Perfection is the enemy of progress. Simply act when conditions are right and stop waiting for the perfect moment.
This is yesterday’s GBP-USD FX chart for the last month. Nearly a month ago I moved the USD proceeds from selling my house in the Cayman Islands to the UK, ready to convert into GBP to buy a house here.
A week or so before that, the GBP-USD rate had dropped to a very attractive 1.23 (the 5 year average is about 1.30), so when the money arrived in my UK account and the rate was 1.25 that day, I thought I’d wait for it to drop back down, looking forward to exchanging to more GBP than I had forecast months before.
Of course, the chart showed what has happened was the opposite, with the rate now up to over 1.28. By waiting for the perfect moment the rate has moved 2.5% against me in less than a month, the financial impact on me is now more than the cost of the car I just bought.
A mentor of mine taught me: “the Universe will keep teaching you the same lesson, in different forms, until you choose to learn it”.
Though I am known for making decisions fast, sometimes I am arrogant enough to think that, by waiting just a little longer, I can make the decision at the perfect moment rather than simply benefitting from action rather than inaction at the right time.
Perhaps at some point, I will learn that perfection is the enemy of progress and simply act when conditions are right and stop waiting for the perfect moment.
So many white people suddenly waking up the last two weeks and educating themselves. Would that more had chosen to be open to uncomfortable truths earlier, yet grateful so many are seeking to learn and listen and more at this time.
“the least racist is still racist”
Dave, extra lyric to “Black”. Brit Awards, February 18th, 2020
On February 18th this year, Dave stepped up to perform his hit “Black”, on stage at the Brits awards. Along with millions of others, I watched it live on TV, already so blown away by his brilliance and the power of the song, and then….and then Dave stood up from the piano and unleashed a tirade of incandescent genius, then smiled, knowing he had given every ounce of his being to that performance, turned, walked off stage.
No applause, the live audience and the millions watching sat, stunned, deeply feeling what they just witnessed.
The line above is from the first verse of the extra lines he added that night.
There are long pauses such as the world being on pause for about three months of lockdown.
There are also micro-pauses such as when we think of something to say when listening to someone else, then check ourselves and remember the maxim from Stephen Covey of “listen with the intent to understand, not to reply”.
Right now I am on a “weekend pause”. I have several really significant, positive and exciting changes about to happen personally and professionally, however none of them will take place this weekend.
I encourage you, as a leader, to focus on “what comes next?”, in looking towards the Future.
Yesterday was one of my more esoteric posts: “Musings on Time“. Perhaps serendipitously, no sooner had I posted it than I had a truly inspiring and energising initial conversation with a business leader who, in the time and space created during the lockdown, has:
First, reviewed their decades of Past life and business experience;
Second, from that, been as clear and objective as they can about where they and their business are in the Present;
Third, look towards the Future.
Why, in particular, did that call feel inspiring and energising? Well, it is about where that leader is anchored to in terms of “time”.
The bizarre times and national leadership we are seeing often makes me think of Orwell’s 1984 of late, but that surreality, as well as other pressing topics I’m focussed on, are for another day.
Today I simply quote that famous opening line and move on to musing about Time. I am and always have been fascinated by Time. Sometimes it seems to go so fast, sometimes so slowly, sometimes we feel we can see into the future, sometimes we have a vivid recollection of the past.
My focus on Time also links to my work. When I’m present with a client time often feels like it stops as I listen deeply, whilst I am also always paying close attention to the timeframe the client is focussed on. Short term or Long? Tactical or Strategic? How far ahead is their Vision?
So, yes, time is always an area of fascination and focus for me, but over the period of the lockdown (I’m currently in week 12 of solo isolation as I write this!), I am finding time ever more fascinating. The lockdown is both dragging on endlessly and also flying past. Each day, each week, each month are both passing slowly and fast.
Nearly 1,000 posts ago, my very first daily post was: “Life is Wild and Precious, Be Present“, musing on presence, purpose, with one of the anchors being a Mary Oliver poem that ends with the question:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
This blog is about leadership. That start with self-leadership and self-awareness. To know ourselves, we need to pause, to stop the busy-ness, quiet the mind and more.
As we continue on this pandemic journey both very real and so surreal, I hope you can make time for yourself to truly pause.
In support of that wish, today I curate for you a piece written by the master of pause, Rob Poynton. I encourage you to take time to read it, slowly and thoughtfully, to then use it for your own time to pause and reflect.
Those who know me and follow me know that I am deeply grounded in experience, numbers, facts, science, as well as decades of first-hand experience in business and leadership. Today, I share one message for you to consider from all of that experience, and it is this:
People are intrinsically good.
I often say: “Leadership is about People. End of Story”. Well, all relationships between people are founded on Trust.
People are intrinsically good. Start from that belief and you will trust people more. Similarly, if governments start from that place they will trust people more, then the vast majority of those people will act self-responsibly.
Right now we have a trust gap between governments and their people, so this week I am writing about the need to choose to trust your people, so far writing: “Trust your people to be responsible” and “Trusting people is the only way“. I am hammering home the message. Please do read each piece, though, as they come at the issue in different ways.
Today, something different, a story of what happened when six boys were stranded for over a year on a desert island. It is not what you may think if you read Lord of the Flies.
Taking some time to look out past “what comes next” to “what comes in the future” may also support you and your energy in the present.
So many people writing to give you advice on what to do, often going into great specifics. Recognise that I’m also doing the former, but will avoid the latter, simply looking to help each of us reflect and bring awareness to where we are in the moment as we move through this.
Yesterday I wrote: “Watch out for feeling flat“, sharing my sense that in the coming week many will have a “flat” or “down” energy as things continue. T
Today, then, a thought that it may be supportive to both operate and think in two timeframes at this time.
We have expectations and need to have patience to achieve them.
Day five of taking blood thinners for DVT and no noticeable change in pain. Ok, so the Doctor told me it would take 1-2 weeks before I noticed a difference, yet I’m still feeling impatient.
Also, six weeks today that I’ve been entirely solo in lockdown, yet somehow I’m not impatient about that.
Perhaps because I’m solo, so only have myself to focus on each day. Others, to use one example, are with young children and both parents at home trying to work full time, they are hoping and even praying for schools to re-open and to get back to the office.
We humans are odd creatures. We have expectations, sometimes rational, sometimes based on our feelings. From those expectations, we can become impatient about things.
At this moment many around the world are impatient for lockdown to end. While we wait, do look to be aware of your feelings and when you may be feeling impatient.
As leaders, also recognise that this is different for everybody, so look first to understand how others are feeling, then to listen to understand what is driving that in them.
Where are your gaps in awareness, and how can you improve them?
I sit here early on a Sunday morning writing this, then will steel myself to visit the emergency room at my local major London hospital.
I like to think of myself as a pretty aware person in different ways, but over the last decade, this is now the third time my body has had to tell me that I’m not listening to it, so my physical awareness is a gap for me.
The first was in 2010, when my body “crashed” after organising a pro cycling camp in Cayman. I was having such a great time I didn’t pay attention to signs that I was physically stressing myself. Ultimately all I needed was some enforced rest. Ironically the post I wrote about that camp was called: “How far is it acceptable to push?“
The next was in 2018, when I’d been walking tremendous distances in London over the summer and kept doing it even when my achilles tendon got badly aggravated. Ultimately that took a year or so to address, thanks to learning from and treatment by a Feldenkrais master, the legacy of which is much greater awareness around my movement.
This time I have been really focussed on my work through the lockdown and simply haven’t been moving much, often putting in many hours in a chair on Zoom, then not making the time to go out and walk.
So, over the last week I’ve had a leg pain that feels very different to a muscle pull. As the GP I spoke to on the phone has a concern around it, this morning I will follow his instructions and visit the Emergency room for tests.
One of these days I will learn that my own awareness gap tends to be that I ignore any physical stresses on my body when I’m enjoying what I’m doing (so sometimes push too hard with that to do more!)!