How do Sustainability & Meaning at Work Connect? 15th September, London


Join me and Dr Marjolein Lips Wiersma (right in the picture) Professor of Ethics and Sustainability Leadership at AUT in New Zealand and co-author of The Map of Meaning in a conversation exploring Sustainability & Meaning at Work. 10am-12noon on Friday 15th September in Central London.

As UK Lead for Map of meaning International, I am delighted to be co-hosting this rare opportunity of Marjolein being in the UK to explore the topic of how we can better engage people in sustainability. Marjolein has experience in introducing sustainability into management courses and working with people as they engage with the issues for themselves and in their organisations. This has given her a deep understanding of the reality of engagement and change.  As developer of the Map of Meaning, a simple framework which captures intrinsic motivation, she brings new knowledge into the discussion: how understanding the experience of meaningful work can support engagement and practical action. Find out more about the Map of Meaning
I have been using this foundational framework for the last 8 years in my coaching practice  and in global leadership development programs and organisational interventions with It has proven to be a universal tool that connects people to the essence of what motivates them in life as well as to how they can meaningfully be of service to people and planet. As a result I have found that working with the map enables us to connect individuals or groups to sustainability issues whilst starting from their agenda, their motivations- essentially from what matters to them.
The conversation will be hosted at the wonderfully appropriate Skip Garden, 10 minutes walk from St Pancras Station in London, generously made available by  ane Riddeford Founding Director of the charity To help towards the charity covering the cost of the room rental we are asking for a £10 contribution to the venue cost to be put in a jar on the day please. For those of us who want to continue the conversation afterwards we can have lunch in the Skip Garden Kitchen Cafe.  Directions are attached.
So that we can keep track of how many people are attending please let me know if you would like to attend

What does Tango reveal to us about what really matters?

IMG_1834Yup that’s me in the picture… and it’s fair to say that I am an Argentine Tango addict! I started dancing 10 years ago and got the bug. It has taught me that being able to do what matters in life is just as much about who we are BEING as what we are DOING. Tango is a space where I connect deeply with others without words and without thinking. This is directly in contrast to the rest of the time when I’m mostly connecting with other people through words, through thinking, and increasingly, thanks to virtual technology, through a screen!

So what’s so great about connecting without words and without thinking? Well, it somehow invites a different side of me to show up. In tango, I have to let go of wanting to control things. I have to put my ego aside so that I can truly connect to whoever my partner is and be present to follow his (or her!) lead. In that moment I feel myself melting into connection. All that matters is our connection, the music and movement we are improvising together. See this for yourself in this video of Pepe Rusconi, legend of the Tango Vals. He dances the whole first half of this dance without using his arms at all to lead his partner. Pure connection.

It’s the same dance between coach and coachee. When I work with my clients, to get to what matters most, we often need to get out of our heads and listen to what we know in our gut and what we feel in our body. Thankfully there are lots of easy and creative ways to access these different ways of knowing without having to put on a pair of tango shoes and dance cheek-to-cheek with complete strangers! Our bodies are not just a transport system for our heads. If we can tune into our bodies we can discover amazing things about ourselves. The ‘tango me’ is more powerful, feminine, grounded, seductive, fluid, and adaptable. I’m working on how I can bring more of this into other parts of my life and work, including my coaching practice. One thing is for sure…the tango ‘me’ has got more of a chance when my ego and head are not in it’s way.

Who’s the ‘you’ that’s hiding behind your ego?

Fancy a Meaningful Workplace?

Fancy a more meaningful workplace? How about starting starting with your own? In my previous blog post  I outlined why the Map of Meaning is such a powerful self-awareness tool. Here I’ll outline some of the ways we can work with the Map of Meaning in an organisational context, to create more meaningful workplaces. The first thing to say is that the possibilities are endless, no matter where you are starting from there is something you can do to make a difference.Map_of_Meaning_6 In their book The Map of Meaning- a guide to sustaining our humanity in the world of work, Marjolein Lips-Wiersma and Lani Morris have collated many examples of how they and others have worked with the Map of Meaning in an organizational context. As the Map of Meaning is a foundational tool, I have found that it lends itself easily to many different client situations, and can work easily in harmony with other tools the organisation may already have in place.  If you want to find out more then join Lani and I on 5th & 6th June a masterclass on Creating Meaningful Work and Workplaces. Here are just a few examples.

Continue reading

Imagine a Map to navigate…Meaning

Imagine you could have a map which like all other maps, helps you chart your course in a place of meaning. Well there is, and I’ve been working with the Map of Meaning for the last 6 years as one of the foundational tools of the Do What Matters approach, with transformative results. I’ve used it one-to-one with coaching clients who are looking to make a change in their life and work, as well as with organisations.Map of Meaning-Model Copyright

There’s many reasons I love working with this tool, here’s just a few:

Meaning is not a destination but a ‘state’

Just like any other map, you first need to set yourself the intention of going to a place, like say France or Spain and when you get there, you use the map to find your way around the place. The Map of Meaning works in a similar way, first you set the intention to get to a more meaningful state of living or working, then you use the map to navigate your way around it. So interestingly, and this is obvious once it’s revealed to us, meaning is not a finite thing that is out there to be discovered. Meaning is a state or an experience. Continue reading

A Meaningful Journey

When I was in my early twenties and just beginning my working life, I was already preoccupied with the idea that if I was going to spend so much time at work, it had better be something meaningful. I had joined a large multi-national corporation, with the intention of leaving as soon as I had paid off my student debts to go and do something more meaningful. I thought that a more meaningful career would be in international development, working on global issues and challenges. Meaning Whiter Background Crop FinalWhilst I was learning a lot of really useful stuff, selling margarine to the masses wasn’t quite doing it for me in terms of meaning. Then I saw an advert in the Economist for a Masters in Responsibility and Business Practice, signed up and found myself amongst an amazing bunch of co-learners including Lani Morris, who was also searching for how we can bring more meaning into the workplace. We formed a long lasting friendship despite being on other sides of the planet (Lani is based in New Zealand).

Since then, the last 15 years have been an exploration of how to build more meaning into my life and work. Continue reading

What matters at Christmas?

Faced with an endless list of things to do and buy before Christmas, there’s a real risk of becoming cynical about Christmas.  The antidote is to shop and give mindfully rather than to shop on auto-pilot. This year I’ve chosen gifts at farmers markets, artists open-houses,  Gumtree and car-boot sales. I agreed to not exchange gifts with some people and also bought some toys I’d rather not have bought (I blame Father Christmas!). There’s no right and wrong in this, what matters at Christmas is being mindful in our choices and striking the right balance between our values, our budget, and thinking about what people need and would make them feel special and loved by you. Then we can focus on what matters most at Christmas which is being together, feeling gratitude for the gift of life, and enjoying the magic.

A conference about ‘Meaning’

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 01.39.06I’m off to Meaning Conference in Brighton tomorrow. Curious to meet with people who are creating meaningful workplaces, breaking boundaries of traditional organisational design, ways of thinking about work and leadership. Particularly looking forward to ‘Our Money Stories’ with Charles Davies, exploring our relationship with money. Often when setting our goals and visions in life we start with how much we ideally want to earn and work towards that. Having done that myself earlier in my working life, I am increasingly of the opinion that the better question to ask is ‘how much is enough’? This isn’t about settling for less, it’s about getting clear on how much you really need to be happy. Would we rather be working to pay for our lifestyles, or would we prefer to be living through our work- doing our life’s work? It’s not about having to give up all our hard earned rewards, nor is it about living on the breadline. At Do What Matters, I believe it’s about finding out what meaningful work is for you and knowing what’s going to be ‘enough’ to support you in doing that work. Whilst knowing what’s enough is one thing, acting on that knowledge is another, when our own patterns of behaviour as well as our environment are constantly driving to pursue ‘more’. So I am also keen to see Michelle and Joel Levey, who are pioneers of mindfulness in the workplace. They trained with the world’s leading mindfulness teachers, including the Dalai Lama and have played a pivotal role in bringing eastern spiritual practices into western organisations such as Google.  Having met and trained with Joel and Michelle, I have found their mindfulness practices easy to build into your life – to avoid being distracted, stay on purpose and make more meaningful choices day to day.