The Importance of Persistence… The Ant Philosophy

Persistence is one of the most important qualities that a person can possess. It is the ability to persevere, to keep going even in the face of obstacles and setbacks. In life, success often depends on persistence more than anything else.

In this video:

  • on Ants and Obstacles… they just keep going
  • Rivers… they just keep flowing
  • 110m high hurdles… don’t look at the obstacles
  • How do you face obstacles?

Whether you’re trying to achieve a personal goal or working towards a professional goal, persistence is key. It takes time and effort to achieve anything worthwhile, and setbacks and failures are inevitable along the way. But those who are persistent keep going, even when things get tough. They don’t give up, they don’t quit.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Thomas Edison

One of the most famous examples of persistence is the story of Thomas Edison, who failed over a thousand times before he finally invented the light bulb. When asked about his failures, Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Edison’s persistence paid off, and his invention changed the world.

Persistence is also important in relationships. Maintaining strong relationships takes effort and patience, and there will inevitably be disagreements and challenges along the way. But those who are persistent in their relationships work through these challenges and come out stronger on the other side.

In summary, persistence is an essential quality for success in all areas of life. It allows us to keep going when things get tough and to overcome obstacles and setbacks. So if you’re working towards a goal, don’t give up. Keep going, keep pushing, and keep being persistent. Your efforts will pay off in the end.

If you liked this post, you will also like 6 keys to leading positive change and Developing a Vision Statement.

Getting your Life in order

Stutz is a documentary following the psychotherapy process of Dr Stutz who had worked with comedian and actor Jonah Hill over many years. Together they share personal stories and specific tools that have helped Jonah in his therapy process over the past decade.

On Netflix here: Stutz (2022)

My notes from Stutz, the documentary

“I don’t know what I want so I’ll do nothing”


Many people in absence of any clear vision or purpose to their life reset to doing nothing and waiting for clarity. Clarity will never come without taking some action in the general direction of your “purpose”.

How to find purpose? Connect with 3 levels:

  1. body – move your body. get up, get moving. Connect with your physical body. 85% of Stutz’s initial treatment protocol is just getting the body active.
  2. others – speak to others. don’t wait for them to contact you. Reach out and engage with people.
  3. unconscious – Writing is the path to a relationship to your own unconscious. Journal. Write anything. Time writing random reflections is how you reconnect to your unconscious.

3 Permanent Truths of Human Existence

The Reality of life is three unavoidable truths

  1. Pain – it is just guaranteed in human life. I am reminded of the first 2 lines of The Road Less Travelled “Life is difficult. The moment you accept this, life becomes easy.” M. Scott Peck
  2. uncertainty – the future is out of our control.
  3. constant work is necessary – you never end the work… on your health, on yourself, on your relationships, on your home…

The Resistance

Stutz calls it “Part X” – the resistance, what stops you growing; resists change. The voice inside you that tells you whatever you are thinking of doing is pointless, useless and will fail. It will always be with you and it will always try to stop you taking productive action.

Your Shadow

The “shadow” – find yours… How? “Visualise a time when you felt inferior, ashamed… picture it; talk to your shadow… how does he/she feel about what you’ve done since then? – what can I do to make up for giving you so little attention?”

Take Action

Productive life is a “String of pearls with a touch of shit”. Each pearl is an action. Every action is going to be somewhat flawed (the “touch of shit”), but you must take it anyway and accept your imperfect action.

The Fantasy Ideal

Be careful of seeking the “perfect snapshot” – your fantasy of perfect world. Stutz sees so many people who have a “photo ideal” of their life… a photo is static… life is dynamic… you cannot achieve a permanent static complete state… things will continue to change.

Putting your Life on Hold

Stutz calls it “being trapped in the Maze”… you are waiting for fairness to be restored… putting your life on hold until “they change”. He sees so many people waste their life as they “wait for fairness to be restored”. I won’t take action with a friend because “its their turn to contact me”. I won’t speak to a family member because they acted unjustly. I’ll wait.

How to get out of the Maze? Get into the “Grateful flow”

The “Grateful flow” – Stutz tells a story about his first flight on a passenger jetliner… and moving above the clouds… seeing the sun. Even on the darkest, cloudiest day… the sun is there above.

How to enter the grateful flow? imagine a universe dense with active loving energy. What are 4 things you are grateful for… then hold… don’t let the 5th come, resist it… feel the pressure of gratitude pushing to get thru.

Active Gratitude

Grateful is the optimal human state.

Part X (resistence) always pulls you away from grateful.

Your Brain on Dopamine: Andrew Huberman with Dr Anna Lembke

“Normal life” (in today’s society) doesn’t provide enough stimulus for many people. We become addicts because life is “boring”. All of our survival needs are met. We don’t have stuff that we “have” to do… so we make up adventures (“friction”).

“I get bored easily.” What’s wrong with me? Nothing… your brain is not suited to this world. Not all of our brains are set up for the current society in which we live. We live in a world in which impulsiveness is not valued… but there are human societal systems where it would have been valuable.

Traits are not in and of themselves bad… they are fit for the context or not. The context we live in is not the human society context of the last 10,000 years. Today’s society values rationality, long term thinking and self discipline. Not all human societies reward these specific traits.

We are Addicted to Dopamine Distractions

Pleasure and Pain are co-located in the brain. Brain wants to stay level. Brain works to restore level balance (homeostasis).

Our world is full of little dopamine delivery distractions – especially in our mobile phone, in video games. We can train our brain to have an addictive dependence on these dopamine fixes.

Dopamine distractions will keep you from discovering what you truly enjoy. Abstain from distractions that you enjoy (video games, youtube, instagram, snapchat). As long as you are training your brain to expect regular doses of dopamine, your brain needs regular doses of dopamine.

If distractions are a problem for you: Dr Lembke says that it takes 30 days of complete removal of the stimulus to reshift our dopamine pathways back to our previous state.

How do you stop doing something that you are addicted to? It is really hard. Checking instagram, playing video games… Days 1-14 are really tough… I have lost something I have learnt to need – I will suffer withdrawal. Sleep problems, frustrations, anxiety. By week 3 and 4 you start to feel a whole lot better and have much less “need” for the behaviour. Anna shares her experiences of helping people stop an addictive behaviour from minute 50:00 in the video.

Once you’ve reduced the reliance on the distraction… be careful about trigger. What is the trigger (stimulus) that is immediately followed by the drive to go for the addictive distraction? Be highly aware of that trigger.

You have to be Bored to find Purpose

Don’t search for “your purpose”. Ask “what is the work that needs to get done?”… and do that… no matter how belittling or small that it might sound to you.

Dopamine Nation, dr Anna Lembke

I loved this podcast episode – what a wonderful wise person Anna Lembke is. She speaks with compassion, with deep experience and with honesty.

This reminds me of a Gabor Mate quote: “don’t ask ‘why the addiction?’, ask ‘why the pain?'”

The need for Constant Renewal

Welcome to 2023 😉

“I’m doing fine now”… is not enough – We need Constant Renewal

I meet many people in my role as a CEO coach, as a teacher, as the leader of Vistage in Spain… and I often hear the words “I’m doing fine now.” They don’t need a coach, a mentor, support… they don’t need to take a bigger look at what is coming… because they are fine today.

It is not ok to just be “fine now”. We are given a brain with a huge neo-cortex – which allows us to think, to reflect, to imagine, to plan. It is not a part of our brain that we use automatically. It requires intention to make good use of our imagination.

How to do a review of your life?

Here are 3 good pdf tools to spend an hour or two and reflect:

The power of Open AI

I was flying home from Bilbao on friday night, and my flight was delayed for 5 hours. I spent some time playing with the latest iteration of Open AI, and the OpenAI Image generator.

Go and play with it now. It is important that you understand the power of the current generation of AI tools.

It is scary the power of the AI. It can write well, even poetry… it can generate images that surprised me with the nuances and details.

The State of AI in 2022 – Valuable Resources

OpenAI Demonstrations

Request: A miro painting of Paris with a mother and a daughter

Request: A matisse painting of Paris with a mother and daughter

Over to the text generator…

Write a blog post with 5 key insights about business leadership in 2023

The future of business leadership is an exciting and ever-evolving prospect. As technology and the global marketplace continue to evolve, the responsibilities and expectations of business leaders of the future will be greater than ever before.

Here are five key insights about business leadership in 2023:

1. Data-Driven Decision Making: Business leaders in 2023 will be expected to be able to effectively analyze and interpret data to inform their decision-making. This will require a deep understanding of data analytics and the ability to identify patterns and trends in order to make informed decisions.

2. Adaptability: The business landscape of 2023 will be constantly changing, requiring business leaders to be highly adaptable and able to pivot quickly in order to remain competitive. This will require an ability to think on their feet and make decisions quickly.

3. Inclusive Leadership: Business leaders of the future will need to be able to lead teams of diverse backgrounds and perspectives in order to foster innovation and collaboration. They will need to be able to foster a culture of inclusion and trust in order to maximize the potential of their teams.

4. Empathy and Authenticity: Business leaders of the future will need to be able to empathize with their employees and customers in order to better understand their needs and motivations. They will also need to be able to communicate authentically and transparently in order to build trust and loyalty.

5. tech-Savviness: Technology will play an increasingly important role in the success of any business in 2023. Business leaders of the future will need to be tech-savvy and understand the implications of emerging technologies and their potential to disrupt markets.

As the future of business leadership continues to evolve, those who can embrace and adapt to these changes will have the best chance of success. By gaining an understanding of the key insights about business leadership in 2023, business leaders can ensure that they are well-positioned to lead their organizations into the future.



How many essays for school and university are going to be automatically generated over the next few years… as students become more tech-savvy and teachers think they are still living in the same world as 20 years ago.

And the ChatGPT responses

Request: How do I explain Vistage to a six year old?

Vistage is a company that helps business leaders make better decisions and improve their companies. It does this by providing them with resources and support, such as access to expert speakers, peer support groups, and online tools and training. Essentially, Vistage helps business leaders learn and grow so that they can better run their businesses.

To explain this to a six year old, you could say something like this: “Vistage is like a special club for grown-ups who run their own companies. They learn from each other and from experts, and get help with making their businesses better. It’s kind of like how you might join a sports team or a club at school to learn new things and get support from your friends.”

Listen to the teaching, not to the teacher

“Listen to the teaching, not to the teacher”

I heard this quote in Washington from George Gan. I have had the privilege to teach together on the EO Global Leadership Academy with George since 2015.

I have always listened more to teachers that inspire me, and I have often ignored lessons when the teacher has not inspired me.

I am missing out.

Anyone can teach us a valuable lesson.

Don’t reduce your learning to only the most perfect of teachers.

If you liked this post, you will also like the best teacher I had in school and 10 rules for students (and teachers).

How we spend our time

The American Time Use Survey (ATUS) provides nationally representative estimates of how, where, and with whom Americans spend their time, and is the only federal survey providing data on the full range of nonmarket activities, from childcare to volunteering.

Recently I came across a series of charts shared by Sahil Bloom about how we spend time with people across the course of our lives.

How our Time is spent over the course of our lives…

Check out Sahil’s tweet series to learn more and reflect on his conclusions.

If you liked this post, you will also like Happiness is the quality of our relationships and how to build trust and deepen the quality of your relationships.

How To Handle The Painful Aspects Of Leadership During Economic Recession

I get a lot of value out of the Arete coach podcast run by Severin Sorensen, who has a background as a CEO and then as a Vistage CEO group mentor and coach (Chair).

I was interviewed by Severin in May 2021 for episode 1037 on his podcast: Arete Coach Podcast 1037 Conor Neill “Powerful Stories Stimulate Action”

Last week Severin brought together an experienced group of CEOs who are part of the Vistage Chair community.

How to Prepare for a Probable Recession

In the Panel Discussion, we explore:

  • What is a recession? [1:13];
  • What Does A Recession Feel Like? [10:38];
  • What 10 Things Would You Take Into A Hard Recession? [29:07];
  • Final reflections from panelists [1:13:23]; and lastly,
  • Severin summarises the session [1:17:50] and ends with a few inspiring quotes to consider.

This is episode 1095 of the Arete Coach Podcast with Severin Sorensen and his executive coach guests Michele Barry, Ben Griffin, Barry Goldberg, Phil Holberton, and Conor Neill.

In this episode, Arete Coach podcast presents a panel discussion of senior executive coaches that explores how to prepare for a Recession, and specifically, 10 things to take with you into a hard recession.

The purpose of putting this episode together was to provide valuable counsel for CEOs, business owners and coaches who are coaching other business owners on how to prepare for a probable recession, and one that may indeed be a hard recession.

Share this episode with executive coaches, business coaches, leadership coaches, business owners, entrepreneurs, CEOs, Key Executive teams, and anyone wanting to have a head start in preparing for what looks like more than a portent of stormy weather ahead.

Why People Take Action

There are two things I need to believe if I am to take action:

  1. Is it worth it? (Rewards)
  2. Can I do it? (Confidence)

Dan Sullivan says that “Selling is getting someone intellectually engaged in a future result that is good for them and getting them to emotionally commit to take action to achieve that result.”

The skills of an Influencer:

  • help others visualise a better future (for them)
  • help others emotionally commit to action

How do we help someone visualise?

Asking great questions:

  • What is going well for you?
  • What is not going well for you?
  • What needs to change for you to be fulfilled?
  • What is missing in your life?
  • Who are your role models? What would they want for you?
  • Who are you? What achievements, projects and relationships show the world who you truly are?

How do we help someone emotionally commit to action?

Asking great questions:

  • What is the impact on you of this problem persisting in your life?
  • How much is this costing you? in money? in lost sleep? in difficult relationships? in distraction from what is most important?
  • How long have you been living with this?
  • How much longer can you see yourself living this way?
  • What would it be worth to you for this to work out?
  • What sacrifices are you willing to make to make this change?
  • If yourself ten years from now could speak to you today, what would you hear? What will your future self be grateful for?

3 Life and Leadership Lessons from my Father

My father is by all accounts a successful leader. There are 3 “superpowers” that he has that I think have helped him have such a positive effect in each of these environments.

My father has had a long and successful career in business leading to a decade as the Chairman of the Board of Accenture, and then as a board member for several public companies, and now as a leader and advisor for arts, culture and universities.

2 years ago, I shared a list that my father made back in the 1980’s on “Leaders and Non-Leaders” which listed 40 contrasts helped him guide his journey as a business leader.

3 of my Dad’s “Superpowers”

  1. Remember people’s names
  2. Decide fast & Don’t think of it as “your decision”, (this allows flexibility to change without emotion/sunk cost)
  3. Never lose sight of the overall purpose & long term

I was in the medieval town of Pedraza again this week, where I made this video.

Other blog posts influenced by my father…

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