Mobius Leadership

Posts Tagged ‘personal development’

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.


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.