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.


If I’d had more time….


The other day I was at an event where someone was answering a question about what they do to be such an effective public speaker. They highlighted the need for taking time to prepare, with the shorter the presentation, often the longer the time it takes to prepare it.

They then used a famous story and gave an attribution. This made me smile, as I recognise how often so many quotes are misattributed and took me to wonder why. So, first the story, then the attribution thought.


Humble Leadership – “that’s family business”

Thank you to my good friend Paul Robinson for reminding me of this. A sports leadership story today around these words “that’s family business” and what, in context they mean as a leadership story. Before I get there, the achievement of the team, then the story of “that’s family business”.

Of all the sports I’ve played, Basketball is my first and deepest love. Basketball played truly as a team is something of great beauty. Team basketball, however, is rarely seen at the absolute purest and highest level. To be a team instead of a  collection of individuals takes the willingness to absolutely subsume ego, to bring humility, and respect. Only when you have this can you align a group of sublimely talented individuals behind purpose and create the majesty of true team basketball.

For all of us, whether leading a business or simply our own presence in life, we can learn so much from this team around true leadership. So, which is the greatest basketball team ever? (more…)

Smashing Paradigms – #TheFutureIsFemale

{latest in a developing series on Smashing Paradigms}

For my story-telling explanation of the definition of a Paradigm, see “What is a Paradigm“. 

One way of defining a paradigm is “an unconsciously held belief that limits us from fresh thinking” or “we’ve always done it this way”



For years we have been talking about gender equality, yet the glass ceiling is still ever present at the top echelons of business globally. More than that, boardrooms remain “pale, male and stale”. As a white male, I can only empathise with those who are not given the fair opportunity to a certain extent, but I can tell you that I feel we are not going nearly far enough in radically acting to shift this balance.

How about this. The world needs women in top business leadership not only in equal numbers to men, we need there to be MORE women than men at the top.

My thoughts I posted on LI recently when I shared a short video :

“For me, I believe we are at a turning point for the world towards leading from the feminine rather than the masculine. As with any other journey of such change, the old guard is fighting to maintain the control of (toxic) masculinity, yet the world is changing. I’m truly excited to be living in these times and ready to see and be part of the changes.

Soon we will see the shift from toxic masculinity towards leading from LQ first, so leading from feminine energy allied to masculine. #SoulLeadership”

That short video was from Jack Ma, founder of AliBaba, who talks for 40 seconds and introduce the idea of LQ as a level beyond EQ. Yes we need IQ, but the future of leadership will see both EQ and LQ.. LOVE Quotient.. vital to our leaders. Now, who will those leaders be ? (more…)

Calvin and Hobbes – Leadership Wisdom

Calvin and hobbes think about things

Yesterday I mused in this week’s “Movies with Meaning” post about the meaning of time.

Perhaps I could also have used the example of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban and featured the sub-plot of Hermione Granger and the Time Turner device that she used to be in two places at once so she could study two courses at the same time.

It seems that so many of us in this world feel we need a Time Turner, as we have so much to do, so many decisions to make, so little time… to think.

I wrote an article last year “Leadership lessons from a Swim Referee“. Lengthy though that piece is, I can capture the essence nearly as concisely as Bill Watterson with the masterful Calvin and Hobbes cartoon above.

Management is about DOING, but Leadership is about BEING.

Smash the paradigm of busy-ness, take time to think. More than that, take time to be.

I give you another link to a longer read from an earlier series, one that starts talking about the value of a leader taking time to be present to their energetic state before going to lead a team meeting, then recalls the most powerful single example of leadership on the sports field I have ever seen, one that saw a vital match won before the game started, simply by a captain BEING a leader. That article here.


Movies with Meaning – The Meaning of Time

Weekly series. Please send in your movies via email, twitter etc. Our format  :

  • Three movies with meaning (and movies you love and recommend!)
  • One sentence on the core meaning you take from it
  • Send a link to a YouTube clip from the movie that speaks to that meaning


We never seem to have enough of it. As Leaders, we often spend time rushing around, without time for presence, time to pause, time for silence, for solitude. (These are all recurring subjects on this site, a search on any on those terms will turn up multiple posts).

Today, then, three movies with premises that mess with time and so really give pause for thought. Take the time (sorry!) to watch the clips and add them to your list to watch (or even to rewatch).

Their time bending premises:

  1. What if past, present and future are not linear, they are circular and so all are being formed at once, such that we know what has happened, is happening and will happen?
  2. What is the meaning of our lives and so of the future and our present if suddenly no children can be born anywhere and to anyone?
  3. What if you only could exist in the outside world one day in every week?


Writing I Love – How to Stop Time

how to stop time

This week, unusually for me, featuring a novel I just read, an exquisite story by the wonderful Matt Haig.

From the Guardian’s review, starting with the opening of the book :

“You see, I have a condition,” Tom Hazard, the narrator of this engaging novel, confesses on page one. He is quasi-immortal. “I am old – old in the way that a tree, or a quahog clam, or a Renaissance painting is old. I was born well over four hundred years ago, on the third of March 1581 …” For every 13 or 14 human years, he ages one year. But far from bringing him godlike pleasure, his condition places him at a mournful distance from the rest of humanity, doomed to see everyone he loves age and die.

From this premise, our protagonist takes us back and forth through time, through the journey of his life.

As one can imagine, there is much self-examination of what it means to live such a long time.

I actually listened to this as an audiobook, as I somehow found it as the BBC featured it as their “book at bedtime” and I could download it from their radio iPlayer. I do love the BBC!

Love is the key to life, and loving life too. Fantastic plot device for the author to work with. I won’t spoil the plot, simply to say that the last few pages have so many exquisite lines in there, tying everything together.

The book is also a reminder of this quote :

“Lend yourself to others, but give yourself to yourself.” ~ Michel de Montaigne

As the adage goes, when you are flying and the safety announcements are going on, they say “in the event of a sudden drop in air pressure… put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others”.

Loved Matt’s book, and the remainder of the lesson from Montaigne.

Purpose – the need for meaning is infinite

From my favourite business artist and fellow Scot of the MacLeod clan, Hugh McLeod of Gaping Void :infinite need to be meaningful GV

In the highly materialistic world, we live in, most of us have more than enough “stuff”. However, what I’ve encountered many times in my life and work is that there is one thing that most people feel they don’t have enough of.


In Hugh’s words :

“Mattering. Making a difference. Doing something important. Being able to look back and say, “I was there”.

When Steve Jobs said, “Let’s make a dent in the Universe”, that’s what he talking about, being part of something that matters.

We have an infinite need for this.

And I think that’s beautiful.”

I do too.

Meaning is what makes life matter.

I’m with Viktor Frankl, who wrote the one book that matters to me more than any other, “Man’s Search for Meaning” (which I wrote about here)

What is your Purpose? What brings your life and work meaning?

Belief – The greatest gift you can give someone


As a father of three wonderful boys, I absolutely echo these words from the late, great Coach Jimmy V. He took his NC State Wolfpack team to a remarkable NCAA title in 1983 and his players would have walked through fire for him.

He believed in them, they believed in him. An amazing leader.


Stoicism – The Tao of Bobby Orr

Recently I’ve been focussed on Stoicism, from reading Seneca through the pdfs published by Tim Ferris (link here), to writing twice daily in my Daily Stoic journal, the creation of Ryan Holiday.

I wrote about this in “Writing I love – The Roman Stoics“, where I captured this description of the essence of Stoicism by Ryan Holiday :

“ the very root of the thinking, there is a very simple, though not easy, way of living. Take obstacles in your life and turn them into your advantage, control what you can and accept what you can’t.”

I then found a wonderful article by Boyd Falconer called “THE STOIC TAO OF ORR“, which delves deep into what made Bobby Orr such an amazing leader in sports.


I do encourage the reading of the Stoics, the 2000-year-old wisdom is so relevant today in our age of disruption, and where institutional trust is collapsing. We need leaders now as much as at any time in history.

A few snippets from Boyd’s article, please consider them in the realm in which you are a leader, whether in business, with family, friends, community.

“There are many famous images in the history of sports photography…Included in that distinguished collection must certainly be the iconic photo of Boston Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr suspended midair, celebrating scoring the winning goal in the 1970 Stanley Cup finals over the St. Louis Blues. Orr was the greatest player of his time but possibly more importantly he was most stoic leader the world of sports has ever seen.”

“Orr didn’t need to yell and scream or berate his teammates. He quietly led by example and his fellow players never ever wanted to let him down. Orr commanded respect in the most stoic way possible – he led by example. His quiet confidence and his humility was the hub in the middle of the Bruins logo that the rest of the team revolved around. He was their sun.”

“How would one explain the leadership skills that Orr displayed? The great Montreal Canadiens goaltender Ken Dryden summed it up best when he said, “He brought others with him; he wanted them involved. That’s what made him so different: It felt like a five-player stampede moving toward you – and at his pace.” Orr’s aura extended to Boston sports fans who still genuflect and make the sign of the cross when his name is mentioned. The few times he attends Bruins games these days there is a palpable murmur in the stands. “Bobby is here tonight”, they say. No one needs to ask, “Bobby who?”

A leader is someone other choose to follow. Could stoicism be a valuable tool for you to create followers for your leadership ?

Smashing Paradigms – Legacy Careers

{latest in a developing series on Smashing Paradigms}

For my story-telling explanation of the definition of a Paradigm, see “What is a Paradigm“. 

One way of defining a paradigm is “an unconsciously held belief that limits us from fresh thinking” or “we’ve always done it this way”



Last week I wrote “Smashing Paradigms – Why Retire” referencing the work of Chip Conley around changing demographics and the world of work.

Since that post I have been introduced to the work of Lisa Taylor and Challenge Factory of Canada.


Wonderful graphic and wonderful visual demonstration of the changing world of work, from a two phase career to a three stage career.

  • Foundation Career
  • Mid-Career
  • Legacy Career

I particularly love the idea of a “transition with purpose”, indicating a conscious period of reflection, investment and preparation for what is to come next.

This involves smashing several paradigms, and a key one in there for me is shifting beliefs of both employers and employees in businesses such that the “legacy career” phase has both of them wanting to remain “at work” in a way that is purposeful and of value to all.

I look forward to immersing myself further in this space and would love your thoughts, plus any further introductions.

Movies with Meaning – Grit

Weekly series. Please send in your movies via email, twitter etc. Our format  :

  • Three movies with meaning (and movies you love and recommend!)
  • One sentence on the core meaning you take from it
  • Send a link to a YouTube clip from the movie that speaks to that meaning


Recently I wrote about the concept of Grit (from the book by Angela Duckworth) and converted it into an Emotional Equation of :

Grit = Passion x Perseverance

This week, then, three movies about Grit.


Writing I love – Alan Watts and the meaning of life

Alan Watts was a philosopher who synthesised ancient Eastern wisdom into meaning relevant for living in modern Western society.

He died at the age of 58 in 1973, yet now he is more relevant than ever.  As Erik Davis said, his “writings and recorded talks still shimmer with a profound and galvanizing lucidity.”

We live in a modern age of ever more intense work and less and less play, where business leaders feel they have to process more and more information and make more and more decisions.

Management is about DOING, but Leadership is about BEING, so Alan Watts is wonderful reading.


Who are the purpose-driven leaders?

In my last post, I asked you to consider, from the inspiration of Dr King, what is your “I have a dream”.

In support of that thought process, today a few examples of purpose-driven leaders for you to consider.

I have in the past and could have written about world-famous leaders like Dr King, Gandhi, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg and many more.

Today, though, I choose to make this more personal, and, for you, perhaps more of a feeling of it being in reach.

My own purpose is simple, To Inspire, and as I seek to inspire, so I am inspired, in a virtuous circle. These three remarkable leaders have all deeply inspired me in my life. Each are purpose-driven leaders, and that powerful sense of purpose has, to quote Steve Jobs, made a dent in the universe!

One has sadly left us, the other two are just getting going and I am so excited to see what will come for the world from their leadership! (more…)

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