52 Postcards for One Year
A small project for this year – 2017. To step out just a little more and share my thoughts and feelings on a regular basis and to write every week So, for the next 12 months a postcard will appear here every Friday. Maybe I’ll be the only one reading it, who knows, but this is a commitment to myself – a goal if you like – to speak up and out and to follow the journey this takes me on. See you back here in December!
Postcard 52 – 6th January 2017
Weather – Frost but warming up
So, here we are at 52 cards. What seemed a long stretch a year ago has now arrived and to be honest, rather quickly. I haven’t been back to look over the weeks, or the British weather across 2016, but I will. I have though, met my commitment to myself and that calls for celebration. And yes, I would like to celebrate this little achievement just a bit, particularly in a world that seems sometimes full of unpleasantness, evil, or just plain competiveness. I cherish my little success.
Please find things to celebrate, to be thankful for and maybe that wave of positive optimism and drive for what is right will impact our world somehow. Bye.
Postcard 51 – 30th December
Weather – Foggy, icy, cold
Christmas has gone and now we look at the New Year. Do we set goals, write out some resolutions, plan an adventure, or at least book some holidays? Probably, yes to all or some of them. We all need to prepare a little for all that lies ahead, it’s good common sense. Then things also need to emerge and take us in new and interesting, unplanned directions. How much of each though, maybe some planning and some emerging, that sounds like a way forward. So, one page of A4 notes, then take out my old trusted Silva compass and set a general direction south. Warmer times ahead.
Postcard 50 – 23rd December
Weather – Very blustery, some rain
Ready or Not I am Coming
Remember the hide and seek game, count to a number, then shout ‘ready or not I’m coming’. It’s just like that at Christmas, arriving now whether we like it or not. And in many ways, as a date it doesn’t much care if we aren’t ready. Yet we set a standard of being ready don’t we? And media, advertising setting us up for perfection, add to bar being raised often to impossible heights. Maybe we could just roll through it all, lowly but ready..ish. That’s what I am going to do this year. It seems easier than trying to be an Olympic pole vaulter. Happy Christmas.
Postcard 49 – 16th December
Weather – Warm, muddy underfoot
Today I had two pieces of written feedback that were wonderful, one validating my coaching work and one validating my business fables. A big thank you to those two people. It is important to me and my core some how feels stronger as a result. I believe everyone needs to receive this type of information, it indicates how close we are to our talent and the impact we are having in the world. I encourage you to offer feedback to others and also be open to receiving this yourself too.
Last week, at a team event, we did ‘thank you feedback – just go up to a few people and thank them specifically for something’. It took 10 minutes and the results were wonderful, way beyond warm and fuzzy, more like a strong base to stand on. And we stood on that firm foundation as we looked at the issues in the business later in the day.
Postcard 48 – 9th December
Weather – Clear
Where do good ideas come from? Yesterday I was watching a film, enjoying the adventure, when a subject for a fable (I write and post these fairly regularly on the website) came into my head. It was a moment in my childhood and as I reflected on this story, other ideas and possibilities grew out of that original thought.
So where do ideas come from, how do they appear at a particular time and what supports their growth? This one did not come and float away, it has stayed with me and I know is developing within me. My creativity was certainly been stimulated by the film, but the jump across into that moment as a child on holiday, which I hadn’t thought about for years, now that is interesting. Anyway, look out for a story titled ‘Dan, Dan the Lavatory Man’ coming out soon!
Postcard 47 – 2nd December
Weather – Dull, overcast, but good for tennis!
We live down a private road, well a track actually and right at the end. A way off the main road, but fiber optic broadband is coming even to us. A gift really because no one expected this until they began digging the trench yesterday and then well, plenty of complaints about what they were doing. Then it stopped, ‘no further’ said some people. So, time to intervene and get those home workers involved and I did just that and we lent in to get that cable to the very end. So, look out for super duper connection on video conferences from me soon!
More importantly, it made me think of interventions, the timing of these and bringing in stakeholders at the right moment. A funny, non business example but with a lot of truths to mull on.
Postcard 46 – 25th November
Weather – Cold, frosty, calm
Attend to Your Inner
What is inside of each of us, which is key to our work, our talent, our life, our health? I mean at a deeper inner level almost beyond (but not quite) the conscious level. We can spend energy working on behaviours, goals, plans and yet if the deeper parts of us are not aligned we are likely to fail, or struggle at least. How to find the deeper parts is very personal process, what works for me may or may not work for you. Yet finding the method to access the real you, is central to our lives work. When we touch our inner, there is a deep honesty and warmth which no one else can give you.
Enjoy the journey.
Postcard 45 – 18th November
Weather – Cloudy, cold
Wait & See
Are you patient, I’m not! I think I can wait and see, let time, serendipity take its course, but I want to intervene. When should you though, isn’t it correct to set goals, achieve stuff, drive forward? As I get older I wonder though. Yes, have good intention, be clear on the route forward and do your work, walk the path. Then for me I need to wait, because as was the case this week, a key meeting jumped from day to day and then arrived back at the original date (which incidentally was much better for me from the beginning). I get agitated to make it all work, fret too much about this small stuff and mostly it just works out. Relax Grahame relax.
Postcard 44 – 11th November
Weather – Clear, sunny, crisp, golden leaves falling
This week I ran a workshop in partnership with a great professional and lovely colleague. We have a lot of similarity and a lot of difference, which is great benefit to those who work with us. I am more introverted, she more extroverted. Now sometimes this doesn’t work and with some people the styles would grate, but there is a great deal of trust and respect between us, so it works. We enjoy it, more importantly the client does too and gets a deeper experience through working with us both.
Postcard 43 – 4th November
Weather – mixed, clear to start then rain
Today I went to a conference. A great day with some very interesting inputs and information, but after eight hours overload took place . There were interesting speakers in the rest of the day and I’d loved to have stayed to listen, but there was no space left in my brain or my energy bank.
On the train home I wondered about how we all balance how much information is enough and indeed, when generally enough is enough. Did I miss something in the last hour or so which was very important, would I have been able to take it in anyway? Who knows, but I was pleased to be home at a reasonable time on Friday and tired but not exhausted.
Postcard 42 – 28th October
Weather – Cool, clear, moving into Autumn, the leaves are falling
Look After Yourself
Yes, I could have pushed myself hard today, travelled to meetings which were important. I thought I ought to but actually really what I needed was to pace myself, not over stretch. And guess what, it all worked well, my meetings took place over Skype and I arrived at the end of the day tired but not exhausted. Years ago on a course, we talked about ‘shoulds and oughts’ and the way they can drive behaviour. So, an ‘ought’ appeared today and almost wrestled me to the floor, but by looking after myself everything worked well and I am not in recovery all weekend!
Postcard 41 – 21st October
Weather – Clear, partially sunny, crisp, clear
The Power of Meeting
Two meetings today have interested me technically and inspired me emotionally. My previous contact in each these situations was over email and phone. Nothing wrong with these forms of communication and yet in each case when we were in the room together, the depth and quality of the interaction changed. My desire to help and bring resource to the questions we chatted through is now high. I am engaged.
When I hear clients talk of cutting travel budgets, reducing internal meetings, part of me agrees wholeheartedly and yet another part knows beyond doubt the power of being in the same room. And we all need ‘eye ball to eye ball’ contact, or maybe better said as, we all need ‘heart to heart’ contact.
Postcard 40 – 14th October
Weather – Clear & Crisp, a little rain
Reflection & Energy
Today I went on a half day workshop. Only two and half hours, but excellent to learn some new skills and reconnect with the confidence of what I do know and can do. It’s important to take time out for reflection and this doesn’t have to be just quiet solitary time (which is good) but also being with others, bouncing ideas around, hearing other stories and being pushed to try new ways of working and thinking.
I came away reflecting on energy. Where to I get energy from, what depletes my energy and which is current, which is historical? Have I left some of my energy trapped back in something uncompleted in the past, do I have plenty of energy to deal with today and the future?
After yesterday I am energised. I’ve checked my energy history, it seems okay. On we go then!
Postcard 39 – 7th October
Weather – Dank & Overcast
How often would you hear this word in a business situation, yet yesterday I did. It was in reference to change and how ‘things’ seemed to happen, seemingly to appear like a flash of lightening. Of course the reality is that for those moments to happen, ninety nine percent of the time you have worked hard to set the conditions up for this to potentially occur for you. I believe in hard work and in allowing serendipity, chance, opportunity to come along, to support the plan and help you achieve your goals. And isn’t it fun when it does happen!
Gob smacking is a fine English word for a sudden surprise, strange, yet often very pleasant. I intend to be ready to be gobsmacked regularly, just as my coaching client was.
Postcard 38 – 30th September
Weather – Fresh, breezy, sunny
Not What I Expected
Three times in the last week I have been shocked by news – two bad, one good – from clients, friends and colleagues. Not so much the news itself but the unexpectedness of it. My internal mental model has had to shift and accommodate a new picture, quickly and dramatically in the different scenarios. We need patterns an ‘expected’ way that the world will operate, it stops us being exhausted and on high alert all the time, but then when the information coming in is different it is not easy to adjust. Yet we do, I did, but then finding the right way to react and help is the next step. I reach out and hope my hand will be helpful for those in need and I wave encouragement to the one moving ahead well.
Postcard 37 – 23rd September
Weather – Warm, relaxing, slightly autumnal
I have just sent out a newsletter with two fables. Every time I do this I am struck with a deep lack of confidence just before I press the send button. All the old patterns of ‘am I good enough, will people be interested, why can’t I write like normal people, this time I definitely won’t get anymore work, etc.’ rear up. Then it is gone, I’ve sent it and it’s irretrievable. Inevitably I get some good feedback, not universal but generally a good response.
So, what is this feeling of doubt and why are our historical patterns so strong? I have worked on some of this stuff and yet it is deep in my DNA and of course I know it is balanced with my confidence, strengths and positive aspects. Maybe that is what happens if you put yourself out there, you risk not being one of the gang, being criticised. So better not do ….. NO better to do and stretch a little (even if it is painful).
Postcard 36 – 16th September
Weather – Floods last night and this morning, now sunshine
When Trying Isn’t Enough
As a coach I will always do my very best, bringing all my resources to bear on the situations the leaders I work with are facing. Then just sometimes there comes a point when all the professional and personal trying doesn’t shift a situation. In the end, the person themselves has to really want to do the work. Sometimes the unpleasant work which is right for themselves and the business. Coaching can help but then it is about leadership and no coach can provide that determination or drive which is personal responsibility.
If not then, sometimes it’s is someone else’s call to ensure the risks to the business are secured down. The boss has to intervene. That moment is sad for all coaches, but sometimes it arrives and maybe it did today.
Postcard 35 – 9th September
Weather – Raining
Slippers or Shoes?
Working in my home office last week I found myself unmotivated and unable to get through the jobs ahead of me. I think sometimes having a base in your own house can cause boundary issues between home and work. That day I was wearing my slippers, warm comfortable and why not, I wasn’t in a meeting, no one could see me on video conferences, well not the parts under my desk! But I was stuck, so I put on my newest and favourite shoes and commuted back to work. Hey presto, my productivity rocketed. Now tell what was that all about? Just you might say, a small bit of ‘reframing’ as the NLP experts tell us.
And my productivity continues, with a fable telling just this story in a fun way!
Postcard 34 – 2nd September
Weather – Okay
You do all you can to prepare for an event, checking details, organising people but sometimes things are out of your control. This was an outside community event, so the weather was critical, people could come or not as they preferred and we had one paid professional helper, who in the end had to cancel just before the start with a family crisis. The weather was iffy, no one arrived in the first hour, then they trickled in and we had an excellent day together. While you wait for the trickle, it is all about hope and ‘what will be will be’.
I’d like to say I am a relaxed hoper knowing it will work out fine, but I actually in reality more a nervous hoper. Still plenty to learn about trusting the universe!
Postcard 33 – 26th August
Weather – Bright & Sunny
Collaboration & Autonomy
It is a fine line between operating independently and being a collaborative team player. Both are critical for success and neither takes precedence. However, it does require awareness to see where you are at any given time and what is driving behavior and action. I need to be individually proactive, delivering my part, but also very much part of the bigger pattern and broader goals. There is a tension here and it is often easier just to drop in being a ‘following’ collaborator or a potentially a ‘maverick’ independent deliverer. Worse, we often don’t notice our contradictions, but others do. So, ask what people see, they’ll tell you where you are on the ‘fine line’. Then of course it is up to you, whether you follow that advice, sometimes you should and sometimes you shouldn’t. The joys of leadership hey!
Postcard 32 – 19th August
Weather – Raining
A week lost to a reoccurrence of the virus I had a while back. Time planned for a whole variety of things, disappeared as I slumped with no energy on the sofa. I did though have the opportunity to watch most of the Olympics and witness fit people strive to attain success, while I’m too weak and disheartened to move! Time though is interesting, last week has gone, certainly those days won’t come back, but some of those things will still happen differently and to a new schedule no doubt. Yet we as human beings have a need to control to put order into our lives and make progress. How do we balance time, let it go, be what it will and also impose order and usefulness? When that power is taken away it is frustrating and then somehow is just a bit liberating too. So maybe my partnership with time needs reexamining a little.
Postcard 31 – 12th August
Weather – Grand
To Do Lists
Yesterday I completed my whole ‘to do’ list and felt very satisfied. There is nothing like ticking the items off the list one by one and looking at all the strikes down the page to the final one. But of course a ‘to do’ list is only as good as the planning behind it. Were these just operational goals, jobs to be done, or were they adding something extra, moving me toward my goals? Well, yes sort of but then again no. I need to put substantial time into the big areas of focus and I am easily seduced by a list, particularly with items which are quickly accomplished. And of course these things, I tell myself help clear the mental and creative space for the ‘big ticket’ items.
So, I see a space ahead, no ‘to do’ lists allowed, no A, B, C’s just the one thing to focus on. Can I do it? I’ll let you know.
Postcard 30 – 5th August
Weather – Bright & Cheerful
In a discussion recently, I talked with a client about planning, organising, managing risks and then alongside this following ‘your happiness’. It seemed a slightly offbeat, hippie thing to talk about but it was true. His work was going well, he was happy, relaxed and calm, so why not do more of that. Sometimes we are tied up with logical, sensible, practical ways of working, when we have a great criteria to follow and it resides in our feelings. I am not advocating throwing away the goals, the plans the budgets, simply adding to them. Working with leaders I am struck regularly how powerful people are when they are close to their talent and best way of operating. Yes, leaders are always powerful they have the senior position, but when the power comes from a more centered ‘happy position’ the impact multiples and the person themselves seems to be more energised and content.
Enjoy finding your happiness path!
Postcard 29 – 29th July
Weather – Overcast
How do you lead in a partnership when power should be equal and balanced? All is well when all is well, but then when things go upside down how do you deal with these situations? This has happened to two of my clients recently and both are having to find their own resources and leadership to deal with difficult peer problems. It seems as though a partnership in particular, requires a great deal of honesty and self awareness and self policing. When this goes missing someone has to step in and that is normally (although not always) the ‘senior’ partner’, the one with the CEO role, the one with the strategic perspective, or just the one able to see and understand more. This person takes a step forward taking responsibility for the business problem but also willing to make judgments which have no line management power or sanction to see them through. Not easy!
Keep working on your leadership perspective, finding those default sabotage patterns and keep walking the fine line of collaboration and direct intervention and challenge, even when we are equal.
Postcard 28 – 22nd July
Weather – Good, Sunny
The word virus doesn’t conjure up positive images. On the computer it’s that little gremlin that gradually multiplies to crash the system, or at minimum cuts off a particular programme before the auto save has timed in! It is the same with human viruses and they too vary. This week I’ve had my programmes closing down occasionally. Not enough to crash my whole system but nether the less enough to slow me down and take the edge off of performance. Clients and customers don’t notice but after a meeting I need to rest and recover. However, instead of having to have the computer fixed or changed, my body gradually does recover in just about a week. We have wonderful reboot systems mostly don’t we?!
Postcard 27 – 15th July
Weather – Sun earlier, now Drizzle
Are you patient, I am not sure I am? Yet when I manage it, interesting things begin to happen. Patience seems, or should be, represented by an experience of calm waiting and expectation of a positive outcome. I am not sure my patience is this, more an oscillating up and down between letting go and relaxing and then worrying that I need to take action to move things along. Yet funnily when I can stay calm just that little bit longer often good things happen. But in an ‘action now’ society, staying in neutral gear is not easy, although as I get older it certainly seems a bit easier.
So, time to put another task in the patience box, to see it time nurtures, or withers it on the vine from lack of water and attention. An interesting experiment.
Postcard 26 – 8th July
Weather – Wonderfully Warm
How do you deal with the sense of tiredness when it overwhelms you? I have had that feeling today and I’d just like to stop. That wasn’t possible, so I prioritised and then took a step, then another step and here I am at the end of the day having dealt with the key issues facing me right now. Yup, I’m still tired, but okay about where I am. My energy will come back and meanwhile I have not missed any deadlines or made any excuses. Well except one, excuse me while I have a glass of wine and relax, it is the evening after all!
Postcard 25 – 1st July
Weather – Wet and Cold
Eruptions and Explosions
A week after we as a country decided to leave the EU, the explosions continue. Those politicians who lead us into this vote are gone, others hang on and struggle. It seems like a bigger set of eruptions are occurring, the tectonic plates are shifting and the political landscape and leadership is changing fundamentally. Maybe this is good, finally the pipes are being flushed, can we now encourage younger perceptive politicians to step up? I hope so, democracy is important and having decided our next steps, those who lead need to be close to their people and find the right road forward.
Postcard 24 – 24th June 2016
Weather – Very mixed here in Ireland
So, here we are on holiday in Ireland and visiting a beautiful and historic spiritual site. There are people everywhere, coaches off load their passengers and everyone troops around, taking snaps. I’m feeling claustrophobic. Then we set off for a walk and within 10 minutes we have lost 90% of the crowd and 20 minutes later 99%.
Now I have space and it’s good. In fact there feels more spiritual content walking through the forest and up on the mountains than down in the valley. Beautiful mountain goats with tall curling horns visit us and the space is complete. A good day.
Postcard 23 – 17th June 2016
Weather – Muggy, close, but clearing
Yesterday I heard an old friend had died suddenly. Death when it is like this seems unfair and more dramatic than it should be. I am left remembering our last matter of fact conversation and then, more memories of other times and the last time we actually met. She was eccentric, determined, compassionate and one of those people ahead of me on life’s journey, who encouraged me and to be honest saw more of my talent than I often did. I will miss her, but once my sadness clears I may remember this moment, as one which maybe was as it had to be. Not a slow lingering illness, but up and away, gone. May her spirit be shared with others today and in the weeks ahead.
Postcard 22 – 10th June 2016
Weather – Cool & Cloudy
One blip every 15 seconds on my email means only one thing, a hacker having a go at my website and technology. My fault for not being savvy enough on my IT security, but the fire wall holds up, just. It makes me think of a movie where all the gremlins keep coming and it is only a matter of timer before they overwhelm the city. Well my ‘expert IT man’ saved the day and upped the level of the city walls, the gremlins muttered and withdrew waiting to fight another day. Phew!
We are though all very dependent on our technology, that’s how most of us do business. So, maybe I have to be more capable and take my responsibility for those levels of security I need, no matter how unintuitive the methods are, or how confusing the terms seem to me. Yet I wonder, I may just fall back into my comfort zone again, as those email peeps are occasional now and signal good news, not bad, coming in!
Postcard 21 – 3rd June 2016
Weather – Very mixed, warm, cold, mostly mixed
Today I went tennis training, so no work just about all play. Six hours on the court, different drills, exercises, running, games. So a full work out for body and brain, having to think about my serving, my shots and then execute them. I wonder how many of us in our modern lives get this sort of this combination of physical work and mental work combined together. Maybe for a small percentage, but many of us are office workers, doing activity which is often mentally demanding (although not for everyone) but not the physical challenge our bodies need regularly. I understand why people set up small outdoor businesses, small holdings etc, the balance of the work must be good. In my twenties I taught outdoor pursuits – tonight I feel like the end of a good day on the fells, everyone safely home, I am tired but deeply satisfied.
Excuse me while I book my next tennis training day!
Postcard 20 – 27th May 2016
Weather – Warm, calm, relaxed
I am sitting on my new ‘sit stand’ office chair, what a marvellous design – functional, elegant with real attention to detail and all the different uses. So, I can even sit on it backwards and it is just as comfortable. How far can good design take you? Well look at Apple, Dyson, to name just two. Of course good design costs, but once I get my head around the price I am okay and very pleased when I come to use the product.
Now I am in the phase of getting used to something new, it feels strange yet good, I know I need to persist and try this saddle type chair (yes it is like that for a reason). We all have that experience when we try something new, a desire to stay with how it was before, a bit of discomfort (literally) and a sense of ‘this is right’ it will work. The high price point means I will be sticking with this chair let me tell you!
There, you never thought an analogy with a new office chair could get us to a conversation on managing change!
Postcard 19 – 20th May 2016
Weather – Dry and breezy, young calves enjoying the field in the sun
What happens when it all goes wrong and there seems no way out, the deadline is almost here and the project goes pear shaped. Suddenly, the confidence disappears, those talking demons in the head get going and it seems impossible to see a way out. That happened today for me at around about lunch time. Now it is the evening and the crisis has been managed. In the best way? No I don’t think so. I’d like to say I remained logical, coherent and calm. Well I tried and actually, by walking away for a while and then coming back I was able to fix the problem. Its not perfect, but more than good enough. But boy, demons can catch you, wrestle you to the floor and leave you helpless if you are not careful. Best call ghost busters!
Postcard 18 – 13th May 2016
Weather – Summer’s here, but for how long?!
Words and Superstitions
So, today is Friday 13th. Do I need to take more care, look out for black cats, not leave the house? Why do some words, sentences, paragraphs have move significance than others. This has to do with our perception, the significance we and others put on certain phrases. Is there a reality to Friday 13th? Well, it seems there are more accidents recorded on these days, so do we anticipate these happening to us and then of course they arrive to meet our unconscious requests?
We know our internal dialogue dictates to some extent our outer world, and our brain works well with repetition and constant reiteration. So, I am not surprised I am ‘tweaked’ a little by the date, after all it’s has been in our society’s ‘collective’ psychology for thousands of years (some say it goes back to Jesus and the Crucifixion). If those patterns can ingrain into me, then I am reassured others can too. So, excuse me as I go looking for a white cat, a sunny spot to sit in and maybe as I relax there, attract something wonderful to visit me!
Postcard 17 – 6th May 2016
Weather – Warm & Relaxed
Do we really know what we can achieve? Earlier this week we climbed a Scottish Munro, Ben Lomond and were rewarded with great views. Sometime the paths we walk can be exciting, interesting, challenging, mundane. We had all of those during our day. Then sitting in the pub in the late afternoon looking over the Loch, that tired sense of achievement sits deep within me. My wife and I talk about how, actually, you can come along way very quickly as you walk along, although at the time it sometimes seems slow and difficult. Maybe this is a metaphor for many things in life, we actually do travel a long way without realising it, because we are often more aware of the current issues and questions we are facing today.
Enjoy your adventures and the tired, contented feeling of success as you journey.
Postcard 16 – 29th April
Weather – Cold & Snowy
There is something gloriously wonderful about being part of a team, delivering results. Here we are in Scotland preparing for my son’s wedding and we are busy working to pull all the practical details together. I like to lead, be in charge, here I am not, I am a team member and yet I find myself suggesting and recommending. That’s okay and useful, the final decisions are not with me, but I am listened to, consulted with through the day. I feel good, others in the team feel good and the weight of getting a great result is shared. In the past I might have tried to do too much, here I do my share and sometimes that is very practical, sometimes its suggesting alternatives and sometimes it’s listening and helping the ‘almost’ bride and groom make the decisions they want to make. Teams are good!
Postcard 15 – 22nd April
Weather – Spring is arriving, the birds are singing
Creativity Comes, Creativity Goes
So, after a dearth of creativity today its back! And phew pretty close to my deadline too. I completed a story today. It’s a funny this stuff, I’m not sure if I am normal (I hope so) but I cannot be creative to order and yet there are limited times currently to step into that different space. Then the time arrives and hey presto I am completely blocked and the mantra ‘just keep going’ doesn’t work for me. The orbits of the time planet and the sun god creativity often seem out of sync then bam they intersect and it all feels possible again. Not sure I could do creativity as my day job though, my admiration goes to all of you who do. Maybe the more you do it the easier it gets.
Postcard 14 – 15th April
Weather – Raining
Small Steps Lead to a Big Leap
I had a big job to do recently which felt overwhelming, so in classic style I avoided even starting. Of course it didn’t go away, but in comparison to other smaller or deadline driven things I had to do, it didn’t get attention. Now I have finally done it and I feel good, but more importantly when I did deal with the issue, I worked steadily and regularly on the problem and dealt with it bit by bit. I got there, I persisted, I paced myself and now that slight nagging ‘it’s waiting, it’s unfinished’ thought has gone. So, go for those big things, which may not be exciting but need dealing with. Small regular steps can indeed lead to a big leap.
Postcard 13 – 8th April
Weather – Overcast and Chilly
I set my self the task of writing one postcard every Friday through 2016 and now I have missed a week. I could make many excuses, last Friday was a day that started at 5.30 and ended at 8.00 in the evening, etc, etc, but I still didn’t meet my obligation to myself. So, I failed in my overall goal, feel irritated, yet strangely somehow okay. We all set ourselves things to do with timelines, most work out and of course some don’t. I can’t go back to last Friday (well in this case I could by just writing something and posting it, but I won’t!) so instead turn toward the future. The failure happened, learn and move on.
This postcard is being written in the morning to ensure it gets done. There will now be 50 postcards at the end of the year. Yes, more confessions, I started one week late in January I have just discovered. So, cognitive dissonance is assured by a good solid round number which shapes a new goal for me. 50 sounds good. See you next week!
Postcard 12 – 25th March
Weather – Beautiful
A day spent moving accumulated rubble out of garden meant my body had to work hard. Little time to be stuck in my head mulling on issues, work, questions – more making the best use of a sunny spring day. We know it is important to move our bodies (I may have done too much of this, now I am aching all over!), yet as office type workers this is not always easy, I certainly spend a great deal of time sitting down. So, to be reminded of the benefit of a hard workout is useful. My brain this morning feels sharp, without doubts or concerns, I must have left those behind in the garden somewhere And maybe, that unwanted rubble represents part of me I no longer need (I always thought it might come in useful for a building project sometime) so there is less in my psychological backpack to carry around now.
Happy Easter to you.
Postcard 11 – 18th March 2016
Weather – Cold!
A Job for Everyone and Why Not?
We have just come back from a short trip to Venice in Italy, what a wonderful city. It is also a place of human industry, everything arrives and departs by the water and this involves a lot of lifting, shifting and portering. Sitting outside our hotel watching the deliveries of goods (a lot of wine seemed to keep coming in (!), along with just about every other commodity needed in a city) and the removal of rubbish outwards was a picture of logistics and planning. The movement of boats is endless, large boats easing past gondolas, taxi speedboats nipping in and out. Then on land, trolleys full of packages on the move, or lifted onto a shoulder to be transported, in the car free city.
Somehow it felt like this approach to running an infrastructure, although probably highly inefficient and certainly expensive, allowed more people more jobs and a sense of team and togetherness not often seen now in a large town. Maybe one day robots will take over these tasks, but in Venice not for many, many years. Moving water, small canals, ancient buildings, different business requirements all create a sustainable future for the people who live there. A sustainability and approach, a bit out of line with much of our current thinking. May the jobs continue!
Postcard 10 – 11th March
Weather – Fog clearing a good day ahead?
Using Resources Wisely with a Long Term perspective
I have been reflecting how here in the UK we are supposedly tightening our belts, addressing the deficit, making cuts, getting ourselves financially viable for the future.
This means cutting back on public services, perhaps going after more tax from large international companies, but largely asking the individual person to pay the price of balancing the UK books.
In particular I have been thinking about libraries. We have a strong tradition of lending libraries here, they are part of our infrastructure and certainly for, me part of my background, growing up and learning about life. Sadly a flamethrower is being applied to that freedom of reading for all. Yes, probably libraries need to change, but let’s take care when we through away or emasculate a wonderful heritage. Great things once there are destroyed do not get replaced.
Some things are as important, or more important than the balance sheet. Not necessarily books, but many key services and support to people. Lets take a long term perspective, yes change and adapt, but don’t destroy a heritage (and with books a wonderful world of imagination, knowledge and potential) for a short term quick win. Maybe we all need to shout a little more?
Postcard 9 – 4th March
Weather – A grand day to relax, some work, some tennis.
A Good Question
I was reminded again this week of the power of a good question. Well actually much more than that, finding the right question to answer is often the key to breaking the code of the answers. The leaders I work with all seek high value results, while utilising energy and resources wisely and well. Most people have good problem solving skills and will work hard and diligently to get to a resolution. Following a path from somewhere seems a natural thing to do, so we’d better be clear where we are coming from.
Action calms our nervousness, so goal orientated answer seeking is very therapeutic. It is harder though to ensure we are answering the right question, normally it is hidden under layers of much more easily answered minor questions. Add in a twist of cultural ‘work hard, don’t challenge’ a spoonful of ‘just hit this quarters results’ and the right question is much harder to get to.
Enjoy finding the high value question. It may take you into the strategy, the operating model of the business, or even into philosophy and those wonderful words purpose, vision and mission. When you get there though you’ll find rich rewards and high value returns.
Postcard 8 – 26th February 2016
Weather – More light at the end of the day, sunset 5.38
Depth & Direction
What really drives our behavior and decision making? I have listened to a variety of people this week and realised that as much as we want to be rational, deal with what is immediately in front of them, we are often driven by core basic needs, securities and insecurities. It is hard to see the other side, to understand others perspectives, to look at the bigger picture beyond our own. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is true, we each have to deal with the different layers we need grow through to survive and thrive, up to ‘actualisation’. Yet beyond this is the bigger piece, our role for others, our part in the bigger picture – shifting a team, a business, maybe even a society. Walking in the other person’s moccasins isn’t easy, particularly if those shoes don’t fit well, but I think we all have to try.
Postcard 7 – 19th February 2016
Weather – Fantastic warm clear morning, cold, wet rainy afternoon.
So, where does energy come from and why does it lift us up so well? I have been having to hit deadlines, one after another, for the last few weeks and the energy has been there to achieve this. Each of us has this, we know we have the capacity to achieve a great deal, consistently and regularly and we do. It is an exciting human capacity and when we dip into this rich river we are carried along until we end up in an eddy ready to stop and refresh.
One thing about this energy, the high momentum and delivery, is it often coincides with high quality. It is as though the energy is demanding a high benchmark, in return for its involvement and support. I like people with energy and I realize, some of the people I meet, pull me in just a bit deeper too. These people show a sense of direction, a purpose to their energy which isn’t competitive, or abrasive or cynical. Instead, it has a pureness, which if we can get into that flow now and then, provides an exhilarating ride.
Enjoy using your energy well
Postcard 6 – 14th February 2016
Weather – Great, Buddy the dog bouncy and ready for spring, tail up!
Well, a fitting title, as I am two days late for this postcard. What is it best to do, hit a deadline with average work, or be a little late with delivery and have better quality? This of course is a question impacted by all sorts of restraints and requirements depending on your own situation. For me, I want these cards to be a thoughtful reflection at the close of each week. This Friday was jam packed, including working with a client who was keen to ensure deadlines set by her team were met!
So the equation ought to be – deadline x quality = success and this is the ideal. No way could I produce quality on Friday, but I know we need to hit deadlines and maintain momentum and my thoughts over the weekend have reminded me of the satisfaction of hitting the objective and the frustration when we don’t.
Actually now I sit here, I know I could have hit Friday. Just a little more drive and managing my energy well (more on this another week) and I’d have got there. But hey, let’s learn rather than beat ourselves up. As I say to my coaching clients sometimes, “you set the bar high and just about every time you pole vault over, missing one is okay sometimes”.
Postcard 5 – 5th February 2016
Weather – Atmosphere clear, birds singing in the hedge outside.
Celebrations & Ritual
When my daughter suggested a little ritual to see out last year and bring in this year, I of course agreed. There is nothing like a little celebration, or a process, to help a transition along. New years resolutions are great (well okay in my view, beware the draconian nature of ‘resolution’) but don’t forget the review of last year – peering at the difficult stuff, looking to learn from it rather than carrying it in your rucksack for the future – and as importantly, recognising and celebrating successes and moments of real satisfaction. Then the enjoyment and challenge of looking ahead to see the path into the future and the markers you are laying out, that will tell you are still on the right road later in the year.
These rituals also happen in work. We take time to look at progress and learn, we celebrate key milestones, whether these are hitting key goals in the plan or broader ‘20 years in business’ as David and I chatted about yesterday. We need these moments as humans together and these activities underpin and strengthen good teamwork.
So, enjoy those little rituals, build them into your regular life, whether it is a party to celebrate with friends and colleagues, or a lit candle and quiet personal reflection alone. They all work and step us out of our daily routine and into new learning and possibilities.
Postcard 4 – 29th January 2016
Weather – Windy, drizzle in the air, warm for time of year.
Time and Attention
This week I took three mornings to pay attention only to my writing. Seemed a logical thing, ‘a mini home retreat’, no phones calls, no answering emails, just the word programme running on the computer and a candle alight on my desk. So, I set the environment up and inspiration shows up? Well maybe for you, but not for me. It begins to feel like a workout, real hard to get going, then a bit of rhythm, then some stuttering and finally something resembling okay appears. Yes, by lunch time on Wednesday maybe I’d found my ‘groove’, or a bit of it.
Which has got me thinking – we make our commitment, time for many of us is at a premium. We create the space for something that is really important; but then, maybe because it is something we really want to do and is a bit at the edge of our comfort zone, then the little gremlins ride in too! And they are not very introverted, they chatter inside our heads. So, with an ever changing battle going on internally I try to work and I find sticking with it with, even accepting the moments when I want (well actually do) give up, I can and do produce results and I feel pretty satisfied too.
So, go well with something you want to create. Maybe it is easier for you, any tips warmly welcomed.
Postcard 3 – 22nd January 2016
Weather – Clear, sharpness in air. Full moon, just about, tonight.
Goals & Ambitions
Looking at the book ‘A Coast to Coast Walk’ by Alfred Wainwright recently (I was wondering about a walking holiday) I came across this from him:-
‘One should always have a definite objective, in a walk as in life – it is much more satisfying to reach a target by personal effort than to wander aimlessly. An objective is an ambition, and life without ambition is ….. well, aimless wandering’.
So, I got to thinking was I wandering? Certainly I have strolled down a variety of different tracks and paths (and occasionally remembered to smell the roses too) over the years. Most of us have ambition, or objectives, even if we can’t always articulate them well and these criteria guide us in making plans and decisions. It seems to me, a good combination of goals and some enjoyable strolling, makes for an okay life.
Enjoy your own walk and do take some sun cream for the sunny days, good socks for hard walking days and a compass just in case the mist drops down around you.
PS. If you haven’t come across Wainwright before (he wrote primarily about the Lake District here in England) do take a look. Not necessarily for the walks themselves, but the art and craftsmanship in the handwriting in each one and the beautiful detailed sketches and maps. A man working with his talent!
Postcard 2 – 15th January 2016
Weather – Beautiful sunshine, blue sky, cold crisp day. Conducive to good work.
Breaking Down Problems
Yes, we are having a cold snap here in the UK and discovering a radiator not working, I set about analysing and solving the problem. Now many problems, particularly practical issues, normally have logical solutions and just require steps to get to an answer. So, I am following my mental roadmap to check and confirm each stage of my ‘flow diagram’ (with of course the help of Google & U Tube). What I am discovering though is my lack of patience, my desire to assume what I think the problem is. I just want it to work!
Does this apply to business too? Sometimes I notice when problems need to be solved they can be heavily influenced by individual interpretations of the world, biases, previous experience, lack of interest (or too much interest) in data, a shortage of time, etc.
So, does your own preferred style help solve problems well? Does your business, as a way of working, solve problems well? I guess when in doubt, we can always bring in an external expert to help us and get us beyond our biases and perceptions. Excuse me while I phone a plumber!
Postcard 1 – 8th January 2016
Weather – Cool and Sunny, plants appearing in flower bed.
I struggled to make a decision today. It wasn’t a huge decision, it wasn’t life threatening, yet it was hard to make. Decisions involve choice, both at the time and with the consequences afterwards – what will happen as a result, what won’t because I didn’t choose that path? Hopefully my decision leads me down an interesting and rewarding road and outguns my speculation on what might have happened if I had gone the other way. So, I try to trust myself and more importantly, check in with my energy and commitments for myself. I am pausing, reflecting. It feels okay at the moment, so on I go to my next decision point and maybe this new one I’ll breeze through (most we do, or we’d exhaust ourselves). And perhaps next time, I’ll enjoy the crossroads, maybe lean against the signpost and just enjoy the sun as I decide which road to take.
PS The sun is actually streaming through the window and warming me through, right now!