Tag: Presence

Everything becomes clear

Everything becomes clear at sunrise

This morning the latest periodic #OpenLeadership newsletter was sent out to subscribers, entitled: “Could you go slower?“. It is a “long read” that I wrote over the holiday period, I hope you enjoy it.

For today’s daily post, though, I did things a little differently for the holidays and waited until after New Year to take a short holiday, visiting Nice for the first time. The winter light here is magnificent, not even so much the sunset captured above, but more the soft sunlight that, in the later afternoon, almost makes the whole city glow gently a soft pastel pink.

It was then no surprise to visit the Matisse museum and see a quote from the artists referring to the effect of the light on him and his art. I am so glad to have taken time to “slow down” before getting back to work for 2020, and to at least some degree, experience the effect of the January light in Nice that Matisse did:

Everything becomes clear, crystalline, precise, limpid.

Everything’s gonna be alright

Answers in Music from Bob Marley
Bob Marley, live at the Lyceum 1975

For New Year’s Day this year, I’ll be up quite early and volunteering at a ParkRun. At other time’s of the day, I’ll do what I typically do on the first day of the year, which is to take it quietly and, with that, listen to music.

Today’s post then is simply sharing a few tracks of beautiful music that I come back to again and again and that I discovered along life’s journey.

The post title comes from the line that struck me most from “No Woman, No Cry” as an uncertain teenager in the late 70s looking for answers in music.

I could pick so many tracks, but today choosing only five and in chronological order of when I discovered them. These are all from my early teens to my early twenties, so from the late ’70s to late ’80s. Perhaps a later post may bring forth some newer influences. The stories and track links are below, the listing:

  • Bob Marley and the Wailers – No Woman, No Cry
  • Oscar Peterson – Bye Bye Blues – live at Montreux 1977
  • The Specials – A Message To You, Rudy
  • John Martyn – May You Never
  • The Whole of the Moon – The Waterboys

Being Patient can be a Practice

Be Patient With Yourself

It is the Sunday morning between Christmas and New Year. For me consciously a super quiet couple of days planned this way.

As 2019 comes to a close I have much to be thankful for and much to look forward to in 2020, yet still, I find myself struggling today to “do nothing” and, on a broader sense, to “be patient” and allow time for things to emerge and evolve in a few different ways in my work and life.

This impatience in myself amuses me and I sit smiling at myself as I write.

A coaching adage is “you can only see in others what you see in yourself”. Patient, still and quiet as I can be as a coach to my clients, part of why I can understand them when they are impatient in different ways is that it is part of my own makeup to sometimes be impatient for action and for results from myself and from others.

I guess being patient is, therefore a practice. Let me go now and practice some more.

Slow down and look at the flowers…

Slow down and look at the flowers

…literally, slow down and look at the flowers.

Over the last few days I’ve been taking time to slow down, as with yesterday’s post” Slow it down“.

Last night I arrived back from Scotland to my apartment in London. It took me a while as I busied myself with “life admin” before I noticed how beautifully the flowers delivered one week previously had opened so magnificently. I stopped what I was doing and simply slowed down to look at the flowers.

I’m finding I really need to slow down as we come to the end of the year, how about you?

Right, I’m off out for a leisurely winter walk with friends now. Have a lovely day!

Truly taking time with others

taking time with others in Edinburgh
Panorama of Edinburgh to the North, December 25th, 2019

In the English language, we have the phrase “spending time”, which infers that taking time is a “cost” that we “spend”. In business and leadership, I hear so often that people say they “can’t afford the time” for various things.

When we think of time as a scarce currency, as our language often seems to, it has implications for how we behave.

At this time of year all too often we feel we have to over-schedule ourselves with social events, as we only have so much time “off” before the work of the new year starts. What if, instead, we under-schedule ourselves, we truly take this time for ourselves also to take time to be with others?


The secret of happiness

On this Christmas Day and for a few days either side, I’m around family and we’ve all agreed to not buy gifts other than for some of the children and to keep things simple.

Sometimes simple is best, reminded of this from Socrates:

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less”

All the best to you and yours for a simple and relaxed season and break.

“I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than in attempting to satisfy them”

John Stuart Mill

Fear and Presence

Fear and Presence

What are you afraid of, and what does it mean for how Present you can be if you are Fearful versus without fear?

Warning, going deep with this post! Please bear with me, I hope the “payoff” at the end is of value to you.

Jerry Colonna, Non-Attachment and Fear

This week I’ve come to the full realisation that I am without fear of that deepest of fears and that this means for me that I am more present to each moment than I have ever been.

**Edit: thanks to Dave Stewart of Fresh Air Leadership for challenging me on this post. One thing I wish to give more clarity on is that to feel without fear could be read to be without hope, to be detached from the world. It could also be read to mean that I feel somehow invulnerable, “bulletproof”. I want to be clear that I am absolutely passionate about life, as well as feeling open and vulnerable at this stage of life far more than ever. It is, however, being open to all that life brings that, for me, has evolved me to this place of “without fear”. I hope that is useful to explain!

For this recent epiphany, I give thanks to Jerry Colonna, a beautiful human and master coach, who I met this week at a talk where he spoke about being a “Better Human, Better Leader“. One theme that Jerry reminded me of ashe spoke was the Buddhist concept of “non-attachment”, which, as a coach, is a constant reminder to be “unattached to the outcome” for my clients. Jerry was also asked about Fear.

In how Jerry spoke of non-attachment and working with fear, I came to a realisation of being without fear.

Allow me to explain.


Gratitude + Presence = Inspiration

Inspiration and Gratitude
Hugh McLeod, Gaping Void

This morning as I am about to leave Cayman, I am sitting to write today’s post and the word Gratitude comes to me, allied to being Present.

I then searched my site for those terms and found a post called “Gratitude+Presence” from, similarly, another trip to Cayman.

In that post I wrote about that partial “Emotional Equation” of “Gratitude+Presence”:

I do love Emotional Equations, yet for now, I can’t come up with a “= ?” for the other side of that equation.

Today, I feel to complete it.


What if you made your Vision your Present?


Think for a moment about your Vision for yourself, your business or organisation.

For those with a focus on the UK, where the General Election just happened, perhaps you may be reflecting on your own Vision for country, economy, society.

Now, these all typically have in common that they are focussed on the future. What if, though, you considered that your Vision is in the present, is now, today and everyday?

I sat recently with a leadership team who felt that they didn’t have a vision. I’ve been working with this client for many years and, as I listened deeply to them, a thought occurred to me. They are already living it now.


Slow down. Happiness is trying to catch you.

Slow down. Happiness is trying to catch you.

Yesterday I woke in the Cayman Islands on a beautiful “Christmas Breeze” morning. However, instead of being truly relaxed, I thought about writing the post for this following day and felt the struggle of coming up with something for that day. Reminds me that the word “essay” is derived from the French “essai”, which can translate to a “trial”, and I couldn’t get focussed on writing this “mini-essay”!

I’m here in Cayman for a week for a visit full of business catch-ups and client work, yet on my first day here I was struggling, trying, to slow down and relax. As I watched my recently retired host slowly and methodically put up his Christmas decorations on the balcony, once again it struck me how difficult it is for us sometimes to slow down, to “let happiness catch us”

Still, by the end of the day, I was sitting with my three sons at Sunset House enjoying the “banter” and a meal on the waterfront. I had slowed down to let happiness catch me, and very few things in this world make me as happy as simply sitting with my boys listening to their chatter, being fully present to that.

Right, writing this on Monday morning Cayman time and now off to this full and active week, and yes, I will still remember to slow down. I leave you with this from Sunday morning.

A Nyepi day

Nyepi Day of Silence
My view this Sunday morning

Nyepi is the Balinese “day of silence”, a sacred day of silence on Bali, for self-reflection, silence, meditation.

From post in March 2018: Silence and Nyepi – Less is More

This weekend I took a very quiet 24 hours from the middle of the day Saturday to Sunday, heading to the country to stay with friends.

This daily post is therefore posted not at 8am, but later on Sunday. Felt wonderful to be offline. Refreshed and recharged.

Enjoy the moments

Swimming Enjoy the Moments

Good looking guy, huh?

Not sure about the bloke with the dodgy moustache though!

This was Sunday evening right before the very last race of the ISL Meet in London. I’ve been a swim official for a long time, on this occasion and on this evening I was the judge at the start/finish end in one of the two centre lanes, hence right there when the cheers went through the roof before the final race between Manadou (the “unit” with the ‘tache) and Morozov for the “Skins” win.

Now, as an official, we must always be impassive and focussed, our role is to ensure the sporting integrity of every race and the event, irrespective of the atmosphere and scale. In other words, sorry about the serious face!

It was, therefore, only after the event that I took time later that evening to really enjoy the moment, the event. That photo is a shot from the TV that one of my sons in the Cayman Islands took while they watched the event live. When I got home that night we had a fun video chat about the meet and shared the experience.

Now, flipping back to leadership and business, I ask you, too, to enjoy the moments. When you have a big moment, celebrate it. In particular, celebrate it with your team. Appreciate them, acknowledge them, hit the pause button and enjoy.

For me, when I hit the pause button I could recognise that, without my sons choosing to be competitive swimmers many years ago (and they have all since retired from the sport), I would never have been there at the very heart of that truly amazing moment. Thank you, boys x

Knowing yourself

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom - Aristotle Quote

The last few weekends have been, as one says in Britain “full-on” for me, including Kilkenomics , before that Basecamp.London, and just the last two days at Meaning Conference then a workshop led by Nilofer Merchant.

Next weekend I am officiating both days at the amazing International Swimming League event at the London Aquatic Centre, then the following weekend is in the country visiting friends, then the following two weekends will see me back home in Cayman visiting family and friends and working with clients. Those trips back are definitely always “full-on”!

So, this weekend I have virtually no plans, so am writing this a little later than usual on a Saturday morning, sitting in my red checked pyjama trousers, then here I shall remain, quietly, for much of the day.

You see, I’ve known this quiet weekend was in the calendar for some time and consciously have not filled it with meeting friends, with activities. I’m actually quite introverted, so after lots of massively stimulating events and meetings with people in recent weeks, like most introverts, every so often I need to time to recharge by being quietly on my own.

With that, time to make a cup of coffee and pick up a book.

Enjoy your weekend.

We are feeling creatures that think, not thinking creatures that feel

feeling and dance

“Although many of us think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, biologically we are feeling creatures that think.”

Jill Bolte Taylor

Recently I was at an amazing two-day collaborative event, Basecamp.London. Each participant chose a “challenge” to be part of. I chose to be part of the Diversity and Inclusion table.

Little did I know how strongly I would FEEL a massive learning around both Diversity and Inclusion.


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