Can you HEAR me??

My daughter Rubie (3) woke me up at around 3am the other night, she was calling from her bedroom

“What is it sweetie?”

“I can’t find my light daddy”

I sort her out and go back to bed, 20 minutes later……

“What is it sweetie?”

I made a mistake – I was irritated before I got in there

“I can’t find my do-do’s daddy, where are they?”

Note: do-do’s are any kind of comforter, we have just reduced the sizeable quantity that she seemed to have somehow collected – until she was going to bed with a small mound of material 🙂 !

“There are no more in your bed sweetie, you have everything that is here”

This could turn into a whole big debate about the quantity and availability of the world supply of do-do’s!

Then, having slightly woken up I realised what a dummy I was being – she may be talking about her do-do’s with her words but that is not what she is saying.

What she is saying is: “Daddy, I feel a bit afraid, I feel a bit alone”

I just held her tight for a few minutes

Then I reminded her that; I Love her, therefore, she has nothing to be afraid of, she has everything she needs, and she is never alone

She went straight off


We ALL suffer from patterns of behaviour that do not help us, keep us trapped, cause unhappiness and generally can be quite destructive – we just need to learn to SEE them and take responsibility for them

One of these behaviours for my business partner is asking clearly for what he wants

We might be talking about something in the business, maybe a new change or a new project and lets say I make a suggestion, he might then respond with a number of reasons why he feels there is a better solution, to which I respond…… can see where this goes

What we both discovered over time is that he sometimes finds it difficult to make a simple request for what he would prefer to happen – he disguises this by using logical and reasoned arguments – but often there just isn’t a “best way” there are different options with different consequences, benefits and drawbacks.

So I have learnt to listen to what he is saying

What I mean is when I notice this pattern I might simply stop the conversation and say: “Would you like to express what you would prefer to happen, out of personal preference”

“Yes” he says with a smile

He feels cared for by me in that moment – I took the time to learn about him, listen and hear what is is really saying


Rarely are people able to fully communicate how they really feel about something – in both of the above cases they were expressing fear – but were unable to either articulate or SEE that fear in the moment

Why is it that people find it so difficult to ask for what they want clearly? What is the problem?

Well, when they were Rubie’s age they probably made many hundreds of requests of their parents – and their parents, like my initial response when waking, was to do their best to shut them up so they will go to sleep – the onslaught of requests can be, well, impressive in volume – and it takes a lot for a parent to respond in a calm and balanced way EVERY time.

What normally happens is: “don’t be so stupid, get on with it”, “just go to sleep”, “what NOW!!” and many, many variations, but the child hears allot more than those words, they learn to associate emotional withdrawal with making requests, they begin to wonder, should I really ask? What response will I get? I don’t think I am worth it…..

And we end up, often, at fear

My business partner so smoothly deflects his desire to make a clear request that it took some time for me to SEE it – but over time it became more and more clear, and now, we can work on it together, just as we work on my stuff together.


What I am highlighting here is what REAL Listening looks like – we simply cannot do this without a much deeper understanding of behaviour – how can we really listen to people if we don’t even undertsand them?

Most people just want to be heard, they want someone to really understand them, to SEE them for who they really are.

I have done this many times – just sat, listening to someone, and suddenly they realise that I can SEE them, and I accept them, for their hiding and lying and manipulating, behind the cover up is a child that just wants to be accepted (loved) for who they really are, not who they are pretending to be

Many times have I also sat with people who just talk, and I am pretty confident that if I spoke Chinese half way through they would barely notice – and I’m not talking about the people that talk endlessly (clinging), I’m talking about the pretty average person, so wrapped up in their own emotional rubbish that there is simply no room for anything else – exactly like I was.

We don’t get to skip childhood, emotionally that is, until we have learnt to really undertsand and listen, having dealt with our own stuff we are practically emotional babies, gurgling and rolling around, pretty blind to what is really going on around us, only concerned about our immediate needs.

In todays world a good manager, one who listens, is someone who turns the phone off while you speak, but the reality is, that ain’t listening, not anywhere close.

How can people feel engaged if they don’t even know if someone even hears what they are saying? Impossible.

We have to teach people this stuff, and pretty urgently actually, if we want to make any kind of difference.

We ALL need it

The reality is, your people are practically screaming: Can you HEAR me??


“The trading of judgements”

“Don’t you look nice today”

It’s nice isn’t it – to hear that

To hear the complimentary thoughts of others

My young daughters, 3 and 5, were talking about this only this morning

Poppy (5) said to Rubie (3) – “you look nice in that dress Rubie”

I said to Poppy “when people tell us we look nice or we look good who are they talking about?”

“us daddy”

“are you sure?”

She thought about it (we have had many of these kinds of conversations)

“them daddy”

“Yep, they are talking about themselves when they compliment how you look, because they are judging you against their criteria”

“Who loves you?”

“you Love me Daddy”

“Yes I do – that is the ONLY thing that counts”

“do you get that? If someone tells you you look nice they are talking about themselves

“NEVER do you have to be a slave to what others think of you when you remember that I Love you for who you really arenot because of what you look like

“I am not interesting in what you look like, I am interested in how you feel

As parents we have an awesome responsibility to guide our children properly

How many times have children, of all ages, been CRUSHED by the opinion of others? Family members, friends at school – how many children went to the extreme of taking their own life because of the opinions of others?

How many times have ADULTS been crushed?!

How many adults are off sick right now because they are struggling to operate effectively in the working environment?

There is a flip side to hearing a compliment (any compliment) and thinking it says something about our worth as a human being – what happens when the opinion is not a compliment? What happens if someone says something actually quite derogatory, mean, or even a passing comment that to them didn’t mean anything but to you it was difficult to hear – maybe all of us have experienced that – they might even pass a judgement on someone else and it’s like someone reached inside us and pulled out our voice box

These kinds of interactions go on all the time in a working environment – the trading of judgements – but there is no freedom in this – in fact we put a ring and chain through our nose and willingly hand the other end to anyone and everyone to emotionally pull us around like we are on a lead

Sounds pretty brutal hey

I am going to bullet proof my children – not with armour, not with fight, not with accusations, not with anger, but with understanding and a rock-like strength to one truth that means nobody’s opinion of them can touch them – If they trust I Love them, and I demonstrate that in my behaviour over and over and over again, so consistently that it could be nothing else but true, by eliminating anger and judgement from my parenting and breathing life and understanding and awareness and fearlessness into these beautiful souls who are ENTITLED to such a thing – our only one true entitlement – that is how I will bullet proof them from the judgements of others.

There are laws of happiness like there are laws of gravity, they are untouchable, unalterable, and unchangeable and if we teach our people about these laws, about their behaviour, the behaviours of others, their choices and create the kind of environment where they can personally flourish – we give them an amazing strength, we give them the kind of personal and emotional freedom that few truly experience, we lead them to true happiness – not the conditional, fleeting, here today gone tomorrow kind of happiness, not the happiness that is determined by other peoples judgements of us, but of what we know to be true.

THAT is power – true, inner power

And at the same time we begin the process of eliminating conflict, jealousy, resentfulness, anger, fear, judgement, possessiveness, defensiveness, justifying, attacking, running, superiority, inferiority etc from our environments and our lives – alternatively known as dis-engagement – we simply don’t have to live like this – not once will it add to our personal happiness.

People need to be taught about behaviour and happiness, it’s a vital as a pay check to our lives

If you liked this post or think others can benefit from it, please like, share, and comment on what you learnt.


Real Engagement and the story of my 2 year old Rubie

In the UK only 17% of people are engaged in work (Gallup 2013) – 57% are not engaged and 26% are actively dis-engaged and not much has changed in the last 5 years.

The steps we need to take to make a sustained change in how people FEEL about work just isn’t commonly understood – otherwise these numbers would be different.

I am going to tell you a story to highlight that what is required is a complete and total paradigm shift from the current thinking.


Before I begin let me say that what every single human being wants, craves actually is to FEEL genuinely and deeply cared for, understood, and accepted – that’s actually what engagement is all about – do you feel like they really care about you?  That you have someone you can really trust?

So actually what we are talking about is connections between human beings – some behaviours create connection and others kill and damage connection, one of the primary behaviours that damages a connection between two human beings is anger, and when I say anger I mean irritation, frustration, judgement, and being dismissive among others – to ANY degree.

The story is related to my children, I work constantly in my effort to ERADICATE all forms of anger, frustration and irritation from my parenting, because as a small child when a parent gets angry and irritated what they think is “do they still love me?” – literally they are constantly assessing your response and evaluating themselves based on that – we get this wrong and the effects are damaging for a lifetime – really.


Last night I got home having had a difficult day (note: MY difficult day) – when I got home we all went and took Poppy my oldest swimming, and came straight home to get them in the bath and when we went upstairs Poppy (5) was demanding a particular set of pyjamas that caused some inconvenience to me, I had Rubie (2) also moaning about what she wanted to wear and at this point I snapped

I got angry with Poppy

I watched Poppy’s face as this was happening – she had a slightly bewildered look on her face almost like “is this guy for real? Are you joking?”

Some context: In my house I practice being wrong with my children – when I get angry I am wrong – its destructive, it not once ads to my happiness, it’s selfish and it’s my problem not theirs – so I have told my children many times that when I get angry that is MY problem not their problem

So what I saw in Poppy’s face was not fear but more like confusion – she was not afraid of me, she was checking me out

Then Rubie (2) ran up to me and said “Daddy you are being angry, daddy you don’t need to be angry, you are just being stupid daddy, you need a huggle” – she proceeded to practically jump up my legs – I picked her up and she held on to me for dear life and started kissing my face – she said “I love you daddy”

I just melted

Is this beyond profound or what?

A TWO year old had the insight, and fearlessness to run up to an angry parent throw herself around them and tell them they love them.

Rubie demonstrated a greater level of insight and understanding of my emotional state and what I needed in that moment than almost the whole world population of adults would have been able to.

She wasn’t afraid – she understood – and she dealt with me with utter compassion and clarity

This does not happen by accident – if I had not demonstrated to my children over and over again that when I get angry I am wrong, and that is MY problem how would they know?

And even more profound – as they venture into the world they will meet angry, jealous, attacking, victimy, blaming, irritated people everywhere – at school, at work, in parks and shops – everywhere – and they won’t be afraid – not even if these people directly attack them.


They FEEL connected to me

They FEEL like I really, deeply, care about them – even if that means I have to humbly bow my head and admit when I fail, get it wrong, mess up, do stupid things – that they are more important to me than me being right.

How many people insist on being right ALL the time?  To be wrong would be like pulling their teeth out – but they just end up alone – it’s all designed to protect themselves.

How many parents shout “stop shouting” at their kids!!

Your people desperately need to undertsand these principles, if you want to make a leap across this paradigm – if you want to directly tackle the dis-engaged, the unhappy, the victimy, the defensive, the always right, the jealous, the angry then get in touch and I can guide you step by step by step just as someone else guided me.


One final learning – I run a company with my business partner and we practice these principles with our people every day – they learn to get to a place where there is NO DOUBT in their mind that we absolutely care about them as real people too, as if they were my own children – we care about them, nurture them, listen to them, guide them, support them, help them learn from their mistakes and create an environment where they can be SAFE and WRONG at the same time – actually, where they can be HUMAN.

THAT is Real Engagement

You think they want to leave?

Please share and like this post – you never know who can benefit from the kind of insight my two year old has learnt and implemented in this story


Managing Defensiveness…….

I was talking to someone the other day and we got into a discussion about how some of his team can be defensive, and let’s face it, it’s a very common behaviour.

He can give two of his team an almost identical challenge and one comes back with a plan and the other comes back with a defensive reason why it has not been done already or why it cannot be done, and he was asking me about the best way to deal with this.

In general I could sense not confusion but slight bewilderment at how he could get such different responses from these two people, both of which are capable managers

I just want to be clear about a couple of things before I go on:

  1. Behaviour is often very simple, human beings respond in extremely predictable ways WHEN you understand them, and in these instances responding to behaviour such as defensiveness can become very intuitive
  2. The answer to this question might not SEEM simple, that is because we commonly complicate the beautifully simple, so I will cover a number of principles and articulate at the end why the answer is very simple

So let’s start at the beginning:

  1. We get defensive for a REASON
  2. We get defensive to protect ourselves when under threat, and for the majority of cases the people you interact with are doing this as a reaction, they are simply reacting
  3. They are reacting to fear and insecurity and these things are REAL if unseen
  4. Imagine you walk down the street and you happen to bump someone on the arm – what you don’t realise is they have an open infection just below the shoulder, as you bump into them they get pain shooting up their arm, and they turn around and shout at you “hey, idiot, watch where your are going”
  5. So we don’t need to judge people for being defensive we can learn to SEE and understand them

These things are helpful for us to know in dealing with a defensive team member, now we know we are not really dealing with defensiveness we are dealing with fear and insecurity

Now, let’s say you confront the performance of someone who FEELS afraid and insecure, and if you confront that with ANY irritation, frustration, or anger ALL they will see is an attack – you are almost guaranteed to get protective behaviours, from defensiveness to lies, big or small.

So what do you do about this?

  1. First, understand them, get into their world and understand
  2. If you are looking for some kind of plan of action from them to address an issue, help them understand their options and choices
  3. Help them to come with a timeline they can stick to – and sometimes that may involve some mandated timelines
  4. Demonstrate with your behaviour that you are interested in their learning and growth – you have an opportunity to really show them they are important to you
  5. If you have to, go over this plan with them a week later once they have had chance to begin implementing it
  6. Be VERY clear with them that you are expecting them to take the action here, but if they make a mistake or encounter any uncertainty you are there to support them
  7. Keep them accountable
  8. Repeat this message: If you mess up, you can tell me, even if you are afraid, even if you need to admit you have been irresponsible in getting this done, tell me, tell the truth about yourself, tell the truth about your mistakes and we can then help you to learn and grow from that
  9. Read this blog out at your team meeting, help them to SEE their own behaviour, encourage your team to talk about how they can be defensive, and see how ultimately that does not help us when we do that

Your task here is to be clear about your expectation but at the same time create a safe environment where they can make mistakes, come back and review these mistakes with you, talk about it, learn from it.

Now – I must just address one thing – there is one characteristic that you are looking for here – you are looking for the willingness to talk about their mistakes, to learn, grow, and make better choices – if this one characteristic is present then you can guide them forward, you can challenge them in a safe environment without frustration or agitation.

If over time it is clear this characteristic is not present then begin applying consequences – it is vital to do this for their learning, keep them accountable but do not under any circumstances attack them – they will just lie, and you loose them, in fact, you both loose.

These kinds of situations CAN seem frustrating “why can’t they just get on with the damn plan?” we might ask ourselves – but who are we thinking about? Ourselves.

We are not thinking about them, we are not seeking to understand them, or guide them, or demonstrate we care about their growth, and it makes Real Engagement impossible, instead we have a gift, a gifted opportunity to create a real relationship with them.

It is also easy to think that they “should” be able to do better, but if they could, they would, wouldn’t they – it’s typically quite a lazy way to think.

So in summary – all defensive behaviour is simply a response to how they feel – learn to see them, guide them, keep them accountable, spend time with them, demonstrate your commitment to their learning and growth, never any need to get angry or frustrated, help them tell the truth about their mistakes, and repeat over and over again.

You do this and you help them to begin the process of opening up, be less defensive, be more of themselves, perform better, feel more engaged, and less fearful – pretty cool really!

If you liked this post or think others can benefit from it, please like, share, and comment on what you learnt.


NEVER diminishing a truth…….connecting deeply with your people

I promise you this, what your people want, more than anything else, whether they know it or not, more than money, or bonuses, or the next promotion is to FEEL connected to other human beings, to FEEL like there is someone who genuinely, deeply cares about them as a human being – THAT is what will drive up your performance, THAT is what will get you beyond 30% engagement levels, THAT will give you a competitive edge like no other, because you get this right, and you begin to unlock people in a way you could never imagine.

And this connection can be built up one conversation at a time – or NOT!  What we find is that each and every interaction, every single interaction you have with your people really does count…………


I was running a workshop for a company recently and as the day went on the people in the room began the process of waking up to some of their behaviours, fears, and insecurities.

There was a young guy in the room, not long started with the business, and we were going around the room summarising what they learnt after the early afternoon session, he said something like:

“You know, I never know if I have done a good job or not, I’m always afraid that I haven’t quite done it how I should, or if I have made a mistake, I feel uncertain, and then I can beat myself up, I don’t tell anyone, I always feel like……perhaps I should be doing better, am I good enough?”

Now bear in mind, the room had been opening up slowly, and this young guy, shy, slightly more withdrawn, made the bold step of sharing himself, he made the courageous step of showing what he considers to be his weakness

The room went quiet

I said “who feels closer to Ben?”

Everyone put there hands up

Then one chap piped up – “Its ok Ben, you do a great job, I think so anyway”

A few more followed suit

I stopped them

I said: “we must not diminish Ben’s truth, this is how he is experiencing his work every day, and we can tell him he is doing the physical aspects of his work ok right now, but can you see what is behind his truth?”

“He is expressing his fear and insecurity, in this case around his job”

I looked at Ben: “So what if you make a mistake Ben, what does that say about you?”

He shrugged

“NOTHING”, “It says nothing about your inherent worth as a human being, you WILL make mistakes, if you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t learning”

He relaxed

“We get to make mistakes guys, and it is important we express and acknowledge how we feel about our mistakes, not try and hide them, like so many people feel like they have to, all from a place of fear”, “So many people spend their whole lives hiding”

“So – next time you feel like this Ben, you walk up to your partner and tell them how you feel, and the role of the other person is not to diminish that, but to acknowledge how you are feeling, and then talk about how you can learn and grow from what you have done”

“This way, you no longer feel like you need to hide – never again do you need to hide what you perceive to be a “bad” job, you get to share the truth about how you feel, feel connected to, and cared for by another human being, learn, and grow”


How often have you said “It’s OK, don’t worry”, or “Your doing a great job, don’t worry” when someone shares their uncertainty or mistake – we actually diminish how they feel, and they then feel trapped, because in truth they just don’t believe us!!

Whereas when we look them right in the eyes and acknowledge their mistakes or uncertainty – “Yes you did make a mistake this time, but I care about you being able to learn from this, shall we talk about it?”

It can be such a subtle difference, but one creates and supports a connection between two human beings, and the other does the opposite.

If you simply applied this one technique each and every day, over time, you would begin to see very real changes in how your people interact with you.

For example – today, it’s almost a certainty that most people that work with you will hide their mistakes to a lesser or greater degree, no matter how large or small – they do this because they are afraid, and by following the above you begin the process of reducing their fears…………

Do you think high levels of engagement are created by an environment where people are scared to share their mistakes?  No chance!

Try it, what do you have to loose?  Right now, only 30% of people are engaged in the workplace, and have been for 5+ years – and if we want that to change we have to begin the process of doing things different.

Engagement, Vulnerability, Trust & Truth

True Engagement, Real Engagement, cannot exist without the seeds of Vulnerability, Truth, and Trust

In business we talk about value, we talk about value for money.

What does value really mean then?  How valuable is it to you that Royal Mail will deliver an envelope for 63p from one end of the country to the other, and get it there by the next day – do you think that is “valuable” to you? Well yes if you need that service it would be wouldn’t it.

So what do you value here?  Without that service you would have to do it yourself, which would take a significant amount longer, and would be significantly more expensive, so you are valuing your time and your resources.

But go further – why are these important to you?  If you think about it they represent the quality of your life – imagine if every time you had to send a letter or send an email you had to go hand deliver it yourself instead!!!  And so, we are valuing the quality of our very existence, we are making choices about what we want to do with our life.

So – In business we employee people, and we pay them some money in exchange for the value they provide us.  If we didn’t employ these people we would have to do it ourselves, and in most cases it simply would not be possible at scale – so we are choosing to exchange some money for their time, skills, and value so we can deliver for our customer, return profit to the business, provide value to the country or to shareholders and other stakeholders.

Now – it would be smart, wouldn’t it, to say “well, we are paying them to provide a certain amount of value, but if we can invest in them we can increase the value they can offer, while paying them pretty much the same” – not saying you would or wouldn’t change the salary, but it’s often the case that salary would remain relatively the same and yet the value you get in return for that could significantly increase.

So – now lets flip the coin, if I am employed what would influence me being able and willing to provide additional value.

Some of this question can be answered by traditional training, traditional development techniques – but typically there is something missing.

We know it’s missing because engagement levels as recorded by Gallup are largely static and have been for a decade – engagement is the willingness and desire to go further, to deliver more.

What are we missing then?

We all carry with us inherent fear, and insecurities, which manifest themselves as behaviour and habits, like victimhood, lying, running, clinging, drama, anger, and irresponsibility.

Now – if we don’t address the root of these fears and insecurities no matter how skilled we are we will always use these destructive behaviours.

These destructive behaviours will unavoidably reduce the value we are capable of delivering – how can they not!! 

  • When we lie because we are afraid, we are returning negative value
  • When we create mini empires out of insecurity, we are returning negative value
  • When we act like victims, blame others for how we feel, and attack others, we return negative value
  • When we are running or withdrawing, or avoiding we are returning negative value
  • When we create drama we are returning negative value
  • When we are angry, controlling, attacking, we are returning negative value

EVERY SINGLE TIME these behaviours will produce (sometimes unseen) negative outcomes that reduce the value we can provide – and we then get scored on our performance, based on our perceived return of value to the business.

The full extent of these behaviours, in most cases, are almost completely ignored, reduce the value we offer, make us unhappy, and dis-engage us not just from work, but from life itself!!

It is VITAL and IMPERATIVE that we address these things otherwise engagement will remain static, period.

How do we do that?

We have to create the opportunity for people to learn about their own behaviours, and then tell the truth about them to someone who is capable of accepting them for who they really are not who they are pretending to be.

We have to create an environment where they can be WRONG and SAFE at the same time.

I got angry today with you, I was being selfish, I was just thinking about myself, about how this was inconvenient for ME, I was selfish and stupid and irresponsible, and I am learning to do that less

Has anyone at work said anything like that to you?  Can you imagine someone getting angry with you at your team meeting, your boss, a colleague, and then coming back to you later with that??

Do you think you would FEEL closer to them? Do you think you would TRUST them more?  Do you think you would be open to admit YOUR mistakes to them?  Do you think you would be more likely to tell the TRUTH to other people afterwards? 

If you accepted them for their mistakes, as a flawed human being, do you think they would FEEL cared for by you?  Do you think they would FEEL like they could TRUST you in the future? Do you think they would FEEL closer to you?

Do you think this one act, of your colleague being wrong, vulnerable, open, truthful, insightful, and caring, do you think it would make you, them, your team, your company stronger?  Only like 100%

Do you think if this happened over and over, drip by drip that it would have the power to transform how you operate, how you FEEL?

Do you think these people would FEEL close to each other, FEEL cared for?

Do you think they would progressively give up these negative, and destructive behaviours in taking responsibility for their own personal happiness and the value they offer?  Only like 100%

You could TRANSFORM engagement, happiness, value, productivity, creativity, one conversation at a time, with the power of insight, vulnerability, truth, and trust.

How powerful is that?

And you can begin this powerful transformation right now, from where you are, in any company, any size, any location, any where.

How incredible.

And WOW, what a fun way to exist.

If you liked this post or think others can benefit from it, please like and share, or comment on what you learnt.



VW and the price of Fear…..

The “VW Scandal” as the press have labelled it is rolling on like a freight train,  the Guardian reported on the 9th October that 11M vehicles worldwide are affected and the projected cost could be in excess of €24M which is optimistic.  The largest car manufacturer in the world fell from grace for lying, cheating, and breaking their integrity.

The VW brand is almost built on integrity and yet here we are.

The reality is that this isn’t about technology this is about human behaviour, fear, and lies, and VW are paying the price for running their company on fear – and I’m not lining up to attack them, I completely understand why and how this would happen, but the truth is, this story is all about fear.

Lets say you enter into the meeting room for your periodic business review with your director and over the last few months your team has been under performing, or there was a major incident or failure, ask yourself, on a scale of 1-10 what are the chances you might try to create a perception of the situation, bend the truth, blag your way through it, reduce the significance, or IN ANY WAY manipulate another human being because you are afraid how they will respond?  Or because you are afraid of what you think it will say about you?

Now – be honest, its only you reading this, nobody knows the answer – have you EVER done that?

Have you ever been afraid to make a decision, allowing a situation to play out, and then you were afraid to tell the truth about your procrastination?  Or do you know people around you that do that?

Have you ever chaired a business review and asked the question, with anything from mild to significant irritation “how did this happen?” – you just lined yourself up to receive at least a partial lie

Now, sometimes the truth is unavoidable, but ask yourself, how many times a month do you think this kind of “bending the truth” might happen in your business?

VW employs nearly 600,000 people – can you even begin to imagine how many business reviews, product reviews, manufacturing reviews, commercial reviews, cost reviews and engineering reviews take place on an annual basis – every one has the potential to produce lies because of fear.

Why? Because people are afraid to tell the absolute truth – why? Because they learnt that they have a better chance of not getting a roasting or some form of irritation, or frustration directed at them – most people do it because it works, at least temporarily.

There will be a good many leaders in VW that don’t even want the truth, because they then have to deal with it, and that brings in their own fear.

The press now report: “VW blame a couple of rogue software engineers” – even if that were true, it would be wise to take deep responsibility for the culture that would facilitate that happening – would it not?

How much was fear to play in the BP Oil scandal, the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the Virgin Galactic disaster, Enron, Barclays rate rigging, and many many many others like it – more than you think I might suggest.

So we learn by making mistakes, human beings are flawed by their very nature, we WILL do stupid and irresponsible things and you either create an environment that accepts that, and enables people to be WRONG, SAFE, then LEARN or you don’t, but be warned – the price of being critical of failure and mistakes, including from time to time shear irresponsibility is FEAR – and fear if unchecked, and allowed to propagate is a breeding ground for lies, will damage your business, stifle growth, kill true engagement and take advantage of your peoples greatest weakness.

You get to choose, I’m just saying, the price is high.

If you want to avoid such a disaster, even on a micro scale, then it would be wise look long and hard at your culture and the behaviors you use – one paper quoted that “Martin Winkerkorn was a demanding boss who didn’t like failure” – so what do you think people did when they did fail or make a mistake?  lie, bend the truth, create perception, play politics, blame, and accuse – what that quote actually describes is a man that didn’t like personal failure, because of what he thought that said about him as a human being – many of us can relate! – and when we feel like that we use power, and control, we oppress people and don’t allow them to express ALL that they are, including their flawed human nature, we tell them “you are not good enough as a human being” – how can they ever be the very best they can be in that environment?

If you have got this far down the post – you now have a choice – you can keep doing what you are doing, which WILL (there is a 98% certainty) use fear in some way to manage people OR you can reject this approach, be the change, look at your behaviour, and begin the process of allowing your people to identify their own destructive behaviours and mistakes, to tell the truth about them, express who they really are, and help them learn, grow, and thrive.

Build your business on the TRUTH, it is WAY easier, and people FEEL free from the constant pressure to be something they aren’t

Finally let me clarify, some will wrongly assume that by doing the above your people are “let off the hook” – if we are irresponsible, and we admit it, we are learning to be MORE responsible, by definition.  Plus they learn from your response that they now get to LEAN and GROW from that – and you will help them do it, the more this goes on, they naturally learn irresponsibility simply does not work, and they FEEL happier for it – wow – what a transformation, lies to truth, irresponsibility to responsibility – multiply that by 600,000 people and see where you get!!!

Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit. 
Napoleon Hill

VW – this is a wonderful seed, a seed so precious and so rare it is to be protected at all costs, do not allow this seed to die, but instead nurture it, plant it, water it, and allow it to flourish, but this seed is like nothing you have seen before, this seed will require you to turn upside down how you manage, develop, and engage your people, eliminate judgement and criticism, let them be human, let them be wrong and give them the opportunity to learn and grow from their behaviour and mistakes, if you do that, this seed of yours will produce a harvest like you could not begin to imagine, a harvest so plentiful, so enriching, and so vast it will cover the world – and you absolutely have the power, and the opportunity to do that, all you need, is the insight.

As always, take action – be the change

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Leading from the front……

Read the newspapers and you can’t hardly turn a page without someone being criticised.

Isn’t it interesting how we are quite willing to blame others and condemn their choices without seeking to really understand them as a human being, yet we don’t like taking responsibility for our own mistakes and less than helpful choices.

As I went through my journey there was a period of time that I was blaming other people and wanted them to change, I wanted to control their choices so it was more convenient for me

It took me some time to learn!! Over and over I wanted other people to change to suit his royal highness and not once did it make a positive contribution to anyone, in my case at least I had someone who was willing to tell me the truth about my destructive behaviour, and I had the job of learning to be humble enough to actually listen

Eventually it started to penetrate my stubbornness and fear, eventually I got it through my thick skull that it was ME that must change – it struck me that all those times I was critical of others I was doing those very same things.

So I began being the change, I began to learn how to take responsibility for and tell the truth about my selfish choices, about my destructive behaviour and about my irresponsibility

This is when things really started to change for me

I saw with my own eyes the power of accepting people for where they are right now, of not wanting them to be different AND at the same time being the change.

I cannot tell you how free’ing it is when you finally begin to give up needing other people to change, and just focus on your own behaviour and leading others by setting that example, and you know, lets be honest, this really isn’t easy, to begin with you reason with yourself that why should you be the one that always has to change, why should you be the one that takes responsibility when nobody else will – lol – just do it, and have faith that ultimately your own personal happiness cannot exist without living your life like this, contact me, find others to support you, but do not waiver, and do not be distracted, and eventually life becomes WAY easier!!!

Just sit and imagine the power of this in the workplace – as a boss you accept your people where they are, and at the same time you be the change, taking brutal responsibility for learning about and changing your behaviour and addressing your own fear, now imagine some of them see this change in you and recognise the power of it, they talk to you about it and you teach them about what you are learning.

One or two begin to follow your lead and over time you have a small yet powerful group of people being the change, learning about their flaws and addressing their fear, bringing it out into the light, and being truthful about it – you will create a bond together like never before

Wow – the compounding effect of a group of people working on themselves and taking real personal responsibility is nothing less than transformational

Don’t get be wrong, I am not saying do not facilitate other people’s learnings to enable them to change, what I am saying is that from very personal experience one of the most powerful ways to do that is to…….


Besides it isn’t just your own people, how many times have you been critical of other departments, or other companies, suppliers or customers

So – why don’t you take action – it’s a certainty that you will be blind to much of your own destructive behaviour, it’s a certainty you are afraid of things, afraid of what others think of you, afraid of failure, afraid of pain, and it’s a certainty that you have much to learn, like we all do – so take action and be the change, go through all my blogs on human behaviour, read them carefully, look at yourself and identify anything you learn, comment on the post or email me for feedback and begin the process of really evolving, of truly living not just emotionally surviving, and lead your people from the front.


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Being responsible is one of three legs that hold up our personal happiness.

When we are irresponsible we are unhappy – end of story

Our level of responsibility is a key determining factor in our ability to respond to life, to be happy, joyful, and to thrive.

Helping our people to be responsible is a key determining factor in influencing their engagement in their work, the business, and their own lives

Being responsible can be anything from money, time, and commitments to behaviour, poor choices, mistakes, and failures.

It is behaviour I will focus on here: The moment we blame another human being for how we feel we put a chain around our neck, and hand them the other end so they can drag us around like a slave, the consequence is messy.

We must be almost brutal in our commitment to being responsible for how we feel.

I shall share an example by Richard Jackson of Mancroft International – you could change the details to be relevant to many aspects of life and applicable for both sexes:

June wakes up on a Saturday morning and asks Alan if he would come shopping with her for a new sofa.

Alan does not really want to go, actually he wants to sit in front of the TV and watch the football today because there is a big match on – so he communicates with his distinct lack of enthusiasm and mild withdrawal (lying, manipulating) that he does not really want to go.  June is quite persistent that the sofa is a household item and that it’s “the least he could do with her” rather than sitting and watching football all day (manipulating, acting like a victim) – shock, she knew his motivation without him telling her.

So Alan eventually decides to go with her, begrudgingly, and demonstrates with his behaviour that he didn’t really want to go in the first place and he is a tad resentful of the fact she guilt tripped him into getting of his bum and out the house.

Sound at all familiar?

So lets talk about Alan – Alan made a choice here, he made a choice to go (lets put motivation to one side) he DID choose, he could have chosen to stay, he is a human being with his own free will, and if June decided to get the hump that is her problem in truth.  So Alan, you chose to go and then moped around like a lost sheep following June and giving a mild grunt every time you saw a sofa you thought was ok – you were acting like a victim – you acted like June did something TO you – nope – she was being herself and you got to choose how you responded to that.  The very fact that your feet are in a shop says that you chose to go there, which can only mean you WANTED to, if you didn’t you would not BE there would you?

So we have established you wanted to go shopping – so BE there – don’t mope around pretending someone made you go when they didn’t – additionally be clear that you may well have gone because you value your relationship above TV – so it IS a value based choice, you can change that choice right now if you wanted to – accepting the consequences.

So Alan, you made your choice, you made your bed, take responsibility for it, and BE there.

Nobody is doing anything TO you, the world is just being itself and you get to choose how you respond to that

So – if you want to be happy – don’t ever ever blame anyone for how you feel, don’t ever ever even suggest they made you do something when they didn’t – take responsibility.  Of course, you can carry on blaming people if you want to, but you will never be truly happy – happiness and irresponsibility cannot exist together.

What impact does this have on your business?

HUGE actually – how many times do people in your business blame someone else or management for doing something “to them”?  How often do YOU blame them for doing something to you?  How often do you turn up somewhere when you don’t really want to be there?  People FEEL that!!

How many times have colleagues stayed in a job that don’t like because they are too afraid to take responsibility for their own lives?  The impact on the business is significant.

Additionally it is vital that your people take responsibility for their own learning and growth, and for their own behaviours – only then can they engage in their own life, their own very existence – spending a life pointing fingers outwards is like walking around a hall of mirrors with no seeming way out – it gets quite frustrating, they will FEEL frustrated within themselves, and actually they will feel all alone, and that is a terrible condition to live with – if you want to improve their performance something has to change.

You could turn your company upside down for the better simply by teaching people how to be responsible for their behaviour, choices, mistakes and failures – create an environment where this is the norm and your ability to respond, respond to changes in your business and the environment will change dramatically.

Some of the greatest freedom we can ever experience, is freedom from our own judgements and irresponsibility

Don’t be a slave, choose to be free instead, be brutally honest, humble,  responsible, and happier for it


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Lets get REAL – does it actually WORK??

Lets be honest who actually likes their performance review process?

Do managers like it? Nope
Do you like doing yours? Probably not
Do you think it REALLY adds value to your ability to learn, grow, develop and engage in the business?

It is one of those things that has been used so consistently for so very long that nobody says the obvious – IT DOES NOT WORK!!

The performance review encourages people to lie – you walk in and try and convince the boss how well you have done, you show him your best foot and try to hide your bad foot – or perhaps not make it quite so obvious – but that isn’t the truth!!!

AND – it is very ineffective in helping any of us truly LEARN and GROW, which is essential for us to be happy and engaged.

Paradoxically when we show up and be ALL that we are, warts and all, we are FREE – oh wow the day I could stop pretending to be someone I wasn’t, when I could be authentic, and REAL, when I could stop lying and manipulating – wow – I was FREE – FREE from myself!!!

Every human being just wants to FEEL cared for, they want to FEEL that no matter what they do they are good enough just as they are – but we can NEVER know that while we pretend to be someone we are not, we have to show up and TRUST someone enough to show them the bad stuff too, the mistakes, the flaws, the selfishness, the arrogance, the jealousy, to be vulnerable and accepted at the SAME TIME is one of the most liberating, incredible experiences you can imagine.

Only this morning my 4 year old got really quite angry with her sister (2) – in fact she was just grumpy and angry full stop – and so she was just having some time out in our dinning room when she shouted again at her sister.

I picked her straight up and popped her in her bedroom while she took some time to calm down, I went upstairs after a while, sat on this big comfy chair we have in her sisters room and asked her if she wanted to talk, she cried, she said “I don’t want to be up here daddy”, I just scooped her up and held her tight, I kissed her head, looked her in the eyes and said:

“Who loves you?” 
“You do daddy”
“Damn right, and I am NOT punishing you, you are NOT bad, you have not been naughty, you are not a bad girl, you just got angry, and what are we when we are angry”
“sad daddy”
“yes, and so I am simply helping you learn that anger does not work, and that when we get angry we just want to be cared for so we can be happy”
“Who loves you?”
“You do daddy”
“Yes, yes I do”

and I just held her, and rocked this beautiful little thing – that’s all she wanted, and all she needs – she does not need me to tell her off, she needs me to love and care for her and to teach her what does and does not work in fulfilling her highest purpose, to be happy, deeply happy, no matter what, NO MATTER WHAT.

She came down stairs and was a little gem


So – we either align how we manage and lead people with what they need, what works, and what develops and supports personal happiness and growth or we don’t – we either swim with the tide or against it.


Time to turn around me thinks, get in the boat, it is WAY easier, and as a Brucie bonus, you go TOGETHER

If you want to implement a performance process that WORKS – contact me.

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