My Writing

Move your “NO” to “HELL YEAH!”

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
~ Will Durant

An absorbing, energising and inspiring conversation recently has me musing on the process and the act of writing and what it can bring to us. In that conversation I was nudged to remember and once again sign up for the wonderful thought-provoking curations of Maria Popova and her Brainpickings (highly recommended!).

In that conversation I was guided to an article:  “Jennifer Egan on Writing, the Trap of Approval, and the Most Important Discipline for Aspiring Writers“, which has an anchor quote of:

write regularly jennifer egan

“You can only write regularly if you’re willing to write badly… Accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well.” (more…)

Choice and the Power of the Pause

Frankl between stimulus and response

“Between Stimulus and Response There Is a Space.
In That Space Is Our Power To Choose Our Response”

That quote is attributed to Viktor Frankl, author of “Man’s Search for Meaning”, the most personally impactful book I’ve ever read.

Two recent meetings have had me think about this “space between stimulus and response”, about the “the power of the pause”. about our freedom to make choices, including our choice on how to respond to external stimuli.

One meeting was at an art exhibit, where being among amazing portraiture contributed to a sparkling conversation on many topics. One theme was on the power of choice. After that meeting, I mused on Frankl and this famous quote around choice.

As it turns out, the quote above was not made by Frankl, but in discussing Frankl’s famous book, it was made by another master, Stephen Covey.

The quote that had Covey develop his own and that does come from Frankl’s book was this one, which when I read it for the first time gave me goosebumps all over.

“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.”

I distilled this for myself to: “the ultimate freedom is choice”

Now, to the second recent meeting. I had a fascinating and wide-ranging conversation with a young British Army officer. One story he told was about how the Army had studied decision making under fire. Literally under enemy fire. In such situations, what they found was that the decision maker was having to process so many different variables in such radically stressful situations that sometimes they would forget their training and make decisions contrary to their training and the best interests of their men and the situation.

What the Army identified was that even a brief pause would be of huge value in the decision making process. Given the squad leaders would often be hiding from enemy fire in terrible conditions, they simply made a laminated card with a few key questions for the person to ask and answer of and for themselves.

Apparently, this takes less than twenty seconds for them to pull the card out of their pocket and run through the questions, yet this twenty second pause created the opportunity to reconnect to what they had been trained to do, then to make a choice from response rather than reaction.

I found these lessons very valuable and, serendipitously, have applied them since on calls with one or two clients who have found themselves under stress.

We always have a choice, and this recognition can be amplified by recognising the “power of the pause” and consciously pausing.

“Between Stimulus and Response There Is a Space.
In That Space Is Our Power To Choose Our Response”

Wisdom and Kindness

lao-tzu-quotes-sayings-wisdom-cute-kindness-love

Some of us always like to take time to make reasoned, rational, analytical assessments before reaching a decision. Other typically make decisions very quickly and are thought to be highly intuitive.

For those who make quick decisions, how do we know if those decisions come from Wisdom or come from Fear that makes us decide and act too quickly and sometimes make poor decisions ?

Today I muse on both Kindness and Wisdom and hope this is of value in being guided to understand when we are accessing our inner wisdom in our decision-making.

First, leading from the image and quote above, one simple definition is that Kindness is Wisdom itself. As the Dalai Lama said: “my religion is kindness”, and I would put it to you that he is a wise soul indeed.

Another definition I use to guide is “Wisdom is something that, when you hear it, you feel you always knew it.”

I was inspired to write today by a recent article by Michael Neill called “The Hedgehog of Wisdom“. This closing piece of Michael’s article resonated with me as a great awareness tool.

how do I know whether that’s some kind of inner knowing or just fear?’ someone asked.

I offered the following guidelines…

  • Wisdom is ever-present and always kind.
  • Wisdom is sometimes soft but always clear.
  • Wisdom has an obviousness to it when you hear it, even if it’s completely invisible to you until you do
  • Wisdom often comes disguised as ‘common sense,’ but in reality is extremely uncommon in usage.

What really resonated for me here was the first two guidelines.

It is Wisdom informing you and not fear when it feels “kind, sometimes soft and always clear”.  Intuition, for me, is directly connected to feelings, emotions, energy, so having such language in the guidelines is a valuable connection beyond the rational mind.

Michael closes with:

“Wisdom is right there inside you, just waiting for you to allow it to guide you. You need only be quiet and listen. When you relax into it, you’ll almost always know what to do.”

The unexamined life is not worth living

the unexamined life.jpg

Or is it ?

I believe in balance and rarely in set answers, in yes or no, either/or, binary choice etc.

Being human is complex.

We are rational and yet also driven by emotion, by what we sense, what we feel.

So, absolutely let us look at what Socrates meant and then consider what it means for leadership in business and organisations then consider the value of balance.
(more…)

Are you a Serendipity or a Zemblanity person?

zemblanity

“Zemblanity, the opposite of serendipity, 
the faculty of making unhappy, unlucky and expected discoveries by design.
~ William Safire, The Right Word in the Right Place at the Right Time

One could call this an Unpleasant Non-Surprise.

Thanks to my friend Bruce Peters of Beyond Teal for sending through this article from TED, “20 words that aren’t in the dictionary yet“, with the note: “For when you run out of words or language to write about. Or, you could just make up your own… in your spare moments.” One of the words in the list was Zemblanity.

I started writing this on a Saturday morning, having already written three posts on a beautifully productive day. Serendipitously (of course!), the last article I wrote before receiving this note from Bruce, published yesterday as you read this, was: “Risk taking, trust, serendipity“, providing a segue to this post today. (more…)

Risk taking, trust, serendipity

quote-risk-taking-trust-and-serendipity-are-key-ingredients-of-joy-without-risk-nothing-new-rita-gelman-72-40-19

“Risk-taking, trust, and serendipity are key ingredients of joy. Without risk, nothing new ever happens. Without trust, fear creeps in. Without serendipity, there are no surprises.”

~ Rita Golden Gelman

A friend shared this with me the other day. I love it !

Allow me to muse on this for a while, then link it into leadership. (more…)

There are no limits, there are only plateaus

bruce lee limits.jpg

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”

~Bruce Lee

I’ve written again and again about different ways of looking at the way we limit ourselves. I’m passionate about this in the extreme, and in my work, I’ve narrowed my focus to only work with highly successful people who are already making a “dent in the universe” and yet have a real hunger to make an ever bigger impact.

We all have limits, conscious and unconscious. Part of my place in this world is to help people not only to go beyond their limits but also to realise that there truly are no limits.

Bruce Lee smashed through so many conventions, paradigms, limits. This quote, though, highlight something known to people and to business leaders looking to go beyond and outside their limits, as it talks about plateaus. (more…)

When you change the way you see things….

If-you-Change-the-way-you-look-at-things

“When you change the way you see things….the things you see change”

~Dr Wayne Dyer

Each week I typically have at least ten 1:1 meetings, some with clients, some with mentees, some with new people, some with longtime friends, colleagues, past clients.

This past week, one recurring theme was “flipping paradigms”.

I talk about “smashing paradigms” regularly here on this site, with examples where often things are radically different.

Sometimes, though, all it takes to support someone with a shift is to “flip”, to look at things from a different, or even opposite angle.

Read on for an example, and also for a couple of fun “flips” related to the phrase from Dr Wayne Dyer. (more…)

Innovation – doing things differently and doing different things

“Innovation is simply doing things differently and doing different things”

~ {yours truly}

I distilled my thoughts on innovation to this definition many years ago.

It came to me in the picturesque Scottish village of Tobermory one late summer evening when daylight lasts beyond 10pm. it was around 8pm, tourists were walking around looking in shop windows, yet all the shops were closed.

They’d fallen prey to the most dangerous words in business: “we’ve always done it this way”, where always in that country is generally to open around 9am and close by 5pm. Imagine that in a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern country. No ? Of course not, they stay open when there are customers, and in the summer that means long into the night!

It was while walking around Tobermory it occurred to me that they could really benefit from some simple innovation. (more…)

We are the sum total of our experiences

we are the sum total of our experiences

Yesterday’s post talked about the power of belief, starting with self-belief.

A core to #OpenLeadership is, then, self-knowledge, and recent conversations remind me of this quote :

We are the sum total of our experiences. Those experiences – be they positive or negative – make us the person we are, at any given point in our lives. And, like a flowing river, those same experiences, and those yet to come, continue to influence and reshape the person we are, and the person we become. None of us are the same as we were yesterday, nor will be tomorrow.” 

Sometimes we look at past actions and events in our life and judge them, wish they didn’t happen, look at ourselves and wish we had acted differently. However, “we are the sum total of our experiences”, they make us who we are today, they create the colours of our lives. When we choose to ignore what they have taught us, how they have formed who we are, we lessen the richness and fullness of who we are and what we have to offer the world.

Another reminder from a conversation today, from one of my very favourite books :

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

My spin on this is that when events and changes happen in our life, we have a part to play in this from conscious (and often unconscious) intention and direction we set for ourselves.

One more. Friends and regular readers know how much I love music. A number of years ago I came across a wonderful album called One Giant Leap, and my favourite track is called “My Culture” and features a wonderful opening of a Maori elder speaking, with these lines :

“I’m the sum total of my ancestors
I carry their DNA
We are the representatives of a long line of people
And we carry them around everywhere
This long line of people
That goes back to the beginning of time
And when we meet, they meet, other lines of people
And we say bring together the lines of me.”