Lessons from a Friend
In the middle of November, on a gentle grey day, just as the old year was starting to tire and fray, one of my dearest friends, Gregor Grant, died. In the long weeks since, there have been bouquets of words thrown down by the many people who loved him, lavishing praise on a wonderful artist, musician, lawyer and, above all, on a man who was curious, funny, generous and loving beyond measure. I have read and listened to everything I can lay my hands on. I have googled his name in hopes of finding more. But so far, I have not added any words of my own. Gregor was a…
This Ramshackle House
I talk a lot about what it takes on a personal level to be a good and resourceful leader. About the disciplines and practices that we should pay attention to and build for ourselves to ensure that we remain resourceful and healthy – the importance of rest and sleep and rejuvenation, of reflective practices, of eating well and exercising. Blah blah blah. I wang on constantly about books to read and new tools and techniques to try. And yet, in all of that, I don’t think I’ve mentioned even once my most tried-and-tested go-to remedy that I do in real-life-actual-fact seek out without fail whenever I have something gnarly to…
What I read on my holidays
When I was a kid, my nickname in my family was Johnny Number 5, after the robot in the 1988 movie Short Circuit who could read a book in seconds. My earliest memories are of the revolving door, beeswaxed floor and orange plastic chairs of my local library. My idea of the best possible day out was when I could persuade my dad to take me to James Thin in Edinburgh, where I’d lose myself scouring the shelves, and emerge hungry and dizzy hours later, surprised to return to the real world. All of which is to say, I really love reading. Mostly these days, though, my passion is quite contained and restrained. Reading happens on…
China in your hand – five lessons in gratitude
'Don't push too far your dreams are china in your hand....' sang Carol Decker of T'Pau in 1987, and I've been pushing to far ever since. But this year a very different sort of china in my hand has deepened my gratitude practice and helped me to understand how a bit of grounding in the present is exactly what our wild dreams need ...
Business writing, Humanising business, Leadership, Organisational change, Personal Reflections, Storytelling
Did you imagine it would be this way forever?
I’ve confessed before that for someone who is making a career out of helping organisations to change, I don’t half make heavy weather of it sometimes in my own life. I love the present hard, while taxing it with all my anxiety around the future to come. I’m like my littlest boy who loves holidays so much that he starts fretting from day two about how sad he’ll feel when it’s over. Years and years ago, when our children were babies and dark winter afternoons felt interminable and hair-tearingly boring, even as everyone told us to treasure them, a dear friend gave me the simplest, most game-changing gift. She used…
Blue anemones in a glass vase. A clear diary. A perfect story. A clear decision made. Do you find yourself craving simplicity in what feels like an airless and cluttered world? Does your brain feel foggy? This week's blog is a cri de coeur for simplicity. Simplicity of message, simplicity of information, simplicity in structure, in decision-making, and in getting stuff done. Simplicity in rules and, perhaps above all, simplicity of expectation. Organisations and leaders that can bring simplicity are giving their people the gift of enabling them to focus on what truly matters, and the gift of freedom from being entangled in clutter. But why is that so hard…
Almost all of us have surely, over the past year, been sucked into the impossible game of ‘pandemic trumps’. Whose wifi is worst? Whose pet the most disruptive? Is it better to be locked down in the city or in the countryside? Alone or with small children? Who has looked enviously while perched on the end of their bed with a laptop at someone else’s spacious booklined study? Who has used the time to get in the best shape of their life, and who has a developed a packet-a-day biscuit habit? Who has thrived on the quiet solitude and who is tearing their hair out with loneliness? We will all…
Agility, Business writing, Humanising business, Leadership, Organisational change, Personal Reflections, Purpose, Storytelling
My fifteen year old son is a goalkeeper. During lockdown, his training has been via zoom calls and has involved setting up ludicrous obstacle courses across the living room, so that he can practise changing direction in a fraction of a second, or leaping from a standing start onto a high box. He is working on his agility – the first thing to go, apparently, if you don’t practise for a while. I wonder if some of that loss of agility is also creeping into our psyches, into how we lead, and into our organisations? At first blush, you’d think not. Haven’t we all been congratulating ourselves on how well…
Business writing, Confidence, Humanising business, Leadership, Organisational change, Personal Reflections, Purpose, Storytelling, Women
Some days I don’t have the first idea what I’m doing. I eat cake for breakfast and shout at the children, and my hair looks crap. Some days I look at the length of my to do list, the unanswered emails, the state of my kitchen, and realise I am profoundly unqualified for the role of Living My Own Life....
Business writing, Humanising business, Leadership, Organisational change, Personal Reflections, Purpose, Storytelling
I have two daughters, aged 12 and 10, who like to define themselves as pretty much polar opposites of each other (though in truth, they are perhaps more similar than either of them cares to admit.) One of the differences between them is that one loves to bake, and the other loves to cook. Baking Daughter loves to flick through recipe books on a Saturday morning, to find a glossy picture of something delicious. She’ll note down a list of everything she needs, take money and a shopping bag, walk to the shops, come home and lay out all the ingredients. She’ll pre-heat the oven, weigh and measure, whisk and…