My Writing

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…

Who can you amplify?

Yesterday I wrote a piece to amplify the voice of my friend, the brilliant economist Marla Dukharan. I then also shared it directly with a number of people I felt would benefit from reading her word and hearing her interview this week.

This set me to musing about the idea of “amplifying”.

On this blog I often curate the thoughts of others, on my new weekly show WhatComesNext.Live I use that platform to allow my guest space to share their voice to a new audience.

My work is all around supporting brave and transformative leaders to be more, do more, to amplify, to elevate, to accelerate their existing impact.

My simple question for you today, then, is around who can you choose to support in this way, who can you amplify?

J’Accuse – colonialist economic warfare

“{it is simply} another manifestation of a really deep, unshakable predisposition of Europeans to dominate and marginalise the weak and poorer countries {of their colonial past}”

“we are forever to be subjugated, we are forever to be dominated”

Marla Dukharan, speaking on David McWilliams latest podcast (start at 27:17 in)

Do you believe you are fair? that your country is?

Do you believe you are well informed about systemic racism? Do you consider it enough for you to not be racist, or are you now choosing to educate yourself to understand the deep biases in the system so that you can then choose to be anti-racist

Today seeking to amplify the words and message of my dear friend, the brilliant economist Marla Dukharan. Marla and I share a passion for fairness and so addressing inequality, yet I have never heard her to passionate as she is now.

Please listen to Marla on David McWilliams podcast here, from 27:17 in. Listen to my amazing friend at her passionate best for twenty minutes that will open your mind, I assure you.

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Want to lead? Be humble.

Yesterday I was talking with a friend and future WhatComesNext.Live guest when I mused on “what if our political leaders actually admitted when they are wrong, or even when our countries are not doing as wonderfully as they keep saying?”

At the moment, the UK and US government, by any measures, have made mistake after mistake in handling the pandemic. Yes, it is truly impossible to “get it right” all the time, but they simply seem unable to apologise.

Imagine, then, the power of being humble and what that opens up?

  • First, admit your mistakes to create space to move on. For more depth, I wrote about this years ago in “I was wrong“.
  • Second, for national leaders, come clean, admit you are not the greatest country in the world (nor, using the current example of Covid-19), that you are “world-leading”).

Do both of these things and you have the chance to bring people with you. We want leaders we believe in, we trust. Such leaders are humble and also confident in leading towards the future together.

To illustrate, one of my favourite speeches written by Aaron Sorkin, from the opening scene of the pilot episode of “The Newsroom”, in which the main character answers the trite question “Why is America the greatest country in the world?”, starting out by saying “It’s not…”.

Oh, and for students of rhetoric, he uses, one after the other, the key rhetorical tools ethos, logos and pathos. (for more on those, read this piece by Farnam Street).

Be like water, my friend

Last week our first “WhatComesNext.Live” show featured the amazing Mark Beaumont, who shared a number of inspiring actionable insights and ideas (you can see that show on the page link above, plus our upcoming show listings). One thing Mark talked about was about having a goal, but consciously not over-planning it, leaving space for opportunities to arise.

Those who know me well know that, for all my planning and research, sometimes I move and act really fast.

Generally, this serves me well, but there have been times when I’ve tried to “force” things in moving fast. When I do that I can get “a” solution to any problem, one that works, but sometimes isn’t, well, optimal.

So, today, reminded by one of my sons recently of the quote above, I’ll share an anchor that can help us find “the” solution to any problem, rather than “a” solution.

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Stay with problems longer

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

Albert Einstein

The most important and foundational skills often take time and persistence, lots of it. My formal education went through to age 24 when it culminated qualified as a Chartered Accountant. The skills I learned through that created a foundation for me for the last three decades. My two oldest sons swam for the Cayman Islands in the Commonwealth Games, each had trained for over the 10,000 hours to get to their pinnacle.

My most important role in life is as a father to three boys, I hope they learn from me as much as I learn from them, and I am still and will always be learning how to be a better father.

This Sunday simply sharing a quite beautiful one minute video of a father teaching Einstein’s life lesson to his son. Do watch, and stay to the very end.

How do you decompress?

decompress by cooking
Cooking can be a form of decompression

In 1989 I moved to the Cayman Islands, one of the global centres for scuba diving, so naturally, I learned to dive right away. One of the things you learn very quickly in the extensive safety training is all about the need to “decompress” when you return to the surface from depth.

When you go down, the pressure on your lungs at depth is increased. Put simply, if you rush to the surface at the end of the dive, you are in real danger of harm due to rapid expansion of gas in your body as the pressure reduces as you ascend. So, you decompress, you take your time to come up to the surface so your body can adjust at the appropriate (slow) speed.

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Enabling Constraint

Constraint: Important and Urgent

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Time and time again I’ve seen clients put off the important work in favour of the urgent.

Important work includes committing time, energy and resources into the areas that will generate the biggest returns over the long term, so logically we should always do the important work first. However, for many reasons, we as humans tend to focus on the urgent.

So, enter the idea of an enabling constraint. While the very concept of a constraint that enables may feel like a contradiction, creating the right type of constraint can be very powerful.

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WhatComesNext.Live – Creating Opportunities

Mark Beaumont

Yesterday afternoon my dear friend Mark Beaumont was kind enough to “go first” and be my very first guest on WhatComesNext.Live.

For the full half hour conversation on YouTube, follow this link.

For Mark’s inspiring and wise final remarks, including how we models a way of living, being and working that leads to “Creating Opportunities”, watch the clip here:

Who is helping you make your strategy elite?

strategy

Last week I wrote: “the window for change is closing“, recommending:

“If you can see radical changes you want to make, make them now, soon.”

Now, if you are ready to make changes, you also see it is key to design, build and implement your strategy for and beyond the “window for change” we are now within.

One example of this is to take this time to completely (yet rapidly and smoothly) re-assess your brand and market positioning. So many businesses have opportunities to embrace new market opportunities and brand positioning is paramount in this!

I do recommend that you move quickly in this “window for change” though, and, as part of your commitment in time and resources to build that strategy and to ensure it is not simply “good”, but “elite”, do as to athletes do and invest in a coach, specifically a specialist Business Strategy Coach.

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Listening is difficult

"If it's worth Listening to, it's worth questioning until you understand it." - Seth Godin

Yesterday I wrote: “Listen to the narrative of the other“.

I have been following Seth Godin and been a subscriber to his daily posts for well over a decade, but it took a long time before I listened to my own voice telling me that daily writing was something for me to do too.

Nearly 1000 daily posts ago, I started on this path and it means and has meant so much to me, with so many learning and growing opportunities coming from it. One of those is WhatComesNext.Live, my new podcast recorded live each Tuesday afternoon.

Thank you Seth, and today I repost another concise piece of his wisdom.

Listening is difficult

Hearing happens when we’re able to recognize a sound.

Listening happens when we put in the effort to understand what it means.

It not only requires focus, but it also requires a commitment to encountering the experience, intent and emotion behind the words. And that commitment can be scary. Because if we’re exposed to that emotion and those ideas, we discover things we might be avoiding.

Listen to the narrative of the other

listen to the narrative of the other

At times there is so much ugliness in humanity, often expressed in how we separate from each other, whether individually or in constructs such as tribes, religions, nations, race.

It is always driven by one thing. Fear.

At the present moment we are seeing so much of this in this time of pandemic, very human and understandable fears being leveraged by the unscrupulous to break us further apart rather than bring us together.

This morning, then, I simply bring you a beautiful piece of music, a reminder that we are all unique and at the same time together, that humanity is a beautiful collective to which we all belong, that humans, when they come together, can create moments of profound and heart-stopping beauty from love.

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Maybe now is not the time?

Rob Poynton: Is Now the time?
Rob Poynton

Am excited for the launch of our new weekly podcasts, recorded live each Tuesday afternoon UK time. For full show information and listings, visit WhatComesNext.Live.

At the time of writing our first nine weekly guests are lined up, with Mark Beaumont kindly electing to “go first” on Tuesday June 30th. Well, he is a man of many “firsts”!)

Today giving you a taste of the thoughts of one of our upcoming guests, our guests for the Tuesday 21st July show, the amazing Rob Poynton.

In the show bio, I called Rob “Master of Pause”, and noted: “Rob brings his knowledge, curiosity and playfulness to whatever he focusses on, bringing great value to others.”

Today curating his latest newsletter, where he considers (for himself and for us to think about):

Now may not be the time to pause. However, you do need to pause at some point. That is all I am arguing for – that we should think about how and when we pause. 

Whether or not now is the right time for you to pause, please gift yourself a few minutes to give complete focus to Rob’s thoughts.

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The window for change is closing

The window for change is closing

“The window for change is closing”

I came out with this phrase earlier this week when talking to a client I am working with to make changes to some deeply ingrained ways they run their business. As with so much, those patterns had slowly and gradually evolved over time, but however they happened, they are now “the way things are” and are not best for the business, their staff or their clients.

Why hadn’t they changed? Inertia, humans tend to like structure and dislike change.

However, with the world having been forced suddenly into many changes with Covid-19, as we emerge out of lockdown there are many opportunities to look at doing things differently, often radically different.

But, and it is a big but, when patterns are deeply ingrained, many people will want things to “go back to the way they were before”, so it is key to act fast, hence my thought: “The window for change is closing”

If you can see radical changes you want to make, make them now, soon.

In order to help you with that, let me give you another insight linked to this.

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If you can’t change the lens, change the language

change the language - Ed Percival
the late, great, “yoda”, Ed Percival

Today is the fifth anniversary of the passing of my greatest mentor in life, Ed Percival. Naming a core page on this site BeMoreYou was done is in his memory.

Ed was a real master of language, so I thought of him yesterday when in conversation with a fellow devotee.

The wise friend I was talking to was reflecting on how sometimes it takes time to change perspectives, views, behaviours. They then reflected on how they had learned over the years of the power of language, then said:

“If you can’t change the lens, change the language”

I paused, felt the power of this, then added that perhaps Ed Percival would have replied:

“When you change the language you use, you will change your lens”

Thank you for continuing to look down upon us, oh Jedi master x