A short truthful tale

When I was working away from London, a group of mice made a home in my house.

Unaware of what was unfolding (and miles away) I read an article about mice and men. A laboratory study had found that the presence of a male (from any species) makes the already rapid heart of a mouse race faster with fear. Even the scent of male sweat on a shirt causes enough anxiety to distract them from other sources of pain. However, in the study, the mouse only pays attention to the presence of a woman if she is with a man…


Can we learn to love our complicated feelings?

Darkness is such a beautifully rich concept — but so universal that it often goes unexamined. And we miss out on half of it’s beauty if we limit it to the bad side of good vs. bad.

With this in mind, I previously offered up four new metaphors for darkness. Each tried to add some texture to how we see the dark, and loosen up the “Light as Good / Darkness as Evil” metaphor that dominates. I proposed

Light as Noise / Darkness as Quiet

Light as Plutonic / Darkness as Romantic

Light as Public / Darkness as Private

Light…


Some suggestions for seeing the beauty of the dark

Over the last few years my eyes have been slowly opening to the potency of metaphor. Above and beyond the beauty in a figurative phrase, I’m interested in how ideas embedded into our everyday language impact our perception, often without us realising.

Let me first make it more tangible with an example: a 2011 study explored how different metaphors for crime affect how people think crime should be dealt with. Respondents to the experiment were given simple news articles, where rising crime was either framed as a beast that was ravaging the city or a virus that was ravaging the…


Two of my dearest friends in the world asked me to be the godfather to their second son, and write something for him as part of his dedication. Little Huw, like me, is a little brother to a bigger brother and so I thought i’d offer him ten suggestions from my experiences.

Ten suggestions for a little brother (from a little brother)

  1. Admire this hulking animal. Look at him! Such a beautiful beast! Wherever you go, whoever you meet, he will never be matched. Don’t let temporary frustrations distract you from this permanent truth.
  2. Be thankful that you have someone to follow. It’s not always as fun as you imagine…

Our lives are full of complex challenges. A complex problem is one where it’s not simply a case of predictable cause-and-effect. In complexity, the different parts of the system effect each other in ways you can’t perfectly model or predict. Not everything complicated or difficult is complex. So launching a spaceship might be very complicated, but raising a child is complex. Building an algorithm is complicated, but building an alliance is complex. David Snowden has a nice framework for differentiating types of problems.

“Launching a spaceship might be very complicated, but raising a child is complex”

But how do we navigate complex problems? Here are five things not to do.

  1. Don’t take on…

Dramatically increase your productivity with this one time management tip: don’t spend any time beating yourself up about time management.

I’ve spent years with a niggling background doubt that I’m not following any of the productivity tips that I read are vital. I’m rubbish at lists, my inbox is a mess, I follow my nose for what is needed.

Am I productive all the time? No. Am I productive enough? Yes. And all we need in life is enough to make it through the day. There is no perfection. Enough is an idea we need to hear more. …


Living and working in China for a year in 2011 was in equal measure disorientating and delightful. I moved there with my job — as a lead consultant with What If — and I was lucky to be working alongside brilliant local minds on both regional and local projects.

Lighting up my imagination

It’s sometimes not until you are confronted with a very different way of approaching things that you realise your own preconceptions. I have talked a lot about the power and influence of our metaphors over the years. And, for me, I came face to face with the fact that a lot…


I heard this quote a while ago but I have no idea where it was from:

You can achieve less than you think in a year, more than you think in a decade.

It is one of those ideas that really stuck with me, and has been worming away in my psyche. Because it applies in so many areas of life. I’ll quickly illustrate with examples from my life and then land the implications as I see them.

I’m coming up to a decade of yoga and other related mindful body-based practices — starting when I lived in China in…


This is a reflection written after DesignMakeDo event in London about creative collaborations where I presented along with Peter Mandeno, Miquel Mora and Steve McInerny.

Collaboration is often seen as the “nice thing to do”. But a theme of the evening lurking beneath the surface was the darker side to getting things done with each other. I’ve written elsewhere how collaboration is awash with unpleasant emotions — if you collaborate you can expect to experience doubt, anxiety, frustration, conflict and sadness. And in our work, one of the important things for leaders to grasp is that collaboration doesn’t have to…


The world is full of important, complex challenges that can only be addressed meaningfully by working together — and one of the joys of the work we do at Let’s Go is to have a view across a wide spectrum. For example, earlier in the year it was a joy to join the Global Change Leaders for a few days. This rather impressive global community of social entrepreneurs are working to make education better, gathered by our long term friends at Ashoka. …

Richard Watkins

Lifelong collaborator — founder @letsgohq — creative stuff www.richwatkins.com — Camberwell

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