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03 Apr 2020

3 Essential Questions in a Time of Topsy-Turvy

Michael Bungay Stanier
What personal traits can we draw on to help us and those who we work and live with get through these difficult times?

In the first of the new Tech Fest webinar series, coaching guru, best-selling author and philanthropist, Michael Bungay Stanier shared with us three characteristics we can draw on and three questions we can ask to help us navigate through a world that has been turned upside down by the coronavirus.

Here’s an overview of what we learned from Michael:

First of all, the brain hates uncertainty. Its prime MO is survival. Am I safe or am I at risk? We are wired more heavily against risk than we are towards reward – and when we hunger for certainty, we are in survival mode and this is not our best self.

We’re all experiencing that right now, but if we are to show leadership and humanity, overall, we need to stop rushing to act and offer advice. Instead, we need to stay curious a little longer.

We do so by drawing on three characteristics.

1 Empathy: being more other aware

It is Inevitable that we’re all self-obsessed to a degree. Afterall, we live in our own worlds in our own brains. Empathy on the other hand is being more aware of what other people think and feel. Contrary to what some believe, research has shown that a true survivalist is someone who is connected to their community.

To become more empathetic, at the end of every conversation try asking:

What needs to be said that hasn’t been said?

Powerful in its subtlety, the question allows for rumination and a chance to voice niggling doubts and frustrations. It provides an opportunity to constantly repair, reflect, connect and build that relationship.

2. Mindfulness: being more situationally aware

When we are in the moment, we can see what is in the moment and we can begin separating our thoughts, judgements, opinions and interpretations that can often cloud our perception of reality.

Bringing regular mindfulness to the moment is calming and to achieve that, ask yourself the question:

What do I know to be true?

Applying what we know to be true about the past, the present and the future allows us to make the best decisions about how to act - rather than react - to the situation.

3. Humility: being more self-aware

Being more self-aware is seeing ourselves with clear eyes. This means accepting our strengths as well as our weaknesses. When we understand and acknowledge what we are good at, we begin to know what we can contribute to the world.

To become more self-aware ask yourself:

Who am I at my very best?

In this time of stress and uncertainty, we need people who are playing the best versions of themselves.

By drawing on each of these three characteristics by asking ourselves these three questions, in these topsy-turvy times we are more likely to achieve a state of realistic optimism and non-reactive leadership.


To experience Michael Bungay Stanier’s presentation in its entirety, check out Tech Fest Webinar #1

Watch Webinar

Also be sure to check out Michael’s Ted X talk:  #TameYourAdviceMonster 

Over the coming weeks the Tech Fest webinar series will be bringing more of the world’s most prominent experts sharing insights and inspiring collaboration. Spots are limited so join the mailing list so you can stay updated and don’t miss out.

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