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Gandhi and Mandela Would be Proud: What’s Next after the Women’s March?

January 29, 2017

Black Girl.jpeg

It was a surreal moment. It was a big enough shock on November 8th when the election results came in and Americans reeled in horror as a reality show host became the leader of the free world. The shock finally set in on January 20th when Donald J. Trump stood in front of a modest turnout on Capitol Hill (less than half of the estimated 1.8 million people who attended President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009). TV and online viewing was estimated at 31 million, in contrast to Obama’s 38 million viewers in 2009).

Place January 20th in context with what took place the next day, Saturday, when what’s been billed as the Women’s March on Washington drew over an estimated half a million people. In Trumpian speak it was YUGE!

It’s not as much an issue of exact numbers that attended the inauguration and the Women’s March (the US National Parks Service ceased doing crowd estimates years ago following a lawsuit) but more importantly that so many people rallied together under a common vision. And of particular importance was that Americans in some 500 U.S. cities marched, making it likely the largest protest in U.S. history. Marches were held in dozens of other countries, in such cities as Vancouver, London, Nairobi, Singapore, Rio de Janeiro and Sydney.

And they were peaceful!

The various factions of feminists came together for a march that was not, of course, the exclusive preserve of females. Men joined as well. Gays participated. LGBTQ people attended. Little girls held signs with their moms. One 13 year-old Canadian teen who was interviewed on CBC Radio’s Cross Country Checkup talked about the amazing experience of marching with her mother. I thought the teen was 18 years old because of how articulate she came across.


As much as the United States has been the epicentre of attention because of the foul comments made by Donald Trump, first as Republican Party candidate and then as Presidential candidate, fueling racist and xenophobic behaviours by his supporters, peaceful Canada to the north has seen a surge in similar actions. Take a moment to read Giving Permission to Canada’s Racists. Canada’s challenge is to stamp out the emergence of hate-filled mysogynistic and racist behaviors. It has no place in my country.

The big question post-march is what next? It’s far too soon to intelligently predict just how a Trump administration will affect the rights of women and minorities, though on January 22nd the president signed an executive order withdrawing funding from NGOs that sponsor abortion overseas.

One emerging concern, as reported in some news outlets, is the introduction of legislation in five states that would criminalize peaceful protest and in one state allow motorists to run over protesters in certain situations. One of these states is Indiana, home of Vice President Mike Pence. To be fair, President Obama signed a bill in 2012 that was perceived as an attack on free speech. And lest my fellow Canadians are feeling a bit smug, my country has a sad history of repressing free speech.


The January 21st Women’s March was a celebration of sorts. The strength behind the March was that it was peaceful. The worse thing that could have happened (or happen in the future with marches) was civil unrest, including violence. This would have played into Donald Trump’s hands. And this is where the focus from January 21st needs to be: peaceful marches and protests. Doing so will: a) draw more support from people who have been hesitant to support this new movement and b) give it more legitimacy.

Two prominent individuals come to mind on the practice of civil protesting using non-violence.

Mahatma (Mohandas) Gandhi was the 20th Century’s leader in non-violent protesting, and the pivotal leader in India’s independence movement. Gandhi, born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, studied law and advocated for the civil rights of Indians. As a key leader of India’s independence movement, he helped organize boycotts against British companies, using peaceful forms of civil disobedience. He was killed by a fanatic in 1948.

Gandhi’s civil disobedience work began as a young lawyer in South Africa, where he lived for 21 years. Working as legal rep with Muslims, he experienced first hand the racial intolerances inflicted upon people of color. And it’s where he developed his leadership skills that he would put to use when he returned to India in 1921. While he wasn’t the first one to use non-violent forms of protest, he was the first to apply it on a large scale.

As a quiet and modest man who took on the British Empire and its institutions, Gandhi came to rely on his faith, beliefs and courage as the bedrock of his leadership.


The other individual is Nelson Mandela, who spend 27 years in prison for his resistance to South Africa’s repressive and brutal Apartheid regime. Born in 1981, Mandela was a member of the Xhosa-speaking Thembu tribe in the village of Mvezo. His father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa was chief. Although his name was Rolihlahla, once he attended missionary school one of his teachers dubbed him Nelson.

Mandela was the first in his family to receive a formal education, and during his university education he began getting involved in protests, starting with university policies. He became active with the African National Congress in the early fifties, and in 1955 was arrested with 155 others for committing treason. The trial lasted until 1961 when they were acquitted.

Upon being released he formed Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), a new armed wing of the ANC. As the wing’s leader, Mandela ran afoul of the Apartheid regime, resulting in his arrest for sabotage against the government. He was to have been executed, but narrowly avoided that sentence, instead being given a life sentence. Mandela was eventually released in 1990 by newly elected president F. W. de Klerk. However, it needs to be told that Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney lobbied relentlessly to have Mandela released from prison.

Nelson Mandela, while not a devout practitioner of non-violent as with Gandhi, later became a champion for peace and social justice in South Africa. He created a foundation and organizations advocating peace, and is known for his strong emphasis on reconciliation and forgiveness following the collapse of Apartheid. Continuing violence would serve no one. As a sign of respect, many South Africans referred to Nelson Mandela as Madiba, his Xhosa clan name. He died in 2013 from a recurring lung infection.


Herein lies the lesson for the Women’s movement. Three key elements have emerged:

— Faith
— Belief
— Courage

If this nascent movement is to have legs and become a sustained global movement, then a fourth key element is essential for its future:

— Perseverance

Much can be learned from the Occupy Movement, which fizzled quickly. There were too many competing interests and no common vision. The focus needs to be kept on why the Women’s March was organized in the first place. As organizers of the march have stated, “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights,” with the goal “…to affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination.” As such, the march was open to people of all ages, gender, race culture and political affiliation.

We face a very uncertain future over the next four years. This is not just a big issue for Americans but Canadians, their northern neighbour and Canada’s close historical ties on economic, cultural and security grounds. It’s also a big issue for Mexico and that country’s future trade relationship with the U.S.. And it’s a big issue for the rest of the world when it comes to America’s past global leadership.

I hope that as the father of three daughters and one son and six grand children (four of whom are girls) that the Women’s March movement develops traction and moves forward in a change-invoking manner. Following Gandhi’s and Mandela’s examples of collective leadership, in which people come together under a common vision, would be wise and prudent—and, in the end, strategic.

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
— Mahatma Gandhi

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Be Open to Outcome—The Leaderly Approach

January 22, 2017


A baseball bat and a baseball cost $1.10

The bat costs one dollar more than the baseball.

How much does the baseball cost?

According to Professor of Psychology Emeritus (Princeton), Daniel Kahneman, most people (including smarty pants Ivy League students) state that the baseball costs 10 cents.


The baseball costs five cents.

Think about it for a moment if you replied 10 cents.

In his best-selling book Thinking Fast and Slow, Kahneman takes the reader on a fascinating journey in understanding how humans think. Thinking fast is our immediate response to our environment. He calls this System One. An example is when we’re driving a car and see a red light. We don’t go through an analytical assessment of what steps to do to brake. We just do it.

The converse to System One is System Two, Thinking slow. You’re at a work meeting and wish to present a counter argument to a colleague’s comment on a controversial issue. Taking a System One approach is probably not the best route, especially if you’re emotionally charged up. Taking a System Two—logical—approach would be the preferred option.

Some of System One’s characteristics include:

— creates feelings, impressions and inclinations; when affirmed by System Two, beliefs and attitudes emerge,
— functions automatically and quickly without much voluntary effort,
— forms a clear pattern of ideas in memory,
— ignores ambiguity and suppresses doubt,
— frames decisions narrowly in isolation from one another.

Climber Hanging

That many of us have a tendency to shoot from the hip—especially extroverts—presents a leadership challenge when it comes to how we conduct ourselves at work, home and in the community. Thinking fast has its place in leadership, but thinking slow is where a leader’s true value to organizations and society occurs.

Kahneman’s work links directly to how we process and adapt to change. Two big topics come to mind, both of which exploded into view in 2016 and are now front and centre in 2017: the June 23rd referendum where the UK voted for what’s became labelled as Brexit, and the November U.S. election of Donald J. Trump.

On Brexit, the media, political “experts” and anyone with a set of vocal chords went wild. The sky will fall chimed those in the Remain camp. And following the referendum’s surprising result, naysayers have gone into overdrive. It’s become a pessimist’s orgy of gloom and doom. Take a moment to read The Hysteria of Brexit and Irresponsible Leadership.

Much of the pre and post-referendum commentary has been, in effect, Thinking Fast. People have been too emotionally invested in their preferred outcome for the UK. As they would say across the Pond: “That’s a pity.”

And then there’s been the political spectacle of the century (though we’re only into its 17th year). With some parallel similarities to the Brexit outcome, Donald Trump’s election should not have really been a surprise. If one had been paying close attention to what has been evolving in the United States, Great Britain, and Western Europe, in regard to angry citizens, being more open to a political upset would not have rocked as many mainstream journalists, academics and pollsters.

Guy Jumping

What’s unfortunate is that instead of those highly educated and publicly respected individuals (regularly interviewed in the media) taking a Thinking Slow approach when discussing a Trump administration, a Chicken Little route is typically taken. Thinking Fast and becoming emotional with often wild speculation adds nothing to the political debate in the United States. At a crucial time of political transition, intelligent discussion and analysis—Thinking Slow—is badly needed. Take a moment to read The Allure of Populism and the Confusion with Fascism.

Rather than moaning about how evil Donald Trump is and how he’ll damage America, the intelligentsia needs to get over the election results and determine where and how they can contribute to their country’s future. The visceral display of contempt towards Donald Trump by the country’s elite thinkers is characteristic of a Thinking Fast mentality, where attachment to outcome blinded self-perceived smart people. It serves no one (except their egos), especially the United States, a nation that is undergoing gyrating uncertainty.

Woman on Ladder

As a long-time student of leadership for almost 30 years, I’ve accumulated a wide variety of experiences relating to leadership development (including designing and delivering training), team building, organizational downsizing and re-structuring, public speaking, and customer service. Throughout this process, one particular thing has helped me to adapt to numerous change events. It’s what the late leadership practitioner Angeles Arrien called “Be open to outcome, not attached to it.”

Arrien, who died suddenly in April 2014, wrote the phenomenal book The Fourfold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Healer, Teacher and Visionary. It’s undoubtedly the leadership book that has had the greatest positive impact on me as an evolving leader.

As I read Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, I made the link to The Fourfold Way. Thinking Fast doesn’t cut it in a rapidly changing geo-political-economic environment. Sure there are times when you need to think fast. However, if you’re in a leadership position, regardless of hierarchy in an organization or your community, Thinking Slow is the route to take when making decisions for the longer-term. They’ll be of much higher quality, you’ll piss off fewer people (instead of making rash decisions), and you’ll contribute more constructively to your organization, community or family. And in that process, you’ll be much better positioned to adapt to change by being open to outcome and not attached to it.

It’s become abundantly clear, at least to me, that the self-perceived experts, from whatever field, are often are either poorly informed on an issue or have taken the lazy Thinking Slow approach when asked to comment on what are often very important economic and social issues. In short, they’re attached to outcome.

Your leadership challenge is to engage in the appropriate thinking mode when faced with a problem.

Four Rules For Life: Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Don’t be attached to the results.
— Angeles Arrien

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Canada’s Biggest Nightmare: The Impending Water Wars

January 15, 2017


Rising sea levels, the consequence of human-inspired carbon output into the atmosphere, is an extremely urgent problem. However, it’s largely perceived as a global problem of longer-term consequence, and one that society is largely discounting to future generations. This is an obvious mistake, because of the staggering impacts that rising sea levels will have on human migration from coastal areas, from South Asia to the United States to Northern Europe. Because it’s a cross-border issue at least rising sea levels is receiving some attention in the media.

What’s being ignored is another water issue, one that will likely have a huge impact on my country, Canada.

When the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was negotiated between Canada and the United States during the eighties, signed on January 2, 1988. the aspect of exporting water to the U.S. was not addressed. It’s not clear why Conservative Prime Minister Brian Muloney’s government didn’t push to have the blocking of bulk water exports included in the FTA. The issue of water exports was also ignored by Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which went into effect on January 1, 1994.

The highly contentious issue of bulk water exports to the U.S. is one of the most emotive topics for Canadians. However, because little has been written and reported on the subject since these trade agreements were launched (Canada’s media is a rather sleepy, reactive lot), a hot-button topic has not been on the radar of Canadians.


Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians (a left-leaning, social action non-profit group), and author of Blue Future (third in a trilogy on water), has led a persistent fight for the responsible use of water in Canada and around the globe. As Barlow has stated unequivocally: “Everything is now for sale. Even those areas of life that we once considered sacred like health and education, food and water and air and seeds and genes and a heritage. It is all now for sale.”

In 2013, a private member’s bill was passed to prohibit bulk water exports. Bill C-383 was an amendment to the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act and the International River Improvements Act. The Bill did go some distance to ban inter-basin water transfers into international rivers. However, there are areas, such as manufacturing and potential water exports in northern Canada, that were left out of the legislation. Furthermore, there has yet to be a court or NAFTA tribunal challenge to this legislation.

Gary Doer, former Manitoba premier and former Ambassador to the U.S., stated in 2014 that he expects water export disputes to escalate in the next few years, making the Keystone XL pipeline controversy “look silly.”

Chapter 11 of NAFTA, Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), is the padded brass knuckles of a legislated trade agreement that strips the sovereignty of national governments. Crossing one’s fingers and hoping that interests in the United States, both government and business, will not exert pressure on Canada to allow bulk water exports is an exercise for fools and the naive.

President Trump will likely insist on re-negotiating NAFTA, which would give U.S. companies and state governments the opportunity to push for—indeed sue—for access to Canada’s abundant water wealth. The World Resources Institute identifies Canada as a “low stress” region, while the United States is “high stress.” One has to be only vaguely familiar with the extreme drought conditions that have plagued parts of the U.S. for the past decade to appreciate the urgency of the problem facing American politicians.

Water 3.jpg

Canada’s looming water problem is set in the context of a global crisis. We’re not just water wealthy in Canada, but live in what the United Nations has stated as being the best country in which to live. Consider the serious droughts in Jordan, Syria (and its extreme violence), India, Brazil and North Korea, to name a few countries, and Canada’s bulk water export issue seems trivial in comparison. Nevertheless, succumbing to future pressure from the United States to allow companies and states access to Canada’s water resources is a slippery point from which no return will likely be possible.

This raises the acute need for national leadership, supported by provincial leadership. And it requires an engaged electorate and leadership from Canada’s business community as part of a coalition of interests to demonstrate the country’s intent and will to protect and preserve its water resources from the United States. President Trump, who has amply demonstrated an uncanny ability to appeal to the emotional instincts of Americans and to get deals done, will make mincemeat of Canada’s attempt to save its water.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Canada has probably one of the largest resources of fresh water in the world. Water is going to be — already is — a very valuable commodity and I’ve always found it odd that Canada is so willing to sell oil and natural gas and uranium and coal, which are by their nature finite. But talking about water is off the table, yet water is renewable.

— Paul Cellucci (U.S. ambassador to Canada, 2001 to 2005)

holisti-leadershipClick here to download a complimentary copy of Jim’s e-book Becoming a Holistic Leader, 3rd Edition.

jim-grand-manan-fbVisit Jim’s e-Books, Resources and Services pages.

Contact Jim for information on his Holistic Leadership Workshop

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The Hysteria of Brexit and Irresponsible Leadership

January 8, 2017


Happy New Year to my readers! 2016 was a year filled with geo-political turmoil, pain and suffering in many countries (Syria is but one example), and new scientific developments (eg, SpaceX and driverless cars). In 2017 we’ll see a new president, Donald J. Trump, assume office and move forward with his political agenda for the United States. However, one of the biggest political events that will seize attention is the start of the United Kingdom’s process to leave the European Union. Brexit is not for the faint-hearted; Prime Minister Theresa May will have to draw on all her inner leadership resources.

The vast majority of news coverage of Brexit, before and after the referendum, has been hugely oriented towards a sky-is-falling standpoint. This post takes a contrary stand. Time will tell where the truth lies.


Boris Johnson, the former London mayor with the blonde mop of permanently messed hair and crumpled suit, probably couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the results of the June 23rd Brexit referendum. In a mini-me version of Donald Trump, Johnson had decided during the campaign to adopt a full-scale assault on the Remain in the European Union camp. His ability to stretch the truth and mis-state statistics (if not outright lying) knew no limit.

In a down-to-the-wire finish reminiscent of Quebec’s 1995 referendum, in which the No vote to separate from Canada won by only 54,000 votes, UK citizens flipped that story over to vote to leave the EU. Brexiters won by 3.8 percentage points (1.3 million votes).

The degree of hyperbole from both sides during the months leading up to June 23rd became unbearable. Prime Minister David Cameron (who resigned immediately after the results), the architect of the Brexit referendum, earned an A+ in contributing to the hysteria of the Remain camp, not to mention feeding the insatiable appetite of a media that was more intent on stirring up the public’s emotion than on conducting intelligent analysis and fact-checking.

That the sky would fall and the UK would turn into a banana republic was a virtual certainty if voters chose the Brexit route. And in the weeks following the referendum’s results, the hand-wringing increased as Remainers moaned about how Brexiters, in particular people like Boris Johnson, manipulated statistics and distorted the truth. Bad Boris and other major players had taken the UK down the road to ruin, with no chance to undo the referendum. Indeed, new Prime Minister Theresa May, herself a Remain champion, has insisted that “Brexit means Brexit” from the EU. Her challenge, and that of her cabinet, is figuring out how to do it and when to invoke article 50 of the Lisbon treaty.


There are two general ways that the UK could exit the EU: a so-called “Hard” Brexit, which could include the UK refusing to compromise on such issues as the free migration of Europeans and leaving the EU single market (with its 27 remaining member nations) and instead trading with the Union as a country outside of Europe. In contrast, a “Soft” Brexit might involve the UK keeping some form of membership within the EU, with a provision for the mobility of Europeans (along the lines of what Norway negotiated with the EU).

Perhaps the most insidious aspect of the Brexit referendum was citizens of the United Kingdom foregoing an intelligent debate on the merits of staying or leaving the European Union. That the referendum descended into a quagmire of infantile insults, lies and deceit speaks poorly of the country’s media, intelligentsia and elected representatives.

Although many reasons have been attributed to the June 23rd outcome, four main factors have become defacto scapegoats: racism, nostalgia for the United Kingdom of the past, education levels, and insularity from the outside world. Yes, there’s truth in this, except that what gets overlooked in the socio-economic-geographic voting results is that the Remain camp was very heavily skewed into metropolitan London.

Younger educated people, who migrate to the world’s financial centre, want access to the EU, whether for work or personal travel. Yet in the real world of working families, whether in Northern Ireland or middle England, manufacturing jobs have disappeared with little in the way of replacement incomes. Alienated youth, such as in Glasgow or Manchester, see no future. Crime becomes a way of life. Immigrants and refugees arrive in communities where employment prospects are poor, compounding perceived views of immigration.

In the last five hours of the polls being open on June 23rd, betting markets had given the Remain camp an 88% chance to win. The four percentage point loss, however, shook markets and currency trading, with the pound taking it’s biggest one-day loss in recent history, from $1.50 U.S. to $1.36 (in early 2017, the pound is about $1.23 U.S.). An estimated $2.1 billion was lost on world stock markets. And Moody’s lowered the UK’s credit rating. It was pretty ugly, reminiscent of a bad Mel Gibson apocalypse movie.


Except that the sun always rises.

Fast forward less than two months to September and not only did the UK’s economy not collapse under a mushroom cloud of global fear but consumer spending actually maintained confidence. Business confidence showed signs of revival, the services sector reflected the biggest gain in some 20 years, and the pound strengthened (though it nose-dived in early October, due likely to high-speed, algorithm trading). Of course, it helps to have a highly competent governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, previously the Governor of the Bank of Canada. His stimulus package in September helped bolster confidence and spending.

The weaker pound has also helped to stimulate exports. The latest data at the time of writing is December 2016, when the Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing PMI jumped to 56. This 30-month high was in contradiction to a previous Reuters poll which had forecasted it to decline to 53.1 (the long run average is 51.5). Accompanying this rise in exports was the biggest increase in manufacturing employment in over a year.

Across the pond, Canada’s crown-owned Export Development Corporation (EDC) opened a permanent office in London in September 2016, just three months after the Brexit vote. This was actually a long-overdue event, considering that the UK is Canada’s third largest trading partner (after the U.S. and China). The opening of this office expands EDC’s global coverage to almost 20 permanent offices in a variety of countries (e.g., Beijing, Singapore, Mexico City and Jakarta).


EDC’s mission is to support the export growth of Canadian companies, Therefore, it’s a strategically important decision to open a London office. Granted, there’s still a high degree of uncertainty and risk ahead for the UK as Prime Minister Theresa May and her cabinet undertake the country’s exit from the European Union. However, EDC saw opportunity with the United Kingdom’s future, despite what many commentators have said, and continue to say, about its Brexit result.

Some of the largest technology companies in the U.S. announced in the fall that they’ll expand operations in Great Britain. Apple announced at the end of September that it will consolidate eight locations into one new building in southwest London. The current 1,400 employees may double in size over time. A month later, Google stated that it will construct a new head office at Kings Cross Station, aiming for 3,000 new employees within three years. Around the same time, Facebook announced that it will boost its workforce in Great Britain by 50% to 1,500. And to round out the private sector investment announcements, IBM will open four new data centres as part of its cloud services growth.

Then there are Chinese investors who see opportunity halfway around the world. In November, four of China’s largest banks announced a $2.1 billion financing deal for the first stage of the East End dock transformation into a business hub for East Asian companies. That doesn’t include another $2 billion of Chinese money being invested into London’s property market.

While investors from other countries are nervous about investing in Great Britain due to the uncertainty on how Brexit will play out, Chinese investors have adopted a more bold approach. In addition to a yuan that has risen against the pound, Chinese investors are getting close to exhausting their aggressive foreign property acquisition campaign. As Michael Marx, former CEO of U+I group, said in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek: “Chinese investors are betting that the U.K. will do well in the Brexit talks, and if it doesn’t, companies will choose London as their base.”

With risk there’s opportunity for those brave enough to embrace it.

People tend to forget the resilience of those living in the United Kingdom. Just witness how during the darkest hours of World War II how the British focused and sacrificed heavily to repel Hitler and his Wehrmacht. To think that the decision to leave the European Union will cause a long-term catastrophic decline in the United Kingdom’s economy is not just incorrect but, frankly, idiotic.

The UK will continue on as a major Western power, both economically and militarily.

Count on it.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
— Winston Churchill

holisti-leadershipClick here to download a complimentary copy of Jim’s e-book Becoming a Holistic Leader, 3rd Edition.

jim-taggartVisit Jim’s e-Books, Resources and Services pages.

Contact Jim for information on his Holistic Leadership Workshop

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Year-End Leadership Message: It’s About Balance

December 25, 2016


As we near the end of 2016, I’ve thought about what message I could share with my readers, something to encourage personal reflection and leadership for 2017. Fortunately, someone I admire recently posted a wonderful piece. Derek Sivers, a global traveller and someone who’s allowed me to share some of his past posts, has some very important thoughts on achieving balance between pursuing your passion and earning a livelihood. Check it out below. Also be sure to visit Derek’s blog and subscribe to his posts.

To the people in the some 160 countries who read my posts on ChangingWinds, thank you for your readership. I wish you all a safe and enjoyable holiday season with family and friends. Let’s also pray for a more peaceful world in 2017.

I’ll see you in January.


Here’s Derek:


The Problem:

People with a well-paying job ask my advice because they want to quit to become full-time artists.

But full-time artists ask my advice because they’re finding it impossible to make money.

(Let’s define “art” as anything you do for expression, even just blogging or whatever.)

The Solution:

For both of them, I prescribe the lifestyle of the happiest people I know:

— Have a well-paying job
— Seriously pursue your art for love, not money

The Ingredients:


You’ve heard about balancing heart and mind, or right-brain left-brain, or whatever you want to call it.

We all have a need for stability and adventure, certainty and uncertainty, money and expression.

Too much stability, and you get bored. Not enough, and you’re devastated. So keep the balance.

Do something for love, and something for money. Don’t try to make one thing satisfy your entire life.

In practice, then, each half of your life becomes a remedy for the other.

You get paid and get stability for part of your day, but then need creative time for expression.

So you push yourself creatively, expose your vulnerable darlings to the public, feel the frustration of rejection and apathy, and then long for some stability again.

Each half a remedy for the other.



Be smart, and choose something that pays well with a solid future.

Look for statistics in your area about what pays the best, when factoring in training required.

You’ll probably need to study for a few years to build up the rare skills that are well-rewarded.

Read the book So Good They Can’t Ignore You for more great thoughts on this.

This is a head choice, not heart choice, since you’re not trying to make your job your entire life.


Pursue it seriously. Take lessons. Make weekly progress. Keep improving, even if you’ve been doing it for decades.

If you don’t progress and challenge yourself creatively, it won’t satisfy the balance.

Release and sell your work, like a pro. Find some fans. Let them pay you. Make a band and do some gigs for fun.

But the attitude is different than someone who needs the money.

You don’t need to worry if it doesn’t sell. You don’t need to please the marketplace. No need to compromise your art, or value it based on others’ opinions.

You’re just doing this for yourself — art for its own sake.

And you’re releasing it because that’s one of the most rewarding parts, is important for self-identity, and gives you good feedback on how to improve.



Your main obstacle to this amazing life will be self-control.

Mind management, to leave your job at the office, and not bring it home with you.

Time management, to stop addictions like social media and video-watching, and make your art your main relaxing activity.

Read the book “Daily Rituals” for great examples of this.


Final Thoughts:

How nice to not expect your job to fulfill all your emotional needs.

How nice to not taint something you love with the need to make money from it.

Most full-time artists I know only spend an hour or two a day actually doing their art. The rest is spent on mundane crap that comes with trying to make it a full-time career. So skip the art career and just do the art.

I’m fully expecting you to disagree with this advice. But I’ve met about a hundred people a week for the last 18 years, many of them full-time musicians, many of them not, but the happiest people I know are the ones that have this balance. So there’s my blunt template advice, given only because people keep asking.

Don’t try to make your job your whole life.

Don’t try to make your art your sole income.

Let each be what it is, and put in the extra effort to balance the two, for a rewarding life.

I see my patterns, and I choose to make changes.
— Louise Hay

holisti-leadershipClick here to download a complimentary copy of Jim’s e-book Becoming a Holistic Leader, 3rd Edition.

jim-taggartVisit Jim’s e-Books, Resources and Services pages.

Contact Jim for information on his Holistic Leadership Workshop

Take a moment to meet Jim.

A Post-Leadership World

December 18, 2016


As a society we’re suckers for labels. We love creating a label for whatever seems unique or cool at the time. Examples abound, with a steady influx being created, manipulated from existing words, or appropriated from older generations. Then they go viral, usually disappearing after a little while.

More recently, what could be called society’s pseudo elites, those self-proclaiming above average brain power or special knowledge, have fallen into the habit of adding the prefix “post” to anything they see fit. Witness the expression “post-racial world” that dates back to 1971 in a New York Times article, and which started to become popular during Barack Obama’s presidency. But then reflect on the extreme violence that has been perpetrated on black Americans during Obama’s eight years in office. Take a moment to read a recent post I wrote, Giving Permission to Canada’s Racists.

The prefix “post,” however, has some history. Let’s look at the word Postmodernism, created in the mid 20th Century. (Modernism emerged as a philosophical movement in the late 1800s and early 1900s, spurred on by rapid industrial growth). Note that the word “post” in the modernism context pertains to the lack of any overarching principles, and importantly that there are no scientific, religions or philosophical truths that reveal all to everyone. Skepticism is seen as a healthy state among a population (an interesting concept if one were to apply it to the recent Presidential election in the United States).

Indeed, Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016 is Post-truth, an adjective defined as: “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” For fun, check out this list of English words with the prefix “post”.


One person specifically comes to mind when reflecting on what’s now become one of the media’s hottest buzz words: post-truth. No one did—and does—post-truthiness better than President-Elect Donald Trump. Admittedly, there’s a pandemic now of politicians everywhere throwing facts and the truth in the ditch and going for the emotions of people. It’s way more efficient as a means to an ends (typically political), but also the lazy route. However, it shouldn’t be like that.

A leader with sound integrity and personal principles will earn his or her followership the hard way, through the process of conveying facts by rational explanation. Making up facts and appealing to people’s dark side—where our prejudices and fears hide—is the route the cowardly leader takes. Or to put it another way, as Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s GPS 360, said of Donald Trump shortly before the November 8th election: He’s a “bullshit artist.”

Well, you can’t get more direct than that, and perhaps Zakaria’s description is the closest one to the mark for President-Elect Trump. And it’s certainly paid off very well financially for Trump over time.

In August 2012, I wrote a post called What’s Your Truthiness Quotient?, drawing on Stephen Colbert’s The Word segment from his former Colbert Report satire show. “Truthiness” dates back to October 2005 when he first created it to mean “…truth that comes from the gut, not books.”

I came up with the idea of a Truthiness Quotient for leadership– HITS, comprising four key elements. These come from the gut, our inner being–not from books.


1) Humbleness:

You have a good grasp that your knowledge base, while perhaps impressive to others, is but a mere speck of sand in a mammoth and growing world body of knowledge. What you don’t know you don’t know vastly exceeds what you actually know. Think about that for a moment.

2) Integrity:

When you open your mouth and make a statement of whatever sort, you mean what you say and say what you mean. In short, are your words and actions congruent?

Sounds easy?

Give it try and ask one of your followers or peers to keep careful track.

Can your family, friends and co-workers take to the bank what you promise? Are you what the late Stephen Covey called a “promise keeper?”

3) Transparency:

How open are you? Are there two “yous,” one side that you present to others while keeping the other one for other purposes?

When you make decisions, do you share all the information you possess with your co-workers and staff? Or do you manipulate and hold information in order to achieve your non-transparent objectives?

4) Sacrifice:

If you mean what you say and say what you mean, then you have no problem taking the hit for the team when necessary, especially if you’re the official leader. In the military, especially special ops groups such as the Navy Seals, team leaders are the first to go in the door during a firefight. They don’t hesitate to sacrifice themselves when necessary. The last thing they do is expect a team member to lay down his life while the leader stays in the background.

Where are you when the going gets tough and dirty? Are you at the front of the line, ready to take the first hit?

So based on this short HITS quotient, should President-Elect Trump take the test? How would he fair?

Whether you’re an office manager, big-shot CEO, or leader of a nation, if you’re living your Truthiness Quotient to the fullest then you’re practicing a form of servant leadership. This is where you have created a loyal followership. And yes, President-Elect Trump had, and continues to have, an intensely loyal followership. But it has been of a short duration. What counts is a sustained loyal followership over the long-term, and whether it’s working towards the collective good of society.

So the big question is: are we living in a post-leadership world?

I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?
—Benjamin Disraeli (former British Prime Minister, )

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Ethical Leadership or the Penalty Box

December 11, 2016

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Some people are slow learners, even when they’re penalized and chastised for doing wrong. The Liberal Party of Canada, under the leadership of political street fighter Jean Chretien—the little guy from Shawinigan—got itself into a pile of trouble with Canadians and the courts during the early 2000s. The story started back after the 1995 Quebec referendum, when the No vote to Quebec separating from Canada barely squeaked through, a matter of only some 50,000 votes.

A fund was created to help bolster federalism and strengthen Quebeckers ties to Canada. What emerged over the next few years was a shady fund, with no formal application process and no monitoring, to pay for cultural events. Rumours grew that it was being used to support the federal Liberal party, in particular Liberal supporters. By 2002, Prime Minister Chretien and his government were on the hot seat. The Toronto-based Globe&Mail, through an Access to Information request, discovered that $550,000 had been paid to Groupaction Marketing for a non-existent report.

The Auditor General of Canada, Sheila Fraser, subsequently investigated the growing scandal, releasing an explosive report in 2004, within which she used such words as “scandalous” and “appalling” to describe the Liberal government’s misuse of taxpayers’ dollars. Her report found that some $100 million had been spent solely for the purpose of enriching communications companies through commissions and fees, without producing any benefit for Canadians.

Fast forward a few years and the Liberals were thrown out of power. Chretien had resigned by then, leaving the mess to his successor Paul Martin Jr.. Martin, who naively thought that the Gomery Commission into the sponsorship scandal which he launched would clear him, didn’t last long as prime minister. He received a sound thrashing in the polls by Conservative leader Stephen Harper, who held office for a decade until being defeated in November 2015 by Justin Trudeau, the eldest son of the late and former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.


Justin Trudeau, a relatively new member of parliament (from Montreal) rode to power on a wave of anti-Harper sentiment, obtaining only 39% of the popular vote, but a significant majority of seats in the House of Commons. Victory was sweet for Trudeau, accompanied by his beautiful and extroverted wife, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau. It was Trudeau Mania déjà vu.

Well, the shine certainly comes off new political leaders quickly, sometimes surprisingly very fast. As if Justin Trudeau doesn’t have his hands full with a limping economy, stagnant wages, and an over-heated housing market with hugely indebted Canadians, combined with a new incoming president in the United States, he’s had to fend off an ethical problem that blew up in late November 2016.

Prime Minister Trudeau may not have broken any political financing laws when he attended a private $1,500 per plate fundraising event in May 2016, but it sure didn’t smell right, creating a strong perception of a lapse in ethical behaviour from Canada’s top political leader.

At the event were businessman Zhand Bin, president of the China Cultural Industry Association, a state-sanctioned group, and Shenglin Xian, president of Toronto-based Shenglin Financial. Following the event, Bin donated $1 million to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and the University of Montreal Faculty of Law. Xian, a past Liberal Party of Canada donor, was seeking to obtain final approval (a process initiated during the previous Conservative government) for starting up a Canadian branch of Wealth One Bank.


The Pierre Elliott Foundation has a history of being very careful about being politicized. Indeed, board members included former Conservative cabinet minister Chuck Strahl and NDP MP Megan Leslie. However, Strahl resigned his post when the story hit the media, accusing the Liberals of using him as their “foil.” And on December 13th, the National Post and other newspapers reported on the Trudeau Foundation possibly facing a conflict of interest probe, due to the huge increase in donations to it following Justin Trudeau’s election as prime minister.

As Conservative MP Blaine Calkins expressed: “The Liberals have an ethical problem following their own rules that the prime minister has set out for himself. He set the bar for his government’s ethical behaviour.” And NDP leader Thomas Mulcair stated: “Pay-for-access was supposed to be over once the Liberals came to power, and now we see that it’s continuing.”

The only other certainty in the world other than the sun rising to the east is politicians regularly having lapses in ethical judgement. It’s guaranteed. Period. Even for Sunny Ways Justin Trudeau. When a top leader, whether of a company, public institution or nation, espouses that he or she will practice sound ethical, transparent leadership, then the only direction to go is down with your followers. The only way to save your neck and to redeem yourself is to honestly admit that you screwed up and that you’ll work to ensure it never happens again.

Justin Trudeau didn’t do that in the case of the fundraiser. His aides went into spin control for him, and Trudeau never directly confronted the issue to admit that he had made a mistake. It doesn’t matter whether he was within the legal political boundaries of attending the event. Perception is reality in the eyes of followers, and not addressing an issue face-to-face only pulls the leader further into the mud.

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.
— Thomas Jefferson

holisti-leadershipClick here to download a complimentary copy of Jim’s e-book Becoming a Holistic Leader, 3rd Edition.

jim-grand-manan-fbVisit Jim’s e-Books, Resources and Services pages.

Contact Jim for information on his Holistic Leadership Workshop

Take a moment to meet Jim.