Category Archives: Philosophy & Spirituality

Can I help you to make change happen?

One way street

As many of you know I’m coming to the end of my one month course – Seth Godin’s AltMBA – which is all about “making change happen”:

  • It’s been a part time, one month long, online course run by Seth Godin and has taken up all my evenings and weekends.
  • It has been an intense, stretching and eye-opening experience (one more week to go).
  • It takes a very different approach of working, learning and collaborating. I think it offers a glimpse into the future of education. I have loved it and have learnt so much.
  • I’ve completed 11 projects over 3 weeks with 25 other people based in France, Ireland, South Africa, Nigeria, Singapore, Boston, New York, California, and India. (It’s taken up every morning, evening and weekend since 15th June).
  • I’m now into my final week with 2 final projects to go.
  • Here’s the application form for anyone interested in applying for a future cohort (you can give my name as a reference): http://goo.gl/forms/RR470HLG9q

For my final challenge (Project 13) I need to organize and run a live event to teach others what you’ve learned in altMBA. Seth’s brief is –

“Not everyone is able to do the course themselves. Sharing is a generous act, a gift. 10 people (minimum) must attend. It can be at work, at a group you’re part of, or for strangers. It can be offered free or with paid admission. But at least 10 people have to come, and you have to be in charge. It needs to take place no more than four weeks after the end of the altMBA. This is the culmination of everything we’ve learnt so far…”

I would really appreciate your input on this. I haven’t yet figured out whether to do this at work, at home or an independent venue; whether to do a 1 hour summary, a half day interactive workshop ora one week series of mini altMBA experience.

My question for you is –

Are you interested in attending? What would like like to get out of it? Who else do you think might benefit?
How much time do you want to give to it?
How deep would you like to go?

Please reply to this message or email me on ‘[email protected] with your thoughts.

For those of you who wanted to read one or two of my AltMBA posts they are all public; but to make it easier I have listed them below (and tried to categorise them):

General Business:

Project 12 – Launching the ‘Future Leaders’ program (3 minute video on helping others to make change): https://altmba.com/miteshsheth/launching-our-inaugural-future-leaders-program/

Project 11 – Death is not the end it is just a shedding of skin (What if Apple did Savings & Investments): https://altmba.com/miteshsheth/death-is-not-the-end/

Project 7 – I have a problem with Hierarchy (Organisational Change): https://altmba.com/miteshsheth/i-have-a-problem-with-hierarchy/

Business Development/Sales:

Project 8 – We are all in Sales and we haven’t got a clue (Closing the Sale when decisions are irrational): https://altmba.com/miteshsheth/we-are-all-in-sales/

Project 5 – Be the change you want to see in your clients (Inspiring change): https://altmba.com/miteshsheth/be-the-change/

Project 4 – You were right to choose the competition (Understanding worldviews and empathy): https://altmba.com/miteshsheth/right-to-choose-the-competition/

Redington/Pensions & Investments:

Project 12 – Launching the ‘Future Leaders’ program (3 minute video on helping others to make change): https://altmba.com/miteshsheth/launching-our-inaugural-future-leaders-program/

Project 5 – Be the change you want to see in your clients (Inspiring change): https://altmba.com/miteshsheth/be-the-change/

Project 4 – You were right to choose the competition (Understanding worldviews and empathy): https://altmba.com/miteshsheth/right-to-choose-the-competition/

Project 2 – What is the difference between a dream and a goal (7 steps to Goal Setting): https://altmba.com/miteshsheth/dreams-vs-goals/

Project 1 – Make better decisions in 5 minutes (using decision trees to decide what to do if a star manager leaves): https://altmba.com/miteshsheth/make-better-decisions-in-5-minutes/

RedSTART/Saving/Financial Education:

Project 10 – If you don’t stretch your limits you set your limits (How do our Assets, Boundaries & Narratives limit us?) https://altmba.com/miteshsheth/stretch-your-limits/

Project 5 – Be the change you want to see in your clients (Inspiring change): https://altmba.com/miteshsheth/be-the-change/

Project 2 – What is the difference between a dream and a goal (7 steps to Goal Setting): https://altmba.com/miteshsheth/dreams-vs-goals/

Personal/Spiritual:

Project 9 – He didn’t belong and that made him sad (How self-imposed constraints kill our dreams/How can we scale/leverage them)?: https://altmba.com/miteshsheth/he-didnt-belong/

Project 6 – Are you a guardian of the future? (Creating a campaign for change – Global Warming): https://altmba.com/miteshsheth/guardian-of-the-future/

Project 3 – 4 strangers, 48 hours and 101 ideas (Using Business Canvas to brainstorm 101 new business ideas) https://altmba.com/miteshsheth/101-ideas/

Hope you enjoy them. It’s hard to believe but each of these was written within 24 hours. I welcome your feedback; it’s a gift!

Don’t forget to send me your thoughts on what you’d like to get out a live event covering the ‘top tips for making change happen’?

Thanks,

Mitesh

Down memory lane…

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were listening to a TED talks playlist while doing a bit of spring cleaning. We stumbled across this great talk by Joshua Foer on ‘Feats of memory anyone can do‘. In it he explains, from personal experimentation, how much we are able to remember if we give our full attention, if we are mindful and if we process our experiences deeply.

He concludes by saying “if you want to live a memorable life you have to decide to be the kind of person who remembers to remember”.

The other day I stumbled across all the letters I had sent to my wife during a year we spent apart exactly 15 years ago (she had kept them all together in a folder). I have spent most of the last few days engrossed in reading these letters and notes, 15 years on from when we had written them.

It was incredible to go back into my own 21 year old mind, to be reacquainted my younger self. Through these words, I was taken back to my mindset and my experiences, many of which I had forgotten. Remembering the events, emotions, conversations, feelings, sacrifices, friendships, highs & lows, lessons, insights and learnings from our year apart was amazing.

As I looked back I was so glad that we wrote such long letters and that we had looked after them for the past 15 years. Without them I could not have re-lived, re-examined and revelled in the amazing experiences and memories of my year in India (at Tatvagnan Vidhyapeeth – School of Philosophy).

As Joshua says in the video “we are our memories, so to live a memorable life you have to remember to remember”, I definitely feel richer for remembering. We are so busy in our lives, our attention is pulled in so many directions, it’s easy to sleepwalk, rush, through this already fast paced life. To treasure it and to remember it, we need to stop daily and write, review, reflect.

We need to write letters, or a journal, so that we can deeply process our experiences, thoughts and feelings. I feel that journaling is the single most important gift I could offer anyone I know or care about: just take 20 minutes out each morning or evening to do it. (Recently my wife and I have re-started our 5am routine: We wake up and do Surya Namaskar (Yoga & Pranayama) for 20 minutes, then we both write in our Journals (reflecting on the previous day and our goals) for 20 minutes and finally we read something (thoughtful or inspiring) together for 20 minutes.)

As I look back I am really pleased with our journey over the past 15 years. As I look forward I have no idea what the world will be like in 15 years time. In 2030 I will be 51 years old; my children will be in their early 20s and my parents will be over 75 years old. One thing is for sure I don’t want to let the next 15 years get lost by sleepwalking through life or by not paying enough attention.

Where would you like to be in 2030? What will you remember to remember? When will you start journaling?

Our journey of self discovery

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Last week my wife and I left our children with their grandparents and travelled to Rajasthan, India, with a group of 86 Brits, 600 Americans and a handful from the rest of the world, to join more than 45,000 Indians in a very unique project.

We had gone to participate in a 7 day pilgrimage; a journey of self-discovery. We had all volunteered our time to a grassroots initiative in human and social development called ‘Swadhyay’, which literally means the study, knowledge and discovery of the self in Sanskrit.

We were tasked with going from person to person, from house to house, to meet, build bonds and establish a sense of common humanity with the people of Udaipur (the 5th largest city in Rajasthan). Udaipur is a very cultured, historical and proud place. The warmth, love, curiosity, respect and blessings we received from the people of Udaipur was incredible and beyond belief.

Every family we met had preserved many of its old customs and traditions, but are worried about the influence of globalization, materialism, self-centeredness and pop culture on their children and whether their centuries old unique culture will disappear within a generation. As we spoke and opened our hearts to each other we went from being complete strangers to extended family members within a week.

Thousands of volunteers from diverse walks of life had come together to meet people, young and old, of all races, castes and religions across all of Rajasthan. It is India’s largest state by area. It used to be home to the Indus Valley Civilization one of the world’s oldest, developed and most wide spread. Rajasthan’s economy is primarily agricultural; with a heavy exposure to metals & mining. The problem of famine and drought is deeply related with the economy of Rajasthan.

Between Jan 3rd and 9th, 48,000 Swadhyay volunteers visited 7,677 villages, towns and cities across the whole of Rajasthan. Collectively, we met with more than 400,000 families all over the state. We met everyone from the King and his ministers, to the people sweeping the streets; we went to schools, universities, businesses and homes; we met leaders, professors, teachers, students, children, cleaners, drivers, wrestlers, business owners, rich and poor, young and old.

Our purpose was not to pity the needy or to give them money, charity or other things but instead we wanted to inspire with love and ideas. We wanted to awaken their own self-respect, self-reliance and a sense of social responsibility. We had gone as much to open our own eyes and our hearts, to remove our prejudices and judgements, to bond and connect with people of all backgrounds, races, classes and beliefs. They were inspired in turn to offer their time, effort and skills in creative and collaborative projects that benefit their communities and contribute to their own self-improvement.

This ‘pay-it-forward’ approach was inspired by the teachings of Pandurang Shastri Athavale. More than 60 years ago Athavale put Human Dignity at the centre of his mission and devoted his life to inspiring one person at a time, to commit to changing themselves as the first step to changing the world. Peace, equality and unity are rooted within our own minds. During his lifetime he travelled from house to house, town to town, country to country with his message of common humanity, shared responsibility & collection action. He said “Politics, religion and economics alone cannot resolve the human predicament, because man needs to be transformed and this has to begin with the individual’s outlook towards himself and others”.

We did not go to preach or teach, to pity or rescue, we went to change our own outlook and over these 7 days our hearts melted, our barriers crumbled, our eyes opened and our minds were set free. We feel connected to the rest of humanity in a way we could never have imagined before. We have been transformed from the inside-out. We will never be the same again.

15 top tips for a successful 2015

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I have jotted down my top tips for 2015 to help me remember the most important lessons from last year. If you are running a project, managing a team, leading a business unit, company or charity you might also find some of these tips useful.

1. Focus
2. Address conflicts
3. Consult widely
4. Be decisive
5. Don’t wait for perfect
6. Find brightspots
7. Challenge convention
8. Create new routines
9. Be prepared
10. Don’t underestimate people
11. Live by your strategy
12. Periodically step away
13. Zoom in / zoom out
14. Be flexible
15. Create assets

1. Focus: Don’t diffuse your attention over a dozen things.

As I have grown in age, roles and responsibilities I have had to take on an increasing number of goals, roles and jobs. In 2014, I found the power of focus. I decided not to diffuse my attention over a dozen things but pick one thing at a time to put all my energy into. When you apply all your energy, passion and intellect to solving one problem at a time, to delivering one outcome or achieving one goal, the results are incredible. There’s another benefit too that, with clear focus, others know what you’re working on, they can get involved, support and help you; they can also see when not to distract you; and it’s much easier to say ‘no’.

2. Address conflicts: to avoid confusion, loss of credibility and wider organisational disfunction.

Too often we are left to resolve issues that really should have been addressed at the top. So many things are left unsaid, unresolved and unaddressed despite people spending more and more time in internal meetings. Most of us would rather have polite meetings than have to face the discomfort of conflict. It feels difficult, destructive and disruptive to address the elephant in the room, even when everyone is aware of it. As Patrick Lencioni explains in The Advantage – What we often don’t realise though is that when leaders avoid conflict amongst themselves, they transfer it in far greater quantities onto the people they are supposed to be serving. We need to get better at addressing difficult issues, having difficult conversations and addressing conflicts to create momentum, clarity and loyalty.

3. Consult widely: but don’t wait for consensus.

It’s quite natural to wait for consensus before taking any action, in order to get proper support and buy-in. All too often though we end up with decisions that are too late and too mediocre. I have found that waiting for confirmation that a decision is right before making it is a recipe for disaster.
In 2014 I learnt that consulting widely and socializing an idea broadly is even more impactful than trying to get consensus. Most people will not actively commit to a decision that they haven’t had the chance to provide input to. However, they can rally around an idea that wasn’t their own as long as they’ve had a chance to debate and understand it.

4. Be decisive: overcome inertia and boldly deal with the consequences.

In the absence of clear decision making; confusion reigns, credibility is lost and the organisation suffers. It’s so easy to wait for others to make decisions or to avoid difficult decisions. We all hear people complaining about a lack of clear decision making. What I find incredible is how long people will continue to work in the absence of any clear guidance or direction, with little faith that the important decisions will ever be made. Often in these situations more than getting the right answer, it’s important to simply have an answer – one that is broadly correct and around which everyone can commit. In 2014 I learnt the value of being decisive – I still consult, test and socialise my thoughts – but I’m not afraid of making decisions and am happy to deal with the consequences.

5. Don’t wait for perfect: The pursuit of perfection is the real enemy of progress.

Whenever we are designing, writing, developing or changing something it is natural to seek perfection. We want to do the best. We want to hold on sending the document till it is perfect; we review and re-review our presentation and publications; we don’t communicate the strategy because it still has holes in it; we don’t share our values because it is always work-in-progress. I have found that striving for perfection causes huge inertia and ultimately frustrates everybody. We all know that we learn by making mistakes, even bad ones. By making decisions we allow ourselves to get clear, immediate and frequent data from our actions. We need to lead by example and foster a culture that encourages this.

6. Find brightspots: don’t just look at what’s going wrong.

In our day to day business of finding incremental improvements it is really easy to only look at problems, or what is wrong. Good teams try to analyse their mistakes so that they can learn from them. This is true and important. In 2014 I learnt that it just as important, if not more important, to also look for brightspots, to identify what going well, really well, and study the secret of those successes, in order to share them and replicate those successes again and again.

7. Challenge convention: just because we’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean we always should.

A culture is a way of working together that has been followed so frequently that people don’t even think about trying to do things another way. There is real power, speed and scale in having tried and tested habits. A culture is set through hundreds of everyday interactions. Once it is set it’s almost impossible to change. That’s no surprise given we all like the comfort of what we know and what we have always done. It only really becomes a problem when these old habits become outdated. We need a mechanism for periodically asking ourselves and each other whether our culture is fit-for-purpose, facilitating natural opportunities for challenge and creating mechanisms for change. Great teams and companies often disrupt themselves before others can come along and disrupt them.

8. Create new routines: it’s the most direct route to changing a culture.

In my experience if you have identified a problem, consulted widely, provided an opportunity to debate and found brightspots, then all that is left is to create new routines or rituals. These new routines, however small, can appear insignificant but can play a huge role in facilitating broader changes. There is no getting round the fact that change is hard and to succeed you have to persist. Our daily decisions about where we invest our time and how we respond to issues will reinforce this. Small and well thought out changes in routine are the first steps to facilitating bigger shifts.

9. Be prepared: failure to prepare is to prepare to fail.

We all know that with pitches and presentations just taking the time to prepare, to script, to rehearse and seek feedback can lead to a tremendous improvement in success rates. Great speakers and presenters don’t just ‘wing it’, they prepare till its spot on. This year I have learnt to take the importance of preparation in all aspects of my professional, charitable and personal life. My boss (Robert Gardner) comes prepared to every meeting; he has a mind map ahead of every conversation we have. Working with him has taught me to prepare for every meeting I have with him. It’s not long before you see the benefit of thinking ahead and I have started to apply it to every meeting and every conversation I have.

10. Don’t underestimate people: take time to understand them and to develop them.

The ‘right stuff’ that most companies look for is not a superior set of skills that someone is born with but skills people have honed through life’s experiences. Companies focus too much on the grades, trophies and accolades someone has. Over the years I have found that lots of people that have become ineffective or perform poorly are in the wrong role, are not understood, or not well managed. I truly believe that everyone needs to be given a chance to shine in their area of mastery, skill or expertise. In recent years I have learnt not to accept other people’s perceptions and judgements; but to understand people better myself, to look carefully for whether a person has wrestled with the problems you need them to tackle and to create these learning opportunities. As Clayton Christensen says “management is amongst the most noble professions as it offers more ways to help others learn and grow”.

11. Live by your strategy: Carefully choose how you will spend your valuable time, effort and money.

A strategy is not just a one-off, high level plan, created in board rooms and then forgotten till the next year. A good strategy is created through dozens of everyday decisions about how you spend your time, energy and money (how you allocate your limited resources). With each of these decisions we make a statement about what really matters to us. We need to avoid giving our limited resources to whoever shouts the loudest for our attention or wherever the need is most urgent. If your team are important to you then invest in their development; if learning is important then make time to learn; If your family are important to you, ask yourself how often family comes out top in all the choices you have made in the past week. As Aristotle famously said “We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act but a habit.”

12. Periodically step away: don’t overestimate your impact, allow others lead the way.

Over the past 12 months I have tried to be home for most of the school holidays. Initially I worried that this would make it hard to manage my workload, team, clients and deliverables. It’s actually turned out to be a blessing. Having to be away for a longer period of time forces you to train and coach others. It also gives others the space to fill your shoes and to step-up. I have found that getting some space, stepping away periodically critical to developing a team of leaders.

13. Zoom in & zoom out: we need to check we’re going in the right direction

Our first accomplishments as professionals are usually rooted in our skill in getting things done. We’re fast, we’re efficient, and we do high-quality work. However, to lead effectively often we need to do less. We need to go from being firefighters to being fire marshals, taking a more strategic approach to the business, and solving problems before they become crises. Whilst we all need to be able to get our head down to make sure we get stuff done, we equally need to periodically lift our head up to keep checking were going in the right direction. We need to learn how to both zoom in and zoom out regularly.

14. Be flexible: Work does not need to happen between 9-5pm at the desk.

There are times you need to be in the office from 7am – 9pm and there are times you are better off at home. In the concept/strategic phases of any project I find it’s better to not be in the office. In the socialization/implementation you absolutely have to be in the office. In the insights/feedback phase you need to get out of the office and speak to clients/stakeholders. I think the idea of working 9-5pm in the office everyday is out-of-date. We need to have shared goals and work towards them sincerely and above all flexibly to get things done best in the most sustainable way.

15. Create assets: Don’t just do a job, build process and turn them into assets.

Our teams need our time and attention but above all they need processes. All businesses and teams need ‘processes’, habits and routines to convert scarce resources into something useful. They need to learn routines for how to solve problems themselves, how to deal with mistakes, how to build client relationships, etc. They also need values and ‘priorities’. This defines how they will make decisions, what they will invest their time and resources in and what not. The best way of developing processes and priorities is by helping them solve hard problems for themselves. When we do this systematically we create assets, that are not dependent on us, that make the company or team more productive and more valuable.

2013 was a year of ‘discovery’ for me – listening to my calling, having faith, being bold. 2014 was the year of ‘devotion’ – I made a conscious choice about where, when and how I was going to devote myself, my time and my energy.

As I look forward to 2015 I don’t yet know what it holds for me. It has started as a year of sacrifice and giving. I feel excited by the possibilities as I am a whole year older and wiser. The best part of starting a New Year is that it is still unwritten and it is full of potential waiting to be released. I wish you all the best in maintaining focus to stick to your goals and resolutions, in learning from previous mistakes, in building upon previous successes, to create new routines, build new processes and to make 2015 a fantastic year.

Best wishes for the New Year.

P.S.

Now that the year is over I wanted to look back, review and reflect on my top 15 from 2015:

1. Focus — We all know that if you spread yourself too thinly you don’t progress anything properly. This year I learnt that though you may focus on one major thing at work (you can juggle various smaller things too). Also you still have capacity to focus on one major thing at home, one in your leisure time, etc.

2. Address conflicts head on — I tend to deal with the most difficult problem first and this year was no exception. What I learnt this year though was that most of our brains’ natural tendency is to put off or avoid difficult situations. Acknowledging this is a powerful first step.

3. Consult widely — I knew people want to have an input, contribute and be consulted, even if you don’t end up taking their suggestions on board. What I’ve realised this year is that actually many brains are better than one, and people will highlight things you would never have considered.

4. Be decisive — It’s so easy to procrastinate over a difficult decision. I’ve really learnt the value this year of “shipping”.

5. Don’t wait for perfect — I am not a perfectionist, but I definitely spend too long thinking about and working on presentations and reports. I’ve learnt it’s better to just get out a version 1, so you can get feedback and iterate on versions 2, 3, 4…

6. Find brightspots — I still need to work on this. I find it much easier to identify problems, point out shortcomings and criticise. I need to make it a habit to praise and acknowledge successes and brightspots daily.

7. Challenge convention — there’s a balance to challenging the norm. At one extreme you become a troublemaker, at the other end you’re too compliant. Like everything I’ve realised this is a matter of picking your battles.

8. Create new routines — I’ve struggled. I’ve allowed old routines that I really value to fall away. I haven’t been able to make new routines stick. This will need overhauling in the New Year.

9. Be prepared — I have been preparing a lot more for presentations, meetings and even conversations rather than just ‘winging it’ this year. It’s a really valuable habit.

10. Don’t underestimate people — the most unlikely people have surprised me when given the opportunity. What I’ve realised though is that they may need some support and coaching to really succeed.

11. Live by your word — it’s no good saying something is important to you if your actions don’t demonstrate it. I’m very conscious of this.

12. Periodically step away — the value of this has been really clear this year. Every time I stepped away, or went on holiday, my team really stepped up and shone. We need to do this systematically. It’s is the key to delegation.

13. Zoom in / zoom out — when faced with a problem it’s easy to dive further into the details but it’s a combination of stepping back to get perspective, alongside diving in that creates new solutions.

14. Create Assets — I have caught myself every time I get too consumed in delivery. I have consciously stepped back and tried to create processes, routines and assets for my team. We could all be even better at this, even at home with our children.

15. Work flexibly — I’ve been awful at this in the past 6 months working every hour I can. I want to plan my time better and work more flexibly next year. Moreover, I want to leave at 5pm at least 3 times a week so I can have dinner and do bedtime with my family.

I look forward to starting fresh in the New Year, with new lessons learnt, with new resolutions and new habits to create. Change is the only constant.

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.”

In 2013 become the hero of your own story!

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The New Year represents hope, resolution and change. A new year is a new chapter filled with potential and possibility. In 2013 – will we stick to our resolutions? Will we achieve our targets? Will we make the same mistakes as we have made in the past? Will we be able to build on our previous successes? Will we be prepared for unexpected obstacles? As I look ahead to 2013 I find much inspiration in the journeys of my Heroes; in their calling, their choices, their determination, their achievements and their obstacles.

“If you find a path with no obstacles it probably doesn’t lead anywhere” – Frank Clark

The Hero’s Journey is the basic storyline of all heroes and legends. The plot usually goes something like this. There is hero, except he/she doesn’t always know it. He lives in the ordinary world until he receives a ‘call’ to enter an unknown world. If the hero accepts the call he must face many obstacles. Initially the hero is alone but in time many new and unexpected helpers join him. Ultimately, the hero must survive a final challenge that will test him to the core. Upon success, the hero usually achieves a great gift or reward. The hero usually returns to his home with his newfound gift to share it with and benefit others. This is the basic journey of the Buddha, Gandhi, Luke Skywalker, Neo and even Bilbo Baggins.

I believe that we all get not just one but many such ‘calls to action’ during the course of our lifetime. These are moments that can define who we are, that give us an opportunity to use our talents, to follow our passions or to fulfill our purpose. Our calling can come in many different guises – an unexpected illness, losing your job, a new job opportunity, a dream, a new year’s resolution, a new hobby, a film, a book, etc. We are often caught off-guard by our calling, as we are rarely looking for it. Our missions usually find us.

Whilst we might not choose what happens to us, we absolutely can choose our response to any situation. Each of us has to decide for ourselves whether to ignore the call and stick to our routine life or whether to accept the call to enter an uncertain and risky world, with challenges, obstacles and ultimately ‘a reward/gift’ beyond our imagination.

If we accept the call we have to step way out of our comfort zone and welcome many adversities. We will have to face many challenges and trials head on. We will inevitably begin on these new paths alone. We will face our deepest fears and insecurities and learn to look at life in a way that we might not have done before. However, as we walk unexpected helpers, supporters, friends will come into our lives with assistance, guidance and support. They maybe people we know or people we have not even met yet but they will come from the most unexpected places. In following these new paths, in facing these adversities and in fulfilling these friendships we will be transformed and we’ll never be the same again.

I look forward to 2013 with much excitement, anxiety and hope. I have just started a new business, as a consultant and executive coach to the pensions and investment community. Lots of questions have been running through my mind in recent weeks – Am I doing the right thing? Where should I start? Will I find good clients? Will they be bring in an external consultant in this environment? Should I apply for a regular job instead?

The Hero’s journey inspires me to be brave, bold and not fear the unexpected. Instead, it pushes me to face my fears, to have faith in myself and to embrace adversity in order to achieve something extraordinary, maybe even to follow my calling and to fulfill my purpose.

“Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course” – William Shakespeare

I wish you all the best in finding your calling, facing your fears and in all your adventures over the next 12 months.

Happy New Year!

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

Today I found myself remembering teachers from my past that have inspired me, encouraged me and ignited my imagination. I miss that feeling… This got me thinking. Who are my teachers today? And how can I jump start my learning again?

When we’re at school/university it’s clear what we’re learning and who is teaching us – it’s a very deliberate and organised process. But once we’re out in the big wide world learning is far less structured, less organised and depends very much on what we do/seek, how curious and keen to learn we are.

One might feel we are learning all the time in this global information age, as we are bombarded by information & we have access to news as it happens all around the world. But are we really learning, are we growing, if so what are we learning? TS Elliot put it well – “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge, where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”.

Some might feel we are just floating with the tide, wedded to the same routines and habits every day, making the same mistakes again and again. When we’ve had too much, we escape into a film, a novel or on holiday. What little we learn is absorbed passively from the TV, newspapers and the internet. We learn many lessons passively: look after yourself; you can’t trust anyone; live for the moment; fulfill your dreams; spend your way to happiness; your success is defined by what your possess. It’s not surprising that we live in a society plagued with worry, depression & stress.

One thing is for sure, if we want to change the situation, we have to change our behaviour; and if we want to change our behaviour, we have to change our thinking.

I once read that “A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others. ” but we rarely see this in our modern times.

However, if you look carefully you’ll find great teachers all around you. Throughout our adult life we come into contact with many mentors and guides that give us their time, support and encouragement, pushing us to stretch our boundaries.

We need to surround ourselves with such people that challenge us, make us think, question and grow. All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind.

It’s no surprise that our learning grinds to a halt as we grow older, as we get busy with ‘life-admin’, we stop asking questions, and think we know enough.

Whatever age we are, whatever stage we’re at, we can reaffirm our commitment to learning, strive to open our minds, be curious, be inquisitive and be devoted to the pursuit of knowledge. There is so much to learn still about ourselves, about each other, about human relationships, about life and about the world.

What are we waiting for?