Tag: Presence

“the least racist is still racist”

Awareness is the greatest agent for change.

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.

Watch then read for more.

Awareness is the greatest agent for change.


A weekend pause

weekend pause Ferris Bueller

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.


Looking towards the future

Past, Present, 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:

  1. First, reviewed their decades of Past life and business experience;
  2. Second, from that, been as clear and objective as they can about where they and their business are in the Present;
  3. 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”.


Musings on Time

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen”
opening line from 1984, by George Orwell

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.


For a limited time only…life

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.


Be of Integrity

Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching.

“Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching”

This phrase has been very much on my mind in the last week or two.

Right now we all (yes, me too) face some frustration as we remain at home, dutifully following lockdown rules day after day, week after week.

Today I’d like to focus on integrity, looking at the importance of what we do, then also, beyond that, the importance of why we do it.


People are intrinsically good

People are intrinsically good

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.


Focus on Now and on the Future

Now and the future

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.


Patience and Expectations

Expectations: Patience is not the ability to wait but how you act while you're waiting. - Joyce Meyer

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.

Mind the awareness gap

Mind the awareness gap

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!)!

We all have gaps, what might yours be?

The World is on Pause

Permission to Pause
courtesy of Rob Poynton, author of “Do Pause”

Exactly a month ago, just after I commenced my focus on offering support through this time, I posted: “Permission to Pause“, noting:

“for leaders needing to make a decision at this or any other time, consider taking a pause before deciding”

Yes, many immediate areas need to be addressed, yet as we “settle in” to the current normal of lockdowns, and with all the uncertainty around what the future may hold, let me give you this thought for the future:

the World is “On Pause”

The situation is indeed awful at a human level, so let us always recognise that and be empathic and understanding. In addition, the economic impact on individuals, businesses, the economy is huge too.

Let us also recognise that these massive human and financial factors impact those we lead. Each of us are uncertain and, all to varying levels, fearful of the future.

So, as leaders, we can share the simple message that:

The World is “On Pause”



Pausing to do a jigsaw puzzle on Easter weekend.

A four day weekend for Easter here in the UK.

Though it is easy to allow the days to blend into one another in lockdown, I’m consciously pausing this weekend.

Yesterday in: “What can you do to help?” I told the story of picking up a Jigsaw puzzle left outside their house by a kindly neighbour for a random person (me, it turned out) to pickup.

So far I spend four hours straight on it and about one quarter completed. A great way to “decompress” for me after about four weeks straight of an average of about eight online meetings per day. Suffice to say I needed something this weekend that keeps my focus without using my brain!

Now, theme of “pause” goes beyond the personal. Tomorrow I’ll look more at that.

People Say Nothing Is Impossible

People Say Nothing Is Impossible, But I Do Nothing Every Day
People Say Nothing Is Impossible, But I Do Nothing Every Day

Over the last two weeks of acting on instinct and flipping to opening the diary to offer crisis leadership support, somehow I had over sixty zoom meetings.

It has been “purpose-full”, fulfilling, energising and inspiring. It also then left me struggling at the weekend to slow down. On Saturday I kept busying myself, only this time with cleaning my apartment, training indoors on my bike, plus any number of “life admin” things.

Today, Sunday, and before launching into another full week, I am taking inspiration from that great sage, Pooh bear.

I shall think of and be grateful for all those around the world on the front line. For the rest of us doing our part in staying at home, we may all have lists of things to do, and sometimes it is absolutely ok to “be like “Pooh”.

I shall do nothing today.

Here it is, your moment of Zen

Moment of Zen

For years I loved to watch “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”, which for year after year skewered political idiocy, making serious points with great humour. Every show then finished with Jon saying “here it is, your moment of zen”, followed by a short random funny clip.

That phrase stuck with me. So, yesterday, in the middle of another intense day of zoom meetings, I felt I needed a break. I stepped out and sat on my terrace, put my head back, closed my eyes and soaked up the sun for a few minutes, clearing my mind entirely. My moment of zen.

At this stage of the Covid crisis, it is easy to get consumed by work supporting others. Always remember, though, to “first put the oxygen mask yourself”. For me that is to sleep and eat properly, and also to find moments of zen in the day. Find your own moments of zen, and, in closing, “here it is, your moment of zen”: