‘don’t walk’ growing pains


We’re all standing, looking at the red hand. There are no cars. The road is just two lanes. Yet we stand and wait. Waiting for the ‘walk’ sign. To be told it is safe to cross.

We think that we’re grown up just because we’ve hit adulthood, have flown the nest, or because we’ve taken on a position of leadership in our organisation.

But so many of us are still looking for parents who can save us from life’s difficulty, confirm the right course of action, or who can tell us we’re doing ok.

As long as we’re looking for parents, we expect the leaders of our organisations, or others in society to know what to do, to know all the answers, to tell us what’s needed, and to rescue us. We hold back from speaking truth or acting confidently because we’re scared they’ll judge us or reject us. Meanwhile, they’re scared they will get found out; found wanting. So they are happy to parent us. To be seen as wise and all knowing.

And in this parental game, we blame them for sticking to their rigid parental ways. And, when things don’t turn out the way we want them, we blame them for failing us, instead of stepping up and taking action and responsibility ourselves. We give up our capacity for independent thought so we can keep ourselves in a dependent, child-like role.

And they, for their part, give up truly leading. Instead they parent, patronise and push change, to show they know best.

All of this is happening even at the most senior levels of multi-national organisations, because – it turns out – being senior, and being grown up, are not the same thing.

It explains much about why change can be so difficult in organisations. Why we fail to own our own change and why we have created an industry called ‘change management’ – like all that’s needed are more parents.

All of this makes the ongoing task of adult development so critical for each of us and for our organisations. Truly growing into ourselves, being ourselves and growing up is challenging work. But it means we can become self confident and genuinely be adults in the world – without relying on a saviour.

And once we can act like responsible grown ups, that allows us to take collective responsibility first for our institutions, and then for our society as a whole.

Then we can walk.

how do you do becoming?


I love the phraseology that juxtaposes ‘human being’ with ‘human doing’ and also with ‘human becoming’. I don’t know who first coined it?

The ‘becoming’ piece intrigues me most.

It suggests evolving, learning, growing. It infers movement, change, desire. It implies a different state.

We say we’re becoming better, or we’re becoming a teacher (substitute any other skill/profession of your choosing). We say we’re becoming clearer, or becoming irritated. We’re becoming addicted or becoming curious. I’m becoming numb to it, or I’m becoming a recluse. And so on…

But how does one do ‘becoming’? What’s going on? What makes ‘becoming’ possible? What’s the process?

More significantly perhaps what’s my process? And what’s your process?

How do you do becoming? Is there a pattern? A recipe? A methodology? Do you have a style, a flavour, a posture for becoming?

How do you know? Know you’re becoming? Where’s the evidence? Is it tangible or is it a sense of becoming? Are there feelings, thoughts, behaviours with becoming? And when do we stop becoming and just be? When do we reach the destination?

Then does ‘being ‘ inspire us to strive, to grow, to move forward into another spate of becoming? Does ‘being’ bore us, frustrate us, drive us to more ‘becoming’?

What triggers becoming? What fuels the becoming?

Becoming curious?

when the conditions are right…


Flowers are amazing.

As Spring approaches and the first flowers of the season are out, it’s hard not to wonder at their sophistication.

They reach up and face the sun in an attempt to maximise their potential. They become open, literally, to possibilities. When night draws in and growth is no longer fed by the nourishing sunlight, they close and bow their heads, patiently waiting for the next surge of life expanding light and warmth.

They are hugely diverse, bright, colourful in a range of sizes. All are welcome in the garden.

We could learn so much.


beauty on the roof


This morning, the ice on the roof of my car looked like this.

Incredible that a little water, the right temperature and ambient conditions can produce such complex intricacy, yet delicate beauty.

I am exploring personal learning and growth currently, and working with an agricultural metaphor – plant a seed, provide the right conditions and nurture growth. Is this the way for people to learn and grow?

If such beauty on the roof can be created in nature with such simplicity, there has to be something here, surely?

if you don’t know, how do you know?

pass the parcel self awareness
I’m a convert to the notion of self awareness.

I have seen evidence and experienced personally the value of knowing who you are, knowing why you’re here, knowing what matters to you, what consciously and unconsciously drives your behaviour. I have seen people liberated through discovering and working on a limiting belief. I have seen people find peace, happiness, fulfilment through understanding their purpose and finding a way to congruence with it.

But I’m lucky. I had the opportunity to discover this, in others and for myself. Self awareness is a bit like a pass the parcel game; each layer you rip off reveals a new gift, a new sense of excitement, a new possibility and a sense of knowing that you are a step closer to a bigger prize within.

But what if you don’t know? What if you aren’t in the circle of the pass the parcel game? What if you aren’t aware of the party even existing?

How do you know how to start? How to be curious about yourself? How do you move on from the philosophy of that’s just how it is, my lot is my lot, some just get a bum deal. How do you even know that behaviour is purposeful, that it can be changed? How do you know that purpose, identity, values and beliefs exist and drive how you are, who you are, what is possible for you?

if you don’t know, how do you know?

what is personal development?

Personal-Development Self Actualisation
The term is well-used. You may, like me, have a personal development plan. The ubiquitous PDP. It seems universally viewed as a good thing, to develop, personally.

But what counts as developing personally? If I go on a time management course, is that developing personally? Is learning to play saxophone developing personally? Maybe I want to learn to practice mindfulness – is that personal development? Is learning to drive? Learning to walk at 15 months even?

Those things would all seem to give me skills. Useful skills that may make me more effective, give me enormous pleasure in my free time, help me be more relaxed or just more mobile and independent.

I’ve been on courses before that were recommended, for my development. Many years ago I attended a negotiating skills course. I remember our trainer talking a lot about children and eating their greens to get puddings. I remember also the horror of being videoed and then made to watch myself back. It didn’t feel like personal development. Training yes, but not development.

So is there something about the development giving me something I want, something of value to me, something that enables me to fulfill my potential, to live my life to the max, as I perceive it?

In order to do that of course I need to know me. What matters to me, who I am, what satisfies me, makes me happy. My dreams and aspirations. Self awareness in effect. But then to be self aware I need to be curious. To want to understand me and how I function, motivate myself, learn, grow. Also to understand how I limit myself. I need to be open to self exploration. Open to self discovery. That way, as I explore myself I can become more self aware.

I also need some sense of my place in the world, what gives me meaning and purpose and how I propose to shape my future to fulfill that. Self realisation in a sense.

So is personal development really about self? About exploration and discovery of self? About awareness of self? About development of self, so that we can be who we think we are? Actualise our sense of self. Complete oneself to the fullest potential?

Maslow talked about self actualisation. I believe he once described it as “intrinsic growth of what is already in the organism, or more accurately of what is the organism itself.”

Is this personal development?