100+ articles on career, creativity and change

 

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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,...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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The duality of knowing

There is a big difference between theory and practice. Words and action. Regurgitating from memory and deep understanding. How we "know" things matters. Rationally and intellectually appreciating something is not the same as deep knowing with every fabric of your...

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Just because it’s offered

I was on the London underground this afternoon and noticed how so many people read unsavoury tabloid newspapers just because they are handed out free.  It made me think of how we can so easily lapse into passivity in different areas in our lives. We don't always have...

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The perfect way to say thank you is..

I noticed those words on a sign as I walked past a gift shop earlier today and it made me think. The perfect way to say "thank you" is to just say "thank you". And, mean it. Gestures and gifts are a wonderful way of showing someone that we care for and value them....

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Is it a smoke screen?

The use of distractions and diversion tactics is unfortunately common place in politics and in business. Designed to disguise what is really going on, such smoke screens aim to deceive and mislead. While it is one thing to be misled by politicians and unscrupulous...

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The worst case scenario

Thinking of the worst case scenario is often a natural part of planning a new initiative. What could go wrong? How bad will it be? Certainly useful questions. The problems arise when we get stuck in the worst case scenario and lose sight of the bigger picture. Stuck...

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Don’t waste your ideas

If you want to bounce new ideas off someone find a person who is genuinely willing to engage. Someone who gets you and what you are trying to do. Otherwise new ideas can end up like seeds that do not grow due to lack of attention. The right people You may have...

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I forgot I had my shades on

I was meeting a friend yesterday and looking for a particular coffee shop. Twice, I walked past what looked like a not-in-use building where the cafe was supposed to be. Feeling lost, I was about to telephone my friend but happened to take my sun glasses off at that...

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Noticing tension

My music coach often reminds me that physical tension when playing is usually a sign of mental tension. The same can be true of life more generally, particularly when we are faced with new challenges or problems. Creeping up The unfamiliarity of a particular situation...

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Know your USP

The question of USP is usually quite apparent when dealing with a physical product or a commoditised service. Identifying a USP can however be more elusive when you are the "product". By this I mean being involved in creating and offering something that has your...

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The price you pay

Sometimes we are faced with important life choices: Stay or leave, continue or re-strategise, speak up or stay silent, be courageous or not. Often, we think of reasons not to deviate from where we currently are, but what tends to get forgotten is the price that you...

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Are you hiding behind your business card?

The question of skill is fundamental to how we feel about what we do. Skill takes time to develop and is often the result of a deep interest in something that draws us further. When we have the opportunity to benefit from the halo effect of an established brand...

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Shame in disguise: A tale of parents and children

Being a parent is a tremendous responsibility by any measure and one that involves love and care. There is a danger however that parents may sometimes put a lot of pressure on their children. And, this pressure can at times be the unconscious result of shame parents...

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What works for you?

We seem to be obsessed with emulating the habits and rituals of so called 'successful' people in our culture today. Leaving aside the obvious errors of not accounting for survival bias, coincidence and luck, there is no particular reason to assume that what worked for...

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Give yourself a chance

People can change and do change. Adaptability is one of the defining features of our species and it is this supreme adaptability that creates the possibility of significant personal change. Reframing for possibility I see people grow and change time and time again in...

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But, what meaning does it carry for you?

Sometimes, we say that we need to do or be certain things. We might say we want to be more "confident", "productive" or "successful", for example. Each of these words will have a certain meaning, but what meaning does it carry for you? Overused words It is easy for us...

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Show me the money!

Some of you will remember that comical moment in the movie Jerry Maguire when Rod repeatedly shouts "Show me the money, Jerry! Show me the money". Seeing Jerry Maguire again made me think about how the tendency to equate earning power with self-worth is still endemic...

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May be it’s time to slow down

We are increasingly feeling the effects of our technology augmented fast paced lifestyles. Anxiety and mental health problems are on the rise and all this despite the so called 'progress' we are making. We seem to be in such a rush that perhaps it is time to slow...

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