Tag Archives | Thinking Differently


I have been reading the latest book by Ricardo Semler, and amongst the many themes it has reminded me of is the one of making work fun.

It is so easy for work to become tedious, the same old round of meetings, discussions, decisions, actions, email clearing etc. This problem is intensified for us as leaders, because not only do we suffer from it, we also have the people who work for us suffering from it as well.

Of course all the tedious things have to be done – well, some of them anyway. But that doesn’t mean that we have to find them tedious. We can choose to scatter rewards for ourselves in amongst the boring tasks – a walk, a quite cup of coffee, a chat with someone, and a job we really want to do.

We can also check out that list of tedious jobs. Are they all really necessary? We often develop a set of routines that are habit rather than necessity, and a check once in a while on the purpose of what we are doing may lead us to remove the task from our list.

Some of the things we do are because we don’t trust people enough. We give them things to do, then check that they know they have to do it, then ask them to report on their progress at regular intervals, and sometimes we still do some of it ourselves because we are not sure that they will do it right.

So how about daring to trust others to get on with things. You may come across the odd failure’ if you do this, but weigh that against the time and effort you could save!

And this brings us to how you can offset the dangers of boredom in your people. One way is to trust them to do something. When we have full responsibility for something, it tends to be more inspiring than when we are given detailed task lists.

Another way is to dare to allow them to manage their boredom themselves. In the same way that you will function better and achieve more if you make work more fun for yourself, your people will make their day work better and produce more, if given permission to do so.

Semler talks about treating people as grown-ups. It requires trusting people to be responsible, and to achieve while giving them the freedom to make their work life work for them as individuals. It might sound risky, but doesn’t it also sound like common sense?


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When I was at University, doing my Contemporary Arts BA Degree, we were exposed to many different ways of expressing yourself. We were shown many different ways to access our creativity. One such tool we were given was freeform writing. Freeform writing has many names; Creative Writing, Free Writing, Spontaneous Writing, Speed Writing. Its name has many variations, but it is essentially the same – writing without thinking about it.

The idea is that you just put pen to paper and begin to write, not editing any of what you put down, just allowing to flow and ebb as your thoughts flow and ebb. It is a great way to get stuff out of your head and a great way to brainstorm ideas, by allowing them free expression. To further the brainstorming idea, why not select a topic and Freeform write on that topic?

When you have a creative block, sometimes this can be a useful tool to help vent some of the frustration and work past the block, by accessing not only your conscious but unconscious creativity too. Freeform writing every morning as soon as you wake up can be a good way to access the creative visions of your dreams..

Not only is freeform writing useful for creativity, but I find it incredibly useful for emptying the mind of unwanted thoughts. In fact this is where I use this process most! When you are having difficulty sleeping or you have many negative thoughts in your head that are getting you down, just let rip on a piece of paper, just get all the nasty stuff out! Once you feel that you have emptied your brain of all the ‘stuff’ then throw the paper away, and hopefully you’ll feel a little better and sleep more peacefully!


Try your hand at freeform writing

  1. Always have a little notepad with you – to capture starting points for freeform writing
  2. Using these starting topics spend two full minutes writing everything you can about the topic – don’t edit anything, if your hand stops writing, stop and try another topic
  3. Keep a notepad by your bed – to capture the weird and wild creativity of your dreams, just 3 minutes as you wake up each day
  4. Spend 10 minutes a week just writing anything down that comes into your head – don’t edit it! Just allow it to flow, it may well look like nonsense but in it could be some gems of creative wisdom!
  5. When you are experiencing a creative block – use freeform writing to write out all the angst and maybe tap into some unconscious creativity!
  6. When you are emotionally low, or your head is just full of ‘stuff’, maybe you have difficulty sleeping – use freeform writing to clear your head, write it all down, then throw it away, don’t re-read it or it will start you off thinking again!


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I was given a book by the magician David Blaine a while ago, and have found it an irresistible read. I was already fascinated by him because he seems to do magic in a different way to any I have seen before. His book both confirms that belief and explains some of the reasons why.

It has made me think about what magic really is. I have always loved the idea of magic, but been disappointed by the tricks that are usually called by that name. They seem to demean something very special that for me is linked to things like fairies, wizards and the things we classify as miracles. I feel that true magic has a positive effect in some way, and will make us question what we think is possible.

At one stage, the word became a popular way of saying that something was special, or exciting and that felt like a good use of it…

Over Christmas, did you see the face of a child filled with wonder at the magic of Father Christmas? Did you wish that you could experience the magic of those first snowflakes settling on the ground?

We forget to notice the simple everyday magic that surrounds us: the skyscapes on a clear winter’s day, the dew in a spider’s web, the excited grin on a child’s face, the birth of another special human being, the sense of wonder at the amazing world we live in, filled with amazing people.


  1. Where do you see everyday magic?
  2. What magic can you create for others and for yourself?


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For many years, especially in the early days of running a small business, I never quite saw the link between creativity and my work. Creativity for me meant paint a picture, do a drawing, mould a piece of clay, even perhaps do a bit of singing.  Then I started to discover that when I actually did something creative, work and my business seemed to flow that much easier. Here is another paystub maker online review which might help your business.

I started to question for myself what is creativity and saw that in actuality that creativity is full self-expression. It takes many forms and is a natural extension of our gifts.  In coming to accept this realisation, I could begin to clearly see the link to the work I was doing. My work and the business I had created were my way to contribute and share that with others.

The more I accepted the concept that my creativity is my unique self-expression, I found myself with a magical way in which to clearly set my vision, values and actions for starting and maintaining a viable, sustainable business, and the more I allowed and activated my creativity the easier it became.  One of the most helpful exercises I did was to actually define for myself what CREATIVITY meant to me, choosing words that inspired and energised me.   It has become a powerful way of reminding myself of who I am and how to BE in relationship to my business:

C  Clarity

R  Release

E  Ease

A  Action

T  Timely

I  Insight

V  Vital

I  Inspired

T  Transform

Y  You


  1. I invite you to take some time to discover the meaning of creativity and what it means in your life and your business.  Take 5-10 minutes of quiet time to remind yourself as to why you started your business.
  2. Write down what creativity means to you, where is it present in your life, where has it made a difference.
  3. Ask yourself where has the use of my creativity really helped in a work situation.

Take the word Creativity and choose powerful, inspiring words to spell it out, then post it somewhere to remind you.

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‘I’ve always prided myself on being good at analytical/logical thinking, and when I was asked if I would like to go on a programme on developing my skills as a leader I thought I would learn to be even more logical and analytical. Half way through my first day all I could do was shake my head in disbelief.

We had spent the whole morning looking at ways I could make myself feel good and, although that was very pleasant, it felt both selfish and irrelevant to me as a leader.

The workshop facilitator persisted in looking at personal stuff for the rest of the afternoon, which was spent on how I think. Analytical? Nope! My intuition, for goodness sake! I haven’t used that since I was a child. I went home and told my wife that it was a most unexpected day. Two hours later she told me to shut up.

I was curious about the next day and had to admit I felt rather good about myself. As we began to explore what made a good leader I realised that I had what it took, but it wasn’t what I thought it was.

Since that five day session I think I have used about half of what I learned with Di – which is about 100%, at least, more than I have taken from other courses. It makes more and more sense, and it works. No, it really works.’


Di says:

Adam spent the whole of the first day staring at me and shaking his head in disbelief. I could feel his gaze on me the whole time.

It’s a common reaction. At first many people think I am crazy. And I remind them that, when they do get themselves in a state where they feel good abut themselves, they are in a superb position to help others get more from their work.

Western society’s love affair with logical and analytical thought reflects a belief that science could solve all of our ‘problems’ This ‘logic’ breaks work down into boring and meaningless tasks, so that the work does not inspire and motivate, and ultimately the work gets done badly. Nice logic!

We have got to the stage in our culture where many of us think that work has to be boring, hard, stressful. If not, the story runs, we are not earning our money or our leisure time: “work hard, play hard’.


1. Enjoy your work today.

2. Give yourself some treats: stop and smell that flower, smile at that toddler, use your favourite soap, wear your favourite clothes.

3. Take a risk: go in after the traffic, leave your tie at home, leave your e-mails until you have spoken to everyone face-to-face

Enjoy your work today.

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Gaining Perspective

Have you had a summer holiday? I remember when I went to Italy during the summer and was lucky enough to spend three days in Sicily whilst Etna was erupting. We were able to see the incredible sight of a red river of lava, and hear and feel the immense rumbling and thundering which accompanies the eruption.

When stood by such a powerful example of nature at its work, you have to recognise how mundane and temporary our own stories are by comparison.

Whether we are disrupted by changes happening in our lives, or feeling powerful and important because we are being change agents in some way, the immensity of what nature does reminds us to get it all back into perspective.

Who we are and what we do is important and we do have an impact on the world, but we need to be reminded sometimes that there is more to it than our little piece, and we have to work in accord with the grander plan. We also need to remember that whatever is happening now in our lives, this too will pass, and life goes on.


  1. What experience of nature has reminded you to regain perspective on your life? Remember it again now
  2. What life event at the time seemed all-consuming, but has now become less important, merely another lesson, when you look back? Reflect on its true perspective in your life.
  3. In what way are you working in accord with the grander plan? Reflect on how you play your part.


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What Ride are You Choosing?


‘Have we not told you, life should be an adventure? If it were run-of-the-mill, you would have left it a long time ago. You need the sturm and drang, the passion, the highs and lows, to uncover the truth of who you are.

We get so caught up in our everyday lives, we forget what we came here for. See life as a game. It’s a game, it’s fun, it’s a rollercoaster, as we have told you before. It has its highs and lows, ups and downs, all arounds, but ultimately it’s all just a ride.

To find out what that’s all about, stand back and observe – where you get stuck, where you fly, where it scares you, where it exhilarates you, and concentrate on one goal, one goal alone: How does this help me to get to the truth of who I am?

Does it? Or does it get me stuck? Does it increase my fear? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, choose another path, get on a different ride!

There’s a whole fairground of rides. Some people like the rollercoaster, some the waltzers, some like the slow Ferris wheel, some the house of horrors. They are all beautifully different, so if you feel your ride no longer fits or suits you, change to another one! Go sit on the rollercoaster even if it does sometimes scare you.  Or go sit on the roundabout and take it gently.

You are all grown-ups, you have the right to choose what sort of ride you want your life to be. So choose, choose now – and if you don’t like it, stop that ride, get off and go get an easier one for a while.

It’s your choice. You create what is the ride of your life. So create one that suits you, and have the courage to say, “no, this ride no longer suits me. I’ll choose another – I’ll create another life/ride that suits me.” And hey presto, you have the life you always wanted. It’s that easy.

We would say that you will probably get through a lot of rides, because at different times in your life, you will need different things. And eventually you will come to the ride that takes you to the truth of who you are, and once you are on that one, you will never want to come off, because it’s home.

(Thank you to Jo and his angels for this text)


  1. What sort of a ride are you on at the moment?
  2. Does it suit you right now?
  3. Is it helping you to get to the truth of who you are?
  4. If not, what ride do you fancy?


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Thinking Creatively

I have just been on holiday, and I was clear that I had no intention of thinking at all for a couple of weeks! At first, it worked perfectly. My thinking consisted of: am I hungry/thirsty? Do I want to swim? Do I want to read or talk? And because there was nothing I had to do, I found it very refreshing to allow the answer to just come from my own genuine feelings, instead of being influenced by external obligations.

After a while, a strange thing started to happen. Quite unbidden insights would suddenly appear in my head, on all sorts of subjects, work and home related. They were all in the category of creative solutions to issues that had been around for me pre-holiday, but they had required no analysis, no in-depth thinking through on my part.

Since returning home, I have been reflecting on this, and believe that creative thinking comes from a state of being where there is a lack of everyday pressure, and where our conscious attention is on something completely different.

How do we achieve this state of being when we are not able to go off on holiday every couple of weeks?! I propose the following:

1)    Tell yourself what it is that you want to sort out e.g. I want to find an innovative way of presenting this information

2)   Allow yourself some treats to resource yourself – a nice meal, a lie in, a natter with an old friend

3)   Do something which enthrals you and takes all your attention – a jigsaw puzzle, some gardening, a good movie or book, a walk in the fresh air, noticing all the signs of Spring
(Through all of stages 2 and 3 you are not thinking consciously about your issue at all. In fact, if it comes to mind, pay attention to something else)

4)   After you have finalised stage 3, sit down with a pen and paper, and write: I want to find an innovative way to… , and what I could do is… , and just keep writing. You may find you have several ideas. Don’t judge or critique them – just record them

5)   Finally, give yourself something else that feels good – a glass of wine, a night out with friends, – anything which is a reward for your own creativity.

This has worked for me since I came home, a couple of times. Let me know if it works for you!


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Life is a bitch and then you die, or: Life is a beach and then you fly

I was reminded again recently of how powerful the culturally given beliefs are – you know, those things we know are true, because things happen which reinforce them.  For example, we can probably all find evidence in our personal experience that people are not to be trusted, or that the world is not a fair place.  It is interesting to notice that we can also find evidence that the opposite is true. Most of us have experienced people being trustworthy, or something which felt very fair and just.

The evidence we choose to notice will affect how we expect others or the world to be.  It really is our choice: evidence for all beliefs is there for us, otherwise no-one would believe them!

And have you noticed how we tend to get what we expect?  This is because we give off an unconscious message that tells the person how we are viewing them, and nine times out of ten, they “play the game” and respond how we expect them to.

So why make life harder than it already is?  Decide to believe what is more useful to you, and start collecting evidence!

Homework :

1.       Next time you need help from someone, assume that they will be helpful.  Imagine them being open to your request, and see what happens.

2.       When you come across someone who is optimistic about life, find out what they believe about people, and about how the world works.  Deliberately look for evidence which supports their belief.  (If you are already optimistic, list some of your own evidence).


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New Year’s Resolutions

At this time of year we all tend to think about New Year’s resolutions even if our choice is not to make any! We are often put off by the fact that we have failed to maintain them in the past, and therefore want to avoid ‘failing’ again.

What if we were to approach it in a different way? After all, it is a natural inclination in human beings to want to be continually improving ourselves, so the principle is a good one – perhaps we just need a more effective way of achieving it.

My proposal is this.

Start by imagining that you are at the end of the year, and feeling good about yourself.

Now answer the following questions:

  1. What have you continued to do well this year?

(Examples might be: give myself regular treats; spent good time with the children; done my job well; had exciting holidays)

  1. What have you done even better this year?

(Examples might be: gone home at a reasonable hour more often; gone for a walk at lunchtime more often; paid real attention to family and colleagues more often)

  1. What have you started to do better this year?

(Examples might be: begun to get fitter; eaten more healthily; kept my work in perspective more)

  1. What have you learned more about this year?

(Examples might be: how to use my common sense at work; how to be a good father; how a different culture works)

  1. What helped you to achieve these things this year?

(Examples might be: putting the list on the side of my computer to remind me; keeping my targets achievable; getting support from friends/colleagues/family)


Try this out – and make it fun!

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