Life Surfing with Dynamic Risk Assessment

Layers of Protection – Friend or Foe?

Health and Wellbeing: Malfunction Junction

We live in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous  world where change is an only certainty.

To combat this we need situational awareness and agility to determine the most appropriate response at any given moment. When this ability is degraded we face ‘Malfunction Junction’ at an individual and organisational level.

What does this look, sound and feel like?

As an individual we start to notice the taught shoulder muscles, clenched jaw, frontal headaches. When we press the ‘over-ride button’ this ‘ramps up’ to grumbling stomach acid, backache, migraine style ‘bouncing’ headaches. Ignore the leading Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and we meet ‘Malfunction Junction’ head on! Stomach Ulcers, High Blood Pressure, Angina, Heart Attack, Back Structural Failure.

At an organisational level this reveals itself as “only dropping the ball this once “, late deliveries “out-with my control”, minor plant shutdowns, staff last minute ‘sickness’, late payments, minor injury increased frequency. Turning a ‘Nelson’s Eye’ to the KPI’s leads to enhanced Product Quality failures with multiple ‘returns’, Major ‘plant trips’ with substantial Loss, Cash Flow problems. A ‘head-in-the- sand’ approach is stumbling towards catastrophic failure – ‘downsizing efficiencies’,  Branch Closures, major accidents, ‘Administrators’…

Situational awareness at a personal and organisational level begins with each and everyone of us. Individually and collectively we all can make a difference. We all have specific skill sets developed over many years – the problem is that we have, in the urgency of everyday life, forgot to tune into our innate sensing abilities. We can regain this by remembering to  ‘stop and breathe’ as individuals and organisations on a regular basis. Some would call this mindfulness, I call it living in the NOW.

As individuals we can ‘front load’ our day by following an energizing ritual – an example as per below. You know, if you tune in, what works for you, your team, your organisation…

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When I think about ‘Resilience’ a famed speech called “Citizenship in a Republic” springs to mind. Here is an excerpt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…

…whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming…

…but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause…

…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

These profoundly galvanising words by Theodore Roosevelt speak to my heart

It’s so easy to be a naysayer. Too simple to tear the dreamer down. All too common to condemn the visionary.

The credit for all acts of genius and mastery does go to the one in the arena. The one with the guts to hear the naysayers and keep moving ahead. The one who takes the leap and ends up bruised, battered and even bloodied. The one who hears the noisy voices of self-doubt yet trusts something larger and wiser within that encourages them to continue, against all odds.

This is resilience in action. When we have a powerful Vision  driven by our Purpose – courage and tenacity carry us through. Step forward today, tapping into your internal knowledge and wisdom. The world applauds a ‘trier.’

Mindfulness Moments

Most of us are of sound mind, but many of us have trouble maintaining a note of harmony and peace. Most of us know how to think, but few of us are able to control our thoughts. We all have the capacity to be creative, to image new ideas, but few of us are able to do it together and co-create in harmony with each other at home and in business.  We could all do with some mental training so that we may use the most powerful energy in the universe, the mind, which is always at our instant disposal.

We can begin with mindfulness. It’s a simple way to gently help our mind go where it is best to go, do what is the best thing to do. It begins by simply being fully aware of what we are doing. Mostly we are not fully aware, as our minds wander into the past and then into possible futures. We spend most of our time watching others and so rarely fully focus on what we are actually doing ourselves.

Next time you sit down to a meal, watch your self. Be aware of only what you are eating. Every time your mind wants to wander, bring it gently back to the action and sensation of eating. Then do the same when cleaning, when writing, when working, when exercising.  The more we do it – the stronger and more focused and more rational will be our concentration. The more natural will be our actions, the more peaceful we will feel, and the more relaxed we will be – no matter what we are doing

The Power of Why

Many people and organisations become focussed on ‘What’ requires to be done in the coming year – setting Stretch Targets/Goals for themselves and their Teams.

My research has shown, whilst this has merit, we find that ‘life happens’ and our circumstances can change on exposure to our dynamic world.

High Reliability organisations focus on the ‘Why’ first – this allows the strategic Purpose/Values to assist problem solving in our volatile world. It’s like the Disaster Response team’s Head Chef saying to his crew “We are in the Motivation Business (Why) not the cooking one (What). He explained that in the middle of all the devastation the Disaster Team and Volunteers were looking for an ‘oasis’ in the  middle of the maelstrom. Their job was to maintain and build their emotional resilience by the quality of food and the welcoming environment they were providing. All crew members on dynamic problem solving knew exactly where their priority lay.

Do you know Why you do what you do?

Problem Solvers


Our perceptions of situations are what determine ‘problems’. It’s our minds that make our perceptions seem real. If there is a problem it is our perception. This is hard to see in a world that celebrates and rewards the finding and solving of ‘the problem’.

When we decide that we will no longer perceive the problem, we will then see only the facts, a situation, an opportunity. Facts are just facts and any and every situation can always be improved, unless it is in the past, then it’s just a memory, and memories are never a problem, are they?

If we can cancel from the patterns of our perceptions, and the  idea of ‘problem’ –  reframing them as growth opportunities then we will not only be positive thinkers and positive proactive actors, we will be leaders.

The Power Within


All too often we wait until ideal conditions appear before we show up at our best. True leadership is about doing your absolute best under imperfect conditions – leading where you are planted…

Let me share a recent experience from when I was visiting Kuwait. As I walked into the washroom, I was greeted by a young man with a beaming smile. His job was clearly to keep the place clean. Some would call him a janitor. But to me, he viewed himself as an inventor… innovating and iterating within his sphere of responsibility.

“Welcome to my workshop,” he spoke, with a sparkle in his eyes. “It’s nice to have you visit.” His uniform was impeccable. His work-surfaces and floors were immaculate. And his manners, superb. He could have made excuses to deny his enthusiasm. Could have complained about his job, the lack of authority, the limited power. But he didn’t.
Instead, he assumed his power-to influence all those he met, to impact others by his excellent example, and to inspire all by transcending his conditions. This young man did his work like Rembrandt painted, Beckham bends the ball, like Colombus explored.

My true point? No job is just a job, unless it’s viewed as just a job. All work is a platform to express creative potential, offer value and make a unique contribution. But we each face a choice each day as we walk out into the world: we can play a victim or we can step up to leadership. And in this messy, disrupted world we now work within, leadership at every level has become the single best way to win.