One of my colleagues did a quick workshop warm-up exercise with a group of managers recently. Working in pairs, group members had to ‘mirror’ a sequence of each other’s movements, which became progressively more complicated. Frequent failure was guaranteed, but when either person made a mistake, they had to shout ‘Yay!’ and throw their arms up in a celebratory victory salute! The point of the early-morning warm-up was simply to wake us up and have some fun, but the exercise reminded me about the golfer Jack Nicklaus’s recommendation, to ‘play badly well’…

I’d been jostled out of boarding the tube once that morning and I wasn’t going to let it happen again… so when the doors swung apart and the crush of morning bodies surged forwards for the second time, I elbowed my way impatiently in front of the dad with his small son and left them stranded on the platform, looking exasperated. My aggression dissipated into guilt.

I have begun work with some new clients and predictably, one of the first things they encounter on the journey of personal and leadership transformation is their Inner Critic. Learning how to transform our relationship with our Inner Critic is essential to the success of any of our personal development efforts.


Not all concepts can be used instrumentally, like techniques. Rather than pushing ourselves to ‘do’ something with them, perhaps we can let them sit in our awareness in ways that they can do something to us… I tried to communicate this possibility creatively, through a story, on a recent Constellations training programme I led with my colleague Barbara Morgan, about the Interrupted Reaching Out Movement.

Last week, in a quiet café, I witnessed two intelligent people shouting at each other over a latte. Neither seemed once to listen to the other, in their twenty-minute heated exchange. I speculated that if I had interrupted them and asked each what the other had just said, they would have been unable to say… I was reminded of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, when the bard cautions us not to let life become a tale ‘full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’.