Tag: Share Learnings

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)


When You’re Liminal and You Don’t Know It.

Wisdom Well Liminal

Chip Conley has inspired me for many years, but recently for the first time he has also been my editor, for yesterday’s guest post on the new “Wisdom Well” of daily writings from the Modern Elder Academy. Thanks, Chip, for editing me down to something succinct!

When You’re Liminal and You Don’t Know It.

Last week I met someone I hadn’t seen for over two and a half years and they asked me what I’d been up to.

I could have said so much.

In that time I got divorced, mothballed my business, moved from Cayman to London, then have met some really amazing people (including Chip) and got involved in some fantastic projects (including Modern Elder Academy), all while continuing my core work as a Sounding Board to leaders.

Phew, so much has happened.

Instead, what came out of my mouth was simply: “I’ve been on a quasi-sabbatical”


Wow, as the words came out, I suddenly realized that has been exactly what I’ve been doing.

Up until that moment I thought I’d done the liminal bit a long time ago around my work and career and was already well through that into my next phase. I certainly felt that way when I went to the Modern Elder Academy not once but twice.

So, it is with a wry smile that I’ve come to a sudden realization that I been at a new level of liminality all this time!

Perhaps liminality comes in waves. If so, I’m a happy surfer.

Be careful how you slow down

How to slow down

Have you, or anyone you know, ever “crashed” as you stop for the Christmas Holidays? Got sick as soon as you stopped work, then suffered through the start of the season?

Leaders are often “Type A”, working hard and (normally) loving it, “cranking out” long hours etc. To me, as long as they are loving it and find balance with life beyond work, all good!

However, often as soon as they “switch off” for a break, particularly around Christmas, they “hit the couch” and get sick with cold or other ailments, aches, pains. Not an ideal way to spend the holidays with family and friends, given that you may have neglected them for work and now you are not at your best to be present with and for them!

So, be careful of how you slow down.

If you completely “switch off”, your body may take that as a signal to “crash” and you may get sick. Instead, find other activities both mental and physical to keep yourself active as you “ease down” into the holiday break.

Ideas may include family rituals such as decorating the house and Christmas tree, it may be taking a walk or anything else that keeps your body active. Perhaps singing carols in a choir, playing board games with loved ones (or anything to keep your brain active at some level).

As a reminder of what can happen when we do crash, I share again a personal story of when I crashed at Christmas. It was bad, it was scary, I learned from it. My thoughts today are to bring you awareness so you can avoid something like: “The day I had a physical breakdown“.

What will you do differently in 2020?

Doing things differently: Albert Einstein. I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.

What will you do differently in 2020? Today I’ll help you muse on that, hoping to inspire your innate curiosity for self and your business.

As we come to the end of the year, rather than wait until January to think about this, I recommend you start thinking about this now. Take some quiet time to consider this before you take a break over the holiday season, then allow it to sit mulling in your subconscious until you are ready to bring it forth again.

I’ll write around New Year’s Day (as I did last year) about how to create this as a simple one-page contextual strategy for the year but for now, two simple thoughts to help you “cogitate”, on a) pausing to assess, b) innovating and iterating your business, c) the power of being curious when it comes to willingness and desire to change.


Fear and Presence

Fear and Presence

What are you afraid of, and what does it mean for how Present you can be if you are Fearful versus without fear?

Warning, going deep with this post! Please bear with me, I hope the “payoff” at the end is of value to you.

Jerry Colonna, Non-Attachment and Fear

This week I’ve come to the full realisation that I am without fear of that deepest of fears and that this means for me that I am more present to each moment than I have ever been.

**Edit: thanks to Dave Stewart of Fresh Air Leadership for challenging me on this post. One thing I wish to give more clarity on is that to feel without fear could be read to be without hope, to be detached from the world. It could also be read to mean that I feel somehow invulnerable, “bulletproof”. I want to be clear that I am absolutely passionate about life, as well as feeling open and vulnerable at this stage of life far more than ever. It is, however, being open to all that life brings that, for me, has evolved me to this place of “without fear”. I hope that is useful to explain!

For this recent epiphany, I give thanks to Jerry Colonna, a beautiful human and master coach, who I met this week at a talk where he spoke about being a “Better Human, Better Leader“. One theme that Jerry reminded me of ashe spoke was the Buddhist concept of “non-attachment”, which, as a coach, is a constant reminder to be “unattached to the outcome” for my clients. Jerry was also asked about Fear.

In how Jerry spoke of non-attachment and working with fear, I came to a realisation of being without fear.

Allow me to explain.


Better Human, Better Leader

Better Human, Better Leader

Yesterday evening I had the great pleasure of being at an intimate gathering at the H Club to hear from Jerry Colonna, hosted by Ian Sanders.

I’ve written about Jerry before in “That’s a great question“, so it was a privilege and pleasure to meet him in person (as I’ve often noted, a key reason I moved to London was that so many great thinkers, writers, speakers come through London regularly).

Jerry is a truly exceptional leadership coach and someone I have already learned much from. I look forward to diving into his book “Reboot – Leadership and the Art of Growing Up” over the holidays.

For now, a few key takeaways from the event last night:

  • Better Human, Better Leader.
  • It is hugely powerful when we feel the workplace embraces us bringing our whole selves to work, including accepting and embracing that sometimes we all struggle.
  • On the contrary, when we feel forced to always put on and wear a mask, we face huge personal dissonance. This is when companies complain that there are issues with trust in the organisation.
  • This does not mean turning meetings into therapy sessions, but it does mean meeting someone who is struggling with simple human care, understanding and acknowledgement.
  • Be human by being open, vulnerable and supportive of your people. Vulnerability allied to the confidence that we will get through and find answers together, this is strength in leadership.

Thank you for your inspiring presence and teaching, Jerry.

What do you believe about money?

All money is a matter of belief. Adam Smith

Among the most common themes that I find come up for leaders is their beliefs around money.

Today sharing a twitter thread from a man who I first talked to about this topic when we met on snowshoes on a mountain in the Alps. Tom Nixon is a wise man in many ways, his work and study of the topic of money of high value to follow. Tom works to support founders and their organisations. I find that the founders of early-stage growth companies can be significantly impacted by money beliefs, so working with Tom is really supportive for leaders of such early-stage businesses.

I’ve “unrolled” the thread beyond the “more” link for you to read in full. It is full of nuggets of wisdom. For now, this is worth musing on:

Money has no fundamental nature, good or bad. It has no will to do good or bad. It is neutral. Money works like a mirror. It reflects parts of yourself that you want, and parts of yourself you try to suppress.


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