Tag: Resilience

Beautiful words – aestivate

aestivation

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

Beautiful words bring dimensions of meaning

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:

Aestivate (more…)

When will you next recharge..yourself?

Bak to nature device

Thanks to Monique Valcour for sharing this, with the tagline:

Recharge yourself with nature

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.

The most obvious and most overlooked? (more…)

Be the CEO of your own Time and Energy

high performance

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…)

We are what we repeatedly do

british-endurance-athlete-mark-beaumont-cycling-through-mongolia

In yesterday’s post, I wrote around the phrase:

How you do anything is how you do everything

The post asked of each of us the question: “what do your actions say about your Leadership?”, considering that everything we do is indicative of who we are, our values mirror our behaviours, our actions speak louder than our words.

From this, a risk is that we could consider that who we are and how we behave our fixed and set. However, I am a proponent of the concept of Growth Mindset (see a post with a mindset questionnaire you can try here).

If we accept the concept of Growth Mindset, we can always improve, we can always change, grow, evolve. (more…)

Petrichor – How our environment can impact us

Petrichor – the smell after rain hits dry ground

From the Greek, Petros, meaning stone, and Ichor, meaning “the fluid that flows from the veins of the gods”

Today my mind goes to this beautiful word, and, inspired by the word, also to how I felt after the rain came and the weather cooled off, which then had me muse on how, over time, we can unconsciously adapt and change to a different environment. Such awareness of the environmental impact on an individual can have value when considered at scale for relationships, families, businesses, organisations, societies.

I live in central London, and this summer has been truly exceptional, hot and dry as never recorded before. In fact, until the early evening of Friday, July 27th it had not rained for around eight weeks. Day after day, week after week went by with the weather replicated.

clapham common savannah

Hot, dry, sunny. Every day. As it continued week after week it felt like a new normal, as if the weather had ever been this way. (more…)

We can all be brave leaders through our individual actions

the world is changed by your example coelho

Today I woke up to see this story of a 21 year old Swedish woman taking a stand against deportation of an Afghan from her country by standing up to prevent her flight from departing. Her name is Elin Errson, and she literally took a stand for what she believed to be right.

The video below is edited to 3′ and is very emotional and inspirational.

I’ve then linked to a Guardian interview of Ms Errson, then added my own thoughts and links to thoughts from two earlier posts on this site.

We can all be brave leaders through our individual actions

All we need do is simply take a stand for what we believe in, by simply being of integrity to that and acting from that place.

Leaders who do not, lose their followers. (more…)

Amor Fati and “I did it My Way”

I write often about presence, about flow, about stretching out of our comfort zone.

I fully embrace that I am a romanticist, an idealist, I look for the best in people and situations, I see people deeply, their ability and opportunity to live their life to their full potential.

At the same time, I’m also very aware (and sometimes painfully so) that life is not all smiles, joy, success, pleasure, sometimes it also comes with pain, regret, suffering.

I talk often about having “enough structure to allow flow”, so today let me come back to a topic I also write often about, which is structure. We all need foundation, structure, solidity in our life, our thoughts, our emotions, and one area of study and practice for me around this is Stoicism

Taken from the great Stoics such as Marcus Aurelius, Nietzsche focussed on the term “Amor Fati”, or love of one’s fate. (more…)

Trust that the dots will connect

Steve jobs connect the dots

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

~ Steve Jobs

Yesterday I wrote about “Commitment, Boldness and Magic” from a log cabin under majestic redwood trees in California, closing with the quote from Coelho “When you want something; all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Today I link to this quote from Steve Jobs, one of three core points he made in one of my favourite speeches ever, his Stanford Commencement speech in 2009. I wrote about this and shared a video along with two other favourite commencement/graduation speeches in: “Movies with Meaning – with a difference“.

So, a personal story around trusting that the dots will somehow connect.

As I sit here, I am in deep gratitude. You see, last night I became totally clear on the book that is “in me” to write and that it will take learnings from my late guide and mentor, Ed Percival, extend them and share them. The book is now writing itself in my head and with frequent audio and text notes downloading like a fire hose!

I also have #goosebumps as I gained this clarity sitting with my friend, the amazing Matt Clark, in his house in the El Cerrito hills overlooking San Francisco, and that this moment of stunning clarity came EXACTLY three years, almost to the hour and minute, from when I first learned of the passing of Ed Percival three years prior.

In that moment when I learned of Ed’s death, I had a moment of deep, deep clarity, that he had been preparing me to take forward his work in the world. I knew it, I trusted it, I didn’t know what that would mean and in what form it would take. That I found out exactly three years later… wow !

So, let’s see how some of these dots joined together.

Dot 1 : In October last year I somehow deciced to start writing again after a long pause, and though I have often thought about writing a book and friends have often encouraged me to do so, I decided to write posts instead.

Dot 2 : I committed to write daily, and continue to do so nearly 300 posts later.

Dot 3 : In late December last year I wrote about Chip Conley’s book Emotional Equations.

Dot 4 :  In sharing that post on Twitter, I chose to tag Chip. I’d never had any contact with him, only being a huge fan and sharing his learnings and lessons widely. From that tag, he retweeted my post, I then took a deep breath, replied to my business hero and asked him if I could interview him for a future post.

Dot 5 : After some energising emails between us, I spoke to Chip on video in early January this year. He invited me to Baja for the beta of Modern Elder Academy in June this year for two weeks. I said I couldn’t make it, I was busy.

Dot 6 : I got off that call, then almost punched myself in the head. What ? You said no ? You are too busy ? No way ! I emailed Chip back, somehow worked out I would go and COMMITTED to it !

Dot 7 : Somehow the schedule shuffled with the Modern Elder Academy so I was reassigned to a group in mid April, with Chip leading that week.

Dot 8 : What a week in mid April with the 13 members of the “Sweet Corazon” cohort, and at the end, I was invited with the group to a wedding in June in California.

Dot 9 : Also in that group was the amazing husband and wife team of Matt Clark and Alison Macdondray, and I sensed their unique genius would be hugely valuable to me in getting clear on communicated my own unique offering and value to clients (as I write this, we are still working on this, the new website wording will be MUCH clearer about me and what I bring !).

Dot 10 : Alison and Matt kindly hosted me the nights before and after the wedding, and last night we did two hours of work on “me”. Quite unexpectedly, the “Deep dive” process had Matt draw out of me the core subject and frame for this book !

10 dots.. and that is only from October last year. In the two years or so prior to that since Ed passed away on June 25, 2015, there were many, many quite unexpected changes in my life and work, and at time it was very challenging, other times highly joyous and uplifting. Throughout all of this, a wonderful thought to remember from Steve Jobs, once again.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

Choice and the Power of the Pause

Frankl between stimulus and response

“Between Stimulus and Response There Is a Space.
In That Space Is Our Power To Choose Our Response”

That quote is attributed to Viktor Frankl, author of “Man’s Search for Meaning”, the most personally impactful book I’ve ever read.

Two recent meetings have had me think about this “space between stimulus and response”, about the “the power of the pause”. about our freedom to make choices, including our choice on how to respond to external stimuli.

One meeting was at an art exhibit, where being among amazing portraiture contributed to a sparkling conversation on many topics. One theme was on the power of choice. After that meeting, I mused on Frankl and this famous quote around choice.

As it turns out, the quote above was not made by Frankl, but in discussing Frankl’s famous book, it was made by another master, Stephen Covey.

The quote that had Covey develop his own and that does come from Frankl’s book was this one, which when I read it for the first time gave me goosebumps all over.

“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.”

I distilled this for myself to: “the ultimate freedom is choice”

Now, to the second recent meeting. I had a fascinating and wide-ranging conversation with a young British Army officer. One story he told was about how the Army had studied decision making under fire. Literally under enemy fire. In such situations, what they found was that the decision maker was having to process so many different variables in such radically stressful situations that sometimes they would forget their training and make decisions contrary to their training and the best interests of their men and the situation.

What the Army identified was that even a brief pause would be of huge value in the decision making process. Given the squad leaders would often be hiding from enemy fire in terrible conditions, they simply made a laminated card with a few key questions for the person to ask and answer of and for themselves.

Apparently, this takes less than twenty seconds for them to pull the card out of their pocket and run through the questions, yet this twenty second pause created the opportunity to reconnect to what they had been trained to do, then to make a choice from response rather than reaction.

I found these lessons very valuable and, serendipitously, have applied them since on calls with one or two clients who have found themselves under stress.

We always have a choice, and this recognition can be amplified by recognising the “power of the pause” and consciously pausing.

“Between Stimulus and Response There Is a Space.
In That Space Is Our Power To Choose Our Response”

Yes. You. Can.

YesYouCan_Tat-01_800x

Language is so powerful. It builds and reinforces beliefs in ourselves and others.

Whether leading yourself or others, as a friend, parent, employer, business owner, politician, writer, leader of a movement, there is incredible and simple power in offering another person your belief, to tell them “Yes, you can.”

Let me build on this with a few examples towards a pinnacle of inspiration I witnessed first-hand last weekend. Please follow me with this, the example at the end moved me greatly and I believe it will for you. (more…)

This too shall pass

this-too-shall-pass

Yesterday I wrote : “Whit’s Fur Ye’ll No Go By Ye” around a theme of resilience and asking you what tools you have for this.

Another is “this too shall pass”, which I was reminded of today around the same recent personal setback that had me write yesterday’s post.

Today I share the fable behind the phrase, which has origins in Sufi and Hebrew folklore. It feels like deep wisdom to me, a word I oft define as “something concise that, once you hear it, you feel you have always known it”. I sense that this phrase, in different forms and languages, is as old as humanity.

I hope this story anchors it for you and you can carry this as a totem for times you need resilience.

“One day Solomon decided to humble Benaiah Ben Yehoyada, his most trusted minister. He said to him, “Benaiah, there is a certain ring that I want you to bring to me. I wish to wear it for Sukkot which gives you six months to find it.”

“If it exists anywhere on earth, your majesty,” replied Benaiah,

“I will find it and bring it to you, but what makes the ring so special?” “It has magic powers,” answered the king. “If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy.” Solomon knew that no such ring existed in the world, but he wished to give his minister a little taste of humility.

Spring passed and then summer, and still Benaiah had no idea where he could find the ring. On the night before Sukkot, he decided to take a walk in one of the poorest quarters of Jerusalem. He passed by a merchant who had begun to set out the day’s wares on a shabby carpet. “Have you by any chance heard of a magic ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?” asked Benaiah.

He watched the grandfather take a plain gold ring from his carpet and engrave something on it. When Benaiah read the words on the ring, his face broke out in a wide smile. That night the entire city welcomed in the holiday of Sukkot with great festivity.

“Well, my friend,” said Solomon, “have you found what I sent you after?” All the ministers laughed and Solomon himself smiled. To everyone’s surprise, Benaiah held up a small gold ring and declared, “Here it is, your majesty!” As soon as Solomon read the inscription, the smile vanished from his face. The jeweler had written three Hebrew letters on the gold band: gimel, zayin, yud, which began the words “Gam zeh ya’avor” — “This too shall pass.”

At that moment Solomon realized that all his wisdom and fabulous wealth and tremendous power were but fleeting things, for one day he would be nothing but dust.”

Or, as the Roman Stoics might put it : “Memento Mori

 

Whit’s Fur Ye’ll No Go By Ye

06-Chalkies-Whits-fur-yell-no-go-by-ye-Card

If you play it safe in life, you can normally create a simple and comfortable life for yourself, achieving what you aim for, as long as you keep your aim relatively low.

If, however, you are someone brave enough to seek to achieve your absolute personal best and to make your own greatest possible “dent in the universe”, inevitably you will run into obstacles, challenges, disappointments.

This post is for those brave individuals who aim high, and also for those who lead others

What I am here to remind you is that you will hit hurdles, run into walls, fall down holes. Some will hurt, some will hurt a lot.

One morning I woke up to an email with some news that really hurt. The reality is it was really rough news, and it would have been all too easy to fall into a spiral of doubt, of “woulda, shoulda, coulda” self-flagellation.

This was a personal area of a deal falling through, but in business it could be a major deal going down, someone you thought was ideal for a hire turning down the job, receiving a resignation letter from a star team member where you had no idea they were unhappy (happened to me once in my career, it still smarts that I missed this!) etc.

I’m not saying that I was totally calm and zen-like in this recent case. I wasn’t. It was rough.

However, one resilience tool I had that was helpful was the simple phrase every Scottish mother and grandmother teaches their children, You see, the Scots are Stoics by nature too !

That phrase is the subject line of this email and the picture above, which readily translates to : “What’s for you will not go by you”

If you were expecting something to happen and it doesn’t, and if you did everything you could, honoured your values and ethics, it simply wasn’t meant to happen.

I realise in running a search on this site of the term “resilience”, counting this one, I have now written at least ten posts talking about this in different ways.

The higher you aim, the more likely that you will have some setbacks along the way. They can either defeat you, or you can learn from them and rise every higher. Part of being able to do the latter is to recognise you will have setbacks and to build practices, structures, support well before you need them.

Please do read some of the posts you will see from that link above, and take notes on what resilience tools you use. Please also share any with me by commeting on this post, by twitter, email, whatever medium you choose. I’ll absolutely review anything I receive and look to share with others in future posts.

Thank you, and remember, “Whit’s Fur Ye’ll No Go By Ye” !

What is your 80 days ?

Mark B ES 2018

On April 26th, I was at Gleneagles for a truly inspirational and world-class day at the Entrepreneurial Scotland annual conference, themed “Global Mindset, Scottish Heart”.

The conference was opened by my friend, the truly inspirational Mark Beaumont, who just over a year ago utterly smashed the round the world cycling record, taking it down 40% to under the mythical “Around the World in 80 Days” level.

Mark taught us a two part lesson.

Mark spoke of two individuals who have asked him for support in breaking another round the world record. He asked them both, separately, “how fast do you think you can do it ?”. They both answered “well, the record is x days, I’ll beat that”. His response to each of them was simple.  “Then, you will fail”.

You see, they had ignored Mark’s first lesson.

That first lesson is to become really clear on who you are and how much you are capable of, to find your own personal best. He speaks from experience. He had stretched himself to the absolute limit in prior endurance adventures. I’d also add that it is a true privilege to have got to know Mark over a number of years. He is truly a massively self-aware and humble leader, and an old soul. An old head on young shoulders would be another phrase. Inspirational !

Knowing who he is and what his ultimate capability was, Mark then set that 80 days target.

The second part of the lesson is then to design and build a plan and then execute it, as if you truly are going to achieve your full potential, your own “80 days”. there will be times when you are at the limit, and you need to stop thinking and simply execute a well thought out plan that you know you can deliver on. To go on automatic pilot when needed.

A famous quote from Mike Tyson is “everyone has a plan, until you get punched in the face”. If I may extend that from what Mark taught us, “everyone has a plan, until you get punched in the face. When you get punched in the face, you need a plan more than ever.”

So… what is your 80 days ?

What is your personal best, your true and full potential ?

If you know that, what then ? What do you need to have in place in order to achieve that potential ?

You can’t pour from an empty cup

emptycup

A recurring theme for me is to encourage leaders to support themselves, to be aware of their energy and what they need to perform optimally.

As flight attendants announce on every flight: “In the event of a loss of cabin pressure… first put the oxygen mask on yourself, then help those around you”.

Another way of putting this is “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. Please have the awareness of how full your cup is, and as I advised in a recent post, “drink before you are thirsty“, don’t let that cup get empty.

The three line job description I use for leaders is :

  • Set and hold the Context
  • Manage the Energy
  • Coach, Don’t Play

That “Manage the Energy” role is about what you as a leader bring to your team in aligning them, energising them activating them, motivating them and more.

However, in order to “Manage the Energy”, you must first ensure you drink before you are thirsty, that you manage your own energy and put on that oxygen mask for yourself.

This week I have been at the amazing Modern Elder Academy in Baja Mexico. The visionary leader of this is Chip Conley, who is an amazing leader. I’ve been around so many over the years, all I would say is that I would follow this man anywhere. If he said jump, I’d only ask him to tell me how high to jump !

Still, one thing Chip owned this week is how tired he is from running about two months in a row of workshops at a place which is also his home, where as one group leaves each Sunday morning, another one arrives that afternoon. Chip has been masterful at managing his own energy, and at the same time.. wow.. back to back to back to back. This is a beta test of the Modern Elder Academy, and one learning is that when it goes live, for all the team managing and leading it, they will run a programme which allows the team to manage their energy, to fill their cup. That way they can keep filling up their cup so as to be at their absolute best always for those they choose to lead, to serve.

Drink before you are thirsty, as you can’t pour from an empty cup.

In closing, I also want to express my deep appreciation for Chip, Jeff, Christine, Carla, Tony, Saul and all the team at Modern Elder Academy. I leapt at the opportunity to come to Baja, my cup is absolutely overflowing. Deepest thanks.

 

 

Leap and the net will appear

leap and the net will appear

“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.

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 00.00.36

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.