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.
At the heart of my writing is a passion to elevate Leadership, so much of which comes from the understanding of self and others. Words that are rich in meaning can also facilitate awareness and understanding of other areas, fields, dimensions.
Yesterday I shared a post from Rob Poynton. After that, he then noodled around my posts and found one on the Japanese word “Ichi-Go Ichi-E”, emailing me to say: “Isn’t the Japanese language amazing? Like the Germans, they seem to have extraordinarily fine-grained language and words for things that we know we need words for, but simply don’t have.”
Rob then pointed me to another rich source of words we need but simply don’t have. One of the most common tags on my blog posts is “share learnings”, so thank you Rob for once again sharing!
This interchange has inspired me to add to an earlier post where I collated my writings around rich and beautiful words. The list of words and links to associated posts with musings on them has now grown to 15.
I hope you enjoy both learning some new a beautiful and rich words and also allow yourself to muse on my own musings on them and see if they are words you need for your own awareness and leadership.
Nearly 1,000 posts ago, my very first daily post was: “Life is Wild and Precious, Be Present“, musing on presence, purpose, with one of the anchors being a Mary Oliver poem that ends with the question:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
This blog is about leadership. That start with self-leadership and self-awareness. To know ourselves, we need to pause, to stop the busy-ness, quiet the mind and more.
As we continue on this pandemic journey both very real and so surreal, I hope you can make time for yourself to truly pause.
In support of that wish, today I curate for you a piece written by the master of pause, Rob Poynton. I encourage you to take time to read it, slowly and thoughtfully, to then use it for your own time to pause and reflect.
There isn’t now sufficient transparency about why certain difficult decisions are made and with people really understanding how those decisions were reached. I think a lot of it is driven by fear, without an appreciation that transparency is actually a root to better decision making. But by being transparent, you’ll be more trusted, even when you get it wrong.
Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome Trust and member of SAGE, speaking of how the UK Government is making and communicating decisions around the pandemic to the public.
Trust is core to any relationship. Trust is and will be core to any politician or business in leading in and through the VUCA environment of emerging from lockdown. I’ve written several times in the last three weeks around the need for and gaps in trust between governments and their people, particularly where I live right now (the UK).
It feels as if the whole of Jeremy Farrar’s life has been a preparation for this crisis. A leading epidemiologist, he has been thinking about diseases, viruses and pandemics for most of his career. He is director of the Wellcome Trust, which funds a huge amount of scientific research. And now he sits on the government’s Sage group of scientists offering advice (not always taken) on how to navigate the unprecedented crisis we currently face.
So, clearly a highly credible interviewee. In the interview he makes some deeply important and anchoring points that are also sobering and often tough to read. I encourage you to read the whole piece on Prospect.
As my writing is centred on leadership though, today I simply anchor on and encourage us all to live by his phrase:
Don’t force it. It is better to look at a problem fresh in the morning than force it late in the evening.
So here I sit on Friday evening, determined to write Saturday morning’s daily blog before I “switch off” for the workweek. As I sit and think about writing, I realise my brain is a bit “cooked” from the week.
Contradictory though it is that my subject actually has inspired me to write this on Friday evening and not wait until tomorrow, the theme came to me and now I’m in flow to write about it!
Like many, I am thinking a lot about what our world will look like once we are on the other side of the pandemic. Will countries retrench to being more local or more global? From vacations to travel in general to supply chains, there is much consideration to retrenching to being more local.
At the same time, so many businesses and organisations have been routed in their geographies, yet, though for some it took most of the last two months to recognise it, now that so much has move online rather than being centred on physical place, they can now consciously connect their teams, people and audiences globally and with ease.
Imagine the roughly one third of us who are “knowledge workers” and who may now be able to avoid city life and stay in villages and towns, also reducing greatly flights and other long distance travel. Great for us, but what about those in other industries.
Well, if more and more people stay in their commuter town homes, more and more business opportunities will boom in those towns, perhaps bringing life back to retail high streets.
Ideas such as serviced offices, as well as great cafes (with cubicles and other ways to work or meet with space for both social distancing and work reasons). Add to that then the services people can then use during the day rather than just evenings and weekends, so gyms etc. Perhaps also people moving their businesses away from city centres and then being able to hire people more easily who can then get better quality of life from living places where housing is more affordable?
There will be much “Creative Destruction“, with lots of change, much of it challenging but also many opportunities for those willing to smash some paradigms.
This week I was on a great and highly interactive zoom event hosted by the Reinventing Work network. The guest speaker was my friend Alex Barker of Be More Pirate, who highlighted some of the core ways in which Pirates were successful.
One of the core elements is that leadership was shared between the Captain and the Quartermaster, the latter providing the focus on the culture. However little we may know about how Pirates operated, we have likely heard of the idea of a Pirates Code, in other words, a set of values used t build trust.
In her session, and given where we are in the world, Alex also encouraged us to “be more pirate”, to look to the edges of the map (or even off the map, I would say!) for ways to lead, to operate, to work in future.
She noted that at the edge of pirate maps, often, pointing off the known map, there was a drawing and the words “here there be dragons”.
How were Pirate Captains and Quartermasters able to take their crews to the edges and off the map? Trust.
As Alex spoke, I was reminded of a post I wrote around a decade ago called “Face the Dragons“. In the years since the core thoughts in that post have developed into my mantra for the way to lead in our emerging world, that of OpenLeadership, the core thoughts of which you can find on my home page, the BeMoreYou page and that OpenLeadership page, and are at the heart of the nearly 1,000 (so far) daily posts on this site.
Oh, and in that post, I even refer to health systems and what it takes to lead such complex (not complicated, complex) systems. Having had to go to a major hospital several times in the heart of the pandemic, what was one of the core elements I observed allowing that system to function well? Yes, correct, it was trust.
“Jaws” is a classic film, despite the fact that the film-makers faced a flaw in that their mechanical shark was both not very realistic and also often didn’t work when they needed it. Faced with this “flaw”, though, they turned it into a feature. Did you realise, for example, that the shark does not appear until 1hr and 20mins into the film, so creating so much suspense?
When it did appear first, it was for a tiny flash, just enough to allow the director to catch this shot of shock on this character, who, dazed, then walked to the captain’s cabin and uttered the famous line: “You’re going to need a bigger boat”.
Looking at the ways we have been limited in life and in business through lockdown, though, again and again, I have seen people open their minds, to look outside their norms, and to “turn flaws into features”.
Since the pandemic accelerated into lockdown around two months ago, I’ve been providing many thirty-minute sounding board calls to support individuals with clarity around one or more leadership questions they are focussed on in that moment.
This morning I’m musing on the themes that emerged from conversations yesterday in England, Scotland, Cayman, USA and Canada, including:
Finding a balance between leading “Doers” and “Thinkers”
As a Leader, finding your own balance between the tendency to spend most time “Doing” and not enough time “Thinking”.
Taking time to look ahead, “past this” to what opportunities there may be for your business, whilst recognising the pressure you feel to “do” what is needed at the moment.
Finding balance when you feel off-balance, unable to work out what to focus on, even unable to focus.
The overall theme, though, was simply that each person felt out of balance and sought clarity to help bring them more into balance.
My role, then, is to support first in bringing awareness of where they are out of balance. From that place, often they can leave a relatively short call with more clarity. What kind of clarity? I have found that people are seeking to find balance through clarity in three core ways.
Reminder to self. Stick to a routine. Wake up, get up, get going.
Almost every day I bounce out of bed before my alarm goes off at 7am. In fact, as the days have moved from late winter to early summer in the over two months of lockdown, the sun has woken me earlier and earlier and often I’ve been up and drinking my coffee before 7am.
This morning, though, I felt too tired. Why? The image above is of the first bike ride I’ve taken since last autumn. Felt SO good to have the bike off the trainer and to be out in the fresh summer air. Tired this morning though, hence hit snooze a couple of times, rare for me.
The thing is, once I did stop the snooze, I picked up my phone and lay in bed getting sucked into the news and varying (to be polite) views spit out (sometimes vehemently) on social media.
Before I knew it, it was 8:30 and my physical tiredness had shifted to down energy partly from inactivity, but mostly from all that negativity.
Reminder to self. Stick to a routine. Wake up, get up, get going. What works for each of us will vary, but I’m a morning person, so I’m a “wake up, get up, get going” person. Once I get going and into a rhythm, my energy and positivity carries me along.
With that, another day beckons. Oh, and apologies for not quite getting today’s post out at 8am.
I certainly repeat myself around core themes in my daily posts. Today I am repeating by reposting an entire post from over two months ago.
In the last week or two, as the curve has flattened in several countries where I talk to people daily, I sense frustration coming out more and more, hence today repeating the complete post. The situation has evolved, the message is again very relevant.
AirBnB is leading from purpose and building trust.
Over the last three days, my daily posts have focussed on Trust and an underlying issue of people not trusting their leaders in government at this critical time.
Today a great example from AirBnB of leading from Purpose and how that can and will build trust. Trust is key to any relationship, and building trust builds permission for leaders to lead and know that people will follow.
Those who know me and follow me know that I am deeply grounded in experience, numbers, facts, science, as well as decades of first-hand experience in business and leadership. Today, I share one message for you to consider from all of that experience, and it is this:
People are intrinsically good.
I often say: “Leadership is about People. End of Story”. Well, all relationships between people are founded on Trust.
People are intrinsically good. Start from that belief and you will trust people more. Similarly, if governments start from that place they will trust people more, then the vast majority of those people will act self-responsibly.
Right now we have a trust gap between governments and their people, so this week I am writing about the need to choose to trust your people, so far writing: “Trust your people to be responsible” and “Trusting people is the only way“. I am hammering home the message. Please do read each piece, though, as they come at the issue in different ways.
Today, something different, a story of what happened when six boys were stranded for over a year on a desert island. It is not what you may think if you read Lord of the Flies.