Tag: Silence

Conscious mental exercise

Feldenkrais-image-1

I’ve been carrying an Achilles injury for some time now. Recently I had my first Feldenkrais session.  Since then, my level of consciousness around how I move has elevated to new levels, such that I feel energised as I sense that this will both accelerate the healing of that injury and also build flexibility and strength.

I’ve been a Pilates aficionado for years, as well as done a reasonable amount of Yoga. Both of these inform my posture and movement at all times, ie not only during Pilates training or Yoga classes. Feldenkrais, I sense, will take that to a new level and I look forward to learning more.

So, from that, today my mind turns not only to how we can be conscious as we exercise our body but also how we can choose to run conscious exercises with our mind to stretch and grow that “muscle” too.

Let me start with a story about conscious mental exercise that links to physical exercise, then shift to a purely mental exercise that I feel can then link to asking questions of you the reader as to where you may apply this for yourself.

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Being comfortable with solitude

Dumbo sunrise

Quite the view, isn’t it?

I recently spent a week back in Cayman, where I had upwards of thirty meetings, talking with well over sixty people, including leading a four-hour session for a team of twenty-two. I worked out that in all that time I had less than two hours at a stretch on my own on any day.

I then flew to New York for three nights, finding myself waking up on my first day to this view and, by dint of serendipity, with no plans at all and with my host not arriving back until the next day.

So, what did I do with that solitude and what can I share about the power of solitude? (more…)

Solving problems by taking a walk

solvitur

The other day, I felt inspired to write by my friend Morgan DaCosta coining the phrase:

“Coaching by Walking Around”

This was a “level up” from the idea of Management by Walking Around, part of the essence of which is to walk randomly around and be present to those working in the business and what is happening for them.

Reading this post, Bruce Peters, a regular contributor of inspiration for my writing (thank you too, sir!), wrote to me about the idea of:

Solvitur ambulando

Latin for “it is solved by walking”.

I wonder what problems we can solve by walking?

Recently I met someone for a morning coffee, then we took a long walk, and as we started the walk, we both suddenly realised that the conversation was different once we started walking.

I’ll give you three ideas today to begin, and what else would you add? (more…)

Lessons from the analogue world – Slow Down

Thames bw aug9

Taken after a photo shoot, looking over the Thames to Temple.

London is such a city of both tradition and permanence as well as dynamism and growth.

Yesterday I had a wonderful experience with a highly creative photographer, Simon Edwards, as we walked around London and the banks of the River Thames so he could photograph me for an update to my website.

We simply walked and talked in a leisurely way and every so often he’d stop and take a few shots, with me often continuing the conversation rather than stopping and posing.

Reflecting on that experience, I took lessons from the value of slowing right down. (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…)

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…)

How is your heart ?

how is your heart

In English when we meet we ask “how are you ?”

As Omid Safi writes in “The Disease of being Busy“* :

In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal?

What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.

In Leadership there are few things more powerful than giving people your full attention and truly seeing them. It can be as simple and fleeting as giving a flight attendant eye contact as you say goodbye as you disembark, or addressing a barista by the name on their name tag as you thank them for your morning coffee.

As a coach, sounding board, facilitator, I believe in and practice “Deep Listening” truly being absolutely present at all levels for others.

I therefore adore this term “haal” and Omid’s expression of it as a greeting of real care.

Omid writes beautifully, and continues :

I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.

Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.

Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch.

Beautiful.

My own articles on this site on related themes are too numerous now to list here, but do search on this page around themes such as “Being, not Doing”, “Stop the Busyness” “Being without agenda” and tags such as Silence, Ikigai, Presence.

*Many thanks to Christine Sperber of the Modern Elder Academy for sharing this article. More on “MEA” to come on this site, as I am excited to be part of the “Beta”. For now, to find more about Modern Elder, search articles on this site for “Chip Conley”

No such thing as an original idea

Original-Ideas

Today I recognised that yesterday’s 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.

One such idea for me is that of “Less is More”, and in keeping with that theme, I’ll simply link to some prior posts riffing on the theme of less is more :

I’ll stop here. Less is more.

 

Writing I Love – The Little Prince

The Little Prince

This week a beautiful story, regarded as one of the best books of the 20th century.

I believe in experiencing an eclectically wide range of experiences, and highly recommend this wondrous book.

It is also full of lessons for life, love and leadership. To pick just one quote :

“Make your life a dream, and a dream, a reality”

Dream big, Live big. We only have this one life.

Now, the author of this book, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, is legendary himself, an aviator with a fascinating life around the time of World War II. Worth researching.

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Look up at the stars, and be curious…

hawking

On March 14th, Stephen Hawking died.

This wonderful quote reminds us to look up at the stars and to be curious.

He also encourages us to “make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exists”. Indeed, it would seem that this was what drove Hawking to stay with us as long as he did, despite facing such amazing physical adversity.

However, sometimes I wonder if we seek to find answers too much and sometime lose touch with our ability to be present to the moments ?

I write on this site about leadership, and so much of that is about being truly present.

I often tell people that I no longer believe in coincidence, I believe in flow.

So, let me pull all of this together. On March 14th I found myself invited to a special dinner at the Tower of London, which finished with experiencing the “ceremony of the keys”, which has taken place every night, without fail, since 1280AD.

It was a beautiful late winter evening, crisp air and not too cold.

Before the ceremony I had been talking to another guest, who, like me, had a lot of history in the tourism industry. This particular evening was about heritage and we both revelled in the moment, soaking it all up.

As the evening then finished, we were both heading in the same direction to a tube station, and I mentioned that on that morning I had seen a photo on social media taken at a tube station with a quote from Stephen Hawking, who had died that morning. We both noted how wonderful it is that tube staff are trusted and empowered to express themselves this way, and I noted that I’d written about this recently (see : “A Trust Story : The Journey is the Destination“).

A few minutes later, we waked into the Tower Hill tube station, and what did we see before us ? The sign that the picture above had been taken of.

#Flow, not coincidence.

Oh, and 14th March is not only “Pi Day” (3.14), but also Einstein’s Birthday.

Be curious.. AND take time to look up at the stars, be present, take joy in the moments and in being in #Flow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing I Love – The Little Book of Ikigai

little book of ikigai

Last year I read this book by Ken Moji, and wrote about it in “Ikigai, Pleasure and Meaning“.

I ask you to start with that first blog, then come back to today’s. Oh, and if you simply search the term “Ikigai” in the search bar on this page you will see several articles, some of my favourites in there from my early days of writing on this site.

I’m coming back to this after several months as I find the concept of Ikigai coming up in conversation a lot, so today to recap the five pillars, as Ken Moji states them :

  1. Starting small
  2. Releasing yourself
  3. Harmony and sustainability
  4. The joy of little things
  5. Being in the here and now

In prior articles I wrote about the “joy of little things”, as well as quite a number about “being in the here and now” (or simply “Presence”), and also “Starting small”

Let me talk a little today about “releasing yourself”, which is very much related to “being in the here and now”.

When we are being in the here and now, we can start small, take joy in the small things, and then, ultimately, release ourselves from, as Moji, puts it, the burden of the self.

Tne other day I found myself in the centre of a large park in London, sitting in a bench talking with someone. It was a truly transcendent moment, and in fact we both remarked on the fact that we felt time was “bent” in that space, it was moving more slowly. The children and dogs playing were also calm and relaxed, more so even than usual.

Now, as we’d walked to that place, we’d been deeply appreciative of what Moji calls the “sensory pleasures”, of the blossom on the tree, of the crispness of the “end of winter” day, of the simple enjoyment of an engaged and lively conversation. Moji connects the “infinite universe of sensory pleasures” as deeply linked to “releasing yourself”.

How does this relate to the overarching theme of this site being Leadership, you may ask ? Well, great leaders are calm, centred, present, and also very often “in Flow”. I am fascinated by the #Flow state, and encourage you to read my post on this : “Flow – Michael Jordan and Jason Silva“, which includes a link to the legendary TED talk on flow by Mikhail Csikszentmihalyi.

Find your Ikigai, find #Flow. Enjoy the moments, stop to observe the coming of spring, as I did a few days ago in Edinburgh…..

crocuses

 

 

Memento Mori

memento mori

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” ~ Steve Jobs, (2005)

“Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day. … The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.” ~ Seneca, (approximately 2000 years ago) (more…)

Take time for solitude

This morning I write this overlooking a beautiful and quiet garden on a winter’s day in the Scottish Highlands. I am visiting friends and they have gone out for a while and I sit here in solitude and stillness.

We have so much information in the world, so much for our brains to process, so many decisions to make on a daily basis. With technology we can also be more and more efficient and so cram more and more into our time.

I too find it so easy to be busy, to fill my time, yet there is real power in having the discipline to consciously make time for solitude.

Solitude is a state of mind, where one can be present to oneself, without distraction. Where we create such a space, we can turn off the “monkey mind” and then solutions to anything we seek will present themselves.

One need not take off hundreds of miles for this, sometimes it is sufficient to just turn off the electronic stimulation and pick up a book, or to listen to music with your eyes closed, or to leave everything behind (including that smartphone) and go for a walk in the park.

That said, I am inspired by this, a project based around one of the quietest places on earth, as featured in this NY Times article.

Leadership starts with leading self. Take a moment to consider where you find time for solitude, to switch off the monkey mind, turn off the chatter, create clarity, find silence.

 

What happens when we find silence ?

I recently read Silence in the age of noise by Erling Kagge, and a couple of themes came out for me.

One was that while yes, we can find near absolute silence by heading out into the wilderness, silence is available to us at any time, in any place. The key is to still our mind.

There are many ways to do this, and each of us may have our own method. For me, sometimes it is in getting into a rhythm of doing easy and relatively “mindless” tasks that slow down the mental chatter and create space. I can then often connect in a “flow” and thoughts “join up” for me as if from nowhere if I simply go for a walk, stop and have a cup of tea, or even listen to music.

Silence can open up creativity, innovation, and simply being in the present. (more…)