Tag: Share Learnings

The Art of Perception

Bridget Riley, “After The Bridge at Courbevoie”

“Perception constitutes our awareness of what it is to be human, indeed what it is to be alive.”

Bridget Riley

This week I visited the Hayward Gallery to see the Bridget Riley exhibition. Her huge abstract paintings of stripes and colours must be experienced live, and wow are they alive. They have a truly psychedelic effect, giving the viewer the experience of expanded and altered consciousness.

I was there to experience all of that, but I was also there most of all to see for myself one painting, Riley’s copy of Seurat’s “The Bridge at Courbevoie”, which she regarded as her greatest tutorial, using what Seurat coined as pointillism, painting with coloured dots of oil paint, to both create an image and also receive and alter the perception of the viewer.

I was alone in that room and able to stand very close to the painting and take time to see the dots, then stand back at varying differences, each of which altered my perception.

So, I titled today’s post “The Art of Perception”. The heart of my work is around people and actively and deeply listening to and observing them. Perception is reality and reality is perception and I am always looking for new learnings and ways to listen, to see, to perceive.

I encourage you to seek out new ways that are outside your normal spheres, your comfort zone. It could be art, music, movement, spiritual practice. Anything and everything we learn has the ability, should we allow it to, to shift our perception. I wish you curiosity, growth, and shifted perceptions.

Price is what you pay; Value is what you get

“Price is what you pay; Value is what you get”

Warren Buffett

Today let me tell you a story about a time when I nearly paid the price of focussing solely on lowest cost rather than investing in value until I had a sudden moment where I realised that investing an extra $25,000 would actually be of priceless value.

I hope from this you can consider when to pay the lowest price and when do focus on the value of investing in more.

A further thought is to be clear on your WHY to invest in value rather than focus solely on the lowest cost option.


Keeping it simple – do the work first

Keeping it simple
Image by Carl Richards of Behavior Gap a master of simplifying

#OpenLeadership is simple. It is a practice of embracing change as constant, encouraging individual thought, relying on intuition more than data, fluidity more than hierarchy, trust more than fear, and putting the common good ahead of profit.

What does it mean to be this type of leader? Such leaders have core qualities that drive them. Those are to: Be Brave, Be Hungry, Be Open, Be Humble.

Simple definition from the #OpenLeadership page on this site

Keeping it simple is powerful, yet only if you’ve done the work before you simplify, or have someone you trust to do it for you!

As an example, the other night I was out for dinner with a dear friend, one of the most highly educated and brilliant people I know. They talked through an initiative they are co-leading that can (and, I believe will) drive massive change in business to greatly enhance the lives and careers of millions of women.

Having absorbed their ideas delivered at firehose volume and pace, the next morning I woke up simply reflecting on the brilliance that, at the end of the day, what will engage those with and in power to act on their idea is one story that leads to taking three simple actions. That is all.

So, what do I mean by doing the work first?


Purpose-Led – Redemption Roasters

Purpose, People, Planet - Profit for Impact Triple Bottom Line
The new triple bottom line – see “Leading from Purpose”

In 2020 I will be writing regular posts featuring businesses that are truly Purpose-led and are highly and sustainably successful. This is all part of a mission to build bridges to CEOs, and specifically to address the doubters that believe that Purpose as the core driver for Leadership is only “window dressing”. Whilst I agree that there is more and more “Purpose-Washing” that goes on from cynical CEOs, Boards, Shareholders, by writing about the success stories I hope to open eyes and hearts and reduce some of that cynicism.

Purpose-Led – Redemption Roasters

Our business is successful because our customers and clients buy into our ethos, not because we have no costs.

Redemption Roasters

This week I was invited to meet a friend at one of the locations of the London-based coffee company Redemption Roasters. I gave no thought to the name until I walked in the door and their purpose was clearly shown on boards on the walls.

Redemption are: “a specialty coffee company who believe that we can reduce reoffending in the UK through coffee.”

Redemption roast their coffee in UK prisons. Their FAQ is a wonderful read and the quote at the top here leapt out at me from the FAQ. Oh, and from roasting coffee in ONE UK prison, they now have five coffee shops in London, a training centre, and are in a total of NINE UK Prisons as well as Brook House Immigration Removal Centre. I repeat their quote:

Our business is successful because our customers and clients buy into our ethos, not because we have no costs.

Ask WHY… five times

One day last week I was at theRSA for a meeting and the coffee cup they gave me was this one. Today a quick tip/reminder of a simple technique to get to the source of any issue or problem. Simply ask WHY five times.

This technique was developed by Toyota as part of its manufacturing process. The example often cited from this:

“Why did the robot stop?”
The circuit has overloaded, causing a fuse to blow.
“Why is the circuit overloaded?”
There was insufficient lubrication on the bearings, so they locked up.
“Why was there insufficient lubrication on the bearings?”
The oil pump on the robot is not circulating sufficient oil.
“Why is the pump not circulating sufficient oil?”
The pump intake is clogged with metal shavings.
“Why is the intake clogged with metal shavings?”
Because there is no filter on the pump.

A further tip.

For this technique to work effectively, it is key that you are listening with clean energy, without judgement, with absolute curiosity and the intent to understand and support.

What is your singular gift?

what is your gift?

“He simply picked us and joined us”

Seth Godin on Chip Conley

This week Chip Conley and his friend Seth Godin are collaborating on a series of mini-blogs on Chip’s “Wisdom Well” site.

This week I was also on a video call with a client who is looking to mine their diamond, their singular gift, a special task almost impossible to do alone, hence I am coaching and supporting them on their quest.

Now, this client also (the world can be small!) knows Chip, so it occurred to me to read from one of Chip and Seth’s posts. In particular, to note that I felt the tiny statement by Seth that I “mined” from it is a singular gift that only Chip can do the way Chip does it.

Chip leads by picking people and then joining them. He has a great instinct for people, then when he is in the room with them, he is as curious and intrigued by learning from them as by sharing his own wisdom. He truly joins them, in energy and discussion.

For the full blog, I’ve shared it below, along with a link to the Wisdom Well. I love their short daily blogs, subscription recommended 🙂


Before you play two notes, learn how to play one

“Before you play two notes, learn how to play one. And don’t play one unless you’ve got a reason to play it.” - Mark Hollis
Image credit: Getty Images

“Before you play two notes, learn how to play one. And don’t play one unless you’ve got a reason to play it.”

Mark Hollis

Last week I came across a recent article on Mark Hollis, front man of Talk Talk, who passed away in early 2019, titled simply “Mark Hollis – A life in music“. Talk Talk created two of my absolute favourite albums in “Spirit of Eden” and “Laughing Stock”. After their release in the late 80s, Mark Hollis wound up the band and largely stepped away from music, then finally when he released a solo album in 1998. From the article:

Never good at the promo game in an era when it was vital, he told one interviewer, “If you understand it, you do. If you don’t, nothing I say will make you understand it. The only thing I can do by talking about it is detract from it. I can’t add anything. Can I go home now?” For the last 21 years {of his life}, he went home, his masterpieces done.

Sometimes I say too much. Sometimes we can all take the advice of Mark Hollis, pare things down to the minimalist essentials, then let what we create speak for itself.

Oh, and those two albums come close, for me, to perfection.

Everything becomes clear

Everything becomes clear at sunrise

This morning the latest periodic #OpenLeadership newsletter was sent out to subscribers, entitled: “Could you go slower?“. It is a “long read” that I wrote over the holiday period, I hope you enjoy it.

For today’s daily post, though, I did things a little differently for the holidays and waited until after New Year to take a short holiday, visiting Nice for the first time. The winter light here is magnificent, not even so much the sunset captured above, but more the soft sunlight that, in the later afternoon, almost makes the whole city glow gently a soft pastel pink.

It was then no surprise to visit the Matisse museum and see a quote from the artists referring to the effect of the light on him and his art. I am so glad to have taken time to “slow down” before getting back to work for 2020, and to at least some degree, experience the effect of the January light in Nice that Matisse did:

Everything becomes clear, crystalline, precise, limpid.

What are you reading?

Inigo Montoya What are you reading?

On this site, I mean 😉

I’m doing the holiday season differently, taking a few days overseas on a break from today.

I also just wrote a LONG read newsletter to go into the #OpenLeadership archive after it goes out on Monday, January 6th. If you’d like to receive then, go to the Writing page and ensure you are subscribed to both the (twice-weekly) Digest that keeps you up to date with these daily posts, as well as the Newsletter, for the periodic lengthier posts.

So, today as I head off on a short break, simply reflecting on another full year of writing and linking to the top five most-read posts of 2019. This is what you all have read the most.

  1. Inigo Montoya – Masterclass on introducing yourself
  2. We are the sum total of our experiences
  3. Cogito Ergo Sum, or Sentio Ergo Sum?
  4. When people show you who they are, believe them
  5. Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards

As a bonus, my favourite post of all time and one that is a personal reflection: Quiet Leadership – Night Swimming

I hope some of you enjoy catching up on some of 2019’s post highlights.

Oh, and as I’m not a fan of networking events (oddly, I’m quite shy), I love to stir things up. If you meet me at one, I often introduce myself with: “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya” inn honour of that most read post. You know the two lines to respond with so I know you are in my tribe, don’t you? 🙂

Seeking to be “in Flow” rather than to attain

Michael Jordan and Flow

In this last week of the year, I have been writing some simple daily musings on themes such as slowing down (here and here) and being patient (here and here). Today, inspired (as I often am) by the thoughts of my friend Chip Conley, I reflect on what happens when we choose to be patient, to allow our thoughts and actions to slow down.

When we stop pushing to attain, to drive, to push towards goals and attaining achievements, we can attune, “tune in” more. We can be “in Flow”.

Read on for more on “Flow”, what slowing down and patience can bring to this, then for Chip’s post that inspired me.


Being patient is not about doing nothing

Patience: Being patient is not about doing nothing

Yesterday I mused about patience in “Being Patient can be a Practice“, musing that, at this quiet time between Christmas and New Year: “I find myself struggling today to “do nothing” and, on a broader sense, to “be patient” and allow time for things to emerge and evolve in a few different ways in my work and life.”

Today, noting that my theme over the last “holiday week” has been around slowing down and being patient, I want to shift and clarify something today.

Being patient is not about doing nothing.

To do nothing and expect what you wish for to magically appear, I don’t believe that works. Instead, focus on and work with focus and dedication on whatever, at source, needs to be focussed on in order to deliver the results you are seeking.

Patience, then, is about your attitude towards getting those results, both in timing and absolute outcome.

In our culture we celebrate winners, we celebrate heroes in life, business, sport and more. However, not everyone can be on the podium, the elite of the elite. Not everyone gets what they want.

However, if you do the source work and be patient about the outcomes, that combination, I have found, tends to deliver powerful results.

Do the work and be patient.

Right, back to the liminal days until the New Year starts back up. For more on that word liminality, another little blog for you.

How to do a reference check

Reference Check

“Awesome thread. Humility, Open-Ness and Confidence. A powerful combination in service of others.”

My thoughts when I retweeted a thread about receiving a reference check call. Nothing to add, other than to say this is how to do a reference check!

(note, embedding the thread below, but also cutting and pasting the text for those who aren’t on twitter)


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