“Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game” ~ Lou Gerstner
What can leaders learn from pro athletes ? After all, elite professional athletes are known to be paid stupefying amounts, be full of ego, selfish, etc etc etc.
Except…perhaps not…read this closing to a lengthy, passionate and erudite open letter written by a superstar player who has earned well over $100m in his career and felt to come to the defence of someone in that sport, that league. In this, he stands up for diversity and for the feeling of family. You can sense his pride and passion.
Having and stimulating your Growth mindset is key for leaders, and so investing time to read widely as well as deeply is one way to give focus to this. With that in mind, each Saturday I post “Writing I Love”. Sometimes a business book, sometimes a leadership quote, often something more esoteric, such as a poem, novel, song lyric.
I was a little shocked at myself to realise that in all the many daily posts on this site, so far I had not actually mentioned Malcolm Gladwell in my weekly “Writing I Love” posts. Time to remedy that.
Gladwell’s books have been wonderfully catalysing for me over many years. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, for over a decade I focussed almost entirely on financial and other metrics as the answers to building value in a business. However, I then came to realise that people and culture within organisations are also massively important, so I started studying widely and deeply to understand how “people and profit”, “commercial and cultural” elements of business, in combination, drive value.
Of course where I am now is that I feel I have a pretty deep understanding of both, so now focus on leadership and working with leaders, and one part of that is to eclectically look at what makes a great leader, hence the very varied nature of posts on this site !
So, to Gladwell. He is a master story teller, not an economist, not a psychologist, not an academic. He is also massively curious and so takes passionate interest and lots of time and research into finding and diving deep into what drives people. HIs books smack of wisdom, my personal definition for wisdom being: “something concise that, once you hear it, you feel you always knew it”. (more…)
Having and stimulating your Growth mindset is key for leaders, and so investing time to read widely as well as deeply is one way to give focus to this. With that in mind, each Tuesday I post “Writing I Love”. Sometimes a business book, sometimes a leadership quote, often something more esoteric, such as a poem, novel, song lyric.
This quote from Murakami speaks to these weekly posts, and today, inspired by a Tweet from Matt Haig a few weeks ago, simply sharing a number of opening lines of books, closing lines of movies, quotes, sayings, song lyrics.
Am also musing on classicism and romanticism and where I sit on that spectrum. From the lines below, one can see that I am certainly somewhat of a romantic, yet I can also be highly practical and rational. All things in balance !
Innovation is as simple as “doing things differently and doing different things”, so I’d love it if one or two of these inspire you to google the author, the line, pick up a book, watch a movie, listen to a song.
Leaders are often encouraged to be selfless, to be servant leaders (and other such descriptors).
However, our egos are very stubborn. They resist the idea of being selfless, as that means dissolving the ego so as to be of greater service to others, to shift and transform from one state to another.
It is very hard to “think your away” from one state to another, to get “out of your head”. In order to do so, shift from thinking to feeling, create an experience for yourself that is out of your norm.
That can be a walk on the beach, meditation, exercise. It can also be listening to music, dancing, even whirling and spinning as dervishes do for just such a purpose.
I love music and poetry, and the combination for me can be powerful. An absolute gem is “The Stolen Child” by Yeats, put to music by The Waterboys, from the Fisherman’s Blues album recorded in Ireland, and featuring the incredible voice of Tomás Mac Eoin, a local singer of Sean-nós unaccompanied singing. (more…)
I post every Tuesday on “Writing I Love” and every Wednesday on “Movies with Meaning”. Why do I do this on a site with writings themed around leadership ?
As I wrote recently when reworking my home page :
“I write daily posts highlighting various leaders, doers, dreamers, leadership methodologies and related themes that inspire me.
Writing allows me to share thoughts, ideas, insights and wisdom from people I admire, also adding my own ideas and musings synthesized from such inspirations.”
The key phrase there for me is “that inspire me”, and reading and movies often inspire me.
In our busy lives, it is important to leave room for inspiration, whether than be reading, movies, being in nature, being active, talking to friends, listening to brilliant people share their wisdom. Whatever inspires you, do you do as much of it as you wish ? If not, what is lost ?
A key part of leadership is inspiring others, and to do so we must also keep “topping up our tank” ourselves with what inspires us.
So, recently I woke up one lazy Saturday morning , lay in bed and scrolled twitter, then saw a tweet from a thinker, speaker, writer who has inspired me for years, Nilofer Merchant.
In the article, this stunning line leapt off the page at me :
“We flatten the topography of their lives”
I nearly leapt out of bed at the resonant brilliance of that line.
How often do we flatten the topography of our own lives, live a flat life, look to simplify, give the answer “fine” when people ask how we are, etc etc.
Our lives are meant to be lived to the full, letting our light shine, and also being brave enough to look at our shadow, at the fullness and wholeness of life ! Don’t flatten your topography.
As you can see, I am inspired by this one line, this beautiful writing.
I then flow into thinking “what an amazing opening line for a book that would make !”, and then to considering great opening lines.
I’ll give you just one, and it is from one of my absolute favourite books, a masterpiece of magical realism, where one gradually lets go of the need to understand plot, timelines, narrative flow, and simply surrenders to the fantastical magic that flows from the pen of one of the greatest authors we have ever known.
“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”
Gabriel Garcia Marquez – One Hundred Years of Solitude
“I have often said “Leap and the net will appear”, though the net doesn’t always look like a net”
Maeve Gillies, brave, inspiring and creative Cultural Entrepreneur
I was inspired to write by this line from Maeve once before in : “How do you know if you could be an Entrepreneur ?“, but today I will focus on taking leaps to make a big career change, as inspired by a message from someone today feeling totally stuck where they are, yet my insight is that they simply need to follow Maeve’s advice and “leap and the net will appear”.
A story to make the point.
One of my very first coaching clients many years ago was the amazing Virginia Czarnocki, who literally walked into my office and said “help me quit my job”.
As a coach, I simply listened deeply to her, asked the right questions, and helped her see what was really true to her and what was the b*****t she was telling herself. In V’s own words from her Linked In recommendation.
Now, Virginia did quit her job as a top lawyer and embarked on a journey with no idea what the “net” would look like, yet now she is absolutely thriving.
Her brand “Moozlers” (see FB page) started out as an idea to create healthy food around the world, and has morphed and changed. Now “Coach V” is inspiring others in Cayman and around the world to be healthy and fit in so many ways, including nutrition, exercise and general wellness. She has multiple strands both on and off line through which she lives this, and here is an example video.
I took this photo a few days ago at the amazing aquatic centre in Gold Coast, Australia, as one of my sons competed at the Commonwealth Games. A 10,000 seat arena and an amazing lifetime experience for my son. Due to ticketing vagaries I sat on my own in a “nosebleed” seat, quietly absorbing the atmosphere, including the moment when the Australian crowd sang their anthem in unison and from the first note as one of their swimmers was presented a gold medal. #goosebumps.
So, sometimes for my Tuesday “Writing I Love” posts I simply reflect on a line, and at that moment in time it was a phrase from my friend Morgan Da Costa ”
No Ordinary Moments
Now, recently I wrote “No such thing as an original idea” in which I reflected that, although I believe there is indeed no such thing as an original idea, “we are always listening, learning, developing new ideas to develop, extend, evolve ideas.”
With that in mind, several months ago I wrote one of my favourite posts on this site, “Life is Wild and Precious, Be Present“, in which I reference that phrase from Morgan, as well as the beautiful poem “The Summer Day”, which finishes with :
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
I wrote that post around six months ago, reflecting in it: “what is it I plan to do with my one wild and precious life ? I have no plan, yet I have an intention to hold every moment as Wild and Precious”.
Where am I six months later ? A lot has evolved, yet one thing does remain constant, and that is a focus on being present, on recognising that there are “No Ordinary Moments”.
I’ve also written a lot around tags such as Presence, Ikigai, Open Leadership around themes in that prior blog, such as reducing busyness, being more present, tuning into our Ikigai, along with writing on presence from amazing humans such as Marina Abramovic, Scilla Elworthy, Gandhi, Mandela and more.
For today, then, let me simply focus on the power of “No Ordinary Moments”.
In our lives, in our businesses, in our leadership, let us always recognise that there are no ordinary moments, every moment we can choose to be present and to imbue with that presence to appreciate where we are.
With that, I give you this view taken around 6am this morning as I walked at random from my host’s home to listen to the bird song and feel and smell the air just after sunrise.
We then walked to a coffee spot and had the best coffee I think I’ve ever tasted.
First time I’ve seen my friend in at least five years, and may be a while before we see each other again, so we are making the most of it.
In this particular post series, sometimes the writing I love is a poem, sometimes a business book, sometimes something on personal development, sometimes a favourite novel.
Today it is simply these words, represented graphically in the art of Hugh McLeod of Gaping Void. As I write this, just the other day a Gaping Void daily email featured this classic, along with these words from Hugh :
“What matters” is a strictly personal decision. Only you know. But, as we grow older, it becomes apparent that choices matter and not spending your time in a way that moves you forward, that reveals your aspirational self, is a disservice to you. We all need to own our personal journey.
Even if really, there is no “Ending”. There’s just more negotiation with the infinite. As you grow, your definition of success grows. Like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill, only more edifying and if you’re lucky, fun.
Nobody questions that life is too short to do something that matters. The question is, why aren’t more people actually living it.
Seeing this drawing really gave me such goosebumps, as I remembered the magical time of conceiving of and seeing come to full fruition the Leadership Growth Programme (LGP) run through Shirlaws Cayman first in 2013 and then 2014.
At the end of the LGP each participant was given a special acetate block with the “Life is too short not to do something that matters image printed on it.
On several occasions since I have been in the office of an LGP alumnus and seen their block prominently placed to remind them to do something that matters.
I frame the equation that way as for the “value” of a Radical Transparency “score”, to me, would be powered partly by being audaciously, radically transparent, but the real power comes with humility, by removing ego from the equation. (more…)