Seeking Sky


I am walking one of my favourite trails in Vancouver. It weaves along the bluffs of Spanish Banks, before either dipping down to the sea of veering south toward the university campus. On this particular day, in early September, I am strolling. When I walk, especially in nature, ideas come to me that would not ordinarily arrive, and I am always delighted when a certain breeze or vista offers up the gift of a metaphor and carries me away. Today it is a tree, an odd slender cedar with a tenacious urge to see the sun. The tree has bent itself over, growing parallel to the ground, before pushing itself upright again, some 8 feet later. The s-curve makes something of bench for those inclined to seize the moment and take a seat. Despite having walked by this particular tree many times, today it encourages me to think about how we are all seeking the light; literally, as a necessary life force, but also figuratively, in our lives, with our families, and in our organizations. I began to wonder about the ways I have contorted my own life, working my way around things, over things, and through things in search of my sky. I think all of us are searching for the sun light of our true nature and that search takes us and shapes us in all sorts of ways- good and bad.  I carried on along the trail, reflecting on the work I do as a coach, and how so much of it is about helping people determine and head for their own light. And I was comforted by the idea that, like the tree, even our most twisted turns, can be beautiful.

What is the light you seek?

What warms your heart and brightens your world?

What new and unexpected shapes are you willing to take on?

Who or what stands in your way?


Role Playing: A Practice That Makes Perfect…Sense!

The Creative Coach Spring 2013_issue 2

Click to download PDF of this Article

The Creative Coach Spring 2013_issue 2

Click to download PDF of this Article


Role Playing: A Practice That Makes Perfect…Sense!

The Creative Coach Spring 2013_issue 2

Click to download PDF of this Article

The Creative Coach Spring 2013_issue 2

Click to download PDF of this Article



A probortunity is simultaneously the kernel of possibility and the problem. A probortunity is a different kind of conundrum, requiring the mental acts of investigating and solving, as well as a willingness and urge to germinate and grow something entirely new and inspiring.
We have all had experiences where we talk about the silver lining. You’ve probably heard people say things like, “well if it hadn’t been for that car accident I never would have met my future husband” and you probably know people who praise the challenges they’ve faced as cataclysmic  events when their lives took on new meaning,  purpose and direction. Mostly these comments are after-the-fact sentiments that help us to make sense of why bad things have happened to us in the first place.
A probortunity however, is born from a proactive sensibility rather than a reactive one. I believe there is tremendous power in this small, cumbersome  and illegitimate word. These days, with the onslaught of problems a fresh and hopeful spark may help each of us grow a sweeter, juicier fruit right from the start.
For more on the inventors of this fine if somewhat illegitimate word click here


Leadership is like soup– if you want it to taste good, nourish people, comfort and inspire then you have to consider all of the ingredients that go into making a great leader and encourage the conditions that best enable one to simmer  to their fullest potential. So many leadership books and development programs talk only of skills-or competencies- and suggest that if one adopts, models or mimics the skills they will master the art of leadership.

This thinking is akin to believing that if you follow a recipe you will become a master chef and that simply isn’t true. Great chefs are dedicated to the cause of making great food. They make a point of considering every input- every ingredient that goes in, as well as their own creative influence upon the ingredients- the stirring, the dialing up or down of heat, cookware, altitude, seasonal availability, etc. So if leadership is a grand soup then what should go into the pot?

LEARNING- What a person has learned in the past and continues to learn for the future informs their world view and priorities. Ensure what you are learning is expansive enough to accommodate your highest aspirations. To remain creative make sure to include the pursuit of knowledge that is seemingly unrelated and enjoy the synergy that comes through diversity.

ENERGY-When a person eats well they have the stamina to meet demands. If you are what you eat, then what would your eating habits be saying about you as a person and leader- healthy food choices reveal an important aspect  of ones character and commitment to the planet. Choose organic, limit processed food and eliminate excessive sugar, salt and sodas.

ATTITUDE- Thoughts about the world, other people, and ourselves conspire to produce character. Meditate on these words by the Dalai Lama.

Take care of your Thoughts because they become Words.

Take care of your Words because they will become Actions.

Take care of your Actions because they will become Habits.

Take care of your Habits because they will form your Character.

Take care of your Character because it will form your Destiny,

and your Destiny will be your Life…

DREAMS- A leaders vision for the future is essential to her/his work and impact on others. What are your ideas, hopes, fears, beliefs, and aspirations and how are they informing your dreams for the future?

EXPERIENCE- What life experiences are informing your character, skills, and beliefs as a leader. Are past experiences getting in the way of future aspirations? Are new and upcoming experiences feeding your soul and mind in compelling and inspiring ways?

RELATIONSHIPS- Who do you love? Who do you hang out with? How do you nurture family and friends? As you are in your personal life, so you are in your professional life. Review the pleasure and inspiration that comes from your relationships with others. If there are improvements to be made- make them and let go of relationships if they are knowingly toxic. Heck you wouldn’t put poison in your soup would you?

SYSTEMS VIEW- What are you doing to expand your world view? As we seek to understand life beyond our front gate, beyond our borders, and beyond the familiar, we gain greater awareness of the vastness of the human condition and are better able to appreciate the diversity of people- There are many ways to make soup.

HEALTH- Should leadership cost us our health? Do you want to follow someone who cant seem to take care of themselves in a mindful way? Ensure you attend to the freshness of your own leadership ingredients by making healthy choices, getting sufficient rest, exercising, designing healthy working environments, and dealing with health problems promptly, and attending to your mental and physical health on an ongoing basis.

IDEOLOGY-How does ideology influence your presence as a leader? Are your thoughts and beliefs well founded and mindfully managed to limit harm or judgment of others?

PRESS (Media- What are you reading and consuming in the way of media- what TV shows are you watching, what newscasts do you favour, what propaganda are you succumbing to? What magazines do you read? How do you seek a wider perspective?

Bertelsmann Stiftung

Great bit of  research on  leadership development in the US. Part of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Leadership Series. Happy to see Theory U mentioned and lots of validation for executive coaching too!