Why you should start handwriting again

Why you should start handwriting again

We’re used to technology growing up to eat its parents and that’s OK because new technology is always better.  Right?  We certainly don’t lament rotary phones, wind up car windows, or drive-in movies; yet there does still seem to be a place for film, vinyl and mail. So I think it is with handwriting. CursiveContinue Reading

Why leadership is not about being right

Why leadership is not about being right

One of Amazon’s Leadership Principles states that leaders “Are Right, A Lot!” This is a destructive principle and probably a major contributor to why many Amazon employees find the company a difficult place to work. Here’s why: Leaders become rigid and defensive when they believe they must be right The big problem with a leadershipContinue Reading

What to do when you’re misunderstood

What to do when you’re misunderstood

It feels terrible to be mis-understood; when something as clear and obvious as day is described as night by someone else.  When that person is a client or boss it’s even worse. Why is it that people don’t get your point-of-view and what can you do about it? Most common reasons people don’t agree withContinue Reading

The one job of a parent

The one job of a parent

Almost every time I’ve listened to the stories of someone lacking self-confidence or going through recurring relationship problems, depression, anger, etc. I’ve heard one of a child who felt  they weren’t loved, weren’t loved as much as another sibling, or were loved conditionally e.g. by good grades, winning, doing chores etc. Mom/Dad didn’t love meContinue Reading

Paragons of ageing

Paragons of ageing

Last week’s post was about how we age; our choice to either hold on to youth’s veneer or let ourselves fall gracefully into old age through the way we live now.  It was about embracing ageing through practicing wisdom, compassion and contribution before we are old so that we can use these capacities to continueContinue Reading

You have a choice about ageing

You have a choice about ageing

One reason no one wants to age is that we have so few examples of people thriving in old age. Old age narratives are of loss; loss of beauty, mobility, strength, flexibility, independence, intellect, memory, relationships etc.  Old age narratives are of separation from the flock, of weakness, sickness, depression, decline and … death. TalkContinue Reading

Slavery 2.0

Slavery 2.0

Slavery didn’t end. But of course you know that.  The news still features human trafficking and children sold into the same cruel millenia-old slavery.  Likened to software or web development, this legacy slavery would be slavery 1.0 or maybe 1.1 But I think there’s a new pervasive form of slavery around today that I callContinue Reading

Making practice sexy

Making practice sexy

Imagine how we could perform in art, sport and career if the idea of practicing was a turn on. Practice is the consistent engagement with actions and behaviours that confer “expert ease” at something.  Practice, at least deliberate practice, increases our capacities to perform at whatever we’re practicing for.  Yet most of us find itContinue Reading

Imagination practice

Imagination practice

Do you still use your imagination?  If you’re like most, my guess is not so much.  When you were a child your imagination was on overdrive and now it’s like a favourite toy that’s been put away. You still have it but you never take it out to play anymore. But imagination is the gatewayContinue Reading

The good thing about a bad boss

The good thing about a bad boss

If you work, sooner or later, you’ll have a bad boss.  It’s just like if you drive long enough you’ll have a flat tyre and get pulled over by the cops, but while these last two can be over in a few minutes, a bad boss can last for years. A bad boss can costContinue Reading

Robots taking our jobs; not a bad thing

Robots taking our jobs; not a bad thing

Most everyone thinks about robots taking our jobs as a bad thing.  How will people earn a living? But perhaps it’s not a bad thing.  Robots taking our jobs could completely reinvent what it means to work and earn a living. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone had machines do their farming, manufacturing, cooking, cleaningContinue Reading

The real reason to forgive

The real reason to forgive

When people talk about forgiveness it’s often in a religious context—as heaven’s admission price. But forgiveness is not only for the deeply religious, it’s a fundamental human capacity—like capacities to think, work and create —that we either develop or it withers.  And before we can even talk about how to develop one’s capacity to forgive,Continue Reading

Friend or Foe: Choose!

Friend or Foe: Choose!

In your daily encounters, which would you prefer to make?  Friends or foes? That’s not a trick question.  Too often people choose to foe-make by reacting unhelpfully to negative social and work encounters.  Sometimes with scowls, snide remarks, the finger or outright ‘cussin’.  Even when our reactions to apparent unhelpfulness or bad attitudes are notContinue Reading

Are you high cost?

Are you high cost?

We don’t usually think of cost when applied to people, but it does.  Cost is not just a monetary concept, it describes the time and effort spent, the degree of unpleasantness or even pain and suffering incurred when dealing with … people. You know high cost people because you describe them as a Pain inContinue Reading

Controlling your Blame Reflex

Controlling your Blame Reflex

Most of us are quick to assign blame.  It’s like a reflex. At an instinctive level it seems right, even normal.   The murderer, burglar, rapist, swindler is a bad and evil person and should be punished. And the behaviour need not be criminal. The same phenomenon is in play in our everyday lives.  WeContinue Reading

What we can all learn from Bruce Jenner

What we can all learn from Bruce Jenner

I watched the Bruce Jenner Dianne Sawyer’s interview, not out of any curiosity, but because I couldn’t get the clicker away from my mother as I was having a late dinner. I neither expected to like Bruce, nor to find personal relevance to my life in his story, but through Sawyer’s brilliantly compassionate interview IContinue Reading

Commit to the practice, not the objective

Commit to the practice, not the objective

There is nothing wrong with failing as long as it comes from a sincere effort to succeed and we learn from the experience so we don’t repeat the mistake on our next attempt. But for many failures—starting that business, writing that book, or losing that 20lbs—most of us don’t learn and we often repeat theContinue Reading

The purpose of Employee Engagement

The purpose of Employee Engagement

Whenever I think Employee Engagement (EE) has already become another buzz-phrase in the business world, someone asks me what it is.  I say engagement describes the degree to which people care about the work they do.  Engaged people care, dis-engaged people don’t.  That simple. It’s no surprise that businesses are increasingly turning to EE becauseContinue Reading

Are you a NO or a YES?

Are you a NO or a YES?

How many things are you a “NO” to?  A bad boss, gossiping colleagues, poor customer service, traffic, corrupt politicians, poverty, etc., etc. Do you notice that the things you’re against never seem to go away?  If you’re against jobs you hate, unhealthy relationships, being overweight, an uncertain future, why do you always seem to have themContinue Reading

What’s on your distraction buffet?

What’s on your distraction buffet?

You probably have your favourite distractors—the time wasters that you find yourself engaging with when you know you should be doing something else. In “Your Distraction Buffet” I mentioned that sometimes your distractors appear to be work or work related and in fact are not.  You spend time on them justifying that time by thinkingContinue Reading

Your Distraction Buffet

Your Distraction Buffet

Ever spend a day being really busy, doing lots of stuff, yet at day’s end a friend asking “Productive day?,” leaves you staring into the question like a deer into headlights. “What the hell did I get done today?” Decimate my daily to-do list?  Complete a project? Wrote a chapter?  Finished that presentation?  No? GoodContinue Reading

Which would you prefer: to be liked or feared?

Which would you prefer: to be liked or feared?

You might be familiar with the Machiavellian position that it’s better to be feared than loved.  Unless you’re interested in acquiring raw power, I’m going to say that it’s the wrong question to ask if your objective is to get people to help you achieve your ambition or business mission. If you’re the kind ofContinue Reading

“This (your work) is shit!”

“This (your work) is shit!”

If Steve Jobs’ had a show like Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice,” his equivalent of Trump’s “You’re Fired” might have been “This is shit!” In Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography, that’s how Jobs often responded to any product, service, presentation or argument that didn’t meet his high standards, and he wasn’t shy about whose heart he stabbedContinue Reading

Look for passion first

Look for passion first

Trying to ignite passion in people who don’t have it is like getting a child to eat his vegetables by yelling “It’s good for you, dammit.”  You get tired and the vegetables only get eaten when you’re micro-managing chews. More effective to hire for passion first Similarly, in a work environment, managers feel just asContinue Reading

Take responsibility, don’t apologise

Take responsibility, don’t apologise

An apology is the best way to heal the relationship damage we cause when our mistakes hurt people. But there are times—usually in political situations—when offering an apology is not in your best interest. I once found myself in a difficult position where despite working very hard I made an unbelievable goof that had myContinue Reading

Why you need enemies

Why you need enemies

Our instinct is to avoid making enemies; to have everyone be our friend and ally.  But we’ll fail. Everyone has enemies: the Dalai Lama, The Pope even Jesus had enemies. In A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson documents how, even among learned scientific minds, fierce rivalries have dominated much of scientific progress from biologists upsetContinue Reading

The tragedy of real-life drama

The tragedy of real-life drama

We like drama in books and movies because it excites and creates tension and conflict that gets quickly resolved.  We know how it turns out by the time we put the book down, or walk out of the theatre.  Thank God, because it’s stressful to stay in drama states for extended periods of time. WhichContinue Reading

Happiness at work should not be your goal

Happiness at work should not be your goal

Happy good, unhappy bad.  Not too many people will challenge that. But being not happy doesn’t mean you’re unhappy. There are other non-happy emotional states that reward and fulfil the spirit. People who love their jobs are often focused, aggressive, challenged, curious, anxious, attentive, reflective, perturbed, inspired, stressed, thoughtful, vigilant and zealous.  Distinctly not happy. WhyContinue Reading

Do you do important work?

Do you do important work?

There was a scene in “The Imitation Game” when the protagonist  —as baddies started to destroy his work—exclaimed, “You will never understand the importance of what I am creating here.” And as they continued wreaking havoc around him it was clear they didn’t.   Poor sap. But it made me think of the main reasonContinue Reading

Why we must all be entrepreneurs

Why we must all be entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are the marines of business. Figuratively speaking, they take the beachhead, and incur the heaviest casualties. Entrepreneurs have the “no guts, no glory” swag necessary to risk their money, time and reputation on a dream, and because so many fail, we think that only the naturally gifted could do what it takes to reapContinue Reading

Ten signs of a bad boss

Ten signs of a bad boss

Many bad bosses are nice people, but they all create unnecessary cost in high staff turnover and inefficiency.  Motivation enough to get rid of them. But from a purely human perspective, bad bosses give work a bad name.  They fuel negative work conversations and provide ‘evidence’ that work cannot be enjoyable and productive. Bad bossesContinue Reading

A 2015 wish

A 2015 wish

As we leave 2014 wondering things like: what will the world will be like without Robin Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Attenborough, and Maya Angelou; what would motivate young men to shoot a child or cut a man’s head off; how come the technology exists to find my iPhone but not a 100 ton planeContinue Reading

Should you or shouldn’t you follow your passion?

Should you or shouldn’t you follow your passion?

If you keep up with the literature you now ‘know’ that following your passion is not only bad advice, but the ‘worst advice you could give anyone.’ Why?  Because your passion, if you have one, may be a financial dead-end, against the law, socially reprehensible, or you may suck at it. Ask the average journalist,Continue Reading

What are you failing at?

What are you failing at?

Failure is nature’s way of preparing you for success.  And thank her for that, because life would be numbingly boring if you immediately succeeded at everything you tried. Unfortunately this isn’t widely taught and so millions of us grow up imprisoned by a few bad outcomes, or worse failing at something important and not knowingContinue Reading

The S.T.U.P.I.D. test

The S.T.U.P.I.D. test

We’ve all heard of the SMART goal acronym.   Tom Deierlein just wrote a great article on SMART goals and it’s wise to see if a goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time specific before taking it on. But what about the stuff that we might be doing now? Well here’s a STUPID acronym youContinue Reading

Freedom at Work

Freedom at Work

How’d you like to take as much vacation as you like, whenever you like, and not have to worry about anybody at work counting the days you’ve taken? Well my hero Richard Branson announced on Wednesday that this is the new vacation policy.  It’s in fact a “no vacation policy” policy. What’s the catch?  HeContinue Reading

The opposite of work is ….?

The opposite of work is ….?

If you said ‘play’ you’d be in the majority. And you’d be wrong. Think of it.   The opposite of anything is another thing completely devoid of every quality of the first thing. When I ask this question in my work engagement training sessions, I ask people what comes to mind when they think ofContinue Reading

How work is like diet and exercise

How work is like diet and exercise

Just like the food you eat could be bad for you, the work you do could be also. In fact, the way most people relate to diet and exercise is the way they relate to work. They’d prefer not to do it. Food disconnected from nutrition Long ago native Peoples had no concept of diet.Continue Reading

Don’t ever let your age stop you

Don’t ever let your age stop you

Of the three life stage descriptors —young, middle-aged, old—only young connotes life.  Middle-aged and old allude to decay and impending death. Real downers. A non-issue if you’re under 35, but a big one as you approach and past 40. And it’s not just about the physical decline of the body. Changing career The author Robin Black describes whatContinue Reading

Emotional labour — the source of service

Emotional labour — the source of service

Someone recounted an unkind incident to me recently.  A govt worker was insensitive and cruel to an old lady who was alone and in need of help.  Like a scene from a slavery or apartheid era movie, this woman thought it fit to speak in a condescending and accusing manner to a person who wasContinue Reading

The key to wanting to go to work every day

The key to wanting to go to work every day

Why is it that so many workers seem to exist as cogs in a system; unsmiling robots mechanically going through the motions, rigidly enforcing the established process. The answer is that these workers are not emotionally vested in their jobs.  They are emotionally detached from what they do and engage in their work as physical labour.Continue Reading

Why we don’t teach forgiveness

Why we don’t teach forgiveness

How could it be that we don’t actively practice forgiveness? The most popular prayer in the world, literally a prayer straight from the big Guy admonishes “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Yet forgiveness is not taught, practiced or developed in mainstream education. To the extent encouraged in religiousContinue Reading

Photography as metaphor for how you look at life

Photography as metaphor for how you look at life

How you look at your life affects how you feel about it which then impacts the actions you take. Feel badly about yourself or the way your life is going and you’re more likely to stay home and brood. Feel good about your life or career and you’re more likely to act for the sakeContinue Reading

The whole truth and nothing but

The whole truth and nothing but

Many of our people problems at home and at work come from the common mistake that we can know not only the truth, but the whole truth … and nothing but. We can’t—and that’s why I can’t imagine being selected for a jury. How could anyone take the oath “I solemnly swear to tell theContinue Reading

Be like water: Learn the soft skills

Be like water: Learn the soft skills

Employers today sift for soft-skilled employees like prospectors of old sifting for gold. They prospect because, like gold, self-motivated, empathic and responsible (soft-skilled) workers are rare and valuable to an organisation. What makes Soft Skills so valuable? Soft skills make salespeople effective, employees self-starters, give a doctor or nurse their bedside manner or make aContinue Reading

Why we hate to commit, and why we must

Why we hate to commit, and why we must

Most people hate to commit. No, it’s not just guys in relationship and marriage. The average person hates to be pinned down by a promise and that’s why the willingness to obligate to another person is THE differentiator of professionals. But what accounts for this unwillingness to commit? Why does making commitments seem as unappealingContinue Reading

Relationship lessons from Soap Operas

Relationship lessons from Soap Operas

TV soap operas are addictive because most people can’t resist being on the inside of people’s lives, knowing their dirty laundry and having someone—an arch villain to hate.  We somehow can’t pull ourselves away from watching a totally avoidable and needless drama unfold. One person does something, says something, or maybe doesn’t do or sayContinue Reading

What to do when you lack credibility

What to do when you lack credibility

The other day I gave a talk about something that my particular audience knew that I was bad at. Most teachers and coaches are not nobel prize winners in their fields, but to be effective they must have some authority, and with this particular audience I had as much credibility as Toronto Mayor Rob FordContinue Reading

What would you tell young you?

What would you tell young you?

The other day my girlfriend asked me what advice would I give young Peter if I could go back in time. Surprisingly, it was a hard question to answer. There is just so much advice I wish I had gotten or listened to.   Looking back, what would have made the most difference for me?Continue Reading

Don’t repeat 2013

Don’t repeat 2013

2014 is here.  Seems like it accelerated towards us like a peregrine falcon in full dive. Where did 2013 go and what really got done? I think your natural enthusiasm for 2014 may depend on how you answer that question. If 2013 fulfilled your expectations, or was part of your unfolding plan of ambition, youContinue Reading