I learned about Leading from: my 50th birthday!


It finally happened. My forties were fast coming to an end and I faced the transition into my fifties.  Actually I felt quite proud about my last 10 years and was looking forward to the opportunities and experiences that the next 10 will bring.

As I sat in the summer of last year with an injured ankle and a growing belly, I was also conscious of a promise I had made myself a couple of years earlier….

When I started work back in 1991, having recently graduated from university, I was on an Initial Training Course (ITC) with many lovely people and one particular friend, Roger. Over the years I kept in touch with Roger and many years later we ended up living very close to each other. Roger is a little bit older than me and when he reached his 50th I was blown away by how much fitter and in better shape he was than when I knew him in his mid-20’s!  I told myself, and Roger, that this was what I was going to do also…but as I sat on the sunbed, with a non-working ankle I was worried that my dream was slipping away.

Not one to be deterred by extra hurdles, I spoke with a personal trainer I had met a few years earlier. Tom (the PT) now worked with his wife, Jess, a nutritionist, to give a more holistic programme to clients and had a very tailored approach to helping individuals attain their goals.  In addition to getting into my “best shape ever” I also needed to get my running back to enable me to complete the 2019 London Marathon in April-19; this seemed miles away when I could hardly walk on my ankle!

antony milesSo began a programme of 3-4 weight circuits each week together with some dietary direction and rehabilitation therapy on my leg injury.  Every week I would have a video-call with Tom and Jess and we would check progress on all fronts and discuss what was working and not, then I would get a revised programme for the following week.  And so it continued, week after week.

Finally in December I could take my first steps back running.  3 miles became 6 miles and soon into 2019 I was into 9, 10 and then 13 miles. The ankle was working and, more to the point, the work I had been doing in my home gym had given me strength and conditioning that made the transition back into distant running a relatively painless path.  I was delighted, things were falling into place.

But what about my other goal…the “best shape ever”?

Well there had been some great progress but I thought I might follow a concept I heard from Simon Woodroffe once (the creator of Yo! Sushi) to “Make Failure Painful”.  I booked myself in for a professional photoshoot to record the shape my body was in the day prior to my 50th. Now there was no turning back and I was focused on my goal.  Tom and Jess turned up the dial on my training and nutrition plan and the challenge was simply unreal on some days, but I could see the weights rising, the muscles becoming more defined and my body measurements falling in to line. Let me be honest with you, I did not become a monk in this time!  I still drank alcohol on occasion and had a rather “large” day out with some of my best mates just a couple of days before the shoot!

On the day of the photoshoot I was completely overwhelmed by the results.  I did not look like me, but it really was me.  I hadn’t had photos done like this before and I was delighted to confirm that indeed, if not the “best shape ever”, I was certainly in better shape than before our wedding 25 years ago and this was definitely a massive goal achieved.

So why the blog and where’s the learning?

I think I have always felt that anything is possible when we approach it with an open mind and belief, and I have never been disappointed with this approach personally nor with individuals and teams that I have worked with over the years.  With my experience of the last few months this belief has been further enhanced by 4 key steps that I know can help all of us achieve our ambitions and become that person that deep down we have always known is there and that is to P.L.A.N.  Let me explain…

P = Proud – a few years back I was taught that we can live life Have-Do-Be or Be-Do-Have.  If we live Have–Do–Be then we seek to HAVE things that enable us to DO things that help us BE something (eg proud, happy, excited etc).  The problem with this is by the time we get there we are after the next thing, then the next etc.  It’s like chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  When we turn this on its head and realise that how we are BE-ing in the moment is simply a choice, so we assume this state first, then DO the things we need to do to get the things we want to HAVE…then we are far more successful and enjoy the journey, every step.  Very early on in my journey I connected to my feeling of being proud of all I have achieved and proud of my body.  My goal was not to get into this state, I connected with this every day and then did what I needed to do to get what I wanted to HAVE…the best shape ever.

L = Leadership – there is so much personal leadership and having the right state of mind in this journey but I also got myself a coach (or two!) to lead me with their insights, expertise and daily encouragement.  I can honestly say that Tom and Jess kept me on track and motivated to continue through the hard times and the cold winter mornings.  They know their stuff, took a huge weight of effort looking into how to do this or that and gave me the information and instruction I needed on a daily basis to just follow and “do” in order to get the results I desired.  “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so that you may become what you have always known you can be.” (Tom Landry)  Have you got a coach or mentor?

A = Accountability – there is only one person that could do this for me and that was ME!  No matter what anyone else said or did, at the end of the day, I had to get on and do it.  Accountability was obvious and I knew it.  No delegation.  No abdication and as my friend, and great coach, Andy Bailey says “there is no try! We either do or we don’t!”

N = Nail it!  You see the thing that strikes me is that both winners and losers have the same goals!  So what’s the difference and where do the different outcomes come from? In the book “Atomic Habits”, by James Clear, he proposes that the winners are much better at focusing on and carrying out the process to get there.  In other words, they stick to the plan.  They Nail it! Focus, effort and determination with no excuses.

…and that is what I have “Learned about Leading” from my 50th birthday experience.  The key to success with self and other is to PLAN:

    • P – connect with your “BE”
    • L – get yourself a coach or mentor (we have some great ones by the way, look here http://its-leadership.co.uk/its-us/)
    • A – embrace accountability
    • N – nail it with determination and dedication

…and the result…I thought you’d never ask…but some things we will keep to ourselves for now!! 😉

After all, iTS Leadership!



PS: The aforementioned Jess and Tom would like to offer our readers a very special offer! For a complimentary 2-week introductory experience with Jess and Tom, email hello@jessntom.com with the code ‘iTS14’ and you will get a free taster of working with them. For further insights, look at www.jessntom.com 

Finding our purpose

I find that one of the most powerful things in life is to find ones purpose and recently I have been having a lot of conversations with people about “Purpose”; their purpose, the organisational purpose and even the purpose for a meeting or project team.  I therefore thought a series of very short blogs on this subject could well be helpful for many of you.

Without a purpose we can drift from month to month and year to year, being blown by the metaphorical wind and tide of life with no focus on where we should be heading.  With a (strong) purpose we can weather most storms, show resilience, courage and an inner confidence that others find comforting and inspirational.

So the questions that come to mind are: what is a purpose, why is it so important and how do we find our own?  I shall answer these three questions over three separate and short blogs over the next couple of weeks.  I would love to hear your feedback as we go so I can address any questions in the next instalment, please email me at antony@its-leadership.co.uk

 1. What is a purpose?

A purpose is an intent and a “why” statement.  According to the dictionary it is “the reason something is done.”  In my experience, the more succinct we make our purpose statement, the easier it is to understand and remember and the more potent a tool for us in the task, project or “life” in which we are seeking success.

One of the challenges with “purpose” is that there are so many different levels we could pitch this at.  Pitch too high and it gives us very little help and direction.  Pitch too low and it lacks the passion and drive to bring out the best in us.  Consider these four challenges:-

  • Go shopping to get food for tonight’s meal
  • Fill the fridge with enough food for a week of healthy and nutritious meals
  • Provide enough information and financial resource for all the family to be able to live a healthy life
  • Teach and equip us so that we can grow and thrive

Look at these carefully, all have a what statement together with a “why” or “purpose” statement.  But the purpose grows in context.  If you gave yourself a few minutes to develop a plan to answer each of these, then you may find that the latter ones give you more freedom and scope together with a bigger picture (longer term and higher context of purpose) for “why” you need to do this. The important thing here is that there is no right or wrong, it’s about which helps you the most for where you are today?

Many of you have probably heard and seen Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  It is often reported that our journey through life can be about climbing this ladder as we “tick the box” of what is required in our life at any one time.  I think there is something here that relates to our Purpose.  At the base level we need “to find food and water so our family can survive” before we move on to “develop safety and security so our family can have fun, learn and grow” and so on to each level of the pyramid.

The thing is, it is possible for us to reach a transition point when we achieve one level and then feel lost until we define our next one.  It may well be that we never really had consciousness of what our purpose was before, but now we feel lost, and this could be that the subconscious purpose that guided us is no longer relevant.  There’s nothing wrong in this, it’s how most of us experience life!  If you are feeling “lost” then maybe now is the time to investigate what your current purpose is – and I use the word “is” rather than “could/should be” as I really do believe that our purpose is a bit like a diamond in the rock; it’s always there, we just need to chip away to reveal it.

In Part 2 we will look into “Why having a purpose is so important”.  Keep an eye out, it’s coming soon.

If you’re interested in learning more or finding help to find your purpose, as an individual, team or organisation then do give us a call or email me (antony@its-leadership.co.uk).

After all, iTS Leadership!

With love


I learned about leading from – reading that book…AGAIN!

Have you ever read a book, or part of a book, or even watched a film again after several times and noticed something that you’ve never quite noticed with that intensity or level of insight before?  That’s exactly what happened to me early yesterday morning and I found it both exhilarating and inspiring!

Many of you who have worked with me will know that I am a fan of Michael Neill.  I admire his ability to put some challenging things into everyday language so that we can understand and change ourselves accordingly. He is also a very entertaining presenter!

This weekend, whilst reminding myself of some of the key messages from his book “The Space Within”, he mentioned that so many of us are looking how to “come alive” as we know instinctively there is more to life than what we are experiencing today, and that we wish to feel more connected to that feeling.  I find this to be true also in my own experience working with so many groups and individuals that I speak to and love to take them towards this place.

What he said next though was really useful to my work as a transformative mentor….that in the back of his mind he has two questions that inform him as to which direction to take in his journey with his clients (and their journey with him!).

Q1 – Do they know where their experience is coming from?

The truth is that most people think that their experience of life comes from their interactions with other people, circumstances, environments and “the world” in general. “It’s just how it is!  There’s nothing I can do about it”is a phrase I hear so very much.  When I’m working with people, I can certainly help them deal with these factors and situations, and that is of value to them for sure, but how much more valuable would it be if I could help them see where their experience is coming from such that they could, potentially, change or affect that?

When we can see the role “thought” and our “thinking” plays in creating our experience of the world, suddenly the world becomes a very different place to play in! You see we are not in control of what thoughts enter our heads, however, we are in control of the ones we pay attention to!!  The truth is that we do not experience other people, things, situations or environments…we only EVER experience our THINKING of other people, things , situations and environments.  Think about it (excuse the pun!) on two consecutive days you can have the same experience and react very differently (for all sorts of reasons)…two people having the same experience can react so different, so instinctively we know this to be true…it is ONLY our thinking that we ever experience and NEVER the “thing” itself.

The thing is, thoughts appear real but they are not reality…they are just a story in our heads and whilst in our heads they have no physical form.  But thoughts create feelings and these feelings are very real…and they make us believe that the thought therefore is real (because we can FEEL it…so it must be…right?!?!)  We then REACT to our feeling and in doing so physically manifest the thought we had…we really do create the WHOLE of our own reality!

Whilst this understanding has been at the heart of our work for several years, the fundamental shift to this being one of 2 key questions I find somehow obvious and yet amazingly clarifying.

This question is THE key step to realising our potential in this world, connecting to our deeper self and demonstrating true leadership in what we do.

So what about question two?

Q2.  Do they know that they are God?

Now I always get nervous about the use of religious words!  These are Michaels words and I get what he means, so please bear with me as I explain further.  “God” is a word for some “universal energy” that lies behind all life, brings the seasons, the circle of life and connects us and everything in this world in ways we kind of know but never understand fully.  Some call it a Universal Mind or Universal Energy.  It’s the thing that holds it all together.  It is that which we have no control over.  It is the energy that means that everything happens for a reason…it’s just we don’t know what that is yet.  We are mind and mind is us.  If we go looking for it then that’s as crazy as a drop of water (in the ocean) looking for the ocean!  We are it and we are in it.  We are “God”…and that means we were born perfect and all have exactly the same access to the infinite energy and source of wisdom available to every human being on this planet.

The issue here is that when we live believing that everything we experience comes from outside of us, then we look to fix everything outside and also fix ourselves in order to change the way people treat us.  This is not only a never-ending process but it is also exhausting for us.  In addition when we are looking in this direction we switch off our connection and awareness of the infinite wisdom we are naturally gifted with all our life.

So What?

When we can understand both of these statements/questions, then we really do perform at our best, have more fun being ourselves than ever before and live life with a smile, gratitude and compassion.  Surely this is the “home” so many of us are seeking.

Michael explains it far better than me. I recommend the book!  But in the meantime I will enjoy the renewed focus this has given me.

If you wish to hear more about this and realising your true potential then please do give us a call or email (antony@its-leadership.co.uk).

After all, iTS Leadership!



I learned about leading from – the London Marathon

As I sit here, one week on from completing last weeks London Marathon, I have been reflecting on the leadership lessons this years’ experience has taught me and thought I would share with you all.

1. GOAL – it is important to have a goal so you know what to aim for.  6 months ago I actually could not run a single step as I was suffering with issues with my Achilles tendon and I hadn’t run for 5 months. The goal of completing the marathon at the end of April helped to bring things into focus and I targeted my activities accordingly.

Q: what is your goal or vision and does it give you clarity?

2. PRACTICE – a challenge such as running 26.2miles is not something that should be attempted without any practice!  It is not a typical activity for most human bodies and as such it is important to get used to spending time out exercising.  With all the right training completed the body is able to rise to the challenge.

Q: do you practice for the most important goals in your business/life?

3. BE CENTRED – I actually felt incredibly centred at the start line this year, soaking in the atmosphere with a deeply calm mind.  I had done all my preparation and travel arrangements in advance of the day and took each step to the start line very calmly.  No excess energy was used dealing with the stress or anxiety of “last minute panics”

Q: how calm is your mind, especially when tackling your biggest tasks?

4. NOURISHMENT – one of the biggest mistakes I have made in the past is with my food intake leading up to the race.  I have previously had days of stuffing pasta down my throat and ended up at the start line feeling tired, heavy and sluggish.  This year, with a proper nutrition plan, I didn’t have one pasta meal! I simply had a couple of days of slightly more carbohydrate than normal after several days of carb’ depletion. The result was a bright and energetic body at the start with enough energy to see me through to the end of the race.

Q: what “nourishment” do you or your team need to complete your main tasks?

5. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED – one of Tim’s (from our team) sayings is “no plan survives engagement with the enemy”.  As good as my planning and training had been, I had picked up a calf strain in the last week and although I felt OK at the start, my left calf flared up with just one-third of a mile completed.  The pain was immediately bad enough for me to question whether I should attempt to complete the next 26.1 miles!  As I continued through the race the pain gradually rose up my left leg and then later on, my right hip and knee were feeling it also as my right leg overcompensated for the left.  Luckily my training and my calm mind kept me able and focused on the task at hand.

Q: do you feel robust enough to survive unexpected challenges on your journey?  What could you do to improve?

6. PURPOSE – the last 6 miles or so are always a struggle in a marathon as the body approaches the dreaded “wall” and your inner voice starts to get a bit noisy!  This year was made doubly worse as the pain I had been carrying for 3 hours was almost all consuming by this stage.  At this point all I kept thinking was “I have an injury, but that will mend over the next few weeks.  The kids in the children’s hospice (that I was raising money for) do not have that luxury.  If they can face their challenges with such bravery and humour then I can do this for them”

Q: are you clear on your purpose, why you are doing the things you have set as goals?

7. Support – one of the wonderful things about the London Marathon is the incredible crowd that lines the course from start to finish.  Those who runs lots of marathons all round the world tell me that London is definitely the best for this.  Having people cheer you on helps to take your mind off of the pain, brings a smile to your face and spurs you on to the next milestone.  It really so very very helpful.

Q: what support can you tap into for yourself and how do you ensure your team are being cheered on regularly?

8. ACTION – this may sound so incredibly obvious, but, in the end, you still need to turn up and put one foot in front of the other for 26.2miles!  No one can do it for you and there is no short-cut available. I know the saying “P***-poor planning makes p***-poor performance” and “failing to plan is planning to fail” but it is also true that “planning ain’t doing” and the only way to achieve is to act. In a race, the point at which to start the action is pretty obvious, it’s as you cross the start line…and what a buzz of excitement to finally get the race underway.

Q: do you know when to stop planning and start acting?  Is your “starting line” clear and does everyone else in the team know this too?

One week on and my left leg is on the mend and I’m now getting my next goals clearly laid out and developing my plans to attack these.  I have raised over £5000 for the Childrens Hospice thanks to so many of your generous donations.  Thank you.   

You can still donate here if you would like to:- 


I have a well-earned medal for stepping over the finish line in 4 hours and 12 minutes, which personally I am delighted about in the circumstances.  I also have these lessons to be grateful for and hope you find them useful.

If you would like help and support with any of the elements mentioned for you or your team then do get in touch….we would love to hear from you.

After all, iTS Leadership!

Learning from the Boston Marathon Bombing

Like many of you I watched over 40 thousand people run the London Marathon last weekend.  It was fascinating to see the mix of backgrounds and abilities all attempting the 26.2 mile run and all with their own personal reasons.  This reminded me the marathon in Boston a few years back where shocking events were to unfold and After Action Review (AAR) was to come into its own once again.

There were several AARs held after the marathon bombing on April 15th, 2013 and each of them provided profound insights into how the Boston healthcare system responded on this terrible day.   3 people died and 247 were injured, many with considerable limb damage yet incredibly no one who arrived at a Trauma Centrealive, subsequently died.

The first bomb went off at 2.50pm and casualties arrived at the first trauma centre at 3.09pm. Because the nursing shift changes at 3pm, there were sufficient staff available to put the Emergency Medical System Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) plan into action and clear Emergency Departments of other patients. The Boston marathon takes place on the local holiday called “Patriots day” when hospitals have less surgery scheduled so time to the Operating Room was impressively rapid and undoubtedly saved lives.  So “luck” clearly played a part in saving lives and whilst there may be no practical lessons to be learnt from this, perhaps there are some philosophical and moral ones which can be just as valuable in these circumstances. 

The practical lessons learnt which have led to the updating of the MCI Plan include creating a “pooling room” for spare staff to be drawn on as required.  One of the trauma centers did this and it was an effective way to use the many staff arriving to volunteer along with that extra shift of staff.  The AARs facilitated the review of the triage processes for MCI events of this type as less than 50% of casualties arrived with mass-casualty triage tags. These tags help decide the level of urgency for medical attention and treatment. Uncertainty about additional explosives created a sense of urgency in loading people into ambulances so tags were not attached to the most seriously injured. However sufficient manpower in the hospitals did allow for effective triage once casualties arrived and the lesson is that field triage may not always be a realistic expectation and instead a universal and robust hospital-level triage protocol should be developed. 

One of the simpler lessons learnt that perhaps has more in common with the type of lessons we learn for AARs in our own workplaces, was about tourniquets. The importance of these for saving lives that day in Boston has meant that it has now been recommended to be included in the national first aid curriculum. Something as simple as tourniquet training for first aiders is the type of lesson which we can all understand as a constructive outcome from an After Action Review. Without the the structured space of an AAR to think together would this level of clarity emerge about what is important to save future lives?  My experience suggests it’s not worth taking the risk.

I would like to applaud all those who called for, facilitated and participated these AARs as, not only did they generate incredibly valuable learning for future mass casualty incidents, they also provided a safe and supportive space during which people could reflect and try and make sense together of the significant human effort to do the very best on a difficult day. 

Yet we shouldn’t only use AARs for exceptional events such as this.  The appetite to learn may not be as compelling in our more everyday workplaces but the value can be just as great. Unique emergencies provide lessons about behaviour under exceptional circumstances yet more routine events create multiple opportunities to learn how to do it better every single day. 

What do you do to achieve clarity with your colleagues about what is important? How good are you at capitalising on the benefits of shared learning and avoiding any blame?  Would you like to hear more about creating this habit in your organisation?  Please drop me a line so we can arrange a chat judy.walker@its-Leadership.co.uk

We Shall See: My Adaptation of a Chinese Proverb

A boy was born into a family in a Tibetan village.  It was an agrarian village.  To earn a living you were either going to tend the fields or tend the herd, but the boy was born with a cleft foot.  So the villagers gathered around his families yurt and said: what a curse on your family that the boy is going to be a drain on your resources, he’ll never earn a living.  But the wiseman of the village happened by and said we shall see, we shall see.

In the villages of the region there was nearly no literacy.  The wiseman in the village was the only one that could read and write, so to communicate with other villages, one would pay the wiseman to write a letter to be sent or read a letter that was received, and since the young boy could not go and play with the other kids the wise man took him as an apprentice and by the age of 7 he was able to both read and write and earn a better living than he would have at 18 working in the fields and the villagers gathered around his families yurt and proclaimed what a blessing on your family that the boy is able to make such a fine living at such a young age.  And the wiseman came along and said we shall see, we shall see.

Some years past and the boy was 12 and he had finally made some friends his own age who were going to go horseback riding.  The boy thought this was something he could do and so he pleaded with his mother to be allowed to go.  She worried he had no experience and would get hurt, but she finally acquiesced to his pleas.  While trying to keep up with his friends who were experienced the boy fell and broke his writing arm.  And the villagers gathered around and said what a curse on your family that for a time you are without your income.  And the wiseman who had come to check on his protégé said we shall see, we shall see.

Days later the war lord of the region came through to subscribe every able bodied young man 12 and older to go off and fight the war, but because he could not march and he could not write the boy would simply be a drain on the military and was left behind as so many went off to fight and possibly die and the villagers gathered around his yurt and said, with much weeping for their sons, what a blessing that you’ve been spared and the wiseman said we shall see, we shall see.

Absent the fullness of time it is not possible to know if the moment is a blessing or curse – is the firing from a job the catalyst to launch the entrepreneur, the heart ache of break up the moment that leads to the enduring love of a life time?  

Ours is to learn from the experience, be true to ourselves and not believe the headlines (either good or bad), because the headlines are often far more extreme than reality and our reality is based on how we choose to view the moment.  How we choose to view the moment may vary wildly given time and new perspective.

I learned about leading…from the honks!

geese2At iTS Leadership, we have this wonderful ritual that kick starts our monthly team meetings; everyone nominates a “honk” to a team member(s) of their choosing, or even to themselves.  It’s a way of acknowledging all the hard work and effort over the past few weeks. This sets the scene for the start of a positive meeting and enhances the great bond we have as colleagues and friends.

We have recently been joined by a new member of the team and when we asked how they felt leaving their previous position, I was struck by the outpouring of positive messages they received by their colleagues/peers on their last day of work.  She shared how she was touched and, in some circumstances, quite surprised by the comments and level of warmth she received, and it was likened to a “living wake!”

Her experience reminded me of my last days of jobs in my past and, like her, I had experienced similar send offs and was equally surprised at how many people I had positively affected during my time within those Companies. At the time, I was grateful for their comments and very emotional; I was overwhelmed by the feeling of belonging and appreciation.

This then got me thinking about WHY I was so surprised. On occasion I had received a “thank you” and acknowledgement from my boss, if there was a particularly important project at hand, or from a colleague that I had helped and, at the time, I took pride in knowing my efforts had been noticed.  However, how many of us really feel worthy of “honks” at work, or even at home?

thank youFor some, there are positive reasons as to why they are off to pastures new; promotion, change of career direction, maternity, retirement, relocation, however, I know of many ex-colleagues that have left their jobs due to feeling that they could do better elsewhere, they hadn’t got the recognition they felt they deserved, their work wasn’t seen as valuable etc.  But on their last day, they would generally receive a card, with messages of “good luck”, “you will be missed”, “they will be lucky to have you”… and sometimes there would have been a collection and they would receive a gift of thanks, and colleagues would gather round to listen to a speech from one of the Managers on how wonderful they have been as a valued member of the team.

Whilst I feel this is a lovely gesture and I wouldn’t want anyone to leave their job without comment or acknowledgement, I feel equally saddened that, in the main, those people only truly know and understand their worth on the day they are leaving.  How many of those depart because they were unhappy in their role; would they still be in those positions if they felt they were deserving of a place in the team/Company?  Why did they not received their “honks” during their employment and were they in turn also encouraged to offer thanks to their colleagues? Probably not.

At iTS Leadership, we encourage Leaders to have a positive approach and learn to appreciate the skills and efforts of their teams, where it’s deserved.  iTS Leadership live by this message every day and, on behalf of the team, I would say we feel a closeness and unique working bond, very rarely matched by other Companies.  Those “honks” are our way of expressing how grateful we are to each other, and ourselves, to truly achieve profit and SMILES. They don’t have to be massive achievements, sometimes the smallest acts of kindness are those that are most appreciated and should be acknowledged.

To find out where our “honks” come from, have a look at the video on our home page: http://its-leadership.co.uk and learn more about our logo and the use of geese, or contact one of our team members at iTS Leadership to get your teams “honking!”

After all, iTS Leadership!

Author: Linda Jamieson

I Learned about Leading from – being led by fear!

“I could find plenty of excuses for failure, but only one reason.  I had not chosen the bolder course of action.  I had taken counsel of my fears,” Field Marshall Bill Slim

fearI am not terribly political, but one of the things that really nags me at the present time is my perception that so many of the decisions and policies made by today’s world leaders are based on fear.  Maybe it has always been like that and my consciousness of it has changed, but the scare-mongering and the drive to for protectionism and separatism I find upsetting and unnecessary and it gets me thinking if there is another way to lead.

Many of you will have heard about my journey over the last 5 years or so with my then mentor Hazel, then an insight from Aaron Turner, that gave me a massive epiphany and an immediate transformation of how I see the world and how I show up.  I love the title of the book from Jack Pransky: “Somebody should’ve told us!” which really echoed my own feelings at this time about how life could’ve been so different if only I had “got it” so many years earlier!

Since this time, when I look back on my two decades in corporate life, I can see that I too was consumed with fear and scarcity, and I used this unwittingly to guide me both in business (leadership) and my personal life.

Typical stories in my head during these years were: –

    • There’s not enough money
    • There’s not enough time
    • I haven’t got enough people
    • They won’t like me
    • They’ve got a bigger office than me
    • They’ve got a bigger team than me
    • They’ve got a nicer car than me

…and various other similar thoughts.  I guess the corporate “leadership” way I had learned was to ramp the targets up, shorten the timelines, set ambitious goals and keep the pressure on myself and the team to deliver and, very often we did just that.  I got a reputation for rapid turnaround and success and that way of working became a bit addictive……and stressful!  But what was the message from “on high” being received?  Surely it was one of fear, scarcity and perhaps, sometimes, greed?  Why do we need to exceed every other organisation and every product in the field?  Yes, I get that competition can be fun, but surely by definition, as soon as there’s competition there’s scarcity?  There’s only one first place after all!

Fast forward 10+ years post corporate life and I hear myself saying to people: “I used to live in fear and scarcity but no longer, now I live mostly in love and abundance!” …and to be honest, most of the time I believe this and some of the time it is true.  But one of the things I keep noticing is how this “fear and scarcity” thing keeps rearing its ugly head in different ways and at different levels of consciousness in my life and psyche.  I’m not too sure I’ve ever “lost it” at all, more that I’m chasing it out through layers and layers of consciousness and influence, but it keeps popping up in ever more subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) ways in all walks of my life.  Let me explain…

I had a call recently with my current mentor, George, and was explaining to him how well the business was going this year together with the current challenges of getting our two major new initiatives off the ground simultaneously.  George probed and probed to get to the heart of my issue and honed in on my impatience.  I held my hands up in surrender as I admitted that yes, I was frustrated, I had been on this journey in my head and everything was taking so much longer than I would have liked and “when, when, when” will it all happen!  George then asked me what the rush was and where did the timelines come from.  Of course, it was all self-imposed stuff, partly borne out of habit (and corporate training) and partly (mostly!) from my impatient desire to finally bring to reality things I have developed in my head over months and years.

George then went on to show me, from my own experiences, how things flow effortlessly when they are meant to be.  That, maybe, there’s a time for everything, and when that time comes the right people and right opportunities show up in a most miraculous way.  As someone once said to me “there’s only pressure when there’s resistance” and sometimes that resistance is when we actively try to bring things forward that are not meant to be, yet.  Can you imagine how much success we would have trying to bring winter forwards?  George’s encouragement was to calm down, settle my impatience and keep pointing in the right direction and see what unfolds, effortlessly.  The immediate thing that happened after this call was a surprise email the next day to positively impact one of the initiatives and also my calmer mind has given me further clarity about both.

Why am I writing this blog?  

One of my reasons is to share my story so you can see that we humans all have similar experiences and thoughts, and all get caught up in believing that they are true.  Maybe we all are led by fear at certain times and love at others.  Maybe it is simply a balance thing.  Maybe it’s worth taking time to realise how our thinking makes things so.

With our consciousness of our self-created reality, from either impatience or blind acceptance of someone else’s desires, we can hopefully calm the snow globe of our mind and get into flow.  When we are calm and connected then we can watch, almost in independent observation, to how things collide and create the impossible in front of our eyes.

Thinking this is impossible?  Just look back at your greatest successes in life over the past 2-3 years.  How difficult did they feel at the time?  What “coincidences” conspired to help?  What happened to help that you could not have predicted and was not in your plan?

The key, for me, is to have a calm mind and be able to hear my wisdom and not the noise of my thinking.  Through this quiet inner wisdom we can always see the obvious path being presented to us at any one time.  It is ALWAYS there.  When I follow this, life feels effortless and flowing and the success that’s delivered can be positively overwhelming.  Yes it does take a leap of faith and most that I meet will never be prepared to take that, but for those that do the rewards in all aspects of their life can be truly miraculous and there is simply nothing better for me than helping people to see this alternative way and then share in their incredible success as their own walls that hold them back come tumbling down.  And do you know what?  There IS enough money, today.  There IS enough time, today.  There are enough people, to do what we need to do, today.  They DO like me….and the other 3 no longer concern me!  And as today is all we have, then that’s all fine and we can let tomorrow take care of itself.

Finally, let’s go back to that quote….

“I could find plenty of excuses for failure, but only one reason.  I had not chosen the bolder course of action.  I had taken counsel of my fears”, Field Marshall Bill Slim

…. surely there was rarely a better insight in how to lead our self, our team(s) and our business.  I cannot do anything about the world leaders, but I can change my own consciousness and behaviour.  After all, iTS Leadership!

~Antony Tinker

I learned about Leading from…THOSE moments!

We all have them, don’t we?  You know, those “moments” when things just don’t seem to work the way they should.  When people don’t give you what you need (or deserve!).  When that next big thing doesn’t come along when it’s supposed to.  When there’s not enough money.  When there’s just too much to do.

Those moments!

Sometimes these moments last a few minutes or even hours.  Other times they can last days, weeks, months even and sadly, for some, even years.  I have them too.  We are human, it’s in our nature.

The thing is, it’s all too easy for us to blame others, blame circumstances and blame environments (“it’s just how it is around here”) but the truth is we only ever experience our thinking of these things and not the things themselves.  Think about it (excuse the pun!), one day you look at something or someone in a low mood and think that it’s all awful, and the next day, through different eyes, you see them as wonderful.  I am reminded, as I write this, of the film “A Wonderful Life” and how James Stewart has a new appreciation of life and even the knob on the end of his bannister that keeps falling off, after his enlightening experiences with “Gabriel”.

We are all born with mental well-being deep within us and it is always there for us to access, we just have to get out of our own way and not get lost in our own thinking.

“But you can’t tell me that is not happening!”  “You’re not telling me she isn’t acting that way, because she is!”  “But I really don’t have enough money!”  These are the words I hear so frequently from people I work with (and even myself) …and yes, they are right.  These things ARE happening, and I am not denying that…but we do not experience these things we only experience our THINKING of these things and then we react…and here’s the crunch…when we react, we start to physically manifest the exact thing that we moan about, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly.  We may not always be able to see how we do this, but we do.  If every time the dog barks we hit the dog, we are hardly going to have a happy quiet dog are we!

If we have a friend who has low energy, maybe because they are not feeling so well at the moment, who says one or two things that upset us, we have a choice of whether to react or respond.  If we react, we might snap back at them. In our mind we think “they don’t like me anymore.  They’re always having a go at me” ….and with our reaction we push them even further away.  How would you like to be with someone who acts the way we did?  Alternatively, when we respond, we acknowledge we don’t know everything going on for them at this moment and they are probably doing the best they can with the consciousness they have.  We fall into compassion, appreciate them for the good that they do, and respond with warmth and humanity.  Imagine what impact this response has both in the moment and further the down the track of life.

“But how do I get there?”

…is the most common next response I get.  The best advice I can give is this.

    1. Acknowledge and see, really see, that we only ever experience our thinking of everything and not the things themselves. It’s what our thinking, that voice in our head, says about everything that we listen to and then believe because it feels real…. but it isn’t!  It’s a story in our head
    2. Then, do nothing! … and this is where we go wrong.  We are a self-correcting mechanism and when we do nothing, we self-correct.  When we “try” to do something then we are once again listening to our thinking and reacting to it…this is heading in the wrong direction.  Let it go, just be yourself, in the moment, and see what unfolds.  You might be surprised.

And, finally… don’t beat yourself up!  However good we get at this stuff, we are just human, and we all slip.  I do too, and hopefully, like me, you have friends who can nudge you back on track…and if not, just give me a call.

After all, iTS Leadership.

~Antony Tinker

Exploring True Freedom

Hope you’re all having a wonderful week.

I read a book a couple of months back (well, truth is I listened to it whilst gardening!) and one of the phrases that keeps coming back to me time and time again is this: “the true freedom we all seek is freedom from our self.”  I recall pausing the recording and pausing my gardening work and thinking “wow!” although not entirely sure I grasped the full meaning.  If I’m honest I’m not entirely sure I get it all now!!!  But this blog is an attempt to get my head around it.

What is interesting immediately is I just wrote “ourself” above and it had a red squiggly line under it, so I clicked and it changed it to “our self”.  Yes!!!  That’ a massive definition change.  Why?  Because, to me, ‘ourself’ sounds like us, our complete being, whereas “our self” almost implies there is a, or some, bits of us the operate independently of each other, which I know to be true.  So freedom from our “self” means to be free from the influence and interference from this part of us.

Which begs the question: what is our “self”?

On the one hand we could argue that our “self” is that voice inside our head that is constantly talking, nagging, arguing with us and giving us good, and sometimes poor, advice.  When we realise that “we are not the voice inside our head, we are simply the one who hears it” then we can listen to it and then decide if we wish to follow its lead or not.  I think this is a really good first step to being free from our “self.”  In fact, this level of consciousness can free us from bad habits, addiction, insecurities and even acting in the heat of the moment (which, in my experience, rarely leads to the most favourable result!)

So what else could our “self” be?

I think there’s something about “ego” here, is there not?  If I consider freedom from ego, then that feels like freedom from the need to be loved, the need to be right, the need to be the best, the need to be the solution, the need to be “the one”, the leader, the boss, the most gorgeous, the best paid and to have status and possessions and attachments to prove it.  When I consider the greatest world leaders of the last decade, there is often (if not always) something beyond their “self” that drives them and keeps them focused.  Think Gandhi, Mandela, Mother Theresa, Dalai Lama….  Sadly, I cannot say that about most of today’s world leaders who seem uniquely focused on their “self” and their own interests (I don’t think I have to name these ones!)

Which asks: “how can we be free from our ego?”

arches-national-park-dark-dusk-33688As I sit here writing, I believe our ego is simply a collection of our insecure “thoughts” which we care to pay attention to.  Like all “thoughts” they are not reality, just a figment of our imagination, and as such we don’t have to pay attention…but if we do “observe” them then this can be quite amusing for as long as we are detached from them (isn’t this “freedom”?).  When we come to realise that there is a Universal Energy (or “Mind” in 3P’s language) that connects us all and creates order and balance in the world, and when we choose to trust this and go with this energy rather than fight against it knowing that it will all work out, then my experience is that I start to see and feel beyond me.  When I am in this space, the intensity of connection with others, the space created for others to shift and the personal insights and success created are simply out of this world and usually “effortless”.

Are “Self”, “ego” and “our thinking” the same thing?  Most probably yes…simply “thought”, and let’s not be fooled as it appears so very real!

A challenge for us all:- let’s try to transcend our “self” today and see what shifts that creates for us and others we interact with.  Let us each try to be conscious of the voice inside our head, our thoughts and our ego and then simply ignore it (or laugh at it if you wish) and each have a deep sense of “everything happens for a reason” and “it will be OK”….and see what happens.

I would love to hear you reflections on this blog and also tomorrow (or later today) hear back from each of you as to what you actually experience when you have “freedom from your self

Have a magical day