Tag: Presence

Gratitude + Presence


This week I am back in Cayman, with a full week of client meetings, a client workshop, meetings with friends, contacts, and, most of all, my boys.

What occurs to me at this moment is the powerful combination of :

Gratitude + Presence (more…)

Quiet Leadership – Night Swimming

Ian nightswimming

“Nightswimming deserves a quiet night” ~ REM

Leadership takes many forms, yet common to any style is the adage that “it is about what you do, not what you say”. For those who model quiet leadership, it is absolutely in what they do, not what they say.

This photo from five years ago evokes a personal story that speaks to the power of quiet leadership. (more…)

Slow down – what do you see?

Monday 1st October. It is 7:35am. I got out of bed at 5:30am in Edinburgh, then got a bus and then the train through to Glasgow. It is almost freezing, I am kicking myself for not bringing my winter coat. Even though it is early, people are walking at high speed through the cold early morning, most with heads down, many looking at their phones.

I was, however, in good time for a breakfast meeting, so what did I see when I slowed down a little? (more…)

Recapturing the power of intuition


“Our world seems like a heap of fragments and it is hard to see how they cohere. Wisdom has been replaced by knowledge and knowledge has been replaced by information. Pieces of data. Chunks of data.”

Iain McGilchrist, author of “The Divided Mind”,

speaking in the documentary”Innssaei – The Power of Intuition”

In our modern world, we have largely forgotten the power of intuition.

On this site, I often muse on ideas and themes that may appear tangential at best to the theme of leadership. However, the term I use here is #OpenLeadership, and that is about being open in many ways. including to listening to “the sea within”, as the tagline to the documentary Innsaei puts it.

Let me talk to you today, then, about the power of intuition, and also a few thoughts on how to recapture it for yourself. (more…)

Setting your personal context


Today let me put it to you that, in many years and thousands upon thousands of hours as a coach, the single most powerful tool for coaching is Context.

Today I’ll talk specifically about the power for an individual of setting a personal context and three focal areas for action aligned to that context.

To get there, as the diagram indicates, one needs to ask oneself different questions to arrive at what both drives and supports you to move forward from the present.


Masters practice incessantly, then improvise

oscar peterson

This week I was at my favourite recurring learning experience, a “Facilitation Shindig” led by the amazing Julie Drybrough.

This experience inspired today’s post, about Mastery being about the ability to improvise and that ability coming from incessant practice.

Though hesitant to call me or anyone else a “master”, the common ground for all present is that we are experienced coaches/mentors/facilitators and come together for a full day to deepen our practice, or, as Julie has put it, “rattle our foundations”.

At our latest shindig, one thing we talked about was about how little or how much we plan and structure before we run a session for a group. What came forth from this for me was that, though we all have different styles, what we had in common was that in fact, we learn, prepare, plan, structure in detail (in our own way), so that we can then “flow”, we can improvise.

As Debussy said (and I reflected on in “Less is more – leave space“:

“Music is the space between the notes”

In your leadership, when the critical, key moments occur, the “moments of truth”, do you need to think about what to do? Do you need to plan, to structure, or do you simply “flow”, as if everything in all your experience readied you for the moment.

Today, then, let me reflect on “Flow”, on my favourite athlete, and finally on my all-time favourite jazz moment.  (more…)

Beauty, serendipity, music, grace, power


Today I am returning to the theme of beauty, as behind the scenes ideas are marinating with myself and others on transformative leadership programmes. I’m truly enjoying developing these ideas with Alan Moore, who I wrote about earlier in “Is yours, could yours be a Beautiful Business?” , in which I referenced his book “Do/Design”, which carries the subheading “Why beauty is the key to everything”.

Beauty is elemental, beauty is inspirational, beauty inspires.

So to a story today involving a pole dancer, a DJ and Florence and the Machine. Beauty in different ways that, for a moment for me, came into a serendipitous connection.


Ichi-Go Ichi-E : No ordinary moments


Quite a view, isn’t it?

In my life, I’ve travelled to around 70 countries, but still, my favourite city is Edinburgh.

This week I was up there from London for an overnight business visit with a friend and collaborator and stayed the night before the meeting with him and his lovely family. They took me along with them when they were invited to view the wondrous Edinburgh Festival Fireworks that evening from the vantage point of a penthouse apartment.

As we stood there, my friend and I shared a moment of silence where we simply reflected on the beauty of the moment. I am reasonably well travelled, but he has quite literally travelled around the world multiple times and, by his count, visited over 130 countries. He too, in that moment, recognised how special the view was, the city of Edinburgh is. Nothing needed to be spoken. It was one of those moments of presence and wonder.

It was one of those moments that the Japanese call Ichi-Go Ichi-E

ichigo ichie

That evening watching the fireworks brought me back to my very first post on this site, “Life is Wild and Precious, Be Present“, I wrote there first about the Mary Oliver poem that finishes with the line: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”, then went on to talk about that Japanese phrase, saying:

“Ichigo Ichie is the “appreciation of the ephemeral character of any encounters with people, things or events in life”, or, as my friend Morgan DaCosta puts it “no ordinary moments !”.”

So, as we watched the fireworks, I allowed myself to stop thinking about our work meeting the next day. In fact I stopped thinking entirely. I simply was present. It was a moment, an evening of magic and wonder.

I often say “Management is about DOing, Leadership is about BEing”. Leadership itself starts with self-leadership, so that night was a powerful reminder to me of the power of presence, of simply BEING.

Only enough Structure to allow Flow

“Only enough Structure to allow Flow”

This is a personal mantra for me now and is the reason why the two photos above could happen.

I used to be known to plan life with great detail, packing the diary days, weeks, months and even years in advance. I also stuck rigidly to whatever was planned. Would you believe that until 2017 I had never cancelled or changed a trip plan ? Truly.

So, I chose to change that approach, and it created the two magic moments above. (more…)

Solving problems by taking a walk


The other day, I felt inspired to write by my friend Morgan DaCosta coining the phrase:

“Coaching by Walking Around”

This was a “level up” from the idea of Management by Walking Around, part of the essence of which is to walk randomly around and be present to those working in the business and what is happening for them.

Reading this post, Bruce Peters, a regular contributor of inspiration for my writing (thank you too, sir!), wrote to me about the idea of:

Solvitur ambulando

Latin for “it is solved by walking”.

I wonder what problems we can solve by walking?

Recently I met someone for a morning coffee, then we took a long walk, and as we started the walk, we both suddenly realised that the conversation was different once we started walking.

I’ll give you three ideas today to begin, and what else would you add? (more…)

Live in the now to provide for the future

“Live in the now to provide for the future”

Exquisite. I love distilled beauty in writing, and gosh how much I love anything that can relate to leadership and business. This hits the mark on all levels for me !

People are my library, and today I am most thankful for learning this from longtime friend and client, Morgan Da Costa, who coined this phrase.

#OpenLeadership is about many things, but in summary is about BEING a Leader, not DOING leadership.

The more the Leader knows themselves and can then bring presence to every moment, the more powerful the opportunity for them to support their team as a leader.

Now, Morgan leads a family business that he is leading through brave transformation. This has been going on for several years and much has been going on within the business, like a caterpillar in a chrysalis readying to fly. Now the business is flying and all new areas and opportunities to lead are happening as revenues accelerate.

It would be so easy for Morgan to jump from one thing to the next as such rapid growth occurs, yet he has coined this phrase to anchor him.

“Live in the now to provide for the future” (more…)

Lessons from the analogue world – Slow Down

Thames bw aug9

Taken after a photo shoot, looking over the Thames to Temple.

London is such a city of both tradition and permanence as well as dynamism and growth.

Yesterday I had a wonderful experience with a highly creative photographer, Simon Edwards, as we walked around London and the banks of the River Thames so he could photograph me for an update to my website.

We simply walked and talked in a leisurely way and every so often he’d stop and take a few shots, with me often continuing the conversation rather than stopping and posing.

Reflecting on that experience, I took lessons from the value of slowing right down. (more…)

Patience – “Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye”

Some Scots for you in the title today.

“Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye”

Translation: What’s for you will not go by you.

My Scots grandmother or, in more recent times, a dear friend (also Scots, naturally!) would use this to remind me to have patience, to relax, to be myself rather than feel urgency.

As this once again came up for me recently, am musing today, then, on patience and time. (more…)