Use this framework to put decision-making theory into practice

A photo of the author next to a helicopter in Bosnia.
A photo of the author next to a helicopter in Bosnia.

I was savouring a coffee from my new coffee maker when a wide-eyed and breathless soldier stumbled into my makeshift office. My cup was poised in my hand — the aroma was fantastic — and the thought of drinking it was more alluring than anything I could imagine that this soldier might interrupt me with. This had better be good, I thought.

“Sir! The guards think there is a bomb at the gates to the camp!”

I put the cup down; coffee time was over.

I started out my career as a bomb disposal officer in the Army. From there…

Simon climbing a mountain
Simon climbing a mountain

A short bio of Simon Ash

Hi and welcome!

Let me introduce myself. Let’s start with the two most common questions people ask someone when meeting someone for the first time. Usually these are:

‘What is your name?’ and ‘what do you do?’

So, let me answer these in turn:

Who am I?

My name is Simon Ash. Pleased to meet you!

What do I do?

Professionally I am a writer, podcaster, public speaker, leadership coach, strategy consultant, entrepreneur, business owner and Army Officer. As you can see, I like variety in my work, but I have a particular interest and expertise in decision-making and leadership development.

My other roles include husband and…

How to progress from debate to dialogue with the Socratic Method.

A man and woman have an honest conversation
A man and woman have an honest conversation

The Socratic method? What on earth is that and why should I care?

Great questions.

I have been professionally taught (as a bomb disposal officer) and teach (as an instructor) question technique. I have also studied ancient history and modern psychology. With all that knowledge I have found there is little to beat the ancient wisdom of the Socratic method. That is why I use it, not only in my work as a professional coach but also in everyday discussions.

I recommend the Socratic method as it is a simple and practical approach to dialogue that you can use when…

There are times in life where difficult conversations need to happen to be able to move forward. These techniques will help you.

A man and a women sit apart not talking
A man and a women sit apart not talking

Difficult conversations can be incredibly stressful. This means we can often try and avoid them but this, unfortunately, won’t solve the issue.

The problem is that there are just too many times in life when difficult conversations need to happen. Many of the most challenging chats take place with family or friends, but most people — and especially leaders — seek guidance for uncomfortable discussions that come up in a work context.

I hate the feeling I get in my stomach when I step up to a challenging conversation. I still cringe when I think about some robust conversations I…

A frog
A frog

The secret of prioritisation is simple in theory but hard in practice

How do you best prioritise your workload? There is an abundance of strategies for prioritising and tips on time management but, if you look carefully, you will see that they all boil down to the same thing.

Whether you listen to the advice of leaders such as Steve Jobs and Dwight Eisenhower or read business experts such as Stephen Covey, Tim Ferris or David Allen you will see there is a common theme, even if techniques might differ.

Don’t have time to get through all that material and the techniques? Don’t worry, I have done that for you! So, what…

A frustrated man sitting with a laptop trying to solve a problem
A frustrated man sitting with a laptop trying to solve a problem

To solve a problem first ask: is it a tame, critical or wicked problem?

What is the biggest problem that you are facing now?

How would you define that problem? Maybe you have not even thought to define it, you are simply getting on with trying to solve it. But, research shows, that it is important we understand the nature of the challenge in order to bring the right solutions to bear.

As John Dewey put it:

“A problem well-defined is a problem half solved.”

Let me share some wisdom that has really helped me in problem solving.

You may well have heard people talk about ‘wicked’ problems. This phrase comes from a useful…

Combining work from several sources can give you income, freedom, and opportunities that exceed the old model of the salaried position

man sitting at keyboard with an open notebook and pen beside him
man sitting at keyboard with an open notebook and pen beside him

I have a portfolio career. I have developed this career steadily over the course of more than a decade. Over this period my work has developed from side hustles and freelancing into a proper career, one with purpose, direction, and development opportunities. This career allows me the flexibility and variety I crave. I get to work on the things I love, support my family, and enjoy the lifestyle that I want.

Sound too good to be true?

Well, I will share how I have built this career and made it financially sustainable.

What is a portfolio career?

What does the term portfolio career mean, and…

The powerful man as leader; a counterproductive idea of power and leadership
The powerful man as leader; a counterproductive idea of power and leadership

If you do not understand the true meaning of power, then you could be undermining your success

Studies show that you could well be wrong about the concept of power. Answer these two questions and you will see:

  1. Do you think you are powerful?
  2. If you had more power, would you use it well?

Hold that thought and read on. Whether you are thinking correctly about power is largely dependent upon the answers to these two questions.

You are likely to have answered no to the first question. To the second question you are likely to have answered yes. If so, then evidence suggests that you are probably wrong on both counts.

Do you think you are powerful?

Before we decide if we…

A labyrinth carved into stone
A labyrinth carved into stone

Sage advice for leaders from an entrepreneur, best-selling leadership author, and Master Executive Coach

Nick Chatrath is an entrepreneur, Managing Director and Master Executive Coach. He has worked for McKinsey and Company, been a business founder and a CEO. He has a DPhil from Oxford University and has co-authored a best-selling leadership book. He has coached MBA students, politicians, special forces soldiers and CEOs. In other words, he knows what he is talking about!

Apart from being a serial over-achiever, he is also my coach and friend! Here are some key lessons that I have learned from my discussions and coaching with Nick.

Leaders need to take time to reflect

When you speak to Nick you realise that being is at…

Someone walking along a boardwalk
Someone walking along a boardwalk

Being self-aware requires time. What’s more, to connect thoughtfully, spiritually and emotionally with ourselves (let alone others and our environment) does not always come easily.

Therefore, it is important to find ways we can be more mindful in everyday activities. The exemplar of using mundane activities as spiritual opportunities was probably Brother Lawrence (author of The Practice of the Presence of God) who was able to pray while doing the dishes. I, for one, struggle with achieving this level of mindfulness.

Where I do feel more naturally thoughtful and mindful is when outdoors. …

Simon Ash

Lover of adventure. Fascinated by questions and decision making. Also a leadership coach, writer and podcaster.

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