We live in two worlds – the predictable world and the unpredictable world

cut apple


Cut open an apple.

First question:

How many seeds are there in your apple?

This is a simple linear challenge – anything from 5 to 8 seeds. A child can do it easily.

Second question:

How many apples are there in each seed?

That’s a different, non-linear challenge. The number of apples in each seed depends on a whole lot of unpredictable variables; time, money, water, space, soil fertility, diseases, pests, and …. and ….

We are becoming more and more aware every day that we are living simultaneously in two quite different worlds.

The one is the world we know.

The predictable world; the stable, the repetitive, the safe world.

The other world is almost totally unpredictable, uncertain, full of infinite variables, and potentially very scary.

We always have lived in both worlds of course, but we couldn’t see the second, and it certainly didn’t challenge us until the absolute explosion of technology in the last 20 years.

The Internet, Facebook, Apple, GPS, Google, Amazon, IPads, Smart Phones and literally thousands of free Apps have invited us – or forced us – to admit to this exciting but infinitely uncertain environment in which we can fly; or swim; or sink.

This new world requires a totally new way of thinking, of doing and of behaving.

The key to this challenge is the ability to THINK and to THINK TOGETHER.

High energy individuals in high energy teams do both really well; provided they have developed really high levels of TRUST.

Different behaviours are essential but are not easily learned!

Contact us.

Our focus at Learning to Lead is on ensuring that individuals and/or teams Think, and Think Together in High Energy and High Trust relationships.



Before you judge others

I collect pieces of writing that fascinate me.  Sometimes I don’t even know or remember how they reached me.  Even more frustrating is not knowing the source.

Here is one such mystery, but if it “gets” you as it has inspired me, then I’m happy.

Before you judge others or claim an absolute truth, consider that…

…you can see less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear less than 1% of the acoustic spectrum. As you read this you are travelling at 220 kilometres per second across the galaxy. 90% of the cells in your body carry their own microbial DNA and are not “you”. The atoms in your body are 99.9999999999999999% empty space and none of them are the ones you were born with, but they all originated in the belly of a star. Human being have 46 chromosomes, two less than the common potato. The existence of the rainbow depends on the conical photoreceptors in your eyes; to animals without cones, the rainbow does not exist. So you don’t just look at a rainbow, you create it. This is pretty amazing, especially considering that all the beautiful colours you see represent         

We live in an exciting world of infinite possibilities; and infinite risks too.

At Learning to Lead we share all we know about how to stay fully alive amid all the complexities.

Challenging the “culture cult”

I was fascinated to read a recent Harvard Business School Review …“We’re thinking about Organisational Culture all wrong” – Written by John Traphagan.

The first two paragraphs gripped me.

“A common thread in the study of organizational culture is the idea of culture as a unifying force that brings people together to work productively toward the attainment of organizational goals. In this approach, organizational culture is understood as a variable to be used in projects of social engineering aimed at creating unity and cohesion.

But that’s not really what culture is about, nor is it a useful way to think about organizations. Why?

Because culture isn’t just about unity; it’s also about division. Rather than a deterministic “thing” that shapes behavior and unifies people, culture is something people use, often strategically, to achieve goals. It can also provide a basis upon which people contest and counter certain ideas and values while accepting other values associated with a particular cultural context.”

I believe the author is right on the button. The real issue is how we behave towards one
another…and to our precious planet. There’s hardly a corporate of any size that doesn’t have a framed statement of either “Our Culture” or “Our Values”, or both…on the letterhead, the website, or framed and hung on the wall at reception.

Yet the behaviours both inside and outside don’t unify the players.

When push comes to shove, we play POWER against and upon one another.
We play like leopards….trained to play independently, for themselves. Not like lions who play in and for the pride.

The challenge we enjoy sharing is helping people learn that they have a choice. They can behave in a way that is divisive and costly, or in a way that creates unity and cohesion and high levels of sustainable energy, that enable them to THINK and THINK TOGETHER much better….the critical capacity for survival in our complex, fast changing and unpredictable world.

The Jar of Life

Get inspired with this short film of a professor explaining to his class the importance of using one’s time wisely and setting priorities in order to have a fulfilling life.

Director/ Producer:
Meir Kalmanson


Would you like to see the “BIG FIVE” so close up that you can almost touch them?

Well, we can go to the nearest Zoo to see them.  The signposts show the way to the Lions, the Elephants, the Buffalo, the Rhinos and the Leopards.  And they are all safely behind bars so it should be an easy non-threatening visit.  And we can even have tea and cake at the tea-garden afterwards.

Or would you like to see the “BIG FIVE” in the deep Bush?  Now that’s a very different proposition, with more variables than you can count on your two hands.

What if the vehicle breaks down?  We have some choices:

We can walk to the nearest road and hope for a lift.

We can sit in the vehicle and complain and blame until someone notices our absence and sends help.

We can try for a cell phone signal and make a call for help.

While we ponder our choices we might see a lion kill …. and we might be the kill!

We might reflect upon a termite mound and remember that we were taught how extremely complex they are in their architecture, and that inside the mound is an extensive system of tunnels and conduits that serves as a ventilation system for the underground nest.

Or we might come upon the web of a Golden Orb spider and be told that its silk is stronger than man-made steel.

So your strategy for the visit to the Zoo is completely different to your strategy for the visit to the Bush.  The Zoo is easy, fairly predictable and fairly safe.  The Bush is risky, unpredictable and potentially dangerous.

In the uncertain times we now live in you don’t have a choice but to have a robust strategy to cope with the risk, the unpredictability and the potential danger.

Ziziphus Story

Ziziphus_mucronata02Sitting in the shade waiting for the animals to come, the old man talks about the nearby mpafa tree – Zizyphus mucronata to the scientist. “We have two names for this tree,” Magqubu says, “Mpafa and lahlenkoos, which means to lay down the chief or the king. This place is the meeting place between people and animals. Look at the thorns, one points forward and the other is curved back. This is like life itself. We are forever going forward for that is our destiny, but we are hooked to our past and can never shake it off.”

The old Zulu points to the lower branches. “The grey duiker and the steenbuck feed on the leaves and the new stalks. A little higher up, the impala and nyala eat the leaves and stalks. And those that are broken – that are the kudu bull with his big curved horns that have smashed them by putting his head into the tree and twisting his horns. This in turn makes it possible for the smaller antelope to feed again, especially in the dry season when the lower brances have been stripped clean of leaves. The black rhino also loves the leaves, stalks and branches of the mpafa. Sometimes he pushes half the tree down to feed on chosen leaves. This makes it easy for the duiker and steenbuck to feed again. The giraffe eats leaves, stalks and thorns from the crown of the tree.”

“So from the bottom to the top it is used by animals. But that is not all, for porcupine feed on the bark and butterflies and ants like the sap. Baboons and monkeys eat the berries and francolins, guineafowl, warthog, bush pig, wildebeest, zebra, white rhino and all the wildcats eat the ones that drop on the ground. That is the animals and the tree,” says Magqubu.

“Now there is the story of man and the trees”:

“We Zulus like to have the spirits of our relatives at the kraal. When my father died in Durban, I took a branch of the mpafa and travelled to the city to bring his spirit back. I found the hospital and the bed he died in. I laid the mpafa twig on the bed and I said, ‘Father, I have come to take you home.’  Then I caught a taxi to the station. I paid for two fares and bought two train tickets to Mtubatuba, one for my father and the other for myself. At the kraal I put the twig in the eaves of the hut and then said to my father’s spirit, ‘Father, you have now come home and you are part of the community of spirits.’ I then killed a beast and my family and neighbours feasted.”

“After the great battle of Isandhlwana when twenty thousand warriors swept down from the heights of the Nqutu Hills and wiped out eight hundred men of the British army, four thousand Zulu died. Family after family had to travel to that battlefield to bring back the spirits of their relatives. Everyone carried a mpafa twig and when they arrived at that lone koppie on the plain they held the twigs above their heads and called out to their relatives, because by now all the bones had been mixed together, ‘Ntombela, Mdalalose, Mabuza – woza amadhlozi – come spirits, come to the mpafa because we have come to take you home’.”



Mad Consumption of Coca-Cola

I very seldom drink a Coke, but I will drink even less after an article I read in Time magazine.

One paragraph did it for me.

“Coca-Cola sells 1.5 billion beverages a day in over 200 countries, and it takes about 2.5 litres of water to produce just one litre of its products at Coke’s bottling plants. In 2006 Coca-Cola and its bottlers used 80 billion gallons (290 billion litres) of water to produce its beverages – equivalent to one-fifth of the daily water usage of the U.S.”

Are we mad, or have we just lost our balance?

Years ago on a tourist bus in Bali our tour guide, temporarily out of information about shopping, temples and history, gave us this piece of wisdom which I am determined never to forget.

“Whatever you do ladies and gentlemen, whatever you do, don’t lose your EQUILIBARIUM. When you lose your EQUILIBARIUM, your ‘whills webble’.

As a Planet we need to regain that EQUILIBARIUM!

Selfishness – is it always selfish?

In our Programs we encourage, even insist, that everyone think of some small act or gesture to spoil oneself.  It is a small frequent and regular indulgence to change our own personal energy and to charge our personal energy batteries. A selfish act perhaps – but is it selfish and does it deserve the negative aura that it has acquired?

Is it selfish to charge my batteries fully, so that I can jump start yours perhaps when your need may be even greater than mine?

Mandy Young, who facilitates extraordinary ecotherapy experiences, uses a much better word.  She calls it SELF CARE. She says Meerkats help us to understand this. When Meerkats are foraging for food there is always one standing guard watching for predators. Apparently this “guard” Meerkat is the one who has fed the best – not the least!

When we have taken care of our real needs first, then we are best equipped to contribute caringly to the lives of others.

If we don’t take “self care” seriously then we place an unfair energy liability upon others in our networks.

A Sense of Belonging

We observe that people with high sustainable levels of energy have balance in their lives and the Real and the Ego live quite peacefully side by side. They have many authentic relationships in which energy is spiralled up – and they belong to groups of other people doing worthy things.

These seem consistent explanations for living fully.

I analysed a recent Fortune Magazine article on the “100 Best Companies to work for”. The survey primarily relied on employees to tell us who belongs.

  • Genentech was No.1. “Work that really matters” is what made it the best company to work for.
  • Work at Wegmans Food Markets, with 32,000 employees, was described as “a family affair”.
  • CDW has “a spirit of charity”.
  • “Helping to save the world” is what creates energy amongst employees at Timberland.
  • Environmentalists are at home at biotech firm Genzyme.
  • Half the employees at Quad Graphics, with a total staff of 10,000, are related by blood or marriage!
  • Methodist Hospital System, a non-profit hospital chain, has an I CARE mission.
  • 89% of employees at Mayo Clinic say they are proud to work at the clinic.

There is a consistent thread running through employee attitudes. We truly believe that salaries, perks and bonuses have their place but they don’t account for sustained high energy in individuals or teams. It’s deeper and much more fundamental than money or career prospects.

It’s a sense of belonging!

Does your company engender a sense of belonging?