Board rash.

Board rash I discovered, can develop as a result of friction between one’s torso and a surfboard due to sand adhering to the wax, this is easily remedied by wearing a rash-vest. Unlike, I couldn’t help musing, the friction and tension I had observed developing during a board meeting the week before.  The feeling of discomfort however was probably similar.

For the first time this summer, I tried surfing, it has always been something of a wistful desire. Sitting on a board waiting for a wave and then feeling the slight swell of the ocean, paddling hard, becoming aware of the bubbles of water at your feet, the surface of the water ahead of you changing to peculiar flat swirls with almost a stalling motion signifying the moment to get up. Then up, the adrenalin rush, the feeling of being literally on the water at the behest of nature is just breath-taking…..

That moment was, in truth, the odd nanosecond amongst hours in the sea, falling off more times than I can recall and many times realizing the moment had passed. Much ingested seawater later, I can just about ride a (little) wave.

A delegate appeared in the break at a recent workshop and said ‘leading’s hardest when people are upset or emotionally charged, the rest of the time it’s ‘relatively easy’, right? ‘Well, yes’, I said ‘a leader that notices what’s going on and takes action especially during tough times will stand out significantly from those that notice what’s going on but don’t actually do anything.” ‘No quick fix then, okay, thanks’, he said and went off for a coffee looking thoughtful.

Metaphorically speaking, we can either take action and go for that wave even if the net result is more seawater and another plunge into the sea, or we can watch the moment go by, observe from the sidelines and wash up on the beach. Alternatively we can act and get stuck in, the experience is richer and the more accomplished we become. Awareness develops and that’s better for everyone!

In 1969, two young men Doug Warbrick and Brian Singer set up RipCurl.  The culture and ethos today is still all about the surfer and the sea although there is of course now a mighty successful commercial element too. It is a great case study of noticing what’s required, getting stuck in and doing something about it – be it product or a changing market. The people who run the company were and still are the test pilots. And even today on a clear day with a brisk wind running straight from the land, you’ll be pushed to find anyone in the RipCurl offices  – hurrah for that!

Billabong, the embattled global surf brand, in contrast, has perhaps not taken action where it may have and has just announced losses of almost $860million.

An inspiring adventurer and explorer I know oft lives by the adage ‘better to die on the adventure than to die waiting for it’, he has achieved much, is a brilliant motivator and has made many things possible both for himself and those around him. This adage may be a little extreme for some of us, however if taking action makes the difference, I reckon it’s worth the risk. As TS Eliot put it ’only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go’.

Have a fabulous autumn and if you need a little assistance in how far you can go, you know where we are.

My warmest wishes,



And the winner is Optimism!

Tis’ the season for awards after all. 
Okay, before you reach for the bucket this isn’t just happy, jolly January, ‘go for it’ speak, so bear with me for a moment.
There is compelling research out there that states;
       Optimists typically make 30% more sales
       Optimists generally bounce back faster after adversity
       Optimists use a different, more positive explanatory style
       Optimists try harder
       Optimists succeed
And because of all this they are generally healthier, wealthier, have greater life expectancy, better relationships and success.   
Well, if that’s not a reason to find one’s inner optimist I don’t know what is?

As many of you know, I’m an inner biker (the outer one falls off a lot) and fan of Charley Boorman. He must be one of the most optimistic people out there.  Charley Boorman’s South African Adventure is currently showing on Channel 5 and in last week’s episode he successfully navigated the Sani Pass in appalling weather. Unsurprisingly, this journey, leading a path through the mountains in Lesotho commenced on two wheels but sheet ice forced the intrepid biker to jump into a 4X4 when progress came to a halt. When the mechanical mountain goat started to slide uncontrollably toward the edge, the film crew leapt to safety, Charley didn’t, and was rewarded with one of the most stunning views on the planet, amongst other things. It made fabulous viewing for us all at home too;
The point is optimism takes us further. It widens our repertoire and resources to deal with whatever it is that life has put along our path and therefore we generally benefit along the way.  Be it in business or personally.
The simplest way to start that shift towards an optimistic outlook and way of life is to be grateful and express gratitude for what we have ,rather than what we don’t.   
Think of three things that you’re grateful for, truly grateful for, otherwise it won’t work!
It might be a relationship, a friend, kids, your job, your boss, a holiday, a book, chocolate, the snow  – doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it is yours and you mean it.  
How did that make you feel?
Then repeat it, daily if possible.
For the cynics out there and I know you’re there, a healthy dose of defensive pessimism isn’t a bad place to start, the end goal being strategic optimism. I.e. instead of the very optimistic ‘’I can do this’’ the toned down, more tactical and strategic optimism of  “what will it take to achieve this’. 
If you’re having a struggle finding your inner optimist, you know where we are and we’d be delighted to help.
Wishing you an optimistic and successful 2013. 
Further reading: Martin Seligman, Authentic Happiness and Positive Psychology.

2013 begins at the end of your comfort zone

As Walt Disney magically said’ If you can dream it, you can do it”. 
I’ve recently been fortunate to meet three very inspiring people, Rob Jonas, Business Leader (and extreme sports competitor), Liz Dimmock who is cycling around the world next year not only to beat a record but also to raise a £1m for charity (, and Leah Dunthorne, an Olympic coach.  All inspiring in very different ways, though with the utter, unshakeable belief in what they CAN do.
Many of us however, might feel that the self-belief required to achieve whatever others do or even more importantly what we want to do for ourselves, is unpredictable at best. Self-belief, with-out wishing to ‘personalise’ it, sometimes appears to have the power to depart at the critical moment.
All is not lost, the message from these individuals is also that you can always find some-one to help you out and get you started.  Pick whatever it is and find a willing helper to assist  you and your self-belief along the way. There are passionate people everywhere. 
What are you dreaming about that actually, you can do and who will help you get started?
Might 2013 be the year that you turned the dream to reality, there’s a movie there somewhere…….
Have a fabulous New Year, look forward to hearing about your plans for this year, sometime soon.

‘Caught or Taught’

Caught or taught?
I was at my daughter’s school this week for parents’ evening and one of her teacher’s stands out as being exceptionally good at what he does. Undoubtedly a very good teacher i.e. the ‘taught’ bit however it also occurred to me that the way he speaks and behaves is ‘caught’ perhaps by the kids too.
He has a certain way about him when the children are getting a bit wayward shall we say (some might say challenging) however I don’t think I have once heard him raise his voice or shout at the children. This hasn’t been reported back either and it often does – stories about the ‘shouty’ teachers as they’re affectionately dubbed! There is certainly a sort of ‘inspiring mood’ in the room when he is teaching.
It got me thinking about a group I worked with last year who have a rather challenging boss, abrasive, somewhat insensitive and inconsistent to boot. Whilst this boss is remote, it occurred to me that some of these behaviours were being ‘caught’ even though the team in question, were focusing on ‘upping their game’ and behaving much more effectively as a team. Some of the behaviours we came across were around territories, responsibility and accountability, blame games – a number of which I believe were being ‘caught’ from on high.
Their development as a team and as individuals came from unpicking some of these less successful behaviours and finding a mechanism both as a group and as individuals that would help them stay true to their purpose. They have also identified the ‘taught’ and the ‘caught’ – not that we identified it as such at the time.
As a leader what are you teaching and what are people catching from you? It will be your brilliance as well as those little behaviours or habits that don’t serve us so well?
As a leader what did you teach someone today?
As a leader what did your people ‘catch’ from you? Inspiration, eloquence, calm under pressure or something altogether different?