We don’t volunteer for teams or committees; we don’t make suggestions, ask questions, or offer constructive criticism. But the changes ahead are inescapable. Those who “cocoon” themselves will be left behind.
Even worse is to fight, to actively resist change. Resistance tactics might include negativity, destructive criticism, and even sabotage. If this seldom happens at your company, you are fortunate.
But you have to realize… we are not bunnies… Rejecting both alternatives of flight or flight, we seek a better option–one that neither avoids change nor resists it, but harnesses and guides it.
In the life I chose, I have looked for individual practices to enable change to become the means to my goals, not a barrier to them. Still with all the different practices and approaches I have taken here, things are easier said than done.
Both fight and flight are reactions to perceiving change as a threat. But if we can change our perceptions, we can avoid those reactions. An old proverb goes, “Every change brings an opportunity.” In other words, we must learn to see change as a means of achieving our goals, not a barrier preventing us from reaching them.
Another way of expressing the same thought is: A change in my external circumstances provides me with an opportunity to grow as a human being. The greater the change is, the greater and faster I can grow. If we can perceive change along these lines, we will find it exciting and energizing, rather than depressing and debilitating.
Yet this restructuring of our perspective on change can take some time. In fact, coping with change follows the same steps as the grieving process.1 The steps are shock and denial that the old routine must be left behind, then anger that change is inevitable, then despair and a longing for the old ways, eventually replaced by acceptance of the new and a brighter view of the future. Everyone works through this process; for some, the transition is lightning fast, for others painfully slow.
I have tried different practices of meditation and collective intelligence to adapt better to this, and if it is truth that this is a great help, for a human being with a standard level of consciousness (me), there is still a long way to go.
Different individual approaches to change in organizations
As one writer put it recently:
Our foreparents lived through sea changes, upheavals so cataclysmic, so devastating we may never appreciate the fortitude and resilience required to survive them. The next time you feel resistant, think about them and about what they faced–and about what they fashioned from a fraction of the options we have. They blended old and new worlds, creating family, language, cuisine and new life-affirming rhythms, and they encouraged their children to keep on stepping toward an unknown but malleable future.
Human beings are created remarkably flexible, capable of adapting to a wide variety of environments and situations. Realizing this can help you to embrace and guide change rather than resisting or avoiding it.
Corporate employees typically follow one of four decision-making styles: analytical, directive, conceptual, and behavioral. These four styles, described in a book by Alan J. Rowe and Richard O. Mason,3 have the following characteristics:
Analytical Style - technical, logical, careful, methodical, needs much data, likes order, enjoys problem-solving, enjoys structure, enjoys scientific study, and enjoys working alone.
Analytical coping strategy - You see change as a challenging puzzle to be solved. You need plenty of time to gather information, analyze data, and draw conclusions. You will resist change if you are not given enough time to think it through.
Conceptual Style - creative and artistic, future oriented, likes to brainstorm, wants independence, uses judgement, optimistic, uses ideas vs. data, looks at the big picture, rebellious and opinionated, and committed to principles or a vision.
Conceptual coping strategy - You are interested in how change fits into the big picture. You want to be involved in defining what needs to change and why. You will resist change if you feel excluded from participating in the change process.
Behavioral Style - supportive of others, empathetic, wants affiliation, nurtures others, communicates easily, uses instinct, avoids stress, avoids conflict, relies on feelings instead of data, and enjoys team/group efforts.
Behavioral coping strategy - You want to know how everyone feels about the changes ahead. You work best when you know that the whole group is supportive of each other and that everyone champions the change process. If the change adversely affects someone in the group, you will perceive change as a crisis.
Directive Style - aggressive, acts rapidly, takes charge, persuasive and/or is manipulative, uses rules, needs power/status, impatient, productive, single-minded, and enjoys individual achievement.
Directive coping strategy - You want specifics on how the change will affect you and what your own role will be during the change process. If you know the rules of the change process and the desired outcome, you will act rapidly and aggressively to achieve change goals.
You resist change if the rules or anticipated results are not clearly defined or when you are not involved in the process.
But what to do when change is imminent and you have not been even asked?
1. Get the big picture. - Sometimes, not only do we miss the forest because of the trees, but we don’t even see the tree because we’re focused on the wood. Attaining a larger perspective can help all of us to cope with change, not just the conceptualists. The changes under way in global organizations today follow at least four important trends, which I believe are probably reflective of businesses in general.
2. Do some anchoring. - When everything around you is in a state of flux, it sure helps to find something stable that isn’t going to change, no matter what. Your company’s values (whether articulated or not) can provide that kind of stability for you around decision making. Concentrate in the identity of your organization and make decisions based on your own good and that of the organization as a whole.
3. Keep your expectations realistic. - A big part of taking control of the change you experience is to set your expectations. You can still maintain an optimistic outlook, but aim for what is realistically attainable. That way, the negatives that come along won’t be so overwhelming, and the positives will be an adrenaline rush. Here are some examples:
- There will be some bumps along the road. We shouldn’t expect all of the changes ahead to be painless, demanding only minimal sacrifice, cost, or effort. In fact, we should expect some dead ends, some breakdowns in communications, and some misunderstandings, despite our best efforts to avoid them. We may not be able to anticipate all of the problems ahead, but we can map out in general terms how we will deal with them.
- Not everyone will change at the same rate. The learning rates of any employees will distribute themselves along a bell curve. A few will adapt rapidly, most will take more time, and a few will adjust gradually. Also, many younger employees may find change, especially technological innovations, easier than those older. The reason may be, as one observer explains, “Older people’s hard disks are fuller.”4 On the other hand, you may find some younger ones surprisingly reluctant to take on a new challenge.
- The results of change may come more slowly than we would want. As participants in an “instant society,” conditioned by the media to expect complex problems to reach resolution in a 60-minute time frame, we may find the positive results of change slow to arrive from the distant horizon. If we are aware of this, we won’t be so disappointed if tomorrow’s results seem so similar to today’s.
4. Develop your own, personal change tactics. Get plenty of exercise, plenty of rest, and watch your diet. Even if you take all the right steps and follow the best advice, undergoing change creates stress in your life, and stress takes energy. Aware of this, you can compensate by taking special care of your body.
Invest time and energy in training. Sharpen your skills so that you can meet the challenges ahead with confidence. If the training you need is not available in your organization, get it somewhere else, such as the community college or adult education program in your area.
Get help when you need it. If you are confused or overwhelmed with the changes swirling around you, ask for help. Your manager, or co-workers may be able to assist you in adjusting to the changes taking place.
Make sure the change does not compromise either your company values or your personal ones. If you are not careful, the technological advances jostling each other for your attention and adoption will tend to isolate you from personal contact with your co-workers and customers. E-mail, teleconference, voice-mail, and Intranet can make us more in touch with each other, or they can keep us antiseptically detached, removed from an awareness that the digital signals we are sending reach and influence another flesh-and-blood human being.
Aware of this tendency, we must actively counteract the drift in this direction by taking an interest in people and opening up ourselves to them in return. We have to remember to invest in people–all of those around us–not just in technology.
The “new normalcy”
Ultimately, we may discover that the current state of flux is permanent. After the events of September 11, Vice President Richard Cheney said we should accept the many resultant changes in daily life as permanent rather than temporary. “Think of them,” he recommended, “as the ‘new normalcy.’”
You should take the same approach to the changes happening at your workplace. These are not temporary adjustments until things get “back to normal.” They are probably the “new normalcy” of your life as a company. The sooner you can accept that these changes are permanent, the better you can cope with them all–and enjoy their positive results.
And if change, constant change is the rule of your life and your industry… if you can never expect for “things to settle down”… then, please be welcome to my club. For those who like it, it is exciting, enticing, fabulous and never stopping… yet, remember to sit down from time to time to catch your breath and to realize the beauty of it all.
Filed under: Business, Change, Human Resources, Leadership, Personal Discovery, Resources, Travel | Tags: brimm, complicated questions, cosmopolitans, different cultures, international careers, national boundaries
A couple of days ago I received a an academic paper from my friend Petroula. It lacked the statistical backup I have grown used to see in my day to day (my current employer is obsessed with numerical data) but it described accurately something far more complex.
Trapped in the every day frenzied life style I live, I didn’t reply to say thank you for sending it. It was the first time I read in the words of other person what comes to my mind very often for the past few years, what I have been blamed of, reproached and praised for for my entire adult life. Yes, my choice and achievement, that didn’t come for free. That thing that many envy, that many wish and set as a goal to achieve and that from time to time I feel I have been cursed with: A truly global life. Unstoppable. Unavoidable. Wanted… my only option.
Meet the Global Cosmopolitan – member of a talented population of highly educated, multilingual people who have lived, worked and studied for extensive periods in different cultures.
Global Cosmopolitans describes the world of some (me and my very close friends belong there), a world where national boundaries have become permeable through the opportunities for international careers and personal travel, a new breed of individual has emerged who both reflects this change and promises to be the key player in the next stages of globalization. This is the ‘Global Cosmopolitan’, a featured actor in this emerging drama who has lived in different countries, learnt to speak multiple languages and acquired an ease of moving to new situations. However, being a Global Cosmopolitan can also result in increasingly complex issues of personal identity. New and complicated questions such as ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Where is my home?’ are hidden under more easily discussed topics such as languages spoken, countries visited and passports obtained. This exciting new book by Linda Brimm affords a unique view into the world and experience of Global Cosmopolitans. The author combined the stories of many that could be me or my close friends, told in their own voices, with a variety of useful concepts for understanding the experience that seems to be very rare. So rare that I feel alone in it most of the times, and in company in it just when people like Petroula, sharing that same connection with me, are there.
It was beautiful to see how many of my friends reacted to this book in different ways. Many of us think about it, talk about it for long hours twice a year when we get the chance to meet, and now it is there, on paper… for anyone living with us, thanks to us or despite us.
When my boss described me once as “the first truly international person I have ever met”, I felt flattered. When a colleague at work calls me from time to time “a corporate gypsy” it hurts for reasons he doesn’t understand.
This paper describes accurately the circumstances, fear, frustration and strengths one person gains by choosing ”not to have a home” as most understand it; Bewildered by the wonders of the world, developing an addiction to change, to new information, to new people, to a different kind of success… You simply need to read it.
This type of thing really make you see how the world is flat.
And here some more
Filed under: Change, Innovation, Personal Discovery, Society | Tags: Acceptance, Authenticity, Connetion, Courage, Fear, Gratitude, Joy, Shame, Vulnerability
Dream for a minute of a world without masks, without mind and power games…
Filed under: Business, Change, Innovation, Leadership, Personal Discovery, Society, Sustainability, Technology | Tags: Evolution, History, Leadership, Motivation, Psychology, Society, Spiral Dynamics, Technology, Theory U, Values
In the last half a year, I started working with Spiral Dynamics. A concept/model I knew but never applied has become an key part of my current professional development as of my personal life, and so I thought of sharing a little about it, for those who are thirsty for something estimulating that I could recomend to get your hands on and munch a good bite of.
I personally think this theory can be powerful if mixed with other tools such as MeshWORKS and Theory U.
So here a glympse.
Conception of a Model describing the Evolution of Individual, Organizational and Societal Conscience
When you look back on your actions, decisions, and ways of coping with problems, were your responses consistent? Or have your reactions changed over the years? (Most people’s do.) This is because our values and motivations change over time.
Psychologists have long been interested in these changing reactions. In fact, some of the best-known psychological theories on motivation have been derived from looking at this very phenomenon. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and McGregor’s Theory X versus Theory Y are just two of the theories that have emerged to explain what motivates people and why. Although each theory is different, the question of what people value is central to the theories of motivation and human development.
Spiral Dynamics, a fascinating but less known theory of motivation, looks at the value systems that drive individuals’ beliefs and actions. The concept originated in the 1930s with the work of Dr Clare Graves, but he died before publishing his theory. With the popularity of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Graves’ theory slipped into obscurity until one of his students, Dr Don Beck, wrote “Spiral Dynamics Integral”.
Essentially Spiral Dynamics was developed in order to help us understand:
- How people think about things (as opposed to “what” they think).
- Why people make decisions in different ways.
- Why people respond to different motivators.
- Why and how values arise and spread.
- The nature of change.
And interestingly enough, it applies not only to individuals, but also to organizations and societies. Taking a little time, you can apply it for the personal development of any individual from childhood on, analyze the structures and business models present in organizations through time and place where they are or to see patterns in the historical development of human kind.
I don’t think I need to tell you it is enough material to go on for years.
Misconceptions of Spiral Dynamics: You are less evolved than me, so bugger off!
In my path to discover this interesting theory, I came across consultants and practicioners that dislike it. Going a little deeper into what they dislike, I came to the following point of misunderstanding:
Spiral Dynamics talk about more and less evolved people, this creates a hierarchy and a feeling of superiority from some towards the others aka. I am yellow and you are only orange so bugger off unconcious being.
This is a misconception that easily happens when you go through the theory quickly without suspending and taking the time and space for it to really sink in.
Spiral Dynamics differs from other theories of human development and motivation in one key way: It doesn’t argue that we travel towards an ultimate destination and stay there, it says that we continue to spiral through a helix of developmental stages depending on the biological, social, environmental, and psychological forces at work. As such, Spiral Dynamics attempts to explain “everything” that influences human experience.
Spiral Dynamics argues that with enough personal mastery, we can live in one meme and communicate to others, collaborate with others and foster their development from the place they are at enhancing then common understanding and the efficiency to achieve a goal.
The theory also suggest that an individual does not “belong” in a color clasification, but they can have different colors in theferent spheres of their being. Eg. I can be orange in my external individual sphere, while being yellow in my inner individual etc etc.
At this point, a picture says more than a thousand words, enjoy.
Full size picture here.
Filed under: Business, Change, Goals, Innovation, Leadership, Personal Discovery, Society, Sustainability | Tags: Collective Intelligence, Entrepreneurship, Evolution, Fear, Practice, Spiral Dynamics
It can happen to anyone sitting on the life they planned; an idle moment, a feeling that changes everything.
What many experience as the “entrepreneurial bug” can be more or less scary depending on the clarity they initially have about their personal endeavour. For me, the initial feeling of this bug has brought me into a 2 years journey to really uncover what the call was behind the bug that decided to bit me. Why? Well, the more out of the traditional path your idea is, not only makes it harder to crystalize it’s “what”, but it can exacerbate the fear anyone starting on their own gets making the process even slower.
Deciding to become an “independent practitioner” of the different paths of social innovation and collective intelligence can get out of balance even those that know the theory of “how to make it work”. There is no news on milestones like “building a network”, “identifying a field of specialization” or “looking for financing sources”.
The vastness and novelty of the field, the amazingly global scope it has, makes the most attractive features of this path, the points of fear of those who decide to follow it.
Personally I have never met someone that chose for this path of conscious evolution and planetary alignment straight out of high school, the struggle to break old paradigms is key to future success, to personal enlightment and collective impact.
In the last months I submerged myself in which I sometimes like to call the “evolution of the corporate shark” the change beyond orange… better known in the field as the conversion from strategist to alchemist. The road seems to be long and filled with beautiful sights to be seen, bewildering experiences to be had… As for the learning I try to capture along this journey to find my unique role to truly contribute to the sustainable success of our planet and species I can so far come up with one advice I can give to other rookies on this high speed motorway:
- Die to learn. Be eager, hungry to learn more, to experience more even from the least obvious.
- Strive for the feeling of absolute creation and good.
- Be open to discover the unexpected in yourself and others and be ready to embrace it.
- Find an individual practice, go deep into it, and change it as much as much as it feels right.
- Hold tight and just take the unexpected turns synchronicity will bring you and connect authentically to those you find.
- And boldly said… Get the balls to follow your call fearlessly, daringly even if your finances will be harder to plan.
Filed under: Change, Health, Personal Discovery, Sustainability | Tags: Balance, Continuation, Death, Life
Life has unexpected circumstances that make its sense and purpose unclear. Extreme circumstances that can cause you to lose any clear understanding of what life is… nevermind what it is about.
On my way back to the path of balance, I find myself struggling from time to time to recognice the beauty and value of the most simple, which it is in the end what makes life worth living, or to feel the passion to contribute to brind a planet and a humandkind to a new stage in evolution, in which all systems can co-exist together in harmony, as a whole…
Extreme circumstances though, make us too review all previews thoughts and conceptions and make us redefine them, just as we redefine ourselves from scratch.
The moments in which wonder is gone ,and the energy to thrive or inspire are simply not there, bring me a big lesson though… when you think you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. For hanging on a little bit longer will naturally bring a moment, if ephemeral, in which all has its natural place and in which the energy to thrive and to live come back.
Is that not the most natural and basic instinct of all? Survival means change, which as individuals and as a specie, we need.