My Writing

To burn out or to fade away ?

In a recent post Ok is not ok, I noted that Neil Young said : “It’s better to burn out, Than to fade away” and Kurt Cobain included that in his suicide note.

Today I was reminded of the late, great Bill Hicks. Absolutely not politically correct (so be warned if you google him), he was a genius of a comedian and thinker, who died at 32 and, over 20 years later, the memory of his work is etched into the memories of so many.

As Tom Waits described him : “Bill Hicks – blowtorch, excavator, truthsayer, and brain specialist. He will correct your vision. Other will drive on the road he built”

Others will drive on the road he built. Amen. (more…)

Keeper of the Vision

I’m about to give you the sum total of all my learning on leadership from many decades of devoted work, research, curiousity etc

Want the secret to great leadership ?

The role of a leader is a one line job description :

Keeper of the Vision

That is it. Simple.

Nothing you do is more important. Everything else is meaningless without this. (more…)

Take time to think

Take time to think.

“Easy to say, harder to do”, is, I am sure, the response many will give.

Why is that, though ? Logically, the vast majority of the returns in any business or organisation come from the big thinking, not the execution,.

How is, then, that this quote comes flying forward from the “Think Unthinkable” report :

Leaders of industry [are] extremely bad at thinking, and they don’t get challenged very much either”

I encourage reading that report, in which there is much about both parts of that statement.

So, how about taking time to think ? (more…)

What happens when we find silence ?

I recently read Silence in the age of noise by Erling Kagge, and a couple of themes came out for me.

One was that while yes, we can find near absolute silence by heading out into the wilderness, silence is available to us at any time, in any place. The key is to still our mind.

There are many ways to do this, and each of us may have our own method. For me, sometimes it is in getting into a rhythm of doing easy and relatively “mindless” tasks that slow down the mental chatter and create space. I can then often connect in a “flow” and thoughts “join up” for me as if from nowhere if I simply go for a walk, stop and have a cup of tea, or even listen to music.

Silence can open up creativity, innovation, and simply being in the present. (more…)

Power of Silence

I’m exploring the concept of silence, including reading this book :

Silence in the age of noise

The author once spent fifty days walking solo across Antarctica with no radio and I’m fascinated by his observations on silence.

To me it is far deeper than being in nature, it is about silence within silence. We all have the ability to be silent, be still at any time, to be totally present to each moment. Within such silence there is real power.

So, why don’t we seek silence as the gift that it is ? (more…)

Pesky Humans and Kilkenomics

In workshops, leadership offsites, retreats etc , a few themes typically emerge when wrestling with the toughest of issues. One of those is around people. I often lighten the tone when leading these by saying something like :

“wouldn’t your business be simple if it weren’t for all those pesky humans ?”

Always gets a laugh. Seriously, though, most accomplished businesses and their leaders are great with numbers, process, logic. What keeps leaders up at night are almost always issues linked to understanding people.

Why, then, is our education at all levels so skewed towards understanding numbers, logic, rationale etc rather than behaviours and what drive them ? (more…)

Pendulum Leadership

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A pendulum is a favourite device for me as a coach. So often I find people beating themselves up around their behaviour, and, more particularly, how when they choose to change a behaviour they often “over correct”. (more…)

Ok is not ok

ok is not ok.jpgThank you to Alton Byrd for posting this online. Alton was one of my first sporting heroes, the greatest player I ever saw in British Basketball.

He and I were both fortunate enough to be taken under the wing of the late, great Ed Percival, who Alton calls his rabbi, I call simply “Yoda”. I consider Ed my greatest guide and mentor, as does Roger Philby, who wrote this eulogy:  “My Hero – Ed Percival”.

My first significant interaction with Ed was when I’d said something in a group that had overpowered the conversation. In a break, I apologised and told him I’d “dial it back”. Ed was furious. He rose up to his considerable height, stepped in towards me, and said : “don’t you EVER{expletive deleted} do that ! This world needs your full self !”. Ed’s famous phrase was “Be More You”, and that simple phrase can be life-changing.

So, the phrase “ok.. is not ok” comes to mind when I read what Alton posted. (more…)

Realising Potential

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Seth Godin recently wrote :

“It’s tempting to enter a field where mastery is assured, where you have a very good shot of being as good at it as everyone else.

It turns out, though, that the most exciting and productive fields are those where there’s a huge gap between those that are perceived to be the very best and everyone else.

The wider the gap, the more it’s worth to push through it.

My purpose in life is #MakingPotentialPossible. Like any such intention in life, there is a strong element of service to others, and also a mirroring reference to what we seek for ourselves. (more…)