Mobius Leadership

Archive for the ‘Leadership Development’ Category

The Power of a Provocative Question

Posted on: September 6th, 2016 by mobiusleadership No Comments
What would you do if you could?
What are you waiting for?
Who do you need to become to fulfil your dreams?

When was the last time you were stopped in your tracks by a question, a question so big, there just were no words? So big, it took all of your courage to respond honestly.  So big, you knew the answer might change the direction of your life, your career.

Questions of this nature may be more accurately described as inquiries – that’s what they are asking of us – to inquire into something – to explore, to try something on. Not to necessarily come up with a ‘right’ answer or the solution but to travel to the edges of our imagination, draw on our intuitive knowing and see what resides there and how it can guide us in our choices and decisions.

Be ready for some discomfort! Sitting with provocative questions or inquiries can make us uncomfortable at times – of course, they are meant to. Their very purpose is to challenge the status quo. However, the reward for giving them space and attention can be rich.

Deeply committing to reflecting on an inquiry takes you on a journey of self-discovery. Among the riches in store, are greater clarity, increased self-awareness and sense of purpose, all of which are of value when it comes to making the choices life asks of us.

Sometimes we can be truly knocked off balance by the question, a whole new perspective opens up, a new paradigm comes into view.

The story of the neuroscientist Richard Davidson comes to mind. Davidson had spent his career studying how some people are more resilient to ‘life’s slings and arrows’ than others. When the Dalai Lama met with him, he asked “You’ve been using the tools of modern neuroscience to study depression, and anxiety, and fear. Why can’t you use those same tools to study kindness and compassion?”. Davidson didn’t have a good answer – but the question ultimately led to him changing the direction of his research and establishing The Centre for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin.

A really powerful question is often met with silence. A long silence.

The temptation can be to fill the void – it feels awkward and uncomfortable – we hurriedly rephrase or reframe the question often diluting the impact. Resist that temptation. Silence is OK – silence allows processing, checking in with mind, heart and gut to respond authentically, honestly, courageously.

One of my favourite questions comes at the end of the poem The Summer Day, by Mary Oliver. Here’s my invitation – take her inquiry, sit a while and see what emerges for you.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?



Social Media Introvert

Posted on: August 5th, 2016 by mobiusleadership No Comments
How do having tendencies towards introversion and strong privacy values sit with having a presence on social media?

My own experience with social media has brought me up against some interesting (and sometimes painful) edges. I confess to having personal Facebook and Linked In pages for some years and been content to sit on the sidelines keeping in touch with family, friends and colleagues infrequently and from a distance.

From a business perspective, having a social media presence was not something we had taken seriously until this year. Once the decision to join the world of tweets, likes, shares and posts had been taken – my relationship with social media changed dramatically. “You mean I have to post, tweet, interact with people I don’t know – be public?!” Ouch!

There it was – I was looking at myself in the mirror – an introvert, a private person – happy to stay in the wings, certainly not centre stage – how was this going to work? All sorts of edges and underlying assumptions raised their heads;

  • What have I got to say?
  • Will I respond appropriately?
  • What if I get it wrong?
  • I’m not spontaneous enough!
  • Who will follow me?

Then somehow the learner in me connected with the business driver and I got into action.

I opened my own Twitter account – Big Step

I wrote a blog for our website – Big Step

I sent some tweets and found it fun to do – Big Step

This was actually OK – I realised I can do public, be safe and survive.

Of course the blessing and the curse of being in the personal development business is that you are trained to track all the internal dialogue and emotion that goes on.

I noticed that the process of entering more fully into the social media world did have a value to me in terms of my awareness and personal growth; I had to get clear on who I was (and wasn’t), what I wanted to align with (and what not) and why. Themes for blogs and posts came quite easily and I found writing was a vehicle that allowed me to express my thoughts on a subject that I am passionate about – how people can realise their potential, lead happy and fulfilling lives.

Progress was good, or so I thought. I believed my introverted self had this social media thing cracked until, encouraged to post my latest blog on my own Linked In page – I froze. No hiding behind the company name (and only a few connections) – this really was stepping up in front of clients, colleagues and friends that I held in high esteem. (Notice the sharp intake of breath, tightening in my chest – I was almost back where I had started from.)

  • Everyone else’s post are so much more professional
  • I’m not expert enough to write anything
  • I will be judged, and certainly not ‘liked’

All these beliefs and assumptions played out holding me in a safe but small place. Wanting to walk my talk (boats in a harbour are safe, but that’s not what boats are built for) I pushed on. Having experienced how powerful people can be when they are at their most vulnerable, I was inspired to break through these limiting beliefs. I drew breath, got out of my comfort zone and began posting – albeit it very tentatively.

So, this isn’t really about being a social media introvert – it’s about the opportunities that are around us everyday to grow just a little, to see our assumptions for what they are and to test them in a safe way so that gradually our full potential is realised and we live more fully.

I will find my way in the world of social media, sometimes private, sometimes public, always authentic, always growing.

What beliefs are you holding that support you? What are the ones that limit you? Is it time to challenge them?


Sarah Matthews is a Director of Mobius Coaching and Development and owner of the Mobius Centre on Heir Island, West Cork.


The Mobius Centre Story – Part III

Posted on: July 14th, 2016 by mobiusleadership No Comments

Mobius Centre

To begin where we finished our last publication – the paradox of playing safe is high risk.

I hope you were able to reflect on that and ‘notice’ where that statement applies to you.  This is a topic that I will revisit on many occasions in the future.

Returning to the Mobius Centre story, we did not have an official opening.  We were just so delighted to see this wonderful building, where we could be in the warm on a stormy day and peacefully sit, take in the view, and have the opportunity to be.

The building was beyond any expectation I had, beautifully built by David and Zabby, and aided by carefully chosen people who knew their trade.

The biggest thrill was the energy within. This, of course, is something that is felt and resonates within.  If I try to describe it,  I could not come close to doing justice to this exquisite spirit.

My energy for the time being was required elsewhere on work and travel away from Ireland, which required our focus.  The Mobius Centre had to take a distant second place.

It was not until March 2014 that we had our first corporate event. It was, of course, a very special occasion for us.  The team, a senior team from a worldwide company, had congregated at Cork airport having travelled from Scandinavia, USA and China.

Although we had a ‘dry run’ with a local business team, this was ‘full on’.  They were here for the week.  If we were being tested, and we never felt we were by the group, we would have passed with flying colours.  A fabulous time was had by all.

It is fair to say that the corporate world has become very testing and demanding, probably since the 80’s, and family has often taken second place.  This is without a doubt having an impact.  People are at work for more hours, although that does not mean to say we are working harder, just longer. This in turn, creates inner conflict, inevitably stress, and undoubtedly illness. How many people become ill when holiday time arrives?

The visit to the Mobius Centre helped this high-flying group to slow down and to calm down.  To spend time talking and reflecting on what it was they needed for themselves and the business.  The weather was good and the longer days of light meant they could walk and run and soak up the energy.  They were able to spend time together in the evenings and make even greater connections with their colleagues.

There are lots of reasons to slow down, but I’ll list just a few to give you an idea of why it’s important:

  1. Better focus.  When you slow down, you can focus better. It’s hard to focus if you’re moving too fast.
  1. Deeper focus.  Rushing produces shallowness because you never have time to dig beneath the surface.  Slow down and dive into deeper waters. 
  1. Better appreciation. You can really appreciate what you have, what you’re doing and who you’re with when you take the time to slow down and really pay attention. 
  1. Enjoyment.  When you appreciate things, you enjoy them more.  Slowing down allows you to enjoy life to the fullest. 
  1. Less stress.  Rushing produces anxiety and higher stress levels.  Slowing down is calmer, more relaxing and more peaceful.





Mobius Centre

Paul Matthews is Director of Mobius Coaching and Development and works with clients at his purpose built centre on Heir Island, West Cork, Ireland. For further details, contact Paul at 028 38834 or

Sunshine and Shadows

Posted on: June 27th, 2016 by mobiusleadership No Comments
Have you ever watched a young child be fascinated by their shadow?  I saw our 3-year-old grandson look quizzically at his the other day – those wonderful moments of innocent curiosity that we often lose with adulthood.

Mobius Centre

Our shadow is something that is always with us – in days of beautiful sunshine more distinct than on others, and always there – long, short, sharp, soft, sunlit or moonlit.

The phrase ‘shadow of a leader’ has much relevance today as when it originated a few years ago.  It helped me realise the shadows cast by the sun or moon are not our only shadow –it is the impact that I create wherever I am – consciously, and most often,  unconsciously.  Our words create a shadow, so too do our actions, our mood, our thoughts, our mindset; what we pay attention to, what we don’t. We all understand what someone means when we hear ‘s/he cast a dark shadow over proceedings’.

However, the expression ‘shadow of a leader’ takes the concept to a much bigger, broader scale in terms of the impact we have.  We are all leaders in some way and we are always creating impact– in our family, community, social groups, and in business and the organisations where we work or interact.  Through our likes, dislikes, treatment of others, language and idioms, personal preferences, beliefs and values we can shape the characteristics, culture and ways of doing business in an organisation or any kind of system we are a part of.

It is not so much that leaders force their style and values on others (although this is the case with dictators and bullies), but that people naturally tend to look for clues as to what is important, how to get ahead in the organisation, and how to fit in.

We must be aware of this.  How conscious are we of the shadows we cast?  How intentional are we in our behaviour?  Compassionate or edgy?  Open or closed?  Curious or opinionated?  Peaceful or aggressive?  Collaborative of fiercely independent?  All will create an impact, all will create a shadow.

Recently I took a walk in the evening – I was walking into the setting sun. When I could go no further, I turned around and was taken aback at the length of my shadow stretching out in front of me. Make no mistake, we can create an immense impact that we are unconscious of unless we remain attentive and mindful.

A camera will always pick up shadows that the naked eye doesn’t ‘see’ – they are there but our wish to see an image in our version of reality has a way of filtering them out.  I think sometimes we do the same with our own impact.  Raising our personal awareness is key.

What shadow are you creating today?  Which one do you want to cast?

Mobius Centre

Sarah Matthews June 2016

Sarah Matthews is a Director of Mobius Coaching and Development and owner of the Mobius Centre on Heir Island, West Cork.

The Mobius Centre Story – Part II

Posted on: June 9th, 2016 by mobiusleadership No Comments

Mobius Centre

Last time I ended my Mobius Centre story by touching on our dreams and I will start where I ended.  

Monday 5th September 2011 arrived. This was the day we had been waiting for with some trepidation. The day the builders moved in. David, the builder and ‘digger Pat’, who could move a digger around with such grace, certainty and precision, it became a joy to watch him.

To arrive at this day, months of work and a few hurdles had to be overcome. Planning permission for a building that was a bit different to the one’s that had gone before. Larry our architect had been thoughtful and imaginative and we wanted to see his design come to fruition. An environmental impact study was required, where did that come from? This we soon discovered is an EU directive, perhaps the first that had been asked for in West Cork, maybe even in Ireland, and of course, the logistics of building on an island.

But we all know inside of us that nothing worth having comes easy.

Mobius Centre

I guess one of the most challenging aspects of this was the decision to ‘knock down’ the original house on the site. A typical dry stone building, part of which, was semi-derelict. It was unusual in that it had 3 parts to it.  The main room – the only room where a family of 16 children was raised. They all lived in this room, cooking there, eating their meals, and sleeping there at night.  On bad weather days, they would have even have milked the cow in there.

The other two small sections, which were joined to make the rectangular building, were a dairy for making butter, and possibly cheese, and the final section was the abattoir.

This was history and, of course, there was a sentimental attachment. We considered trying to utilize the building for our venture, however, there we no foundations of any note, door areas were much lower, the walls were not straight and overall it was too low. The decision was made.

The building came down quickly. A pile of stones just lying there.  Those stones would be reused later to create beautiful ‘dry’ stonewalls.

I think the only regret I have is that I did not set up a time-lapse camera, however, we do have a good photographic record of the build.

Not long after work started, and for the next 4 years, my work took me on a journey to many different countries. This was a wonderful experience for me; I received great learning and meet so many delightful people.

What I did realize is that the issues people have are so similar. I appreciate we are complex beings however, I realized that we do make things so difficult for ourselves, which it would seem in all cases is how we keep ourselves safe, to do that we actually play small and truncate our world.

Interestingly the paradox of playing safe is high risk.

Around one year later the building was complete.

Paul Matthews is Director of Mobius Coaching and Development and works with clients at his purpose built centre on Heir Island, West Cork, Ireland. For further details, contact Paul at 028 38834 or
Page 1 of 3123