Tag: Resilience

Being vulnerable is more than saying you are

better man vulnerable

Saying you are vulnerable is not the same as being vulnerable.

The four core qualities of #OpenLeadership are:

  • Be Hungry
  • Be Humble
  • Be Brave
  • Be Open

Linked to that is Chip Conley’s idea of being a “vulnerable visionary” a leader who expresses vulnerability allied with confidence, eg: “I have no idea how we will get there, but I know we will do it together.”

However, all too often, in expressing vulnerability, leaders seem to do so behind a superhero “mask” of invulnerability, so even when they express that they don’t know the answers, they are so hidden by their mask that they won’t and so don’t show what it feels like, as a human, to be in that place.

Staying behind that “mask” means a huge lost opportunity to truly connect.


Too hot to think

too hot

Today at 8 am it is 27c in London and forecast to hit 39c by mid-afternoon.

That is simply too hot. No air conditioning. I can’t think in this heat.

I could make up all kinds of cool metaphors for business and leadership, the beginning of one coming around the combined gas law, that (Pressure * Volume) / Temperature is always constant. I could draw parallels around we could apply terms like Pressure, Volume and Temperature at work to work.

Sorry, I can’t. Too hot.

Today I’ll take the client calls I have overseas (where they aren’t so hot), and otherwise drink lots of water and sit with a fan blasting on me.

Apparently, it will cool off to a balmy 27c tomorrow.

Stay cool, stay hydrated.

Do you shut down your office when it gets too hot?

London trains hot weather

overheated trains in nearly 40c temperatures in London are no fun

Today in London the freakish short heatwave will result in temperatures over 35c, and tomorrow (Thursday 25th) it is forecast to reach nearly 40c. That is 104f in “old money” for my American friends!

That is hot, but in addition over 90% of people who work in London get there by public transport, and for literally millions of them that means going into the London Underground, where temperatures are even higher still!

Oh, and very few London offices have air conditioning, so when they do get to work their is no respite.

So, knowing that temperatures will return to a more palatable 30c or less by Friday, how many employers chose to close their offices today and also tomorrow and either a) tell people to work from home, or b) simply give people two days off.

Very few indeed, yet this makes very little rational sense to me….


Want to magically increase your performance? Sleep

eat sleep swim repeat

“Sleep is a natural performance enhancing drug. Tragic how many people think they can get by on 7 hours or less.”  @DHH

My two oldest sons were elite swimmers. As teenagers then university students, it may have seemed to outside observers that they were lazy, as when they weren’t swimming or at lectures they were mostly eating and sleeping.

What may not have been obvious was that eating and sleeping were consciously planned and part of their training regime. Eating and sleeping weren’t what they did when they weren’t training, it was part of the training. When you train well over twenty hours per week and also maintain a high academic workload, fueling and resting are essential.

The younger of these two boys seemed to take this to all new levels. Not only did he typically eat well over 8000 calories per day (that is about 4 times the average adult requirement!), he could also easily sleep 12 or more hours per day. If sleeping were an Olympic sport, he may well have won Cayman’s first medal!

Perhaps inspired by my boys and my own experience as an athlete in the past, I’ve always focussed on human performance and support leaders around this as part of my 1:1 work with clients.

When someone appears tired, unfocussed, demotivated, scattered, very often I’ll ask them (or pick up without having to ask) that they don’t sleep well.

Sleeping is critical for performance, addressing sleep issues is not optional, it is paramount. Perhaps you don’t think you have an issue with sleep, but do you sleep at least 7 hours per night and wake up without an alarm each morning? If not, then I’d say there is real room for improvement.


Manage your energy, not just your time

Manage Energy, Not Time

So, I sit here at 7pm on Thursday to write the daily blog for Friday at 8am, feeling quite tired after a really active day full of a variety of meetings.

As I am about to write, I get an email reply from someone I’d messaged about a meeting with them for next week that I thought I had confirmed but didn’t see in my diary. They had replied to say that my wonderful EA, Katie, had noted to them that my diary was a little packed that day and that, as it was the day before I go away on a trip, they agreed together to move the call to after that trip.

Perfect timing as a reminder to manage my energy.

If Katie had only focussed on managing my time, she would have put that meeting in the diary, but as she has a higher context of managing my energy, not my time, she didn’t.

Katie’s key role for me is to manage my diary. With that context of managing energy and not time, we took time from the outset and on an ongoing basis for her to understand what works for me in terms of when what and how many meetings to book for me so that I can always have the energy and the right kind of energy for the people I am meeting and talking to.

Hey, I often coach leaders on managing their own energy for their optimum performance and wellbeing, so I do always do the same for myself.

So, today I give thanks to Katie for managing my energy through her awareness and understanding, also for bringing me a reminder that sometimes we don’t know what we need, we need other to see it for us. We can’t see the goldfish bowl we are swimming in!

With all of this pointed out to me, and with it being 7pm at night as I write this, that’s it for today’s post, I’m tired, I need to recharge for tomorrow.

Who are you?

Identity: who are you

Who are you?

Simple question, but identity can have many elements.

Imagine you lead a business where lack of collaboration and trust is a constant struggle.

“Who are you?” is a great question to ask and answer to support trust and collaboration. (more…)

Taking time to recharge


Swans and cygnets in a London park this weekend

The last two weeks have been pretty intense for me, both with lots of work and also with the death of someone close then their funeral.

I thought this weekend I’d balance it between doing a little work and a little relaxation each day. However, yesterday (Saturday) morning, decided instead to take 24 hours completely away from the norm. No work, no regular routine. Instead to be outdoors and in nature as much as possible.

So, central to this was to go for a walk. Quite a long walk with a companion across commons and parks in London. Nearly 15 miles in the end, with a few stops, taking much of the day.

I then followed this up this morning with a strong ride with my usual riding buddy, so now I sit here, a little late for posting my daily musing, yet all the more refreshed for it.

So, sometimes we can recharge in a few minutes or hours, sometimes we need weeks or even months. Sometimes a day in nature is what it takes.

I guess what I did yesterday was tune in to myself and listen to what I needed. A long walk in nature was just the ticket.

Put the oxygen mask on yourself first


Meeting interesting and inspiring people, listening, being present to them, seeing where I can help them. This is my work, this is what I love to do.

This also fills my batter, brings me energy as I (hopefully) bring energy and inspiration to them to.

I’m generally highly positive, full of energy (mostly calm and centred energy, though with passion and purpose). This is what I tend to bring whenever I meet people.

It is a rare occasion, then, where my energy tank is too empty to be at my best for others when I meet them.

Today is one such day. Today I am in the city of my birth, Edinburgh. This trip was planned weeks ago around visiting someone dear and close to me who has been terminally ill for some time. As I was going to be here anyway, I booked a full afternoon and evening of meetings and events to come after simply meeting this dearly beloved person for a cup of tea.

Sadly, they passed away suddenly last week, so today in the middle of the day, instead of meeting them for a cup of tea, I am attending their funeral. (I wrote of this last week and thank you so much for all the messages and emails I received from regular readers).

I still planned to continue with all my meetings from later in the afternoon onwards, but as I woke up today, I realised that, though such meetings to give me energy, if I am not at my best for others, it makes no sense to go through with those plans.

So, I contacted my first meeting, where I was going to meet to do what I do, to be a sounding board. I realised I would not be at my best for them, so cancelled the meeting, explaining to them I needed to focus on self-care.

I’ll be at my best again very soon, am blessed and inspired to have walked the path on life’s journey and will take the funeral to both grieve and celebrate. However, for now, I do have the self-awareness that I need to take care of myself above all else today.

I work with leaders who are often so selfless that they may risk burn out from their workload in service of others. I talk about repeated themes on this site. One phrase I have repeated countless times is:

“Put the oxygen mask yourself before you help others”

Today I put the oxygen mask on.

I hope this story is of support to you in knowing when to do the same for yourself.

I’ll be back and writing again tomorrow. Writing is what I do, being a writer is part of who I am. Being of service to others, #MakingPotentialPossible is my “Why”.

Thank you for being with me as a reader on this journey too.



Life is about the people you meet

Life and the People You Meet

A personal blog today and also one where I wish to share from what I took from a day of shock news.

I write this shortly after receiving the unexpected news that someone very close to me had passed away.

I got the news at 9am as I was about to start a day of five meetings in person and on video around the world.

I was initially frozen and in shock. I then burst into tears as I stepped onto a commuter train. A moment later I remembered a lyric from a song that goes: “life carries on in the people you meet” and I decided to carry on with my day. The dear person who had just died was all about living life in each moment, so to honour them I chose to do the same. (more…)

When to fight, when to accept?


I recently learned a powerful lesson from someone close to me who has a disease that they are choosing how to address.

They shared with me that they learned from their doctor that this was not something you “fight”, as to approach it from a “fight” mindset means that you are not giving your body permission and highest capability to heal. Instead, adopting a level of acceptance of “what is” can allow that healing to be strong, thus giving the highest chance for the body to be strong and so allow the medical team to take on the disease to the fullest extent.

Today some thoughts on when to fight and when to accept, whether when one has a disease, or in terms of learnings from martial arts, then around leading at times of crisis. (more…)

Brexit and Resilience


“we risk being deafened by the negativity all around us here in London”

Part of a message I received from a friend in London as I am in Baja at Modern Elder Academy. Later that morning, as I sat on the terrace with the Pacific in the background, I had a call with a friend and client, an entrepreneur and business owner who is facing challenges with their UK business, one that is in a sector that very much depends on consumer confidence and so consumer spending.

Today some thoughts on resilience for businesses and their leaders. (more…)

Planting trees you will never see

sagrada familia interior

Interior of Sagrada Familia

I love cathedrals and other major centres of worship, such as Sagrada Familia, Hagia Sophia, Durham Cathedral and many others.

A key aspect of such buildings is that almost all of those who were part of their construction knew that they were contributing to something they would never see completed in their lifetime.

They were planting trees they would never see.

Today some musing on #OpenLeadership and planting trees you will never see. (more…)

Diversity of Thought – how much is too much?

Kilkenny 2018

This weekend the annual Kilkenomics economics and comedy festival in the gorgeous tiny city of Kilkenny.

I write this on a Sunday morning musing on diversity of thought and “how much is too much?”.

We learned that Andy Haldane (Chief Economist of the Bank of England) has found that Economist talk and listen less to those outside their profession than any other social science. My own experience is that the lens of traditional economic models places quite some limits on their thinking, though that is the ‘sandbox’ they play in, so I have openly been keen to see different thinkers at the festival.

Yesterday, though (again, as I write this on Sunday morning though), an episode occurred with one show where one person was so, so offensive to many that people got up an left. It has me musing on “how much is too much”, as one particular panellist showed up and expressed extreme views so distasteful that some people got up and left. I stayed, and these are my thoughts and reflections.


Being comfortable with solitude

Dumbo sunrise

Quite the view, isn’t it?

I recently spent a week back in Cayman, where I had upwards of thirty meetings, talking with well over sixty people, including leading a four-hour session for a team of twenty-two. I worked out that in all that time I had less than two hours at a stretch on my own on any day.

I then flew to New York for three nights, finding myself waking up on my first day to this view and, by dint of serendipity, with no plans at all and with my host not arriving back until the next day.

So, what did I do with that solitude and what can I share about the power of solitude? (more…)