The Greatest Distance in the Universe

The greatest distance in the universe… is within us. It is the distance between our potential and our actual performance.

When we are young, we have so much potential: talents, dreams, and capabilities. Most of these possibilities remain just that – potential, unmanifested and untapped. It is horrible to look at the chasm between what we could potentially achieve and what we actually do.

“Actions speak louder than words.”

Intentions are the seeds of every great deed, but only action has the power to change the world.

Good intention with no action is like a car that never leaves the garage. It might be comfortable to sit in, but it’s going nowhere.

So, how do we bridge this gap? It starts with self-awareness, the courage to act, and the acceptance that most action steps are very small.

A Deep Dive into Jungian Archetypes

Carl Jung (from Wikipedia Commons)

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who made significant contributions to our understanding of the human psyche. He was a former student and colleague of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, but they eventually parted ways due to major disagreements in their theories.

Carl Jung devoted his life to studying the human mind, seeking to understand the factors that influence human behavior and personality.

Jung’s Understanding of our Mind

Carl Jung’s model of the human psyche can be imagined as an iceberg.

The tiny tip above the water represents the conscious mind, the portion underwater that is still visible symbolises the personal unconscious, and the vast, unseen expanse beneath the surface embodies the collective unconscious.

  1. Conscious Mind: The conscious mind consists of everything we’re actively aware of. It involves our current thoughts, perceptions, and actions. It’s the part of the mind where reasoning, decision-making, and voluntary actions occur.
  2. Personal Unconscious: The personal unconscious contains memories, thoughts, and experiences that were once conscious but have been forgotten or suppressed. It includes personal experiences and knowledge that are not currently conscious but can be brought back to consciousness. This is also where our complexes reside, which are patterns of emotions, memories, and perceptions tied together by a common theme.
  3. Collective Unconscious: The collective unconscious, unlike the personal unconscious, does not develop from personal experiences. Instead, it’s a shared reservoir of experiences of our species, a kind of universal, impersonal form of memory inherited from our ancestors. It contains archetypes, which are basic universal symbols, themes, and motifs that are common across different cultures and epochs. The collective unconscious impacts our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, often in ways we aren’t aware of. It can influence our dreams and our conscious thoughts. Symbols from the collective unconscious often appear in our dreams, fantasies, or in ‘slips of the tongue’, and can even influence our personal beliefs and values.

The collective unconscious, personal unconscious, and conscious mind are all interconnected and each play an important role in how we experience life.

The Collective Unconscious: A Shared Ancestral Species Memory

The collective unconscious, also known as the objective psyche, refers to structures of the unconscious mind shared among beings of the same species. It is a repository of ancestral experiences.

According to Jung, the collective unconscious contains archetypes, which are universal, archaic patterns or images that derive from the collective repeated experiences of our ancestors. These archetypes are innate and inherited, not acquired from personal experiences. They include themes such as birth, death, power, parenthood, and childhood, which are reflected in our myths, religions, dreams, and fantasies.

The collective unconscious profoundly influences our behavior, attitudes, dreams, and emotions, though we are often unaware of its impact. It’s the reason certain symbols, myths, and motifs are prevalent across different cultures and historical periods.

Understanding Jungian Archetypes

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung proposed the idea of archetypes as universal, inborn models of people, behaviours, or personalities. They serve as the foundation for our understanding and experience of the world. The four primary Jungian archetypes are the Self, the Shadow, the Anima/Animus, and the Persona.

Primary Jungian Archetypes

  • The Self represents the unification of the conscious and unconscious within an individual. It’s the archetype that connects our spiritual and earthly facets, symbolising our striving for unity and wholeness. In leadership, this wholeness translates into self-awareness, a quality that enables leaders to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and core values.
  • The Shadow encompasses the parts of ourselves that we choose to repress or deny – our fears, insecurities, and perceived weaknesses. It’s the “dark side” of our personality that we often choose to overlook. However, by recognising and integrating our shadow, we can achieve personal growth and become more empathetic leaders, able to understand and accept the imperfections in ourselves and others.
  • The Anima/Animus. The Anima (in men) and Animus (in women) represent the feminine and masculine aspects within us, respectively. They symbolise the “true self” versus societal expectations about gender roles.
  • The Persona is the mask we present to the world – it’s how we choose to be seen. It embodies our social role and mediates between our true self and the environment. In leadership, the Persona can sometimes be misleading, as leaders may feel compelled to project an image that’s in line with societal expectations rather than their true nature.

Jungian Character Archetypes

While the primary archetypes represent internal aspects of the self, the 12 character archetypes reflect diverse ways these basic aspects may manifest in our behaviours and attitudes. We each have an innate sense of the type of story we seek to live. If we can understand and accept our nature, we can create a life that is deeply meaningful for ourselves.

  1. The Ruler: This archetype craves control and will seek leadership, believing stability and power are the ways to ensure safety. The Ruler fears chaos and being overthrown. As leaders, they can bring about prosperity and success but may also become authoritarian.
  2. The Creator/Artist: This archetype is imaginative and values authenticity. They desire to create something meaningful and enduring. Their fear lies in mediocrity or creating something insignificant. In leadership, they can foster innovation and creativity.
  3. The Sage: The Sage seeks truth and understanding. They are wise, thoughtful, and introspective, driven by knowledge and wisdom. They fear deception and ignorance. As leaders, they are valued for their insight and analytical abilities.
  4. The Innocent: The Innocent aims to be happy and strives to do things right. Their optimism and hope can be infectious. They fear doing something wrong or punishable. Leaders who embody this archetype often encourage a positive, morale-boosting environment.
  5. The Explorer: This archetype is characterised by a deep love of exploration and the desire for freedom. They fear being trapped or conforming. As leaders, they encourage discovery, innovation, and growth.
  6. The Rebel: The Rebel seeks radical change and revolution, standing against the status quo. They fear no change or being powerless. In leadership, they challenge old systems and norms, fostering innovation and change.
  7. The Hero: The Hero archetype is characterised by courage, strength, and competence. They are driven by their desire to prove their worth through courageous acts. Their fear lies in weakness or vulnerability. As leaders, they can inspire others to action.
  8. The Wizard: The Wizard seeks to understand the underlying rules of the universe and make dreams come true. They fear unintended negative consequences. As leaders, they encourage learning, understanding, and growth, aiming to turn ideas into reality.
  9. The Jester: The Jester is driven by a desire to live in the moment and make the most of it. They fear being bored or boring others. They can foster a fun and positive work environment, inspiring creativity and a different perspective.
  10. The Everyman: The Everyman seeks connection and belonging, valuing humility and being down-to-earth. They fear standing out or being left out. In leadership, they often foster team cohesion and egalitarianism.
  11. The Lover: The Lover seeks intimacy and to be in a relationship with the people, work, and surroundings they love. They fear being alone or unloved. As leaders, they encourage harmony and work to build deep relationships.
  12. The Caregiver: The Caregiver desires to help and protect others. They fear selfishness and ingratitude. As leaders, they often provide support, nurturing the growth and development of their team.

How to Understand Humans: Ourselves, and Others

Jungian archetypes provide a mirror to our inner selves, allowing us to deepen self-understanding, lead others and communicate authentically.

  • Self-awareness: Understanding these archetypes can provide insights into our motivations, fears, and desires, improving our decision-making abilities and empathetic understanding.
  • Authenticity: By integrating our personality aspects, leaders can foster authenticity, leading to trust and stronger connections within their teams.
  • Influential communication: Understanding archetypes can improve our understanding of others’ perspectives and behaviours, enhancing communication skills and fostering meaningful relationships.

Exploring your own Archetypal Structure

If you haven’t already done these tests, I’d suggest that they are best place to start to gain an understanding of your own personal character orientation.

The Enneagram, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), DISC, and the Big Five (OCEAN) are all tools that seek to understand and categorise our personality traits.

  • Enneagram: The Enneagram consists of nine distinct personality types. Each type, or number, represents a worldview and archetype that resonates with how people think, feel, and act in relation to the world, others, and themselves. Though not a direct translation, the underlying motives, fears, and desires of each Enneagram type can be compared to the motivations, fears, and desires found in the 12 Jungian archetypes. Learn about the Enneagram.
  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): The MBTI is heavily influenced by Jung’s theory of psychological types. It divides personality into four dichotomies, with 16 possible combinations. These combinations form the basis for Myers-Briggs’ personality types. The MBTI focuses more on the process of personality (how individuals perceive the world and make decisions), while the Jungian archetypes focus more on the content of personality (innate tendencies and behaviours). Learn about MBTI.
  • DISC: DISC focuses on four different personality traits: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. Each of these traits represents a way that individuals typically behave or communicate. The Jungian archetypes could represent the motivation or underlying forces that drive these behaviours. Learn about DISC.
  • Big Five (OCEAN): This theory measures personality across five dimensions: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. These traits are seen as continuous spectrums rather than distinct types or categories. Jungian archetypes could be seen as expressing different combinations of these traits, with certain archetypes leaning towards specific ends of the spectrum. Learn about OCEAN (video by me).

Some free Personality profile resources:

Exceptional Results

“Sometimes all you need for exceptional results is average effort repeated for an above-average amount of time.”

James Clear

Consistency beats brilliance.

The 20 mile march.

Daily progress.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step… and you’ll reach it within a year if you go for 3 miles a day. I’ve been running 100kms every month for the last 4 years… and I’ve learnt a lot about consistency over this time. A few kms every 2-3 days and I’ll make it without undue suffering. A week off and it gets harder. 10 days off and it gets really hard. You don’t want to be coming into the last week of the month with much more than 30kms left to go.

Everything important in life takes time… and steady, daily progress

video from my first international trip during the Covid times

You only need to be productive 7 minutes a week to be a youtuber

How to make Behaviour Change Stick

It’s January. New year is a time for reflection on how life is going… and often to make changes.

Why does behaviour change fail?

Here are 3 reasons why I see people fail at behaviour change:

  • Lack of Clarity: They have a vague sense of the desire to change, but no clarity around exactly what it is that needs to happen every day. Choose something specific and achievable that you want to change. Write it down and make it visible.
  • Lack of Support: They are in an environment that doesn’t support the change, or that actively holds them in the current state. Who around you is already making this change work in their own life? If your friends are fit, you are going to be fit. If your friends read lots and share their lessons, you are going to be a reader and a learner.
  • Impossible expectations: They have a sense that clear, visible, lasting results will appear in a few days. They have an unrealistic expectation of how quickly they will see results. Most Important: Decide to commit to the change, and let go of your expectations around seeing quick results.

What to do to help Behaviour Changes stick?

If you liked this post, you will also like the guide to behaviour change and Managing Oneself.

Don’t Make This Mistake: Good Intentions but No Actions

“The road to hell is paved by good intentions”

Be careful that your good intent results in good action.

Only action changes our world.

We see our Intentions, Others see our Actions

We should evaluate actions by their consequences, not their intentions.

Soft intentions, often create unintended consequences.

We judge ourselves by our intentions, others judge us by our actions. We are often so clear on our intent, that we are blind to how our actions might look to another person.

“Could do” vs “Will do”

Could vs Will – “I could do what you are doing!” – could = anyone “could”; doing it is the thing.

Anyone could make a call

Anyone could define a vision

Anyone could…

Could changes nothing.

An action (even half a step) begins the change.

Where opportunities come from

Jim Collins says that “Return on Luck” is one of the significant factors in extreme success.

It is not that successful companies or people have more luck… it is how they follow through on their lucky breaks that makes the difference.

One person might meet someone who could open a door of massive opportunity… but doubt and confusion mean that they don’t pursue the chance.

Another might meet the same person… and have the motivation, vision and competence to take the opportunity and turn it into a gold mine. Whether you are lucky or not today, you can invest in developing your clarity of vision, your competence, your network of trusted relationships – to be ready to maximise your return on luck when an opportunity comes to you.

Where Opportunities come from

“Stand in the traffic”

Prof Paris de l’Etraz, IE Business School, Madrid

Whilst luck is not controllable… there is something that I can do to increase the chances of lucky breaks occurring.

Prof Paris de l’Etraz of IE Business School in Madrid teaches a course on managing your life. One of his sessions is titled “Stand in the Traffic“. He says that it is important to place yourself physically and mentally where many opportunities are likely to flow. Your sofa at home is comfortable… but no opportunities are flowing past. If you spend your days at a business school… a lot of people, ideas and opportunities flow past.

Lucky Opportunities tend to be Stumbled Upon

The author of the Atomic Habits book, James Clear, has a wonderful weekly email newsletter. Here is a thought that he shared on opportunities…

from James Clear…

“Lucky opportunities tend to be stumbled upon, not handed out. 

If you’re waiting for someone to hand deliver an excellent opportunity to you, it’s unlikely to happen. But if you are exploring and moving—if you’re in the mix and engaged—then you’ll stumble upon many opportunities. 

The active mind comes across a lot. Keep tilling the soil and you will occasionally unearth something wonderful.”

Have a great Sunday.

If you liked this post, you will also like How to be Lucky (4 ways to improve your luck) and Serrendipity.

The Courage to be Rubbish

I get requests for advice from people starting youtube channels.

My first piece of advice is “make bad videos”. When you are starting out, don’t aim for good… aim for done. If you make 1 “bad” video a week for 52 weeks… you will make many bad videos, but you will accidentally create a few good ones, and at least 1 excellent one.

Don’t wait for excellence. Have the courage to make rubbish videos.

The Iterative, Experimental Approach to Progress

I was reminded of this idea of The Courage to be Rubbish by a podcast conversation between Greg McKeown and Bob Glazer, the host of the Elevate podcast.

Greg shared a story about the Kremer prize. This is a prize that was established in 1959 where Henry Kremer put up money as a prize for “Human powered flight”. It was 18 years before the prize was claimed.

There were many approaches by people seeking to win the prize – most involved lots of careful building with delicate and expensive parts… and then a test flight… mostly ending with a crash.

Paul MacCready, the eventual winner of the Kramer prize, approached the prize in a different manner. He saw that if he could make the cost of “failure” extremely low (in both damage to his own body and damage to the kit and to his finances) he could incrementally improve his system over many many iterations.

Crappy test… and iterate… and repeat. He had to repeat many times, but slowly started to improve the parts and his own skill. It was more of an “evolutionary” approach to design. It took many iterations, a lot of experimentation, a lot of steady slow improvements… and then he won the prize.

Gossamer Condor in flight, By Laura Bagnel

The Gossamer Condor approach to Youtube & blogs…

Make a bad video, with the kit you have right now. The phone in your pocket has more than enough quality to make a first bad video.

If you keep making videos, you will get better.

Focus on what makes it easy to keep making videos, not on making great videos.

This idea doesn’t work where there is a high cost of failure. Youtube videos, blog posts… they have a very low cost of failure. If they are bad, few people watch.

Further resources on Blogging and Youtubing:

Redefining Failure

“Living Safely is Dangerous”


What is your relationship to success and failure? I have been reflecting these recent weeks about how I respond to “failure” – when things do not turn out as I hoped or wished.

The video below shares my thinking about a better way of approaching failure in our lives.

How I let failures derail me…

I let small failures easily put me in a state of frustration and stop me making progress (and then checking social media and seeking out other simple distractions).

I take small setbacks incredibly personally.

I’ve been reflecting on why I let these small failure events have such an effect on me.

I realised that I was telling myself that all setbacks are bad.

This is not a great story to tell myself. A new story is that failures are a sign that I am working towards important goals. A lack of setbacks would be a demonstration that I am only working towards easy, unimportant goals that don’t push me to grow as a person.

Essential Meaning of failure: (from Merriam-Webster dictionary)

  1. a lack of success in some effort
  2. a situation or occurrence in which something does not work as it should
  3. an occurrence in which someone does not do something that should be done

The 54 Skills Vital to the Future of Work (McKinsey)

Sustainability, AI and Digitalisation are three important strategic concerns for all businesses. Covid has accelerated this process of transformation. Some jobs will disappear, and new types of jobs will be created. What skills will keep us valuable?

A recent McKinsey report looked at the human skills that will remain in high demand as organisations adapt to the requirements of a sustainable and digital world.

What are the skills that will keep you gainfully employed in future?

McKinsey surveyed over 18,000 people across 15 countries to identify 54 key future-proof skills, which are grouped into 4 categories:

  1. Cognitive – Problem Solving, Planning, Structured communications, Mental flexibility
  2. Interpersonal – Influence, Relationships, Teamwork
  3. Self-Leadership – Self awareness, goal setting
  4. Digital – Data literacy, Computational thinking

The 54 Future-Proof Skills

The rest of the report identifies 54 “distinct areas of talent” – which McKinsey calls DELTAs. These each have an attitudinal and a skill element, so they are something beyond a basic skill. I include the infographic below directly from the McKinsey report:

The Mindset required for Future Employability

In addition to the 54 skills, McKinsey outlined 3 aspects of a Mindset that will be key to future employability:

  1. Contribute – add value beyond what can be done by automated systems and intelligent machines 
  2. Digital – operate in a digital environment 
  3. Adapt – continually adapt to new ways of working and new occupations 

The Impact on Job Satisfaction

There are a few different graphs shown in the full McKinsey report. I found this particular one interesting – the “DELTA”s that most correlate to Job Satisfaction… I would suggest they go farther than just job satisfaction and correlate with overall life satisfaction.

The top 10 Skills for Job Satisfaction

How will you be working on improving your competency in the top 10 skills for Satisfaction?

  1. Self motivation and wellness
  2. Coping with Uncertainty
  3. Self Confidence
  4. Sociability
  5. Programming literacy
  6. Energy, passion and optimism
  7. Understanding biases
  8. Empathy
  9. Integrity
  10. Grit and persistence

If you enjoyed this post, you will also enjoy The Zig-Zag Path to your Dream Job and What will future jobs look like?

How to Stay Sane in Uncertainty

A month ago it felt like the Covid virus was losing its capacity to disrupt our well made plans… but along comes Omnicron and the maths change again.

We are living in the era of predictable unpredictability. All plans are flexible and adaptable.

It is a state of existence that puts great pressure on our mental well-being.

Predictably unpredictable

For two years we have lived with shifting regulations around masks, tests, travel restrictions, lockdowns and vaccine certificates. As new variants arise (and that process is guaranteed) these regulations come and go… leaving us all living in permanent limbo.

We have canceled our own travel plans at Christmas. It almost feels a relief to have clarity, even as we and our kids accept the loss of the imagined joys of Christmas presents and time playing with cousins.

A decade ago online shopping, distance learning, home office and video conferences were the stuff of sci-fi and a few techie nerds. Today they are our lives. The advances in how we use technology to allow hybrid classes in IESE and hybrid meetings in Vistage have amazed me. I believe that the rapid acceptance of technology to facilitate communication, work, teams, advances in new organisation structures, crypto (as a store of value and with NFTs as a means to distribute equity, ownership, trust or revenues over a large group) is going to open up some massive steps forward for humanity.

Healthy Humans Need Meaning

We get a lot of the meaning in our lives (in the west) from activity, from progress against plans, from the feeling of forward momentum. We can find meaning in other ways. If we are to stay sane in times of unpredictability, we need to find meaning in other ways. A daily gratitude list – “3 things I am grateful for” is a very powerful meaning and mindset shift. Setting 10-20 year goals is another way of keeping a sense of meaning (and progress) even in the face of short and medium term unpredictability.

What are the activities, conversations, focusses that give a sense of meaning to your own life?

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