Dec 15, 2022
Introduction: Bernard Desmidt is an accomplished Coach, Facilitator, Speaker
and Author. His first book is called; Inside Out Leadership: How to
master the 4 Principles of Effective Leadership and become the
Leader that others will follow. His second book is called: Team
Better Together. Bernard was born in South Africa and he lived
there until he was 38 and then he emigrated to Australia where he
now lives with his wife and children.
Podcast Episode Summary “Moods are the most contagious phenomenon known
to humans. We are biologically, inescapably emotional beings –
everything we do, is because of the mood we’re in. Each day we are
called to deal with unanticipated interruptions and interferences -
breakdowns to our habitual rhythm of life. Breakdowns can be both
positive and negative - winning the lotto vs losing one's job. Our
resourcefulness to adapt and deal with our breakdowns, is a
function of the mood we choose to live and lead from. Moods are
‘spaces of possibility’; they can predispose us to limited or
infinite possibilities for action” Bernard
This episode speaks to the
domain of learning called Moods.
Points made over the episode
- Bernard starts
this podcast by reminding us of his background and the Mood of life
in South Africa that shaped him and then helped him appreciate the
gift & wonder of South Africa.
- Bernard began to appreciate the potency
of moods through lived
- Growing up in
South Africa and living through Apartheid, Bernard recalls the
moods of despair and anger as a “white child” living a privileged
life by contrast to other children around him.
- 85% of Black
South Africans lived in abject poverty, pain & abject cruelty.
Bernard remembers his anger at the injustices and his feeling of
powerless to do anything about his experience.
- It took Bernard
a while to legitimise his heritage and to come to appreciate the
other side of anger & despair to appreciate the wonder of South
- 3 African
expressions inform his way of being and working
- Sibona -a Zulu word for hello, which means “I see you
and by seeing you, I bring you into being. By seeing each other is
this way we hold each other with respect, dignity and
legitimacy- The mood is deep acceptance of who you
- Ubuntu- Means we are because you are & because you are
definitely I am. This serves to affirm an others humanity, by
recognising their uniqueness and their differences. This expression
acknowledges our interconnectedness-The Mood of
Gratitude embodies this expression.
- Hambi Gashi – means “Go well, gently in peace and travel
safely- The Mood is of deep care and
- We exist as Human Beings in 3
domains. Language, Moods &
Emotions and The Body. At its essence this trinity distinguishes
human beings from any other living form.
- Moods are fundamental to our
existence yet we are mood
- Daniel Goldman brought us information about
Emotional Intelligence and EI at its core is about mood
- We are never not in mood & all moods serve us
until they don’t. Example Frustration. What is frustration taking
care of? What is it guiding us towards. Moods are signposts. The
mood of frustration is signposting that I am not feeling heard or
- The mood of anger is a signpost to feeling
taken advantage of. Use the energy housed in frustration or anger
to access what is missing.
- Emotions are energies that move
- The mood of anxiety is letting us know that we
might come to harm. The mood of curiosity is signposting us to our
openness to learn.
- Alan Sieler, Fernando Flores, Miriam Greenspan
and for me Julio Olalla were all teachers of the distinctions of
- There are six moods of life & Moods manifest in
language. The language act of assessments illicit moods that
predispose us to action. In resentment I am preoccupied with
- There are two linguistic acts that are
fundamental to the understanding of the manifestation of moods.
Assessments and Declarations. Generally when we are in assessment
there are 3 categories of assessment that we make. Facticity,
Possibility and Uncertainty. There are two declarations we
generally make. Oppose and Accept. If we plot assessments on the
horizontal axis and declarations on the vertical axis we can plot
these 6 universal moods. Resentment, Acceptance, Resignation,
Ambition, Anxiousness and Wonder.
- Bernard goes through each of these moods
sharing their predispositions for action
- In the first category of assessment is
for facticity; we can either oppose the facticity and live in
Resentment or accept the facticity and embrace
- The mood of acceptance is the gateway to living
a fulfilled life. It is the highest order of mood. Grief for
example is refusing the facticity of death. When we move into
acceptance we meet the mood of sadness for our
- The second category of assessment is for
possibility. Opposing the possibility for change leads to
resignation. This is a toxic organisational mood. We are
predisposed to look to whom to blame and or find reasons why things
cannot happen. You cannot flourish in resignation you can only
flounder. The acceptance of what is possible elicits the mood of
- Bernard shares the example of Pfizer and Astra
Zeneca looking for a vaccine in Covid. They had to live a mood of
acceptance first that the protocols they usually insisted were not
available and then live a mood of ambition that a breakthrough
could be found.
- The third category of assessment is
uncertainty, in otherwards I cannot control or predict, When I do
not accept the normality of uncertainty I experience the mood of
anxiety. In anxiety we are minded to believe we will come to harm
and we will not be able to manager or control this inevitability.
The mood of anxiety is bubbling away when it comes to accepting a
new cadence for work for example and it requires of us to accept
the uncertainty and access the wonder of what could
- When we give permission to these moods to
control us they make us unresourceful. Resentment, Resignation and
Anxiety are called “selfish moods” We are preoccupied with seeking
revenge, victimhood and or protection.
- The Moods of `acceptance, ambition and wonder
are called relational moods.
- To flourish a team needs to access the gateways
of acceptance, ambition and curiosity.
- I shared an example of a conversation I had the
evening before this podcast where I became very frustrated with a
hotel chain who with every person I spoke gave confusing and
different information. I did not achieve a satisfactory outcome
Bernard offered me the perspective that the mood of frustration was
serving me. It was signposting me to the lack of clarity regarding
the hotels policy with respect to Vouchers. He suggested the action
necessary was an explicit request.
- Brene Brown discovered through her research
that the male species or at least 80% of men could only name 3
moods-Happy, Sad, Angry. We are collectively mood
- Working with Teams Bernard will share the first
perspective & distinction that as humans we live in 3 domains,
Language, Moods & Emotions and the Body.
- The second perspective Bernard will share with
a team is that teams rise and fall by the quality of their
relationships. There are 8 elements of effective working
relationships, Respect, Trust, Concerns, Moods, Appreciation,
Co-ordination, Conversation and Alignment. Mood is an important
- From here a team can move into simple
observation and identification answering the question “what mood am
I in?” Followed by the question for what sake am I in this mood?
What is this mood signposting and what is it taking care
- It is important to legitimise the potency of
moods and become versed in the variety available to
- Bernard shares a story with us about a team
with whom he has been working for some time where the team was
stuck around an issue. The team were invited to look at the issue
from the lens of mood. They identified irritation, frustration and
anger when this issue was surfaced. Appreciating that the team is
responsible for the success of their collective efforts Bernard
invited the team through a series of enquiry to be curious about
the mood they needed to live to explore this issue
- Bernard suggests we stay vigilant in mood, to
identify what these moods are signposting. Too often teams want to
exorcise moods from the conversation.
- Unfortunately for us as humans we cannot not
live in mood. What is possible is to design the mood we can commit
- When Bernard hears someone declare “I am angry”
he asks who is the “I” We are not our moods we only have them. When
we can recognise that “I am in a mood of anger” we create the space
between ourselves and our mood, to create a subject object
- When we say “I am angry” we are allowing the
mood to control us. What we can do instead when we say “I am in a
mood of anger” we can manage the energy of that mood and the
information it is sharing. Often we over identify with our moods
and become fearful of them, leaving no room to manage
- Bernard shares a story of a client and the many
moods that same client moved through in the course of the
conversation and how Bernard became acutely aware of his own mood
and how he was being “infected” until he wasn’t and allowed himself
to accept the choices his client was making in the
- Moods are contagious and Bernard had to be
mindful not to take on his clients mood but instead “be with him”
while he moved from anger to acceptance and through to
- Important to remember when faced with a team
communicating multiple moods to not rush to move them. Bernard
invites teams to wonder about what is happening for them in body.
Moods manifest in body. You can see a mood. You cannot fake a mood.
As a coach you can offer a perspective and share what you
- Bernard shares his approach with a team and how
he enters the conversation of mood.
- We have to trust and accept that human beings
live in moods. What is unknown to us and often confusing to us is
the understanding of moods.
- Bernard facilitates the six moods of life with
a team in an embodied practice.
- Some tips or nuggets to learn how to manoeuvre
- Notice & Name
It- Monitor your mood and
ask what mood am I in? Do not judge yourself
- Investigate &
enquire. For what sake am
I in this mood? What is this mood taking care of?
- Choose and Cultivate-
So what mood could better serve
- Declare and Develop that chosen
mood. So what new
possibility could this mood open me up to?
- Keep a mood diary. Ask what was the assessment you were making?
Then notice what that mood predisposed you to do or not to
- Use the acronym W.A.I.T –
why am I talking? We talk for only
two reasons to understand and to be understood.
- Remember we are not our moods we have
them. I am in a mood of
anger or I am in a mood of happiness gives us space and the
opportunity for choice.
- Recognising that we are not our moods
opens the possibility for forgiveness.