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, all centred around the ideas of #OpenLeadership. Enjoy…
Why do experienced drivers struggle when teaching an absolute beginner to drive? They need to practice zen.
When I turned 17, I excitedly got my “L” plates and attached them to my Dad’s car and asked him to take me for a driving lesson on the quite and straight country road close to our house in the Borders of Scotland.
As I tried to master applying some throttle to keep the revolutions up while gently engaging the clutch, I stalled the engine and the car jerked forward. Embarrassing but not unexpected.
“Try it again”, my father said gently.
My father was patient, but even Job would not have had sufficient patience once this happened about 20 times or so. Zen he was not, in that moment.
In writing another article on “Leadership lessons from a Swim Referee” I was reminded of something a mentor and dear friend often said to me. Captain Kel Thompson described being a commercial pilot as “endless hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror“.
Recently I wrote about “Response-ability“, talking about whether we are able to respond in the moments of truth, or do we simply react?
This past weekend I had the privilege of being “on deck” as a Referee as I spent a day at the Olympic Pool in London, an architectural marvel and a centrepiece of London 2012. My first time in the building and the first time as a swim Referee in the UK. Many thanks to the swimming community here for welcoming me.
After the day, with my focus on writing and sharing, I reflected on what leadership lessons can be gleaned.
I do feel that leadership is part innate, but it can be taught. A third layer is that we all have leadership within us, so with self-knowledge, we can be open to learning. So, let me talk through leadership in swimming as a Referee, the “CEO” of a swim meet, and let’s see what lessons pop out as I write.
I love to support and to work with a person who is a “Ferrari”. Read on, and if you recognise yourself here, I’d love to talk to you and support your journey. This can start with a call, a cup of coffee, and out of this I know we will connect you to something in and for you on your journey.
So, are you a Ford or a Ferrari? Both are cars with merits, but why would you use a Ferrari to do the work of a Ford? You could drive to work, drive around in traffic, run an errand, do anything routine in a Ferrari, but it is meant for, born for, yearns for more. A Ferrari can drive slowly, it can carry you from A to B, but is that realising the potential of such a magnificent car?
To me, the greatest Ferraris all have V12 engines, and there is nothing like the sound of a finely tuned V12 in full song with all 12 cylinders in harmony being used to the full.
In my experience, these are three main types of “Ferraris” in human form.
Perhaps things could truly change if we choose to “invest in TIME.. to make an impact”.
Recently I wrote about a quote from a report on CEOs that said :
“Leaders of industry [are] extremely bad at thinking”
Today I was speaking with a friend who I regard as one of the most brilliant thinkers I have ever met, and who has massive untapped potential to change the world. Big words, yes, and that person IS that amazing.
And yet… that person told me they don’t have enough time to read. If they don’t have time to read, how much time do they have to think? What new thoughts are they having and where are they coming from?
A few days ago it was Halloween and I found myself on a long walk home from a meeting somewhere new to me. I was on a long call with a friend and so didn’t check google maps on my phone.
I found myself a little off with my innate compass, ending up walking through a park, then down by the river, across a beautifully lit bridge, and finally, as it was early evening on Halloween, through a residential area with loads of parents and young children in costume wandering around having a great time.
It reminded me of the line from a poem :
“Not all those who wander are lost”
~ JRR Tolkien
I was wandering, but I wasn’t lost. It was an unexpected joy on a wonderfully crisp Autumn evening in London.
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, truth sayer, and brain specialist. He will correct your vision. The other will drive on the road he built”
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.
I’m exploring the concept of silence, including reading this book :
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? Why do we choose to be always busy, to seek the pleasure of the dopamine fix of checking our phones rather than discover the happiness, the lasting serotonin contentment, of being at one with ourselves and nature?
In workshops, leadership off-sites, 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 drives them?
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 “overcorrect”.