I Don’t Know

I Don’t Know

Is “I don’t know” the most sensible answer to all the big questions? We’re still dealing with the fallout from Covid-19. Will there be a vaccine? How long will it take? How effective will it be? The scientists working on it are doing their best – but no-one can give definitive answers. And if Covid-19 ‘goes away’, how long before the next pandemic? What about Brexit? Climate change? I don’t know. These are all really big, scary questions, and the only thing they have in common is the uncertainty that surrounds them. It’s easy to get stuck in that uncertainty, in waiting for ‘the new normal’. But as Seth Godin […]

Make Better Decisions

Make Better Decisions

Like almost everything else, decision making is a skill that we can improve with practice. The biggest problem is that with hindsight, we tend to judge our decisions by the outcome rather than the process we used [if there even was one!]. The first stage is to look at where we might be going wrong. In their book ‘Decisive’, Chip and Dan Heath find four common ‘villains’ in our decision making process – and offer solutions to each: VILLAINSOLUTIONNARROW FRAMINGWe haven’t fully understood the problemWIDEN YOUR OPTIONSExpand your understanding and choicesCONFIRMATION BIASSeeking information that confirms existing beliefsTEST YOUR ASSUMPTIONSFind people who disagree with the suggested solution(s)SHORT-TERM EMOTION“This solution takes away […]

Silence Is Dangerous

Silence Is Dangerous

Studies across the world have repeatedly shown that in around 85% of businesses, people are aware that there are problems but are afraid to raise them. In her book and TED talks, Margaret Heffernan calls this ‘Willful Blindness’ – the point where we have chosen to ignore something because that seems like the easier path. Why don’t we speak up? What is it that we are afraid of? Most often, we are worried about the conflict that will result from pointing out a problem. This is a very human response, and one that we don’t just see in business – we see it in our personal lives too. In order […]

Questions To Ask In Challenging Times

Questions To Ask In Challenging Times

All businesses face challenges, and when they catch us by surprise, or are especially large, it can be hard to figure out what action to take. When crisis hits, we usually have to be reactive. We adapt to a new situation, perhaps a new world view – potentially even a new normal. Then as the dust settles, we can shift back into being proactive. When that time comes, it can help to ask ourselves three questions: What am I spreading?What do I want to look back on?What am I looking forward to? 1 :: What am I spreading? Almost everything spreads – viruses, great ideas, fake news, cat pictures. Emotions. […]

Effective Optimism

Effective Optimism

Pessimists just aren’t nice to be around. All that doom and gloom drags you down. The attitude of helplessness is draining. On the other hand, excessive optimism can be just as frustrating – particularly when it ignores the fact that there’s work to be done. Where’s the balance? It’s not about thinking everything will work out, but we do need to continually believe in the possibility of finding a solution. What we need is persistent, realistic optimism.

It’s Never Black and White

It’s Never Black and White

In 1999, I took part in a cycling trip across Cuba. 26 year old me was 100% certain of himself – convinced he knew everything, and that anyone who saw things differently simply needed to be ‘educated’ with the ‘facts’ [as I saw them], and that if those ‘facts’ didn’t change your mind, then you must be an idiot. [Yeah – 26 year old me was a dick.] Anyway – on the bike tour, about 50 strangers met at Heathrow Airport and set off. On our first night in Havana, we were all sat together, laughing and joking, excited about our upcoming adventure. I mentioned to the lady next to […]

Confident Uncertainty

Confident Uncertainty

There is a difference between confidence and certainty. Certainty is when we have 100% confidence – we are utterly convinced that we are right. We’ve done all the research, and all our information is completely correct and undeniable … this 100% confidence shuts down conversation. Certainty closes doors – it stops people disagreeing with you. And it closes you to other – possibly better – options. Confidence is important, otherwise we can just end up procrastinating … but if we want the people around us to be at their best, then we have to give them space to voice their opinions. We all have to be open to the possibility […]

Integrity Is A Verb

Integrity Is A Verb

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.” CS Lewis This quote is one of my favourites, and one that I thought I was trying to live by. However, I’ve been reading the excellent ‘Legacy’ this week, which is a book about what we can all learn from the New Zealand All Blacks. It’s a really good read, with plenty of practical advice, and an inspiring section about what integrity means to the All Blacks. Looking again at the CS Lewis quote, I’d never really paid much attention to the third word before. The ‘doing’ part of the equation. I’d been thinking of integrity as connected […]

Bold Humility

Bold Humility

“Humility is the most over-rated of human emotions.” So says Harvey Mackay in his book, “Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive”. When I read that, I was horrified. Most people that I admire have a degree of humility about them – along with integrity, it’s one of the things that I think are fundamental to living a good life. Cultural historian Warren Susman talks about the difference between a Culture of Personality and a Culture of Character. A person who is personality-based focuses on what other people think of them, whereas someone motivated by the character ethic is more driven by their internal morals and values. Mackay calling […]

We Can Always Do Better

We Can Always Do Better

When we work on something that we care about, knowing when to stop can be hard. You tell yourself to keep editing … You care enough to keep making those infinitesimal changes that only you can see, because you want it to be absolutely perfect before anyone else reads/hears/sees your work. But of course nothing is ever perfect – everything can be improved … And the most frustrating thing is that you usually notice the improvements the very moment it’s too late to do something about it. And you use that as an excuse to tell yourself to work harder – to be even more careful next time. But next […]