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.
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.
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…)
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…)
“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…)
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.
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…)
I had lunch recently with an investor who expressed frustration about founders of startups and scale-ups.
They are not a fund partner, nor VC or from the Private Equity world. No, they actually built a business of value and lived it for the whole journey through to an ultimate sale and cash out for a significant sum, thus giving them space and funds to invest in other businesses. Cards on the table, I prefer such investors as they’ve been through it personally, rolled the sleeves up. Experience brings empathy at a level that is irreplaceable. This gives them a powerful edge in mentoring founders, who often are sorely lacking sounding boards on the roller coaster ride.
So, why was this investor so frustrated when I met them? Could it have been that they wanted to vent along the lines of my own common frustration with founders focussed on raising round after round of funding without actually building a business that generates revenues? Not that day, though certainly something I may write about another time!
No, they were frustrated with founders pretending they are bulletproof. (more…)
For the first months of daily writing on this site, I wrote around the theme of “Smashing Paradigms” each Friday, with many written on that theme you can now explore. I began each one with;
For my story-telling explanation of the definition of a Paradigm, see “What is a Paradigm“.
One way of defining a paradigm is “we’ve always done it this way”
Today I’m inspired by Eliud Kipchoge, who on September 17, 2018 utterly obliterated the marathon world record, so have come back to the theme of Smashing Paradigms and will share some ideas and thoughts for leaders. (more…)
I love the power of language, and of well-chosen words. A little over a month ago, I wrote a post bringing together a number of the words and short phrases I’ve mused on over time on this site with links to those posts. That post is called
In that post I highlighted the power of language for leaders: “we follow leaders partly through rationality, through thinking about what they say. However, we also process (often unconsciously) other ways in which they communicate. Are they calm? sage? energised? fierily passionate? purposeful? resolute?”
By choosing words and phrases of rich meaning, we bring depth to our expression and so our leadership. One such word of resonance to me right now is:
The thing is, here in the Northern Hemisphere, there is a real “back to school” energy which means that for those who were able to slow down over the summer and recharge themselves in nature, now only a very few will consciously and with awareness plan to take time to recharge themselves with nature in the coming months up until the end of the year.
In terms of leadership performance, sometimes with clients, I find some of the biggest shifts are the easiest and simplest to propose and support them in implementing.
CEOs are responsible for the performance (and, one would hope they recognise) and the wellbeing of all the people in their team. Often, though, they do a poor job of supporting one key member of that team. Themselves.
So, as you are the CEO of your own time and energy, how often do you consider how well you support yourself and your own performance?
Today let me share with you some ideas and a story about the power of managing time and energy. I hope it has value for you for your own performance and personal happiness and fulfilment, it certainly did for the client in the story. (more…)
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