Tag: Self-Knowledge

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?

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

Kinnear-Road-rettie3-1024x319

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

(more…)

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…)

Beautiful words bring dimensions of meaning

Recently I wrote “Petrichor – How our environment can impact us

In that post, I reflected on Petrichor, a word of rich meaning.

At the heart of my writing is a passion to elevate Leadership, and so much of that comes from understanding of self and others. Words of such richness of meaning can also facilitate awareness and understanding of other areas, fields, dimensions.

I frequently say “a Leader is someone others choose to follow” and 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?

We process in ways beyond language, and words of rich meaning can be a bridge for us between our thinking to our feeling and our intuition.

Petrichor, as it turns out, though from ancient greek word roots, is a modern word, coined by Australian researchers in the 1960s.

Over time though, I’ve reflected many times on this site around words of beauty from other languages, often with deep meanings of cultural richness over many generations and that do not directly translate into English.

What this has meant for me, then, is that each of them can catalyse our thoughts around the meanings and allow us to bridge to our awareness of self and others.

Today I simply collate a few of my earlier posts around such beautiful words and encourage you to explore those posts. I share my own thoughts in each post, and I hope these writings also catalyse your own unique reflections. (more…)

Ignore the noise of Metrics – tune in to what truly matters

Seth Godin writes daily and has over 1,000,000 followers on his email list.

I write daily and have around 1,000 email followers.

Metrics.

For many years a part of my work was engaged with digital marketing. So much of that was about building traffic to websites, spending money on promotion to draw people to your site then sell them something. Metrics were everything.

As I’ve gone past 300 daily posts and loving writing more and more, I muse on how I no longer care about metrics the way I used to, I have become clearer and clearer about what truly matters. As one of Peter Gabriel’s songs highlights for me, I’m clearer on clear on what is Signal over what is Noise.

I muse on metrics and meaning today after yesterday, in “The Power of Intention – “This is post 300””, writing about how that day marked post #300 of my posting daily on this site, and noted “Listen to your intention. Follow it without always having to know where it will lead. You will create serendipities. Amazing things can and will happen!” (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…)

Patience – “Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye”

Some Scots for you in the title today.

“Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye”

Translation: What’s for you will not go by you.

My Scots grandmother or, in more recent times, a dear friend (also Scots, naturally!) would use this to remind me to have patience, to relax, to be myself rather than feel urgency.

As this once again came up for me recently, am musing today, then, on patience and time. (more…)

Open Leadership – Being Human

being vulnerable bob marley

This is a repost and update of one of my earliest posts on this site, “Presence…and Vulnerability“. Why a repost?

My current musing is on Romance, Beauty and business. Yesterday’s post, inspired by the “Business Romantic”, Tim Leberecht, had me think about being human and building a business around that, and I finished yesterday with:

“Business can be beautiful when it embraces what it means to be human. Appreciate beauty for beauty’s sake, be vulnerable, open, intimate, curious, authentic. Such qualities in humans are beautiful at a deep level, as they are with a business.”

Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk is my favourite TED talk of all time. Every time I watch it I well up with tears towards the end. Why? Simple, such humanity is truly beautiful.

As Bob Marley also notes above, vulnerability is essential if we are to take true pleasure in life. Oh, and it also risks it all too, so vulnerability is indeed brave and a gift to ourselves and others.

Be Human. (more…)

Leadership – Being alone with our thoughts

“tout le malheur des hommes vient de ne savoir pas se tenir en repos dans une chambre”

“All of humanity’s misfortunes stem from man’s inability to stay at rest in a room”

From Pensées by Blaise Pascal, written in the 1600s

blaisepascal1-2x

A search on this “My Writing” page currently returns twenty articles referencing the  keyword “silence”.

If you’d like a quiet hour or two to muse eclectically on this theme, I offer you the search here.

I keep coming back to silence as a theme, so why is that ? (more…)

Leadership – Take action, even put yourself at risk

Bravery in leadership can often mean acting rather than waiting for others. It also has matters of degree in whether or not leadership puts yourself at risk.

Two quotes I have always looked to are :

“Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion.

Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

~ John Stuart Mill

And:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

~ Martin Niemoller

So, in the most powerful form, acting is brave if we choose to put ourselves (or in psychological terms, our identity) at risk.

In other forms, there are things we can do that have little or no risk.

Each person has their own way to choose to take action, how much risk they are willing to take. (more…)