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.
One of my favourite places in London is Hungerford Bridge, the footbridge I regularly take over the Thames from Waterloo and the South Bank.
This summer, the “Hungerford Bridge Gallery of Outsider Art” suddenly appeared one day. No explanation, no website, simply art that was suddenly there for the 10,000 or more pedestrians, both tourists and Londoners, who walked past it each day.
Then, all of a sudden, in late September and after 91 days (so I learned later), it was gone. I had wondered what it was all about but was more than content to enjoy it, to not know and to appreciate the playfulness.
Now, I say often that I don’t believe in luck but I do believe in serendipity (see “Creating Serendipity“), so today’s post is late as I went up to town to meet someone I’d met only in October, the unique gift that is Steve Chapman.
As it turns out, amongst our amazing meandering conversation through meaning, humanity, social constructs, middlescence and more, I learned he was the creator and curator of that gallery, which amassed more than one million visitors (ok, passers-by) in 91 days.
Another topic we talked about was the power of having clarity of one’s purpose, why we are here.
For Steve, it is to be “playful with not knowing”.
For me, it is “Making Potential Possible”.
My musing today is the power of purpose. Our conversation today was deeply satisfying for me, and yes, I am playful with not knowing where it will lead to next, and at the same time clear that there is potential to be made possible.
A core part of me living that purpose of #MakingPotentialPossible is to support individuals, businesses and organisations become clear both on what their purpose is and then how they will live that in their life and their work. Arriving at that clarity does indeed require being comfortable not knowing, with an exploration of who we are and what we feel when we are aligned. Again, this is very similar for an individual or an organisation.
If you see the power in not knowing and would like to learn more, I’d love to talk to you.
My clients say I “see what others don’t see”. Experience for yourself, book your 30-minute call now.
Today I am travelling to the funeral of a family friend and musing on the Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi. Difficult to translate, but one element, around the Sabi part, is acceptance of the cycle of life and death.
Around the idea of the beauty of imperfections, I think of another Japanese concept, of Kintsukuroi (or Kintsugi), of repairing broken pottery using gold.
Finally, I think of a friend who has made massive shifts and transformations in their life, with one seminal moment on that journey being around five years ago when they stood on a stage to give a talk, forgot their lines, then said, on mic and repeatedly (and very calmly), “I embrace my imperfections”. As the Italian saying goes, “la vita e bella”. Life is beautiful.
Oh, and as this is a blog on #OpenLeadership, for all those who lead others and are reading this, know that embracing your own imperfections as well as the impermanence of everything in life and business, these are key to leading into the emergent future, which is at the hear of #OpenLeadership.
On Wednesday, November 27th, I wrote a “long read” called “Transferring Enthusiasm“, the essence of which is that when you have a live audience, to focus not on sharing data, information or knowledge, but simply to transfer your enthusiasm for what you are sharing with your audience.
That same evening, I joined around 20,000 others to watch The Lumineers live in concert. I had recently been introduced to their music by a good friend who is a fan. I arrived that night liking their music and somewhat excited about the concert, but mostly looking forward to sharing an evening with a friend.
I left transformed. Liking had turned to love for their music, but more than that I loved their live performance. They truly transferred their enthusiasm to me, so watch out if you see me soon, I’ll be evangelising for The Lumineers!
So, as a leader, how can you transfer your enthusiasm to others to it propagates and spreads?
I leave you with a video clip of the end of their final number, “Stubborn Love”, the refrain now stuck in my head, an “earworm”. Stubborn my love now will be for The Lumineers!
It is time business to embrace purpose. I’ve focussed for years on the idea that by putting Purpose, People and Planet ahead of Profit, businesses will “Do well by doing good”.
Small may be beautiful in ethical terms, but it’s not ideal for effecting large-scale change. If endemic poverty is ever to be reversed or global heating resolved, then big business also needs to embrace this more inclusive approach to business.
“Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.”
~ Victor Hugo
I’ve focussed for years on the idea that by putting Purpose, People and Planet ahead of Profit, businesses will “Do well by doing good”. They must always continue to focus on making a Profit in order to Scale their impact, but Profit will be the outcome of this focus, no longer the driver of business.
More and more we are seeing articles like this recent one in the Guardian, as well as the FT leading on this, as shown in how they highlighted this in their sponsorship of the amazing annual Kilkenomics festival.
Today I will unapologetically repeat myself around this topic, as it is not only time business to embrace purpose, but it is now becoming a “hot topic” and I now feel like I’m talking about a mainstream idea, no longer an outlier. So, let’s review.
My “long read” for you yesterday was on: “Transferring Enthusiasm“, inspired by insight from a long conversation with a wise friend. Another wise friend is Chip Conley, author of “Wisdom and Work” and, like my friend who inspired yesterday’s post, is both wise and also deeply curious about wisdom in many forms.
So, what is your own definition? Let’s explore together.
Not sure about the bloke with the dodgy moustache though!
This was Sunday evening right before the very last race of the ISL Meet in London. I’ve been a swim official for a long time, on this occasion and on this evening I was the judge at the start/finish end in one of the two centre lanes, hence right there when the cheers went through the roof before the final race between Manadou (the “unit” with the ‘tache) and Morozov for the “Skins” win.
Now, as an official, we must always be impassive and focussed, our role is to ensure the sporting integrity of every race and the event, irrespective of the atmosphere and scale. In other words, sorry about the serious face!
It was, therefore, only after the event that I took time later that evening to really enjoy the moment, the event. That photo is a shot from the TV that one of my sons in the Cayman Islands took while they watched the event live. When I got home that night we had a fun video chat about the meet and shared the experience.
Now, flipping back to leadership and business, I ask you, too, to enjoy the moments. When you have a big moment, celebrate it. In particular, celebrate it with your team. Appreciate them, acknowledge them, hit the pause button and enjoy.
For me, when I hit the pause button I could recognise that, without my sons choosing to be competitive swimmers many years ago (and they have all since retired from the sport), I would never have been there at the very heart of that truly amazing moment. Thank you, boys x
Regular readers of my daily musings will know that I believe a focus on Beauty has deep links to #OpenLeadership, including leaders being asked and asking of themselves the question: “How can your business be more beautiful?”
I also love rediscovering for myself beautiful words with meanings that resonate with our feelings. Apricity is one such word.
If you wish to attract the best people, opportunities, clients, partners towards you, “be what you wish to attract”.
Yesterday I was officiating at the ISL Swim Meet at one of my favourite buildings, the London Aquatic Centre.
Having arrived several hours early and with a deck pass, I took time to look around the entire set up, then, with the officials toured around in-depth as part of our briefing, I heard and saw even more.
My conclusion? Everything about the setup is totally world-class. I have seen and also been part of events for lots of different pro sports around the world, this is one of the absolute best I have ever seen.
This carries lessons for all of us in how we lead, how we do business, how we live our lives.
Chip Conley often reminds us to learn a new skill every year that has nothing to do with what we do for work. This skill is what we do that is different.
For me, one thing I do that is different is that I have been passionate about being a swimming referee now for many years and always learning more in that field. Also, my most-read article of all time is one that went viral in the swim officials community: “Leadership Lessons from a Swim Referee” and, as the title infers, I find parallels to my work in this role too!
How do you know when something is ready? is done? it is time to stop refining and tweaking?
One of the services I love to provide to clients is to support them around developing their strategy, through which we focus on the story of the vision, what they want to communicate and how to do that.
In contracting for such work, I’m asked two questions: “how long with this take?” and “how much?”.
The answer to the latter is always an easy one to hear, as the investment in Business Strategy Coaching is so much smaller investment and so a far higher ROI than Business Strategy Consulting (see “Business Strategy Coaching – a simple secret“).
The answer to “how long will it take?”, however, often confuses, as the answer is always “until it is ready”.
You see, in coaching a client around their Business Strategy, they always know when it is ready when it is done.
Sometimes it takes quite a while, multiple iterations. However, sometimes it can be quick, they can have a breakthrough and simple know it is done.
In that latter case, however, the instinct of the client is almost always to question themself, to look to keep refining, keep iterating, keep “tweaking”. At that stage, my role is simply to hold them to their “knowing” that it is done, it is ready, to therefore make sure they stop and recognise that.
Today two illustrations of this, one a short post from Seth Godin on “How do you know when it is ready”, the other a story around a musician who created their masterwork, then simply stopped, forever.
There is wisdom in a minute of intensely focused contemplation.
Today sharing a post from Ed Duggar, a wise human I had the good fortune of meeting last year through “mi hermana”, Rosie von Lila as we all came together in NYC to support one of her “What Comes Now” live events
Ed is deeply passionate about taking his experience and skills in the field of investment capital and demonstrating (as he has, repeatedly, throughout his career) that one can invest capital to scale businesses, gain excellent returns AND address key challenging social and environmental issues AND addressing structural biases that radically limit access to such capital to women, people of colour and other less represented groups.
He and his business partner Julianne Zimmerman follow this purpose and passion through their business, Reinventure Capital. As part of this, they write regular blog posts, and today am sharing a recent post from Ed on “The Wisdom Within a Minute”. To cut to the “punchline” of the story that follows, Ed asks and answers a powerful question:
..if only given a tiny little minute — didn’t choose it, had to use it, must give account if I abused it — but that minute had an eternity of ripple effects within it, what would my decision be?
Perhaps the best answer is the one we knew was right to begin with, when free of considerations of lost favor or personal retribution. Powerful decisions full of values we believe in, that stand the test of the time we live in.
I’ll be connecting with my sons and with friends, and with clients for various projects and meetings. Cayman is and always will be home to me, so it is also a general sense of connecting to Cayman, of being and feeling “home”.
I’ll have some space in the diary that week, so if something I’ve written in my daily blogs or #OpenLeadership posts has connected to you, or if you’ve looked at the #BeMoreYou page and would like to meet to explore that with me, email me to set up to meet, or even go virtual and set up a thirty-minute call online.
PS the photo above is theReef resort, part of my life since conception in the late 1990s, and still connected to the people and the place and take “staycations” there with my boys often.
My clients say I “see what others don’t see”. Experience for yourself, book your 30-minute call now.