Use This Mind-Hack to Start Thriving in Uncertainty

A while ago now, I was working with a client who was looking to improve her tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity.

Together, we came up with this great little mind-hack to keep her sharp, focused, and productive in a complex business transformation.

And today’ I’m sharing it with you so you can start to thrive in uncertain environments – and turn that into your own personal advantage.  The ability to take meaningful action whilst others falter will build trust in your leadership abilities and earn the respect of your team.​​​​

So here it is…

Video transcript and relevant links

Hey so today I wanted to share with you a little mind hack for dealing with uncertainty.

It’s something that we come up against when we start to transition a business away from some of the ways we used to do things and start to explore new ways of working, new insights, new perspective.  

All of a sudden we can be thrown into this world of tumultuous change and we don’t necessarily have all the answers – and sometimes it can be quite a lot to deal with.  

So, the story I have for you today actually comes from one of the clients I used to it work with in Melbourne, who has to be one of the most courageous women I think I ever met, like ruthless at looking for feedback absolutely adamant that she was going to make change in herself for better.

She hit me up one day, and she said to me “…look, I come to the office and I’m really struggling with everything that’s going on.  It’s total chaos everyday.” She said “I go home at the end of the day, I’m exhausted, I’m frazzled I don’t deal well with the constant moving and shifting and changing.  It’s causing me stress, I’m not sleeping well, it’s all getting too much.”

She said “I watch you walk in the door, and you seem to be able to cope with it.  What are you doing differently? What’s going on in your head?” I paused, and I thought about it for a moment and then I started laughing, and she said “This’ll be good”.

I said to her “Well… you might see me walking into the office every day and sort of floating through and fixing things here and there and it looks like this facade of coping with it.  But I said you don’t get to see me outside of the office.  

“So” I said, “if you watched me in my daily routine, the first thing that I do when I head to the office…” – I was living in North Carlton at the time, for those of you that know Melbourne well – and I said “I walk out my door and I get on the number 96 tram which is right outside my door,” and that tram will actually take me pretty much to the door of the office that we were working in at the time.

I said “But I don’t do that.  Every morning is the same. I get on the tram, and I take the tram to the Bourke St, corner of Swanston St and I get off at the Swanston St stop.  At that point, I turn left down Swanston St, I cross over Little Collins, and then between Little Collins and Collins St, I turn right and I jay-walk, I cross Swanston St. 

“I then keep heading down Swanston, make a right turn and cross over Collins at the tram stop at Swanston St there, and head down a little alleyway.  At the end of that alleyway is my favourite coffee shop and every morning I go in there and I get my coffee.” I get my little – it was a soy latte at that time – in my takeaway coffee cup and then leave the coffee shop and I walk down Flinders Lane.

“I turn right to head up, towards Bourke Street, I make a left and I walk down the left-hand side of the road – sorry Collins Street – I walk down the left-hand side of Collins Street all the way until I make it to the office. And then I come in the back door and head up, and there we go.”

And I said “…the reason I’m laughing is because I think what’s actually going on is that my body is clinging to the last vestige of consistency, and habitual activity and the last moment of familiarity, until I hit that office and it’s complete chaos and we spend our day working through.”  We were at this point where we were fighting a lot of fires.  

So I said “Whilst it might appear that I cope well with uncertainty in your eyes, what’s actually going on, is that’ I’ve created all of these little habitual patterns of behaviour outside of the office, which mean that actually we can cope with what’s going on.”

And so then we both started giggling, and I said to her “Ok, so let’s try this.  Where can we find ways for you to build-in habitual patterns and behaviours outside of the office?  If you know that 8 hours a day or 10 hours a day or longer… is going to be really stressful and it’s gonna ask a lot of you in terms of dealing with uncertainty and not knowing all the answers and that’s really uncomfortable…  Then what can we do either side of that to help to build routine and to build-in that sense of certainty for you? Is it your gym routine? Is it your evening meal routine?  

“What’s going to do the trick in terms of building-in some consistency, so that when you get to the office you’ve kind of satiated that need and you’ve got the capacity for the uncertainty and the change.”

That was the first thing we did.  And the second thing we did was we actually went through and said “Right, for these three things that come up, these three types of problems that come up in the office day-to-day.  You are able to go hell-for-leather on your need for certainty. So, the data behind decisions, how are we measuring that, where’s the feedback loop… you’re allowed to dive as deep as you want into needing the certainty around the structure for feedback, the measurement, and data, you GO for it.

“But these other three or four things over here, I need you to really hold back.  And that’s the point where you need to start coping with the fact that you’re incredibly uncomfortable about not knowing the answer, but you’ve gotta let the team do their job and you’ve gotta pull back from that and you’ve gotta keep letting go, and let it run its course.”

And so we went through this for the following few months, and the change was noticeable.  And so, it’s one of those strategies that I’ve employed again with other clients and it was great to work through it with this person, she was ONTO it, and she really stuck to it.

Within the space of a couple of weeks you could see visibly that the stress was starting to sort of, just, drop back a little bit.  She wasn’t quite as agitated and hyper in the office and able to just drop into “ok, that’s outside of my control, but that’s in the category of things that I need to let go of… and these things, we’re going to make sure we’re really certain of.”

So if you’re struggling with uncertainty, by all means, I thought it was a great trick to employ, in terms of just balancing out where you’ve got the consistency and the certainty and the familiarity and then, knowing that you need to step into that space of not knowing as well.  Finding that balance within your day.

Give it a go, I would love to hear your thoughts.  Have a wonderful week!


But Is It Ethical?

You’re working away, day-in, day-out, striving for a better business, a better way of working.  You overcome hurdles, win supporters, you even have a list of people of influence who don’t support you – and you’re working to win them over too.

But is it ethical?

This week we touch on something that I don’t think gets talked about often enough.  Whether it’s the driving force behind a movement to shift your consumption habits, political leanings, or just frankly fronting up to the office every day – what right do we have to change people?  When is enough enough? How do you sleep at night?

Well that’s what this week’s video is all about…


Video transcript and relevant links

Today I want to share a question that came up this week with one of my clients.

This particular client and I are using a tool which I use with a lot of clients and it’s a tool for stakeholder engagement and planning and communications and how we’re gonna get people on board, how we’re going to help to shift them from where they are today to maybe learning something new or bringing on a different perspective.

And so this particular person had asked me, he’d said “…we’ve got this tool and I’ve been working with it for a while now, and I feel like I’ve got this particular individual completely dialled.  I know which buttons to press, I know the type of answer I’m going to get…” and he was really questioning the ethics around doing that, and being able to do that, and I could see he was really wrestling with it.

So I thought it’d be worth sharing here because, I’m really keen to hear your perspective as well.  If you’re in change if you’re in transformation then this comes up. You can’t help but butt-up against this idea of “how far is reasonable?” “Is it our job to change people?” “Is it our job to do something else?” So I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

But I have an opinion on this and so I thought I’d share, there’s a few things for me.  I think the first thing that’s worth talking about is, use your powers for good.  

So when you discover the Jedi Mind Trick and you’re able to help people through unravelling their belief patterns and working through maybe old thinking and old patterns that are no longer useful, and helping to see that different perspective, it really is about using your powers for good.  It’s part of why I always teach a lot of self reflection in the work that I do as well because that is a bit of a safety rail in terms of, if you’re doing that self-reflection work at the same time as you are transforming externally, then it’s about keeping in check, and keeping in balance.

I think the second thing I would say is that any tool can be used for benefit or detriment depending on the hands that are in charge.  

Most of you know by now that I have horses and have loved doing that for a number of years and one of my teachers has this beautiful quote where he talks about the fact that any tool that we use with this animal can be used for good or bad.  Those of you that work with horses will also know that it’s pretty hard to beat a half tonne of horseflesh into doing something they don’t wanna do.

And so there’s this sense that, the tool is the tool.  And what this particular teacher has shown me is that it can be used for betterment or for detriment.  And really, that’s up to you. That’s up to the hands that are guiding the tool, and how that tool is used.

To give you an example out of the office…  KPIs, we’re all familiar with them. Those measurements, those performance indicators they can be used for betterment and for driving conversations about heading in the right direction, are we hitting our goals, are we seeking out the understanding that’s going to take us to the next level?  And equally KPIs can be used to bash people over the head when things are going our way. So it really comes back to the hands that are using the tool.

And I think finally, it’s worth talking a little bit about consent or contracting as I would call it.  So I’m fortunate enough that in most of engagements that I have, either working one-on-one with a leader or working with a leader and their team, in both cases we’re able to have that conversation upfront about knowing that they are signing up for change.  Knowingly, willingly, signing up for a change in perspective, a change in the way that we work and the methods that we use. Willingly stepping into “…actually, I’ve got some barriers and I’ve got some things that are outside my blinkers and I can’t see them, and I’m seeking the help and the support to get through those, and to maybe shift my box, and to reframe.”  

And so there’s a very direct conversation about contracting one-on-one with that person as to where the role sits in terms of transformation and helping them get from where they are today to another place.  And that’s all very direct.

So I guess that’s the final point that I wanted to leave you with, the final thought around, you know, making sure you’re having the conversations with people as well.

This isn’t about surreptitious, underhanded, off to one side, ninja stuff.  This is about open conversation, it’s about being transparent with your audience, it’s about willingly signing up.

And yeah, I think if you’re doing all of that you’re probably along the right track.

But I would love to hear your thoughts.  Let me know what you think. Super interested if you’ve had sticky situations or things that you’ve learnt from.  Drop me a comment below!

And in case you’re curious… here’s the homework I set him: Escaping NXIVM


How To Beat The Travel Blues!

Three planes in three days – it’s turning into a week.  I can assure you I do not feel as glamorous as George Clooney or Vera Farmiga right now.

But despite the seven litres of water I’ve consumed over a “coffee” date with a girlfriend today… I’m in fairly good knick.  That’s thanks to 3 simple habits I’ve developed that mean I can walk off the plane with my head held high rather than feeling twice my age in achy bones and a raspy voice that’s only good for singing Betty Davis Eyes.

So this week we’re switching tack.  This week I’m sharing with you my secrets for staying pepp’d after plane rides.

And there’s a worksheet at the bottom of the page for you – below where I usually post the video transcript and relevant links.  You’ll want to take a look at that one for some exercises to keep you on your game on the long haul.

If you’re travelling this week, take care of yourself.  Heck, take care of yourself even if you’re not travelling.


Video transcript and relevant links

This week I’m switching tack a little bit.  I am 2 days into 3 days of everyday being on a plane and it’s driving me slightly mental.

It’s not something I do so much at the moment, but I have, in the past flown a lot for work and I’m sure many of you out there can empathize with getting on and off planes and living in and out of hotel rooms.

Today I thought what I would do is actually share some of my strategies for coping with all of that.  I find it just wrecks my body getting on and off planes and sitting down all the time.

So on a slightly different note, I thought today what I would do is share with you some of the stretches that I use, and the techniques that I use to keep my body feeling good when I’m going through all of this travel.

There’s a couple of things that I always do before I fly and the days following.  The first up is make sure I’m really hydrated so lots and lots and lots of water. You’ve heard it before, everyone will keep telling you this.  Keep drinking.

So making sure I’m really hydrated before I get on the plane.  I also really like to up my dose of fruit and veggies right before a flight and afterwards.  My favourite way to do this is like a really massive fruit smoothie where I can just chow-down on a whole bunch of fruit in one go.

Not only for the Vitamin C, but all of those micronutrients in your berries, in your sweet fruits… I find again, it’s another great way to get a lot of water and fibre into your body which is really helpful to try and counter some of the effects of flying.

And I actually like to start “pre-loading” – I’ll do that before I fly and I’ll do it the day that I fly and the day after as well, so I’m getting a double-dose of fruit.

Stretching’s the third thing.  So for me, I have an old lower back injury.  I get lower back pain if I don’t look after my body and flying just seems to be one of those things that really sets it off.

It’s being crammed in a small space, it’s not being able to move freely, it absolutely ruins me if I’m not careful.  So I have been known to actually stretch at the airport before getting on a flight. And I will take the quirky looks because I know that it’s going to mean that I feel so much better when I get off the plane at the other end.

But if you’ve already got on the plane and you’re off the other end, what I thought I’d do is down the bottom and where I usually post the transcript, I’ll post some links through and some pictures of the stretches that I use to help keep my body feeling really good.

For me it’s about keeping that lower back safe, so rather than compressing down into, and all of that downward force that happens when I’m sitting for a long period of time, I need to just stretch back out again and give myself some space after a long flight.

The other place that I feel it is in my hamstrings – they tighten up incredibly.  (They also do it when you’re sitting at the desk everyday). So hamstrings is another big area for me.

And hips.  The outside of my hips will often tighten up and that’s one that I actually don’t feel, so it can be hard to ascertain what’s going on.  But once my hips tighten up, it actually throws out everything else that’s going on in my core and sort of that hip, pelvic region, and that can mean that I end up just hanging off my lower back again and it’s a real pain point for me.

So, I’ve got a few stretches for each!

First up, lower back, I’m going to show you a seated stretch.  Super simple: Sitting cross-legged, reaching up and over and making sure that you’re giving yourself some space as you stretch out to either side.  That one’s really lovely. So we’ll just do a really simple seated stretch.

The other stretch that I’m going to give you is one that will also help for your hips (and sciatica!).  It’s called “butterfly pose” in yoga.  And it’s a stretch, again, seated on the floor, picture your feet sort of cross-legged and then laying back down onto a cushion or a bolster so that your back’s supported.  

And actually I like to hold this pose for as long as I can, so I’ll often do 10-20 minutes lying on my back, in butterfly pose.  It’s a great way to stretch out that back really really gently, give yourself some space, and it also allows you to open the hips.  You want to make sure that you’re really well supported under your knees when you do that stretch – but I’ll pop all of that in the notes.

The other stretch that I like to do for my hips is one called “gomukasana”.  Which will probably kill most of you, it kills me every time I do it. It’s another seated stretch where you actually sort of cross your legs over in front and then fold forward.  It gets right into the outer hip. That’s pretty full on. There’s another way you can do it, and I’m going to give you a couple of twists to do.

So.  Lying on your back and folding the knees over to one side, and then over the other.  Just really gentle. Whether it’s wind-shield-wipering your legs back and forth, so that you’ve got a little bit of movement, or actually allowing the knees to fall to one side and to hold that pose for a little bit longer.  That’s another good way to get into some of the same areas that that gomukasana stretch will do, but it’s not quite as intense.

So I’ve got a couple of twists where you can be laying down on your back, and just folding the knees side to side, we’ll pop those in there for you.

One word of caution, if you’re… so for me I actually really like twisting, that’s one of the things that’s one of the things that helps to loosen up my back.  But if you are sitting and twisting, as I know a lot of us in our chairs will often do “this”. You just need to be really careful because if you are not actively lifting as you twist, what happens is that you’re actually putting all of that weight into your spine and then crunching through – that can actually make your back pain worse, rather than better.  

So I always like to lay on my back if I’m doing a twist, because that way, I’m not putting that compression into my spine, I’ve got the ability to stretch and lengthen and can sort of wriggle your way through and get a bit more length in there as you need to.

The last two stretches that I’ve got for you are for your hammies.  So runners stretch, which you can do at any point in the day, I actually find this one gets into my lower back as well if I get it just right, so that’s great.

And the final stretch for your hammies that I’ve got is a little exercise that yogis will be familiar with called “legs up the wall”.  Again, this is one of those poses that you can hold for 10, 20, 30 minutes even. It’s pretty simple. It’s laying on your back, with your butt up against a wall and stick your feet up in the air, so that your heels are laying back on the wall as well.  So you’re at a 90 degree angle.  

And to be honest, as long as you can do in that pose is excellent for you.  It’s great for returning blood flow, and the circulation – for those of you that swell up on planes as I do periodically – and it’ll also help to get into just lengthening through those legs and through those hamstrings.  Again you’ve got the pressure off your back, you’ve got that space that you can move and wriggle and lengthen.

So!  I’m gonna drop some photos and some pictures and some imagery and some notes down below.  I might even do that in a little word document if it ends up becoming a tome. But, I hope you enjoy.  

I hope for those of you that are flying this week that you are taking care of yourselves when you do it.  Keep hydrated, keep the fruits up, make sure that you’re stretching at either end, just to get out all of those gnarly kinks after sitting down for so long.

Have a wonderful week!

Download your beat-the-travel-blues safety card here


The One Transformation Tool to Rule them ALL

There’s a Rosetta Stone for building a responsive organisation, and that’s a deep, intimate understanding of your customers – their hopes and fears, their challenges, and what lights them up inside.

All too often we rely on reports or surveys or some other abstracted method of trying to make sense of what’s really important.  The reality is, if you’re not at the coal-face, you’re missing a HUGE opportunity.

In this video, I’ll share with you an activity that will get you out there, listening and learning, and growing your knowledge of what your customers expect of you and your company.

It’s a stepping stone towards a purpose that’s bigger than ourselves and a real life, practical tool that I use everyday in client transformations.  This technique has proven over and over again ​​​​that there is no substitute for hearing it for ourselves rather than being locked away in an office.

And you’ve got some homework… so get cracking!

Video transcript and relevant links

Hey everyone!

Today what I thought I would do is give you a little activity.  We’ve had some pretty heavy stuff over the last couple of weeks and a lot of philosophising and I can tend to get too caught up in that!  

So I have an activity today that’s gonna be super super fun.  It’s the one tool, if I could give you one thing that was going to change your life this tool would be it!  

You will need a journal or a notebook, and a pen.  And what I’m going to do it send you out your frontline to start to understand customer demand.  So have any of you seen Undercover Boss?  Great TV show kinda like that.  We’re gonna send you out to the place where your customers interact with your team.

Call centres are a great spot to do this, frontline desk service where you’ve got customers walking up to say reception desk – anywhere that you can get to the real interaction between customers and your company, that first touchpoint.

Once you get out there to the frontline, what we’re gonna do is you’re going to listen in on what customers are asking for.  So it’s a really really simple technique but I think what you’ll find is the power that comes from this deeper understanding of getting out there at the coalface is huge.  

So what I want you to do, is whilst you’re  and shoot so whatever you to do is whilst you’re… set yourself up,  get yourself into a place where you can sit and observe, and then whilst you’re settled you want to listen for what customers are asking for when they come into contact with your team member.

Let’s say you’re in a call centre, you’ve got a headset on you’re listening to the calls as they come through.  I want you to write down VERBATIM, in the customers words what they asked for, first up. So that initial interaction the call through to the call centre, the first thing that comes out of their mouth… write that down!

And it needs to be verbatim.  You only get one chance at a clean data set.  So I don’t want to see what you think you heard or your interpretation of what they asked for.  Write down verbatim, in the customers’ words what they asked for.  

And then follow up the rest of the call, keep an ear out for the things that really matter to your customers – so what’s actually important to them about what they want, when they might want it, and how they want it delivered.  Keep that sort of running tally. And I want you to sit and try and do at least 50 demands.

This might take you a few days and that’s ok.  But! Once you start to build a data set and you start to listen to a whole bunch of these demands, you’ll start to notice the patterns that emerge.

And once you start to see the patterns you’re gonna get some really deep insight into what’s important for your customers, what they expect of you and your company and how you can better serve them.

Super simple tool, incredibly powerful.  

Off the back end of this tool we build massive organisational transformation and process change, and it’s incredible once you start to get that focus on what’s really important.

The other bonus, is that you now have customer words that you can start to bring into all of your presentations with your colleagues and other executives that maybe haven’t got that close to the work, and the power of being able to use customer language and the words of your customer is incredible.

So.  Go out and have fun with it.  Love to hear comments below and the insights that you get as a result of getting close to your customers!

Want to know more?  Here’s some great places to get started:

Check out more about systems thinking and the Vanguard Method here: – this team taught me everything I know

And John Seddon’s Book “Freedom From Command and Control” is an excellent read