Tag: Self-Knowledge

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


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


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…)

Writing I Love – Self-Awareness and Rumi

The Guest House Rumi

Up until about a month ago, once a week I posted “Writing I Love”, then chose to stop setting a regular schedule for it and simply to allow #Flow, with that last post being one I wrote the day Anthony Bourdain died.

More recently I wrote “Leadership – The impact of beautiful art” which was in part inspired by one beautiful line from David Foster Wallace:

“We’re all lonely for something we don’t know we’re lonely for.”

I love to read widely and be inspired by art and writing.

This week I read an article called “A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Awareness” and all of this lead me back to the favourite poem above by Rumi, The Guest House, which speaks to me about the bravery it takes to choose to be the truly open and vulnerable self it takes for self-awareness. (more…)

Leadership – on Patience

A dear friend recently counselled me:

“Patience, my friend, is when nothing happens and you are ok with it.”

I loved this. That friend also noted to me that in so many areas of life (including in my roles with clients as a sounding board, coach etc) I am patience personified, yet I’m a human and we all have our gaps, and in one or two areas of life I can be pretty impatient.

This counsel was and is most valuable, and it also had me think about patience for leaders. (more…)

People are my Index Cards


Socates distilled wisdom encourages us to “Know Thyself”, and I am on a constant journey of self-knowledge. I know I don’t have all the answers at any stage in life, I’m constantly curious and like to think I have a “beginner’s mind” and, in most areas, a Growth Mindset.

As we move through life, how do we know what we know? How can we learn more? What is our chosen method of learning on the lifelong journey of discovery? (more…)

Commitment, Boldness and Magic


I write this at 7am in a log cabin under two majestic tall pines in the redwood forests of northern California.

I came here from London this weekend to attend the wedding of one of our Modern Elder Academy cohort that came together and bonded tightly during our week in Baja only this past April.

When invited, in the words of yesterday’s post, I chose “Hell Yeah !” so here I am and wondrously majestic the entire experience has been.

As I sit here, awake before the whole house as I embrace my London body clock waking early I hear the birds chirping in an otherwise silent hillside garden.

This morning I consider the power of commitment and boldness and the magic it can bring. (more…)

Move your “NO” to “HELL YEAH!”

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
~ Will Durant

An absorbing, energising and inspiring conversation recently has me musing on the process and the act of writing and what it can bring to us. In that conversation, I was nudged to remember and once again sign up for the wonderful thought-provoking curations of Maria Popova and her Brainpickings (highly recommended!).

In that conversation I was guided to an article:  “Jennifer Egan on Writing, the Trap of Approval, and the Most Important Discipline for Aspiring Writers“, which has an anchor quote of:

write regularly jennifer egan

“You can only write regularly if you’re willing to write badly… Accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well.” (more…)

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”

Are you a Serendipity or a Zemblanity person?


“Zemblanity, the opposite of serendipity, 
the faculty of making unhappy, unlucky and expected discoveries by design.
~ William Safire, The Right Word in the Right Place at the Right Time

One could call this an Unpleasant Non-Surprise.

Thanks to my friend Bruce Peters of Beyond Teal for sending through this article from TED, “20 words that aren’t in the dictionary yet“, with the note: “For when you run out of words or language to write about. Or, you could just make up your own… in your spare moments.” One of the words in the list was Zemblanity.

I started writing this on a Saturday morning, having already written three posts on a beautifully productive day. Serendipitously (of course!), the last article I wrote before receiving this note from Bruce, published yesterday as you read this, was: “Risk taking, trust, serendipity“, providing a segue to this post today. (more…)