Tag: Modern Elder

Be a thermostat, not a thermometer

Be a thermostat, not a thermometer. Respond, don't react.

At times of crisis, a key role for a leader is to set the tone. Be a thermostat, not a thermometer.

Yesterday I shared a press conference by Governor Andrew Cuomo in: “Love Wins“. Today a video from my friend and business hero Chip Conley from a blog he wrote yesterday with five pieces of wisdom for surviving the economic downturn now and that will continue from this crisis.

The one that stood out most for me from this was: “Leaders are the emotional thermostats of those they lead.”

See Chip talk about this from 1:47 to 3:10 in the video included in the blog, (and lots more of value if you wish to watch the full seven-minute clip):

Key takeaways for Leaders :

  • Be aware that: Anxiety = Uncertainty x Powerlessness
  • Focus on Radical Transparency
  • Help people understand what they can do to help the business
  • If authentic to you, be a Vulnerable Visionary (see my earlier post), express your feelings and vulnerabilities, but also key to ally that to confidence in moving forwards, aligned to the vision, the North Star.

The power of not knowing

The power of not knowing

One of my favourite places in London is Hungerford Bridge, the footbridge I regularly take over the Thames from Waterloo and the South Bank.

This summer, the “Hungerford Bridge Gallery of Outsider Art” suddenly appeared one day. No explanation, no website, simply art that was suddenly there for the 10,000 or more pedestrians, both tourists and Londoners, who walked past it each day.

Then, all of a sudden, in late September and after 91 days (so I learned later), it was gone. I had wondered what it was all about but was more than content to enjoy it, to not know and to appreciate the playfulness.

Now, I say often that I don’t believe in luck but I do believe in serendipity (see “Creating Serendipity“), so today’s post is late as I went up to town to meet someone I’d met only in October, the unique gift that is Steve Chapman.

As it turns out, amongst our amazing meandering conversation through meaning, humanity, social constructs, middlescence and more, I learned he was the creator and curator of that gallery, which amassed more than one million visitors (ok, passers-by) in 91 days.

Another topic we talked about was the power of having clarity of one’s purpose, why we are here.

For Steve, it is to be “playful with not knowing”.

For me, it is “Making Potential Possible”.

My musing today is the power of purpose. Our conversation today was deeply satisfying for me, and yes, I am playful with not knowing where it will lead to next, and at the same time clear that there is potential to be made possible.

A core part of me living that purpose of #MakingPotentialPossible is to support individuals, businesses and organisations become clear both on what their purpose is and then how they will live that in their life and their work. Arriving at that clarity does indeed require being comfortable not knowing, with an exploration of who we are and what we feel when we are aligned. Again, this is very similar for an individual or an organisation.

If you see the power in not knowing and would like to learn more, I’d love to talk to you.

Let’s talk

Book your 30-minute meeting here.

Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards


“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

Today a simple thought around living life.

Learn from the past, analyse it, study it all you will so you can learn more about yourself, others, your business, your leadership.

When it comes to the future, however, trust yourself.

Like the kid on the skateboard, he knows what he has learned about riding a board so far, now he has to just go for it!

Today sharing (not for the first time) my favourite speech of all time, as the first of three themes within it is all about this. (more…)

The less I am present, the more I can be present

dissolve self

I love what I do and have found, over time and practice, that I have developed a level of mastery at being a sounding board, with the key to that having little to do with knowledge and experience around leadership and business, it is far more to do with the ability to deeply listen.

As I wrote about yesterday in “Presence and asking the right questions“, I am constantly looking to deepen my practice. As with yoga, it is called practicing yoga. We are never “there”, it is a lifelong practice to grow, to improve.

Today a reflection on a particular exercise we ran at the Modern Elder Academy this week, ultimately leading me to come up with the Koan:

the less I am present, the more I can be present (more…)

Billy Connolly – Lessons from a Master

billy connolly made in scotland

BBC just put out two one hour shows called “Billy Connolly Made in Scotland” (link here for those in the UK).

Billy Connolly represents a line in the sand. Comedy in the UK was either before Billy or after Billy. He is, simply, the “Big Yin”.

Today sharing one particular lesson from his mastery that can be applied by leaders managing the energy of their people. (more…)

How to be a Master Mentor in Midlife

master mentor midlife phone and phone

{I love the generational symbolism of this image. Thanks Chip !}

Today, for the third day in a row, I find myself sharing guest posts. Coming off the summer, the “back to school” energy sees collaborative energy flowing all around me, is it the same for you? I have a number of collaborative project concepts at various stages and having a lot of great conversations to explore and develop.

One of them is absolutely around the launch of Chip Conley’s book, “Wisdom at Work – The Making of a Modern Elder“, and I am supporting Chip with this and the interest it is stimulating in the UK and European market. If you’d like to have Chip talk to your business, organisation, membership, conference, we are planning a trip over here in Q1 2019, so I’d love to hear from you and connect to possibilities!

For today’s post, then, Chip posted a wonderful “how to” post on mentoring, and this resonates to me on two levels.

First, it is absolutely key to what it means to be a Modern Elder, as highlighted in the book and at the Modern Elder Academy.

Second, the way he defines the role of Mentor resonates for me in how I have evolved in what I am passionate about offering to clients, and I describe both what type of person is attracted to work with me and also how I work with you on the “#BeMoreYou” page of this site.

So, to Chip’s post, originally published on Linked In here. (more…)

Ed Percival – my greatest mentor in life


Ed Percival.

Yoda, Obi-Wan, #BeMoreYou, Shaman, Discordian Pope.

Last week Chip Conley posed a question to our Modern Elder group of:

“What are the best qualities of a mentor and who’s been your best mentor in life so far?”

The second part of that question is easy for me. I have had quite a number of amazing mentors and immensely grateful to all of them. That I can put one of them above all others says so much about how amazing he was, and again regular readers will know I speak of the late, great Ed Percival.

Today I reflect on what mentoring means for becoming and being a Modern Elder, and more, to reflect on those best qualities that made Ed Percival my greatest mentor. (more…)

What is your original idea today?

In my role as an experienced coach supporting leaders to reach their peak, I’m highly focussed on limiting beliefs, choice of words, and also where language is phrased negatively rather than positively.

It is a little absurd then, that I have often used a certain phrase, and even written an article about it: “No such thing as an original idea“. As I put in that brief article:

“…I recognised that {a recent post} was, to use a musician’s analogy, a riff on a recurring theme, in this case: “less is more”. A favourite phrase of mine is “there is no such thing as an original idea”. I believe, though, that we are always listening, learning, developing new ideas to develop, extend, evolve ideas.”

So, my own belief around the phrase “no such thing as an original idea” can be qualified as I described above.

That said, in a recent call with Nilofer Merchant, author of “The Power of Onlyness” (see article here), she totally challenged me when I used that line around the themes I am looking to incorporate in the book I am in the processing of writing. (more…)

Modern Elder Academy – apply now !


Today, a rare “shameless plug”. As I’ve written about on numerous occasions, the amazing Chip Conley’s Modern Elder Academy is now “open for business”!

The first two week long residential immersive workshop experiences are November 4-11 and November 11-18 in Baja, Mexico. Applications are now being accepted and will sell out fast! At US$5,000 (scholarships available, see the site), this is a stunningly powerful investment in yourself and your future life and work.

Trust me… I was part of the beta programme, my week there was truly transcendent!

You can tell by all the exclamation point that I am excited about this, huh?

So, visit Modern Elder Academy and learn more for yourself.

Onlyness and Chip Conley

Nilofer Onlyness

In the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to several thought leaders, speakers, writers who I have very much admired and respected for many years.

Two of those people are Nilofer Merchant and Chip Conley.

Nilofer I just talked to for the first time recently, Chip I first connected with via my writing on this site late last year, then I followed the energy and spent time with him and an amazing cohort of Modern Elders in Baja, Mexico this past April.

Now, from talking to Nilofer, today I simply will connect her concept of Onlyness to what I see that means for Chip Conley.

In her book, she writes about this word she came up with:

“You’re standing in a spot in the world that only you stand in, a function of your history and experiences, visions, and hopes. From this spot where only you stand, you offer a distinct point of view, novel insights, and even groundbreaking ideas. Now that you can grow and realize those ideas through the power of networks, you have a new lever to move the world.”

“Through the power of onlyness, an individual conceives an idea born of his narrative, nurtures it with the help of a community that embraces it, and, through shared action, makes the idea powerful enough to dent the world.”

Nilofer and I recently had a wonderful “virtual walk and talk” call (after all, she did a wonderful TED talk on walking meetings!). On that call, among other things, she helped me see my own “Onlyness”, for which I am deeply grateful, and as the call progressed I also witnessed and had insights around hers.

This call then saw me muse back to spending time with Chip a few months ago. (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…)

Curiosity, a key to Leadership


Yesterday I wrote “Are you an Old or New Paradigm Leader?”, encouraging you to look at whether you are aware of the goldfish bowl you are swimming in, and to look at new ways of leading. However, I also reflected on how difficult it is to see ourselves (and yes, trust me, though I do this for others all the time as their sounding board, I too have my own blind spots around myself and so have my own coaches, sounding boards, trusted advisors!).

This brings me to the theme of curiosity.