Today sharing a recent newsletter from a thinker I admire, Whitney Johnson, author of Disrupt Yourself, as it flows with the current theme here on #Bravery and, in particular around what some may perceive as brave but where the person taking the action doesn’t sense it as bravery.
In her piece, Whitney poses the question:
How do you discern if something is a good or bad decision, and distinguish between fear of the unknown and a legitimate ‘this is a bad idea’ feeling?
I love the movie Inception, and one of the key scenes asks a character to take a leap of faith. In that story, the only way to escape the situation is to go beyond rationality and truly take a leap of faith.
However, we live in the real world, not the movies, so we operate from a combination of that leap of faith of what feels right, allied to rationality and having certain core foundational elements in place prior to taking the leap.
We all are at different places on the spectrum of bravery. With that, we all need certain things in place before we take a leap.
I often support leaders with a key career change for them. Some will take the leap with little or no safety net, others will take years to plan their leap before taking it, having a large financial cushion in place, planning their next move before they quit, or otherwise having prepared so they can make the leap take less faith.
What needs to happen for you before you take a leap of faith?
This week an experienced and skilled coach and facilitator asked to have a video call with me as they had read some of my posts and wanted to ask for my thoughts on a particular theme, that of BRAVERY.
“O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!”
Translation : “Oh to have the ability to see ourselves as others see us.”
Robert Burns – “To a Louse”
It was fascinating and a pleasure and privilege to have someone ask questions of me to listen and reflect how they saw me and that they saw me as BRAVE. They also reflected in their words and energy that the conversation inspired them to both recognise where they are brave themselves and to bring that even more to their work.
I feel inspired today, then, to share some thoughts on bravery.
Over the years sometimes I’ve been asked to lead client meetings in hotel conference rooms in basements with no natural light. Sometimes “needs must”, but when a group is looking at brave and transformative ideas, always find a venue away from the office that has lots of natural light and space. It can only make it easier to create the inspiration and shifts you are looking for!
So as this publishes, I’m back in London after another great week working in Cayman. The photo above was of the venue chosen for a full day facilitation for a leadership team. Nice, but now look at the video from the balcony of the venue.
Wow… and this is really one of my favourite spots in Cayman to work with clients.
PS one I love even more is the studio at Flow, so let that be a hint for leaders in Cayman too!
Next time you’re afraid to share an idea…remember someone once said in a meeting “let’s make a film with a tornado full of sharks”
In the USA Discovery Channel has a “Shark Week” once a year where they put on nature programmes about Sharks, you guessed it, for a week. A surprising hit, so a few years ago, alongside this programming, SYFY channel started putting on “Sharknado week”.
Whilst Bravery and Brevity are key, without a strong link to Purpose that everyone in the organisation feels strongly connected to for the long term, all Strategic Plans will lose momentum.
Over the years I have been introduced to many leaders and organisations who have either brought in consultants to help them develop their strategic plan or have done it themselves using an established format. What they have in common is that their (usually long and detailed) Strategic Plan literally and figuratively “sits on the shelf”. They’ve felt frustrated that after all the work done to produce and launch it, people have disengaged and, as a result, it “sits on the shelf”, gathering dust, potential unrealised.
They then talk to a peer or other trusted contact who knows and has worked with me, and that person tells them I can help them unlock that potential. In filling this niche, I’ll highlight three things:
Bravery – often the missing link
Brevity – getting the essence of their strategy down to “one page”
Purpose – Strategy must link to Vision and, critically, to Purpose.
Of these, whilst Bravery and Brevity are key, without a strong link to Purpose that everyone in the organisation feels strongly connected to for the long term, all Strategic Plans will lose momentum.
Seth Godin’s habit of daily writing (for over 20 years now!) inspired me to start doing the same a little over two years ago. I hadn’t written regularly, perhaps subconsciously in part as I wanted to become a better writer first.
I love to work with leaders who are Hungry, Humble, Brave and Open. Yes, we all need to learn our craft before putting ourselves out there, but when the moment comes that the feeling of needing to lead change for ourselves and others is so strong we know we just need to be braver and get out there and do it, then bravery is what we need.
Own that Bravery, that Hunger. Ally that to being Open to learning and the ideas of others and Humble to know you will never have all the answers.
Focus on those four characteristics of #OpenLeadership and go make your dent in the universe a crater!
In 1978 a nondescript looking young man from Northern Ireland stepped on stage at the farewell concert of a group simply called, “The Band”. When he opened his mouth to sing, he created an incredible moment in time.
He created something out of this world. How? He simply chose to “go for it!”, to sing from heart and soul, from the tips of his toes to the top of his head, giving everything, leaving nothing undone, nothing unsung.
Listening to this again this week, it gives a powerful lesson. Anytime you doubt yourself, you are thinking of holding back, as an inspiration to #BeMoreYou, find your inner Van Morrison.
Thanks to my friend and past client David Kirkaldy of Massive Group in Cayman. I wrote this post nearly a decade ago and was reminded of the idea of “Go where there be Dragons” by a tweet this week from Carl Richards.
Though my old blogs from that time got taken down before I remembered to archive the articles (lost!), this one post was saved by David reposting it in 2012, so I’ll curate it for posterity on this site today.
Because there is almost never a template to follow.
YOUR thing is unique. It’s new and novel. Instead of pitching it as “like X but for Y” you find yourself saying “there’s nothing like it!”
As soon as you do that, as soon as you tap into something that I uniquely yours…you start dancing with dragons. It’s awesome! And scary. People look at you a bit confused because they have no frame of reference for what your doing.
And of course one hint that your doing your thing is the reality that it might not work! But of course the dragons are calling to you…so even though it’s scary, even though it might not work…YOU MUST DO IT ANYWAY!
Enjoy the post.. and Go where there be Dragons! Oh, and at the very end, I believe it was the first time I used the line “Command and Control is dead”, which you may be familiar with as it is prominent on my home page! Oh, and I quoted Chip Conley, who I then met in person in April 2018, introduced through writing on this daily blog. I don’t believe in coincidence, I believe in creating serendipities! At this moment am feeling a lot of that!
However, all too often, in expressing vulnerability, leaders seem to do so behind a superhero “mask” of invulnerability, so even when they express that they don’t know the answers, they are so hidden by their mask that they won’t and so don’t show what it feels like, as a human, to be in that place.
Staying behind that “mask” means a huge lost opportunity to truly connect.
In the environment of intolerance and racism, speak out, take action, don’t be silent.
Just when we thought the level of intolerance and racism in countries like the US and the UK could not get any worse, over the last few days the US President has not only lowered the bar below where many thought it possible to go in attaching four congresswomen of colour, but he then doubled down on this over the next days and, as I write this, yesterday he addressed a rally and, as he attacked Representative Ilhan Omar once more, the crowd chanted “send her back”.
Meanwhile, the silence from elected politicians is deafening.
A few weeks ago, a cabinet minister in the UK grabbed a woman by the throat and marched her out of a room where she was making a peaceful protest.
After watching the video of that again and again, what chilled me most was that nobody in the room thought to take action against him.
We now live in an environment where people of colour are increasingly scared to be in public transport, or even go to work, where, more than ever, they are told to “go back to where you came from” and even physically bullied and assaulted.
In such an environment, speak out, take action, don’t be silent.
Consider these words:
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
I saw this photo this week posted on Instagram by my friend Arno de Jong, the amazing founder and lead guide of AlpAdventures.
In August 2018 Arno arranged a private trip for me and my three boys to the French Alps, including hiking over multiple mountain passes, e-biking up and down mountains, white water rafting and more.
The name of his business includes the word adventure, defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as :
“An unusual and exciting or daring experience”
To that description, I’d add the word “challenging”. Arno will always take time to understand the needs and capabilities of his clients and always look to challenge you (well within safe limits, he is all about safety).
When you have an adventure that challenges you, it will, as he puts it, lead you to a better view. We certainly had an amazing adventure and it was all the better for the physical challenges we faced and surmounted.
A metaphor for us all, as individuals and in leading our businesses.
The other day a dear friend of mine, a top elite sports coach and voracious learner and networker around leadership and behaviour, sent me this white paper.
Within it are some powerful learnings for leading collaboratively, yet, as so often, I wonder why corporate leaders and their consultants need to speak in such overly complicated ways.
Today let me endeavour to use Oxford Leadership’s version of the iceberg principle (ie the image above, captured from their white paper), to make a few simple points for leaders to anchor upon if they choose to lead collaboratively. (more…)