Neil Gaiman on reading fiction, empathy and changing the world

“Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it’s a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end … that’s a very real drive. And it forces you to learn…

Commitment: their actual lives

This might be your life’s work. It might be a side project. But as you work – doing something to help, perhaps hiring people to work with you, apportioning your time and attention between competing people and priorities – remember that these are people’s actual lives. And yours. Be as clear as possible about your commitment and its costs, and…

Organisational culture: specifying minimums, modelling maximums

A while ago a friend helpfully pointed out to me that laws and rules can only ever specify the minimum behaviour acceptable in a given context. The law is (we hope) the floor, beyond which things are not allowed to go. But you can’t legislate good behaviour – all the things that make a culture rich and life-giving. That comes…

Bark less, wag more

Rule 12. Be Kind – everyone is in a battle We go through life judging others. I’ve often wondered if one of the reasons we sometimes judge ourselves harshly is to give ourselves an excuse for judging those around us harshly as well. Judging has many virtues. It helps us decide who to spend time with, who to work with,…

Responsive (1): In good time

The way we respond to people – family, colleagues, strangers – carries a lot of information. Any response at all suggests that someone matters – whether because we like them or they’re otherwise important to us, or because they’re somehow in our way. The speed of our responses to people speaks volumes, and can send mixed messages. A fast response…

More than you can chew

“… only pausing to remark that many find it unnecessary to fill the mouth to its utmost capacity.” Misquotation of Pip in David Lean’s Great Expectations Eyes > Stomach I’ve more or less mastered the art of not taking more than I can eat.* Controlling portion size isn’t a problem, even if the number of portions I go back for…

The Toolkit – Part 1: Foundations (1)

This post is part of the working draft of the DriverlessCrocodile Toolkit (read more here). I’d love comments, links to resources related to the theme, and original contributions. Barking up the right tree Most of this toolkit is concerned with tools – including knowledge and ways of thinking – that will be useful as you work for change. But we…

The hard thing about soft skills

The hard thing about the ‘soft’ skills of courtesy and consideration is that they’re only partly skills. They’re far more about our attitude: how much we value other people and their purposes and feelings, and the interest and care that we show them as we go about our business. Consistently showing up for people – seeing, hearing and serving them…

Courtesy and cold fusion

One yardstick of wealth is how much you give away. It’s easy to run out of time and money, but there are no hard limits to your supply of courtesy and consideration. I’ve had several interactions with courteous, engaged service people this week, and they made a huge difference to a difficult week – I still feel glad about them.…