Monday 31 August 2020

Leaders don't always know best. They do know who to rely on for what's best

One of the things about politicians that I detest is that many of them think they know best despite a pile of evidence to the contrary.

Thankfully some who deny the overwhelming advice from people who know about climate change are paying more attention to health experts DC (during corona). There's some notable exceptions of course!

Who do you rely on for advice? 

When people come to you asking questions do you answer them honestly? Do you say "I don't know", when you don't?

Social media is dominated by opinions and those for and against. Very little of it is the truth and nothing but the truth.

Who are you paying attention to?

We need less pontificating and posturing in our world and more genuine focus on the needs of people and the best, proven ways to meet these needs.

You may know best about some things. Mostly however you need other people you can rely on for what's best.

Who will you become?
What will you do next?

One way forward is to embrace Heart-Leadership in your own best way. The heart knows. The head lies. Learn more.

Be remarkable.


Friday 28 August 2020

Everything of meaning and value begins with harmony

Listen to the podcast version of this post

Today’s post and podcast draws from writing my Heart-Leadership book. I’m currently workshopping the book for the first time with group of leadership peers from different organisations. I will then complete the writing ready for publication by the end of November 2020.

Harmony is perhaps my all time favourite word. I believe everything of meaning and value begins with harmony.

Harmony, Heart, Head, Hands in this order lead to coherence which in turn leads to happenstance (i.e. coincidence, synchronicity, serendipity).

“Coherence is the state when the heart, mind and emotions are in energetic alignment and cooperation,” HeartMath Institute Research Director Dr. Rollin McCraty says. “It is a state that builds resiliency – personal energy is accumulated, not wasted – leaving more energy to manifest intentions and harmonious outcomes.”

We are in great need of coherence right now when many world leaders are incoherent. 

It all starts with Harmony.

The idea of harmony is perhaps best illustrated in the ancient Chinese philosophy of yin and yang.

I observe many apparent opposing forces in the workplace. I make a difference to my clients through work with them that brings these forces together in harmony.


Relationships and tasks,

Processes and outcomes,

Commitment and competency,

Influence and standards,

People and systems,

Effectiveness and efficiency,

Growth and sustainability,

Bosses and employees,

Masculine and feminine,

Leadership and management,

 to name just a few areas where there can be tension that is not helpful and therefore achievements are far less than what is possible.

The great disharmony is between leadership and management. It’s caused by business owners, bosses, executives and shareholders holding onto the concept of people management, an oxymoron if ever there was one.

Where do you see disharmony?

How could you be better, wiser, more valuable in creating and sustaining harmony?

Resources to help you

As I complete the writing of the Heart-Leadership book I'm recording short videos as well as podcasts for posterity. There's also online courses. You'll find them all at this web page.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.


Wednesday 26 August 2020

Doing work that is Meaningful For You and Highly Valuable For Others

In the past eight years I’ve been very focused on doing work that is meaningful for me and highly valued by the people I work with. These two I believe are key for all of us to thriving in the new world of work.

My quest began because I’ve never thought much of the idea that 'what gets measured gets done'. I’m much more aligned with the William Bruce Cameron insight:

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

I highly recommend forgetting about measuring stuff and just focus on doing work that you find meaningful and that is also highly valuable for the right people for you. I feel this is front and centre in the new world of work which looks like this:

There are many ways to discover what kind of work is meaningful to you.

In my Heart-Leadership book being published in November 2020 I explore creating a Career and Life Calling Card as one way to find out what is meaningful to you. I draw heavily on the works of Joseph Campbell, Ken Robinson, Steven Farber, Daniel Pink, and Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles for their work in the area of vocation/work/mission/purpose. 

Sadly Ken passed away a few days ago. This video demonstrates why he will be sadly missed yet never forgotten.

In Heart-Leadership I recommend creating a one-page visual Career and Life Calling Card where you would feature your answers the following questions:

Can Do

What do I know?
What are my key skills?
What is my real expertise?
How do I practice what I know?

Will do

What is my attitude to living?
What am I really committed to?
How can I be more disciplined in taking action?
How I am really different from others who do what I do?

Love to do

My purpose in life is?
I am passionate about?
I find Joy in?
My art is?
My essence is?

People who love what I do

How do I 
Serve others?
Help people achieve what is important to them?
Solve people’s problems?
Offer solutions to people’s challenges?
Exchange value with other people?
Deliver value to other people?

Be remarkable.

Monday 24 August 2020

4 key questions to ask before your next meeting

 I limit myself to two Zoom sessions per day at the absolute maximum. The last thing I want is fatigue.

In speaking with people, particularly those still in DC (during corona) lockdown a common theme is meetings. My conversations really are tales of the good, the bad and the ugly!

The four questions in this article by Elizabeth Doty really nail it when it comes to ensuring good meetings:

1) Why are we gathering?
2) Who needs to be here?
3) What conversation needs to happen?
4) How might we create the conditions for that conversation?

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday 21 August 2020

14 ways to live well and work wisely

Listen to the podcast version of this post

Today’s post and podcast draws from adjustments I've made to how I live and work while researching and writing my Heart-Leadership book.

We’re all making adjustments right? 

The world will not be returning to normal. 

This is a great thing. Normal wasn’t serving us well.

The good news is that when we all focus on living well and working wisely we can build a better, fairer, kinder world.

He’s my top 14 ways to live well and work wisely:

1. Heart-focused meditation daily.

2. Plant based diet 5 days a week.

3. Daily walk, gratitude and home exercise rituals.

4. Living and Modelling Heart Qualities - love (philia), gratitude, appreciation, care, happiness, compassion, harmony, kindness.

5. No more than two Zoom sessions per day.

6. Having at least one helpful conversations with a client, colleague, or candidate every week day.

7. Working in 90 minute blocks and then taking a break to re-energise.

8. Giving value via online courses and resources via blog which is now Read (Monday’s), Watch and Read (Wednesdays), Listen and Read (Friday’s).

9. Hosting one-of-a-kind Sparkenation conversations online.

10. Leading The Heart-Leadership Online Village.

11. Presenting/co-presenting board-room briefings on Heart-Leadership, Strategic Heartistry and other selected and relevant topics for leadership, CEO and other peer groups.

12. Conducting Heart-Leadership Check-ups.

13. Facilitating Heart-Leadership and Strategic Heartistry programs.

14. Working equivalent to 10 days per month (Feb - Nov); 4 days per month for fee and the rest as above.

In creating your very own ways to live well and work wisely what would you include?

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.


Wednesday 19 August 2020

Choice is a powerful gift

Viktor Frank chose joy in the most difficult of circumstances. 

While a prisoner in Auschwitz where over one million people died he wrote: 

"Between stimulus and response there is a space. 
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom." 

A mantra I use to choose a response to stimuli rather than react to what happens is ‘Start With The Heart’. 

The more I put this mantra into practice the more joyful my life is, the better choices I make, and the less I concern myself with what other people do or don’t do. 

Every choice you make is a gift. You get to choose your intentions, feelings, thoughts, behaviours, everything.

My friend and colleague W. Mitchell put it this way:

Possible Actions

1) Examine with your team your last 5 major decisions and answer the following questions:

Do you follow a process that means your decisions are transparent meaning people can see how you made the decisions even when they don’t agree with them?

2) Look back over the last week as an individual reviewing the every day choices you’ve made. 

How aligned were you with your essence? How many times did you feel unable to sing your song? And how often did you sing it? What lessons are here for you to take on board and sing your song more often?

3) Explore this blog post with your team mates and decide what your one word will be as a team and as individuals for the next year.

Be remarkable.



Monday 17 August 2020

The most interesting facts about the Fortune Global 500 isn't the profits they're making

The Fortune Global 500 list of companies came out recently.


What I found interesting was not the fact (apparently) that their combined revenues are about 40% of the world's economy, rather that they only employ 69.9 million people i.e. less than 1% of the world's population.

You might get the impression that I'm not at all impressed by corporations. You'd be right. They control the world it seems to me, and most politicians do what the so-called leaders of these behemoths tell them.

Granted there are some purpose-driven leaders amongst the ranks. They are the exception though not the rule. I think the salaries paid to most executives in corporations is immoral, unethical and in no way reflects the value of their contribution to their companies or most importantly society.

I do back up these feelings with my actions. I do not advise or mentor executives in corporations unless there is indisputable evidence they are purpose and not shareholder driven. 

The stock market is nothing more than licensed gambling. It ignores the many people who own and operate private and family owned businesses, and the zillions of SME's who with these private and family companies employ the most people.

Yes I buy things from giants like Amazon and Apple. I would not own shares in them. 

Where do you stand?

Be remarkable.


PS the other interesting things about the Fortune Global 500 list are 1) China has 124 companies listed and the USA 121. A sign of the times perhaps and the rise of one empire and the decline of another. 2) These companies are only represented by 32 countries.

Friday 14 August 2020

Compete with yourself, collaborate with everyone else

Listen to the podcast version of this post

Today’s post and podcast draws material from the Progress sustainability Sparkenation in my Heart-Leadership book.

In times of uncertainty or crisis, fear often emerges and some people revert to the old command and control behaviour, or take action that is only in their best interests.

The rush on toilet paper and then other products DC (during corona) is a perfect example of fear and self-interest driven behaviour.

I encourage you to lean in to yourself. Compete with yourself. Seek to collaborate with everyone else.

My online course Relationships, Reasons and Routines Guarantee Results may help you. This short course consists of five videos (total viewing time 46 minutes and 38 seconds) and a short workbook. Begin this course from here.

Here’s some of the inspirations, insights, ideas and actions from this course.

You're accountable for your intentions, feelings, thoughts, and behaviours and actions. You're not accountable for anyone else's. 

What other people do or don't do is none of your business. 

This is sometimes difficult to grasp and accept. Doing so is essential to being the best version of you.

We are all doing our best. One of my all time favourite conversations about this concept is between Russell Brand and Brene Brown. Listen/watch yourself here.

Take this Compete With Yourself Action often. You can apply it to any area of your life.

1. Describe an outcome/circumstance you want to improve in your life/work. 

2. Then list how you can change or modify your behaviour, your thoughts, your feelings, your intentions, in relation to what you want to improve. These are the key processes that lead to a change of outcome or circumstance.

Take this collaborate with everyone else action. You can apply in to any relationship in your life.

 1. Detail a relationship you want to improve in your life/work. 

2. Then list how you can change or modify your commitment, your finding common ground, how you make connection, the regularity and kind of contact you have with the person you want to improve your relationship with. These are the key processes that lead to an improved.

What's worth celebrating in your life and work? and What can be better?

I've been asking myself these two questions every day for more than 40 years.

I believe they're two very powerful questions because they ensure I began every day grateful and focused.

Try the above yourself for at least a month. It will help you to ensure that this year is your best year yet. Maybe this will become a life-long habit!

For more than a quarter of a century these two questions have been the foundational performance energetic conversations by my clients. Several clients began their team meetings with answers to these questions.

These two questions are critical in the quest of competing with yourself and collaborating with everyone else.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.


Wednesday 12 August 2020

Hearing Your Heart, Quantum Leaps and Aggregation of Marginal Gains

 There's three key principles that I work with my clients on to help them to achieve what they want:

1) Clarity of desired result/change.

2) Creating and taking quantum leaps.

3) Aggregation of marginal gains.

Stephen R. Covey got it right when he said "begin with the end in mind."

From this position of clarity there's millions of options as to who to be and what to do next. I favour quantum leaps and the aggregation of marginal gains.

Get really clear on what you want to achieve/change and then design and take a series of small yet significant shifts.

I've been working with the true science of quantum leaps for many years. More about quantum leaps here.

When I added "the aggregation of marginal gains" to my work I began see better results and a lot less personal and business costs for my clients.

I first learned about "the aggregation of marginal gains" from James Clear in his great book Atomic Habits where he shares the success story of British Cycling and the instigator Performance Director Dave Brailsford. Please read the excerpt from the book about this yourself.

By choosing to be and do just a little bit better, wiser and/or more valuable my clients can achieve their own version of the British Cycling Team's success summarised by James Clear as follows:

"Just five years after Brailsford took over, the British Cycling team dominated the road and track cycling events at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where they won an astounding 60 percent of the gold medals available.  Four years later, when the Olympic Games came to London, the Brits raised the bar as they set nine Olympic records and seven world records.

That same year, Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France. The next year, his teammate Chris Froome won the race, and he would go on to win again in 2015, 2016, and 2017, giving the British team five Tour de France victories in six years."

A key is start with your heart

The three principles I summarise here work better when you start with your heart. Hear your heart first regarding the what and why, then ask your head how and then engage your hands to do your work. This is heart-leadership. 

More on heart, head, hands here.

Be remarkable.

Monday 10 August 2020

Navigating The Mindfield with Anne Riches

Thrilled that my long standing friend and colleague Anne Riches was my special guest in this Sparkenation conversation.

Go here for the previous month's conversation with Steve Simpson on UGRs (unwritten ground rules) and workplace culture, and to learn about the upcoming conversation with Peter Milligan on September 2nd 2020. All three conversations are linked.

Be remarkable.


Friday 7 August 2020

The game-changer of checklists

‘The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right’ by medical doctor Atul Gawande wonderfully illustrates how checklists save lives.

We know that DC (during corona) following a 6 point checklist has saved lives. 

I’m sure you’ve seen a version of the following

1. Wash your hands often.
2. Avoid close contact.
3. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
4. Cover coughs and sneezes.
5. Clean and disinfect.
6. Monitor Your Health Daily.

Once not even doctors washed their hands. As the good doctor points out in his book this cost many lives. Importantly doctors adopting the practice as routine has saved many lives.

In operating theatres a leader calls time out to check that everything is in place and all instruments etc are accounted for. This simple checklist has saved many lives and many pre and post operation disasters.

In my work I use checklists for many things to ensure that I never leave anything important or vital out of interactions and transactions. I encourage my clients to adopt checklists as a matter of normal practice. Many report the well-being impact on people as well as financial savings and rewards.

Here’s two examples:

The Future Manifesto

‘The Future Manifesto, 10 guiding principles for co-creating a positive future’ is an ongoing project I am engaged in with colleagues from The Right Company.

Manifesto’s make great checklists. I use The Future Manifesto in a number of ways. One way is to choose one or more of the 10 guiding principles as an overarching theme for my work over a set period of time. For example while writing my Heart-Leadership book June - August 2020 I chose principles 1., 4. & 7. (see below).

So every morning before beginning to write I check-in with these three principles and align my intention through hearing my heart and then asking my head. I then engage my hands and write.

“The 10 guiding principles

1. Focus on inspiration more than motivation.
2. Jump from competition to collaboration.
3. See what emerges when you dance with fear, ambiguity, and not-knowing.
4. Discover the inner energy of your breath and your heart.
5. Your health and that of the world are one.
6. Start your mission to be kinder than necessary.
7. Create something humanity really needs.
8. Move from measurement into the universe of possibility.
9. Join the infinite game and become a compass and guiding star.
10. Take this as a time of opportunities, unique in our history.”

The Career and Life-calling Card

Discovering our life’s work is one of the most fulfilling quests we can achieve. I recommend creating a checklist like the career and life-called card below and reviewing it at least twice a year to see where you’re at and where you could move to.

According to Gallup and many other leading researchers into employee engagement, most of the world’s employees are not fully engaged in their work.

There are many reasons for this disaster.

Often overlooked is the fact that millions of people aren't able or allowed to do what they love in the service of people who love what they do. Hence they're disengaged. A career and life-calling card helps.

I’m am very grateful to the works of Joseph Campbell, Ken Robinson, Steven Farber, Daniel Pink, and Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles for their work in the area of vocation/work/mission/purpose.

The concept of “Follow your bliss” from Joseph Campbell in ‘Hero of a thousand faces’ has always resonated with me since I first read the book over 30 years ago. It means "doing what we can't not do."

In an excellent book ‘The Element - how finding your passion changes everything’, Ken Robinson says about the element “the place where the things we love to do and the things we are good at come together.”

“Do what you love, in the service of people who love what you do.” Steven Farber in ‘The Radical Leap’ is perhaps my favourite line of all time when it comes to meaningful work.

What drives us according to Daniel Pink in ‘A Whole New Mind’ and ‘Drive - the surprising truth about what motivates us.’ Is the three factors below:

“Autonomy: the urge to direct our own lives
Mastery: the desire to get better and better at something that matters
Purpose: the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves”

The Japanese say everyone has an ikigai. The French call it raison d’etre. In their beautiful book ‘Ikigai The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life’, Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles quote from people born in Okinawa, the island with the most centenarians in the world - “our ikigai is the reason we get up in the morning.”

All of these works and from my own experience in working with people to find their essence I conclude that our life’s work, our reasons for being is found at the intersection between Can do, Will do, Love to do, and People who love what I do. 

I recommend creating a one-page visual checklist Career and Life-called Card where you would feature your answers the following questions:

Can Do

What do I know?
What are my key skills?
What is my real expertise?
How do I practice what I know?

Will do

What is my attitude to living?
What am I really committed to?
How can I be more disciplined in taking action?
How I am really different from others who do what I do?

Love to do

My purpose in life is?
I am passionate about?
I find Joy in?
My art is?
My essence is?

People who love what I do

How do I 
Serve others?
Help people achieve what is important to them?
Solve people’s problems?
Offer solutions to people’s challenges?
Exchange value with other people?
Deliver value to other people?

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 5 August 2020

One rule to cover many situations

There’s a big focus on rules right now in Victoria Australia where I live. Authorities have declared a state of disaster because of surges with the corona virus. In Melbourne there’s a curfew, the first of my lifetime.

It’s led me to contemplate higher purpose rules as I explore in 1 minute and 13 seconds video below.

“Use good judgement in all situations” has been the one rule at Nordstrom’s for over 100 years.

Ritz-Carlton have their $2000 rule. Employees can spend up to $2,000 per incident to rescue a guest experience.

My one rule is a lot less grand yet profoundly effective. I’m seeking to see the essence in every person I’ve have a conversation with and to reflect their one-of-a-kind significance back to them.

What’s your one rule?

Be remarkable.

Monday 3 August 2020

Future Manifesto - 10 guiding principles for co-creating a positive future

I've loved co-creating this manifesto with my colleagues at The Right Company. HT to Michael Wahrheit who leads the project magnificently.

My favourite personal use of this manifesto is to randomly choose one of the 10 principles and use it as a guiding theme for the week. Happenstance has followed!

I highly recommend downloading the 10 principles as cards from the web site here. 

There's also a PDF version that you can download.

Be remarkable.