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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

Create your island of sanity and softness – 3 elements and 5 questions [Wise Wednesdays]

I see trees of green, red roses too

I see them bloom for me and you

And I think to myself…What a wonderful world!

I love this song by Louis Armstrong released in 1967 as a protest against the Vietnam war. I even sang it live at a jazz night once at Goodenough College when I was part of a student band.

But the world doesn’t feel like that sometimes, or even a lot of the time, especially if you’re being bombed daily.

So how do you centre and do what you can in a world of brutality?

This was the challenge we took on at The Leaders Circle last week - Purpose in Times of Global War. I was inspired by Miki Kashtan’s article on The power of the soft qualities to transform the patriarchy and transformational experiences from a course on soulmaking dharma.

Leaders showed up from across four continents including countries Oman, Kenya, Mozambique the US and UK, bringing together doctors, ecologists, academics, coaches and changemakers from across the world. Together we created:

> an island of softness amid a sea of violence.

> a neurobiology of peace in times of global war.

> wholeness and solidarity in a fragmented and polarised world.

Legend in the making: Paola, a member of last year’s Sanctuary and a dear coaching client, is an ecologist and a conservation and community leader in Mozambique. She arrived at the Leaders Circle with the question: “What should I do to help?” and left with 4 convictions: 1) to be the best witness to the events, not turning away; 2) to shed cultural conditioning that fuels the misconstruction of history; 3) to explore grief as a portal to new possibilities; 4) to imagine us as the new leaders.

You don’t need to oppress, repress or suppress yourself into burnout to create the impact and life you want. Create an island of softness and sanity and your actions will become sharp and powerful – like a karate chop.

You can create your island of softness and sanity right now:

#1 Slow down and ground into your own awareness [Presence]

#2 Discern your sphere of influence (be compassionately ruthless) [Power]

#3 Identify what is yours to do right NOW (not your entire lifetime) – follow the openness [Possibility]

Here are 5 questions I shared with the Leaders Circle to help you with steps 2 and 3 and clarify where to focus this season (only answer them once you’ve grounded in a sense of softness and sanity with step 1!)

1) What are you called to do this season? If you look back on your life, what is a theme that joins many of the dots. If you look ahead from here, what is yours to do?

2) How do you want to do it? What qualities would you like to bring to your work going forward that perhaps have been dormant or need more of your attention (presence, openness, creativity, playfulness)?

3) What is likely to hold you back? What are the people places, habits that you are likely to give into because it’s easier?

4) What’s in your favour? What are the resources (people, communities, finances, time, energy) that you have available to support you so that you don’t burnout?

5) What’s an easy win? Think of where you can take easy action now, once off the call or tomorrow first thing.

It will take 30 minutes with a cup of tea to answer these but it will change the coming year. Pick one question if you don’t have time. It will still make a difference.

Share with me 1 insight and 1 action you will take.

Remember: you don’t need to set yourself on fire to warm others up. Become an island of softness and take sharp action.

Have a great week,


p.s. Missed the last Leaders Circle? Join me for a final Leaders Circle this year on boundaries and goal-setting the wisdom way. Create life-giving boundaries to nourish your career and leadership journey in 2024. More details soon.

p.p.s. What’s the most important ingredient for a powerful conversation? Share your answer and read the ‘secret’ on LinkedIn here.

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