100+ articles on career, creativity and change

 

personal development blog

Join my personal development blog mailing list

Christmas reading

It’s that time of year again when I share my Christmas reading list. Those books that have inspired me the most during the year gone by. Skin in the Game (2018) — Nassim Taleb This has truly been the year of Taleb for me. His latest book, Skin in the Game, was a real...

read more

It’s not personal

Have you had a recent encounter with someone that has been “difficult”? That made you think, what is going on here? Is it me? What am I doing wrong? Whilst there may certainly be a problem specific to your interaction or relationship. It is also entirely...

read more

Remembering to remember

There often exists a gap between insight and action. Seeing the remedy does not automatically translate into implementing it. Particularly, in the realm of personal change. Sometimes, that’s because the status quo is comfortable, a place of habit....

read more

What does it take to be a coach?

I was recently asked to say something on the matter of setting-up oneself as a coach and it really got me thinking: What does it take to be a coach?As coaches, we are immersed in the vast world of human dynamics. Where every day is an encounter with...

read more

On the origin of feedback

I learnt last night that when Darwin's On the Origin of Species was first published in 1859, one of the first persons the book was sent to for review was the Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce. Unsurprisingly, it received truly scathing feedback. And,...

read more

Adding value, or stroking your ego?

Every one of us wants to feel like we are adding value, both in the workplace and beyond. When we make comments, suggestions and criticisms. But, what if sometimes you are not adding value at all, but rather doing the opposite?Feeling appreciatedI am sure...

read more

What are you running from?

We’ve all got an escape. Whether it’s binge watching Netflix, getting lost in instagram, alcohol, smoking, partying-like-an-animal, going on holiday or just jogging, these can all be forms of escapism. But, not necessarily. Is it escapism? Escapism is...

read more

Signalling your worth

We spend a lot of time and energy trying to signal our worth to others. In the way that we dress and act. In what we say and buy. All that it shows is how much we doubt our own self worth.Social fearYes, we are social animals with an evolutionary habit....

read more

A meditation on leadership

“What is true leadership?” is a question I have struggled with for many years. And, the more that I reflected on it, the more difficult it seemed to put my finger on what it actually is.I have always known what true leadership is not. How fake ideas of...

read more

Deciding what to decide

What if all the little decisions you make on a daily basis are stopping you from really considering the ones that matter? From consciously deciding the deepest most fundamental aspects of your life? Decision making in a complex world is part of modern...

read more

To be, or not to be (a cat)?

I nearly fell down the stairs as I walked under this billboard into the Seoul underground. What made Kang Daniel become a cat? Was it to sell more concert tickets and song downloads? Was it the craziness of the K-Pop industry? Was it pressure from his...

read more

Don’t become an android

Recently, someone invited me to a social thing that I didn’t want to go to. Luckily, I was coaching that afternoon, so I replied that I was “working”. However, I hesitated momentarily mid-sentence, which made my genuine excuse seem like a falsehood. But, what really...

read more

Seeking the truth

Seeking the truth, if there is such a thing as the truth, is: Not about being right Not about proving your point Not about avoiding complexity Not about greed Not about winning or losing Not about virtue signalling Not about advancing your social status...

read more

Like Chinese water torture

Recently, I have started to notice more and more the dangers of emotional shutdown at work. How the environment of 9-to-5 (or 9-to-11 for some) can cause serious emotional disconnection from life itself. Numbness I left the intense world of private equity...

read more

Digital messiah

Technology is a beautiful thing and tremendously useful. But, a bit like a knife, it can hurt us if we are not extremely careful. I had dinner with an old friend last night who also happens to be a machine learning and AI expert. And, what I heard made me...

read more

So simple, yet so difficult

I was having a chat with the barista at my favourite local coffee spot in East London today. And, we got talking about life, as you do. Baristas and bartenders often fulfil the dual role of beverage provider and therapist. As we talked, he went on to say...

read more

The point of strategy

Having a vision, a strategy, is so important. Whether the realm in question is business or life, it is very useful to have an orientation. To know what inspires you and what you are aiming for. However, we have to also be mindful that we don’t get...

read more

Negative space

I recently became fascinated with an artwork that was all about negative space — that is the space surrounding and in between the central figure. Initially the viewer’s attention is captured by the presenting figure, the so called positive space. However, by slightly...

read more

ROI in Coaching: A bogus concept

The executive coaching world is full of articles about coaching ROI (return on investment), touting the benefits of coaching in boosting your company's performance in this and that way, with return on investment of such and such %. ROI is then the latest buzz word in...

read more

The avoidance game

Life is full of problems of different types. And, solving problems, at least the more technical ones, is one of humankind’s greatest skills. Sometimes, though, you might jump too quickly to look for solutions. And, this can become part of a self-created avoidance...

read more

Change is a path

We focus so much on end results sometimes that we can often forget about the means we employ. You might forget to find joy and fulfilment in how you go about engaging in the process. And, when this happens, the means themselves can become the very thing that stands in...

read more

Substitution or tansformation?

When people think about career change there is often a tendency to start with too narrow a focus. To limit themselves too quickly to labels and titles in a familiar industry, because after all, it is only natural to gravitate to the familiar. I suppose where you look...

read more

Playing it safe

Playing it safe is what most of us do much of the time. Don’t take risks, don’t stir things up, just play it safe. This is the message of caution that so many of us are conditioned with throughout our lives. Programmed Such caution probably helped our ancestors...

read more

Holiday Reading

My holiday reading list is back this year with new titles that I have personally found to be tremendously insightful. Sapiens - A brief history of humankind (2014) by Yuval Harari Sapiens takes the top spot. Harari discusses the development of human societies since...

read more

The voice of vanity

A recent coaching session really made me think about how societal pressure to “achieve” might derail us. How widespread status seeking in our culture might embolden the voice of vanity within us. It made me think about how this voice can easily lead us down a...

read more

Stuckness: How we disconnect

Music is a big passion of mine and I sing a bit. What I realised recently is how difficult it is to make the voice really soar if I don’t truly connect to it. It almost feels like singing itself is not possible if it doesn’t originate from a place of meaning and...

read more

In her shoes as “her”

One of my coaching clients described beautifully today what he had realised to be the error we often make when putting ourselves in the shoes of others. He pointed out the difference between a superficial kind of standing-in-her-shoes and a deeper investigation. Are...

read more

Are you inviting trouble?

When we talk about the art of influencing and effecting change, people often explore how words and actions have impact. Much of the discourse is around what can be said and what actions can be taken. And, indeed these can be useful interventions. But, what I want to...

read more

Habituated unawareness

Habituation happens when repeated exposure to a stimulus reduces an organism's response to it. Habituation is observed throughout the natural world; from single celled organisms to birds and human beings. And, indeed it is something that is fundamental to...

read more

On being busy

I have had an unusually busy Summer this year and this has left me feeling slightly exhausted. Being busy is not something I particularly enjoy, in fact, I actively try to not be too busy. But, what I found to be most interesting is how people seemed to applaud me...

read more

Figures from the past

We are naturally shaped by our experiences as human beings. And, particularly difficult experiences from your past may have left stronger imprints on you, often without your full awareness. Imprints that might unconsciously dictate how you react to potentially similar...

read more

The scripts we live

Conflicts in professional relationships are part and parcel of work life. At one level, conflicts seem inherent within the complexity that characterises teams. But, at another level, perhaps these conflicts are more frequent and long-lived than necessary. Sometimes,...

read more

Searching for normality

Most of us have encountered the "normality" question in some shape or form at some point in our lives. Perhaps, it was to do with not being normal enough, perhaps it was around wanting to be different. Some strive towards normality, others strive to avoid it. But, is...

read more

Looking for success within

There is a danger that in our culture today we might define ourselves by external benchmarks of what success should look like. By the accolades, status and wealth we accumulate. The force of such influences in your life might be so strong that they lead you to derive...

read more

As above, so below

When faced with difficulties within an organisational team or with a particular individual, you may be tempted to look for the cause where the symptom appears. You have to remember though that often problems have a wider context. You have to consider that the...

read more

That dress is not for cycling in

"That dress is not designed for cycling in" shouted an adult minding a little girl who had decided to have a go on a bicycle in the park. And her response, "I know", as she confidently rode on, was just perfect. I chuckled to myself as I walked by, but what I...

read more

Knowing your emotional triggers

We are all emotionally activated and agitated by different things and to different degrees. For some, it might be noticing arrogance, for others it might be hearing a particular tone of voice. And, sometimes your trigger might even be something seemingly mundane, such...

read more

The winner’s curse

It sometimes happens that the better you are at your job, the less-and-less time you seem to have. The more effectively you execute your duties, the more you are called upon to do even more. It is truly the winner's curse. More and more Clients, bosses and colleagues...

read more

When to use a coach

The question of "when to use an executive coach" can seem tricky at first glance. It is also one that attracts numerous confusing explanations. Today, I offer three considerations: stuckness, willingness and importance, which provide a simple framework for answering...

read more

Sometimes, we need to rock the boat

We are often told not to rock the boat. To let sleeping dogs lie. And, behind such words usually lies the belief that disruption is bad and that nothing good will ever come out of upheaval. So, you might begin to fear disruption even when it is integral to creating...

read more

Know thyself…or so it is said

This old adage has been doing the rounds for a very very long time. But, what do we really make of this idea — to "know thyself". What are we really trying to know? The what Know thyself could be read as a well intended piece of ancient wisdom around generally...

read more

Everyone is a person

The pressures of modern work life can sometimes cause you to reduce people to numbers. To reduce your customers, colleagues and stakeholders to faceless entities. You may forget that actually everyone is a person. Anonymity The pressure to get financial results can...

read more

It’s usually not just one thing

When faced with something that needs explaining, it's very tempting to search for that one cause that is the answer. That one person you can blame or praise — the hero or villain. Things are rarely that simple, particularly when human beings are involved. And more...

read more

A better discourse

At a time when soundbites and dumbed down messages are the norm, taking shortcuts becomes very tempting. Rather than look deeper, you might settle for skimming the surface. Rather than present a nuanced view, you might find it easier to provide a less accurate...

read more

The slippery slope of perfectionism

Perfectionism is one of those ideas that has come to mean different things to different people. Some view it as a character trait that is the basis for excellence, others view it as the crippling voice of doubt and anxiety. And, both are true, because both are...

read more

Meeting people where they are

Sometimes we can feel like we've not made ourselves clear enough or that our message was not heard, and at times this can result from not meeting people where they are. While you can always bring more clarity to what you are saying, remember that those you are...

read more

On expectations

The expectations we have in our personal and professional relationships can often become the source of conflict and discontent. We may 'expect' things from other people and when these expectations are not met, we are disappointed. Understanding expectations Not having...

read more

Enabling high functioning teams

What makes high functioning teams? To answer this question, we first need to recognise what we are dealing with at a very basic level — human beings who have come together from varied walks of life to form a relationship system. A system of interacting and...

read more

Integrating the past

The desire to set objectives, design strategies and move forward is a familiar feature of modern living. From personal initiatives to organisational targets, the focus is very much on the future. The past is so often forgotten or brushed over because our sights are...

read more
Subscribe to Harsha’s personal development blog