Tag: Elite Lessons

Leadership, Maria Callas, Meraki

maria callas

Meraki is the modern greek term that translates to:

“to do something with soul, creativity, or love;

when you leave a piece of yourself in the work.”

Maria Callas, also Greek, is my favourite opera singer of all time, and one would call her a Meraklis.

A Meraklis is someone who loves life, lives it to the hilt, does everything with zeal, someone who lives for the moment, the now. Every single thing they do, every day, is done with Meraki.

To what extent do you see this in yourself? Could you bring more of yourself to life in this way, or perhaps do you feel sometimes you do this too much?

You see, Maria Callas brought Merkai to her opera singing, and she also lived this in her absolute passion for the love of her life, Aristotle Onassis, the Greek shipping tycoon. When he abandoned her and married Jackie Kennedy, it is said that she never recovered, her singing career rapidly faded and she died suddenly and mysteriously at only 55 years of age. Of a broken heart, perhaps?

What then, can we learn from the concept of Meraki and the example of Maria Callas for ourselves and for leadership? (more…)

Learning from The Beatles – “Mixing” your Leadership

In supporting leaders over many years, I love to distil to simplicity, to allow them to focus on their priorities, their message, their context. As Da Vinci said:

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”

At the same time, sometimes we need to consider more than ultimate simplicity, we need to consider several dimensions to give depth to our context. By dimensions, I like to envisage sliders on a studio production mixing desk.

Imagine moving them up and down based on what is appropriate for your leadership and what your organisation need. This gives you the choice of moving beyond “either/or”, “yes/no” binary choices, to give some richness and depth to focal areas.

In doing this, to use only one or two “sliders” may be too much, but to have more than (I find) three or four leads to confusion both for the leader and the organisation.

A few examples of dimensions/sliders then I’ll use the story of the Beatles and how they added more and more dimensions to their recordings as technology changed. I leave it to you to decide for yourself whether you preferred the simple or the complex in their music.

Oh, and the last video contains one of my favourite musical moments of all time..


Kintsukuroi – Leadership Lessons


Continuing a theme from this week’s post “Beautiful words bring dimensions of meaning“, today considering the Japanese art of Kintsukuroi and lessons that leaders can learn from it.

So many entrenched organisational paradigms look to avoid breakdowns, mistakes, even to pretend they didn’t happen.

At a human level, we are the sum total of all of our experiences and the cracks and breaks that we repair are part of our uniqueness in and for the world. (more…)

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 writing, 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.


Winning at Halftime

Today a guest post from Bruce Peters of Beyond Teal, who is based in upstate New York. His post is on leadership lessons from elite sports, a recurring theme on this site. Thank you to Bruce for allowing me to share this with you here.

Bruce is a remarkable human being that I’ve had the absolute pleasure and privilege to get to know over the last year.  Our initial connection is around “Teal”, around the future of organisations. For more, go to the post: “Books I Love – Reinventing Organisations by Frederic Laloux“. Bruce is a warm, kind, generous man with an absolute wealth of knowledge in business and leadership, and full of energy and curiosity!


Winning at Halftime

If winning is your business goal, how can you help your team do it? (more…)

Leadership – Repeat ad nauseam


One turn of phrase around telling people something over and over is to say you “repeated ad nauseam”, or literally until you were sick.

One of the simplest to address gaps I see in leaders around engaging their people is to assume they have communicated their message enough.  (more…)

Leadership Lessons from Pushing Cars

mg midget

When I was a young Chartered Accountancy student I had an old MG Midget just like this one. A tiny little car (and yes, somehow I fit in it!), it had a faulty starter motor, so I became very familiar with push starting it. As a relatively big and strong guy with a small car, I could do this myself and often had to!

One thing I remember most was that it took a LOT of effort to get the car moving from a standing start, but once it was rolling it was easy to keep going and even to push faster. (more…)

Brevity is the soul of wit

Yesterday’s post, “Beauty in Brevity” mused eclectically on the power of art and prose to communicate to us powerfully and rapidly through being concise.

Today, I turn that focus to messaging in business and leadership.

In many situations, the shorter and simpler the message, the more powerful it is. (more…)

Smashing Paradigms – Why Be Humble?

This week a note. I like to choose to have only enough Structure to allow #Flow, and it feels to me that having set themes for my posts on Fridays (Smashing Paradigms), Saturdays (Writing I love) and Sundays (Movies with Meaning) is now too structured, so after this week I’m dropping that structure and such posts will be more sporadic and come as things #Flow !

Latest in the 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 “we’ve always done it this way”


Recently I was talking with an author and thought leader I admire and had exchanged some thoughts with online before we decided to have a “real life” conversation (rumour has it they are coming back into vogue!). As we talked, they noted that of late they have found a theme around leaders saying to them: “my people just don’t get it, what am I doing wrong ?”.

As she listened to this, again and again, she recognised: “they don’t have a communication problem, they have an arrogance problem”.

When she has candidly told them this, sometimes they responded to her “how do I be humble?”.

She asked me my advice, based on my experience with leaders, on what to say in response to such a question.

My answer?   (more…)

Diversity and Culture – a lesson from an elite sport

“Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game” ~  Lou Gerstner

What can leaders learn from pro athletes? After all, elite professional athletes are known to be paid stupefying amounts, be full of ego, selfish, etc etc etc.

Except…perhaps not…read this closing to a lengthy, passionate and erudite open letter written by a superstar player who has earned well over $100m in his career and felt to come to the defence of someone in that sport, that league. In this, he stands up for diversity and for the feeling of family. You can sense his pride and passion.

Can you guess the sport and the league? : (more…)

Michael Jordan: I failed, that is why I succeed


I love this quote from Michael Jordan, as it speaks to “Deliberate Practice”, a topic I wrote about yesterday, focusing on golf and Ben Hogan, as well as looking to prompt readers to consider where they are deliberate in what they do, whether it be in their personal life or at work, in what they do personally or what they guide and lead their people to do.

So, to “MJ” or #23″. Oh, and I’ll come back to that quote at the end of this post to reflect on perhaps his greatest success. (more…)

Ben Hogan: Deliberate Practice

ben hogan five lessons.jpeg

The summer I was 15, the weather in the Scottish Borders was beautiful (so my memory tells me!). That year I got the “bug” to play golf. Junior membership was almost free and I rode my bike to the club with an old “half set” of clubs and spent all day there most of the summer. All that time I had with me a very old copy of this book by Ben Hogan, first published back in 1957.

Ben Hogan was one of the greatest golfers of all time and was known to practice more than any of his contemporary golfers. He is said to have “invented practice”. Hogan himself said, “You hear stories about me beating my brains out practising, but… I was enjoying myself. I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning so I could hit balls. When I’m hitting the ball where I want, hard and crisply, it’s a joy that very few people experience.”

Hogan believed anybody, through “deliberate practice”, could “break 80”, which in plain English means to become a good golfer. So what do we mean by deliberate practice(more…)

Wait overnight before replying

**first a note..historically I have posted “Writing I Love” posts on Tuesdays, and “Movies with Meaning” posts on Wednesdays. Effective this week, I’m iterating a change. My writing and movie posts will continue, simply on weekends, leaving Monday to Friday for evolving in my usual eclectic way my themes and posts around #OpenLeadership 

keep calm and just wait

What if you waited at least overnight to reply to all your emails and messages?

What Tom? Are you crazy?  I can’t do that!

Really? Yes… (more…)

What is your 80 days?

Mark B ES 2018

On April 26th, I was at Gleneagles for a truly inspirational and world-class day at the Entrepreneurial Scotland annual conference, themed “Global Mindset, Scottish Heart”.

The conference was opened by my friend, the truly inspirational Mark Beaumont, who just over a year ago utterly smashed the round the world cycling record, taking it down 40% to under the mythical “Around the World in 80 Days” level.

Mark taught us a two-part lesson.

Mark spoke of two individuals who have asked him for support in breaking another round the world record. He asked them both, separately, “how fast do you think you can do it ?”. They both answered, “well, the record is x days, I’ll beat that”. His response to each of them was simple.  “Then, you will fail”.

You see, they had ignored Mark’s first lesson.

That first lesson is to become really clear on who you are and how much you are capable of, to find your own personal best. He speaks from experience. He had stretched himself to the absolute limit in prior endurance adventures. I’d also add that it is a true privilege to have got to know Mark over a number of years. He is truly a massively self-aware and humble leader and an old soul. An old head on young shoulders would be another phrase. Inspirational!

Knowing who he is and what his ultimate capability was, Mark then set that 80 days target.

The second part of the lesson is then to design and build a plan and then execute it as if you truly are going to achieve your full potential, your own “80 days”. there will be times when you are at the limit, and you need to stop thinking and simply execute a well thought out plan that you know you can deliver on. To go on automatic pilot when needed.

A famous quote from Mike Tyson is “everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face”. If I may extend that from what Mark taught us, “everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face. When you get punched in the face, you need a plan more than ever.”

So… what is your 80 days?

What is your personal best, your true and full potential?

If you know that, what then? What do you need to have in place in order to achieve that potential?

Movies with Meaning – Different Perspectives

Weekly series. Do please send suggestions via email, twitter etc. You can send a theme and/or specific movies. Each week we feature three movies with meaning, so send in a movie with a sentence or two on the core meaning you take from it and a clip from the movie that speaks to that meaning.

As a trained and practiced coach, in my work as a sounding board to leaders, I am always deeply listening. In this, I seek to understand the perspective of the individual or group I am listening to. Sometimes my role is then to give my perspective as an impartial and outside observer, sometimes to help them see the source for the perspective they have themselves (which they may or may not be conscious of!).

There is real power in deep listening. As Stephen Covey advises, “listen with the intent to undestand, not to reply”.

Numerous movies have utilised the idea of different perspectives to dramatic effect in telling stories. As a practice for yourself in taking time to see things through the eyes of others, perhaps watch one or more of these three movies.


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