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.


Trust yourself

The most-read post on this site so far in 2020 is: “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards”. It begins with these thoughts:

Learn from the past, analyse it, study it all you will so you can learn more about yourself, others, your business, your leadership.

When it comes to the future, however, trust yourself.

Sometimes in order to trust ourselves, it can both ease and accelerate the process to have a sounding board, a trusted and knowledgeable confidante. This is my role. In addition to client work, I am always open to take time to have a video call and listen. Book yours:

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My clients say I “see what others don’t see”. Experience for yourself, book your 30-minute call now.

To Share learnings, my WHY for writing

Yesterday I wrote: “You cannot not communicate” and tweeted out:

Jason then retweeted it, bringing lots of additional visitors to read the post. This really energised me as my writing is from my passion to “share learnings”.

I am often asked how I continue to write every single day, year after year. The reason is simple, to share learnings. That is my WHY for writing, and as I often say: “when you get clear on your WHY, the HOW is easy”.

If you really want to do something, my advice is to get clear on your WHY as well as looking at your HOW. Everything is easier when your WHY is your true driver.

It is said: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Whether it is as profound as that, or simply the WHY for a project, a meeting, a team. Take time to find your WHY.

You cannot not communicate

Today sharing some gems from the Basecamp Guide to Internal Communication. Regular readers know I am a HUGE fan of Basecamp founders @DHH and @JasonFried, founders of Basecamp and passionate about sharing what they learn on the journey. This guide has 30 rules of thumb and many more gems and nuggets. I’ll pick out only three today, referencing my own writings along similar lines.

You can not not communicate. Not discussing the elephant in the room is communicating.

Rule of Thumb 1

So much that, as a coach, I could unpack here, but they’ve been very concise. Communicate, always. Say what needs to be said. This entire guide from Basecamp reminds me of teachings from Carrie Bedingfield on Clean Communications, see: “How clean are your communications?

If you have to repeat yourself, you weren’t clear enough the first time.

Rule of Thumb 10

From: Repeat after me. Repeat your message : “If you feel sure you have over-communicated your message to your people to the point where they are bored of hearing it from you…. you are probably about halfway there.”. Also, see: “Repetition, repetition, repetition” 🙂

The end of the day has a way of convincing you what you’ve done is good, but the next morning has a way of telling you the truth. If you aren’t sure, sleep on it before saying it.

Rule of Thumb 18

So many times I have suggested to clients to “sleep on it”. This very much applies to communication, and also to solving problems, as the mind has a way of solving problems as you sleep. See: “Allow time before deciding” on how fixing a broken car taught me to “sleep on it”

To have fewer conflicts, disagree more

Disagree to have fewer conflicts

To have fewer conflicts, disagree more. Yes, really.

So many organisations talk about “Conflict Resolution” around issues and relationships in the workplace. The thing is, conflict is such a strong word, with synonyms such as “war”, “battle”, “struggle”, “clash”, “combat”. Even the words sound exhausting and difficult.

A recent piece I read on methods of Conflict Resolution brought me back to this definition of a team that thrives and gets results:

“a group of disagreeable people aligned around a common intention”

Travis Carson of Market Force

Market Force has a wonderful model called the Breakdown recovery model (see image) that I wrote about in depth in: “Teams of disagreeable people“.

At the heart of this, if we call each disagreement a breakdown, each one is an opportunity for a breakthrough. The counter-intuitive key to this is that “successful teams have frequent breakdowns”, hence a team is a group of people willing to disagree and then learn and move forward, hence “disagreeable people”.

If we look at disagreeing and breakdowns as issues rather than opportunities, our human tendency will be to avoid addressing them. Do that enough and what you end up with is, you got it, conflicts. Far easier to address a breakdown right away than wait until it escalates into a conflict that then has to be resolved.

Have you ever run out of Inspiration?

My favourite “virtuous circle” from Hugh McLeod of Gaping Void

I’ve run out of inspiration. As I write this, I’ve posted a daily article on this site for over 850 days straight. I’m also lacking inspiration on what to write today. I’ve got lots of things listed in my “Writing Ideas” Evernote, but am feeling stuck when it comes to actually writing.

I find myself frustrated and observing myself in this “stuck” place. Perhaps, I ask myself, I’ve run out of inspiration? Perhaps there are no new ideas for me to consider, to muse on. Perhaps I am simply too comfortable and need some new impetus, some new drive?

I then pause and tell myself that, as the legend says: “This too shall pass“. We all have moments where things aren’t “in Flow“, sharing mine today with you. I wonder what I shall write tomorrow?

Can you stand to wait?

Can you stand to wait?
The Peninsula at Grand Harbour – for sale

Today musing on patience and waiting, both personally and for business.

“It’s waiting that helps you as an investor, and a lot of people just can’t stand to wait.”

Charlie Munger

“Time is a friend to a good business and the enemy of the poor business”

Shane Parrish of Farnam Street

Both of these quotes come from a Farnam Street post on the wisdom of Charlie Munger. My thoughts are first on a personal level, then for business


Capture it on one page

Capture it on one page
Good to Great Visual Synopsis by Dani Saveker

Over many years of facilitating leadership team meetings for clients, I’ve evolved a “less is more” process where the end result is captured on one page, even sometimes as succinct as one word.

In: “Take the time to write less” I referenced this type of work, then closed with: “What would be possible for you if you took the time to go deeply enough into learning and research on a topic that you could then write less about it?

This then leads me back to the one-page Visual Synopsis work by Dani Saveker.


How are you Brave-ing?


This week I joined the amazing Steve Chapman and his dog Poppy for a brainstorming walk in the woods. The topic I was picking Steve’s brain on was the idea of Bravery, a theme I come back to again and again in my writing (simply search this site for the word “brave” and there are many posts!), plus I work with brave and transformative leaders, so hey, going to be a focus for me always!

Steve is quite brilliant at provoking thought in different directions, and on this occasion, he mused around “what if we consider brave as a verb? We are all “brave-ing all the time”.


Stop arguing with Zombies

arguing with Zombies
Ready with beer for Paul Krugman at Tortoise

Yesterday I wrote: “We’ve always done it this way“, what I call “the six most dangerous words in business”, where I talked about how stuck we can be in the familiar, despite the evidence. Yesterday evening I went to a wonderful Tortoise “Think-In” to listen and learn from a “proper economist” (the man has a Nobel Prize), Paul Krugman. Surprisingly, I learned about Zombies.


We’ve always done it this way

“We’ve always done it this way”

I refer to this phrase as “the six most dangerous words in business”

It is amazing how hard and fast patterns of behaviour can be and how difficult people, organisations, industries can find it to think differently, no matter how obvious it can be.

Would you prefer an 11% return on investment or a 32% one?

Today simply sharing a powerful infographic that truly makes the case, from Reinventure Capital, powerful in that it also shows how many people spurn an obvious and compelling opportunity because it doesn’t fit into their comfortable patterns.


Is it true that: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”?

Commuters and Quiet Desperation
Commuters at Waterloo station. Happy, or resigned?

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” – Thoreau

This quote has always been powerful for me in checking in with myself (and clients, friends, family) as to how “in balance” I feel. Early in my journey of daily writing on this site, in “Doing from Being” I mused:

“we can choose to focus on being present to the moments and to sensing “who am I being?” in everything we do. From this, the self-awareness and self-knowledge grow, and from that one can make choices of what to “do”.

So, perhaps we don’t lead lives of “quiet desperation”, but it is important for each of us to “check-in” on whether we feel resigned, our senses dulled, and the impact this may have on us and those around us.

However, it appears that “quiet desperation” is far more commonplace than we imagine, as starkly highlighted in a powerful article by Matt Rudd in the Sunday Times in December 2018, called: “Why aren’t successful, middle-aged fathers happy?“, as well as add a few thoughts of my own.


In all seriousness-ness


A few weeks ago I was in conversation, where, as my friends know, I am often really serious. All of a sudden, I somehow started a statement with: “in all seriousness-ness“, which caused the other person to burst into gales of laughter. For the rest of the conversation (and, well, ever since!), that newly invented word can be used to inject levity whenever I get too serious.

I was reminded of this by a post on Wisdom Well recently by Chip Conley that I repost below.

My mind also joined the dots elsewhere, so also sharing some collected thoughts on comedians and how they, too, can manage energy through using levity to remain connected to an audience when they want to make a serious point.

There are times to be serious, and, in all seriousness-ness, times to inject levity!


HSBC – Please DO more

HSBC Andrew Carnegie
“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say.
I just watch what they do”
~ Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie died just over a century ago, after devoting the last two decades or so of his life to giving away his incredible fortune, some $65bn in today’s terms. The phrase above in the photo was the original and is now commonly updated to change “men” to “people”, reflecting societal awareness around gender equity.

I thought of this quote as I readied to write today’s post, which is about watching what one leading company, HSBC, does (or, in fact, doesn’t do) around gender pay equity and so gender pay equality, hence it is with a wry smile that I note the way this quote has morphed from “men” to “people” over time. It changes what the quote says, but now let’s look at that company example.


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