They consist of my observations, my experiences and what I learn about life, every single day. Because that’s what happens when you are curious – you learn, you discover new perspectives, you step out of your world and see just how many others there are. But most importantly, you gain a deeper understanding of life, you see the nuance’s, you seek context and generally become a better person, who judges yourself and others less.
So, that’s what these articles are really about. There is no start, middle or end. No punchline, no eureka moment, no knight in shining armour, just some basic truths, which might spark a thought, inspire an action or create a feeling, in someone somewhere for the better.
Being an entrepreneur
I hear so much advice on starting a business it’s untrue.
In fact, you would need a PHD in bullsh*t if you took it all seriously.
Sadly, many people do. They are overwhelmed by the complexity of it all.
Then voila – someone swoops in, telling you how they can help and charge you a small fortune for it.
This approach rarely works.
You have to understand and own your business – not just the idea, but all of it.
The three pillars of starting a business are really quite simple:
1. Do something that engages your heart, mind and soul. You need to love your idea, be passionate about it, believe in it completely – because your faith will be tested.
2. Find a way to make it scaleable – never easier than today with our technological innovations and cultural shift towards embracing entrepreneurs and trying something new.
3. Be prepared to put in blood, sweat and tears. Without pain and failure you cannot hone your idea, test your belief in it and bring your true self to it. It is only in the face of adversity, you will discover whether your idea is worth it or not. If it’s not worth the pain to you, it sure as hell won’t be worth the commitment of others.
That’s pretty much it.
The rest is just packaging which you can buy from anywhere.
Life as a management consultant
People have often commented on my ability to describe a problem or situation.
In return, I often joke that as a management consultant, I am highly trained in the art of bullsh•t.
Behind this self-depreciating humour, lies a truth.
I have spent my entire career being out of my comfort zone – living with uncertainty, being faced with problems rather than solutions and persuading people to let go of the past, to embrace an unknown future.
So, the thing that I have become good at, is asking questions.
I ask lots of questions.
I ask questions other people are often too afraid to ask, because they think they should know the answer.
I ask questions no one wants to ask, because they are difficult and might upset someone.
I ask questions others have not thought of, because they are immersed in the problem, not the solution.
I fully embrace the fact, that I do not know the answer.
I’m not afraid of not knowing.
But, I do ask the questions, so that I can work out a way, to find the answers and to find the solutions.
I think it is this trait, this willingness to accept that I do not have all of the answers, that has saved my bacon many times.
Never be afraid to ask the questions.
Never be afraid to admit you don’t know.
Because that’s how the answers are found.
Making the best of what you have
Life isn’t perfect.
Sometimes compromises have to be made.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for change and improvement, it just means we take action in the here and now as well.
I found having a full-blown career in consulting, incompatible with being a mother.
The travel and working hours, require more than I am prepared to give.
That doesn’t mean we should not find ways to work smarter and more flexibly. It just means that for now, I need to create my own world, as I do not fit into the wider one.
That does mean less money, less job stability, no obvious career path and no title.
But it also means 100% autonomy, freedom to do what makes my heart sing and an opportunity to be a mother and a consultant.
For me, the latter deal is a much better one.
I can always live with less, get used to uncertainty and get over a title, but I cannot replace time.
So, you could say I am compromising, or I may simply be making the best out of the situation I am presented with and in the process, hopefully helping us to find new ways of working, so the wider world can become a little more accommodating.
Don’t let the absence of the right circumstances stop you from taking action in the here and now, because action is what creates the change.
Set your boundaries
I blocked someone on LinkedIn yesterday.
I didn’t agonise over it.
It wasn’t a difficult decision.
They were rude about my content.
Their comments added no value, no alternative perspective or rationale argument.
They were just rude.
That crosses a boundary for me.
It’s fine to have a conversation, to debate, to share new perspectives.
It’s not fine to be rude.
I don’t accept rudeness in any other area of my life and social media is no different.
It’s not okay to dehumanise people and forget our manners.
In fact, it is even more important in a virtual world, to be careful of our words, as they stand alone, without expression or physical interaction.
So, if people want to be rude, that’s up to them, but not in my feed.
It’s really that simple.
Set your boundaries and live to them.
Kindness over busyness
How may times have you heard people say – ‘thank you for being kind enough to give me your time’.
I’ve heard it a lot, but actually I think it’s the other way round.
Having someone come to you for advice, support or simply a conversation, is a great privilege.
It’s a privilege because they see something in you that they want to connect to.
The sad reality is that many of us miss this privilege, because we live in a world where being too busy to give people our time, is considered a sign of success.
How many times, do you hear, ‘I’m just so busy’, almost like it’s a badge of honour?
Well it’s not.
Living a life, where we are too busy to connect with our fellow human beings, is not a sign of success, it’s just sad.
It’s sad because we are missing out on so much. So many unspoken conversations, untapped knowledge, lost compassion and crushed curiosity.
I’ve been guilty of this many times – I look back and cringe at my busyness and the impact it had on others.
I’ve also been deeply hurt by people to busy to even acknowledge me, when they have seen me after a long period of absence and who I thought were friends.
Don’t be fooled by the illusion of busyness.
It’s dehumanising to yourself and others.
See social media for what it is
I’m really not sure our current approach to social media is sustainable.
So much content.
So much to read, absorb and follow.
People are spending their precious time, working out how to stand out from the crowd.
Rather than spending their time, on creating original content and honing their craft.
You cannot stand out from the crowd, by trying to stand out from the crowd.
You can only stand out from the crowd, by being yourself and by consistently showing up as yourself.
Just like losing weight, getting fit and passing exams – there are no shortcuts, it’s blood, sweat and tears.
Social media is not a miracle cure for hard work. It’s not going to make you an overnight star.
It’s just a vehicle you can use to deliver your work.
You still have to create the content, engage your mind and find yourself.
You are your anchor.
Social media, like other communication channels, will change over time, but you will be the constant. Your thoughts, your messages will still be here, landing with the people who are meant to see them, at the time they are meant to see them.
Don’t be fooled by social media – you are the secret ingredient, the rest is just packaging.
What working in a team really means
When I was working with large teams, under pressure, and delivering to tight deadlines, I never forgot that really, it was always about the people.
I had three rules, which I applied to myself and others, when it came to delivering our work:
1. We can simply deliver good quality work to time
2. We can ask for help, if we are not sure how to do the work and we can create it together
3. We can say the work is not possible and we can change or re-prioritise it, so that it is.
The one thing I never did, nor accepted from others, was simply not delivering the work, when it was expected.
If you are in, or have created an environment which enables point 1-3, not delivering is simply not bothering – and that’s not ok.
As leaders, we must empower people to be able to deliver their work, or to be able to get help and discuss why it is not possible.
As teams, we are responsible for communicating honestly, about what is and is not possible and reaching out for help when we need it.
At it’s heart, this is simply about communication, mutual respect and team work.
You don’t need a certificate in communications, leadership or anything else for that matter, to simply interact with your fellow human beings.
Keep it simple and talk to each other.
Brand , that’s just me
I’ve found that it takes time and commitment to build your brand and it’s a never ending journey.
That’s because brand is effectively another word for ‘me’.
Being able to articulate who I am, what I do and why, is incredibly difficult – and changes over time.
It’s difficult, because in order to allow other people to truly see you, you have to see yourself first.
It is only by living your brand, that you can ever really be unique – because no one else is you.
I heard someone repeat something I had said the other day, as their words – not mine.
Now, I could be upset about this, or flattered, or completely unbothered.
I chose the latter.
Because you can take my words and my pictures, but you can never take my mind, my personality, my soul.
Therefore whatever is repeated, can only ever be a tiny fragment of me.
To be honest, even I don’t know what ideas or words, I will come up with tomorrow or the next day.
So, how can you?
If you are your brand, if you truly live to that brand, you will always be first.
In order for others to copy you, by definition they have to be second.
So, be inspired by others, but don’t copy them.
Be yourself, create an authentic brand and live it, each and every day.
Stop chasing the money
Please don’t offer to help me build a 6 figure business and make sh*t loads of money – because I’m really not interested.
Of course, I need a basic level of income to generally exist, but once that is covered, the price of earning more is just too high for me.
I’ve had the 6 figure business and I don’t miss it.
Nor do I miss the power that I believed came with it. That’s an illusion by the way, power borne out of money, is just an over-sized ego.
Money can actually hurt you. I became trapped in a life that insisted on a certain level of income, took away my freedom, brought a constant loneliness and made me a complete arse at times.
Giving up my large salary was one of the hardest things I have ever done and I could not have done it willingly. Mother nature came along with PND and the matter was taken out of my hands.
It was a dark time for a while, but the light finally came and with it, a new life.
That life consisted of:
Freedom to do the things, I didn’t even know I wanted to do
Time to spend with the people who truly mattered
Creativity to achieve more with less
Understanding my values and priorities
Giving to something larger than myself
You will be surprised at how much more you can get out of life, when you simply stop chasing the money.
Just do your thing
The rules are changing – it’s ok to change the way we do things.
Millions of pieces of content are being published everyday. Trying to stand out is almost impossible.
Just do your thing, in your way and trust that it will land where it is meant to, with whom it is meant to.
Do what you do with a good intent and a genuine desire.
And keep doing it.
It’s better to have one genuine connection, than 100 superficial ones.
I ache for authentic not transactional relationships and I suspect, I’m not on my own here.
Edward de Bono said that “creativity is the last legal, competition advantage we have.”
So be creative, be yourself – you are the advantage.
I was asked who my target market is? How will I access them? What will I give to them?
All valid questions – most of which I would have posed myself a few years ago.
But my view on the answers has changed, as has the world.
My market is whoever my messages resonate with.
I put my messages out into the world by simply blogging, vlogging, meeting people and having conversations.
I will give people a raw, honest and unfiltered view of the world, along with a few transformation skills, I’ve picked up along the way.
And that’s pretty much it.
Not a classic business plan but it’s my business plan.
Let your birdsong be love
I was extremely privileged, to watch a father and daughter perform together.
They sang the most beautiful and touching music, I have ever heard.
I sobbed all the way through.
I sobbed because it was the first and last time, they would ever perform together – and we all knew it.
We knew it was their birdsong – so long in the making and so profound in the delivery.
The dad had terminal cancer and died a few weeks later.
Their relationship over the years, had been turbulent. But in the end, when it mattered most, they came together for the finest, most intimate performance of their lives.
I shall never forget the depth of love, I witnessed between the two of them that night.
If life was ever able to illustrate perspective and being present – this was it.
Nothing from the past nor future could touch those moments.
It was the purest form of connection, I have ever seen in my life.
What a gift to behold.
It is not the moments squandered or lost that matter, but the moments celebrated and found, whilst there is still time to do so.
Treasure the moments, in the moment.