100+ articles on career, creativity and change

 

personal development blog

Join my personal development blog mailing list

Open-hearted boundaries

Personal conflicts are never easy to deal with, particularly when family members or friends are involved. You can feel powerless and guilty for even being in a situation of conflict. But, conflicts are a fact of life and sometimes, we need open-hearted boundaries to...

read more

Cut through BS, have more impact

Wouldn’t it be great to have more impact in your professional life? To be more effective and get sh*t done with more ease. I am always amazed by how much time is wasted in the workplace, during meetings, conference calls and day-to-day business. Lots of talk, but not...

read more

Frame before reframing

Something struck me during an exhibition that was about spatial perspective. Nearly all the artwork relied on the viewer moving in relation to them, in order to produce an effect. It is movement that enabled the change of perspective — a reframing. Subtle shifts that...

read more

Sell-by date

Child (at supermarket): Mum, this fruit has no sell-by date. Mother: You wouldn’t say that if you picked it from granny’s vegetable patch. Does it seem fresh? This little exchange made me think about how so often, we rely too much on external authority, instead of...

read more

Running from your shadow

I heard today about someone who left their busy ‘workaholic’ life in London to seek peace in the Swedish countryside. But, busy-ness still followed them like a shadow. Because, while their environment had changed, they had not. A workaholic is a workaholic whether...

read more

Point of zero

We seem to always be trying to get somewhere. Constantly looking ahead with our new year’s resolutions, 3 year plans and 5 year strategies. Constantly defining future based goals and new mountains to conquer. But, how often do you put yourself at a point of zero?...

read more

Identity crisis

We often set goals for ourselves and get hung-up on not reaching them. But, how often do you consider changing your goals because they are no longer fit for purpose? Because things have moved on. Because you have moved on. Sometimes, change can feel like an identity...

read more

Judging or discerning?

Judgements tend to be associated with something negative in common speech today. “You are so judgemental”. “Are you judging me?”. “I feel judged”. What we have to be careful about though, is conflating hurtful and opinionated assertions (judging?) with what we might...

read more

Let it brew

I was boiling a pot of ginger tea for my cold today and noticed how in my impatience I nearly turned the heat up to max. Some things, just can’t be rushed though. Where rushing has no value or even worse, negative value. This is true whether you are brewing tea,...

read more

Naming is knowing

We make sense of the world by giving things labels and names. Be it people, objects, experiences or ideas. That’s what allows us to distinguish this from that, in from out, us from them. What’s in a name or label you might ask? Well, sort of everything. Because, in a...

read more

The grey area

The grey area is often the place where the most interesting things happen. That space between black and white where possibilities open up. But, it is also where we can feel most uncomfortable. Certainty The certainty of knowing is something we seem to crave as 21st...

read more

The vegan shark

Someone recently asked me how to be just, in an unjust world. They were referring to the cut-throat and ultra-competitive behaviour that is so often found in the commercial world. Where mere participation seems like having to enter a shark tank. A funny image came to...

read more

Another year of deferred happiness?

“If only I could get that promotion next year, I'd be happier,” she says.  “If I could just lose a couple of kilos, I know I'll feel a lot more confident,” he says “Perhaps, if I become the top performer at work next year, I will be a real success”, they say....

read more

Office Christmas tree

A Christmas tree in the lobby of an office building caught my eye yesterday. It was big, fully decorated and seemingly brand new. Yet, it felt sterile, put together quickly and uncaringly. Two sides to the coin This office Christmas tree made me think of how we might...

read more

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
Subscribe to Harsha’s personal development blog