When Wow! and Jumping for Joy are not enough


Tom Peters tweeted that training must make people “jump for joy” and shout Wow! I like Joy and I like Wow... And I have huge regard for Tom Peters and his work on innovation. But is there a time when all this “Wow” and “Jumping for Joy” just isn’t enough?

Added on 26 August 2014 by Chris Nichols

Two women jumping for joy

I have spent well over a decade producing executive education and corporate events that score massively on the popularity ratings.

I have a party piece conference gig that rocks them in the aisles.

I can make myself richer and more popular the more I get on that stage.

And I often do. I love it and I love the feedback I get.

And often it is exactly the right thing to do.  Positive energy, “jumping for joy” and “shouting  WoW!” works.

But when is something else required?

We face some massive challenges as a species and as an ecosystem.

Our corporations need re-inventing, and our markets need transformation.

We need a different way of being, with each other and with our planet, if future generations are to thrive.

I see a danger in doing only the work that makes us “Jump for Joy” and “Shout Wow!”

The outer work will never be puny

if the inner work is great

Meister Eckhart

Sometimes there is a place for work that is hard, that demands sacrifice and challenges us to our very core.

Often when we are doing this work we do not “jump for joy” and we do not say “Wow” – that comes later…

We drag ourselves reluctantly to peer into the abyss.

We go into the dark and face the journey of self-discovery, of re-imagining our very being.

It is the very same journey taken by Dante, by Beowulf, by Thoreau, Muir, Arne Naess, Thomas Berry and countless others over the centuries.

There is a time for WOW! And for Jumping for Joy …

And there is a time for tears, and darkness. A time for stillness and finding the quiet voice that calls us to be braver than we can currently imagine.

Work that is all “Jumping for Joy” is work without balance.

Balance is dynamic and without balance, we fail.

But maybe the main issue here is that Tom is talking about “training” and maybe there “Wow” is enough.

I am talking about learning for profound change. And that demands a richer process.

Chris Nichols is Co-Director of the Ashridge MSc in Sustainability and Responsibility, a two year part time journey of discovery, challenge, insight, tears and joy, despair and plenty of Wow! Find out more at

Ashridge MSc – with tons of WOW factor and Much Much More

Chris is also an organisational consultant with 25 years of experience in over 50 countries who works with many of the world’s biggest companies addressing their most pressing challenges in innovative ways. 

Not all of his work is joyful all of the time, but every bit of it is steered by purpose, exploration and expanding our ways of knowing and being.


On Twitter @chrisnicholsT2i