To Be is To Do

“To be seen you must make yourself visible; To be valuable you must do something of value…”

I think this is a quote from somewhere? I’ve been reading and re-reading it for ages without knowing where I first found it; and Google doesn’t seem to know either.

To be seen you must make yourself visible;

To be valuable you must do something of value;

To be important you must do something important;

To be remembered you must do something memorable;

To be wanted you must create something people want;

To leave a legacy for those you love, you must create one.

I like it!

There’s also this old graffiti joke:

“To be is to do”—Socrates.
“To do is to be”—Jean-Paul Sartre.
“Do be do be do”—Frank Sinatra.

Get together with others to help leave your legacy


What do you want to leave behind?
And who do you need to get together with to make it happen?

Years ago I took a personality profiling test that told me I was: “the kind of person who can’t walk past a patch of waste ground without wanting to build something useful there, like a hospital”.

The test was called the Enneagram. I came out as a Type 8 and you can find out more about the system here: Enneagram Institute

The results of the test felt true, but I actually found it a bit overwhelming. How was I supposed to leave a big legacy like that!?

Which is why I feel so lucky that I got to be a member of my local NHS hospital board. It was the first time I’d been part of a big team again for quite a while, and I was really ready for that (despite it being an uncomfortable constraint at the same time). We had to face down some silly opposition to change and stand up to some bullying by the NHS authority, to get this hospital build going in my home town!
Gives me a smile whenever I go past.

Here’s the “before” picture:


What do you want to leave behind?
And who do you need to get together with to make it happen?

Planning for uncertainties

Is There a Gap In Your Plan?

How scenarios can help your business deal with uncertainty

I’m working with a few business owners at the moment to help them grow their businesses.

In the planning stage, there’s often a “gap” in the middle.

They tell me that the medium-term is hard to plan for, because that’s where the unknowns are. A good long-term vision is flowing, attractive and compelling. And all business owners can tell you about their most immediate priorities. But the medium-term is full of “What happens if…?”

I usually recommend a straight-forward form of “scenario planning” for the medium-term. Invented by Shell as a way of dealing with the volatility of the oil-price in the 70′s, scenario planning gives you some alternative baselines, so you can plan for those “what happens if…” questions. For example:

  • What happens if the oil price goes through the roof  – do you bring on new fields or prioritise existing ones?
  • What happens if the oil price takes a dive – do you look for new markets or restrict supply?
  • What happens if the oil price stays the same?

Find your own business’ equivalent of the oil price and sketch out a few likely scenarios. Then ask the “what happens if…” questions and add the choices you might need to take to your plan.

Then you know what needs to be done right away, you’ve got a compelling vision of where you want to get to and, whichever way things go in the medium-term, you’ve got some plans in place to deal with it.

Fail to plan; plan to fail

Be a Team Player

When he was 11, my son played football for his local team.

They were still at that stage where it feels better to make a lone (and often forlorn) dash in the hope of scoring a glory-goal, than to pass the ball and let someone else grab the shot.
Knowing that playing as a team is what wins games seems to be something that comes with emotional maturity.

Generally, men are really good team players and I suspect that being part of a great team is something that we want in a deep, heartfelt way.

Sometimes though, men have a tendency to forget the rest of the team and go chasing-off on their own. They forget to ask for help. They forget that they’re not in it alone. Their intentions are often sound – these actions mostly seem to come from a sense of responsibility, not irresponsibility. Perhaps what gets in the way is that boyhood dream of being the daring centre-forward who single-handedly saves the match?

Having Purpose

Most people seem to want an answer to the “why am I here” question – what’s my purpose in life?

It makes sense that we would want there to be some meaning to what we’re doing with our limited time and effort. It helps when the going is tough to know that there is a purpose. And it gives direction so we can choose the right path when we have options available.

For some people, their purpose seems to have always been there, and they slip into it naturally. For most of us, I think that purpose is actually a choice.

There’s no magic answer to why you’re here, you actually have to decide for yourself.

You may even find there are several options to choose from – don’t get hung-up on picking the right one. If you want purpose, then purposefully choose to have it.

“A hero is someone who has given his life to something bigger than himself”
Joseph Campbell.