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.


What’s your Context?


In the last few weeks I’ve started working with a few new clients.

At the beginning of any new engagement, I always like to take time with the client to set a Context before we dive into the Content. Context can be at a personal level, or for your business vision, goals, strategies, projects etc.

As I am reminded of this by recent new client starts, today I unabashedly share a repost (slightly edited and evolved) of a post on Context I wrote last year. A good idea is always worth repeating!

So, in many years and thousands upon thousands of hours as a coach, the single most powerful tool for coaching is Context.

Today I’ll talk specifically about the power for an individual of setting a personal context and three focal areas for action aligned to that context.

To get there, as the diagram indicates, one needs to ask oneself different questions to arrive at what both drives and supports you to move forward from the present.


“WHY” and how Kaizen can fail you


A recent conversation about Kaizen prompts me to highlight what it truly takes for it to work for you and your business.

“Kaizen” is the Japanese word for Improvement.

In industry, it is used to mean continuous improvement. It was pioneered by Toyota, but, as business around the world has gradually seen that using “command and control” process improvement is nowhere near as effective as a motivated team focussed on continuous improvement, Kaizen has been co-opted into “Agile” and other ways to improve in business.

The thing is, when adopting Kaizen methods, I’ve seen it fail to have the desired effect in businesses with reasonable frequency. Why? (more…)

Who are you?

Identity: who are you

Who are you?

Simple question, but identity can have many elements.

Imagine you lead a business where lack of collaboration and trust is a constant struggle.

“Who are you?” is a great question to ask and answer to support trust and collaboration. (more…)

Taking time to recharge


Swans and cygnets in a London park this weekend

The last two weeks have been pretty intense for me, both with lots of work and also with the death of someone close then their funeral.

I thought this weekend I’d balance it between doing a little work and a little relaxation each day. However, yesterday (Saturday) morning, decided instead to take 24 hours completely away from the norm. No work, no regular routine. Instead to be outdoors and in nature as much as possible.

So, central to this was to go for a walk. Quite a long walk with a companion across commons and parks in London. Nearly 15 miles in the end, with a few stops, taking much of the day.

I then followed this up this morning with a strong ride with my usual riding buddy, so now I sit here, a little late for posting my daily musing, yet all the more refreshed for it.

So, sometimes we can recharge in a few minutes or hours, sometimes we need weeks or even months. Sometimes a day in nature is what it takes.

I guess what I did yesterday was tune in to myself and listen to what I needed. A long walk in nature was just the ticket.

Routine + Rhythm + Repetition = Resiliency


Routine + Rhythm + Repetition = Resiliency

In collaborating with a client on a project where we are moving from the “WHY” and “WHAT” to the choice of “HOWs” that will be actioned to action the Cascading Leadership model of “Align, Engage, Enrol” for their organisation.

This style of formation of an idea is what Chip Conley calls an “Emotional Equation”, with my post on this being what catalysed he and I to meet and grow to know and work with each other, a happening from my writing I am most grateful for. (more…)

Patient capital – is not long term enough


“I don’t like the term patient capital, that is not long term enough”

This line was spoken last night at dinner by legendary Scots investor Sir Angus Grossart.

He then noted that he is a long term investor and that he feels he thinks longer term than Warren Buffett.

I joked about this with him, wondering what quantum realm of time thinking he uses as such a relative youth (he is 82) to Warren Buffett (88) and Charlie Munger (95), when Buffett famously says: “Our favourite holding period is forever”, so I’m intrigued as to quite how long term Sir Angus is in his thinking! (more…)

Put the oxygen mask on yourself first


Meeting interesting and inspiring people, listening, being present to them, seeing where I can help them. This is my work, this is what I love to do.

This also fills my batter, brings me energy as I (hopefully) bring energy and inspiration to them to.

I’m generally highly positive, full of energy (mostly calm and centred energy, though with passion and purpose). This is what I tend to bring whenever I meet people.

It is a rare occasion, then, where my energy tank is too empty to be at my best for others when I meet them.

Today is one such day. Today I am in the city of my birth, Edinburgh. This trip was planned weeks ago around visiting someone dear and close to me who has been terminally ill for some time. As I was going to be here anyway, I booked a full afternoon and evening of meetings and events to come after simply meeting this dearly beloved person for a cup of tea.

Sadly, they passed away suddenly last week, so today in the middle of the day, instead of meeting them for a cup of tea, I am attending their funeral. (I wrote of this last week and thank you so much for all the messages and emails I received from regular readers).

I still planned to continue with all my meetings from later in the afternoon onwards, but as I woke up today, I realised that, though such meetings to give me energy, if I am not at my best for others, it makes no sense to go through with those plans.

So, I contacted my first meeting, where I was going to meet to do what I do, to be a sounding board. I realised I would not be at my best for them, so cancelled the meeting, explaining to them I needed to focus on self-care.

I’ll be at my best again very soon, am blessed and inspired to have walked the path on life’s journey and will take the funeral to both grieve and celebrate. However, for now, I do have the self-awareness that I need to take care of myself above all else today.

I work with leaders who are often so selfless that they may risk burn out from their workload in service of others. I talk about repeated themes on this site. One phrase I have repeated countless times is:

“Put the oxygen mask yourself before you help others”

Today I put the oxygen mask on.

I hope this story is of support to you in knowing when to do the same for yourself.

I’ll be back and writing again tomorrow. Writing is what I do, being a writer is part of who I am. Being of service to others, #MakingPotentialPossible is my “Why”.

Thank you for being with me as a reader on this journey too.



Too tired to produce quality work

too tired

In working with leaders I often support them around managing their energy, which includes their workload and looking to balance that.

I find myself typing this at the end of a day which was way too overloaded with work, yet needing to keep my commitment to myself to write daily.

Unusual indeed for me to be exhausted like this, so will keep this post brief and to the point.

Perhaps not top quality work today from me as I am so tired today.

So, what is the impact on you and your work when you are overworked?



Repetition, repetition, repetition


As I approach 600 daily posts here, I recognise that I repeat themes in my writing. Though the stories, perspectives, viewpoints, examples may vary, the themes remain the same.

Repetition, though, can have tremendous value.

In talking to leaders, I often remind them that a key part of their role is communicating the message. Further, I tell them that they cannot, under any circumstances, communicate their message enough. A phrase I then use with them is:

“when you feel you are bored to death of repeating your message…

….you are probably half way there”

Repetition, repetition, repetition

The map is not the territory


from a wonderfully indepth powerpoint deck by Cristiano Damiani Vasconcellos

Language is powerful. Stunningly so. The language we use about ourselves and others can fundamentally change our perception of reality.

Tip of the hat (or, as cyclists say, chapeau) to David D’Souza today for sharing on Twitter a wonderful and in-depth article from Farnam Street explaining the background to this concept and giving me a nudge to share it with readers. (more…)

Turn the coin over


“Listen with the intent to understand, not to reply” ~ Stephen Covey

Great advice from Master Covey, but it is a deeply ingrained human behaviour to listen, have an idea, then cut in, interject, say something.

A mentor of mine taught me once that when I am listening and have something I want to say, to: a) write it down, b) put it out of my mind, then c) wait at least five minutes. If it is still relevant after that time, then share it, but if not, don’t

Seth Godin recently gave similar advice:

If your habit is to clear your throat, apologize a few times, minimize the quality of the work you’re about to share and in general, apologize for the assertions you’re about to make…

you probably realize that this is not an effective way to give a talk, lead a class or have a strategic discussion.

Consider carrying a coin in your pocket, one that’s large, or in a foreign currency.

Every time you feel like you need to minimize your contribution, simply stop and turn the coin over. You can count that as your obligation fulfilled.

And then you can get back to work.

[This isn’t simply an analogy. It actually works.]

Do the people in your circle inspire you?

nipsey hustle

Just over a month ago a young entrepreneur was killed outside a store he ran aimed at providing inspiration for his community.

I didn’t know of him, his music, his focus on lifting up his community. However, when his death made the news, I looked him up and this quote really spoke to me.

“If you look at the people in your circle and don’t get inspired, then you don’t have a circle. You have a cage”


Thank you for visiting my website

People are my library, my daily writing a way to discover what’s in it: ideas, inspiration, wisdom, and a little fun. As your humble librarian, I invite you to subscribe to check out a digest of daily emails emailed twice each week. No late fees, ever.