The HR Juggler

Archive for the ‘Advent’ Category


Sometimes it’s easy to assume you know what someone’s story will be, particularly if there have been some high profile successes of things they have conceived, co-ordinated and championed. And sometimes, a powerful reminder comes along that such assumptions are completely baseless and we need to start from where we are and listen to the stories that people have to share.

Today’s post is by David D’Souza, who can be found on Twitter @dds180 and over on his blog.

Artwork for today (and every day!) is by the brilliant Simon Heath.


“God knows what is hiding, in that world of little consequence

Behind the tears, inside the lies

A thousand slowly dying sunsets”

People help the people by Cherry Ghost


I think this is going to be a long one for a couple of reasons. The first of which is that I’ve got an occasionally rambling style which lends itself to long posts and the second of which is that I’ve got a lot to say. In my head this is an outpouring of a blog that I haven’t quite found a place or a tone for during the year. Somehow writing for someone else creates the small bit of distance I needed to share a bit more depth than normal.

Over an 8 week period in the autumn of 2012 my father in law passed away, my mother in law passed away, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and for the first time in my career I faced being out of work. Over the past year I’ve just about kept things together, at times I’ve only just kept things together and I’ve often faced the crushing feeling you get when you want to help people and can’t. I like to help people, I’m a smart kid and I can solve most things. But you can’t solve bereavement and you can’t solve terminal cancer. You can’t solve people’s pain – it just is there when you wake up – and you just hope it has lessened slightly by the time you go to sleep. I’m not sure how many people who I’ve met recently would know that this has been the background to my year. And I guess this blog is partly about sharing that but mainly about the fact we never know what is going on for other people and what they aren’t sharing. Which is why sharing is so important.

When I was 18 I had a similar period in which things fell apart. I fell apart. It seemed like everyone I cared about was suffering and I couldn’t help. If you saw me at 16. I was one of those kids who has most things going for them – good school, good results that came easy, decent at sports, well liked. I was ill equipped to cope with things not going right.

If you saw me at 21 I was a shambles. There is a growing openness about depression and it seems most fitting to share this at Christmas, because that is the time life can hit hardest. I went from a relatively happy kid with everything ahead of him to a university drop out with a stutter and the kind of crippling insomnia that people who don’t really understand think is just ‘not being able to get to sleep’.

To say my behaviour was erratic is an understatement – I’d submit an essay to University, get a high enough grade to pass the whole term and then attempt to drink enough to get to sleep. Sleep is the real problem. I’m talking about seeing the clock tick over to 6am each morning without having done anything except having stared at the ceiling with your brain racing so fast it feels like it will never stop. I was as alone as anyone could be and with such a sense of numbness that I never thought I’d care for anything again. Nobody ever knew how bad it was, over time I slowly began to function again. But just to function.

And then gradually the years passed. And I gained a wife. And I gained a career. And the bad things became memories and the good things became life. And then I gained a daughter – and for anyone who is a parent you’ll understand that not feeling anything is hardly a problem at that point.

And then it all went wrong again – only this time I was ok. I’ve not been great, but I’ve got by. I’ve probably coped better than most would. Partly that is because I have a family to look after, but mainly because I have more people to look after me. I share with people and they care and they let me vent and that is what gets you by. My mistake when I was younger was thinking that strength is carrying everything on your own, thinking that not being able to deal with things alone makes you a failure. Dealing with things alone just increases the chance of you falling over.

I’m not going to write about my year on Twitter or get into the whole social media debate in depth. What I will say, is that you can never have too many people you can trust, you can never have too many people to turn to and you can never have too many people to share with. If you are struggling in the run up to Christmas there are people there who are happy to help and care. Use them.

I’ve been amazed at the amount of people that I share my rubbish year with, who have been experiencing similar. And then we stop being two people with problems and start being two people wanting to help another. And that is where strength comes from. For the people who have helped me this year – thanks, I’d like to think I helped some of you too. I really hope the people that made a difference know who they are. If you think it may be you then it is.

For the people who need help next year – give me a call, give someone you trust a call, give someone a call. Sometimes it will crush you if you try and deal with it on your own. It may feel like you are trying to be strong, it just doesn’t work that way. For people who need help now – it’s Christmas, don’t stay in, don’t stare at the walls. There is joy and generosity out there and just take a gamble that you might be able to feel it for a bit.

I wish everyone a really great Christmas. I hope communities keep growing because that means support keeps growing – and that means fewer people fall and there are more shoulders to stand on. That can’t be a bad thing. If you do want to support other people this Christmas then charities including MIND and Cancer Research benefits from the profits of our book, Humane Resourced.

Merry Christmas


Day 13 is brought to you by the lovely Zoe Mounsey (@zoemounsey) who has had a very exciting year, having moved to New Zealand.

Artwork for today (and every day!) is by the brilliant Simon Heath.


Thank you to Alison for letting me share my story with you again as part of her advent series. Last year I wrote about new beginnings as we were preparing to move to New Zealand. I wrote about all the feelings that I was experiencing from apprehension, anxiety and uncertainty through to excitement, joy and optimism.

And so some 12 months later I am writing again from sunny New Zealand and I am happy to say that excitement, joy and optimism have been the feelings experienced most over the past year. We have no regrets about making this move and are currently looking forward to welcoming my mum and dad and sharing our new life with them for a few weeks.

It probably helped that we arrived during one of New Zealand’s best summers for a few years. It meant that living in our new home with minimal furniture was very doable as were outside most of the time. In fact I got so used to the minimalist approach I felt quite overwhelmed when the container arrived. The kids love the fact we are a stone’s throw away from the beach and there are fantastic play parks close by. The start of the school year saw me anxiously waiting by the classroom door. Though there was no need to worry, Cate our now 6 year old, fitted in with ease and made lots of friends. I got to meet lots of mums (and dads) and have built up a fantastic friendship group here. I did have some concerns initially about schooling here as it is quite different from the UK – less of a focus on structure and assessment – but I have learnt to accept and trust it. Lucas, our now 3 year old, has also fitted in well, he now talks with a kiwi accent and I think he is planning a future career in construction given the amount of sand that ends up in our house.

I have also gone from being a stay-at-home mum to rejoining the workforce though not as I had originally planned. I have experienced the same problems in the UK with trying to find a part-time role in the field I would like to work, however through the wonder that is twitter I found a very flexible role in academia. In some ways it feels as if I have gone back in time as I started my career as a health services researcher and I am now undertaking qualitative research on the impact of the Canterbury earthquakes on health care professionals. I really enjoy it and love exploring other people’s stories and experiences. It has reawakened a desire to write and I am currently playing around with that.

So what have I learnt from our first year in New Zealand…

…you can change your scenery but life goes on pretty much as it did before – I still make the lunches, do the school run, do the chores, decide what we are having for lunch etc. Though I am making a conscious effort to enjoy life and celebrate the little things that make me smile

…there is a freedom in being somewhere new where people have few preconceptions about you – in many ways coming here felt like those first few weeks of starting university, you get a chance to ‘reinvent’ yourself a little bit. For me I felt that I didn’t have to conform to other people’s expectations and I made more of an effort to be sociable and say yes to opportunities

…some people will always have an opinion on what you choose to do (and will probably voice it) – I am slowly learning that it is better to accept it as their issue and not let it become your issue.

…my kids are amazing – we pretty much changed everything about their world and they took to it like ducks to water, from the gruelling 28 hour journey to being (gently) pushed down a mountain on a snowboard!

…you need to have some tough conversations – this has been particularly true for us living in such an earthquake prone area. Hard as it was we have had the ‘what if?’ conversation and made the necessary plans.

…and lastly, you can be thousands of miles away but technology means that you can still be ‘present’ for the people in your life. Through the magic of Skype, Facebook, email and Twitter we have shared lots of moments with family and friends.

Transition is a key word for me for 2013 – the word refers to ‘a passage or change from one place or state or act or set of circumstances to another’. We have obviously changed our physical location and circumstances but I feel I have personally changed too. I finally feel comfortable in my own skin and have a clearer sense of who I am and what matters to me.

Looking forward I am excited about the next part of our adventure especially experiencing our first Kiwi Christmas.

Wishing you all a fantastic Christmas and a 2014 that is full of adventure.


I’m delighted that today’s post has been written by Doug Shaw (@dougshaw1) who has always been one of my encouragers par excellence and has become a good friend through originally meeting on Twitter and lots of face-to-face interactions since. If you want to read more from Doug, check out his blog.

Artwork for today (and every day!) is by the brilliant Simon Heath.


I’m hugely grateful to Alison for a third chance to write for this ongoing advent series.

In 2011 I scribbled about being open to possibilities.

In 2012 I wrote about Dad’s death.

In 2013 my story is about coming back from the dead.

Checked Out

My Dad’s affairs took a good deal of time and effort to sort through. I had help from my sisters but I was the executor, aka the paperwork guy. I made a promise to Dad that I would take care of everything, but trust me when I say that ploughing your way through a mountain of bureaucracy is a most loveless way to grieve. On reflection 2012 was much much harder than I realised at the time.

2013 started with Dad’s affairs resolved, and very little else for me to do. I’d focused so hard on getting Dad’s estate sorted that I’d neglected the business. It was almost like starting over again, and I made it worse through spending a couple of months in denial about the lack of productive work.

In my lost wanderings I was fortunate to come across many work friends who vitally helped keep my spirits up, and one in particular in whom I confided more deeply. I began to talk a lot with Meg Peppin and I explained my situation to her. I also explained that I felt a lot of my best work arose from collaborations and I was interested in exploring collaboration with her too.

Checked In

Despite my somewhat vulnerable state, Meg kindly agreed to talk more and so we did – not specifically about working together, more about work in general. And these conversations, this ability to check in with someone periodically, began to help me refocus and redevelop.

As I came back from the dead I realised I had let basic things go. For example, I used to keep a chart showing how much revenue What Goes Around was generating, month by month, quarter by quarter, year by year. I’d stopped this practice and I needed to restart it. I very carefully added a bunch of zeroes to the chart, determined to use the displeasure I felt for each one as a reminder to move forward and away from this time.

With Meg’s help, and the undying support I get from Carole and Keira too, things shifted back into gear. The simple act of having people to talk to and to explore possibilities with again is a mighty catalyst.

Moving Up

Getting out of a rut again has been enormously helpful. I’ve made decisions to stop looking for certain kinds of work so that I can focus on what I enjoy and what others tell me I’m good at. And in the past few months I’ve found more good work than ever before, and it has found me too. Meg and I have done some fascinating work together, I love finding opportunities for other people as well as me.

After years of tolerating what I knew wasn’t good enough, I’ve dumped my expensive unresponsive accountants and found much better ones. Ones who help me make informed business decisions.

I know I need to work even harder on my clarity, and I love it when people now ask me ‘So what do you do?’ and I confidently reply, ‘I help people collaborate more effectively, help them explore better ways of working, and get comfortable with creativity and experimentation’. Not clear enough but so much clearer than before.

Shipping It

In September I brought Stop Doing Dumb Things to market. The idea has been partly formed for a long time, talking with others helped me push this curiosity over the confidence gap and into reality. As a result of taking courage and shipping it I’m generating new ideas for myself and others and helping people explore better ways of working all over the world. In the time they’ve been around, Stop Doing Dumb Things have sold across the UK, Canada, the USA and Australia. I could write a whole post about what I’ve learned and am learning about product development, marketing and fulfillment.

Moving On

2014 starts with some solid commitment from clients, some excellent conference gigs booked, and a head full of ideas about how to help make work great.

Never Forget

My loving memories of Dad are now of a life well lived, not a mountain of paperwork.

Never forget the importance of keeping in touch. Never forget the importance of curiosity. Never forget the importance of our network. Never forget. I nearly did.

My hope for next year and beyond is that we truly unlock the potential of choosing to do things with each other, instead of to each other. I wish you great things in 2014.


Today’s post is by the rather wonderful Meg Peppin, who can be found on Twitter @OD_optimist and over on her blog.

Artwork for today (and every day!) is by the brilliant Simon Heath


What’s your story? 

And then one day…..

“One day, I wandered into work; I was feeling tired. It felt like a bit of a drag.    A colleague walked past me and patted my shoulders “Alright? Look like you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders”.  I grinned back at her – you can guarantee that she’ll notice whatever mood you are in and zone in on it.  Brightened me up a bit.

It’s the middle of a busy week, a busy month.    I’ve been here for just over a year, but it feels like, no time, all time.    Somehow, the things that I thought would be different here, don’t feel like they are any different, and I doubt whether they can be different.   I’m so tired so much of the time.

I’m surviving.

I’m living.

I’m working.

Sometimes I’m happy, and grateful that I have a job, and that my salary goes into my bank, and that the people I work with gave me slack last year when I needed time off.

Sometimes I get a buzz, when a deadline gets met, when project milestones get achieved, when someone who thought they couldn’t do something finds out they could.

Other days, it’s a grind and I think there must be more to it than this. 

There must be more to it than this.

Then one day, everything changed.. 

I went out for a breezy walk at lunchtime and as I walked through the park, past the sandwich nibblers on the bench, the crowd of smokers laughing as they inhaled- I thought I heard a voice calling my name.  I turned around; I couldn’t see anyone.  I saw an unfamiliar path, I hadn’t noticed it before.  I thought the call was coming from that direction so I followed the path listening to the voices that seemed just out of reach.

I saw a girl and an old woman sitting on a bench. They waved at me “come and sit with us – join us”.  They were familiar but I couldn’t quite place them.

It’s not my normal way to join strangers and break bread with them, but I was drawn to them. I sat down next to the young woman and peeled open my sandwich wrapper. The older woman was telling the younger woman an anecdote about her working life; the younger was paying careful attention.  The older woman was telling a story…………

Don’t you just love a story?

That story continues somewhere – but not here.

A while back,   I had a bit of advice from someone “that’s an old story, you need to write a new one”.   I heard myself from his perspective – I was holding on to a painful fragment from the past.  My story was coloured, infused, contaminated even with painful memories.  That was the story that I was living in.

You know those insight moments when someone says just the right thing? 

Old, young, happy, sad, wise, stupid, alive.

So I hear you.  My destiny is in my hands; I can decide, I can choose.  We think we don’t have choices, but we do.  There are times where the only choice we have is to accept where we are.  Embracing the hurts, the disappointments, the stuckness; noticing them, acknowledging them allows us to leave them behind, or live with them until we are ready to.   I learn – we can hold the reality of sadness with happy, confused with clear, excited with fear.

It’s what we are – stories and paradoxes.   It’s what we are creating, together, now; here as you read, the stories of these advent blogs; I’m telling a bit of my story; you’re adding it to yours.

So I’m a story, but I’m also true life.

Now – I start my story as of today; about this year, about my excitements, my pleasures, my anticipations and what I feel good about.    It’s not perfect; sadness and disappointments sit in my world, as they may do in yours.   But they share space with joys, small delights and big loves.  And, all the good stuff this year – well, I’ve made it happen through connecting with people that I want to, grafting, learning, looking and saying.   I’ve made mistakes too.  Oh yes.   @dougshaw1 invited us to think about our seven word autobiography – old, young, happy, sad, wise, stupid, alive.  That’s me.

Anything you want to make sure goes in when someone somewhere tells your story?

My stakes in the ground this year are to accept with grace my present, whatever it gives me – and to continue to grow the work I have started in the last two years of working with younger people to help them write the narrative they want.

I will continue to build my courage to say what I think, with respect, and to accept that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea.     I can’t get it right all the time and I will feel OK about that and I will endeavour to be equally OK when I’m in flow and doing great stuff!


Today’s post is by the very clever and talented Neil Usher who has written a series of Barefoot in the Heart posts over on his blog, inspired by Brian Aldiss‘ “Barefoot in the Head” stream of consciousness sci fi novel. As Neil explains, he believes Brian Aldiss was influenced in turn by James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake and that these pieces aim to flush out the vulnerability behind the brave face of everyday working life, Santa included. You can find Neil on Twitter (@Workessence).

Artwork for today (and every day!) is by the brilliant Simon Heath.


Ho ho ho! I have the most sensational job in the universe not just vocational the commitment totally emotional seems to have been eternal cant remember a time I ever applied never had a plan just seem to have been doing this since time began am even older than Noddy Holder of course the skies were colder then global warming has played havoc with reindeer flight can now only work in the deepest night or their noses catch light for a few weeks every year its unbelievable I get flooded with written overtures of dubious claims to good behaviour justifying material favour and vodka in every conceivable flavour but its got so easy now its all made in three factories in china which helps with my fading eyesight rheumatism and angina just can’t keep my weight down living on penguins they’re rather fatty and all the goodness lies just under their skins of course I’m not a father this is a solo career nobody else up here in the palacious arctic makes robinson crusoe look like a salacious twenty four hour party lothario and riding on a supersonic sleigh defines cathartic but I love the love of a billion childish souls and it defines my position my strategy objectives goals and mission in a single intent to stuff your chimneys with guff that will be broken by midnight or you’ll be giving up for lent but beyond the clouds and spangled metallic moonlight in my heart I am barefoot entangled in the unrelenting monotonous expectation that I exist alone purely for your selfish gratification HR don’t come up this far well out of their comfort zone impersonated even more than than elvis I am sysiphus with a sack slowly breaking my brittle back through the lull after the madness I stare at the icy expanse and imagine that just for a moment I can hear the distant whisper of thanks for all things that glisten but unable to be the change I insist the briefest of smiles I bring to the fortunate masks the sadness of those out of view its easy to tell who is who harder to make anyone listen when they’re not even sure you exist


It has been an absolute pleasure and a privilege to get to know Charlotte Walker aka @BipolarBlogger this year, both in person and through social media. She is immensely bright, articulate and compelling and offers those unfamiliar with the daily realities of living with a mental health condition a really powerful insight into what matters about the topic and how she experiences life. I can honestly say I have learnt more from her this year than she will probably ever know…and I am sincerely grateful to her for her generosity and consistent searing honesty. You can follow Charlotte on Twitter (@BipolarBlogger) and read more posts from her over on her excellent, award-winning blog.

Artwork for today (and every day!) is by the brilliant Simon Heath.


2013 began just four months after losing another career. It’s not impossible to retain a profession when you have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, but it can be extremely difficult, particularly when your episodes last for not months but years. I began the New Year with the knowledge that although my condition was improving, I was still nowhere near able to work full time. I could not cope with a commute and I knew I was not resilient enough to go back to the kind of target-driven public sector job I had always worked at. I would have to do something different – but what? My confidence was low. I did not feel employable.

When my friend Jon Bartlett offered me a chance to take part in an event entitled Human Resources for Mental Health (or #HR4MH), I jumped at the chance (you can read the transcript of my talk, as well as Jon’s reasons for organising the event). I couldn’t put my finger on why, but being there seemed important. I couldn’t have known it, but that early February evening would be a catalyst to beginning to build a new career, for one simple reason: people who heard my talk came forward to tell me that they believed in me. I wasn’t sure that I believed in me, but they did, and they were people I respected.

During 2013 I began to believe in myself more, to push against the boundaries of my illness and find that my limitations were not so fixed as I had once thought. Although I was already comfortable with publically about my mental health if you had told me in February that by June I would speak confidently on live television (Sky News), I would not have believed you. If you had told me in June that in September I would spend an afternoon in Westminster, telling the story to a string of MPs, I would have been amazed. If you had suggested then that by advent 2012 I would have won a prestigious Mind Media Award for my blog, appeared on Woman’s Hour and be waiting to interviewed for Society Guardian, I would probably have laughed. Yet I have done all this and so much more.

At #HR4MH I described living with a fluctuating mental health condition as like being repeatedly inundated by a tidal wave. I’m still not home and dry – I couldn’t manage a nine to five job even now – but I see more dry sand than I did a year ago. When placing my stakes, I have had to bang them in hard, hoping for some structure and security even if the waters rise again. One form of security I particularly need is the financial kind. Some of what I do has begun to pay, but it is not yet enough to live on. I have to fully believe that the things I do – from public speaking to consultancy, from research to writing – are worth paying for, and paying well. So I’ll keep exploring my beach, banging in my stakes just as hard as I can. And when I eventually reach the safety of the dunes I will look back at my haphazard line of stakes and think: I did that.


Today’s post is written by Kandy Woodfield, better known to many of us as her Twitter handle of @Jess1ecat.

Artwork for today (and every day!) is by the brilliant Simon Heath.


I’m ambivalent about stakes. They’re good (I’m told) for slaying vampires, or the walking dead


They’re important to stick in the ground when you need to stand up for something you believe in and hold true to that.

But they’re also used to mark boundaries, they anchor you to opinions and perspectives, they can end up being pretty rigid things that control your freedom and creativity.


For much of my life I was quite proud of being the type of person who knew exactly what was happening and when – yesterday, today and ten years into the future. I liked lists and things happening as they were scheduled to and I thought those stakes were serving me well.

Then a few years ago a personal crisis forced me to reappraise the negative side of that boundary setting. All of a sudden my life wasn’t going the way I’d planned at all. Stakes I’d carefully, heavily hammered into the ground to keep me anchored were upended at an alarming rate, I felt set adrift.

Coming out of that period I learnt to stop limiting myself to the boundaries my plans and set ideas gave me. I started to look around at the here and now. New options and possibilities opened up. It took a lot of personal reflection (and a fair bit of therapy but that frankly is a whole other story!) but I started to live in the present and it’s a scary but exhilarating place to be.

So what do I try to do differently now?

  •   I try to think ‘why not’ rather than ‘what now’ when unexpected opportunities/issues crop up
  •   I take risks and force myself to do things that scare me
  •   I try to be in the now, not to dwell on the past or live in the future
  •   I’ve accepted change happens, sometimes it happens because I’ve had a hand in planning it but mostly it just happens, and it’s scary but it can also be liberating
  •   I’m less dogmatic or prone to sticking my stake in the ground and not wavering, as a result I listen to others more attentively

In upending my stakes what I’ve actually raised the stakes I have in my life. This year that’s led me to meeting a whole new set of friends in my Twitter network in real life, running an international network of researchers and taking part in a judging panel for an awards ceremony.  Unconstrained by ideas about what my life ‘should’ look like, I’ve met more people, done more interesting things than my carefully crafted planning would ever have allowed me.

I confess I still like a good ‘to do’ list so planning isn’t out altogether but nowadays I pick and plant my stakes more sparingly!

So my question for you all is what stakes are tying you down? What will you do to loosen the guy ropes this coming year to see where it takes you?



Today’s post is written by the very talented and insightful Khurshed Dehnugara who can be found on Twitter @relume1 and over on his blog.

Artwork for today (and every day!) is by the brilliant Simon Heath.


Why do I put myself through these development weeks? They are always full of well meaning and warm individuals who are struggling to make their work relevant for the rest of us. Yet I keep coming back because there is usually a nugget or two that fundamentally shifts my understanding of, or insight into, the world of work. But this time, two days in, I’m starting to doubt my own sanity; many of the rest of the participants have been together before so immediately they have their shared experience and language to fall back on. There is lots of ‘inviting’ each other to do things and ‘honouring’ of each others’ experience. Aaaargh! If one more person invites or honours me I will explode. At its worst, this gathering feels like one of those 1970s cults I have read about but was too young to experience, they have their own spiritual leader, a text that is revered and a community of followers most of whom seem to have lost their ability to discern and challenge what is being presented to them. Why would they? Everything is a gift isn’t it? I am the only one chuckling to myself as I get fed up and say this to the group. No one else even smiles and there is a struggle to keep on loving me when I steadfastly refuse to be touched.

Subsequently there isn’t a lot more ‘inviting’ that goes on and my grumpiness is left to its own devices. I keep going to the classes, in half a mind to get home to the family and book an early flight out of there. I’m glad I stayed; on the Wednesday night we started talking about the importance of power to counter balance the importance of love, if we are to change stuck societies and businesses.

The lecture room is packed, considering this was an optional session after dinner on the Wednesday evening, I was surprised to hear the audience noise as I opened the door and peered into a scene of backs of heads as I looked for a seat. Preferably one that would let me make a quick exit if need be. No such luck, half way down, on the far left, with only one exit point to the row, I am being beckoned over by one of the evening’s ushers.

There are eleven pairs of knees between my escape route and me. We settle down and I defiantly keep my coat on – my signals have never been that subtle. I am the first to give in, however and the layers start coming off as the presentation and conversation pique my interest.

There was a particular section in which a quote attributed to Martin Luther King was offered up, I hadn’t heard it before, it nailed it and I had some justification at last for my righteousness.

“You see, what happened is that some of our philosophers got off base. And one of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites, polar opposites, so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love. It was this misinterpretation that caused the philosopher Nietzsche, who was a philosopher of the will to power, to reject the Christian concept of love. It was this same misinterpretation, which induced Christian theologians to reject Nietzsche’s philosophy of the will to power in the name of the Christian idea of love.

Now, we got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realisation that power without love is reckless and abusive, and that love without power is sentimental and anaemic.”

“Where Do We Go From Here?”

Annual Report Delivered at the 11th Convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, August 16, Atlanta, GA

This was delivered with impact to an audience clinging hard to the notion that love is the only way through what we are confronted with. They have grown up, as have I, in a series of industrial age institutions. Encouraged to believe in cultures ruled by patriarchs who manifested their power through domination and submission. Personal drive and stamina won the day, they were taught to believe in a world of leaders and followers, the most powerful moving to the top of the heap, the rest of us knocked down, accepting a belief that only the losers, the weak and inept allow themselves to be pushed aside, to be marginalised.

How best to respond when faced with this? With an overwhelming emphasis on love as a polar opposite to the form of power they have suffered from. But love without power is sentimental and anaemic.

That is not to say it isn’t needed and magical, we just have to find a way that both these forces can be integrated if we are to find our way though to the next age of organisations. So in building our businesses for the future we want to strengthen them with both power and love (or whichever other words work for you).

Power to me is an expression of valiance and persistence. The courage to dance on the edge of tolerance, one foot inside – one foot outside of the established order. To overcome the fear of being shunned or thought irrelevant. To stand in the incomprehension of how to cope; to lament and accept the losses and defeats along the way while not giving up on the ultimate intention.

Love to me is an expression of awareness and gentleness. An intelligence that is not solely intellectual, emotional or spiritual one that is in fact a kind of collective awareness. One that doesn’t know, can’t predict but that can sense – moment by moment and respond. To be able to return to an open heart, despite the defensive closed postures of others. A care for all you work with, not only those who like you.

I realise this is a big part of what has been integrated in me over the past year, to be fearless and unwavering as an expression of power; to be aware and gentle as an expression of love. Without apology for either part and with a joy for the whole.

Wishing you all a powerful end to 2013 and a loving beginning to 2014.


One of the aspects I really enjoy about curating these blogs is that they bring me into contact with people I have not necessarily met or interacted with previously. Today’s post is written by Annette Hill, who can be found on Twitter as @familyhrguru and over on her blog.

Artwork for today (and every day!) by the brilliant Simon Heath.


At least one person reading this will know why I have chosen SoMe as a personal topic. In fact more than one, as I have shared my failure to grasp the blindingly obvious with a few colleagues now… Yes, I spent several weeks after I first heard the term, wondering what ‘SoMe’ was:

  • A new social media app I had not come across yet?
  • A special one for HR or L&D types?
  • A club I had not yet been invited into?
  • A club/app/group that was all about being ‘so me’ as in authentic, true to your values etc. (I really like that one, actually!)
  • I even Googled it, and was treated to the Wikipedia explanation of the meaning of the word ‘some’!

What makes this worse is that I love acronyms; an essential criteria for working in the public sector. I also have older teenage children who try to keep me up to speed! But clearly, I wasn’t getting it, and MRW (my reaction when) I found out what SoMe is short for was to hit my forehead in disbelief, whilst SMH (shaking my head.) Slightly easier than rubbing my tummy and patting my head at the same time.

Anyway, to return to SoMe (Social Media, of course!) and what I have learned and enjoyed in the 2 years since I joined Twitter, here is an attempt at the 12 days of SoMe and what it means to me.

On the 12th day of SoMe, my i-phone sent to me:

12 New Followers-a-Tweeting. It is always great to see new people following and to look at their profile and recent tweets then re-follow. I personally find those automated follow thanks, or apps that say how many followed, or unfollowed you somewhat soulless. Is SoMe really social if people use automation to reply instead of humanly (humanely) interacting by commenting personally?

11 Great people to follow. As above, there are so many people with such a breadth and diversity of views to share. It took me nearly 2 years to sort out the people and organisations I follow into Lists, so I can be discerning when I want to be.

10 Retweeted articles. I read articles from a broader range of newspapers and journals since I joined Twitter and I do try to avoid just reading from the sources whose views are most like mine.

9 Virtual learnings. Where to start? It’s great to be at events, but as an employed full-time person, I more often than not can’t be there, but I can still follow what’s going on.

8 HR Peeps-a-Sharing. I’m a bit biased about my profession, and this includes L&D and OD as well, but I think we are grasping the benefits and possibilities beautifully. We tend to be a gregarious lot. The trick is sharing more widely.

7 Bloggers-a-blogging. Writing a blog has been quite a scary step for me. I have been intermittent and sometimes lacking in inspiration, but my learning is to read and support loads of others and to keep going with my own.

6 Leaders-a-learning. SoMe is perfect for busy people with little time. I love the opportunity to dip in and out of the rich seam of information available. I also think all leaders should be learning all the time.

5 Facebook Memes. Some funnier than others, and apparently shared more by older Facebookers, according to my daughter. Maybe it’s my light relief from the (semi) professional use of Twitter, or maybe I don’t have much of a life…

4 LinkedIn invitations I haven’t really used LinkedIn as much as I could, and am still a bit unsure, especially when getting invites from people I don’t know and e-mail reminders to congratulate people I haven’t seen or interacted with in years for quite trivial things…

3 Annoying hashtags. Indeed, but for every #annoying one there is an #amusing one.

2 Retweeted comments. This is how I have found most of the new people to follow, and presumably that’s the whole point.

And an i-pad on my knee at all times. Oh, possibly a bad thing. Has my attention span shortened? Or has my ability to multi-task improved? We’ll see. This is why I am reading Daniel Goleman’s Focus, and in real book format…!


Today’s post is written by Broc Edwards, author of the excellent ‘fool with a plan’ blog.

Artwork for today (and every day!) is provided by the brilliant Simon Heath.


the less things change, the more they stay the same

The alarm hasn’t gone off yet, but it will in a few minutes. It’s 4:25am and I’m tired, I’m hungry, and I hurt. All over. In a few minutes, I’ll be getting up to run five miles in 32 degree weather. I’m officially ten days into my training program. Only one hundred and seventy to go…

*     *     *     *     *

By all rights and measures, 2013 has been a banner year for me, full of accomplishment and rewards. Great things have been happening both personally and professionally and I accomplished several significant, long-held goals. I was asked to chair not-for-profit group that provides leadership development in the community, I received a promotion at work, I co-presented at several conferences, I published a book, my blog started to get noticed, and I contributed a small part to an e-book that was topping very established authors as a best seller on Amazon. This past year social media has opened my world in a big way and I am meeting and developing relationships with so many fantastic people who inspire me to do more and better. I’ve even been able to get out and mountain bike more this year. Hard to go wrong with a year like that.

I hope this doesn’t sound smug or braggy – I write this all in amazement and gratitude. We all have good years and we all have bad years, and in so many ways, this one was one of the years where everything seemed to come together. Many seeds I’d been planting for a couple of years began to bear fruit.

Yet… yet.. yet.

As I look back on the year, I see plenty of failure and set-backs. I see areas I neglected and things I didn’t do as well as I needed to. I’m disappointed with too much. While I was charging ahead and reveling in the new and novel in some areas, I got too cozy with the tried and true in others. Responsibilities I should have been maintaining moved far down the priority list or were just plain ignored. I started making and accepting excuses to myself, rationalizing, justifying, explaining away.

This showed up in my personal life. I really enjoy physical activity – it’s a great stress relief and some of my best ideas come while exercising. Years ago, I used to race mountain bikes and motorcycles and I miss the discipline that focusing on competition brings. My last race was seven and a half years and some 50 pounds ago. For a couple of years now I’ve had the nagging awareness that I need competition to inspire me to be in shape, but was too out of shape to compete. It was a vicious downward spiral leaving me frustrated and angry at myself on a daily basis. Every night I vowed I’d get with the program tomorrow. And every morning I’d find that tomorrow never came.

This showed up in my professional life. I took on a couple of huge challenges this year and surprised myself with how well it all panned out. But rather than leaving me sated, that success showed me how nestled into my comfort zones I’d become and how far below potential I’m operating on most days. It’s massively frustrating to do so much and be rewarded with the blessed doubled-edged awareness of how much more could be done.

There is a choice of course. There is always a choice. Every day there is a choice. I could choose to stay in my comfort zone. And I’ve demonstrated to myself that my comfort zone is big enough I could spend the rest of my days there and really have a pretty decent life. Sure, I’d still be frustrated but, ironically, I was clearly comfortable with disliking myself for being so comfortable. Staying the same is a realistic option.

Or… or.. or.

Or I could choose to change. I could do something big to ensure I stayed deep within my discomfort zone on a daily basis. Something frightening and inspiring and huge. For the past several months, I’ve been looking and searching and even winding down other commitments to leave room in 2014 to play bigger. I knew there was something out there, I just didn’t know what it was. By sheer coincidence, I had two brief exchanges the first week in November that led to me hammering stakes in the ground and making self-commitments to redefine myself for myself.

The first was Chris Ponder (@ChrisPonder) over at Performance I Create. He had recently completed a Tough Mudder event and when I congratulated him he responded, “You should do one.” Uh, yeah… 10-12 miles of running and a couple dozen obstacles involving mud, fire, electricity, freezing water, heights, and three or four hours of intense effort to complete. My initial response was “No” followed by “Maybe” followed by “I could do that” and finally “Where do I sign up?” I’m terrified. And apparently that’s what it takes for inspire me to get back in shape. I have exactly six months to be in prime condition – just enough time and completely doable if I don’t waste any time or effort. So every day I’m tired, hungry, sore, and enjoying the commitment to myself.

The second was a conversation with Tash Stallard (@StirTheSource) at Stirring the Source and WorldBlu. I’m a big fan of WorldBlu’s efforts create a world where 1 billion people work in democratic workplaces. I believe organizational democracy is the FutureNow of work and applaud their vision. To reach more people beyond their organizational certification programs, they are creating a leadership development program called Freedom Centered Leader. I was intrigued and interested in participating when I first heard about it, but hesitated to take action.  Then, in what was supposed to be a casual and unrelated conversation, Tash asked the simple question, “If you’re interested, what’s stopping you from signing up?” Sooo…. after listening to myself offer up some really lame excuses I gave it some good, hard thought and joined the inaugural class of 150 or so from around the world looking to advance their own leadership skills and improve the world by improving business.

As I reflect on that oddly pivotal week, I’m struck by a few thoughts. First is that I was primed and searching for ways to push myself and play bigger in very specific areas of my life. Cris and Tash provided sparks – gentle nudges – that would have been meaningless if I weren’t already looking. Second, is that these things are important only to me. Who cares if I do a Tough Mudder, return to racing mountain bikes, take up golf, or sit on the couch? What’s it matter if I learn from WorldBlu, take other classes, pursue another degree, or watch TV? Just as I don’t want other people’s goals, I wouldn’t wish these goals on anyone else (unless they wanted them). The only significance these goals hold is the significance I give them.

That said, these goals are highly significant for me personally. Both are big undertakings with plenty of unknowns, requiring commitment, belief, and willingness to push and test myself. I don’t know what either holds for me, but I’m simultaneously excited for the challenge and frightened of letting myself down.

Jim Rohn once said, “The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them.” Yes, I’ve drawn the lines and set the stakes. But, the stakes I’ve put in the ground would be worthless if they didn’t inspire me to have the tenacious discipline to take action and be the person I need to be to accomplish them.

The less things change, the more they stay the same. If I want things to be different, I need to be different.

How about you?

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