Back in February, I wrote a short piece about the importance of developing a purpose behind what you do. I explained that this was just a feeling that you may have that what you are doing and the reasons behind why you are doing it are empathic – a feeling.
These purpose feelings are the reason why you spring out of bed in the morning.
Over the past few months, I have been exploring purpose and how I can become more deliberate in the actions that I take in developing my business(s), ideas and creativity. Over the past few days, a few conversations and interventions have helped me take one step closer.
I was recently been described as a ‘giver’ on a podcast, by someone that I have huge respect for. This was grounding in itself, but encouraged me to think deeper about why I do this (there we go, the why question about purpose again!). The reason why is a simple, but complex mash up of different understandings.
to be able to encourage people / contacts / clients to be a better them, whatever better is for them. This has always been a driver for me.
to encourage a sustainable workplace and business. This is and was the bombshell moment. Despite starting to explore this back in 2022, sustainable means something more than doing stuff with an ecological output in mind.
A sustainable business is about ensuring that the ethics and motivations in what I do are aligned with ‘doing good’. Ok, this is subjective I know. ‘Doing good’ in my mind is about community welfare, prosperity, and good health.
Purpose in Community
A few years ago, I was involved in a tech startup with a good friend. Our purpose was built on the understanding that we can do more together – something that we celebrated through a ‘manifesto’. Some of the activities have had a wider impact to some of those that we worked with. I have fond memories of a workshop with some six formers who designed a new business built around an extreme sports mermaid outfit. The kicker – they also designed a social cause to utilise the research for this new extreme sport, to benefit people with mobility issues. Although it is unlikely that this concept has come to fruition – I celebrated that the concept included both a performance business objective, and some give back to the community.
Purpose in Driving Prosperity
The line between a profitable business and a failed business can be a very fine line. Decisions taken by business leaders can make or break companies. In 2007, the businessman, Gerald Ratner commented on the poor quality of some of the products that it sold. The ensuing ruckus led to many customers to keep their distance from Ratner’s shops for a while. Following his speech, the Ratner group’s worth took quite a hit, dropping by about £500 million – it was a close call and the group almost folded. Ratner’s comments are a friendly reminder to all CEOs about the importance of thinking before speaking.
This simple example indicates a precipitous response to an unconscious (or disconnected) comment made and highlights the importance for all to understand the consequences of their actions.
Future prosperity, therefore, includes financial qualification and also impacts to the community and ecology. There is little benefit to running a profitable business, if one is also destroying the perception of the business or environment around us.
Conscious decisions lead to conscious outcomes.
Purpose in Encouraging Good Health
The simplest of links is about one’s own health, but when we delve deeper, the health of a business is key. Just as one’s own health, if we take steps to nurture it by eating the correct foods and taking appropriate exercise, we stand a chance of remaining healthier for longer.
Taking this analogy to business, we should ensure that we nurture the correct processes, apply stretch and take action towards achieving our goals. Just as when pushing exercise for our own bodies, pushing the boundaries in the business can also be challenging.
Although not explicit, focusing on these three elements (and there are of course more), helps us to
Have Increased Focus: As we understand our purpose we get a clear sense of direction. It allows us to concentrate our energies on what truly matters, thus increasing our focus. Whether you’re studying, working, or pursuing a hobby, having a purpose acts as a ‘compass’, guiding you towards your goal and reducing distractions along the way.
Have improved Performance: A sense of purpose serves as a powerful motivator. When we are passionate about what we do and understand its value, we’re likely to put in more effort, improving our performance. In the workplace, this can lead to higher productivity, better quality of work, and greater satisfaction.
Increase our resilience in the face of Challenges: Purpose gives us the strength to persist in the face of adversity. It instills a sense of resilience, helping us to navigate obstacles and setbacks, knowing that they are merely stepping stones toward achieving our ultimate goal.
Encourages better and more informed decision-making: Purpose acts as a guiding principle when making decisions. It helps filter out irrelevant options and focuses our attention on choices that align with our purpose, leading to more effective and consistent decision-making.
Enhance our well-being: Studies have shown that a strong sense of purpose can lead to better physical and mental health. It has been associated with lower stress levels, increased happiness, and even longevity.
Having thought and defined my purpose, I can now start to develop and adjust the businesses that I am involved in. It is not just about profit or cashflow, although these are pre-requisite. It is also about how your business, or the role that you perform helps you to maintain, nurture and grow your overall purpose.
I have a fascination with all things new. So when AI tools like ChatGPT, CopyAI, Bard, and others started appearing, I watched and played. Because of this fascination, I often get asked about this technology and how it could affect what we, as coaches do.
Some thoughts ….
As a marketeer also, I am plugged into some of the marketing communities, and this is interesting.
In a recent Gartner report looking at how information is being used in an organisation, 27% of employees (n=988) felt at least overloaded by the amount of information, with 33% reacting adversely to the number of information sources. This is having a direct impact on staff retention – only 6% of those that expressed overload had the desire to stay in their current role.
Information and content is therefore ubiquitous – it is out there and social promotion sites (like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook etc) are self fulfilling leading to greater overwhelm and anxiety.
The concept of ChatGPT is challenging. Of course, I use the term ChatGPT as a substitute for Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools. Many online tools are now incorporating different levels of AI into their core offering. Interestingly, some are charging more for that privaledge, but this will be short lived as offerings incorporate AI as standard.
But the challenge – A subject novice can understand a lot about a subject in a relatively short period of time. So what is my take on ChatGPT and other AI on what we do and enjoy? It will give some the opportunity of looking expert in areas they are not – and so the human filter is essential.
Simply put, though – Artificial Intelligence tools like ChatGPT will affect what we do.
Now read on before revolting about Artificial Intelligence doing the job of a coach. I am not saying that (yet).
What I am seeing is that the capability is progressing. Replacing a human coach, who is attuned to the total somatic patterns of a client, who has that rapport physically with a client is difficult for an AI that is within our reach. When we meet a client, and we celebrate and react (I know we shouldn’t, but we do, right) – we are human, and should celebrate this by following our intuition.
Even AI Hallucinates
Where AI could impact us now, is as an adjunct to our thinking and research processes. But even this needs to be taken lightly. It predicts what we need to see based on a question we ask – sometimes getting it, case studies, and references wrong (Google calls this hallucinating). However, it can start off a stuck mind.
Think of the older car that required a starter handle – think of AI as the starter handle at the moment. A starter handle that is one of the ways of starting the car. The way of starting that creativity process or engine.
But with this comes caution.
The AI Algorithm
An AI is running on an algorithm.
This algorithm will not give you an answer to making a bomb, or any socially non-acceptable behaviour. But this means that someone or something has control, and we are trusting the integrity of this interaction to that person with control. This is my fear – we already live in a land of spin and media manipulation hearing what sells where finding a balanced view is somewhat challenging.
So the ethical control of this type of system is sacrosanct.
As an example,
If we consider how we use google search. We type in details of what we are searching for and depending on your settings, you see organic (that is search results that the search alone attracts), and inorganic (the paid or sponsored content) links that Google’s changing algorithm decides you want to see. And they do very well out of this commercialness.
Despite this, the capability of such a system should not be ignored. By entering a simple command such as
“Let us play a game. You play the role of my coach, helping me raise my awareness, and enabling me to explore options to change my behaviour and get better results. You do not know what I am struggling with and sometimes I may not give a clear answer. All consequences are permanent and cannot be reverted. You will act as my coach using clean language to help me overcome the challenge that I am facing, only asking questions to make me think about my challenge, never giving me advice! ”
into the chatGPT command line, we find that the AI can coach us on a simple, task-based activity such as setting goals.
Should we question data security in AI?
Again, there is also a caveat – and this applies to any coaching system or system we put confidential information onto. We need to be sure that the information is being held securely and is backed by GDPR and/or HIPAA if storing confidential and personally identifiable information. Unfortunately, certain history functionality in ChatGPT was taken offline because some of the prompts could be seen by others – so please exercise caution if you do decide to have a play.
I also have a concern on the impact that this has to free thinking.
If our thinking is being focussed through a generator, we will become reliant on the generator for concepts and ideas. We become sheep hurded by the AI engine because
ultimately we are lazy.
Our minds are built to conserve energy and thinking takes up energy. Whilst new tech can assist, we also need to harbour that that makes us human and seek inspiration from situations around us, from the walks that we take, the friends that we socialise and drink coffee with and with the human connection that sparks creativity
So with any new tool, comes an element of understanding the flip side.
Sure – AI will assist, but lets conserve the AI to doing stuff that allows us to be more human.
To be more releasing and celebrate the fact that right now.
We may be having a momentum shift from being a community where knowledge is power to celebrating that knowledge is now abundant and it is the connections that we create both physically, spiritually, somatically, and inspirationally that is the way ahead.
Once upon a time, there was a clever little fox who lived in a forest. He loved to play and explore, but one winter day, he woke up to find that the ground was covered in fluffy white snow.
At first, the little fox was very excited. He had never seen snow before, and he ran around in circles, jumping and playing in the cold, soft powder.
But as the day went on, the snow began to pile up higher and higher, until the little fox found himself buried up to his neck! He tried to dig himself out, but the snow was too deep and too heavy.
Feeling cold, scared, and alone, the little fox began to cry. But then, he remembered something his mother had told him. “If you’re ever in trouble,” she had said, “just close your eyes and think. You are clever, and you will find a way out.”
So the little fox closed his eyes and thought hard. And then, he remembered another thing his mother had told him. “In the winter,” she had said, “you can always find food and shelter if you look hard enough.”
So the little fox opened his eyes and began to look around. And sure enough, he soon spotted a little hole in the side of a nearby hill. It was just big enough for him to squeeze into, and it was warm and cozy inside.
The little fox curled up in the hole and waited out the snowstorm. And when it was over, he emerged into a beautiful winter wonderland, where the snow glistened in the sunlight and everything was clean and bright.
From that day on, the little fox knew that even in the harshest of winters, there was always a way to survive if you use your cleverness and your wits. And he lived happily ever after, exploring the snow-covered forest and always remembering the lessons he had learned.
People that know me, understand that I have a fascination in technology – especially some that can be of real value to humanity over the coming years.
The term Artificial Intelligence is a catch all. Some have described the term as a suitcase in which anything that can lead to some form of predictive action can be bundled into. There are advantages and disadvantages and certainly the subject provokes both positive and negative reactions. This acknowledged, where are we are the moment in terms of capability.
Some may think that this is a new term, but the principles have been considered for some time. If we think back to the work of Alan Turing in the Second World War (made famous through the film – The Imitation Game), there was evidence here and in a subsequent seminal piece on Machine Learning.
We have been fantasising and allowing for creative release through films like Terminator and the robot Maximillian in 2001 – a space odyssey. But clever systems do not need to be simply linked to a human shape. We make them such so that we can adopt them into our society.
Lets start at the beginning.
What is artificial intelligence?
Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the simulation of human intelligence processes by computer systems. These processes include learning (the ability to improve performance based on experience), reasoning (the ability to draw conclusions based on logical rules), and self-correction. AI is a broad field that encompasses many different sub-disciplines, including machine learning, natural language processing, robotics, and computer vision. The goal of Artificial Intelligence research is to create systems that can perform tasks that would typically require human intelligence, such as understanding natural language, recognizing objects in images, and making decisions.
Chat GPT and AI
In November 2022 – there was a pivotal moment in AI history as the ChatGPT engine was released from testing. ChatGPT is an open system allowing you to ask for a verbal narrative, to which it then ‘creates’ the text.
For example, “What are the main steps in making a vegetarian pie” delivers
Prepare the crust: Mix flour, salt, and butter or a plant-based alternative to make the crust. Press the mixture into a pie dish and set it aside.
Prepare the filling: Cook vegetables such as mushrooms, onions, and carrots in a pan with oil and spices. You can also add in plant-based protein sources such as lentils or tofu.
Assemble the pie: Pour the filling into the prepared crust and top it with a second layer of crust, pressing the edges to seal it.
Bake the pie: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the pie for 35-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
Serve and Enjoy!
As you can tell, this is quite generic and could have been pulled from a search engine.
This is where it gets interesting.
Speaking to a student recently, their goto for helping understanding around a complex problem, has been ChatGPT – not Google!
Google is worried as are other search engine companies that rely on advertising revenues as this new disruptor appears on the scene. The Google leadership team even going as far as issuing a ‘code red’ on this technology as it could seriously dent the future of their business.
This is Artificial Intelligence reaching a new, perhaps useful and more mainstream stage.
Picture generation has not been left out of the equation, with Dall-e that turns a verbal description of a picture into an actual picture.
For example, typing in “An astronaut riding a horse in a photorealistic style” generates this image.
The Six Stages of Artificial Intelligence
In a McKinsey interview, Yuval Atsmon suggests that AI has six stages to its development. Some of these, stages 1 to 3, are becoming pretty mainstream in some areas.
I use Xero as an accounting package for my businesses. This is a simple process solution where I need to input details about transactions, and this then generates a certain level of reporting. Working with Expenses is a breeze. I take a picture of a receipt, the ‘system’ deciphers the receipt suggesting the amount, the vendor and even the cost code. Linked to the cost code is the VAT status – so at the very simplest levels we are operating in the top line of the diagram above. The consequential benefit is therefore a reduction in my time in generating accessing management accounts and tax returns – something that historically has relied on an accountant for, with the relative expense.
The use of dashboards enables clear and consistent view of performance, or process stage. Using tradition RAG (red, amber, green) status lists creates areas of discussion and exploration. The Artificial Intelligence process can remove bias, and internal social dynamics by creating a logical conclusion. One article describes having Artificial Intelligence reporting as having a Spock sat next to you. Brutal, logical and non transient.
Creation of dashboard type solutions is simple. Using systems such as Notion allows linking of critical resources and outcomes to display high level performance
Using GA4 (the latest incumbent analytics from Google) now includes language prompts to ask some of the basic outcomes –
how many users did I have in the week?
What devices are used mostly?
From the last question, I can see that for one of my sites 80% are using a desktop device and 20% mobile. This has a consequence as to investment decisions for responsive sites (mobile friendly), and also ask me a question, why is this so low when I know that mobile friendly sites are a pre-requisite for good ranking performance on search.
Despite being dismissive initially about the level of AI I am using, I find that I am already in the AI stack!
The decision is therefore not shall I embrace AI, it is about how I can incorporate the ever evolving technology to better my businesses and their performance.
Ultimately, we will get to a stage where AI removes the analysis and diagnostic phase. Human intent will resist the predictive phase and certainly hesitate over the delegation of complex decisions to AI.
As I write this, I realise that the content here is slightly on the edge – but I do this to provoke your thinking in an area that you may not be aware of. If you do find this tough, please accept my apologies, if you find this exciting, then please moderate.
How many times have you provided chocolate in some form in an intervention or coaching session?
Perhaps the intention was to keep blood sugar up mid-afternoon following lunch but perhaps you also understand that chocolate (especially dark chocolate) affects the way the brain works. Flavanols exist in cocoa (so the darker the chocolate the more Flavanols). Flavanols have an effect. They increase the amount of oxygen flowing to the brain, and the better your brain’s cognitive skills will be for a short time.
Nuts (walnuts especially) are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, whose absence has been linked to depression and cognitive deficiencies.
Whether this is a marketing ploy, or whatever, “The Problem Solver” beer can get people just drunk enough to boost brainpower. According to Chicago professor Jennifer Wiley, the average man produces his most creative thinking with an alcohol level of 0.075%.
So the question for you.
Is it ok to give people chocolate, nuts and beer to help improve their creativity and cognitive function?
But it does not stop there. In 2018, the Independent reported that ‘Microdosing’ LSD is not just a Silicon Valley trend. The outcomes are that the ‘users’ become more creative and focused. The practise, known as “microdosing”, involves taking minute quantities of drugs every few days.
It is well covered in news that Steve Jobs took LSD and marijuana. Jobs suggests that the latter helped him to ‘relax and made him more creative’.
There is also contradictory evidence that there is no impact in the use of cannabis on divergent thinking. In fact, there is an actual decrease in creativity when taking a larger amount of cannabis.
If you answered yes to the chocolate question, is it OK to introduce micro-dosing into your coaching, if you get better engagement?
Woah, steady Simon – where did that question come from, of course, it isn’t.
But, if there were no ‘legal’ restraints where would your line be ethically and morally?
From a personal perspective, I cannot condone the use of drugs to enhance performance.
If we dip across into high-performance sports, we understand the short-term performance impact, but like anything that we put into our high-performing bodies – this has an effect at some point.
For some, the expresso pick me up, or ‘start to the morning’ is fine – but at some point, as the caffeine hit wears off, tiredness kicks in or the need for another ‘addictive’ coffee fix hits.
A provocation today – enjoy your thinking and exploration.