Tag: Self-Knowledge

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.


Not my circus, not my monkey

not my circus not my monkey

Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy

A Polish idiom. Literally, “not my circus, not my monkey”.

At the simplest level, this could be expressed as “not my problem”, which for me can be of value but can also be an abdication of responsibility.

So, let me today give two other layers of depth which may be supportive for leadership and in a responsible fashion. (more…)

From Pooh to Cantona

This week I brought you wisdom for Leadership from the sagest of sage bears (apologies to Paddington, who comes a close second), Winnie the Pooh.

Today, I bring you the legend that is Eric Cantona, who I also wrote about recently in: “Ferguson and Cantona – Vulnerability and Strength“.

Yes, Leadership learnings from Eric Cantona. You come here expecting the eclectic, yes?

I’ll share learnings from an article he recently wrote, as well as my own reflections.


Recapturing the power of intuition


“Our world seems like a heap of fragments and it is hard to see how they cohere. Wisdom has been replaced by knowledge and knowledge has been replaced by information. Pieces of data. Chunks of data.”

Iain McGilchrist, author of “The Divided Mind”,

speaking in the documentary”Innssaei – The Power of Intuition”

In our modern world, we have largely forgotten the power of intuition.

On this site, I often muse on ideas and themes that may appear tangential at best to the theme of leadership. However, the term I use here is #OpenLeadership, and that is about being open in many ways. including to listening to “the sea within”, as the tagline to the documentary Innsaei puts it.

Let me talk to you today, then, about the power of intuition, and also a few thoughts on how to recapture it for yourself. (more…)

Setting your personal context


Today let me put it to you that, in many years and thousands upon thousands of hours as a coach, the single most powerful tool for coaching is Context.

Today I’ll talk specifically about the power for an individual of setting a personal context and three focal areas for action aligned to that context.

To get there, as the diagram indicates, one needs to ask oneself different questions to arrive at what both drives and supports you to move forward from the present.


Your playing small does not serve the world


This week has been rich with 1:1 meetings in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London with amazing people from a wide variety of backgrounds.

These meetings, and one in particular, reminded me of three things:

  1. We have far more in common than we allow ourselves to recognise
  2. Profound Beauty can create a shift
  3. Repetition, repetition, repetition

Let me explain, and I hope you can take your own leadership learnings from my experience. (more…)

Lukewarm is no good

Go at it full speed

This week was “Roald Dahl day“, celebrating and honouring his unique genius. This quote circulated and moved me.

On the #BeMoreYou page on this site, I give an expression of what I offer to clients, to #BeMoreYou, and express that as:

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

Chances are, if you are reading this, you are drawn to the Dahl quote above. I certainly am. My work and who I work with are an expression of these sentiments for me.

If this resonates, read on for a little more on this. (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…)

How would you cross the muddy pond?


A story today around one of my favourite leadership phrases:

A leader is someone other choose to follow

The picture above is of quite the unattractive muddy pond, huh?

Now imagine you are a squad of young soldiers on army training. It is cold, wet, you’ve been out in the field for days. You are exhausted, tired, hungry. All you want to do is get back to base, shower, get into dry clothes, eat and get warm.

You and the other squads in the company have been marching back to base when you are brought to this place with a series of ponds, one for each squad.

The 20-year-old officer cadet in charge of your squad has just been told that, before you get to go home, a surprise. The squad must complete what is typically called a “command task”, to get each of them across the pond, using what seems like far too little equipment (a few planks, a little rope, some empty barrels).

He explains it to the group, and clearly, nobody has the first idea about how to cross the pond, The officer cadet is very “green”, he also has no idea what to do, but the key thing he observes is a bunch of unmotivated men who are simply thinking “I don’t want to fall into that muddy pond and get cold and wet”.

He could work out what to do himself and then give orders to complete the task, yet with the exhaustion and demotivation he sees, he immediately and instinctively an opportunity for leadership rather than management.

What does he do? (more…)

Ichi-Go Ichi-E : No ordinary moments


Quite a view, isn’t it?

In my life, I’ve travelled to around 70 countries, but still, my favourite city is Edinburgh.

This week I was up there from London for an overnight business visit with a friend and collaborator and stayed the night before the meeting with him and his lovely family. They took me along with them when they were invited to view the wondrous Edinburgh Festival Fireworks that evening from the vantage point of a penthouse apartment.

As we stood there, my friend and I shared a moment of silence where we simply reflected on the beauty of the moment. I am reasonably well travelled, but he has quite literally travelled around the world multiple times and, by his count, visited over 130 countries. He too, in that moment, recognised how special the view was, the city of Edinburgh is. Nothing needed to be spoken. It was one of those moments of presence and wonder.

It was one of those moments that the Japanese call Ichi-Go Ichi-E

ichigo ichie

That evening watching the fireworks brought me back to my very first post on this site, “Life is Wild and Precious, Be Present“, I wrote there first about the Mary Oliver poem that finishes with the line: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”, then went on to talk about that Japanese phrase, saying:

“Ichigo Ichie is the “appreciation of the ephemeral character of any encounters with people, things or events in life”, or, as my friend Morgan DaCosta puts it “no ordinary moments !”.”

So, as we watched the fireworks, I allowed myself to stop thinking about our work meeting the next day. In fact I stopped thinking entirely. I simply was present. It was a moment, an evening of magic and wonder.

I often say “Management is about DOing, Leadership is about BEing”. Leadership itself starts with self-leadership, so that night was a powerful reminder to me of the power of presence, of simply BEING.

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…)

What if you could never fire anyone?

you are fired

Now, what if you could never fire anybody in your organisation, every, under any circumstances?

What would you do differently?

This is more than a thought experiment, I am seriously asking you to consider this question.

More and more organisations are fully or at least mostly adopting a “no fire” policy. They each have sound reasoning for this and have underpinned this with well thought out philosophies, strategies and implementation.

From my own experience, a few years ago I was asked to take on the role of CEO of an international business coaching organisation that, from day one, had never fired anyone. I learned much from that time.

Let us explore this idea, then, and I will highlight and elaborate on three key points that are key for leaders considering this question.

Culture is Paramount

Hire Slowly

(Self-)Responsibility and Response-ability


What do your actions say about your Leadership?

GV how you do anything

Fergus Conolly is the author of “Game Changer” and someone I follow closely around his learnings on elite performance across multiple sports. He recently shared an article from The Observer about Marcelo Bielsa, a legendary coach now leading the once great Leeds United. In Fergus’ tweet he highlighted a snippet from the article, referencing the manager being told that the average fan has to work three hours to pay for a ticket to a match:

“he told them that, for the next three hours, they would be picking up litter from around the club’s Thorp Arch training ground. He wanted them to learn a lesson; to appreciate how the fans laboured to fulfil their passion”

The short article is excellent and speaks volumes about actions both small and large that Bielsa insists on and that he has shown again and again with teams he has coached will turn into results on the football field. I then retweeted Fergus’ post with a favourite line:

“How you do anything is how you do everything” (more…)

What is your original idea today?

In my role as an experienced coach supporting leaders to reach their peak, I’m highly focussed on limiting beliefs, choice of words, and also where language is phrased negatively rather than positively.

It is a little absurd then, that I have often used a certain phrase, and even written an article about it: “No such thing as an original idea“. As I put in that brief article:

“…I recognised that {a recent post} was, to use a musician’s analogy, a riff on a recurring theme, in this case: “less is more”. A favourite phrase of mine is “there is no such thing as an original idea”. I believe, though, that we are always listening, learning, developing new ideas to develop, extend, evolve ideas.”

So, my own belief around the phrase “no such thing as an original idea” can be qualified as I described above.

That said, in a recent call with Nilofer Merchant, author of “The Power of Onlyness” (see article here), she totally challenged me when I used that line around the themes I am looking to incorporate in the book I am in the processing of writing. (more…)