Category Archives: Connection

The Art of Resilience : Video

At short notice, Neil Usher asked me to give a short talk at Corenet earlier this year. Neil’s a friend, so I said yes, and worried about it later! The event was filmed, and until this weekend, I’d forgotten that the audio/video team sent me an unedited copy of my session. I stumbled upon it while putting together a speaker proposal for an event taking place next Spring, and having cringed my way through it (does anyone actually like watching themselves on playback?) – I thought I’d share it with you too, I hope you find it useful. The clip clocks in at just over ten minutes, so you might want to grab a beverage of your choice before you start watching.

Footnote. This was the first time I shared a stage with some of my own original artwork.


Time To Talk

The longer I left it, the more difficult it became.

I’ve not been feeling well lately. When I say lately, I mean months and months, maybe even a year or two…I’m not entirely sure. What I do know is that I’ve been carrying this unwellness around in my head, keeping it from my family. Wanting to talk, and never knowing what to say.

I’ve played conversations out in my head over and over again. They nearly always seem to end badly and I take that as a sign that silence is probably the better option. I choose to isolate and withdraw, most notably from those closest to me. Over time, I slowly become aware of three things. A lack of self care, a lack of motivation, and a surfeit of anger, most of which I internalise. It’s fair to say these things are not constant, and there are better things in the mix too, however this unwelcome trio are occupying too much space.

What might it take for things to shift?

Last week, I stumbled on this photographic tweet from Holly Davis, the poem is by Rupi Kaur.

This idea has always resonated with me and my work. One of the biggest causes of friction and failure when it comes to change and organisational development, is our reluctance to take responsibility. It’s easier to apportion blame than take responsibility, yet apportioning blame often anchors you in the past, while taking responsibility can create space to rebuild and move on.

I realise I am responsible for internalising how I feel, and while I do not and should not feel a need to pass on everything that’s flying around inside my head, acknowledging and taking responsibility to speak is vital.

Sunday morning after breakfast, it all comes out. What ‘it’ is need not concern you, but what’s important is that in speaking, listening can occur, shared space can be found, and empathy and understanding is generated. Thank you Carole, I’ll not leave it so long next time.


Fifty at Fifty

If the importance of survival to a particular age is measured in celebration and an outpouring of generosity, love and goodwill, then staying alive for fifty years is quite the achievement. The lovely people I know have made acknowledging the reality of ageing a total pleasure so far (I only turned 50 on October 28th so there’s time for me to change my mind on that yet!).

In the run up to this milestone, I’ve been accumulating a bunch of brain farts, a few quotes (mostly lyrical) and other assorted things that matter to me. Fifty things sounds a lot, and I’ve tried to keep it brief. As such I’m sure most of these things are unfinished. I sincerely hope something in this pile of stuff I’ve cleared from the attic of my brain resonates for you.

1 – Less hope (hoping?), more action

2 – More now, less future. I am tired of people going on about the future of work. Fix the now of work first, please. I know it’s less sexy, but it’s much more important.

3 – Taking what works for you. I recently watched some interesting TED talks by people I would normally shy away from. A friend recommended I watch the talks and not get hung up on the personalities, just take what I needed. I enjoyed the experience and I will use this method to help me see past my limitations and dislikes.

4 – Counter point: Offer an alternative point of view, it’s usually needed and often wanted too. And if you find that it’s not wanted on a regular basis, maybe get another job?

5 – You are never more dangerous/stuck/scared than at the moment of committing, of making the decision, of believing you are right. At that point you close your mind to all other possibilities and are at great risk of being wrong. People, including me and you, don’t like to admit being wrong.

6 – Absolutes are rarely the answer.

7 – Trust chasm – The gap between what you say and what you do. Mind the gap.

8 – Building Trust – investing time to know your stuff, and knowing when to ask for help. Taking decisions and actions which go beyond self interest, caring about your work and people.

9 – ‘Without People You’re Nothing’ Joe Strummer

10 – Event + Response = Outcome. Your response ability changes everything. I recently heard Jamil Qureshi say this, or something very close to it.

11 – Think, feel, act – in that order.

12 – Mixed feelings. You cannot know joy without despair, happy without sad. Life is a wonderfully mixed bag, and to deny this is unhelpful, even dangerous.

13 – Belief: I’m fascinated by my (our?) ability to talk ourselves into and out of stuff. We all know from experience that finding the courage to have a go at something different can be tough, and we see good things happening to others and without even trying ourselves, we believe ‘that will never happen to me’. Try it – prove yourself wrong. I did.

14 – Meditation…time to just be there. Don’t call it meditation if the word puts you off taking time out for yourself, but please practice the art of being.

15 – Going for a walk – I don’t know may things that can’t be improved by a long walk. Except maybe sore feet.

16 – Willing participants beats hostage learners

17 – Blame looks backwards – responsibility looks forwards

18 – Taking it personally leads to growth

19 – Letting grief work with and through you is a hugely painful, rewarding experience

20 – Coaching is great, and sometimes I just want you to tell me what to do (see trust)

21 – Draw for the bin

22 – Honesty built on sharing your observations of your own shortcomings creates a powerful invitation to reciprocate. Good people don’t expect you to be invincible.

23 – Show your work. Get over yourself – it’s ready.

24 – How much is enough? Only you know the answer – and this is such an important question to ask…often.

25 – Facilitation. Don’t assume. Ask: What is a good outcome to leave here with? What do you need from each other, and from me to make that happen? I attribute this to Meg Peppin.

26 – Write often, draw oftener

27 – Small things make big differences

28 – All exits are final

29 – ‘The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect, so hard to earn so easily burned’ Neil Peart

30 – I just can’t be happy today. Sometimes, feeling miserable is the best option. Give a happiness guru a slap, you’ll feel much better.

31 – Don’t be stingy (see how much is enough?)

32 – Clarity. It’s always on the move, always worth searching for, refining.

33 – Don’t forget to breathe

34 – Try to be kind, and when you can’t, save your unkindness for those who really deserve it. You know who they are.

35 – Most work is coercive, it is done to you. The best work is coactive and cocreative, it is done with, for and by you. It is totally human to want, need and expect that our views be taken into consideration and yet we defy these wants, needs and expectations at almost every step in our working lives. Never do anything about me, without me. I am hugely fortunate to relate the positive aspects of this point to so many people I have worked with and do work with – thank you folks.

36 – We are all artists

37 – We stop being artistic because we are judged. Do someone a favour – suspend your judgement once in a while and watch them flourish.

38 – ‘Nothing is original. Steal with pride and acknowledge your inspiration.’ Yours truly, stealing from Pablo Picasso, Jim Jarmusch, Malcolm McLaren, and no doubt a few others besides. Acknowledge and disclose.

39 – ‘I think I’m in love. Probably just hungry’. Jason Pierce

40 – Grab a pencil and paper and write someone a letter.

41 – Coming up with 50 brain farts at my age is tough.

42 – ‘It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock n roll’. Young, Young and Scott. See 41

43 – Want something? Ask for it – nicely.

44 – I went to Summer Brandcamp this year – it changed how I felt about going to conferences, in the best way possible. I encourage you to find an event outside the usual tracks and furrows you plough and invest in it.

45 – Facebook is great for birthdays – real life is greater.

46 – Buy a book, read the book, pass it on. Repeat.

47 – I went to a conversation recently which employed the ancient method of using a talking stick. There were a few other simple conversational guidelines too, but for now it’s noting the stick which is important. I sat and listened in total silence for 45 minutes before saying anything. This experience showed me how much of a battle conversation can become. Thank you Johnnie Moore.

48 – Go gently. With thanks to Julie Drybrough

49 – The road of true love is the best road to follow. Thank you Carole and Keira.

50 – Proceed Until Apprehended. Come on – you were expecting something else?!