Tag: Share Learnings

Anxiety = Uncertainty x Powerlessness

At the top of the My Writing page where these daily posts are hosted, I say:

I get my best ideas from listening to people. Fortunately, that’s my job. I like to say that people are my library, and my daily writing practice is a way to discover what’s in it: new ideas, inspiration, wisdom

As we move through the Covid-19 crisis I am focussing on what I hear on calls around the world each day and looking to capture some learnings and look to share in the moment each day what feels most relevant.

Right now, on many zoom calls, people are asking for expert advice more and more, so where I have the relevant expertise (yes, including being a “recovering Chartered Accountant” and past business owner and investor) I give that advice. For these posts, though, I focus most supporting leaders and around behaviour and communications.

So, this week a theme is people owning that they are struggling as humans and asking what to do, hence I wrote two days ago “Be a thermostat, not a thermometer” and yesterday “Control the Controllables“. Linking these two together with an Emotional Equation from the first from Chip Conley from the first of the two posts:

Anxiety = Uncertainty x Powerlessness

We are all, to some degree, finding ourselves in moments of mental struggle at this time. I find this equation powerful and simple. My advice is to minimise watching the news (limit yourself to checking news updates online once a day), as there is so much uncertainty right now an in the coming weeks in most countries that is is of no service to our mental health to check in on this much. Instead, focus on what you can do, what you have power over, whether that be for yourself, those you lead, your business, family, friends.

As an equation, focus on being empowered and empowering others to see where they can help your business and themselves.

Empower yourself so that you, as a leader, can empower others.

Control the Controllables

Control the Controllables

Yesterday I led a group zoom meeting for the #ESMomentum series being created with true entrepreneurial spirit by Entrepreneurial Scotland for and with their members. So many great tools, tips and learning shared, including this one, shared by Dave Stewart and one he learned from “Will it make the boat go faster“.

My key learning from that one hour call with a group of leaders: “the power of abundantly sharing“.

My favourite tip from the above was: “Control the Controllables“. What is yours?

Be a thermostat, not a thermometer

Be a thermostat, not a thermometer. Respond, don't react.

At times of crisis, a key role for a leader is to set the tone. Be a thermostat, not a thermometer.

Yesterday I shared a press conference by Governor Andrew Cuomo in: “Love Wins“. Today a video from my friend and business hero Chip Conley from a blog he wrote yesterday with five pieces of wisdom for surviving the economic downturn now and that will continue from this crisis.

The one that stood out most for me from this was: “Leaders are the emotional thermostats of those they lead.”

See Chip talk about this from 1:47 to 3:10 in the video included in the blog, (and lots more of value if you wish to watch the full seven-minute clip):

Key takeaways for Leaders :

  • Be aware that: Anxiety = Uncertainty x Powerlessness
  • Focus on Radical Transparency
  • Help people understand what they can to to help the business
  • If authentic to you, be a Vulnerable Visionary (see my earlier post), express your feelings and vulnerabilities, but also key to ally that to confidence in moving forwards, aligned to the vision, the North Star.

For when you are ready to change your perspective

change your perspective

For when you may feel ready to change your perspective, today I share with you a piece of beautiful and soothing wisdom from the wonderful Alan Watts.

As I have been writing about and also advising others to do, at this time many of us remain focussed on the present and moving forwards with what’s next, keeping a narrow focus on the near term future. I’m also advising to “put the oxygen mask on” ourselves so we can then look after others, find your moments of zen, and give yourself permission to pause.

Now, as we pause, we can predict that, at some time soon, we can start to look to the future, to ask ourselves “what good may come from this?”.


Here it is, your moment of Zen

Moment of Zen

For years I loved to watch “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”, which for year after year skewered political idiocy, making serious points with great humour. Every show then finished with Jon saying “here it is, your moment of zen”, followed by a short random funny clip.

That phrase stuck with me. So, yesterday, in the middle of another intense day of zoom meetings, I felt I needed a break. I stepped out and sat on my terrace, put my head back, closed my eyes and soaked up the sun for a few minutes, clearing my mind entirely. My moment of zen.

At this stage of the Covid crisis, it is easy to get consumed by work supporting others. Always remember, though, to “first put the oxygen mask yourself”. For me that is to sleep and eat properly, and also to find moments of zen in the day. Find your own moments of zen, and, in closing, “here it is, your moment of zen”:

Crisis Leadership – Narrow your Focus

The power of a narrow focus

In supporting CEOs I have always encouraged being disciplined to have a “one-line job description” of “Keeper of the Vision“. That means allowing others to run the business, with the focus of the CEO is purely on ensuring everyone is moving in the right direction towards the Vision and also, crucially, living the Purpose and Values.

Typically this means they are looking at “what’s next” over time frames in the 1,3,5 year range, being Strategic rather than Operational.

However, this has to change now for the Covid-19 crisis. Leaders must narrow their focus in order to lead with confidence.


Own your feelings so that you can act from a place of choice

the power of choice
Viktor Frankl’s wisdom, from “Man’s Search for Meaning”

Over the last week and more, in response to our new global VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) environment, I have shifted my time to give to the community by supporting leaders through zoom meetings, listening to them “sound out” their thoughts and then looking to add value to their Crisis Leadership from my own experience, tools, methods.

One overarching theme has been the power of simply acknowledging where we are and how we feel.


Crisis Leaders Rise to the Occasion

Lincoln Rise to the Occasion

Leaders look at a crisis as an opportunity to rise to the occasion.

When this is over, and it will be over, we want to look back at this moment and remember the many small acts of kindness done by us and to us.

We want to look back this time and remember how we thought first of others and acted with decency.

We want to look back on this time and remember how, in the face of a generation-defining moment, we undertook a collective national effort – and we stood together.

It’s on all of us.

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, March 20th, 2020 (full speech)

At the daily press briefing around 5pm on Friday March 20th, after the Prime Minister spoke, it was the turn of Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer. His speech unveiled an utterly massive stimulus and safeguard for people’s earnings, like nothing ever seen outside wartime in any country, ever. Beyond the content, though, this was a massively impressive statesman. Like many watching, I immediately felt that this was not only the type of leadership we needed, but also that this was a Prime Minister in waiting.

The quote above was the closing of his speech. I feel already that it will go down as one of the great leadership quotes, as with the quote pictured from one of the great crisis leaders, Lincoln.

At times of great crisis, some rise to the occasion and can be relied up to lead. Rishi Sunak, an almost complete unknown only a few weeks ago in his new role, has risen to this occasion of occasions.

Commanding…when things are going well is a pleasure … but rarely remembered. Commanding during a crisis is an opportunity of a lifetime …to rise to the occasion 

General David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, March 19, 2020

Now, for me, as I saw this crisis emerging, I shifted everything to be here to support leaders around the world to rise to this occasion for themselves and those they lead.

I continue to do so. My calendar is open. Book your zoom meeting with me, I am here to support you as a Sounding Board for your own Crisis Leadership at all levels.

As Rishi Sunak said, we will stand together, it is on all of us.

Let’s talk

Book your 30-minute meeting here.

Create your future story now

On a Zoom Meeting yesterday morning with a brilliant and valued friend in Scotland, we both agreed that this is a time for businesses to focus on simply being there for their clients and customers, and to do this from the power of coming from their Purpose and Values. As he put it, this is a time to “create your future story now”.

This reminded me of an absolute favourite quote I often use when coaching leaders, one that has never felt more relevant.

People will never forget how you made them feel, so create your future story now.

Maya Angelou Future Story

Who’s Zoomin’ Who?

Get zoomin'! Talk to people. Zoom Etiquette

In my daily writing right now I am very much focussed on how I can help my audience of leaders in this current crisis.

First a reminder to book a call with me anytime through the button on my site, I’m here to listen!

I’m also now giving some granular tips, such as yesterday’s: “Make time for a “Brady Bunch” Zoom“. Today I’m sharing a blog from my friend Chip Conley with his top five tips on “Zoom etiquette”. These are simple and important.

Get zoomin’! Talk to people.


Make time for a “Brady Bunch” Zoom

Brady Bunch
Remember the Brady Bunch? Zoom’s “Gallery View” looks like this.

I’ve been remote working for many years, but this week feels different, the day after the UK was told to stay home. I was on Zoom calls for much of yesterday, including a standing (for about two years now) weekly “circle call” with a group who bonded in person at a workshop and now meet online across multiple countries each week.

As we all get used to remote working, let us make time to use Zoom (or other video platforms) to meet with people online just as you would in person. Yes, some will be “remote working” meeings, but also make time to simply spend time with people in social settings.

Socially (with colleagues as well as family and friends), we can do coffee meetings, water cooler chats, happy hours, even dinners online in a “Zoom Room”.

On a personal level, yesterday I had my first daily Zoom call with my three sons, who are now isolated 5,000 miles from me in the Cayman Islands for the foreseeable future. I was due to see all of them several times in the next few months. None of that will happen now and it feels hard.

A daily “Brady Bunch” call will really matter for us.

Who could be in your “Brady Bunch”?

Leading from Intention

This week I have been actively and instinctively offering my support in an area I feel I can help, see the post: “Who do you call before making a tough decision?“. Beyond that, I’ve also been posting on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as more specifically emailing people in my home of the Cayman Islands.

A couple of days after starting to proactively offer my time and energy to this, I had a coffee with a friend and sage mentor. He felt that the email I sent out to leaders in Cayman was a bit pushy, but he then read to the end of the long email and, when he read the final paragraph, said “now THIS is you, it is all about your intention to be of service!”. So, I re-sent the email, this time putting that paragraph at the top so as to clearly communicate that my energy towards this was “leading from intention”, the intention being to serve the community through offering my skills.

Perhaps to some this may have landed as “pushy”, yet I have continued to offer this support and quite a number of people have taken me up on the opportunity to talk to me as a Sounding Board.

To close, just over a week ago I wrote: “Bravery: We had to do it“, anchoring on the power of Purpose, of Intent, when a leader make a decision.

Linking the two themes together, in that post I anchored on a favourite movie, simply noting that when you are leading from intent (ie a clear sense of purpose aimed at being of service), you can “Say Anything“.

A picture can say a thousand words

Coronavirus Epidemic Graph

In recent days I’ve focussed my daily posts on Crisis Leadership, including the longer post: “Act Now“.

Today’s message is for leaders to communicate a simple and clear message.

There is endless commentary on every aspect of Coronavirus Covid-19, but Max Roser has brilliantly captured what we all need to do in one simple graphic. I sens that we, individually and as a globally-interconnected human race, need to act now, while it is still relatively early, to slow down the rate of infection and #FlattenTheCurve.

On a broader level, “a picture says a thousand words”. Sometimes consider making your simple and clear message with an image.

Permission to Pause

permission to pause
“I hereby give you permission to pause – for whatever reason, whenever you feel like it, as often as you like.” ` Rob Poynton

This week my focus has been on crisis leadership around Covid-19 response, focussing on leadership behaviours. Yesterday’s post: “Who do you call before making a tough decision?” contained my instinctive offer to give space to leaders to sound out their thinking with me before making the often tough decisions needed at this time.

Yesterday I also received an email from the brilliant Robert Poynton, entitled “Permission Granted“. I particularly love the graphic above.

For leaders needing to make a decision at this or any other time, consider taking a pause before deciding. In that pause, again I encourage you to speak with someone independent who you can sound out your thoughts with and who comes with one sole agenda, to support you.

Crisis leadership – This too shall pass

Crisis leadership - This too shall pass

As I write this, Covid-19 is spreading rapidly around the world, with nervousness building with a growing number of people.

Yesterday I wrote: “Act Now” to give thoughts for leaders on how to act and also how to behave in a crisis. Today I am reminded of a post sharing an old fable. The title gives away the punchline, yet please read it still, the story anchors the point, that: “this too shall pass“.

Now, to lessons for crisis leadership.