Monday 30 December 2019

Recommended reading lists

I agree with the saying that 'leaders are readers'. The very best leaders I know are curious. They're informed and aware of what's happening in the world.

Here's my full recommended reading list.

And here's the top 21 list pictured. Start here should you not yet be in the reading habit or want to restart it.

Be remarkable.

Friday 20 December 2019

Life is a gift we never stop unwrapping

Christmas has very little to do with real life. By all means celebrate it however you wish.

Reality though is who you are and what you do every day.

You are not what you believe. By all means believe in whomever and whatever you wish. Just don't place too much emphasis on your beliefs.

Who you are and what you do every day matters way beyond your beliefs.

You are not even your thoughts. You are the human being having your thoughts. 

It took me a very long time of learning and mastering meditation to understand this. And this is an ongoing journey!

You are who you choose to become.  And you get to decide many times every day as I explore in this post.

The best way that I know of to continually make wise choices is to see life as a gift we never stop unwrapping.

To do this we need to stay curious. We need a sense of wonder and awe about life. Life is more about questions than answers.

Loved ones, friends, colleagues, neighbours and even strangers must be cherished. We travel the journey of our life alone yet the great paradox is that we need other people for it to matter, have meaning and to be worthwhile.

I wish you and yours all the very best.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 18 December 2019

3 ways to sustain high touch in a high tech world

John Naisbitt first developed the concept of high tech, high touch in his 1982 bestseller 'Megatrends'. His central idea was that in a world full of technology, people will still long for personal, human contact.

He then explored this idea in his 1999 book 'High Tech/High Touch'.

I think this idea is still highly relevant today.

John Naisbitt latest books.

To sustain high tech/high touch I continually contemplate and answer in my own best way the following 3 questions:

1) How best can I use technology to enhance the human experience of my clients?

2) How best can I use technology that means my work is meaningful for me and highly valuable for my clients?

3) In what ways can I provide value for my clients and those who are candidates that surprises them without using some technical gizmo?

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday 16 December 2019

Becoming a Modern Elder - wisdom from Chip Conley

I love this TEDx talk by Chip Conley. I reflect on Chip's great book wisdom@work here.

My favourite take aways:

from Chip: "Wisdom is not taught. It's shared.

Middlescence. More from Barabar Waxman here.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday 13 December 2019

The future is full of infinite possibilities. What are you choosing?

Every day we determine our destiny by the choices we make and don't make.

I often look at this picture and contemplate the wise words of Viktor Frankl to remind myself of the power of choosing.

I often think too of my friend and colleague W. Mitchell's famous edict:

The future is full of infinite possibilities. What are you choosing?

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 11 December 2019

The 25 Goal Setting Questions Everyone Needs to Answer with Keith Abraham

I love this from my friend and colleague Keith Abraham.

There's a link to download the worksheet underneath the video.

Be remarkable.

Monday 9 December 2019

The Hedonist’s Guide To Getting Things Done: Goal Setting Made Easy - guest post by Gihan Perera

This is a guest post by Gihan Perera.

Most goal-setting programs are hard. The system might sound easy, but achieving the goals is difficult. It usually takes discipline, willpower, a strong mindset, hard work, sacrifice and struggle.

No wonder most people fail at their goals or New Year’s Resolutions!

I’ve got a different approach to goal setting: This coming year, choose, plan and achieve goals that bring you joy, ease and happiness – not only when you achieve them, but along the way as well.

Now I know this flies in the face of many (most?) goal-setting programs! So be warned that what I’m going to share here might be controversial, confronting or conflicting with other advice you’ve seen. But hey – if you do embrace my advice, you will enjoy the next twelve months. So what have you got to lose?

The title of this article is tongue in cheek. A hedonist is purely motivated by pleasure, perhaps even selfish pleasure. I’m not suggesting that’s appropriate as a way of life. But I do think we spend way too much time in our life doing things we don’t want, that we’re not good at, with people we don’t like, and without getting any reward. Why not do something different this year?

Heck, there’ll be plenty of times when life isn’t perfect. Sure, you might get stuck in traffic, fight with your partner, struggle getting the kids to sleep, do work that you don’t want to do just because it’s in your job description, or force yourself to be more disciplined at work. But those things are going to happen anyway. Why would you deliberately schedule more of those things in your goal setting as well?

So do yourself a favour when you’re setting your goals for the year: Don’t create goals and activities that involve struggle, complication, hardship and sacrifice. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, especially if you’ve done other goal-setting programs. But hang in there – I’ll explain …

I’ve got ten guidelines here, broken down into three areas: Choosing the right goals (4 guidelines), planning (3) and taking action (3).

1. Do what you love

It’s surprising how many people set a goal because they think they “should” do it, or they “need” to do it, or somebody else wants it for them. Those goals are the first to go when life gets in the way.

So only choose goals that you want to achieve. In fact, I’ll go a step further and say you should only choose goals that you will love to achieve. This isn’t about being selfish; it’s about choosing wisely.

2. Love who you’ll be

Think carefully: Are you going to be happy – truly happy – with the person you’re going to become if you do achieve your goals?

If you get that big promotion, will you be OK spending more time away from your spouse and kids? If you go on that carrot juice diet and lose 20 kilos, can you tolerate having to gaze longingly and wistfully at chocolate cake from now until the end of your life? If you get all those business travel opportunities, can you cope with spending wasted hours in airports, taxi queues and hotel rooms?

Be sure you’re willing to accept all the consequences of achieving your goal.

3. Think big

Most people don’t fail because their goals are too big; they fail because their goals are too small. Those goals are easily forgotten or tossed aside when something bigger comes along. So make sure you set big – but achievable – goals.

As Jonathon Kozol says:

“Pick battles big enough to matter; small enough to win.”

4. Know the reason why

It’s not the “what” and “how” of a goal that motivates you; it’s the “why”. Sometimes you’ll end up with something that wasn’t exactly what you imagined, but it still achieves the same result.

5. Love what you do

Plan to enjoy the journey. If it takes willpower, discipline or sacrifice to achieve your goal, it’s harder to do and easier to slip up. Instead, make it fun!

It’s no fun to crawling out of bed an hour early to exercise, but perhaps you can make it fun by exercising with a friend, so you make it a social event as well.

It’s no fun to set aside 10% of your income for wealth creation, but what if you also set aside another 10% as “play money”, to be spent on fun and frivolity?

It’s no fun to call past customers to bring them back into your fold, but what if you invited them to a cocktail party instead?

6. Hang out with people you like

Life’s too short to spend with people you don’t like, love, inspire or are inspired by.

Decide who you want to spend more time with this year, and make sure they’re part of your journey. They don’t have to be actively involved in helping you achieve your goals – although that’s a bonus. But make sure they’re around. And be especially sure you don’t neglect them while achieving your goals.

7. Get help

Whatever your goals, there’s a good chance somebody else has already achieved them. So find the right mentors and ask for their help. You might have to pay, or you might not. Either way, it’s the best way to fast-track your success.

8. Start before you’re ready

You won’t have all your preparation complete. You won’t know exactly what path to follow. There’s always a reason not to start today. But if you’re waiting for the perfect moment to get started, you’ll be waiting a long time. The perfect moment is now.

9. Take a big step first

A rocket uses most of its fuel in escaping the Earth’s atmosphere. After that, it takes very little energy to keep going.

Many of your goals – especially the biggest and most important goals – are similar. Don’t start with baby steps; start with massive strides. The good news is that often just a few strides can make a big difference, and then everything else is easy.

Obviously I’m not suggesting you do dangerous things, like suddenly taking up squash if you’re unfit. But if it’s OK to start walking for 30 minutes a day, start walking. Don’t “build up to it” with unnecessary little steps – e.g. buying new sneakers, starting a journal to record your progress, telling all your Facebook friends, shopping for a new T-shirt to celebrate the start of the journey, and plotting the optimal walking route for different weather conditions. Sure, these small steps are easy, but it’s the first big step (literally in this case) that matters.

10. Do something every day

Do something towards at least one of your goals every day. After all, why wouldn’t you? These activities are fun, not a burden or a chore. So, in addition to working towards your goals, you’re adding some fun and enjoyment to every day of your life!

More importantly, at the end of the year, you will have taken 365 steps – enjoyable steps – towards achieving your goals. That’s 365 more than the average person.

So that’s it. Those are my ten guidelines for easy goal setting.

Good luck, and I wish you all the best for making 2020 the best year of your life.

More from Gihan.

Friday 6 December 2019

How trustworthy are your sources of information?

Your Innovation Journey

Innovation i.e. changing what's normal when the status quo is no longer serving you, your family, the  communities to which you belong, or your customers/clients, begins with information that you turn into insight.

You then turn insight into inspiration which then becomes an idea or several. Then you choose one idea and implement it.

You're following this process or something similar a lot lately is my guess because all of us want to thrive in what some folk describe as the decade of disruption.

Below is a process I often use with my clients. Increasingly the first and final steps are becoming ever more crucial.


What is the actual truth of the matter? is a question I am asking much more lately. It's impossible to tell sometimes without a lot of research. How trustworthy are your sources of information?

You may find this Greg Bean article of interest and value. It's called 'Media dead silent as Wikileaks insider explodes the myths around Julian Assange'

Should you start the innovation journey with a lie, a mistruth or a doubtful fact it can lead to disaster right?

Integrate and AAR

I see many people instigating or implementing something new. What I don't see as often is after-action-reviews (AAR) and integrating new perceptions and learning with what is already working well. 

After-action-reviews are a game-changer because while every detail is still fresh in people’s hearts and minds is really the only time to effectively review performance. This is why all the great sports coaches get their teams in the room privately straight after the game and before they speak with anyone else. More about AAR here.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 4 December 2019

No more black or cyber for me, You?

I don't know where Black Friday or Cyber Monday came from. Frankly I don't care.

What I do know is that I instantly deleted a lot of emails when I saw these words in the past week or so.

I also unsubscribed from many of the sources of these emails.

I don't need any more stuff.

I definitely don't need anybody trying to flog me stuff based on a trumped up reason that bears no resemblance to my situation.

Some say data is the new oil. I don't know. What I do know is that just because you have my data doesn't mean you understand me or know me.

The more that you demonstrate that you don't know me, the less likely it is that I'm going to buy anything from you?

Is it just me? Or is consumerism in need of disruption?

Your thoughts?

Be remarkable.

Monday 2 December 2019

Where's your extra 101 days of learning before 2022?

I found this 2018 Future Jobs Report from the World Economic Forum a valuable read. The most valuable piece for me is this prediction: "On average, employees will need 101 days of retraining and upskilling in the period up to 2022." Where's your extra 101 days of learning before 2022?
Maybe I can help you.

My Possibility Leadership program is now available just online. It's still you and I and maybe some of your team working together live, we're just taking advantage of technology. In this case Zoom and where appropriate the good old telephone!

Learn more here and get in touch when completing the one page performance possibility pulse check resonates with you.

Up until 31st January 2020 I'm offering a special investment that will never be repeated. Maybe you can do some of your 101 days before then! I'm happy to schedule for later too and lock in the special investment offer.

Be remarkable.

Friday 29 November 2019

The BS Free Workplaces Manifesto podcast and post

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

According to some we live in a post-truth world.

For me personally I’m more in alignment with Chris Katurna who says "Social media invites us to make a clear, historic choice: To declare that Truth is dead — or to resurrect it."

Watch Chris’ great 10 minute TED talk about this.

One place I know from personal experience that we can stand for and live our truth is the workplace. You may have to just start with your team.

My BS Free workplaces manifesto may help you. I first wrote this in September 2013 and I have updated it this month. It’s all one one page. Here's the PDF version.

BS Free workplaces - a personal manifesto by Ian Berry

The greatest nonsense, the biggest load of codswallop, the BS that is permeating most workplaces is seeing and treating humans as numbers, overheads, expenses, resources, assets, or capital.

My reason for being is to change this because we are none of these things. We are, every single one of us, a one-of-a-kind human being. When we are treated as such we respond in magnificent ways.

Creating workplaces free of BS is often hard, emotionally draining, exhausting work. We encounter self-serving, and greedy folk who think life is all about them. We run into fear, mediocrity and massive resistance.

For these reasons I can’t say that I have loved every minute of my work since I began my quest in 1991.

What I do love, with an abiding passion, is the progress and the results. 

I particularly love the defining moments I observe every week, often unexpected, usually a surprise to the person, when their light goes on and they bring their best selves (their essence) to their work.

There is nothing on earth as magnificent as a human being fully alive. When we remove BS, people come alive.

In workplaces where people have come alive people feel valued, live values and deliver value. Numbers are seen for what they are, results, not reasons.

Every business should make a profit. There is nothing evil about money. How we make it and what we do with it is what matters.

Profit is not a reason though for being in business, rather a result of being good at business.

Our reason for being in business is about how we have personally chosen to serve humanity.

The trouble with BS about people is that we have become used to counting the wrong things. Millions of people feeling that they don’t count is the sad consequence.

At the heart of all the world’s troubles is seeing people as things, as means to an end, rather than seeing one-of-a-kind human beings that each of us is.

End the BS about people in your workplace and instead start seeing and bringing out the best in people, including yourself.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

How can we turn the bad of big into good?

When I say big I refer back to this post about 'the ecosystem of wicked problems' and the diagram there that mentions:


My personal interests in particular are in "BIG PHARMA, BIG BANKS, BIG TECH, BIG CHURCH " because I see them influencing so much of everything in our lives.

I would add BIG CORPORATIONS and BIG BUSINESS in general and BIG FOOD which is now greatly influenced by these two and BIG PHARMA.

Of course then there's the role of BIG in governments and economics which both dominate our lives and which I think in the main are both morally bankrupt.

BIG TECH, BIG BUSINESS, government and economics get a work out in this video which I watched over the space of about 10 hours. There's lots to contemplate!

Yet in this are many profound insights that can change the political and economic narrative and turn the bad of BIG, and the interference of government and our economic system in our lives, into good.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday 25 November 2019

3 ways to shift when the status quo is no longer serving you

Below are the top 15 of the 48 books I have read so far this year. 50 books a year is a habit I've maintained for 30 years+ to meet my goal of staying in touch and being ahead of the game for my clients, as well as for my own enjoyment and contentment.

The last six books pictured all made it to my top 21 all time recommended reading list.

There's a common theme in all of these books. None of the authors are satisfied with the status quo, particularly when it no longer serves them or the world. And so they shift.

Insights from these wonderful authors and my own experience tell me that there's 3 ways to assuredly shift when the status quo is no longer serving you:

1) Make a deliberate choice that you're going to change yourself. Then change or modify your intentions, feelings, thoughts and actions. Different results are not possible without changing or modifying these. This is competing with yourself. More about this (and the other side of the coin, collaborating) here.

2) Make the changes deliberately small as in quantum leaps. Then as you progress aggregate your marginal gains. More about these two wonderful concepts here.

3) Celebrate progress. More about this here.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday 22 November 2019

The conceiving and achieving highly successful change initiatives manifesto (podcast and post)

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

This is a manifesto I often embrace and help my clients to embrace too.

Please download this manifesto as a PDF.

Here's a companion podcast back on May 3rd.

The chances of failing with change initiatives are very high according to a vast amount of diverse research.

Following the 11 principles of this manifesto in your own best way will dramatically increase your chances of success.

Principle 1

You can’t manage change or people.  Stop trying to. You must lead.
Give people genuine hope, inspire them, and then enable adaptability.
A change initiative not in the context of these 3 is likely to fail.

Principle 2

Don’t speak BS and don’t take any from other people either.  Candour is the new competitive edge.

Principle 3

There are three worlds.  The world in here. That’s my world.  The world out there. That’s your world.

Then there is the world we share. Shared-view or common-ground, or third alternative is the only one that really matters in conceiving and achieving highly successful change initiatives.

Principle 4

There is nothing flashy or fake about charisma. Real charisma is your unique gifts/talents. Your real work as a leader is to bring your gifts to your work.

And your number one role: help other people unearth and unleash their gifts, and then enhance them.

Principle 5

Create with your stakeholders a compelling story about why change is essential.
It must be an authentic, relevant to stakeholders story that other people see themselves in.

Principle 6

Communication is a two-way street.  Never forget it. Sending a message isn’t communication, receiving one isn’t either. Communication has occurred when two or more people agree on what’s next.

Principle 7

Compete with yourself. You are the only one you have to beat. You are responsible for your intentions, feelings, thoughts, and actions, never anyone else’s.

Principle 8


Principle 9

Celebrate what’s working and what’s not. Create an action plan 90 days at a time to keep doing what’s working and changing what’s not.

Principle 10

Culture and community. These two are joined together because feeling we belong matters. First place home, second place work.  Change initiatives must enhance belonging in both. And find third places to belong to as well, otherwise you’re living a two-dimensional life in a multi-dimensional world.

Principle 11

Change is continuous. Sustainability matters. It’s a reason and a result. Embrace continuity. Leave a legacy while you are alive.

Context, candour, common-ground, charisma, compelling story, communication,
compete with yourself, collaboration, celebration, culture and community, continuity.

Embrace these principles in your own best way and not only will you thrive on the challenges of change, you will conceive and achieve highly successful change initiatives.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 20 November 2019

The ecosystem of wicked problems with thanks to Christian Sarkar and Philip Kotler

I printed out the diagram below and placed it on the whiteboard in my office.  I've invested a part of each day for the past week studying it and deciding what more I can do to help solve the world's problems and overcome the challenges affecting us all.

Links that I've found very valuable:

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday 18 November 2019

Lead with value and values, never with ideologies or belief systems

There's a crisis of leadership in the world today. The trouble I think is ideologies and belief systems.

Absolutely fine to have these of course. Just can't lead effectively from them because other people don't necessarily see the world as you do. Aside from self-leadership, leading for others and leading for leaders is all about other people.

To really lead we must honour different perspectives and lead with the value we deliver and the values we live by. Not the words on walls and in annual reports rather the agreed behaviours.

The consequence of such leadership is that people feel valued.

Where are you leading from?

Be remarkable.

Friday 15 November 2019

The 20 Foundations of Real Leadership (post and podcast)

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer makes interesting reading on a number of fronts.

Two lines stand out for me

“People have low confidence that societal institutions will help them navigate a turbulent world, so they are turning to a critical relationship: their employer.”

“Employees are ready and willing to trust their employers, but the trust must be earned through more than “business as usual.”

Real leadership is the key to crossing the bridge from business as usual to the new world of work.
In 2005 I put together a list of what I called the 20 foundations of real leadership. I updated the list slightly in 2012 and I’m updating the 20 again today. I have to say that not a lot has changed. Some things just stand the test of time.

1. Real leaders walk the talk

Some people have heard the talk, don’t believe it and therefore don’t walk the talk.

Some people have heard the talk, believe it, but don’t walk the talk.

Some people have heard the talk, talk the talk, but still don’t walk the talk.

Real leaders rarely talk the talk, they just walk the talk.

2. Real leaders ask more questions than they give answers

Anyone can talk all day about what they know. Real leaders don’t ramble, they ask questions in preference to giving answers, using words powerfully but sparingly and listening more than speaking.

3. Real leaders share insight far more than information

When real leaders do speak they concentrate on sharing insight. Any fool can disseminate information. Real leaders see through the overload of information and share only what really matters.

4. Real leaders care about wisdom more than knowledge

Knowing what to do is one thing. Doing it successfully is another thing altogether. This is wisdom.

5. Real leaders have a cause beyond profit

The main reason we should be gathering together in networks of relationships (organizations) is to create value for others. Profit is a result of being good at business never a reason for being in business. Find your cause, your reason.

6. Real leaders focus on helping others achieve what is important to them

Zig Ziglar was 100% right. “Help others get what they want and you will get what you want.” Real leaders get what they want simply by helping others get what they want.

7. Real Leaders are heroes in their own homes first

If you can’t inspire your family forget about being inspiring for those you work with. If you can’t communicate with your kids you’ve got no hope with anybody else.

8. Real leaders actually communicate

Communication has only occurred when two or more people have actually agreed on something even if that agreement is to disagree.

There's only two fundamental reasons for human conflict; disagreement about the direction/goal, or disagreement about how to get there/achieve it.

9. Real leaders bring everything they are to everything they do

I am amazed at how many people I have met who are terrific people in the general community but apparently brain dead at work. To see life and work as separate is a recipe for unhappiness. The trick is to find harmony between what are two sides of a coin.

10. Real leaders inspire hope

Many citizens of planet earth have had their dreams shattered by war, famine, disease and increasingly floods and fires. Like no other time in history we must be leaders who inspire hope.

11. Real leaders manage processes, energy and focus

Leadership is about effectiveness, management is about efficiency. We need both.

Effectiveness and efficiency require astute use of our energy and focus and the creation and maintenance of processes that support people in being the best they can be.

Remember my input from previous podcasts. Processes include policies, principles, procedures, practices, philosophies, structures and systems.

12. Real leaders understand and use common sense

Staggering as it is, common sense is often the most uncommon thing.

Tap into universal, emotional, mental, and spiritual common sense. The physical senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste are important but often they are just clues to truths that are far more important.

13. Real leaders live in the now yet clearly see the future

Now is the only time that really counts. However to not be clear on where we are going is a waste of the power of now.

14. Real leaders respect learning and are committed to life long learning

When we stop learning we die. Every action, transaction and interaction is an opportunity for learning.

15. Real leaders live a defined and measured set of values

To create value we must be valuable. Our worth to others has much to do with the values we live by. Many organisations parade their values however unless they are clearly defined behaviours and people are held to be accountable to live them, they are mostly just empty words.

16. Real leaders thrive on the challenges of possibility

Nothing is impossible.

There is a solution to every problem and a way out of every difficulty.

Life is meant to be challenging however all of the ancient texts promise us we are never challenged beyond our capability to triumph.

17. Real leaders laugh a lot, particularly at themselves

Telling stories that contain self depreciating humour are the most powerful form of influencing others to become who they are capable of becoming.

18. Real leaders tell the truth as they see it

I have been thrown out of a few organisations because I told the truth as I saw it. I have no regrets.

19. Real leaders create a culture based on serving others

Create a culture based on serving others and you will draw customers/clients to you like a magnet.

20. Real leaders are people of character

The most powerful force in the world is to be trusted. To be trusted means we must be people of genuine character.

Each one of us has the most incredible opportunity to make a profound difference to the lives of people we live, work and play with. It takes character, resolve, resilience, commitment and skill, what I call willability.

The previous 20 foundations of real leadership are powerful platforms to ensure we live a life that is a positive influence on others.

Be the leader you would follow.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

How do you talk to yourselves in your mind (positive or negative)? guest post by Jeremy Deedes

This is a guest post by Jeremy Deedes.

Photo by Laurenz Kleinheider on Unsplash

Negative self-talk is a consequence of stress;
it can damage your effectiveness and should be remedied
before it reinforces a vicious cycle.

Like most human beings, I sometimes suffer from a tendency toward negative self-talk. In neurological terms, this usually arises when I am stressed. Stress affects my pre-frontal cortex (PFC), upsetting its neuro-circuitry so that it fails to work correctly.

The PFC sits just behind your forehead and, in evolutionary terms, is the most recent addition to the brain. Often referred to as the CEO or conductor, the PFC plays a crucial role in day-to-day life, overriding the instinctual flight or fight responses generated by the older reptilian brain. The primary motivational emotions around hunger, reproduction and nurturing generated by the limbic system also become subservient to the PFC.

Amy Bran, a coach and neuroscientist, defines the role of the PFC in terms of higher-level cognitive functions such as information processing, planning, decision making and social relationships. It also provides humans with the ability to postpone immediate gratification in favour of longer-term benefits.

Negative self-talk stems from stress

Given its multi-functional role, it is not surprising the PFC uses a lot of energy. Stress diminishes the PFC’s ability to use energy. When this happens, your PFC does not function properly. As Bran says, you become lazy, uninspired, distracted, disorganised, forgetful, emotional — and prone to negative thoughts and negative self-talk.

So, in neurological terms, stress can cause you to talk negatively to yourself. You would assume this is a bad thing, and you would probably be correct. However, it is arguable that negative self-talk has a specific benefit, namely that it acts as a warning bell. Of all the ‘symptoms’ of a poorly functioning PFC listed above, negative thoughts are easily identifiable, immediate and actionable.

Generally speaking, negative self-talk is, well, negative. It harms your behaviour. This can damage your ability to function well, instigating a vicious cycle of stress, poor performance, negative self-talk and yet more stress.

Avoiding the cycle of negative self-talk and stress

How do you avoid this cycle? Well, relieving your stress is the obvious answer. However, depending on your circumstances, this may not be immediately achievable. In that case, your first port of call might be to turn your negative self-talk into positive self-talk.

  • Instead of ‘but’, use ‘and’ (this small change is so powerful it can make you completely rethink your thoughts and ideas).
  • For ‘if’ use ‘when’.
  • Replace ‘I will try to…’ with ‘I will…’
  • Turn problems into challenges or obstacles.
  • Instead of ‘Don’t do this’ use ‘Its better to do this’.
  • Turn ‘Don’t forget to…’ into ‘Be sure to set a reminder to….’
  • For ‘I’ll try to do this by Thursday’, give ‘I’ll definitely have this finished by Friday’ a go.
  • Flip phrases to include a solution. ‘You will be tired after your journey’ becomes ‘Remember to give yourself some time after your journey to recover’.
  • Instead of ‘Unfortunately we are unable to do that’ write ‘Fortunately we can do this’.
  • Remove negative words or words that hold back: ‘You will probably be good at this’ becomes ‘You will be good at this’.

You can find further examples in the Mayo Clinic article about the power of positive self-talk to reduce stress.

Another school of thought argues you refer to yourself by your name and not as ‘I’. Ethan Cross and others from the Universities of Michigan and Berkely hypothesise that self-talk is a regulatory mechanism. In their paper, they describe how LeBron James made a significant and life-changing decision.

Its all in the name

LeBron James played basketball so well that in 2010 he faced a tough choice. Should he stay with the small-market team that had been his home since he started playing? Or should he move into the bigger league? In an interview after making his decision, James said this. “One thing I didn’t want to do was make an emotional decision. I wanted to do what’s best for LeBron James and to do what makes LeBron James happy”.

The authors of the paper highlight the switch from “I” to “LeBron James” in the statement. They argue it is a deliberate move that ‘influences people’s capacity to control their thoughts, feelings and behaviour’. The authors suggest that ‘using one’s own name and other non-first-person pronouns to refer to the self during introspection is a form of self-distancing that enhances self-regulation.’

Thinking, speaking, writing positively

These examples are not, of course, just about self-talk. To be really useful include these variations in your conversations with others and in your writing.

Finally, we regard positive communication as an essential happiness habit. As such, we have included it in our Happiness Habits Programme. Positive thinking, talking, and writing will leave you feeling happier, more productive and more valuable.

References and further information

Mayo Clinic blog:

Kross, E et al. (2014). Self-Talk as a Regulatory Mechanism: How You Do It Matters. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2014, Vol. 106, No. 2, 304–324

With special thanks to Amy Bran, my sometime tutor and author of Neuroscience for Coaches: how to use the latest insights for the benefit of your clients, for her detailed explanations of the brain, its functions and the chemicals that have merged into the discipline of neuroscience.

Louise Orders at Dauntless Fitness provides a further take on the subject in her post ‘Say it like you mean it‘, in which she considers the importance of using ‘I don’t’ rather than ‘I can’t’.

This post has been adapted from Jeremy Deedes’ original answer to a question asked by a Quora member.

Click the buttons at Jeremy's original post here to find out more.

Monday 11 November 2019

I've added to my complimentary resources file for you

Once a quarter I add to the PDF document that contains links to all my resources including my books.

This quarter I added '96 questions we all need to answer to thrive on the challenges of change' (see page 15), and the one-page pulse check to see how you're going and where you can shift to in the 5 interconnected roles of Sparkenator Leadership (see page 19).

You can download the PDF here.

Be remarkable.

Friday 8 November 2019

The three kinds of leadership

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

One of my leadership heroes is Mary Parker Follett. In the first paragraph of her Wikipedia page it says “She has been called the "Mother of Modern Management”. Instead of emphasizing industrial and mechanical components, she advocated for what she saw as the far more important human element …”

If you know me at all you will know that it is this human element that is the focus of all my work. Any wonder that Mary is a hero for me!

In her 1924 published book ‘The Creative Experience’ Mary says: 

Leadership is not defined by the exercise of power but by the capacity to increase the sense of power among those led.

The most essential work of the leader is to create more leaders.

I love this - The most essential work of the leader is to create more leaders.

Is your work creating more leaders?

I define leadership as the art of inspiring people to see and bring the best out in themselves and other people.

The first kind of leadership is self-leadership. No one can lead successfully without first leading self.

All change is personal first. Self-leadership is everyone’s business. It all begins with self-awareness which I regard as the number one leadership skill.

The number two skill is awareness of others which is the realm of the second kind of leadership that of leading for others.

In my work I call leading for others appreciative leadership. It has much to do with fully appreciating people and processes. It’s primarily about sustaining shared-view in the seven areas of significance that I have explored in previous podcasts - reality, possibility, purpose, strategy, execution, progress and culture.

The third kind of leadership is leading for leaders.

This is arguably the toughest kind of leadership. It’s the daily practice of inspiring people to fully appreciate and bring out the best in themselves. It’s all about ensuring people feel valued, live values and deliver value.

The work I highly recommend that you do to enhance these three kinds of leadership is two-fold:

First set aside time to assess yourself in the following areas


Self-talk, gratitude, well-being, how you receive feedback and feedforward, and how you reflect on your performance and take action to be better, wiser and more valuable.

Leading for others

Your ability and willingness to inspire, converse with people 1:1 and in groups, and to  communicate and present ideas with clarity and meaning for others.

Leading for leaders

How well do you ensure that others appreciate themselves, bring out their best and feel valued, live values and deliver value.

Second action

Take time out with your peers at least once a quarter and ask for feedforward about how you can be better, wiser and more valuable in each of the leading for others and leading for leaders areas.

If you’d love some help check out my all new just online Sparkenator Leadership program. 

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Enshrining people as our primary driving force

I'm very excited to announce here my new program Sparkenator Leadership - self-leadership, leading for others, and leading for leaders that enshrines seeing and bringing out the best in people, including ourselves, as our primary driving force.

This is my first all online, yet in person program!

Check it out here.

This program is all about sustaining living in the top right hand quadrant below. It's for business leaders and owners (30+ employees and 10M+ turnover), and for seasoned professionals providing services to them.

The program is about mastery, in your own best way of 5 interconnected roles:

Up until 31st January 2020 I'm offering very special investment options to pioneers who undertake or begin the program before then.

Be remarkable.

Monday 4 November 2019

I highly recommend checking out the serialisation of Team Human

This is a great book.

The author has just begun serialising it on Medium. I highly recommend it.

It begins here.

Of course getting the book might be even better for you.

You can get this book here.

Be remarkable.

Friday 1 November 2019

Simple steps for turning possibility into reality

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

I’m perplexed by what I see in workplaces around goal setting and the achievement of goals. It seems to me to be still about command and control. And the main focus is the organisation and not much, if anything, about people and their personal goals.

I admit to still having a slight hangover from the indoctrination I received early in my corporate life through ‘management by objectives’ even though this is over 40 years ago. Just saying the words give me a bit of chill up my spine!

The 21st century version of MBO is OKR’s or Objectives and Key Results. I’m not inspired by it and haven’t met anyone who is in the employee ranks.

The acronym SMART is still prevalent.

I like FAST better. It’s perhaps the latest acronym. F for Frequently discussed, A for Ambitious, S for Specific and T for Transparent. For me this still has an element of command and control.

I’m left wanting more.

I’m a fan of my friend and colleague Keith Abraham’s 8 Step Goal Setting Process:

1. Identify your goal.
2. Decide your deadline to achieve it.
3. Determine your driving emotions to achieve it.
4. Why do you want to achieve this goal?
5. Key milestones.
6. Personal development plan—actions to start and stop doing.
7. Your vision for when the goal has been achieved.
8. The 30 day plan of action.

Here's a short video by Keith about his process.

My own process is to first get really clear about who I want to be and what behaviours I must live.

Each year I choose a theme for the year and then I decide what’s possible in areas of life and work that are important to me. I then create quantum leap maps per area of focus to highlight the actions I must take to turn possibility into reality. Below is one of my quantum leap maps. Here's a small slidedeck that overviews them.

In the past four years I’ve used the Chris Brogan ritual of choosing three words to keep myself focused. Next year I’m following the concept of one word from Dr Jason Fox. My blog post last Wednesday the 30th of October gives you more insights into Chris and Jason’s work.

I’ve chosen the word Magnificence as my theme for 2020. I’ve already begun working on it. I’ve chosen behaviours and principles and have them on one page (see below). I’ll be ensuring each of my quantum leap maps are alignment with these behaviours and principles.

Your turn.

What will you take away from today's post, podcast and associated resources here that you will turn into action to better achieve possibility in your personal, working and other aspects of your life?

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 30 October 2019

A word or words to guide your choices and actions

For the past 4 years I've been following the 3 word ritual I learned from Chris Brogan.

He says: I practice a ritual called “My 3 Words.” The idea is that you think up three words that will help guide your choices and actions over the coming year. This has become quite an event, with thousands and thousands of people working their way through the ritual and planning their year based on their own three words. Read more from Chris.

My 3 words this year have been people, processes and progress which have really helped me to hone my performance personally as well as with my clients.

For 2020 I'v chosen just one word. I learned about this concept from Dr Jason Fox. Learn more from Jason here, and in his short video here.

I'm going to lean into my one word gradually which is why I've begun this quest early!

I like Jason's insight that he shares in the video of choosing a bundle of behaviours to do with his one word. I'm working on this.

I love Jason's idea that the one word we choose is a gift to everyone around us and that we can draw on others to live our one word.

My one word is
What will your one word be?

or if you are going with 3 words, what will they be?

If you take Jason's advice to heart you will sit with these ideas for a time. He says let it percolate. When you're clear please let me know your decision so that I can help you.

Be remarkable.

Monday 28 October 2019

Aligning your personal and business goals with those of the United Nations

Below are the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. You can learn more about them here.

I'm noticing more and more people individually, in business and in partnerships aligning with these goals.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday 25 October 2019

Make your message a 'Micro-Statement’ (Macro-Statements Tell, Micro-Statements Compel)

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

One sentence introductions or the traditional tagline are meant to be “Read rather than said” to quote presentation guru Graham Davies who calls them Macro-Statements.

I swear by Graham’s book.

In his book regarding Macro-Statements Graham says “they’re meant to be a floodlight rather than a spotlight.”

Graham recommends Micro-Statements for live, spoken presentations.

“A Micro-Statement is a sequence of words that quickly and compellingly captures the essence of your presentation in a way that is specifically shaped for the needs of a specific audience at a particular time.”
Graham Davies

You can get Graham's book here.

I take Graham’s advice to heart in my preparation for every presentation, communication and conversation in my work with clients. I create the Micro-Statement first for each audience, each time.

In preparing the content for each presentation, communication or conversation I use a Pink Sheet, which is a wonderful tool created by Matt Church and Peter Cook, as well as Graham’s insights.

You can get your copy of Think here.

I have Pink Sheets for all my main areas that I work with clients on. I just up date them or modify them to suit each piece of work.

Below is the Pink Sheet I created for one of the conversations I hosted about shared-view.

I find the explanation of the statement valuable for conversations in particular.


Macro-Statements Tell, Micro-Statements Compel. To inspire people to take action however you need a model, or a metaphor, a study or a story. Sometimes you need all four!

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Do your work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 23 October 2019

What is your change process?

A lot of my work with clients continues to be about thriving on the challenges of change.

People being and doing the best are following a process like Bernadette Jiwa's one below or John Kotter's underneath Bernadette's.

I also have my own change process that some clients follow. The version of this pictured below is overlapped with the original process I learned over 40 years ago that originated with W. Edwards Deming Plan - Do - Study/Check - Act.

What's your change process?

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday 21 October 2019

The BIG three pathways the most successful leaders are travelling

Since I began working as a mentor professionally 30 years ago I've worked with over 1000 leaders, women and men in all kinds of roles and situations, in a myriad of industries, and in over 40 countries.

What all these highly motivated people have in common is a deep desire to keep on getting better, wiser and more valuable.

Three BIG pathways have emerged that each of these successful people are travelling in their own best way. The three are people, processes, and how progress is measured.


The most successful leaders put their people first and ensure that they are working in the right roles for them.

In the workplaces of these leaders every person is working on a personal and professional development plan to see and bring out their best.

These plans focus daily communication, conversation and presentation.


The most successful leaders are ensuring that strong processes are in place that mean it's simple for people to bring their best to their work.

Processes include policies, procedures, practices, philosophies, principles, structures and systems.

In the very best workplaces all of these are under constant review and are being improved and updated regularly by the people doing the work.


This is the area that I've witnessed the biggest shifts by the most successful leaders.

Profit is just one way to measure progress. Increasingly the very best leaders are seeing profit rightly in my view i.e. it's a result of being good at business never a reason for being in business.

Increasingly the best are embracing a five-fold bottom line. I couldn't say this when I first introduced the concept almost 20 years ago.

In addition The Progress Principle is being widely embraced. This is all about "making progress in meaningful work visible.”

How are you tracking in these three BIG pathways of people, processes and progress?

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

The Five-Fold Bottom Line as I first articulated it in the year 2000

"Economic Prosperity:  Making monetary profit is essential for personal and business sustainability and growth; and for our being able to choose our lifestyle now and in the future.

Social Responsibility:  All organisations are made up of individual people.  The cost, and not just economically, of unhealthy and unhappy workers is probably immeasurable. Therefore every organisation has a role to play in helping to prevent social ills.  Businesses must be responsible members of the communities in which we operate. Corporate citizenship is now much more than a sneaky way to promote our brands. 

Environmental Sustainability:  Once, most of us turned a blind eye to waste disposal and a myriad of other environmental disasters. Thankfully most of us no longer do.  As the simple weekly collection of recyclable items in many Australian neighbourhoods demonstrates we can save our planet if we work together.  All businesses have a clear obligation to obtain and dispose of resources in ways that protect and sustain our environment.

Universal Harmony:  We are living in a global village.  The Internet in particular makes it possible to do business with almost anyone, almost anywhere, almost any time.  We are also at war in many places despite the obvious fact that war never leads to peace. As businesses we must ensure that what we make, sell and deliver does not, in any way, contribute to local or global disharmony.  Organisations increasingly have a role to help bring about and sustain universal harmony. 

Spiritual Validity:  In survey after survey what we repeatedly find is that people want, above all else, to be genuinely valued.  For a business this takes much more than being socially responsible.  At no previous time in history has there been such a search for meaning.  Many people are searching outside of the church for spiritual answers. The workplace can no longer be a place where people are treated as mere commodities, or God forbid, resources. 

We must build workplaces that are uplifting for the human spirit.  A bottom line that honours and values the spirit of all people leads to greater performance in all other areas. Organisations who ignore this do so at their peril.

These five bottom lines must be our targets."

Friday 18 October 2019

The awesome opportunities to innovate that happen every day

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

It amazes me that in organisations everywhere problems/challenges/disruptions are not seen as opportunities to innovate. Set yourself apart from the rest and innovate every day.

I define innovation as changing what’s normal when sameness or the status quo is no longer serving you. Four steps precede sustainable innovation. They're pictured below.

The first step, the fertile ground is the insight, idea or inspiration.

Often these come from a problem/challenge or disruption and a subsequent dip in performance. 

Often the insight, idea or inspiration is all there is. The politicians infamous thought bubble is a great example. In their case very rarely does anything innovative actually happen and the status quo is returned too or worse.

In the best organisations the dip in performance is seen as the great opportunity. When this is grasped implementation of insight/idea/inspiration actually happens.

An after-action-review should be a game-changer because the best time to review performance is as soon as possible after the performance. This is why all of the top sports coaches speak with their players in the rooms straight after the game!

Integration of new perceptions with what is already working well for you should be done next. 

I recommend the following 5 stage format for after-action-reviews and integration work:

1) Review one implementation action at a time and answer the following questions what happened and why? what did we learn, relearn, and unlearn? How can we be better, wiser and more valuable in applying these learnings? Who will we become? What will we do next?

2) Determine with your colleagues how your answers will be integrated with what is already working well for you.

3) Upgrade your individual, team and organisational plans and co-promises on a page accordingly.

4) Reflect new perceptions in appropriate standard operating procedures, policies and practices.

5) Upgrade learning and development materials.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Moving on from the disgusting and dangerous political game of creating us v them

This is a very powerful TED talk by author and academic Juan Enriquez. I hope it spreads so that we can move to #grownuppolitics and move as far away as possible from the Trumpian cultism we have been sucked into.

Be remarkable.

Monday 14 October 2019

Technology for the common good not just making a few people rich (Doug Rushkoff)

Wonderful 34 minute talk from Doug Rushkoff about how technology should and can be for the common good, not just making a few people rich.

My key takeaways

"Mass production disconnects the worker from the value they create.
Mass marketing disconnects the producer from the consumer.
Mass media disconnects the consumers from one another."

"Using technology to do something to people rather than providing technology for people to do things."

"Optimise an economy not for growth but for flow. Not for the extraction of value and its storage in share prices, but for the velocity of money, the velocity of transactions."

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday 11 October 2019

21st century leadership and management (post and podcast)

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

Much has changed since I entered the workforce 48 years ago.

When I began bosses were seen as God’s. They were revered or hated.

My first boss loved to say “It’s my way or the highway.” I eventually chose the highway.

Today 7 out of 10 people some research suggests don’t leave their employment, they leave their bosses.

When I first became a manager myself I was fortunate that my boss was a people as well as process person.

We arrived in the small town together. He knew the town and the people. I didn’t.

His advice to me was to go and meet everyone in the main three streets and find out how I could help them and then within company policy help them achieve what they say.

Regarding my two staff members he advised me to see their best and to focus on inspiring them to bring that best to their work.

I didn’t really know any better and his advice made sense so I followed it. I was very successful and within a year was promoted to managing a larger office.

It was there that I first began to really understand that leadership and management are two sides of the same coin and that leading is about people and management is about process.

Fast forward to now where I’m closing in on 30 years of being a mentor to leaders. Over this time I have been privileged to work with more than 1000 leaders, women and men in over 40 countries and across a myriad of diverse industries.

My conclusions are that my enlightened boss was right on the money with his advice to me as a brand new manager.

Is success in the future about leadership or management? is a question I am often asked.  My answer is that success is always about both leadership and management, never one or the other.  Therefore it is essential to understand,  appreciate and value the difference between them.

This is where there is often trouble.  For many management is still seen as controlling people and dictating what they feel, think and do and don’t feel, think and do.  This is a nasty hangover from the industrial revolution where it was assumed we could treat people like machines.  The headache this hangover has been allowed to cause is a massive barrier to progress in the 21st century in almost every aspect of our lives.  It is a fundamental reason for non-achievement of what is possible or just plain mediocrity in business, politics, education, family, religion, you name it.

My definitions of leadership and management are therefore sharper than ever.

I define leadership as the art of inspiring people to see and bring the best out in themselves and other people. I define management as the practice of making it simple for people to bring out their best.

For some management is still about command and control. This is fine in emergency situations otherwise it has reached dinosaur status. Don’t be a dinosaur.

Modern management is about ensuring processes mean it is simple for people to bring their best to their work. Processes include policies, procedures, practices, philosophies, principles, structures and systems.

Modern management needs modern leadership and vice-versa.

I suggest a primary action is upgrading all of your processes, policies, procedures, practices, philosophies, principles, structures and systems over time with your people because you will increase their ownership of and commitment to them. 

Then focus on leading. Just make sure that one of your processes is checking that all the other interconnected processes are working as intended. In today’s language we call this risk management.

This work is that of the Systemizer, one of 5 roles that are essential to master in order to see and bring out the best in people including yourself. Here is the performance possibility pulse check that enables you to see how you’re going in each role and where you can shift to.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.