-- Business blog now available --

A quick note to say that I've set up my Business blog, to be able to speak with a clear voice on both personal and work issues (i.e. by having separate blogs).

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Resources for a Teenager – Atul Gawande

The third in a series of posts detailing those resources I’m finding useful on my own particular (life) journey.


I think these lectures – and the thinking behind them – are extraordinary.

I listened to them in the car on a couple of long journeys.

I’ve recently started reading Atul’s personal exploration ‘Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End’. It’s also excellent, and timely for me to read it.

The List

The rationale

I read Atul Gawande’s book ‘The Checklist Manifesto’ and loved it.

I thought it common sense but which hasn’t be common practice, until Dr Gawande’s efforts to improve global public health.

I was therefore delighted to learn that he would be delivering the BBC’s Reith Lectures.

I’ve copy-pasted the following info from the BBC’s website to save time etc.

Dr Atul Gawande - 2014 Reith Lectures

Atul Gawande, MD, MPH is a practicing surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Professor at both the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School.

In his lecture series, The Future of Medicine, Dr Atul Gawande will examine the nature of progress and failure in medicine, a field defined by what he calls 'the messy intersection of science and human fallibility'.

Known for both his clear analysis and vivid storytelling, he will explore the growing importance of systems in medicine and argue that the future role of the medical profession in our lives should be bigger than simply assuring health and survival.

The 2014 Reith Lectures

The first lecture, Why do Doctors Fail?, will explore the nature of imperfection in medicine. In particular, Gawande will examine how much of failure in medicine remains due to ignorance (lack of knowledge) and how much is due to ineptitude (failure to use existing knowledge) and what that means for where medical progress will come from in the future.

In the second lecture, The Century of the System, Gawande will focus on the impact that the development of systems has had – and should have in the future - on medicine and overcoming failures of ineptitude. He will dissect systems of all kinds, from simple checklists to complex mechanisms of many parts. And he will argue for how they can be better designed to transform care from the richest parts of the world to the poorest.

The third lecture, The Problem of Hubris, will examine the great unfixable problems in life and healthcare - aging and death. Gawande will argue that the reluctance of society and medical institutions to recognise the limits of what professionals can do is producing widespread suffering. But research is revealing how this can change.

The fourth and final lecture, The Idea of Wellbeing, will argue that medicine must shift from a focus on health and survival to a focus on wellbeing - on protecting, insofar as possible, people’s abilities to pursue their highest priorities in life. And, as he will suggest from the story of his father’s life and death from cancer, those priorities are nearly always more complex than simply to live longer.

The Task

Atul Gawande strikes me as an outstanding role model.

Our challenge is to rise above our everyday conditioning and aim to be as good as Dr Gawande in the things that we are passionate about, and which bring us to life.

It’s easy to quote Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
The tricky bit is sailing towards the horizon and not knowing where you're going. It's spectacularly more difficult than you might expect...

As one of my Mentors said to me:
"Justin, it's not about leaving A to get to B, it's about leaving A"
Thank you Steve!

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Resources for a Teenager – ‘Living’

The second in a series of posts detailing those resources I’m finding useful on my own particular (life) journey.


I’ve chosen these books to hopefully be an accessible way into cultivating inner knowledge, and valuing our inner teacher [or whatever you would like to call it…].

IMHO there is no ‘correct’ way to live, only continual experiments in vulnerability and courage.

I’ve come to believe it’s a life-long practice, with many speed bumps along the way #crikey

The List

To grow, as I come across new materials and / or think of additions.

The rationale

  1. Daring Greatly: BrenĂ© is reframing vulnerability so that we can welcome it as a superpower. I’m coming to the belief that vulnerability is a vital stepping stone to presence, and that we are fortunate to live in a time to absorb her wisdom for ourselves.
  2. A Hidden Wholeness – Parker’s work powerfully resonates with me. I’ve attended three retreats – and counting – based on the insights of the Centre for Courage and Renewal. Their ‘Clearness Committee’ format is the most respectful and dignified way to hold other people which I have come across.
  3. What shall I do with my Life? – I remember reading this and thinking: that’s actually really helpful.
  4. Sophie’s World – IMHO we should teach philosophy to Primary Schoolers. A brilliant way to create a coherent understanding of the major schools. These are thinking skills and a mind gym we can all benefit from.
  5. Mindset [& Bounce] – a vital contribution from Carol Dweck about the Growth Mindset. Aka all feedback is an opportunity to learn, no matter how difficult it might be at the time.
  6. When Things fall apart [and they often do] – Ani Pema’s synthesis of this Buddhist lineage will be something I expect to return to time and again. In fact Ani Pema’s ability to convey profound wisdom is something I greatly value. I plan to return to her work in different formats, in future.
  7. Man’s search for meaning – out of some of humanity’s darkest hours emerges some rays of light. Night, by Elie Wiesel, taps into the same elemental forces.
  8. Quiet – I came away from reading this by thinking that I could well be an introvert, with extrovert tendencies. Perhaps an ‘ambivert’. A fascinating reframe…
  9. The Hero with a Thousand Faces – who would have thought that humanity shares many ways of thinking about our existence, when so often we (collectively) seek to differentiate our wisdom traditions?
  10. The Art of Asking – just ‘take the doughnuts’: aka let people help you. Something I’ve found very useful myself!
  11. Heart Sutra – something to come back to whenever needed. I understand the preamble better than I do the Sanskrit…

The Task

It’s been said that there are many ways to live life. Our individual challenge is to figure out a way that works for us, at our deepest levels (and even to discover them in the first place…).

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Resources for a Teenager - blog series


Living can be a challenge. Feeling like you’re connected - a jigsaw puzzle when the pieces fit together – is a challenge for most of us.

When you love a parent, and lose them before you might reasonably expect to, I can only imagine it’s incredibly difficult.

I thought it’d be helpful to breathe life back into this blog - after a prolonged quietude – by making a record of those of the resources I’m finding useful on my own particular journey.

I’m offering them here so that others may refer to them, choose what resonates, and read, watch, mark, and inwardly digest to support a life more fully lived.

I hope they are useful!


I’m planning to coalesce my findings – to begin with – about ‘Living’; Economics; and Fiction.

These signposts will (probably) be books; videos; blogs & online articles; and podcasts.

I’ll hopefully have bandwidth to provide a minimalist commentary.


I plan to embed a number of widgets in these posts.

It may well be that the order is a bit haphazard (according to the collation of various types of materials), and that the order is the type of material, rather than the theme. I’d apologise, but better to ship than be perfect… ;D


Any thoughts, additions, amendments – whatever – please add in respectful and constructive comments to the posts. Thank you!