HELP, a four letters word sometimes hard to say

HELP, a four letters word sometimes hard to say.

I was only 5 years old, (or at least that is as far as my memory goes), when for the first time, my parents said to me: “we are very proud of you”.

I would often hear that phrase whenever I got good grades, (I can proudly say it happened a lot 🙂 , if I had done something new, been good to my little sister, etc.

Growing up I would rarely ask for help with my homework, not to say that I never did, but honestly, I don’t remember asking.

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Viva la revolution!

The last time I blogged, I introduced you to “The 100 Year Life” a fantastic book, introducing a brave new world of longevity. Its theme being, that today’s youth can expect to live beyond 100 years of age – the key word there being expect – which in turn means our current three stage model of education, work, retire, is outdated.

The aim of my last missive was to ask how this impacts on our current leaders and what they need to do in order to flex their style and fit this new world order, focusing on an increase in empathy, the introduction of “strategic altruism” and the application of “beginners mind” to their thinking – if you missed it here’s a link.

But what about those who find themselves at the beginning of this journey? Can you imagine being an 18 year old faced with the prospect of living for another 80+ years? How do you even begin to think about planning to prepare for that?

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Leading for Longevity

I’m reading a fantastic book at the minute – and by fantastic, I mean terrifying! It’s called “The 100 Year Life” and as the title suggests it deals with the fact that our every increasing longevity, whilst a gift, will only be so if we seek to challenge our preconceptions about how that life is structured.

In short, and I really am paraphrasing, the authors explain that anyone in their late teens/early twenties can expect to live to the ripe old age of 106! This means that our current three stage “life model” of education, work and retirement is no longer valid or realistic.

It’s a great read, and one I’d highly recommend. The terrifying part came when I started to think about what that meant for me – and the challenge for business and how it approaches leadership – when I think about “my” generation and the space they inhabit.

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We don’t need no education

So sang Pink Floyd in 1979 on their Christmas number 1 single Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 from their album The Wall.   It was a protest against rigid, didactic education. 

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My Coaching journey – Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou

I am publishing today with great amusement. One, because today we reach the 150th posts milestone and also because it is the first leadership journey I publish and from someone I really admire as a professional.

Despina and I met a couple of years ago when I was leading a project related to fleet monitoring. I was very impressed by her passion about the business, knowledge and also her leadership skills and gravitas very evident in every interaction we had. On a personal level, me being the father of a young lady (and I related this to my previous post – (Dreams I Dream for my Daughter. A Successful Business Woman). who aspires to be a business woman, Despina also became famous in my place because of her drive on topics related to Diversity and Inclusion and to empower women in shipping – historically a predominately male-dominated business. She’s someone who my daughter looks up to as role model.

I am glad women like Despina has taken such discussions and I can honestly see things changing in the world. This gives me peace of mind thinking that that when my lovely daughter enters in the labour market, she will be a professional measured, get paid and promoted based on her education, skills and most importantly, performance and professionalism, without gender being in any way a factor.

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Your noticing has been served

Physician, heal thyself

I’m not sure about you but I’m better at giving advice than receiving it. My privilege as a trainer and performance coach is to be able to fall back on “do as I say, not as I do”. This is not something I’m particularly proud of and nor is it something I want to admit to those I work with. I console myself, professionally at least, with the fact that my diagnostic skills lie in helping others and not myself. It also can’t be very helpful for anyone with the unenviable task of being my coach.

Recently, however, I was offered some advice and in spite of my habit, I took it. Surprisingly, to me anyway, the shift in awareness it provoked has rippled through my whole life. My own coach is a mindfulness expert and while we don’t spend too much time on this topic she set me a related task. I was to take an everyday activity and be fully in it as I perform it, noticing the sensations provoked by the experience.

Now, I’m not good at doing what I’m told. I will find ingenious ways not to do the homework I’ve been set (the French “devoir” always seemed a much more appropriate name). But over the Christmas break I had little excuse not to do one of the two very simple requests made of me.

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Reining in the horses


In Biblical terms, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse were Pestilence, Famine, War and Death.  An American psychologist, Dr John Gottman, who researches divorce and its causation, identifies four new horse riders that he names Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt and Stonewalling. The adverse impact of these behaviours apply in organisational leadership just as much as marital relationships.

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It’s the Story, Stupid

I work at a world leading drama school and as you would expect, it’s an institution full of stories. Which is lucky, as for some time now, storytelling has been at the forefront of countless organisations’ learning needs.

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Words Matter. It Is Not What But How We Say It.

It’s been a while but today I am gladly resuming my publications. Today I will share something about feedback and how the selection of our words is important.

I once read somewhere that around 250k people die in the US every year as result of medical mistakes. Investigations found that more than a third of these fatalities could have been avoided if doctor’s assistants had spoken when noticing that something in the procedure was incorrect. The fact, apparently, was that most of these assistants don’t speak because of the negative reaction (even aggressive) from doctors.

Have you ever experience a situation in which you were in doubt whether you should speak or remain quiet afraid of being shut by someone who believe to ‘know-it-better’?

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My 2018 Coaching Journey: Finding the Path to Me

With the end of the year approaching fast, I’m sure I’m not alone in taking a moment to reflect on the past 12 months and what it’s meant to me both personally and professionally.

Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those terrible articles titled “10 things you need to do to be a success in 2019” but I did want to share something that’s helped me, with the hope that it will help you too.

By way of context, 2018 has been a challenge. I work in a traditional industry, that faces a severe skills shortage and, if I’m honest, a distinct lack of imagination about how to solve it.

My own organisation is not without its frustrations, and our own attempts to be creative and innovative in the way that we approach the development of our people – I’m Head of Learning – can often feel like they just aren’t impacting quickly enough. It always feels like we should be doing more.

And on a personal note, earlier in the year my mum was diagnosed, quite unexpectedly, with an aggressive form of brain cancer. After a short illness she passed away in May.

As the year continued I think it’s fair to say that all the above started to take a toll. I began to “leak” as a result of my frustrations.

So, what to do? Well, as someone fortunate enough to have both a coach and a mentor, I thought I should practice what I preach and look for some support. Continue reading “My 2018 Coaching Journey: Finding the Path to Me”