Tag: Elite Lessons

The Plateau of Latent Potential

Batman making potential possible

In “Always be Batman“, I wrote:

“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born

and the day you find out why.”

So, I’m not Batman, but I do know why I am here. My Purpose is #MakingPotentialPossible. This means I live in this in my work for my clients. Beyond that, similarly minded people are those I connect to most.

One such person is my dear friend Ian Armiger, one of the greatest sports coaches I have ever met. He is all about seeing and realising potential in and for others, particularly swimmers and swim coaches.

This week, while I was at the amazing Basecamp London, Ian send me a simple image, which led me down a rabbit hole to learn more about Atomic Habits and one in particular.


What I learned from a master practitioner

Yoda master Feldenkrais practitioner
Yoda, a quintessential Master

Over a year ago I injured my Achilles badly. No specific event, I simply was walking a lot that summer and it became injured and wouldn’t heal.

Months later, frustrated and limping around London, a friend referred me to a practitioner of Feldenkrais, “an educational method focusing on learning and movement“. He made a powerful referral by firmly telling me to go to the practitioner and that if I did not find it way beyond expectations, he would pay for the session for me.

Armed with that recommendation, I went to my first session ten months ago and was blown away! I have then gone periodically since then at a frequency recommended by the practitioner.

Last week was my sixth session in these ten months and they have been absolutely transformational in ways far beyond healing my acute injury.

Today, I will share my learning from my most recent session in the context of what it means to be supported by a practitioner at this level of mastery.


The more you care for your people, the better your business will perform

Henry James Care Quote three things in human life are important the first is to be kind the second is to be kind and the third is to be kind

“…the more we care for our colleagues, the better the Timpson key-cutting and shoe-repair business seems to perform. Over the past five years, we have opened 1,000 new shops, sales and profits have doubled”

James Timpson of Timpson, in the Sunday Times August 25, 2019

Just a few days ago, I wrote in: “Do all CEOs “only care about profit”? No..” that there is a gap between those who put the new triple bottom line first and a belief they may have that ““Yes, being all about Purpose, People and Planet is all very well, but CEOs only care about profits!”. My response is to address that gap by: “showing real living examples of companies and other organisations (including charities and governments) that have chosen to put Purpose, People, Planet first and paramount AND have made Profits.”

Purpose+People+Planet= Profit

(and Profit for Scaling your Impact, not solely enriching Shareholders)

As James notes, by putting their people first Timpson is one such company that makes more profit, and I love the way James Timpson has just put numbers to it in his piece in the Sunday Times. Let’s look at his example and learn more from him


Being vulnerable is more than saying you are

better man vulnerable

Saying you are vulnerable is not the same as being vulnerable.

The four core qualities of #OpenLeadership are:

  • Be Hungry
  • Be Humble
  • Be Brave
  • Be Open

Linked to that is Chip Conley’s idea of being a “vulnerable visionary” a leader who expresses vulnerability allied with confidence, eg: “I have no idea how we will get there, but I know we will do it together.”

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.


Simplicity is harder work than complexity

elegant simplicity


Yesterday I had the privilege of watching an audience with the author Matt Haig at the Edinburgh Book Festival. His writing style is often simple and concise. When asked about this, he noted that many years ago he used to revel in complexity and even exhibited arrogance and snobbery around those who wrote simply. These days though, this quote I found from him illustrates his approach on what he strives for in his writing:

“Simplicity is harder work than complexity”


As I wrote in an earlier post: Less is More.

Now, the second half of that Matt Haig quote is:

“That’s why editors exist”

Either find someone to help you edit, or be your own editor.


If you have a message for your audience, distil to simplicity.

In “Simplicity on the other side of complexity“, I was inspired by a tweet from @nayyirahwaheed

“the longest writing. can be one line.”

In that post, I wrote about how leaders can get their message down to one word, their strategic plan down to one page with only one context and three themes.


I’d love to be your editor, book your diagnostic call on my site and let’s find simplicity in half an hour.

The power of streaks

cal ripken winning streaks

On September 20, 1998, Cal Ripken walked into the office of his boss, the manager of the Baltimore Orioles, and told him he wanted to be out of the line up for that evening’s game. That night he chose, himself, to end “the streak”. At that point, he had played in 2,632 consecutive games for the Orioles over more than 16 years in a sport with 162 games in the regular season alone.

Nearly two years ago Seth Godin wrote a blog about his habit of daily blogging that inspired me to do the same. I have now published a daily blog more than 650 days in a row.

This week Seth wrote another post, which I share today. I agree with him. Each morning I don’t think “will I write?”, it is simply “what will I write about today?”.

Thanks again Seth, and also thanks to Cal Ripken, it was a pleasure to witness you in your prime and to have seen you leave on your own terms.

Over to you, Seth:


Don’t send emails after 5:30 pm

it doesnt have to be crazy at work emails after 5:30 pm

“It doesn’t have to be crazy at work” is a book full of nuggets of wisdom that can change your life and that of those who work with you.

Seriously, every single suggestion they give not only makes sense to me, but I’ve also applied most of them over the years as a business leader and in recommending them to clients for their own businesses and organisations.

Take a look at the first few ideas I’ve recalled from memory from reading the first half of the book today.

If any or all of these resonate for you, apply them. Now.

If you would like to talk over ways to lead on these and ensure smooth implementation, talk to me, I love to support leaders on this type of simple yet transformative change!


Your mind is like a parachute: If it isn’t open, it doesn’t work


Your mind is like a parachute: If it isn’t open, it doesn’t work.”

Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 astronaut 

Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, July 20th, 1969.

It all began with the open mind and huge vision of one man.

On May 25, 1961, President John F Kennedy told Congress that the US “should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

On July 20th, 1969, that vision was realised.

This came only 20 days after the first time any NASA mission had taken someone out of the earth’s atmosphere, and then only for a 15 minute sub-orbital flight.

JFK, however, had the vision to restore confidence in his country that had been dented by the space race and cold war with Russia. He believed that this lunary goal could play a key role in building on the ability of Americans to innovate and achieve. The lunar landing was a massive vision and one that took 400,000 people to achieve, but many historians now look back on it as leading an epochal shift for the USA in the 1960s.

Now you may say you are not JFK, but I challenge you to be your own JFK.


You are only as good as your people

You are only as good as your people - Chelsea warr

Recently I had a check-in call with a long-time contact who is a shooting star rising up in one of the world’s top financial institutions. This individual is someone I know will be a model of #OpenLeadership for decades to come, they absolutely model the attributes of being Hungry, Humble, Brave and Open that are essential to leading now and into our future. This young leader absolutely gets the power of putting people first in business, and their business is currently investing in them by having them work out of any formal target-driven role for several years as they shift around areas of the global business learning as they go.

I also am working with a client a quarter-century into their career who is about to take a brave leap out of the world of driving to corporate targets as short terms as monthly and often weekly, week in and week out. They have recognised the untapped opportunity for businesses to focus so much more on their people, not just in funding L&D and other programmes, but truly and deeply investing in people as more leaders see that this is where their unerring focus needs to be.

In my own three decades in business, I absolutely see that organisations that truly believe in, trust in and invest in their people are those that do and will thrive into the future.

Those are some thoughts, and I also love the quote from Chelsea Warr:

“You are only as good as your people and you are the greatest asset we have. You are our high-performance system.”

Who is Chelsea Warr?


Want to magically increase your performance? Sleep

eat sleep swim repeat

“Sleep is a natural performance enhancing drug. Tragic how many people think they can get by on 7 hours or less.”  @DHH

My two oldest sons were elite swimmers. As teenagers then university students, it may have seemed to outside observers that they were lazy, as when they weren’t swimming or at lectures they were mostly eating and sleeping.

What may not have been obvious was that eating and sleeping were consciously planned and part of their training regime. Eating and sleeping weren’t what they did when they weren’t training, it was part of the training. When you train well over twenty hours per week and also maintain a high academic workload, fueling and resting are essential.

The younger of these two boys seemed to take this to all new levels. Not only did he typically eat well over 8000 calories per day (that is about 4 times the average adult requirement!), he could also easily sleep 12 or more hours per day. If sleeping were an Olympic sport, he may well have won Cayman’s first medal!

Perhaps inspired by my boys and my own experience as an athlete in the past, I’ve always focussed on human performance and support leaders around this as part of my 1:1 work with clients.

When someone appears tired, unfocussed, demotivated, scattered, very often I’ll ask them (or pick up without having to ask) that they don’t sleep well.

Sleeping is critical for performance, addressing sleep issues is not optional, it is paramount. Perhaps you don’t think you have an issue with sleep, but do you sleep at least 7 hours per night and wake up without an alarm each morning? If not, then I’d say there is real room for improvement.


Horizontal Leadership

leadership wordle

Sometime over this summer, I will collate some key blog posts and models under a header of #OpenLeadership as a tab on this site. Open Leadership is a move beyond command and control, a move beyond hierarchy.

It is not new, however, it is simply about leading in an inclusive, empowered and trusting way. As an example, a while ago Chip Conley had told me a story of getting together a group of fellow students when he was starting university some nearly 40 years ago.

This week one of those students, a certain Seth Godin, wrote about that moment. He called it Horizontal Leadership.


Language, Truth and Trust


One of the things I love about London is the ease of attending talks and workshops and learning from amazing intellects. Last week was one such occasion where I went to a talk by Dr Christophe Fricker and his colleague Cory Massaro on Language and Leadership.

I then had the lovely opportunity to have lunch with these two gentlemen, a conversation which flowed and ranged widely, very inspiring. I hope to talk more to them and then post something about their talk soon.

For now, a few thoughts that came to me from that, starting with a thought from Cory:

“you know a word by the company it keeps” (more…)

The map is not the territory


from a wonderfully indepth powerpoint deck by Cristiano Damiani Vasconcellos

Language is powerful. Stunningly so. The language we use about ourselves and others can fundamentally change our perception of reality.

Tip of the hat (or, as cyclists say, chapeau) to David D’Souza today for sharing on Twitter a wonderful and in-depth article from Farnam Street explaining the background to this concept and giving me a nudge to share it with readers. (more…)