Tag: Presence

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”:

Social Distancing – keep up Social Connection

Social Distancing, Social Connection

The image above is from a blog last week from the amazing Maff Potts of Camerados, who wrote on: “When hugs are banned – when the world finally noticed social distancing“.

I saw Maff speak at Meaning Conference last year and love what he does. The Camerados movement is all about human contact, about removing true social distance in the form of human connection. They do this by setting up “public living rooms” all over where we can just sit with other humans and avoid isolation by being present to each other, simply being there to listen and talk.

So, we all now know the term “Social Distancing” and, I hope, are being responsible to others by doing this assiduously.

With that, let us ensure that, in “Social Distancing”, we absolutely maintain our physical distancing, but let us also find and commit to ways to maintain and build our social connection…..


What is Bravery?

bravery iain jamaica pool

**Yesterday’s post “Inspire Bravery” reminded me of this post from February 2018, which I am sharing again today with two updates to the story begun in the picture above.

We often think of bravery as the stuff of myth and legend, passed down through the ages.

What if, instead, we simply considered bravery to be relative to how it feels to the individual. Take a look at the picture above. Does that boy look brave to you?

More on that later on, but first some stories on bravery in different forms, from leading to rebuilding, to reframing mental health conversations. (more…)

Not all those who wander are lost

Not all those who wander are lost

“Not all those who wander are lost”

JRR Tolkien

Today a story as a reminder to consciously look for new perspectives, literally and figuratively. All too often we get stuck in what we know, what we are familiar with. In our businesses, we do the same, we also recruit and choose to work with those who fit our familiar and comfortable choices. What is lost if we only go with what we know instead of allowing ourselves to wander, to discover new things, new ideas, new people?


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.