Category Archives: Uncategorized

Useful questions for coaching and mentoring

1. What’s on your mind?

  • Allows your mentee to take control of the discussion and choose the topic

2. What’s the real challenge here for you?

  • Helps mentee to identify challenges for themselves, developing them and encouraging learning.

3. And what else?

  • Repeat to go deeper into the issue.
  • Ask a maximum of three times.

4. What’s at the heart of that? What’s your thinking?

  • Helps identify the core issues challenging your mentee, led by them.

Books you should make time to read

I wish I’d read the following books at age 18, or maybe even younger!

Each one has had a profound effect on the way I’ve thought about things — principally communicating, leading and managing people, which is an essential part of work as well as every day life, no matter what you do.

I firmly believe that absolutely anyone will benefit from reading these books. Ultimately, they help you to understand how people think, what governs human thought in general, and how people’s perceptions affect reality. You can read them in any order, but the order I have placed them in is how I would personally prioritise them and is how I read them.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – Buy on Amazon

A real classic, widely recommend, and for good reason. This book is all about developing your relationships with people. While the title might make you think it’s about manipulation, the opposite is true — the book focuses heavily on becoming genuinely interested in other people and using the skills it teaches to do the right think. An incredibly important book which made me think a lot about how I present myself to others and how to get the best out of all interpersonal relationships. Very short and readable in only a couple of hours but will bring benefits for a lifetime.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr Robert Cialdini – Buy on Amazon

A detailed study of how people influence each other, and what makes certain people influential. Funny, full of evidence, and brimming with fascinating stories. I have no doubt that I’ll read this book several times over in my life. It will help you understand how to influence others as well as how to identify or resist when others are influencing you. Essential reading.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman – Buy on Amazon

I must confess that I haven’t actually finished this book yet — but what I can say already is that it packages a huge amount of information from modern psychological and social research into how people think and react to all manner of things. It will help you understand how you think help you get the best out of yourself and others in all sorts of situations.

I have included Amazon links for convenience. I read one of these in paperback, one on Kindle and one on audiobook!

While I wish I’d read these books earlier in my life, I’m very grateful that I have now — many people will pass them by and miss out on the hugely useful information they contain. I hope you find them useful.

A few thoughts on gift giving

Post-Christmas, I’m just recording a few thought on presents and gift giving.

Christmas is often slated as overly commercial these days, and it certainly can be in some spheres. I generally stay as far away from television and its myriad adverts as I can (not that I watch much television anyway) during December.

However, rampant advertising aside, there is something lovely about buying somebody a gift and knowing that they will enjoy it.

Gift giving is an ancient social custom, and one which works best if you really think about the reason behind what you are buying, rather than just panic-buying something you found after Googling “gifts for outdoorsy people”.

There are many schools of thought on what makes a great gift. Here are a few I’ve encountered. I don’t think there’s one which stands out as best, but they can be useful ways to think about what to buy people as presents.

1. What they want/have asked for. Perhaps the easiest way of buying gifts, and the one that requires the least thought. It may be expected, but at least you’re guaranteed to give a ‘good’ gift.

2. Something you know they want but have forgotten about. Can be a lovely surprise when someone realises you’ve remembered what they said they would like or enjoy in the past. However, it can backfire, resulting in confusion and awkwardness if they don’t want it any more or actually wanted something else instead.

3. Something they ‘don’t know they need’. If you know somebody well enough, it’s easy to identify things they might not have at all that they would really enjoy or appreciate.

4. Little luxuries. A nice gift to give is something of very good quality that the recipient might not buy for themselves — they will appreciate it each time they use it and it will stand out as special.

5. Something that they will use often. A gift which is useful; something which makes the recipient’s life easier or better somehow.

Comment with your thoughts, or if you have any further suggestions.

Sexual harassment in the military

Another short article on sexual harassment in the military. While it focuses on the US Army, I believe a similar problem exists in the British Army (a reflection of British society at large).

We all have a responsibility to speak out against the people who carry out these awful acts, as well as those that make jokes about this sort of behaviour and consider it acceptable.


A great post on sexual harassment, and how we all have a responsibility to fight against it.

The Military Leader – 5 ‘Must Have’ Conversations for Military Leaders

Link to article

A short, great little article on important conversations any leader should be having regularly.

Angry Staff Officer – An Army Officer’s Guide to Public Speaking

Right. So I’m just going to put this out here right off: if I have to listen to yet another stumbling, rambling, mispronounced, mumbled, dry, and generally boring as hell briefing from one of my peers, I’m going to find a way to beat someone over the head with their own PowerPoint slides. Seriously, we’ve […]

via An Army Officer’s Guide to Public Speaking — The Angry Staff Officer