Thinking Alone



How well do you think when you are alone?  I know I don’t do my best – or even great – thinking on my own.  So I was delighted that recently at the UK Time to Think Collegiate meeting in London we gave time to thinking about how we think in solitude.  What makes it so different  to thinking with someone else?

The presence and effect of Attention from someone else seems obvious.  But what else? I realised with a shock that even though I’m  mindful of all the principles of the Thinking Environment® way of being, and use them as the ‘unwavering context’ for all of my work, I had never thought consciously to apply these to my own thinking when alone.  Of course I use the assumptions framework to work out ideas and decisions – but that’s not the same as thinking with Appreciation about myself and my ideas/ achievements as I start, or finish.  Or noticing how much I may block my own thinking by comparing my ideas to others, which is a kind of competition, directly related to Encouragement.  What an ‘aha’ moment!  How about Ease – internal rush? Information – what’s missing, what might I be ignoring/ denying at this moment? It’s such a good checklist to begin from, and I’m feeling excited about the possibilities.

How would it be if next time you think through something serious, you sat down with the 10 Components, and used them (or at least some of them) to prime your mindset,  inform and guide your own thinking?  Join me in this exciting thought experiment and please let me know how you get on, I would love to know.

“Setting the tone”



During a recent Foundation course we had a valuable conversation about tone of voice.  It’s not something that gets much consideration beyond an occasional mention.  Maybe it should.  It’s a significant aspect of our behaviour, one that has profound impact on how others experience and respond to what we say. The exchange got me wondering about how very differently we hear the same phrase according to tone.  Even the everyday ‘thank you’ can go through a whole gamut of meanings, from warm, evident gratitude, through a lightly said, almost-neutral ‘thank you ‘ which serves as a ‘fine, next’ to the  listener, to an inflected, semi-sarcastic ‘thank you’ which makes the recipient wonder if they’ve been thanked, corrected or sent up – it’s all in how it sounds.  I like the honest self appraisal here and it makes me keen to experiment further with developing the most neutral (yet warm) tone for all kinds of interactions, while staying true to self.

I think Julian Widdows hits exactly the right tone in this talk to a recent gaming developers Conference (that’s video gaming) in London.  I’m delighted to say that at about 5.30mins in Julian starts talking about the value and impact of the Thinking Environment on his company’s culture, for which, as General Manager, he is responsible. Do have a look, and please do tell me what other great TE experiences you know about at work, I’m building a collection here.  What have you noticed recently, while working in a Thinking Environment, that inspired you?

Resolving Uncertainty

uncertaintyThis is the most interesting idea of 2018 for me so far.  “Resolving uncertainty is a unifying principle across biology and is the inherent task of evolution, development and learning”.  There is something for me both inspiring and comforting in ‘unifying principle’ and ‘inherent task’, and knowing this affirms my sense that when we give time to creating the ideal conditions for understanding and trust we are optimising our own biology so we can make real progress with the  inherent task.  I’ve just discovered neuroscientist Beau Lotto (fab name!) and this is in his book ‘Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently’; for a glimpse try this clip from him on doubt and conflict:

The case study provided to us by Inspector Stan Gilmour of Thames Valley Police makes a compelling argument for Beau Lotto’s suggestion – as well as for the Thinking Environment way of encouraging learning and evolution.  Over 12 months his command of 80 senior staff at Reading has been integrating all the TE principles and practises in their meetings and staff development in order to answer to their brief of ‘Policing by Consent’.  Two key objectives were increasing autonomy and decision making from top down, and increasing engagement with the public.  Both were met with measurable success and to great effect: this video demonstrates that clearly:

Speaking of books – thank you for yours, and I’m still collecting titles!  I will be reading or listening to ‘The Power of Story by Jim Loehr, ‘Silence in the Age of Noise’ by Erlinge Kagge and ‘A manual for Heartache’ by Cathy Rentzenbrink later this year, and if you haven’t told me I still want to know what one title would you recommend from your 2017 reading?

New Year Reflections



Is New Year your time for big plans and new initiatives – or is it an ideal moment for reflection?  I love this picture, taken in Devon in November, as it seems to offer a visual metaphor for perfect stillness, hinting at both clarity and hidden depths.  The question I like to ask myself and other people at this time of year is ‘Looking back over last year, what is one important thing you discovered about yourself, and how might that impact on you in 2018?’  I wonder if you have a reflective moment now to answer that question?

An important discovery for me in 2017 was about joy, as mentioned last time.  So reading ‘The Book of Joy’, a series of discussions between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been perfect timing, as it is a profound exploration offering valuable and practical insights, not only into joy, but into improving every aspect of how we think about life.  Like this: “…the three factors that seem to have the greatest influence on increasing our happiness are our ability to reframe our situation more positively, our ability to experience gratitude, and our choice to be kind and generous”.  For a moving glimpse of these two great men together do visit  What is one book from 2017 that made a difference to you – please write and tell me, we could create a great list together.

I hope that 2018 has begun well for you.  I’m glad we have a TTT UK Collegiate day soon on the 18th and I must add in April we meet on the 19th, not the 18th as mentioned before.  My schedule for this year is the fullest ever, with courses throughout the year in Dublin, Belfast and London, all here:  Do come!

Choose Joy, having considered all the facts…

I heard this from Nancy at a recent TTT Collegiate here in London.  You won’t be surprised to hear that she always brings something fresh and often remarkable to this growing group of Time to Think practitioners.  Some of you are currently on your own path to qualification, others already attend – and others might like to think about taking that step in 2018:  I look forward (with joy!) to seeing you at the UK Collegiate in 2018: dates will be Jan 18/ April 18/ July 12/ October 11 in central London.  I’m also looking forward to Collegiate dates in Ireland next year – a very welcome first! – and maybe meetings elsewhere in Europe too.

Choosing joy is a practical way of appreciating what’s good and possible, whether past, present or future – I wonder what has been joyful for you during 2017?  We know that focusing on the real often small positives in our daily lives is a recognised way to develop resilience, to lift our capacity to think well, and is at the core of Appreciation as a key principle of the Thinking Environment way of being.  Mike Robbins offers some thoughts on this here: I hope you will enjoy your personal experiences of Appreciation over Christmas, and during 2018.

You Think That What You See Is All There Is


Daniel Kahneman, Nobel-winning author of Thinking Fast and Slow says ‘People are designed to tell the best story possible. So WYSIATI means that we use the information we have as if it is the only information there is’. So what’s WYSIATI? It’s believing that What You See Is All There Is, aka the root cause of so many of our biases, assumptions and misjudgements.  Which is why understanding the component of Information is vital to creating a great Thinking Environment: supplying the facts can change everything.  Supplying the facts while being aware that facts are double-edged, with the power to surprise someone into fresh possibility, or startle into denial. (Just think about annual reviews, 360’s and so on).  For more on the power of  WYSIATI have a look here There are lots of good clips on You Tube too:

Information always has potential – it’s the great potentiator of our surprise and enthusiasm, of our shock and denial.  Discovery of facts can change everything, including the creation of a Thinking Environment.  What have you discovered recently in your TE practice that surprised you – do tell me!

Finally: 2018 is now within reach and you’ll be planning your CPD.  Do please check out the website for courses, and my first UK Alumni day on 19th January here:  I would be delighted to hear from you.