My Writing

Ikigai and Bacon Rolls

In the middle of October last year I went for my last bike ride of the season around Richmond Park and after that, I was inspired to write about Ikigai and Bacon rolls.

I’m going to simply repeat the core of that post below. Please scroll down and read that first, then come back to additional thoughts added today, as last weekend I went back for my first bacon roll there for seven months (I am a “fair weather” cyclist!).

So much has happened, so much changed in the last seven months, yet when I went back to Pen Ponds cafe, everything was the same as in my October post excerpted below.

In those seven months, I have continued my lifelong search for the best bacon roll in the world, so when I went to order one at Pen Ponds café, I noted to the cook that he still held the title of “best bacon roll ever” for me, as since being there last October I had not found a bacon roll better yet !

His eyes glinted, and he poured out a story that explained everything… (more…)

Movies with Meaning – Leading through doubt

Weekly series. Do please send suggestions via email, twitter etc. You can send a theme and/or specific movies. Each week we feature three movies with meaning, so send in a movie with a sentence or two on the core meaning you take from it and a clip from the movie that speaks to that meaning.

Sometimes as leaders we face tough decisions. Sometimes it may even be that all those around us try to convince us our chosen path is wrong and we need to change our mind.

When everyone around you not only sows seeds of doubt but actively tries to convince you to change your path, your decision, it takes a special kind of leadership to lead through the inevitable doubt that such a situation will implant in even the toughest leader.

Three movie dramatisations of three true stories, of three great leaders :

  • Winston Churchill
  • Steve Jobs
  • Nelson Mandela

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Writing I Love – If – Rudyard Kipling

Having and stimulating your Growth mindset  is key for leaders, and so investing time to read widely as well as deeply is one way to give focus to this.  With that in mind, each Saturday I post “Writing I Love”. Sometimes a business book, sometimes a leadership quote, often something more esoteric, such as a poem, novel, song lyric. 

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I love this poem, and the way it closes.. all about being present, and presence is a core practice and skill of #OpenLeadership

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

 

Smashing Paradigms – Stop thinking your way to decisions !

Latest in the series on Smashing Paradigms. For my story-telling explanation of the definition of a Paradigm, see “What is a Paradigm“. One way of defining a paradigm is “we’ve always done it this way”

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(c) smasherofficial.com

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As leaders, whether we do this ourselves, in collaboration with others, or by creating an environment for the right questions to be asked and answered, we are responsible for solving problems.

However, in all my experience, we only use one part of our human ability to solve problems, and that is by THINKING.

What if, as per the quote above, we recognise instead that at least as large a part of our ability to process information comes from FEELING?

Reiki masters can tell us, from thousands of years of practice passed down from generations of masters, that so much more energy is generated, processed, emanated from our heart and other energy centres than our rational mind.

In more modern times, science is beginning to catch up with the wisdom of the ancients, so neuroscientists are now able, more and more, to confirm such wisdom with their evidence-based analysis.

To go one level further, I will also put to you that we don’t separate THINKING and FEELING in processing and solving problems, instead we integrate them. (more…)

Diversity and Culture – a lesson from an elite sport

“Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game” ~  Lou Gerstner

What can leaders learn from pro athletes ? After all, elite professional athletes are known to be paid stupefying amounts, be full of ego, selfish, etc etc etc.

Except…perhaps not…read this closing to a lengthy, passionate and erudite open letter written by a superstar player who has earned well over $100m in his career and felt to come to the defence of someone in that sport, that league. In this, he stands up for diversity and for the feeling of family. You can sense his pride and passion.

Can you guess the sport and the league? : (more…)

Leadership Superpower – Encouragement

schwab encouragement

Today a short post bringing awareness of a true leadership superpower available to all of us.

“I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement. There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as criticism from superiors. I never criticize anyone. I believe in giving a person incentive to work. So I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault. If I like anything, I am hearty in my appreciation and lavish in my praise.”

~ Charles Schwab

Charles M. Schwab rose in the late 19th century to be a star executive under industrialist Andrew Carnegie, one of history’s wealthiest people. Carnegie paid Schwab a $75,000 salary with a frequent $1 million bonus, which was an astronomical sum of money for the time.

Carnegie told the author Napoleon Hill that “the yearly salary was for the work Schwab performed, but the bonus was for what Schwab, with his pleasing personality, could get others to do.”

One key caveat.  Encouragement and appreciation must be praise based on true ability and achievements, given sincerely and with recognition of the true value of what is being praised.

Go out there and praise someone today !

Curiosity, a key to Leadership

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Yesterday I wrote “Are you an Old or New Paradigm Leader?”, encouraging you to look at whether you are aware of the goldfish bowl you are swimming in, and to look at new ways of leading. However, I also reflected on how difficult it is to see ourselves (and yes, trust me, though I do this for others all the time as their sounding board, I too have my own blind spots around myself and so have my own coaches, sounding boards, trusted advisors!).

This brings me to the theme of curiosity.

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Are you an Old or New Paradigm Leader?

Who's next?

Leadership is the overarching theme of my writing on this site.

As part of this, I write every Friday an article on “Smashing Paradigms“, looking to challenge my own thinking and to be of support to you in the same way.

First, for clarity on the word Paradigm, please read my article on “What is a Paradigm“, though to put it concisely, a paradigm is a set of unconscious beliefs, a goldfish bowl we don’t know we are swimming in (see the base of this article for a beautiful expression of this).

Today I feel to pause and once again reflect on old and new paradigms of leadership, as another expression of being stuck in a paradigm is “we’ve always done it this way”. I refer to Old and New Paradigms as leadership is so entrenched in society and business that we somehow seem unable to see the need for change, and even that we can change.  (more…)

Movies with Meaning – GDPR and Tough Decisions

Weekly series. Do please send suggestions via email, twitter etc. You can send a theme and/or specific movies. Each week we feature three movies with meaning, so send in a movie with a sentence or two on the core meaning you take from it and a clip from the movie that speaks to that meaning.

Later this month, a law known as GDPR comes into effect, with highly stringent requirements for businesses to have audited confirmation that people still wish to be on their email lists. Those of us in the EU are deluged with emails asking, nay, begging for us to confirm we wish to remain on lists. Reports in the UK are that only around 10% of email subscribers are actively reconfirming, and some businesses will go ahead and delete all information on those who do not take time to reconfirm, irrespective of the nature of their relationship. They are doing this to be in strict compliance with the law, the intention of which is to protect people from misuse of data.

What, however, if you have an email list (umm, mine) where a) over 40% of subscribers routinely open and read your emails, b) you get lots of positive feedback from them from those emails, and c) you aren’t actively selling anything (but hey, perhaps a compliance officer could construe otherwise, so you are still at risk). Are you really acting in service of your subscribers to wipe them out of your business memory ? What decision will I make ?

Sometimes business owners have to make tough decisions based on the advice they are given, and sometimes what makes it tough is that it goes against conventional wisdom.

Steve Jobs often did this, Henry Ford built a car, not a faster horse.

Sometimes leadership is about sticking to your commitment, your context, and then making tough decisions.

One real story from my past then our three movies this week, each featuring tough decisions.  (more…)

Writing I Love – Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers

Having and stimulating your Growth mindset  is key for leaders, and so investing time to read widely as well as deeply is one way to give focus to this.  With that in mind, each Saturday I post “Writing I Love”. Sometimes a business book, sometimes a leadership quote, often something more esoteric, such as a poem, novel, song lyric. 

outliers

The other day I posted “Ben Hogan : Deliberate Practice” and referenced in it the “10,000 hour” rule from Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

I was a little shocked at myself to realise that in all the many daily posts on this site, so far I had not actually mentioned Malcolm Gladwell in my weekly “Writing I Love” posts. Time to remedy that.

Gladwell’s books have been wonderfully catalysing for me over many years. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, for over a decade I focussed almost entirely on financial and other metrics as the answers to building value in a business. However, I then came to realise that people and culture within organisations are also massively important, so I started studying widely and deeply to understand how “people and profit”, “commercial and cultural” elements of business, in combination, drive value.

Of course where I am now is that I feel I have a pretty deep understanding of both, so now focus on leadership and working with leaders, and one part of that is to eclectically look at what makes a great leader, hence the very varied nature of posts on this site !

So, to Gladwell. He is a master story teller, not an economist, not a psychologist, not an academic. He is also massively curious and so takes passionate interest and lots of time and research into finding and diving deep into what drives people. HIs books smack of wisdom, my personal definition for wisdom being: “something concise that, once you hear it, you feel you always knew it”. (more…)