Original Performance

In my element helping you be in yours

How to think, visually?

(An excerpt from my keynote at the ‘heart of transformation’ conference in DCU May 18th 2018)

I stood in front of the audience, quaking in my boots. I felt the pressure.

I was in Sacramento California working for the California Air Resources Board, tasked with training environmental consulting experts, how to audit trades in electricity transactions. (If your curious look up Assembly Bill 32 of the State of California).

My degree in English and Philosophy & my Masters degree in Training & Learning management seemed to have no relevance as I listened to my audience introduce themselves…

I have a PhD in Environmental Science from Yale, with an MBA from Stanford….each one more qualified than the last.

I felt more and more out of my depth, thinking what have I to offer these people that would be of any value to them.

A few weeks earlier, after reading the hundreds of pages of the law, the guidance documents, and discussions with experts, I realized I was sunk. I had no idea how to make sense of all the terms, ‘designated entities,’ ‘party’, ‘counterparty’, ‘counterparty risk’ and how everything fit together. I was neither an expert on electricity trades, or Californian law.

So what happened?

In this confused state:

I drew to understand what I didn’t understand

Mapping who sold electricity (party) and who bought it (counterparty) and where the risk for any transmission losses showed me that the law was both, regulating electricity transactions, AND, mapping the electricity supply chain (including traders) in the state of California.

So back to the audience. As I stood there, I wondered what value I had to add.

All I could think of was to show my picture, to set the context for the discussion.

And guess what happened?

It had the same effect on the audience, as it had on me. It brought clarity where there was confusion.

To quote one of the audience,

You know I read that document about 15 times and NOW I get it

You can imagine my sense of relief, that I had some value to add.

This experience was what got me started down the path of using visual thinking, to think and analyse for myself, and to help others understand complex ideas, or synthesize information.

It worked for people (Practical) and it was authentically from me (Passion), and it added value in the situation. This combination is how I frame how I think visually.

Thanks to the audience & to Dr. Margaret Farren, Dr. Yvonne Crotty for the welcome.

An excerpt from my keynote at the ‘heart of transformation’ conference in DCU May 18th 2018.


Follow yourself…not famous or wealthy people

What’s your definition of success in life?

My favourite definition is from the always insightful Robin Charbit & Ken Manning of Insight Principles.

Success is the ability to deal well with whatever life throws at you

I notice a lot of millionaires / billionaires / famous people (insert whatever you like here) promising to make you or me successful by taking MASSIVE action, or following their plan, or adopting their philosophy.

Even a quick reflection here shows that we all individually and uniquely have to deal with whatever situations our own life brings. The beautiful, the tragic, the comical, the tests of our character.

Each of us has to find our own way through these situations. Even wealthy and famous people have tragedy and loss in their life, and money or a second car doesn’t fix that. Consider how many check into rehab.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to aspire to be more fully yourself, to trust more in your own resources and wisdom, than to follow someone else’s plan?! To find your own philosophy, to value your own ability to navigate life situations.

It’s not that really wealthy or famous are bad people, it’s just that what will bring you success is your own ability to deal with whatever life throws your way, which in the end you learn for yourself anyway.

You’re alive now and reading this, which means, you already have this ability. You made it this far!

By all means, follow people, read what they have to say, learn from them, then make your own decisions about your own life situation.

What you learn for yourself from whatever source that helps you make sense of your own life, is valuable.

Trust in and develop your own wisdom- the content of your character.

Becoming & Serving

No matter what you do, you can’t help but learn.

What you learn, and how you apply it, is up to you.

One helpful way to think about jobs, or projects is, becoming & service.

To ask at the outset, where can I best serve, and if I do this project/work what do I become in doing it.

Do I become more myself, do I become more satisfied, more fun, kinder, wiser, wealthier, healthier if I do this?

How is this of service, and do I become more valuable to people, to my family, my customers, my colleagues, to myself?

In fact, it’s worth thinking about what you’re doing now, in the same terms. Even without changing the work, you can become more curious, wiser, a better communicator, a more reliable co-worker, a better leader, just by thinking about serving better, and becoming more.

To paraphrase JFK, ask not what your life situation can do for you, ask what you can do for your life situation.

One theme, for one hour, a day, to become more, to serve more, can help you value where you are now, and become more valuable to everyone including yourself.

So if you’re not happy with who’ve you become, serve better, become more, start again – a simple choice, always available.

David Sandler #Sketchnote

You can’t teach a kid to ride a bike at a seminar- my #sketchnote summary

How do YOU feel important?

THE error of judgement

You’re doing it wrong, that’s not how it works. Why didn’t you do……

How do you feel when someone tells you stuff like this?

THE error of judgement is to make people FEEL judged, or to make yourself FEEL judged.

Sure you make mistakes, everyone does. So what?

Most of our many many mistakes are very trivial, and insignificant and often represent great opportunities to learn.

And yet…

How often in your life, or work have you felt judged by others, or by yourself?

What good comes out of making people FEEL judged?

How motivating is it for you, or for others?

But, what about being accountable for your actions?

In psychology distinction is drawn between your identity and the role you perform. (See transactional analysis for example)

Who you are is already valuable and beautiful – your true identity, like the actor.

How you act in certain tasks or roles often varies.

If you are an actor you might be great in one role, and struggle with another. This is true for any actor, with the great variety of roles in life. If you sell or manage you might do it badly…the role you happen to play, at the time.

THE error of judgement is to judge the actor, to make people or yourself FEEL judged for their identity. We can’t help doing it sometimes, and when we do, we should remember….

All actors need appreciation, and most actors want to improve their ability to play different roles (including ourselves).

Better surely to transmit the FEELING of accepting people fully for who they are (identity), and ask them to assess or evaluate for themselves how they see their role improving, to act better, to sing better, to sell better.

If as David Sandler asserts

People buy on emotion and then justify with facts

Who buys feeling judged?

Are the actors on your stage appreciated, and are you helping the show to bring joy to the cast and the audience, a joyful performance, even if not perfect, is better than a perfect performance without the feeling.

Judgement kills positive feeling, lack of positive feeling creates joyless performance or going through the motions, not going to the emotions. Emotion is what moves people.

Everything is an offer – use it.

To communicate is to improvise – Robert Poynton

Every day you communicate with other people and deal with different situations. To improvise is in your nature.

Given that you already have this skill set, and so does everyone – why take it for granted.

Robert Poynton (Do/Improvise author) describes the three things needed for improvising.

  1. Notice more (pay attention now)
  2. Let go (of pre-conceptions and of taking yourself too seriously)
  3. Use everything – start where you are and use what you have.

From this worldview EVERYTHING is something you can work with. Everything is an offer to grow.

You make a mistake, use it, someone criticises you, use it, you miss your bus, use it.

This view of:

Everything is an offer – use it

Is a wonderful practical way to become more solution focussed. Milton H. Erickson was known for this in psychology – utilisation. Use every situation and everything you have at your disposal as best you can.

Actually what Erickson found was that some of the biggest barriers became some of the greatest opportunities, specifically in his case, a terrible situation of paralysis from polio. Faced with this situation he learned about his unconscious mind, and how to focus attention, and through experimentation learned to observe what worked for him and walk again.

So from a terrible situation, through using everything offered Erickson became a gifted clinical hypnotherapist and helped others change their situations.

Every difficult situation, person, problem brings a seed from which we can grow ourselves and with it our capacity to help others.

Everything people bring to a situation is a gift, including what you bring. Bring it.

Improvising is already natural for you, you do it every day. Take up the offer.

This is mostly a reminder to myself, &, hopefully it is a reminder for you too.

The Leaky Funnel – My #Sketchnotes

My #sketchnotes from “The Leaky Funnel” by Hugh MacFarlane.

If prospecting and selling is to fail repeatedly, then what happens to the people you talk to who at that time don’t need what you have to offer?

The Leaky Funnel suggests some strategies to make it easy for people, by aligning sales and marketing around the journey a customer takes, and helps them to move forward.

If you fail, it isn’t permanent, or terminal, it might just take some time, or may be not at all, either way, it’s not about you, it’s about the potential customer, and what THEY need.


First shared on linkedin –

#RIP Stephen Hawking

A Brief History of Time…..was eye opening for me, reading about black holes, quantum physics, the universe.

An amazing mind, an amazing life, and an amazing example of attitude through adversity.

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