One of the things I have really enjoyed in the last few months is catching up with family and friends in person. I know we have had to make do with tech in the last 18 months but the conversations you have with people in the flesh are just richer.
And it’s made me think about deep conversations. I read an article on cultivating friendships which highlighted that the quality of a conversations is based on the quality of questions posed by those involved.
I think mundane small talk e.g. the weather, cost of children’s school uniforms(don’t get me started on this one ), what is the best air fryer etc are necessary. My natural inclination though especially when I am with people I care about is to want to go deeper BUT within the boundaries of what they WANT to share. There is a real delicate balance between wanting to go deep and being nosy. It’s a balance that I really struggle with and one of the reasons why some of my conversations stay superficial as I am a bit OTT on not overstepping peoples boundaries.
See below a few pointers from the article on asking good questions when you meet up with family and friends;
A good question shows people you care about them and value what they think. It moves conversation deeper in a natural way. Consider what questions you want to ask someone when you’re on your way to meet them.
Here are several examples:
🔸What are a few themes in your life right now? 🔸What are a few things on your mind these days? 🔸What are you encouraged about recently? 🔸What has been discouraging to you? 🔸How are things going at home (or at work, or at school)? 🔸What are you reading recently, and what has stood out to you from it?
These are just examples and you might need to find a few go-to questions that work for you and then stay curious and keep asking more. Relationships are beautiful when we can share each other’s joys and burdens.
Anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.
Weekends tend to be a time we meet up with people we care about so I hope this helps you in some way to frame or at least engage in deeper conversations. Please also share in the comments any other questions that you think will encourage deeper conversations.
I am back and hopefully for another good stretch of writing consistently.Life really does throw curve balls and I am learning to roll with them and not beat myself up about things. I thought a book review would be a great way to ease myself back in to writing in long form.
Change Friendly Leadership by Dr Rodger Dean Duncan was a team secret santa gift last Christmas. I remember noticing that everyone else got really funny and cute gifts and I got a book.Not just a book but a book on change and leadership!People who know me would probably think it was the perfect gift. But I felt both flattered and bemused. I really appreciated the gift as I love books but I also pondered on being the only person with a “serious” gift. Did I give out vibes of someone who took herself too seriously? I certainly didn’t want to come off as “that” person!
It was a thought that was forever banished when I eventually got round to reading the book in July this year. Now I can only say thank you to my now ex-colleague (but still friend). It was such a fantastic read and a book that I am so glad to have on my bookshelf. Even though I work in the change,transformation and improvement space, I believe everyone manages change in some form or the other. As with most books I read,I try to distill key lessons or ideas and thought to share my five key ones from this book.I have adapted these lessons and they can be applied in any change context i.e. personal and organisational.
The book was written by seasoned change consultant, Dr Rodger Dean Duncan who owns a consulting practice that focuses on leadership and performance improvement.In the book he explores why despite the good intentions of leaders,most change efforts have a high failure ratio. In the book he gives frameworks to tackle the often overlooked “softer” elements of successful change; the humans impacted.
The frameworks provided look at ways to involve and motivate the individuals who will be most affected by the changes being proposed. Whether it’s trying to convince your family to move cities or convincing your friends to run a 10k for charity, these are lessons that we can all apply to carry people along on any change effort.
Think about it! Most of the change that we go through in life is accompanied by some sort of stress. Moving house, having a baby, getting a qualification,building an exercise habit etc. There is some sort of stress involved in changing as it requires people leaving comfort zones. Comfort zones are called that because they are comfortable. The stress results from a challenge to that ‘feeling’ of comfort.The author explains that the job of a change friendly leader is not look for ways to handle the “resistance” but look for ways to address the concerns around the stress that accompanies change. Acknowledging that change causes stress also makes you more empathetic to the sometimes negative feelings it induces in people.
You can rent a man’s back and hands but you must earn his head and heart. Change really is a big deal. Work hard to accommodate people’s feelings – their heads,hearts and hopes and your change effort can be one of the success stories.
The author illustrates that one of the biggest challenges we have with navigating change is viewing it as a linear sequence rather than an organic process. Change almost never occurs the way it was planned.The journey is never linear.Most people fail at changing not because of a lack of resources, discipline, time etc but due to unrealistic expectations. Anyone who gardens knows that a lot of energy must be expended in creating a nurturing environment.They also know that gardens do not bloom overnight, it takes time.They also acknowledge that there are other factors that can affect the growth of their garden and take steps to plan and mitigate against these factors. The author illustrates that this is the mindset that must be employed when approaching any change effort;tending and nurturing.
Change-friendly practitioners know that their most important legacy to an organisation is not just in orchestrating a single transformation. Their most important legacy is teaching the organisation how to change and perpetually adapt and in helping its people muster the will to do so.
The author goes into a lot of detail about what great leadership is (and isn’t). Building trust was the central theme of this part of the book.You certainly cannot build trust without being honest. And honesty has to be demonstrated in a number of ways; honesty in putting the needs of others ahead of yours, honesty in communicating information clearly, honesty in welcoming differing viewpoints and most especially honesty in integrating the values you profess with the behaviours you exhibit. In my experience, nothing scuppers a change effort faster than distrust. And distrust occurs when people can clearly see that you are not ready to role model the change you seek. For example,it’s harder to convince people that exercise is great for them if they have never seen you exercising.
A person is trust-friendly when his behaviours consistently enable him to earn trust,extend trust and be trust. Effective change leaders know how to make trust first in order to make it last.
The author states that we are most effective when we talk so other people will listenand when we listen so other people will talk. It seems like such a simple concept but listening can be such a hard skill to master. I don’t mean hearing what was said but actually engaging with what the other person is saying.The author shares a piece of advice for effective interviewing that I have actually implemented. Ask a good question,listen attentively to the answer and then count silently to five before asking another question. You might think “how does this relate to me I don’t interview for a living?” Believe me,we are all interviewers in one way or the other. If you are a parent, asking your child how their day at school went is a sort of interview.I must confess that this is something I need to get better at and it is one of the parts of the book that I am actively implementing.
If you resist the temptation to respond too quickly to the answer, you will discover something almost magical. The other person will either expand on what he’s already said or he will go in a different direction.Either way, he is expanding his response and you get a clearer view into his head and heart.
The author states that the most effective teams are those where teammates can compliment each other without embarrassment and disagree without fear. It is often implied that being a good team player means always agreeing with each other about everything but I find that the best teams are those who have established ways to handle civil disagreements.I also really liked the author’s take on the five conditions to create an enabling team environment .They are;
1.A real team not just in name only
2. A compelling purpose that kindles the enthusiasm of the team
3. A reinforcing framework that promotes and enables rather than inhibits team achievement
4. A nurturing context and not just lip service support
5. Access individually and collectively to skillful coaching on teamwork issues
Even though the above was specifically crafted for organisational teams, I believe it can adapted in various forms to work in any team context. I use the word team here to define any group of people working together to achieve a common goal.A sports team,church volunteers,members of a family,etc. All of these examples are working together to achieve something and can adapt at least one of the above either to implement a change or achieve collective goals.
Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success- Stephen R. Covey
Change friendly leadership was a really great,simple read. It contained a lot of really practical tips and frameworks that can be adapted and personalised to your specific change context. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in becoming more effective in leading change both for themselves and others.
*please note that the link above is an affiliate link that earns me a small commission at no extra cost to you*
Thank you so much for reading and I hope you found these lessons helpful and hope you can apply them in some form in the coming weeks and months.Have a lovely new month and quarter ahead.
While a small part of me sometimes balks at specific ‘days’ for celebrating people in your life, the other part recognises that symbolic gestures and events are what break the monotony of day to day to life. So if Father’s Day does nothing at all,it brings to mind the importance of fatherhood in the life of a child.
My father wasn’t perfect but gosh I look back now at the memories we had and know for a FACT that a huge part of who I am today is due to the relationship that we had. I really wish that I grew up in the digital era because it annoys me to no end that the only digital picture I have of me and my dad is the one we took on my wedding day (9 months before he passed).
This being the only picture I have of us is quite ironic as he was the one of the few Nigerian parents I knew who did not make a big fuss about marriage. He would say ‘Marry IF and WHEN you want, I am not raising my girls to measure their worth by whether or not they are married’. Believe me when I say that the ‘IF you want to get married’ mindset was (and still is) unique for a Nigerian. Marriage is seen as a foregone conclusion for females in most Nigerian cultures.
While I do not have other pictures I can carry around in my pocket ,I carry around in my heart all the memories that we created. I am often reticent to give parenting advise but if there is one thing I would advise all Fathers (parents generally) it would be to;Create memories with your children.
The memories stay with them when you are long gone.I am grateful that my dad provided for my material needs(food,clothing,shelter,education etc) but those in themselves do not fully embody the relationship or moments that I now really treasure.Here are just a few of my fond memories:
🔸Our disagreements;Me and my dad were a splitting image of each other but we were also the two people who called each other out the most. We had a lot of things that we disagreed on and I now think we both disagreed so much because we were really alike.
🔸Our long Saturday morning talks.And I mean LONG! He used to come back home quite late during the week and we would often be asleep when he got in.Roll on Saturday morning and he would want to spend the whole morning chatting about how your week went when all we wanted to do was complete our chores and go out(my social life was full). He always wanted to chat about every thing and called a family meeting for every little thing especially as we grew older.It used to mildly irritate me and my siblings but gosh how I miss those long chats now
🔸Our trips to Obalende Suya spot for Suya when he had just won a contract.He was a typical Lagos boy (or man) and he LOVED eating out. For my non-Nigerian readers,there is a prevailing stereotype about people from Lagos and their love for eating out. My dad was the first man who ever took me out and it was a regular occurrence. It also meant that a guy taking me on a ‘date’ was never a novelty.From Eko Holiday Inn(as it was called at the time) to Amala Shitta, an Nkwobi joint in Fadeyi,Chadon Kitchen etc ..(all food haunts in Lagos,Nigeria) .My dad was the eating out connoisseur. He knew the best places to get what food in Lagos.From street food to proper restaurants,we visited them either as a pair or with the whole family.
🔸 Me and him driving around while he was working on his business. My Dad(both parents really) exposed us to what they did from a young age. He was also into politics and I attended political rallies with him from as young as 7/8. I remember meeting MKO Abiola(a presidential candidate) in 1993 at a political rally my dad organised. I also remember going to a lot adult/corporate spaces as a child with my dad. I think it is one of the reasons I don’t feel too intimidated by authority figures.
🔸When he taught me how to play chess instead of Ludo. He said ‘Chess is a good game for you to learn strategy that you can apply to life,Ludo is often down to luck/chance’. I was probably 8 or 9 and my father was talking to me about strategy
🔸The ways he would stand up for us when other adults wanted to shut us up. People would say things like ‘Oyinda talks a lot’ and his answer would be ‘Let her talk’. Some elements of Nigerian culture can be quite hierarchical with children airing opinions not exactly encouraged. But my dad wanted to hear your opinion. He wanted you to think for yourself and challenge the status quo. He disliked hearing ‘That’s how it’s always been done’ and would often say ‘Well we can try something different’.Now as a parent myself I do think that there is a balance that needs to be struck with this but I am grateful I had a parent who let me realise that my opinion mattered even though I was a child.
🔸Our debates; I still think my ability to facilitate discussion and understand nuance is because of how me and my dad interacted. He was never absolute in stances that he held and always believed that there could be something to be learned from the other person even if they were younger. Upon reflection I don’t think I am even that open as a parent and I think I can do better.
I could go on and on but I will stop here. Happy Fathers Day to Oluwatoyin Abdul Ganiyu Rasaq. Thank you for being a part of the woman I am becoming. I love and miss you loads.
Here’s also wishing all the men who are fathers and play the role in some form or the other a Happy Father’s Day weekend.. May the God who embodies the role in the purest form grant you all the grace and wisdom you need to perform the role to the best of your ability.
Hello and long time no blog post. It seems I start every recent blog post with that sentence but I am striving to do better with my writing. One of the challenges I set myself this year was to write at least twice a week in some long form and I have been able to keep that up on my social media pages. So, if you don’t follow me on social media please do. I am Oyindamola Sosanya on Instagram and LinkedIn which are two mediums with my shorter micro blog pieces. That said I promise to do better with writing here as well.
The book Grit by Angela Duckworth was one of my April reads and I thought I would share a few lessons that really resonated with me. I also thought to share them here as I feel they are easily digestible lessons anyone can learn from even if they never read the book.My non- mathematical self decided to illustrate these lessons using equations. So please bear with me if they are not totally on point, I am sure you get the general idea. So here goes;
Talent x Effort= Skill
A lot of us subliminally believe that talent trumps hard work. The author who has worked in various fields (management consulting,teaching,academia) challenges the bias towards talent. Of course natural talent exists but to truly become skilled at ANYTHING there has to be effort applied. Without effort, talent may not lead to truly becoming skilled in any discipline. I particularly loved the example of Olympic swimmers used by the author. Yes some people have natural physical attributes that allows them to glide better in water. However to become skilled swimmers some effort is required.Those physical attributes would never materialise into swimming skills if they never stepped into a body of water.
Skill x Effort = Achievement
Again we see here that effort is twice as important.Becoming skilled at a discipline is the starting point of achieving results .Becoming a highly skilled doctor without ever practising medicine is kind of pointless isn’t it? To ever truly get any results, effort and skill have to come back into the equation. The results that come from putting the skill into practise are once again going to depend on the amount of effort put in.It is important to get skilled but it is more important to put that skill into use by taking action.
Same top level goals x a period of time = Grit
One quote from the book that sums this up is the one below;
Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it…it’s doing what you love, but not just falling in love―staying in love.
The above seems counter intuitive for me as someone who works in the field of business transformation and naturally wants to look at new ways to tackle problems. It might read like the author is prescribing never changing one’s mind or sticking with status quo.But the key phrase to note here is ‘a period of time’ .Grit is the ability to stick with a high level goal for a while while still being able to adapt/change the methods needed to achieve the goal. The next point illustrates this a bit more.
Big level goals -small level goals = Limited progress
Having big goals,dreams or a vision for your life is so important. It is what fuels us and gives us hope for the future. Many people will set high-level goals, like building a million pound business, become a world class athlete have a thriving family life etc but then forget to set the small level goals needed to make the big level goals happen.
Small level goals in the form of habits,plans, tasks etc are the path to keeping up the effort needed to achieve the big level goals.
For example, in order to become a world class athlete , there are a series of low-level goals like having a training plan, competing in smaller competitions etc These are then broken into smaller goals, like training every day, resting, eating the right foods etc
Without incorporating small level goals into everyday life, there is a limited chance of achieving progress in the bigger level goals.
Development+ Discovery+ Deepening= Passion
‘Passion’ is a word that gets bandied around a lot. And a lot of people often confuse it with ‘interest’. Being fascinated or intrigued about a certain subject or discipline does not automatically translate to being passionate about the subject. This is the development stage of passion. e.g I am intrigued by butterflies, I develop an interest by reading books, visiting nature reserves etc .This leads to discovery about the subject. Deepening what is discovered is often the tipping point for passion. And the deepening phase is where grit is essential. You need persistence and perseverance to truly become passionate about anything.Continuous switching from one thing to another does not allow for truly developing an abiding interest or passion for a subject or topic.
The author in this part of the book goes into a lot of analysis into how we develop interests in childhood. She advises young people to go out into the world to develop and discover as many interests as possible as this would ultimately lead to the them developing their passions.
I hope you found these five short lessons useful. There are a lot of other really interesting insights and lessons from the book. It was such a great read and it is one that I highly recommend. I think its a really good one for parents who might be thinking of ways to help their children develop or cultivate grit. A small caveat here though as I am always reticent to apply broad strokes to parenting, the book could act as a really great guide and would need to be adapted to your child’s personality and interests.It is not necessarily a parenting book.
As usual thank you so much for reading and hope you have a lovely restful weekend.
P.S If you do decide to go ahead to buy the book, and will be buying on Amazon I would appreciate if you buy it using the link below.