Continuing on the occasional theme of what I notice at the gym 🙂 this week I went to a yoga session for the first time. It was a Vinyasa session, which means it was much more dynamic and challenging that I had assumed was likely. From the start I felt ‘less than’ most of the others in the room, a psychological response coming from comparison that has real impact on how we think, feel and work. It was inevitable, it was my first session, so it’s illogical and unreasonable to feel like this.  Yet we do compare with others, all the time.

So I was delighted to hear the instructor say  ‘Now, if you are looking at your neighbour, and thinking she is doing much better than you, I’m asking you why does that matter?  Think of yourself. Think of how well you are doing right now.’ What a great counter-response: ‘think of how well you are doing right now’.  It reminds me of the Component of Encouragement, which invites us to become aware of (and then dial down) our ‘internal competition’. It has taken me years to understand this one.  It’s about the drive to compete and win in any circumstances, including in our conversations. To ‘win’ an opinion, to persuade others to think as we do, to be top in some way.  Even though it stops us from thinking well and independently.

Where do you notice this coming up, and blocking your capacity to think or to be a great Thinking Partner, friend, colleague, spouse, parent?  What does this idea trigger for you? Let me know!

Fine Points

Do you ever think ‘I’d like to read something new and relevant about the Thinking Environment, just not a whole book?!’ Nancy has written a number of short pieces on different aspects of this way of being, with headings like ‘Assumptions and Feelings’, ‘Safety and Autonomy’, ‘Persuasion v Independent Thinking’, each of which expands our understanding in subtle and satisfying ways.  You’ll find them all here:  I’ve sent this out before I know – but a good thing deserves repeating, and there are new essays in there too.

While you’re there ☺ you might like to check out my new dates for 2019.   I’ve just posted a whole set on the TTT website, including my first ever Thinking Partnership Teachers Programme,  as well as several new dates in Ireland.  So please do consider these, you’ll find them under all the relevant headings starting here: Speaking of which, I have got a couple of places on my  13th / 14th November Foundation course in Ealing, and am keen to hear of young people who might welcome the experience at a special rate.  By young I mean up to 35 or so! Discovering the Thinking Environment early in your life is such a transformational thing and I’d so appreciate your help.

Appreciation feels big to me at the moment: it links with the practice of gratitude, and I know that when I slow down enough to appreciate what’s going well, what’s real and positive in my day, week, immediate surroundings it is of great benefit.  So this newsletter is also an appreciation of you and of the way the Thinking Environment enabled us to be together as explorers of everything that helps us to think well, and for ourselves.  

What can you find to appreciate right now, this moment, as you read this?  You don’t have to tell me, but I would love to know!

New Moves

This morning I went to a studio session at my local gym.  Fresh start for September, new ideas, new moves. When the instructor simply did the new moves to the music it was hard to follow her straight away.  When she began with the simplest step, added the next and the next, and then showed us how it all came together, everyone got it. She did it all without missing a beat.

It’s a striking metaphor for how we learn or offer something new.  When we are in conversations at work, with friends or at home we often want to offer new information, even instructions or advice.  What do we do? We tend to offer it all at once. We try to explain it so that they can see the ‘move’ as we see it, as if they are standing in our shoes. What struck me so forcibly today was noticing that to help someone to get the move we need to start from what they can already see, and build on that as a progression.  This sounds so obvious, yet it’s so easy to rush our information and fail to build.

I’m thinking about this in the context of creating a great Thinking Environment. How much does someone need to know about the 10 Components ( or about the power of assumptions in order to be able to think well?

What do you need to know in order to be able to think well, and as yourself?
What a great question. 🙂

Noticing Place

Last month’s GDPR* exercise created such a sense of connection for me, as responses came back with comments and news from people for whom the Thinking Environment is much more than a process or a ‘tool’, and more truly a way of being.  So just before heading off on holiday, as I imagine many of us are, I want to celebrate this refreshed, smaller network** of thinkers and listeners and to thank you for your commitment to this as a shared place for reflection and discovery.

Many, not all, will recognise the room in the photo.  It’s the lovely big space that I now use for all my TTT courses and events  It’s the Reading Room at the Grange in Ealing, and it seems to me to offer most of the elements that we need in order to feel that we matter when we are thinking for and as ourselves.  Place is the component that gets a little bit left behind sometimes, yet being in a space that is light and airy, with comfortable furniture and enough room to move easily, ideally with windows out to a view (even if it’s a blizzard, as some will recall earlier this year) and definitely with drinks and healthy snacks – that’s ideal.  If the places where you are creating a Thinking Environment don’t have all of this (and sadly in organisational training rooms that’s often the case) then what small thing can you do in order to help your participants feel that they matter?

Trust and Connection



Trust is painfully thin on the ground in our current world order, and being able to build trust in an authentic way is vital, important work. I’ve been thinking about how grateful I am to work in a Thinking Environment, a way of being that inspires trust.  And I’ve been thinking about trust in relation to the new GDPR regulations and also because of the truly shocking revelations about Facebook’s misuse of data which revealed just how little most of us understand about how our details can be ‘harvested’ (weasel word!) and then sold on for profit and misuse without our knowledge or consent.  Data as currency, what a concept.

Which is why I welcome GDPR boundaries, annoying as the introduction has been, because it makes companies and even sole traders like many of us become more aware of the value of personal data, and of our responsibilities when entrusted with it. So to comply fully with this I’m inviting you now to continue to receive this monthly newsletter from me by pressing the enormous green button you’ll see at the end of this.  Thank you!

NB This is already an exclusive alumni mailing list and I’m imagining it will be even more exclusive from now on…

Thinking Environment Group on LinkedIn
As alumni of a TE course with me or someone else, you are warmly invited to join the closed Thinking Environment group on LinkedIn. LinkedIn have tightened the security on this so that now it’s necessary first to ‘Connect’ with TTT Business Director Stephanie Archer. She will then send you an invitation to join the group. This presumes you are already on LinkedIn – you will need to take the first step.

Finally: I love to pass on interesting and inspiring book titles, YouTube clips and blogs.  What have you found compelling recently – do let me know. I think it’s true to say that we only accept feedback well from those whom we trust, so I wonder what you might think of Daniel Pink’s 19 word formula here  how might it work for you?

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.