My Writing

I get my best ideas from listening to people. Fortunately, that’s my job.

I like to say that people are my library, and my daily writing practice is a way to discover what’s in it: new ideas, inspiration, wisdom, and a little whimsy for good measure.  As your humble librarian I invite you to check out a new idea every day. No late fees ever.

Enjoy…

 

 

How clean are your communications?

how-to-communicate-values-without-telling-people-to-live-the-values-18-638

image from a SlideShare deck from OneFish TwoFish called

“How to communicate values without telling people to ‘live the values’ “

So, yesterday I wrote: “Be rid of Brilliant Jerks“. I didn’t say “Fire your Brilliant Jerks”.

So, how can you be rid of brilliant jerks without firing them, particularly in this world where hiring and firing can be a minefield laden with so much employee legislation, policies, procedures, protocols?

My answer? Lead your organisation rigorously based on values (ie where values are not just words framed on a wall or on a website!), then brilliant jerks will leave of their own volition, you won’t need to fire them.

In fact, keep reading my daily posts, as I’m going to keep riffing around this as feel like I’m on a role, and coming soon will be a post on “no fire” policies and companies that have successfully put this at their core. (more…)

Be rid of Brilliant Jerks

rred hastings brilliant jerks

“Do not tolerate brilliant jerks. The cost to teamwork is too high.”
~ Reed Hastings, CEO, Netflix

The Netflix “Culture Deck”, updated in 2018 and hosted on their site prominently here , is full of gems of great clarity around the Netflix culture, including this one around “brilliant jerks”.  I do encourage all leaders to read this, as well as the original deck (you can find it here)

I’ve worked for many years around culture in business, with a primary and all too common gap being that culture is seen as “soft and fluffy”, whereas a values-based business, in fact, uses their culture as the toughest measure of all.

To use the Netflix culture quote above, again and again, I have had clients talk to me about a difficulty they are having with someone. They wring their hands as to whether or not to discipline or fire them.

Sometimes, no, often, the behaviour of the individual is way beyond unacceptable for the business culturally, but they are so valuable commercially that they “can’t” fire them.

In short, they are brilliant but they are jerks. What do to?

My simple advice to leaders? Let them know they cannot stay. (more…)

Learning to Pause

learn to PauseCatchUp

Today as I write this, I’m feeling pretty rough, caught one of those colds that fly through the system and knocks you for six for a few days.

My oldest son is staying with me this summer. He recently retired as an elite athlete and, through that part of life’s journey, knows very well that rest is an integral part of performance, so is insisting that I eat a healthy meal and then go to bed early.  Of course, I will write this post first as I am committed to writing daily 😜

I have a lot to do, but I shall pause (after writing this post). (more…)

Solving problems by taking a walk

solvitur

The other day, I felt inspired to write by my friend Morgan DaCosta coining the phrase:

“Coaching by Walking Around”

This was a “level up” from the idea of Management by Walking Around, part of the essence of which is to walk randomly around and be present to those working in the business and what is happening for them.

Reading this post, Bruce Peters, a regular contributor of inspiration for my writing (thank you too, sir!), wrote to me about the idea of:

Solvitur ambulando

Latin for “it is solved by walking”.

I wonder what problems we can solve by walking?

Recently I met someone for a morning coffee, then we took a long walk, and as we started the walk, we both suddenly realised that the conversation was different once we started walking.

I’ll give you three ideas today to begin, and what else would you add? (more…)

Leadership, Maria Callas, Meraki

maria callas

Meraki is the modern greek term that translates to:

“to do something with soul, creativity, or love;

when you leave a piece of yourself in the work.”

Maria Callas, also Greek, is my favourite opera singer of all time, and one would call her a Meraklis.

A Meraklis is someone who loves life, lives it to the hilt, does everything with zeal, someone who lives for the moment, the now. Every single thing they do, every day, is done with Meraki.

To what extent do you see this in yourself? Could you bring more of yourself to life in this way, or perhaps do you feel sometimes you do this too much?

You see, Maria Callas brought Merkai to her opera singing, and she also lived this in her absolute passion for the love of her life, Aristotle Onassis, the Greek shipping tycoon. When he abandoned her and married Jackie Kennedy, it is said that she never recovered, her singing career rapidly faded and she died suddenly and mysteriously at only 55 years of age. Of a broken heart, perhaps?

What then, can we learn from the concept of Meraki and the example of Maria Callas for ourselves and for leadership ? (more…)

Live in the now to provide for the future

“Live in the now to provide for the future”

Exquisite. I love distilled beauty in writing, and gosh how much I love anything that can relate to leadership and business. This hits the mark on all levels for me !

People are my library, and today I am most thankful for learning this from longtime friend and client, Morgan Da Costa, who coined this phrase.

#OpenLeadership is about many things, but in summary is about BEING a Leader, not DOING leadership.

The more the Leader knows themselves and can then bring presence to every moment, the more powerful the opportunity for them to support their team as a leader.

Now, Morgan leads a family business that he is leading through brave transformation. This has been going on for several years and much has been going on within the business, like a caterpillar in a chrysalis readying to fly. Now the business is flying and all new areas and opportunities to lead are happening as revenues accelerate.

It would be so easy for Morgan to jump from one thing to the next as such rapid growth occurs, yet he has coined this phrase to anchor him.

“Live in the now to provide for the future” (more…)

Lessons from the analogue world – Slow Down

Thames bw aug9

Taken after a photo shoot, looking over the Thames to Temple.

London is such a city of both tradition and permanence as well as dynamism and growth.

Yesterday I had a wonderful experience with a highly creative photographer, Simon Edwards, as we walked around London and the banks of the River Thames so he could photograph me for an update to my website.

We simply walked and talked in a leisurely way and every so often he’d stop and take a few shots, with me often continuing the conversation rather than stopping and posing.

Reflecting on that experience, I took lessons from the value of slowing right down. (more…)

We are what we repeatedly do

british-endurance-athlete-mark-beaumont-cycling-through-mongolia

In yesterday’s post, I wrote around the phrase:

How you do anything is how you do everything

The post asked of each of us the question: “what do your actions say about your Leadership?”, considering that everything we do is indicative of who we are, our values mirror our behaviours, our actions speak louder than our words.

From this, a risk is that we could consider that who we are and how we behave our fixed and set. However, I am a proponent of the concept of Growth Mindset (see a post with a mindset questionnaire you can try here).

If we accept the concept of Growth Mindset, we can always improve, we can always change, grow, evolve. (more…)

What do your actions say about your Leadership?

GV how you do anything

Fergus Conolly is the author of “Game Changer” and someone I follow closely around his learnings on elite performance across multiple sports. He recently shared an article from The Observer about Marcelo Bielsa, a legendary coach now leading the once great Leeds United. In Fergus’ tweet he highlighted a snippet from the article, referencing the manager being told that the average fan has to work three hours to pay for a ticket to a match:

“he told them that, for the next three hours, they would be picking up litter from around the club’s Thorp Arch training ground. He wanted them to learn a lesson; to appreciate how the fans laboured to fulfil their passion”

The short article is excellent and speaks volumes about actions both small and large that Bielsa insists on and that he has shown again and again with teams he has coached will turn into results on the football field. I then retweeted Fergus’ post with a favourite line:

“How you do anything is how you do everything” (more…)

Prepare, then throw away the script

Today a reflection of preparing in advance so that we can discard what we prepared.

I then share similar learnings from an interview with the director and writer of the latest Mission Impossible movie.

I love movies and recently watched this movie. It was terrific, and as the interviewer noted, somehow they have got better and better with the last three in the series. Why ? Part of the secret lies in that balance between planning and then discarding what was prepared.  (more…)

What is your original idea today?

In my role as an experienced coach supporting leaders to reach their peak, I’m highly focussed on limiting beliefs, choice of words, and also where language is phrased negatively rather than positively.

It is a little absurd then, that I have often used a certain phrase, and even written an article about it: “No such thing as an original idea“. As I put in that brief article:

“…I recognised that {a recent post} was, to use a musician’s analogy, a riff on a recurring theme, in this case: “less is more”. A favourite phrase of mine is “there is no such thing as an original idea”. I believe, though, that we are always listening, learning, developing new ideas to develop, extend, evolve ideas.”

So, my own belief around the phrase “no such thing as an original idea” can be qualified as I described above.

That said, in a recent call with Nilofer Merchant, author of “The Power of Onlyness” (see article here), she totally challenged me when I used that line around the themes I am looking to incorporate in the book I am in the processing of writing. (more…)

Learning from The Beatles – “Mixing” your Leadership

In supporting leaders over many years, I love to distil to simplicity, to allow them to focus on their priorities, their message, their context. As Da Vinci said:

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”

At the same time, sometimes we need to consider more than ultimate simplicity, we need to consider several dimensions to give depth to our context. By dimensions, I like to envisage sliders on a studio production mixing desk.

Imagine moving them up and down based on what is appropriate for your leadership and what your organisation need. This gives you the choice of moving beyond “either/or”, “yes/no” binary choices, to give some richness and depth to focal areas.

In doing this, to use only one or two “sliders” may be too much, but to have more than (I find) three or four leads to confusion both for the leader and the organisation.

A few examples of dimensions/sliders then I’ll use the story of the Beatles and how they added more and more dimensions to their recordings as technology changed. I leave it to you to decide for yourself whether you preferred the simple or the complex in their music.

Oh, and the last video contains one of my favourite musical moments of all time..

(more…)

Kintsukuroi – Leadership Lessons

Kintsukuroi

Continuing a theme from this week’s post “Beautiful words bring dimensions of meaning“, today considering the Japanese art of Kintsukuroi and lessons that leaders can learn from it.

So many entrenched organisational paradigms look to avoid breakdowns, mistakes, even to pretend they didn’t happen.

At a human level, we are the sum total of all of our experiences and the cracks and breaks that we repair are part of our uniqueness in and for the world. (more…)

Make your dent in the universe a crater

What is the dent you wish to make in the universe?

How can you make that dent into a crater?

My answer today?

Surround yourselves with people, thoughts, ideas that stimulate you to live your own purpose and you’ll make your dent a crater.

Let me give you my own example, one that is very much current.

Many readers may only come to this site to read my daily musings, so today feel to share that the whole site has been totally refreshed with all new copy, aimed to make clear who I love to work with and what I do to help them.

I’ll then leap into inspiration from four writers that have inspired and continue to inspire me.

(more…)

Beautiful words bring dimensions of meaning

Recently I wrote “Petrichor – How our environment can impact us

In that post, I reflected on Petrichor, a word of rich meaning.

At the heart of my writing is a passion to elevate Leadership, and so much of that comes from understanding of self and others. Words of such richness of meaning can also facilitate awareness and understanding of other areas, fields, dimensions.

I frequently say “a Leader is someone others choose to follow” and we follow leaders partly through rationality, through thinking about what they say. However, we also process (often unconsciously) other ways in which they communicate. Are they calm?  sage? energised? fierily passionate? purposeful? resolute?

We process in ways beyond language, and words of rich meaning can be a bridge for us between our thinking to our feeling and our intuition.

Petrichor, as it turns out, though from ancient greek word roots, is a modern word, coined by Australian researchers in the 1960s.

Over time though, I’ve reflected many times on this site around words of beauty from other languages, often with deep meanings of cultural richness over many generations and that do not directly translate into English.

What this has meant for me, then, is that each of them can catalyse our thoughts around the meanings and allow us to bridge to our awareness of self and others.

Today I simply collate a few of my earlier posts around such beautiful words and encourage you to explore those posts. I share my own thoughts in each post, and I hope these writings also catalyse your own unique reflections. (more…)