01291 622598 / 07880 794127 william@williambuist.com
Mastery from Chaos!

Mastery from Chaos!

Chaotic Weather

My friend and a past client called me on a windy, rainy, cold Thursday afternoon. The weather that day was chaotic. As we talked, the wind thrashed at the trees and rattled the windows. They explained how they were determined to sell the business and realise its value. They had appointed their new senior leaders, expert people in distinct roles, but the challenge was that none of them saw the bigger picture; they were independently pursuing their goals and sometimes blocking each other. They were committed and diligent, with focused intentions aligned with those goals, yet frustrations were high, and solutions were absent. As I listened, I sensed the rain lashing harder, creating more noise and reducing vision.

Mastery group.

I suggested that we separate them from the day-to-day and encourage collective thinking. Using a facilitated mastery group where they can meet regularly to share their experiences, learn from each other, and support one another in achieving their goals. Also, and notably, with one-to-one mentoring time, they each had a confidential space to explore those frustrations and learn from their mentor strategies for more effective working.

I was also keen to see how they worked together, how communications flowed, and where culture and practice overlapped or clashed. By taking these observations and critiquing the variety of approaches, I would be able to create a more open, listening, and culturally rich environment for them to explore their own and each other’s challenges.


Our facilitated mastery group would help the team develop their leadership, communication, and collaboration skills. Still, it will also foster personal and professional growth that benefits them in the business and their careers.

One aspect we discussed was how to make sure that the group stayed focused at the right level. That’s where the group facilitator is essential. A mastery group, when facilitated well, will remain focused on appropriate goals and objectives and will not get sidetracked by irrelevant discussions or topics. I see (too often) in unstructured groups that the urgent takes precedence over the important. For that reason, we talked about what was important in advance, and those elements would be a part of the purpose of forming a mastery group.

Accountability is vital; we discussed how, individually, this group of leaders needed to be held accountable for their collective endeavours and not just their effort. Through that we anticipated that they would generate an “esprit du corps” and gradually act in a more aligned way as one team.

Clarity and calmness.

I remember the day because as we discussed the challenge, I could sense the clarity in their thinking developing and, as if in tune with that, the rain first eased, then stopped and then the clouds cleared.

We went ahead. By working as a mastery group, they all offered diverse perspectives and insights that can help each other overcome obstacles. We saw all of them become much more creative at problem-solving because they understood what each person could bring to the solution. Moreover, the accountability and motivation provided by the mastery group and personal mentoring helped everyone stay focused and productive. Today they hold each other accountable for their work and each provides motivation to stay on track. Clarity and calmness are the enduring outcomes.


The business has been sold, with the team remaining in place for this next phase. We had a lot of fun, laughed a lot, and everyone stepped beyond their expertise to build better business.

Book a call if you would like to know more about how a similar mastery group could work for you or your senior team.

What is a business mentor?

What is a business mentor?

Mentors are an active guide. A mentor is a person with knowledge, skills and experience relevant to you. Mentoring is an ongoing relationship of learning, challenge, conversation, and shared experience. Its aim is for you to reach your goals more quickly and effectively.

The idea of mentorship is nothing new. Since the days of ancient Greece, apprentices have worked beside masters to learn a trade. This journeyman tradition was so strong that it even became the foundation of surnames like Carpenter, Fisher and Baker. But mentoring has changed too. It is no longer a simple transaction about passing on experience. Mentoring has become a collaborative relationship occurring between the master and their mentee.

A mentor brings their mastery to your business, but they are not an employee. They will not (usually) undertake the work that is identified, but they will hold you accountable for ensuring it gets done.

Should you consider having a mentor?

Many small businesses could not operate successfully without access to knowledge, skills and experience that a business owner doesn’t yet have but needs quickly. That provision is often best provided by a personal relationship-based business coach or mentor.

Being mentored is a strategic choice taken by a business owner, manager or director when they recognise the need for support and help. An essential element of selecting a mentor is to recognise that this is a significant and ongoing relationship; the chemistry has to be positive, supportive and mutually respectful.

To check that, it’s important to identify the key areas where mentoring is needed. This could be where your knowledge is lacking; for example, you may be strong at delivery but weak at marketing, so seek mentorship to support developing a solid marketing strategy. It could be where you have the knowledge but need support to develop and hone skills. Most often, it is to benefit from the mentor’s experience to make better decisions on your journey to mastery. Mentors should only work with those whose experience is wholly appropriate. You can read more about who I work with here…

Before working with a paid mentor, you should ask them some searching questions. Make sure they will be the right person, bring the skills and experience you need, and that you like their approach and style.

Be More Kid.

Be More Kid.

“Be More Kid” is one of those books that fully lives up the title. It’s what I expected and it does it very well. We each have, of course, our own experience of childhood, we lived through it after all, and yet the book reminded me of how much I had forgotten about that time. Perhaps you have too.

The Book

“Be More Kid” is well-written and thought-provoking. It challenges us to embrace our inner child and live life to the fullest, and with joy. (Given that the last section of my book “Intentional Mastery’ is titled “Mastering Joy”, this was music to my ears.)

The authors, Ed James, Mark Taylor and Nicky Taylor, have a unique writing style that is both entertaining and informative. Throughout the book, they provide practical tips and exercises that help the reader rediscover their playful side and bring joy and happiness into their daily lives.

The main themes.

One of the key themes of the book is the importance of living in the moment. The authors encourage readers to put aside their worries and enjoy life as it is, just like children do. They also emphasise the importance of embracing individuality and pursuing passions, regardless of what others might think. It is a refreshing message that resonates, in my experience, with many adults, especially perhaps when they felt stuck in a rut. It’s refreshing to rediscover joy and purpose in life, in the ways the book identifies.

Another key aspect of “Be More Kid” is the focus on creativity. The authors stress the importance of tapping into our imagination and expressing ourselves in new and innovative ways. Whether it is through art, writing, music, or any other form of expression, the authors encourage readers to let their creativity flow and to be unafraid of experimentation. One example was about creating covers for workbooks, and drawing or sticking pictures to personalise them. I always find that ways to make things my own brings me joy; it may do so for you too. This section of the book is particularly inspiring and provides valuable insights into the benefits of embracing our creativity and imagination.

Tips and habit-forming actions.

The book is also filled with practical tips and exercises that are designed to help readers develop new habits and attitudes. For example, the authors provide suggestions for how to live in the moment and enjoy simple pleasures, such as playing with children, taking a walk in nature, or simply taking a moment to enjoy the beauty of the world around us. These practical tips are easy to follow.

In Summary.

Overall, “Be More Kid” is an excellent book that is filled with valuable insights and practical tips for living a more fulfilling life. Whether you are an adult who is feeling stuck in a rut, or simply looking for ways to bring more joy and happiness into your daily life, this book is an excellent resource. The authors’ writing style is engaging and entertaining, and their message is one that will resonate with anyone who is looking to rediscover their inner child. I highly recommend “Be More Kid” to anyone who is looking to make positive changes in their life and to anyone who is looking for a source of inspiration.

Why participating in a recession will kill your business.

Why participating in a recession will kill your business.

There’s a lot in the news right now about the ‘cost of living’, inflation, and other vague but economically threatening stories. There is some truth in them, but the sense of proportion and perspective has been lost in the noise.

A realistic perspective.

The UK economy is currently just 0.5% smaller than it was a year ago, That’s 50p in every £100 of economic activity. That after being adjusted for inflation too. In other words everything is to all intents and purposes identical to where we were a year ago.

Those who are experts or masters in their business look at this sort of thing and take, basically, no notice whatsoever. Those who run a strong business, based on well researched knowledge, honed skills and deep experience take a different approach. I’ll return to that in a moment.

Recessions are granular, with some sectors badly affected, others which continue to thrive. Within each sectors there are variations too. How your clients are affected is something that only you can judge. How you react will determine your businesses success.

Inflation does affect us all and means almost every business will need to raise prices, and, in general, clients expect that, and they are probably doing the same. An action for each of us is to review our client roster and plan when to have the conversation about a price increase. It’s worth looking at your own costs and how they are changing as, whilst inflation affects us all, our own inflation rate will not be the same as the government’s headline figures.

Business Mastery.

Masterful businesses look at their markets, they are curious about how their clients are faring and how the economy is affecting them. They help their clients understand their own context so that they make informed decisions. Curious too about how they can adapt their services and products to provide additional value. The masterful will thrive, and they thrive because they focus on their clients (and prospects), and the value they bring to them. If you sense that your clients are becoming wary of the economic impacts of what is happening, then be curious about their understanding, their experience, and their plans. Ask them for a discussion, and listen carefully to their assumptions. In that curiosity lies opportunity.

2023 beckons and for many it will be a superb year. Are you ready to be one of those businesses, or one that participates in recession?

Where are your dead flowers?

Where are your dead flowers?

I recently celebrated a milestone with a friend by sharing a meal at a fancy restaurant in London. We choose it because of its reputation. We arrived in good time, and the staff used my name to greet us. They led us to a table, offered drinks and menus, and explained what else was available from their daily specials. So far, so good.

As we studied the menu and considered our choices, I found my eyes continually drawn to a vase of flowers in the middle of the room, which were dead. I’m not talking of an artistic composition of dried flowers, but a wilted drooping quite dead arrangement. It was one of those distractions that just kept taking our attention at the edges of consciousness. It just didn’t fit the environment. Diverting, frustrating, creating a challenge to the task at hand – choosing the food we wanted to eat. I wondered: if the flowers were dead, how fresh would the vegetables be today?

The waiter came over, but we hadn’t decided what to eat as both of us were distracted by this incongruity. We asked him to move the vase of dead flowers. We learned that the restaurant used an external supplier who delivered fresh blooms weekly. They were due to be replaced soon. Unfortunately, the hot weather we had been experiencing had done its work and a week’s gap was too long. We were dining the day before the supplier was due to replace them. The restaurant had failed to see the impact what was blindingly obvious to us as customers. Fair play to the restaurant, they quickly cleared the dead flowers away, and immediately the whole space felt more upmarket and worth the prices on the menu.

We ordered some fabulous food and shared a bottle of great wine. It was an incredible celebration. Yet sometime later, here I am writing about that vase of dead flowers. Small factors can make a big impression. These were specialists at their trade – waiting table with precisely the correct elements to make it an enjoyable experience. Experts, perhaps Masters, were in the kitchen, producing simply delicious food. Yet the overall experience was tainted by a tiny distraction.

For me, mastery is about eliminating those small elements as much as it is about making the significant change from being an expert to becoming the master of your field, the very best at what you do.

What is the vase of dead flowers in your business? What element of your work do your clients find frustrating or distracting, which, when you eliminate it, will make a lasting and profound difference to how those clients view your business? Sometimes, like the servers in the restaurant, what is frustrating or mildly aggravating isn’t obvious to you. Your clients’ annoyance isn’t visible to you until they point it out. When they do, you should, of course, take immediate action.

When you are intentional and open your eyes to look afresh, you will spot the vase of dead flowers. Move it before it distracts. When you are dedicated to every part of the experience you give others, you unlock your mastery and it will truly shine.

Photo by Earl Wilcox on Unsplash

Stepping up to mastery

Stepping up to mastery

Over the last few months, I’ve been training for the race to the stones (#RTTS), 62 miles along a national trail called the Ridgeway. When we applied to join this long-distance walk the organisers provided a training plan. As the months have gone by I’ve realised how that training plan has been designed by someone who truly understands how to create the best possible chance of completing the course effectively. It is the work of a master.

Each section of the training was designed to do a different element of what’s required. The first stage was to build fitness. The second is to build strength. The third stage, which I have just completed, builds endurance. The last phase, in the final two weeks, is designed to give the body time to both gather the necessary fuel and embed the training that has taken place.

My initial reaction when I looked at the plan was that it didn’t cover enough distance in any one session given that the race to the stones covers 32 miles on each one of two consecutive days. This weekend required just 16 miles each day, half the distance we will do on race day.

Intentional Design.

Yet, as I approached the end of that plan I realised the mastery with which it had been designed. Distance is not the only challenge here, endurance is important too. The ability to keep stepping. You can’t build endurance unless you have the strength in depth already. You can’t build strength in depth unless you have fitness already. Yet, once you have all three you still need to be fully prepared, ready physically, mentally, and emotionally for the challenge that lies ahead.

Business planning.

Those things are just as important in business. Masters of business follow a similar plan. They build a business that is fit for its purpose. Then they build strength into that business by developing their skills, improving their knowledge, and transforming experience. That builds endurance. That is what becoming more than just a practitioner of your work is all about. Expertise awaits those who put in the effort.

When your business has all three: fitness, strength, and endurance you can then truly appreciate, as I did with the training, how it has prepared you to achieve even more.

It’s not a solo sport.

There’s another important element I learned. You can’t do this alone. You need the right people around you. They motivate, support, encourage, and contribute in many ways. Without my team I know I could not be ready, I would not master this walk. Working with others who have your back is how experts grow. That is why I run mastery groups for those in business who are ready to appreciate their expertise and go further.

It’s time

It’s nearly time for me to walk the 62 miles from Watlington to Avebury, that training is done. I’m ready. Are you ready to take a step towards becoming a master in business? If you are then call me today.