Babies and changemaking

When speaking to a baby we use different words, change our tone and simplify our message. We goo-goo and we ga-ga. We try and meet the baby where it’s at.

Curiously, we often forget to do the same with other adults.

We assume others know what we know and care about what we care about, we fail to change our tone and message to meet them where they’re at and then we act surprised when our message doesn’t land.

Pausing to consider what’s important to this person? How might I communicate this in a way that will resonate with them? might just be the most effective way to create change.

9 lessons from 100 days of ocean swims

  1. Accountability to others provides the right kind of tension to keep showing up (even when it’s 4 degrees, raining sideways and frankly, you’d rather sit inside with a hot coffee).
  2. At some point you’ll feel like giving up because, who even cares anyway?
  3. When you zoom out you might realise that the days you do feel like giving up are less than 5% of the time (though in the moment, feel like 100%)
  4. Outcomes like hitting 100 days become arbitrary and less important as you begin to love the practice.
  5. Exercise can be calming and energising, rather than frantic and depleting. This undoubtedly extends to work and life, too.
  6. Time seems to slow down when you’re undistracted in nature. A 20 minute swim can feel like an eternity.
  7. The only difference between the 100th day and the 43rd is the story you tell yourself (and others)
  8. You’ll never regret a swim
  9. Finding an Octopus teacher is harder than you might think

Momentum is underrated

Just ask a domino block. None of them would fall if it weren’t for the momentum created by the first one.

This provides a useful way to think about the thing you’re hiding from and avoiding.

It could be a conversation with your boss, a new project or business or something far scarier like cleaning the dishes.

Each time we avoid the task it becomes seemingly more monumental.

Instead, we can remember the lead domino and consider: what’s one tiny way you could nudge this forward?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to fill the sink with water.

Something to optimise for


Too often we focus on efficiencies, productivity tools and hacks in order to squeeze more into our days.

More to-do’s, more emails, more meetings, more social media posts and ultimately, more self inflicted stress.

This frantic energy to get more done is vastly overrated.

What if instead, we optimised for calm?

What if we did away with questions like: will this save us more money, resources or time? and instead asked: will this create more calm?

Hat tip to one of my favourite books of 2020: It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work.

Three rules for asking great coaching questions

  1. Avoid framing them in a way that can be answered as ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Binary question tend not to be conducive to uncovering possibility.
  2. As much as possible, start your questions with ‘what’ or ‘how’. ‘What if…‘, ‘How might…’ and ‘what would it look like if…’ are solid examples.
  3. Most important of all: Follow your curiosity. Ask the question you want to ask based on what the other person has said. Seek to understand what it is they’re really saying.

That’s it.

Simple on paper, harder to execute. Hence, practice.

The best way to ask better questions is to practice asking better questions.

When is the last time you…

  • Asked for help?
  • Admitted you didn’t know the answer?
  • Closed your email?
  • Had a day without meetings?
  • Took a week off?
  • Asked someone “how can I support?”
  • Felt like an imposter?
  • Declined a meeting because it didn’t have a clear purpose?
  • Defined what success looks like?
  • Got clear on the hard part?
  • Went for a 60min walk?

These are all choices that can make us better leaders. Which one will you take on in the next week?

A reminder on imposter syndrome

If you’re sharing creative work, starting a new role, working with a new client or leading a new project, chances are you’ll feel like an imposter.

That’s because you’re doing something you’ve never done before and so, by definition, you are an imposter.

This means that everyone we’ve ever admired is also an imposter.

The reminder, then, is to actively choose to dance with our imposter by:

  1. noticing this feeling and giving it a voice
  2. showing up anyway and giving ourselves a voice.

I call this dance the imposter two-step.