Ego IS a dirty word

We all know people with big egos. We all recognise them – they are the people who love to tell us what they have done, what their title is, who they know and how many qualifications/certifications they possess.  They have a way of making you feel smaller than you are and if they have a really big ego, and they feel threatened by you, they will do all they can to undermine you.

Here’s what I have come to believe about ego –

1. Ego masks fear

2. Ego takes a lot of effort to maintain

3. Ego is a dirty word

So, how do you interact with someone who is driven by ego?  Firstly, you need to believe in yourself and know who you are, then you need to understand that the ego is hiding a lack of self-esteem and finally you need to, very carefully, let them know that you are not buying into their egocentric ways.

I think that the key to understanding any relationship where things feel uncomfortable is to first ask yourself “How much of this do I own?”  If the answer is “very little” then you can safely say that the behaviour belongs to the other person and does not impact on who you are but rather, says a lot about them.

Ego – its ugly.


To demonise or romanticise?

Have you been watching some of the comments that are being made on gay marriage recently?  Many of them come from America, from the far right Republicans who call themselves christians.  The general theme is that if we sanction gay marriage the whole world will go to hell (except for the people who never supported it in the first place – like all good christians, they will be saved)

I’ve been thinking about this over the past few weeks, this need to demonise the “other”, to make it into something evil and perilous and to strike fear into the hearts of the average, white, right-wing fascists in the community.  As there are usually two sides to every story, let’s take a look at the other side – the bleeding hearts who are so keen to not be seen as homophobic that they place gay people on a pedestal, where they worship them as if they are some magical beings

I think we see this kind of thing with most issues that divide people, particularly with issues around culture in our own society, where you have people who are extremely racist and then others who seem to view some cultures as romantic, perfect, pristine examples of the past.  It’s an example of over compensation for the way we feel about these things.

So, what is the middle ground?  Maybe it’s something like acceptance.  The ability to see everyone as a human being, with fears, wants, beliefs and vulnerabilities.  Maybe it’s about being comfortable in our own skin first so that we can accept others on their terms.  It’s a bit like respecting everyone’s right to hold an opinion, whilst not necessarily respecting their actual opinion itself..

There is,of course, a third part to this story – the part where the demonisers and the romanticists get out-of-the-way and let the people themselves tell their story.  My wonderful friend Eliot sent me a link to the story below – it is told so beautifully, from the heart and it cuts to the sobering truth of the matter.

The next time you think about weighing in on a conversation around a sensitive issue, think about the words you read below and consider what value your voice is going to add.

Click here for the story

Be nice to the creative genius

I recently watched The Social Network and it got me thinking…

You see, we talk a lot about being creative and innovative  and we always focus on the positive side of this behaviour – and there are a lot of positive aspects of creativity and innovation!  We rarely take the time to understand the other side of these qualities, the dark side of the creative genius.  The need to control, the absolute passion that can lead to zealotry and the belief that you know best, every time, all the time.

Think about people like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg  and indeed any other creative genius, past or present  They have contributed to the world in ways that most of us can only dream about and the reason we can only dream about it is because we will never contribute in that way.  The creative genius is special and they are not subject to the same set of behavioural rules that we are.  They’ve earned the right to not play nice.

The irony is that if we expect the creative genius to have well developed social skills and to be nice and kind to people then we must also understand that we are asking them to be something that they are not.

Think about this –  when you go to buy your Apple product, or log onto Facebook or take a flight with Virgin, do you think about the personality of the person who invented these things?  No, you don’t really care about that, you want to experience the product because the product speaks for itself.

Let’s spend our time enjoying the contributions these people have made to our world, instead of suggesting that their interpersonal flaws are in some weird, karmic way responsible for their downfall.

For more information on the dark side of creativity, click here.

Get your courage on

I learnt about courage from two of my favourite  screen characters,  Atticus Finch and Rocky Balboa.  The behaviours that both these characters displayed had a huge impact on me and I have often thought about what they would do when I have been in situations where I have needed to stand my ground.

You can imagine how I felt when, recently someone I truly respect thanked me for my courage.  It was the highest compliment I could ever receive.

I’ve been reflecting on courage and what it means.  I know that to Atticus Finch, courage is all about the ability to  keep going even when you know you can’t win.  Rocky’s idea of courage is that it doesn’t matter how many times you get hit, it’s how many times you get back up that counts.  To me, courage is about standing up for what is right, even if it means putting yourself in the firing line.

If I can make a difference by being courageous, by standing up for what is right, by challenging those things that just don’t make sense and by encouraging others to do the same, then together we might just change the world!

The biggest challenge to L&D is…


Picture this – a room full of learning practitioners,  sitting in a circle ready to  begin.  One comment from the room “How am I supposed to write anything with no desk”?

The conversation unfolds…the facilitator begins by telling us he is not the expert on the topic  and he will be interested to hear what we have to say.  After a few key questions and some stilted discussion someone from the room says “I’m here for you to tell me about the topic so I can write some ideas down, that’s why I’m here”  Several nods of agreement come from the room.  The facilitator again reminds us that he is not the expert.  Someone leaves the room.

The conversation continues…a group of participants share amused glances and smirks as the facilitator speaks.  They appear to be unhappy with the way things are going.  Someone poses a really interesting comment from left field, the room is quiet…there is no desire to explore new paradigms here.

If we, as learning practitioners, are to survive in this era where innovation is the new currency, where collaborative learning is the new approach and  where the learning experience is more valuable than the content;  we need to,  in the words of Gandhi, “be the change we want to see”

Anything else will see us become obsolete.


My recruitment angel

I finally found her after almost 6 months of searching.  I didn’t do it alone though, I had help as recruitment angels are very, very hard to locate on your own.  I was fortunate to get her details from a close friend who knows her and recognises how special she is.

I knew immediately after I made the first email contact with her that she was the real deal.  She responded quickly and suggested that although the company had no relevant roles at the time, she would keep me in mind if anything came up.  Aha, I thought, I have heard this many times before and I know I will never hear from you again.

WRONG!!  My recruitment angel did get back in touch with me and gave me details of a role that she thought might be suitable.  Here’s where she spread her angel wings and showed me how fabulous she is.

I got the interview, exact details of where to go and where to park (with options!).  I got post interview feedback the next day (unheard of!) and I got further opportunity to discuss the role, clarify my application and, within a week, I had the role.

So what made her my recruitment angel?

1.  A genuine and caring approach – a real person

2. Regular communication via email and phone

3. Promises were kept – honest and open

4. I was made to feel special, my skills and experience were valued

5. I was treated like a human being

I’m looking forward to meeting my recruitment angel face to face next week so I can give her a huge hug and say a very heartfelt “thank you”.



My latest post can be found on the Women of  HR blog.  It’s all about being interested beyond your own needs and wants.

Click here to read…

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