Keep Calm and Carry On, Churning style

keep calm

In the year 2000, Stuart Manley found an old wartime poster in a box of secondhand books. Mary Manley liked the poster so much she had it framed and hung it in their bookshop. The poster proved so popular that a year later they began selling copies.

In 2005 sales took off and the poster soon became the first major iconic image of the twenty first century, spawning many spinoffs.


The poster was designed to provide reassurance in time of war. In fact it was held back in reserve, for use only in case of dire emergency.

If we respond to its message then, to an extent, it is because we feel ourselves under the pressures of wartime, we seek the reassurance that the poster brings.

That poster has become familiar now, but remember that when it took off the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were still in full flow and the world was still coming to terms with 9/11.

Things may have settled since then, and our need for the poster may not be so urgent, but as this time of churning continues we can all feel the pressure again from time to time. Many of the refugees entering Europe are literally fleeing a war zone. And imagine what it must be like this morning for the managers and owners of the Volkswagen Group. Members of the Porsche and Piech families (majority owners) have seen the company’s net worth fall by €25bn in two days. Imagine what you would be feeling if you were one of the managers at the company.

For all of us it is useful advice to Keep Calm and Carry On. Or, in the language of The Churning, to centre and ground, make sense of the situation, decide what is important to you, and then define that as an inspiring vision. Then go about making it happen in a calm and straightforward way.

Keep Calm:

Chapter 1 of Inner Leadership offers tools for recovering quickly when you are knocked off-balance, and for deepening your ability to know what is best for you, even in the most extreme circumstances.

Carry On:

Chapters 2-7 of Inner Leadership provide tools for making sense of the situation and identifying the opportunities that exist. Then choosing the way forward that is best for you, and converting that into an inspiring vision.

Outer Leadership shows you how to transform your organisation to achieve that vision, in a way that rebuilds it as a living organism, able to adapt and evolve in a changing, churning world.

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