Tag: Books I Love

Diversity of Thought – how much is too much?

Kilkenny 2018

This weekend the annual Kilkenomics economics and comedy festival in the gorgeous tiny city of Kilkenny.

I write this on a Sunday morning musing on diversity of thought and “how much is too much?”.

We learned that Andy Haldane (Chief Economist of the Bank of England) has found that Economist talk and listen less to those outside their profession than any other social science. My own experience is that the lens of traditional economic models places quite some limits on their thinking, though that is the ‘sandbox’ they play in, so I have openly been keen to see different thinkers at the festival.

Yesterday, though (again, as I write this on Sunday morning though), an episode occurred with one show where one person was so, so offensive to many that people got up an left. It has me musing on “how much is too much”, as one particular panellist showed up and expressed extreme views so distasteful that some people got up and left. I stayed, and these are my thoughts and reflections.

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Make your dent in the universe a crater

What is the dent you wish to make in the universe?

How can you make that dent into a crater?

My answer today?

Surround yourselves with people, thoughts, ideas that stimulate you to live your own purpose and you’ll make your dent a crater.

Let me give you my own example, one that is very much current.

Many readers may only come to this site to read my daily musings, so today feel to share that the whole site has been totally refreshed with all new copy, aimed to make clear who I love to work with and what I do to help them.

I’ll then leap into inspiration from four writers that have inspired and continue to inspire me.

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Commitment, Boldness and Magic

Trees

I write this at 7am in a log cabin under two majestic tall pines in the redwood forests of northern California.

I came here from London this weekend to attend the wedding of one of our Modern Elder Academy cohort that came together and bonded tightly during our week in Baja only this past April.

When invited, in the words of yesterday’s post, I chose “Hell Yeah !” so here I am and wondrously majestic the entire experience has been.

As I sit here, awake before the whole house as I embrace my London body clock waking early I hear the birds chirping in an otherwise silent hillside garden.

This morning I consider the power of commitment and boldness and the magic it can bring. (more…)

Writing I Love – Enjoy the Present

Having and stimulating your Growth mindset  is key for leaders, and so investing time to read widely as well as deeply is one way to give focus to this.  With that in mind, each Saturday I post “Writing I Love”. Sometimes a business book, sometimes a leadership quote, often something more esoteric, such as a poem, novel, song lyric. 

4748840-Seneca-the-Elder-Quote-True-happiness-is-to-enjoy-the-present

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”  ~ Seneca

On this site you will find page after page of posts with the tag “Presence“.

Why? Because being Present is vital for leadership and also something we can find eludes us at times. For myself, the moments where I am absolutely at one, fully present, are powerful, though often presence at that high level is elusive. (more…)

Writing I Love – Mindset by Carol Dweck

Having and stimulating your Growth mindset  is key for leaders, and so investing time to read widely as well as deeply is one way to give focus to this.  With that in mind, each Saturday I post “Writing I Love”. Sometimes a business book, sometimes a leadership quote, often something more esoteric, such as a poem, novel, song lyric. 

The opening of these weekly “Writing I love” posts reference references a key book for leaders, yet I have not specifically featured it yet in these weekly columns.

mindset

Now, I did write  “Smashing Paradigms – Growth Mindset and Pole Vaulting” a few months back and that also links to an RSA Animate video about Growth Mindset, so I do encourage you to read that post and watch the video.

My writing here is all around #OpenLeadership, and key attributes of leaders for the world we live in now and the world to come include self-knowledge, humility, collaboration, vulnerability.

Other words that come to mind include curiosity, “beginner’s mind”, passion, open-ness.

The key to Dr Dweck’s work is for us to understand that in some areas of our thinking all of us have a “fixed mindset”, whereas in others we have a “growth mindset”.

Yes, some of us tend to have more of a growth mindset than others, and at the same time awareness of the power of adopting ever more of a growth mindset is open to all of us at any time of our lives.

Enough from me here, read the book if you are curious 🙂

Writing I Love – If – Rudyard Kipling

Having and stimulating your Growth mindset  is key for leaders, and so investing time to read widely as well as deeply is one way to give focus to this.  With that in mind, each Saturday I post “Writing I Love”. Sometimes a business book, sometimes a leadership quote, often something more esoteric, such as a poem, novel, song lyric. 

qp241-if-rudyard-kipling-greetings-card

I love this poem, and the way it closes.. all about being present, and presence is a core practice and skill of #OpenLeadership

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

 

Writing I Love – Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers

Having and stimulating your Growth mindset  is key for leaders, and so investing time to read widely as well as deeply is one way to give focus to this.  With that in mind, each Saturday I post “Writing I Love”. Sometimes a business book, sometimes a leadership quote, often something more esoteric, such as a poem, novel, song lyric. 

outliers

The other day I posted “Ben Hogan : Deliberate Practice” and referenced in it the “10,000 hour” rule from Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

I was a little shocked at myself to realise that in all the many daily posts on this site, so far I had not actually mentioned Malcolm Gladwell in my weekly “Writing I Love” posts. Time to remedy that.

Gladwell’s books have been wonderfully catalysing for me over many years. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, for over a decade I focussed almost entirely on financial and other metrics as the answers to building value in a business. However, I then came to realise that people and culture within organisations are also massively important, so I started studying widely and deeply to understand how “people and profit”, “commercial and cultural” elements of business, in combination, drive value.

Of course where I am now is that I feel I have a pretty deep understanding of both, so now focus on leadership and working with leaders, and one part of that is to eclectically look at what makes a great leader, hence the very varied nature of posts on this site !

So, to Gladwell. He is a master story teller, not an economist, not a psychologist, not an academic. He is also massively curious and so takes passionate interest and lots of time and research into finding and diving deep into what drives people. HIs books smack of wisdom, my personal definition for wisdom being: “something concise that, once you hear it, you feel you always knew it”. (more…)

Writing I Love – Eclectic Lines

Having and stimulating your Growth mindset  is key for leaders, and so investing time to read widely as well as deeply is one way to give focus to this.  With that in mind, each Tuesday I post “Writing I Love”. Sometimes a business book, sometimes a leadership quote, often something more esoteric, such as a poem, novel, song lyric. 

murakami

This quote from Murakami speaks to these weekly posts, and today, inspired by a Tweet from Matt Haig a few weeks ago, simply sharing a number of opening lines of books, closing lines of movies, quotes, sayings, song lyrics.

Am also musing on classicism and romanticism and where I sit on that spectrum. From the lines below, one can see that I am certainly somewhat of a romantic, yet I can also be highly practical and rational. All things in balance !

Innovation is as simple as “doing things differently and doing different things”, so I’d love it if one or two of these inspire you to google the author, the line, pick up a book, watch a movie, listen to a song.

Enjoy this selection. (more…)

Writing I Love – The Stolen Child

stolen child

Leaders are often encouraged to be selfless, to be servant leaders (and other such descriptors).

However, our egos are very stubborn. They resist the idea of being selfless, as that means dissolving the ego so as to be of greater service to others, to shift and transform from one state to another.

It is very hard to “think your away” from one state to another, to get “out of your head”. In order to do so, shift from thinking to feeling, create an experience for yourself that is out of your norm.

That can be a walk on the beach, meditation, exercise. It can also be listening to music, dancing, even whirling and spinning as dervishes do for just such a purpose.

I love music and poetry, and the combination for me can be powerful. An absolute gem is “The Stolen Child” by Yeats, put to music by The Waterboys, from the Fisherman’s Blues album recorded in Ireland, and featuring the incredible voice of Tomás Mac Eoin, a local singer of Sean-nós unaccompanied singing. (more…)

What do you see ?

what do you see

So, what do you see ?

A hat ? or something else ?

This site is full of broad writings about leadership, and as part of that, we can look at various dimensions, which we can think of as sliders on a mixing desk.

sliders

In leading ourselves and our organisations, we always have to be conscious of those “sliders”.

In the case of the picture at the top, the slider is about how, in the words of the author of the book this comes from, “clear-sighted” we are.

Some other sliders to consider :

  • How visual is your learning style (or auditory or kinesthetic)
  • Do you have Thinking, Feeling or Knowing preference when it comes to how you process information ?
  • How comfortable are you with risk ? Are you a “keep my cash under the mattress” person focussed on ultimate safety, are you a “start up gold mine in a far flung country” risk taker ?
  • Are you focussed on the short term or long term ?
  • Do you make incremental or radical changes ?
  • Are you a manager, a leader, a visionary ?
  • Are you a wartime or peacetime consigliere ? (A reference to The Godfather!)

Back to the picture…if you see a hat, this website may not be for you…though if you see a hat and feel you could see something else, stay with it and you may open yourself up to seeing something else.

 

 

Writing I Love – The Little Prince

The Little Prince

This week a beautiful story, regarded as one of the best books of the 20th century.

I believe in experiencing an eclectically wide range of experiences, and highly recommend this wondrous book.

It is also full of lessons for life, love and leadership. To pick just one quote :

“Make your life a dream, and a dream, a reality”

Dream big, Live big. We only have this one life.

Now, the author of this book, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, is legendary himself, an aviator with a fascinating life around the time of World War II. Worth researching.

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Writing I Love – The Little Book of Ikigai

little book of ikigai

Last year I read this book by Ken Moji, and wrote about it in “Ikigai, Pleasure and Meaning“.

I ask you to start with that first blog, then come back to today’s. Oh, and if you simply search the term “Ikigai” in the search bar on this page you will see several articles, some of my favourites in there from my early days of writing on this site.

I’m coming back to this after several months as I find the concept of Ikigai coming up in conversation a lot, so today to recap the five pillars, as Ken Moji states them :

  1. Starting small
  2. Releasing yourself
  3. Harmony and sustainability
  4. The joy of little things
  5. Being in the here and now

In prior articles I wrote about the “joy of little things”, as well as quite a number about “being in the here and now” (or simply “Presence”), and also “Starting small”

Let me talk a little today about “releasing yourself”, which is very much related to “being in the here and now”.

When we are being in the here and now, we can start small, take joy in the small things, and then, ultimately, release ourselves from, as Moji, puts it, the burden of the self.

Tne other day I found myself in the centre of a large park in London, sitting in a bench talking with someone. It was a truly transcendent moment, and in fact we both remarked on the fact that we felt time was “bent” in that space, it was moving more slowly. The children and dogs playing were also calm and relaxed, more so even than usual.

Now, as we’d walked to that place, we’d been deeply appreciative of what Moji calls the “sensory pleasures”, of the blossom on the tree, of the crispness of the “end of winter” day, of the simple enjoyment of an engaged and lively conversation. Moji connects the “infinite universe of sensory pleasures” as deeply linked to “releasing yourself”.

How does this relate to the overarching theme of this site being Leadership, you may ask ? Well, great leaders are calm, centred, present, and also very often “in Flow”. I am fascinated by the #Flow state, and encourage you to read my post on this : “Flow – Michael Jordan and Jason Silva“, which includes a link to the legendary TED talk on flow by Mikhail Csikszentmihalyi.

Find your Ikigai, find #Flow. Enjoy the moments, stop to observe the coming of spring, as I did a few days ago in Edinburgh…..

crocuses

 

 

Writing I Love – Philosophy from Calvin (and Hobbes!)

calvin hobbes attack deranged

Here in 2018 we do still have newspapers (they’re not quite wiped out yet!), but the idea of a daily comic strip in newspapers is in the past.

My favourite of all was Calvin and Hobbes, every day stories of Calvin, a six year old boy and his imaginary friend, his stuffed tiger , Hobbes.

Bill Watterson created these daily comic strips for a decade until 1995 (wow, was it really that long ago he stopped writing them !?).

They are now collected into books, all with great titles, with my favourite being “Attack of the Deranged Monster Killer Snow Goons“. Awesome !

Funny ? Absolutely !

As to the character names, though, with them named after two 16th/17th century philosophers, one would expect some funny AND thought-provoking comic strips.

Here are some favourites to have you both chuckle and pause for thought, each with a link to an earlier piece on that line of philosophical thinking.

Stoicism – (“Stoicism – The Tao of Bobby Orr“)

Calvin and Hobbes

 

Actions speak louder than words – (“Unthinkable, unforeseeable leadership“)

calvin and hobbes justification

The Power of Simplicity –  (“Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication“)

(I love my three boys with all my heart.. and this still made me laugh out loud !)

calvin and hobbes simplify

 

 

 

Writing I Love – The Big Leap

big leap

The writings on this site are all around #OpenLeadership. Having worked for many years as a leader and with leaders in all kinds of ways, I endeavour to look beyond typical writing and thinking on the topic, and often for me that means looking within, to self-leadership.

This week’s writing I love is an eminently readable book full of relatable stories and case studies that support self-leadership. A little on the book, then some thoughts and tips from me around the lessons given.

So…

What limits do you place on yourself ? 

Take a moment please over this question.

….

I said take a moment, quietly.

….

I hear you.. “I don’t place limits on myself !”

Yes, you do… we all do, to at least some extent.

Gay Hendricks captures this as the “Upper Limit Problem” in his book The Big Leap.

We all have one or more of the four hidden barriers.

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