Friday 26 February 2021

The certainty we can choose to have in our uncharted future

Listen to the podcast version of this post

VUCA is popular again. Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity are definitely part of life. They are one side of the coin.

The other side is Dependable, Predictable, Simple and Clear.

And then the edge of the coin is what Margaret Heffernan might call Uncharted which is the title of her new book. You can get this book here. A key to sustaining harmony is controlling the controllable's and maintaining peace of heart and mind.

A key to all of this is your change process. Do you have one?

If you are familiar with my work you will know mine. 

1. Appreciate what is, 

2. Imagine what can be,

3. Create quantum leaps (that’s small yet significant shifts) to move from what is to what can be.

4. Take the leaps.

5. Repeat.

The first four shifts gain momentum. Repeating the four shifts sustains momentum.  Quantum leaps allow for adjustments in the moment as you go.

There's a podcast here about these.

In addition to Dependable, Predictable, Simple and Clear, I’m also a fan of the idea of ‘SUPER VUCA by Kevin Roberts. He says “our job as creative leaders is to turn a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous world into one that is  Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy and Astounding."

Here is a 4 minutes and 46 seconds video from Kevin on this. 

My friend and colleague Gihan Perera wrote this great article on LinkedIn in 2015. Gihan says:

1. Expose Volatility: Do Rock the Boat

2. Use Uncertainty: Start Before You’re Ready

3. Challenge Complexity: Cut Through The Clutter

4. Act On Ambiguity: Seek Clarity

Here’s the thing, and one of the wonders of the modern world, help and suggestions are a click, a telephone call or a Zoom away.

Our future is mostly uncharted. Nobody has a crystal ball. Nevertheless we can thrive.

We just need to follow a change process and to choose wisely in each moment.

The immortal words of Viktor Frankl are here to guide us 

“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.”

Who will you become? What will you do next?

Become the wise leader you want to be.


PS “We cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

Wednesday 24 February 2021

Heart-Leaders are truth-tellers and unmask wilful blindness

A key role of real leaders in an age of fake news, post truth and conspiracy theories is to tell the truth (as you feel and see it) and to unmask wilful blindness.

I first thought deeply about Wilful Blindness when I read this book.

Get your copy here.

Political parties, religious organisations, and businesses all stain our society and hold back meaningful progress when they engage in wilful blindness.

It takes courage to talk about wilful blindness

Often wilful blindness is the elephant in the room.

Most of what could be better about an organisation is known yet unsaid (it is said underground and away from the organisation).

For over 30 years I have been walking into organisations as an adviser and I am told, usually within an hour, of what could be better and yet no one has raised issues with insiders for fear of reprisal or fear for their jobs and other nasty reasons.

A common reason is it's a cultural issue of not talking about what can be perceived as unpleasant.

I'll be addressing how to find the courage in a life stream event on March 16th 2021. Here's the details.

If you read this after this event please get in touch with me and we will decide together on how I can help you.

“Telling the truth and making someone cry is better than telling a lie and making someone smile.” Paolo Coelho

This is one of two books that I am currently studying (the other is overviewed below).

It's a book I highly recommend. Just the data alone will make you stand up and take notice. Get the book yourself here.

As I write this in the Australian Parliament there is a terrible saga going on where women allege rape and sexual harassment. Clearly the Parliament has a cultural problem. I see wilful blindness and an incredibly poor attitude towards women in general by many of the male occupants.

The following is from this article in The Saturday Paper quoting one of the victims:

"The reason for Brittany’s assault, and mine – and the ongoing disclosures I receive from other women – is the same reason there have been sexual abuse scandals in every self-regulating, autonomous or unpoliced fiefdom of power and privilege. What Australia seems wilfully blind to is that each of its enclaves of power – from religious institutions such as the Catholic Church, to the judiciary, corporations and financial institutions, to our parliaments – has a misogynistic, patriarchal power structure that enables the oppression, vilification and sexual abuse of women."

Being a truth-teller as a leader and being willing to unmask wilful blindness is essential I believe to overcome this tyranny.

Who will you become? What will you do next?

This book by one of Australia's most revered historians I am also currently studying.

Clearly we haven't told the truth about how we have treated our first people.

This sad and sorry tale is repeated the world over.

Along with ensuring equality and equity of opportunity for women, doing the same for our first people is a must do in order for our society to fully flourish.

If you are like me then deciding to become a truth-teller and an unmasker of wilful blindness requires a serious look in the mirror.

Simon Sinek's videos on the THE 5 PRACTICES TO LEAD IN THE INFINITE GAME were very helpful to me in overcoming my fears and self-doubts and so I highly recommend them.

I came across the videos while researching my Heart-Leadership book where I reference Simon's book 'The Infinite Game'.

Eliminating injustice is my just cause. Being a part of the movement to enable women, first peoples and everyone else who is currently discriminated against, mistreated, and as yet without equity of opportunity, is one way that I am being a truth-teller and unmasker of wilful blindness. I invite you to be one too.

In this hugely popular video the former head of Australia's defence forces and later Australian of the year David Morrison (using words by his former boss I believe David Hurley) and speaking about respect for women said "The standard you walk past is the standard you accept"

This inspiring call to action should send shivers down your spine and inspire you to be a real leader by being a truth-teller regardless of the injustices you witness.

Become the wise leader you want to be. Ian

PS This from my colleague, The Quiet Disruptor, Sue Heatherington.

"We don’t need to shout,

but we do need to speak.

We can’t make everything right,

but we can make some things better."

Read the full piece here.

Monday 22 February 2021

How would you describe the heart-beat of your workplace?

I love this story by ABC South East SA's Bec Whetham about ex-teacher Toni Vorenas who has turned a tiny cafe into award-winning mega business.

Photo courtesy of ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham.

What I most love is this statement by employee Sammi Cummins"You'll never work in a place like it … it's got its own heartbeat. You've got to learn a new rhythm, a whole new language,"

How would you describe the heart-beat of your workplace?
What's the rhythm and language where you work?

Become the wise leader you want to be.

Friday 19 February 2021

What makes your most productive and joyful day?

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For health reasons initially I reduced my working hours a year ago from about 60 hours per week to around 25 today. I’ve also rejuvenated my life in many other ways. I’m ten times more productive than I was and lead a more joyful life.

One of my favourite authors is the young historian Rutger Bregman. He suggests shorter workweeks could help reduce accidents, combat climate change, make the genders more equal, and a whole lot more.

In this 2017 article Rutger quotes the famous British economist John Maynard Keynes who predicted in 1930 that by 2030, we’ll be working just fifteen hours a week. I might be onto something!

What makes your most productive and joyful day

Most of my week days go like this:

  • I rise around 8 AM after eight hours sleep and do some meditation based on heart energy and getting in touch with my unique rhythm.
  • I then work for about an hour.
  • An exercise routine of 15 minutes recommended by my physio follows.
  • I then have breakfast with Carol.
  • We take a walk with our dog Molly for 20 - 40 minutes.
  • On return I work for 90 minutes. This time is often my best writing time.
  • I then do some gardening or physical work around our home for an hour or so.
  • Carol and I then have a light lunch.
  • I work for another 90 minutes. 
  • Then I read or relax for about an hour.
  • I then work for 40 minutes or so
  • I follow this with another 10 minutes of exercise designed just for me.
  • Carol and I then get ready for our evening meal.

What makes your most productive and joyful day?

Who will you become? What will you do next?

Suggested Action

Get this book.

Decide how to apply the "less but better" concept in your own best way.

I began this journey in August 2015. I'm still on the path. 

It continues to be a highly rewarding journey.

I've also preordered the authors next book 'Effortless'

Become the wise leader you want to be.


Wednesday 17 February 2021

Lead people, manage processes reminder

On September 1st 2020 I did a video and blog post about this topic. Here they are.

This is a reminder. 

I may keep reminding you.

There are still people who think they can control other people and tell other people what to do. I believe this is an injustice to people that is holding them back.

If you are not one of them. Thank You. May who you are and what you do influence others and inspire them to lead people and manage processes.

Key actions

1) agree with people on outputs and how you will appreciate, support and value them. Then get out of the way.

2) systematically review all your processes (they include policies, procedures, practices, philosophies, principles, structures and systems ) and ensure they mean that it is simple for people to bring their best to their work every day.

If you'd like some help contact me on +61 418 807 898. The first 30 minutes on Zoom is complimentary.

Alternatively become a Patron or participate in this online workshop.

Become the wise leader you want to be.

Monday 15 February 2021

Conversations about leading with heart - my new professional service

I've been making adjustments to how I provide value in the digital world while keeping my work decidedly human. This is the last piece of the puzzle. It's about engaging with a wider audience of egalitarian leaders.

Learn more here about becoming a VIP Patron. You can then join me in two livestream events and one Q & A per month. All designed to help you to become the wise leader you want to be.

Become the wise leader you want to be.

Learn more about all my resources, courses and professional services via links below

Friday 12 February 2021

What does wisdom mean to you?

This is the first edition of my relaunched monthly newsletter. It officially comes out next Monday 15th February. I wanted to give you blog subscribers first read. To subscribe for future editions scroll down and subscribe here.

Listen to the podcast version of this post

For over twenty years now I have kept Viktor Frankl’s wise words close to my heart:

"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.”

Whenever I stumble or simply stay on my path in bringing the best version of me to the moment, these words have great meaning.

Since 2014 I have endeavoured to live the life of a nowist, inspired initially by the work of Joi Ito and building on Eckhart Tolle’s great contribution ‘The Power of Now’. I reread this recently for the third time since my initial discovery of his book in the year 2000.

Living in the now gives perspective to our past and our future as well as enriching the gifts of hindsight, foresight and insight.

I meet lots of people living in the past and wondering why the present isn’t what they want.

I meet lots of people waiting for the future, predicting it will be better, yet doing little in the now that will create their desired future.

The most joyful people I know are nowists.

In my Heart-Leadership book I was thrilled to be able to include stories from my colleagues in the Heart-Leadership Online Village. Brad Smith’s ‘now over normal’ story is highly relevant here. The mantra Brad and his people developed is one of my favourites, ‘accept the now/appreciate the now’. I’ve adopted the mantra myself.

I don’t want to be normal. Of course by definition each of us is a one-of-a-kind human being and so normal is actually an oxymoron.

Brene Brown sums it all up beautifully: “There will be no new normal. There will only be a series of not normal.”

I’m inspired my many people throughout history who were nowists. I’m a student in particular of the Renaissance and the Reformation periods of the 14th through 17th centuries and the likely birth therein of humanism. 

700 years ago knowledge was power. And it was power wielded by a few over the many.

Today I believe that wisdom is power and such power is about how the wise inspire others to be and to become wise.

Wisdom can be illusive. Ask ten people what does wisdom mean to them, and likely you will get ten different answers.

What does wisdom mean to you?

Before the printing press invention in 1439 knowledge was definitely power. Printing enabled a shift from the few having access to knowledge to many people having access. This didn’t necessarily lead to wisdom though.

For centuries the English Church was governed from Rome. Most people couldn’t read the bible because they could not read Latin. Church leaders therefore acted as self-appointed mediators between God and the people, with Priests primarily interpreting the bible for their congregations.

William Tyndale first printed an English translation of the bible in the 1534. It caused furore to say the least. It was strictly forbidden then to translate the bible into English. Tyndale believed everyone should be able to read and interpret for themselves. He was executed because of his belief. I feel he would have died proud that he acted in the now for what he believed was in everyone’s best interests.

We are a little more civilised in most places today. Sometimes on social media and in the language of angry, misinformed protesters, and those that incite them, it seems we have learned very little.

The internet of course has been the great enabler of giving access to information to most people. 

In an era of fake news, post-truth and conspiracy theories though it is difficult to sort out disinformation and just plain lies from reality right?

Hence I offer the following definition of wisdom as a conversation starter: wisdom is being true to yourself in the now regardless of the situation.

My favourite insight about this is from William Shakespeare. In his play Hamlet, that was first performed in 1609, is the famous line that you of course know, “this above all, to thine own self be true.”

As I have discovered Aristotle had a similar perspective. He said “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

What does wisdom mean to you?

Your answer I believe is a key to the thriving of your leadership.

Image courtesy of Nick Helliwell

Hit reply and share your answers with me should you like me to share your insights with others in the next newsletter on March 15th.

You may like to join in a first Wednesday sparkenation conversation in the meantime. My next special guest is Simone Boer. Our big theme is always about becoming the wise leader you want to be. With Simone, who is a member of my Heart-Leadership Peer Group, on March 3rd we’re specifically exploring ‘Setting yourself free from your limiting beliefs.’ The registration link to this complimentary event is here. At the link is also recordings of the last four conversations.

The other special event in March is the inaugural Heart-Leadership Online Workshop. There’s two time options which means you can participate wherever you happen to be in the world. You’ll see a link to the details at the above link. You will also see that if you have my Heart-Leadership book the workshop is complimentary.

Become the wise leader you want to be.

Wednesday 10 February 2021

Focus on reasons before results

I love the sound of the French noun raison d'ĂȘtre (reason for being). Mine is eliminating injustice.

I love the work of Simon Sinek in this area. Here you will find five great videos from him on what he calls THE 5 PRACTICES TO LEAD IN THE INFINITE GAME.

We're discussing these five at the moment in our conversations in the Heart-Leadership Online Village.

You may love to join us. We're currently inviting for new Residents to join us. Learn more here and then get in touch.

Become the wise leader you want to be.

Friday 5 February 2021

Conventional wisdom is often unwise

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Image courtesy of

Buckminster Fuller was a renowned 20th century visionary living from 1895 through 1983. He offered many great insights in his lifetime. One was about work and jobs. It has always intrigued me. He said:

“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”

― Buckminster Fuller

Fascinating right?

On the Parliament of Australia website there’s a lot of interesting information that we rarely or never hear about in the media. One such piece of information is about Universal Basic Income. Here's the information.

Currently in Australia the Labor Party, the so-called opposition (now there’s a bit of conventional wisdom I think unwise), are talking about job creation as a key part of their climate change policy. A very good idea I reckon. Of course the Government is rubbishing the idea. Yet another example of unwise conventional wisdom right there, partisan politics in an age of collaboration.

Not a word by anybody about Universal Basic Income. Yet from my reading on the subject it could be a wonderfully successful concept socially and economically.

How about in your organisation? What conventional wisdom is being followed, yet it is actually unwise?

One example I see is performance appraisals. Despite overwhelming evidence that appraisals are bad for people’s well-being many organisations still have them.

What about in your neighbourhood/community, your personal life? What conventional wisdom is being followed, yet it is actually unwise?

There is much about the status quo that no longer serves. Wise leaders are about replacing the status quo when sameness is no longer serving us.

Who will you become? What will you do next?

Become the wise leader you want to be.


PS In my Heart-Leadership book there's lots of wisdom about moving away from the status quo when sameness is no longer serving you or it's become clear that conventional wisdom is actually unwise. At the link you'll see that you have complimentary access to videos, podcasts and self-directed online courses, as well as the getting the book.

PSS Every first Wednesday I host a complimentary sparkenation conversation with a special guest on a variety of topics yet always about becoming the wise leader you want to be. Learn more and watch the video recordings of the last four conversations.

Wednesday 3 February 2021

Heart-Leadership explored, a conversation with Geoff McDonald

I'm thrilled with how this conversation with my friend and colleague Geoff McDonald about my Heart-Leadership book came out:

It's a temporary departure from my weekly practice of posting an under 5 minutes video.

It's a great introduction to the book and my work with egalitarian leaders.

Become the wise leader you want to be.

Monday 1 February 2021

It was all a lie

I'm coming towards the end of this book.

I wouldn't say I have enjoyed reading this because inside are many stories and insights that are ugly and shameful.

I do highly recommend the book though. It's already on my recommended reading list.

I bought the book because I wanted to better understand how someone like Donald Trump could get elected and even more, stay in office. I also wanted to read something by an insider rather than someone outside of the Republican Party.

It's no secret that I am appalled by Trump and everything he seems to stand for. I've been saying so regularly since before he got elected.

Here are some sobering lines from this book:

NB Book written well before 2020 election.

"... the court concluded: there is almost no voter fraud in American elections." 

"The Republican Party has invested heavily in the myth of voter fraud."

"Watching the Republican Party is like watching a friend drink himself to death."

"The modern Democratic Party has fought for civil rights and believes government has a moral role in helping to create racial  equality in America. The modern Republican Party has fought civil rights and is very hesitant to assert government has a role in equality of any sort, including racial."

"Family values" was never a set of morals that the Republican Party really desired to live by, instead "family values" was useful in attacking and defining Democrats."

"The entire modern Republican definition of the conservative movement is about efforts to define itself as "normal" and everything else as "not normal"".

"The embrace of Trump by the Republican party is a repudiation of everything we claim to believe."

"One of the hallmarks of the Trump era is the alacrity with which intelligent people embraced stupidity."

"Republicans live in a world disconnected from reality."

"Republicans have built a political ecosphere that thrives on deceit and lies. It is an industrialised sort of deceit that is unique to the Republican Party."

"Conspiracies are dominant realities in the world Trump and his followers inhabit."

We live in troubled times politically.

I have the same despair for the Liberal National Party in federal government here in Australia as I do for the Republican Party in America.

I'm not confident in the Labor Party here in Australia or the Democratic Party in America either.

I feel politics is broken.

I do feel that President Biden and Vice-President Harris are the kind of decent people who might lead us to a peaceful world. We all have to be better for this to happen.

I'm impressed that Mr Biden already has an approval rating that Trump never reached.

I'm confident in business people who have integrity and who get that truly valuing people, living values and exchanging and delivering value is the way forward. Such people are taking the issues like equality, climate change and aged care seriously. This is despite that fact that the federal government is out of touch and out of step. 

We can solve our problems and meet our challenges in civil and innovative ways despite the Trumps of this world who believe it is all about them.

Who will you become? What will you do next?

Become the wise leader you want to be.

PS If you know of a good book written by a Democrat insider about the Democratic Party in America please let me know. I'm always keen to understand all sides of the story. I see them as a political party in deep trouble too.

PSS I read Heather Cox Richardson's Letters From An American every day. I'd say she is a Democrat yet she gives a very balanced view of the truth of what is going on it seems to me. Her 28th January post where she quotes Former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center Robert Grenier as follows:

 “I watched as enraged crowds in the streets of Algiers, as in most Arab capitals, melted away when Saddam Hussein was ignominiously defeated in the Persian Gulf war,” Grenier wrote. “Mass demonstrations in Pakistan in support of Osama bin Laden fell into dull quiescence when he was driven into hiding after Sept. 11. To blunt the extremists, Mr. Trump’s veneer of invincibility must similarly be crushed.”

In all my years of studying U.S. politics, seamy side and all, I never expected to see the name of an American president in the New York Times in a list comparing him to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. But then, I never expected to see an American president urge a mob to storm the U.S. Capitol to overturn an election, either.
Heather Cox Richardson