I own

I own I don’t own
My happiness Your happiness
My smile Your smile
My demeanour Your demeanour
My grief Your grief
My achievements Your achievements
My failures Your failures
My passion Your passion
‘the company I keep’ ‘the company you keep’
My joy Your joy
My anger Your anger
My procrastination Your procrastination
My action Your actions
My inaction Your inaction
My learning Your learning
My unlearning Your unlearning
What I eat What you eat
My love Your love
Myself My family
My health Your health
My opinions Your opinions
My beliefs Your beliefs
My thoughts Your thoughts

Because I own all of me and none of you, we can:

• learn from each other

• understand each other

• inspire each other

• respect each other

• grow great families together

• grow great communities together

• love ourselves

• love each other

• lead

• grow

• share

• embrace

• dream

• wonder

• marvel

• cry

• shout

• do all that is possible…

• and some that is not

We can live, enrich, and own, our lives.

I was taught by the woman who cleared my table

Travelling recently reminded me very much about my post on “Where you belong”.

It is an odd thing to be in a business lounge in Dubai which is bigger than Wellington’s entire airport.

It brings home “them and us” and illustrates how many there are of both; though what determines who sits in each camp is not always clear.

My first instinct with inequities like this is to struggle – that I should be a ‘have’ when many others, like the woman, with her ear missing and ‘half’ her jaw removed, clearing tables, have not.

Then without wishing to sound pious or arrogant, nor excesively “Ayn Rand”, I realise the best I can do is exactly that – to do the best I can do, be the best I can be, to honour those who cannot or will not, or won’t be given the opportunity.

If I squander the opportunties I have been given, then it is another matter.

Dan was part of my inspiration to do this blog. He is a great example of my point with this post. He cares deeply for others and honours everyone by putting himself out to the world and to his communities (blog, church and local); by leading, by being courageous.

Even great researchers can’t lead by keeping their work to themselves. They can only lead when they open themselves to criticism, to challenge, to the possibility of being wrong and having more to learn.

Ultimately any true form of leadership is the same. If you don’t reach out with authenticity and allow others to reach in are you truly leading?

The despots of the world past and present, are unfortunate examples of only reaching out to manipulate others and fuel their own egos, there was no reaching in.

Great leaders reach out and simultaneously reach in, and allow others to do the same, and their work is transformed when they do.

The thought of leaders emerging at any stage from anywhere, and in any number of ways, excites me. Reaching both out and in and sharing this with the world is not an exclusive domain. Anyone can achieve this.

There are some extraordinarily positive examples of ‘ordinary’ people providing outstanding leadership.

As has been commented upon by my readers – Swami/ Guru’s search within themselves for many many years before ’emerging’ as leaders.

Leadership can be quiet, subtle, loud, colourful, intense, effortless, sudden, short, prolonged, recognised, ignored, delivered by the young or old, etc.

I realise now how much leadership is about being open, putting you hand up, letting others see a little of what is inside you. It is not being right, being brilliant, being special or better than.

It is nothing more than being gifted and gifting.

And what really excites me is this personal insight not only improves my leadership but allows me to see far more leaders than ever before.

If this posts means there is one more leader ‘caught’ in the act by you, my readers (not excluding seeing yourself as a leader), it has been a success.

Today, look for the beauty in what many ordinary people do and support this as leadership.

It can be as simple as saying (with a smile):

“Thank you for clearing my table.”

Courage does not equal Courageous

What is Courage?

I realise blogging about courage is an act of courage in itself!

Mostly I think courage is when we do anything where we are the initiator of that action.

Courage can range from accepting fate through illness or injury, to doing something for the very first time – for children that might be tasting a new food (actually that would be the same for some adults I know too!).

Under such a definition the vast majority display courage every day.

So to display courage is not extraordinary, though as leaders we could do a lot better at recognising it and supporting it.

But then there are the courageous. These are the people who display courage on a daily basis – perhaps by the hour – “Big Kahunas” as I have had remarked to me recently :).

Within the ‘courageous’ there is also an important distinction to make. It would be easy to say courageous people are therefore leaders, but this is not always the case.

I know some great sportspeople and athletes, and when involved more heavily myself it was perhaps the more courageous ones I least wanted to be like. They lived in their own world and expected the world to laud over their achievements. For me they were self-centred and ungracious and generally far too egocentric at one level at yet often insecure at another. (As an aside it was interesting reading multi-sport legend Steve Gurney’s recent book – Lucky Legs – and the personal and soul searching journey he endured after ‘retiring’)

Courageous leadership requires you to be focussed, hungry and determined, no doubt about it. However it is always a team ‘sport’.

Without a team of developing leaders under a leader then it is odd to think they could consider themselves a ‘leader’. I wonder who comes to their parties and celebrates their success. I wonder if they even have success. Perhaps they are the only ones to believe their own press?

These are the un-courageous of our organisations. The ones who hide behind systems and procedures, who stall progress, suppress talent, blame others, and generally do all they can to protect the status quo as it concerns them.

May the truly courageous survive them, have the strength of self belief and the camaraderie of communities like this blog to know that right ‘is right’ and sharing your gift, your view, your energy is your calling.

Keep changing your world. This is a (the only?) way for courageous potential to get out and make that difference. Encourage others to be courageous and demonstrate true courageousness in leadership.

Courage is not enough, be exceptional.

Einstein Light and Leadership

I’m a great fan of business books – not all of them, and certainly not just the conventional ones.

James Suroweicki’s Wisdom of Crowds is one example. Seth Godin’s Linchpin is another. In the more conventional vein Good To Great by Jim Collins and In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters are hard to beat.

But when it comes down to it none of these books will get you through.

One is not enough. 100 is not enough. But what each offers is a prompt to challenge you, to keep you guessing, to add critical tactical and strategic thinking to your range of tools.

And still it is not enough.

What matters is your agility. Your ability to know you don’t have the answers, your determination to find a better way, to ditch what doesn’t add to the business and to keep the organisation in fine mental and emotional fettle.

You’ve probably all heard Jack Welch’s quote that ‘when growth on the outside exceeds growth in the inside’ then it’s game over. Well, here I go again, that is too limiting to me.

Growth on the outside will always be ahead of us, and we have to realise this. We must relentlessly pursue our potential – as individuals, as leaders, as organisations.

Too many organisations go saggy after great success.

It always ‘folds my mind’ to contemplate how Einstein could so readily comprehend that at the speed of light time slows down – we age less.

And perhaps so it is with organisations that the quicker they evolve and develop the longer they live. Perhaps seeing the light is more apt than we think. And to carry that analogy further – those who do best at being agile, change ready, adaptive and quick to market have the light shine on them more brightly for longer. That is the true reward, nothing more.

Yet as soon as they back off the light will fade away.

And so it is for leaders to keep the light shining and ensure it falls on everyone in their organisation and all who come in contact.

But just perhaps it is not the leaders who shine but the energy of the organisation that shines upon them.

Nearly there (thankyou)

Three days ago I posted about keeping my blog alive.

Once this post is posted I have one to go – strangely I have two already in the background, I’m just not happy with them yet.

One to go :), and I’ve just begun.

So what have I learnt?

Easy. Pay attention.

Not me – but your attention to what I am doing makes me pay attention to what I am doing. So it is management theory in action. Management by walking around. You are the managers of the blog, and I always thought it was me!

Dr Asheer and Ajay due to their regular and thoughtful contributions both gave me a warm glow when I flew over Mumbai / India 3 days ago. But more importantly they are part of my online community which gave me the impetus to carry through with this blog.

So it’s true. You pay attention and things change. You needn’t do more than just touch base authentically and people will work for you.

I’d love to tell you of my courage and perserverance, but I suspect that wouldn’t have got me through. Knowing you are out there, got me through.

And so it is with those around you – your employees, your family, your friends.

Take the time to show them they matter, that you know they are there, that you care.

I hope you feel honoured by this post in the way I intend, and take heart that paying attention, pays wonderfully.



Walls are everywhere. Mostly we think of the physical ones, but the ones that create problems for people everyday are the mental ones.

As a coach I often ask “how many times are you willing to run at that again?”

If we condition ourselves to hear when we are repeating the same story – the one with the adverse or indifferent outcome – then we can readily identify the existence of a ‘wall’ and do something about it.

My observation is that many people like to hear their personal walls being recreated.

They tell anyone who will listen, and fool themselves this will show their worth, show how hard things have been for them, show that ‘I’m just not lucky”

Well, it isn’t like that.

Get rid 0f the bluff, blow away the wall.

If you can recognise walls others are throwing up then it is worth the effort to bring it to their attention to reframe It for them where they don’t leave you with a monkey and bring your day down. Instead you leave them with a learning gift and send a clear message of support at one level and the need for change at another level.

It is not easy.

I get frustrated with the alcohol abuse adverts which are on NZ Television presently, having ordinary people try to bring an issue as significant as excessive drinking to the attention of their mates. It is well intended, though it understates the fact that without the right approach you could drive the very people who may need you close by, even further away,

There is no formula for this sort of stuff.

There is dancing involved, speed of mind, flexibility, timing, the ability to read a situation etc.

However being able to reflect to someone the walls in their lives is a lauadable and valueable gift

My experience shows the following to be useful in the armoury:

  • Patience
    Wating to be asked (for an opinion)
    Asking what they proprose to do to change the siutation to stop it recurring.
    Pointing out politely that you’ve heard this before
    Ask them to write down the problem – this is seriously effective method in which many people miraculously see the problem and the solution at the same time.
    Ask for progress – this also closes down the opportunity for complaint as they don’t wish to indulge in something where they haven’t kept their ‘bargain’ with you.

People don’t want a solution from you – it’s not in the game – so don’t be expected to be lauded if you point out the obvious solution. They want to be heard, they want to prove the compexity of the issue they are buried in; its ‘insolvability’.

The other great thing about working effectively towards reducing the walls of others is it makes you more aware of your own.

Walls never move , you must either go around them, jump them, or go somewhere else. Otherwise they are just a painful and frequent visitor in your life..

When your’e stuck in a box the instructions to escape are almost always on the outside.

Start jumping some walls today.

Start looking for the instructions outside of your normal mode of operation.