I watched the afternoon sun light up the autumn tree leaves like a ballerina ablaze. It was magical! There was no fanfare, no trumpeted procession. Just nature expressing itself in full glory, boundless.
I’ve spent a lifetime in love with nature. I’ve had some profound personal experiences face to face with the Great Mystery: northern lights and their ghostly swirls above a remote wild lake, serenaded by loons and their haunting soulful cry. I’ve spent many summer afternoons staring out to sea, bedazzled by the diamond sparkles.
I see dead trees on arid Australian landscapes as frozen dancers, a shadow of consciousness, expired and retreated. Like a tide that comes in, swirls about, and ebbs away.
I feel the breeze and marvel at its invisible touch, sometimes gentle, sometimes fierce and ferocious.
Hanzi Freinacht has written a fantastic book, The Listening Society: A Metamodern Guide to Politics Book One, on adult development and why it matters. He lays out an analysis of the various leadership development models and adds a few other layers of development needed. His main point is that development matters. We need to develop our mental and emotional capacities in order to contend with the world we have created. We need to develop our inner dimensions to keep up and manage the complexities of what has evolved in our various cultures and economic systems.
In this brief video I give you an overview, and then a practical strategy to get started: morning routine.
What would cause a professional sportsperson to risk their career with ball tampering? When did winning become more important than integrity? How does one let a decision like this stain their moral fabric?
We’ve seen this before of course. Who could forget Lance Armstrong when he finally confessed to drug doping on the Tour De France, with the explanatory, “Everyone does it.” The argument was that it’s not a fair playing field if you don’t dope.
It’s amazing what we will justify if we don’t have a strong moral code. In my new book, Loyalty, I explain how the best cultures, the most consistent and enduring ones, have a Culture Compass to which they hold themselves accountable. They know their values, they know the behaviours that line up with those, they know their purpose and who they serve, and they know what results they want to produce. They have a system and a practice of building the Culture Compass into their recruitment, induction, and regular team engagements.
Every once in a while an elephant shows up. You know, the thing that is blooming obvious, but no one wants to talk about.
Like the fact that Uncle Fred drinks way too much and smells of urine. Or Susan spends more time socialising on Facebook than she does doing the accounts. Or the boss’s right-hand man – the ‘Golden Boy’ – has tantrums that keep everyone cowering behind their desks and taking really, really long lunches – out.
What do you do? If you say something, then what started as something uncomfortable may become a Major Issue. If you pipe up about smelly Uncle Fred, then the family is going to have to deal with alcoholism. If you point out Susan is wasting company time, you may become the tattle-tale. If you complain to the boss about Golden Boy’s tantrums, then maybe you’ll get the sack.
Our fears of creating even more uncomfortable feelings keep us paralysed.
Losing good staff is a serious bummer. It’s disruptive and costly. Our Boundless Team falters as we scramble to fill the void left behind. As a leader, it’s hard not to feel hurt and betrayed by someone we value deciding to leave. The default is to simmer with resentment and blame them for lack of loyalty.
If we don’t ask, “Could I have done anything differently?” we miss an opportunity to improve. The first area to look at improving is an underrated one: recognition. It’s a simple thing to implement, with astounding results.
Let’s face it, when we finally get that role we've been seeking as leader in an amazing organisation, we can’t wait to get our hands dirty and put our stamp on the place. After all, that’s why they hired us, right? To bring new perspective from different experience. We’re meant to improve things. They expect change.
One of the things that holds leaders back from reaching their highest potential is lack of capability. We need to be growing and learning constantly to keep up with the transformation of work today. Not learning, not growing. Not growing, we’ll be left behind.
Books are one of the best ways to immerse ourselves in the world of ideas and gain new skills quickly. Below are my top favourite books I have sent to clients to help them with their productivity, strategy, and influence.
I flipped to a page in my journal from some time ago where I’d listed my worries of the day. I remember them feeling huge and overwhelming. Getting them out on paper is always my go to strategy for stress management. I recall they still felt onerous, even down on paper.
Months later, nothing had turned out as badly as I thought it might. The consequences happened. But there were no long-lasting ill effects. I moved through the crisis.
It’s confession time. I would much rather have positive feedback than constructive. I’ve been working on this preference for years now. I *know* that constructive feedback helps me improve, shows me what I cannot see myself, and offers the pathway to elevated performance.
I know this and I teach this.
And goddamit it still bloody well hurts!
Being able to to give and receive feedback is probably the most important leadership conversation we can have. But we can get all bent out of shape about doing just that.
We are working on Big Things this year with all my clients. The energy of stepping up and leaning in is rife and dazzling.
Big Things need Big Ideas to bring them to life. Here’s what’s on the table for captains of industry, mavens of business, wizards of enterprise. These are the folks who are going Boundless - achieving more with less struggle. They are busting blocks, bridging gaps, and sailing past the headland to wild seas beyond. These are the Big Ideas they are using to keep them steady through turbulence.
In this last week leading up to the holidays, I wanted to share my heartfelt gratitude for YOU! For reading my newsletters, for sending me comments, and for doing the gritty hard work of leadership. It takes so much courage to stand up and be seen and heard, to choose to make a difference, to nudge the world forward in a better way, even with naysayers, critics, and our own inner demons.
The office Christmas party: loathe it or love it? It is a universal principle that end of year celebrations are done to foster good company culture.
This is mostly true. Our workplaces are modern tribes, and a tribe needs a sense of purpose and moments in time to know that we are progressing towards that purpose. End of year parties provide an opportunity to pause, reflect, and celebrate.
Engagement and interpersonal relationships form the core focus of my work with teams. I’m obsessed with dissolving barriers to workplace results and relationships. Morale is often a casualty of things gone wrong.
A workshop participant asked, ‘is there anything I should or should not do when it comes to encouraging positive workplace morale?’
Let’s look at an example to tease out the solution. Consider one of your workplace first day stories. Do you remember what it was like arriving in to a new workplace? What happened in your first interactions? Were they inspiring? Energising? Or cold and depressing?
In my experience, how you start is how you go on. And in this we discover the secrets of morale.
In exploring beyond boundaries, boundless, there have been many experiences of letting go. To explore a life in Australia, I left my culture, community and family behind in Canada. I let go of the known to seek out the new.
Boundless Leadership has at its core the premise of expansion and growth. It has the energy of seeking, of evolution.
Within that concept there lies another one: expansion is not uni-directional. It has movement backwards and forwards. Boundless Leadership is an oscillation between limitless possibilities, and returning to the core of who you are, and the fabric of your being.
“Yup that’s me. I get it from my parents.” My client sighed in resignation, defeated.
She told me about her tendency to be self-critical, and how it stemmed from the lack of support and encouragement from her parents. Nothing was ever good enough. Any success was dismissed with ‘you could have done better’.
My client felt she had worked hard her whole life to outrun the shadow of not being good enough. And now, exhausted and at the end of her tether, she wanted something to change.
I met with Rob Evans of AllBids last week. He attended the Edge of Leadership Un-Conference last year and had a brilliant time. More than that, he was able to connect with Peter Gordon, the CEO of Hands Across Canberra, a local community Foundation that raises funds for various community organisations in Canberra. Inspired by the stories of business-community collaborations, Rob met with Peter and together they worked out a project where people could sell their unwanted goods and donate the money to Hands Across Canberra. It’s called “Canberra’s Biggest Garage Sale”.
Standing looking out to sea over a beautiful expanse of land, I could not help but feel at once small and vast. This is the power of environment.
Environment causes evolution.It's a concept I learnt 15 years ago from the founder of Coach U and Coachville, Thomas Leonard. He had deep insight into how crafting environments deliberately can cause evolution.
Leonard highlighted how all animals and plants adapt to their environment and conditions. The polar bear has developed a thick white fleece for camouflage in Arctic snow. The Chameleon is renowned for changing its colours to blend in to the landscape. Look at any animal and any plant you will see how it has evolved to suit the situation.
Leonard’s theory about deliberate evolution started the question: “what if we deliberately changed our environment to cause adaptation?”
The Limits to Growth is a 1972 book about the computer simulation that tested exponential economic and population growth on a planet with limited resources. Largely it presented a doomsday scenario where eventually demand outstripped supply and we as species faced catastrophic consequences. It has spurred continued debates in scientific, political, and environmental circles.
Can we have too much? Is there a point we need to say 'enough'?
It is a well-known fact that an able and intelligent human in possession of singular ambition must be in want of progress.
Hear! Hear! And yet, when it comes to the mechanics of seeking progress, said able and intelligent human tends to retreat to the distracting halls of day to day minutiae and the comfortable gathering spaces of known social circles.
In short, the familiar eats the unknown for breakfast.
In my Leader’s Edge Mastermind group, and in my weekly team meeting, I always ask, ‘What are you celebrating this week?’ As Boundless Leaders, we are constantly stretching towards new horizons, and it’s important to acknowledge how far we’ve come. It’s the key to building a strong centre that allows the ongoing exploration into the unknown.
Invariably it is a bit of a struggle to find something ‘noteworthy’ to list on the celebrations ledger. We are so locked in to the idea that celebration needs a significant achievement to warrant notice. And so we drag ourselves from week to week, without stopping to take a breath. It’s only when we reach a target that we might experience a passing moment of euphoria, then it’s back to the grindstone.
Boundless Leadership is when we know everything is possible, and we have a deep and strong centre that allows us to explore the edges of what is possible. I’m interested in what blocks our progress in boundless leadership. What stops us from developing a strong centre, and what keeps us from moving past the edges.
In a survey to my tribe, I asked, “What are your biggest challenges at work?”