2016 round-up

Synopsis:

In order to do a round up you have to reflect on the year gone by and in order to do that you have to record things as they happen or indeed shortly after they happened during the year. As I was particularly poor at this on here during early 2016 I’ve had to resort to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and more importantly my personal hand written diary (which I incidentally didn’t write up last night)

The first half of 2016 was totally intense. A very busy work scheduled coupled with my Level 2 British Cycling Coaching course, my shoulder operation and the building of my new office all demanded an extraordinary amount of time and resource, so consequently something had to give. It was my passion that took the hit. In 2015 I managed to total just under 6,500 miles on my various bicycles and this dropped to a little over 1,500 this year. I have increased my my running from 80 to 150 year on year, but that too has been mainly in the latter half of 2016.

With targets readjusted to accommodate for all of this I’m happy to say that by the end of the year I’ve achieved 8 out of the 10 ambitious goals. More importantly I have learned some extremely valuable lessons in yearly planning so this next year should see me achieve even more but with less impact on my personal passions.

So here’s the top 3 lessons I’ve learned this year.

  1. Do not try to do a year’s work in the first 6 months.
  2. Always take time-out to reevaluate your position.
  3. Use at least 2 mentors.

Lesson 1

At the end of 2015 I completed my business plan for 2016. I listened to Michael Hyatt and decided that 2016 was going to be my “Best year ever”. To all intents and purposes it really was one of, if not the, best year I’ve had in this industry and I almost certainly had the best final quarter I’ve ever had. So what went right and what went wrong.

Well first up I completed my top 10 goals of 2016 as instructed. I defined them, applied deadlines to them, committed them to writing, shared them and added milestones to keep the checks and balances in place in terms of progress. What I didn’t do was spread these out in the right proportions over the year.

By the end of April, 1/3 way through the year, I was heading towards burnout. Something was going to have to give and I had to shift the finishing goalposts for 3 out of the 10 goals. I then had a portion of work to do to re-calibrate those goals and some difficult decisions to make in terms of where my priorities lie. By the time my summer vacation arrived in August it was well overdue, but the 2 weeks I took were the perfect tonic and the business focus I attained because of them was incredible.

I spent 2 weeks in September mopping up the final fallout from the first half of the year and then focused on finishing the job at hand in the final 1/4. – It worked, thankfully.

What I did wrong here was overstretch myself both physically and mentally in the first half of the year. I overestimated the amount of energy I needed to complete certain tasks, especially when they threw up unexpected curve balls. Ultimately I did complete them, but not within the timescales I’d allocated and also at a severe cost to my personal well-being. It also had an impact on the other goals I’d set, as these were not given the full attention required to complete them as I would have liked to have done, so this left me with an subdued feeling of completion as opposed to an elated one.

It is not a nice feeling to have achieved something but not feel like you want to, or can take the time to, celebrate the achievement.

Lesson 2

The first half of 2016 had me head down blowing out of my arse (cyclists amongst you will know what I mean) and all I saw was a huge road of tarmac required to travel along before the finishing line even came into sight. Not only did I not have time to breath, I didn’t have time to think either and therein was my single biggest mistake of the year. Having appointed 2 mentors at the beginning of the year, I had but one single evaluation meeting in the first half of the year and that was in February. It wasn’t until July when I finally “took the time, not found it” to have a 2nd meeting that I was made aware of what I was doing.

Powering forward all guns blazing was burning and I was heading for a fall. It was around this point that I became hugely aware that something was going to give and if I wasn’t careful it would be my health. Without your health you can’t do a thing so that really does have to take number one priority in my view. After taking stock of the situation a number of decisions were made to relieve the initial pressure, and then put in place a plan to recover so that the rest of the year didn’t suffer too much. Again it was abundantly clear that this year was going to suffer a little as a result, and it was my choice as to what part would actually suffer.

Health, Family, Career, Friends and Passion. and in that order. Fortunately my passion does have a health twist but it was my passion that had to go. I kept up a minimum level of fitness “Auf Sparflamme” (pilot light- just enough to keep ticking over) but I was quickly loosing the top end and consequently I was also gaining weight (although my wife did comment to say that I was now looking much healthier than I had been the previous two years). So I accepted it. My maximum weight threshold was increased, my minimum exercise levels reduced and I even changed the type of exercises I was doing so that the time constraints I had could still be used to maximum effect. I quit my 2 positions on the committee and concentrated solely my coaching. This freed up the time I needed to ensure the other elements of my life were being completed correctly.

It was this painful evaluation that saved my year, I had already achieved a massive amount in the first half of the year, but the detrimental effect of over-working was going to impact severely if I didn’t go through this process, and this segues perfectly into lesson 3.

Lesson 3

As mentioned a couple of times throughout this blog I appointed 2 mentors at the beginning of the year. These people were chosen to enable someone from the outside to review and reflect on my progress and offer guidance on fine tuning the processes being used in order to achieve my goals. What I didn’t expect to happen was, what did happen. In the early half of the year one of my mentors was quite ill and as this person was my main contact person. I found it difficult to impose on the other as they too had a number of things they needed to achieve in their life (yes remember your mentor has a life too) so I just carried on. This compounded my headlong charge to disaster as the communication requirements to nudge me back on track were lacking. Fortunately it wasn’t too late when my mentor finally did recover enough to school me. And I use that term very definitively. I needed educating in the 2 life lessons I’ve just described above.

Mentors tend not to tell you what to do but rather they offer alternative courses of action which can lead to the same outcome. The best mentors will even use questioning to enable you to come to that alternative course of action without having to even mention to you that what you’re doing is, in fact, not working very efficiently. This is precisely what I was enabled to do and I cannot thank my main mentor enough for this.

I realised how important having a mentor was almost 7 months into 2016 and I can now tell you all, that you need a minimum of 2 because if your mentor does fall ill their skill and wisdom will need to be complimented by somebody else who is also in a position to enable you to think differently.

Conclusion

2016 was, personally, a very good year. I have learnt a lot about myself, and more importantly about others and the power and influence they have on how you conduct yourself. I have learnt that surrounding yourself with like-minded people only reinforces the behavioural traits you already have, and if these traits are stopping you from progressing, well guess what? You’ll continue with the status quo. Me, I’m not happy with the status quo, yes I have a great deal to be grateful for, and yes I am very happy doing what I do (in fact I love my job) but in order to improve you need to think differently and you need to be surrounded by positive influences, be that people of experiences. So for 2017 I have once again planned out my year, once again I have ambitious goals and once again I have appointed mentors; but this year I have also put changes in place to adjust my environment so that I can truly make 2017 – “The best year ever”

I’m an Expert

It is very easy to be flattered by figures. A quick glance at my Klout score this afternoon revealed that I’ve been given the accolade of “Expert” in a number of categories including these:

Expert Topics

Last updated December 21, 2016 at 4:27 PM
Sales
99.9%
Translation
99.9%
Globalization
99.6%
Linguistics
99.1%
I’m apparently ranked in the top 1% of the digital world. So that’s it then, job done. If anyone wants to listen to what I’ve got say about any of these subject matters just ask, because I know it all.
Sadly this really is not the case, whilst I am well informed in all 4 of those subject matters I certainly do not know it all. In fact I know a great many colleagues and industry experts who have a far deeper understanding in all of these subject matters and this is where my strengths come into their own.
What I am in a position to be able to do is provide people with a great all round understanding of many subject matters from both within our industry and outside of it, whilst also giving them access to a network of other subject matter experts who can expand on that knowledge and thereby provide an even greater understanding.
So if you want to accept these figures on face value and ask me a question looking for an immediate in-depth response, then you’re likely to feel underwhelmed with the response you get. However if you ask the same question with the expectation that I will get back to you in due-course with a full and proper reply then you’re in luck because that, with a little help from my friends, I can do.
Have a great Christmas and prosperous and peaceful New Year and I’ll see you all in 2017.
TGL

It’s only a number

I have now travelled 50 times around the sun. Half a century on this wonderful planet of ours and to all intents and purposes I feel as good as I’ve ever felt about myself, but that really wasn’t the case this time last week.

I’m not really somebody who worries too much about my age, I’m fit, healthy and have a lovely young family who help me stay that way. So when I made the plans to celebrate my 50th birthday it was’t really going to be anything out of the ordinary.

The format was simple, invite a bunch of people you know and love to an open house starting early afternoon and finishing when the last ones leave. It worked wonderfully for my 40th so why change a winning formula I thought.

My wife and I planned the food and drink and repeatedly over the last 2 months we’ve bought bits and pieces each time we’ve been out shopping. With the exception of the one or two last minute items, we’d got everything sorted by Monday last week and all that was left to do was see how many people actually turned up.

Monday evening was the first night I really noticed it. “I can’t get no sleep” what was going on? There was nothing I could attribute the restlessness to other than “just a nag”. Tuesday saw a repeat but this time the nag was much more defined. I now knew precisely what it was.

By the time the weekend arrived I’d accrued no more than 2 to 3 hours of sleep on every single night of the week and all because I was turning fifty. Thoughts like being hit by a car whilst out riding my bike to being taken out on a pedestrian crossing on my way to collect the children from school were a paranoid status quo in my mind and I seemed powerless to be able to control them. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD it’s only a number!

I cannot begin to explain the elation that hit me on the actually day of my birthday, fortunately it was also a day before the party. A feeling akin to having a lead weight removed from your chest whilst walking into the ocean paints a fairly accurate picture albeit not one I, or many others for that matter, have experienced.

That evening I dropped off to sleep almost immediately and then slept through until early the next morning. So where did all this anxiety come from?

It would seem that the power of moving on into a second half century had a profound affect on my mind. I would like to say that I remember it all too well when playing cricket in my younger years, but I was a bowler not a batter and I rarely made it into double figures. I can however see how these psychological effects can really cause people to stumble last minute in their sporting quests or adventures and as Beth French said in her interview with Lynda Tucker this week, if you let your mind believe then you body will follow.

So my mind does believe. It believes that 50 really is just another number and though my body sometimes does play up from time to time, being able to still run a sub 50 minute 10km at over 50 (which I was when I did so last night) means that there is lots of life left in this old dog yet.

Believe in who you are, believe in what you can do and don’t let the power of destructive thoughts beat you down because, your mind leads you wherever you go.

TGL

 

Terry’s takeaway 2016-12-11

Give praise 

Quite an apt title for a Sunday but this does not refer to any religious beliefs as both they and politics are items I am trying to ensure I keep out of my business life. 

So why write on a Sunday? Well today I took my daughter (5 years 11 months) to her very first parkrun. Her interest was piqued by my winter training. Biking and UK winters are not always something that go hand in hand, and this year I have issued myself a new rule “no riding below 3 deg, solo, and when it’s dark” Surprisingly these parameters come into play a lot more often than it would first appear and in order to ensure that I don’t lose all my cardio fitness and leg muscles over winter I have started running again. 

I do seriously enjoy it though and when you’re out 3 times a week running and just once or twice maximum cycling, kids pick up on it quickly. 

Two weeks back I agreed that I would take her to the parkrun and today was the day.  Her inaugural 2km. 13.42s and all holding my hand around the entire course. I cannot tell you how proud I felt. I did however tell her this and the light that shone in her pretty little face was sheer gold. 

It allowed me also to think about what these few words of praise did for her and for the rest of our day too. Just a few honest words of encouragement and gratitude enriched our entire Sunday. 

So this week I challenge all of us to find just one or two words of praise each day and to let that person know. Both yours and their world will be significantly more pleasant as a result.

TGL 

Terry’s takeaway 2016-12-08

Write it down!

I’m not talking about your notes, or appointments or anything else like that; I’m talking about your plan.

Yes your plan, daily, weekly, monthly, annual, bi-annual. You get the picture.

One of the key actions contributing to my success this year hasn’t been the amount of time I’ve invested in my job, it has been the volume of work I’ve completed during that time.

This time last year I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the work of Michael Hyatt. Now I have to be clear, he is not for anyone who can’t abide an over abundance of PMA (positive metal attitude). It is cheesy slimy American “you can fly to the moon if you believe in yourself” kind of stuff, but you know what, it works!

And it does so because you have to write it down. Not only do you write it down though, you share it with others. Your Mentors! You become 100% accountable for the items you commit into writing. Between Christmas and New Year, whilst the Family were enjoying some fun filled days at Centre Parcs, I was sat in a quiet woodland lodge mapping out my best year ever (I told you it was cheesy). One of my mentors for 2016 was my Mum – Mrs E.M. Lambert – MBE  and she too was on the short vacation. After delivering the outline of my plan to her in the early evening she agreed to review this with me each month throughout the year.

The plan included both work and private activities and the first half of the year was so full that I unfortunately missed a number of important family events due to other commitments as well as my initial goals on 2 out of the 10 I’d agreed to. Despite writing this all down, meeting with my mentors (all 3 of them) and working more hours than before it wasn’t working.

On paper it should have been perfect, but there was something missing. By mid year I was short on 4 of my 10 deadlines, albeit much further along the timeline on all of them it was slipping further. I needed to do something.

I’ve always been one to try and use tools to keep me on track, but even the CRM reminders and constant Evernote reminders were becoming easier to ignore. So I went back to “Old School”. I wrote it down on my weekly whiteboard planner. My actions for the week, my blocked items for prospecting, for emails, for proposals, for fitness, for lunch. In fact it became very easy to do once I’d got used to it. 1 hour on a Sunday and then confirmed each morning before I started work and suddenly I was working less hours and getting so much more done. By the end of the 3rd quarter I was back on track, just 2 of deadlines were outstanding but they were so much closer to being on track now too. At the time of writing this I have, and will still do so, miss just one of my 10 VERY ambitious goals for 2016. Had I have started the “Old School” art of writing this down on “paper” (AKA Whiteboard) earlier in the year I have no doubt that I would have completed them all, but then again that now tells me that in 2017 I truly will have the best year ever.

TGL

Terry’s takeaway 2016-12-05

Breathe

How many people actually just stop during the course of their day to take a minute out to breathe?

The answer is probably “not very many”. I’m going to be turning 50 in just a little over a week from now and it wasn’t until very recently that I’ve started to do this between 3 and 4 times a day.

The premise is very simple. Stop what you’re doing, sit down regulate your breathing for a couple of breaths and then consciously inhale and exhale for a minute. Think about nothing else other than the air filling your lungs.

The results of doing this are quite profound after a while. The more days you do this the more calming it becomes. It is like a mini defrag, a cleansing tonic, a hot and cold shower; all in one and only for a few short minutes during the day.

So how has this got anything to do with my job?

Today I was on a call, it was early in the morning and I was still bubbling on the caffeine and slow release carbs I’d enjoyed from my breakfast. It was one of my first calls of the new working week and I do enjoy this spring like Monday morning feeling  coming back work, especially after a lovely weekend.

The conversation was flowing well and I felt myself beginning to talk just a little too much, which is something  I preach about it constantly and yet putting it into practise can still occasionally be a challenge. Breathe! I didn’t take a whole minute whilst on the call, that would have been really quite awkward, but I did inhale and exhale in one full breathing cycle giving the person I was talking to the time to take to reflect on the answer I’d given them. It also gave me time to begin listening again and as such the conversation went on much longer than anticipated and significantly more information was imparted from both sides.

As a result of this simple exercise my day, and working week, did start rather well and the art of consciously breathing is paying off. Not only for my daily well-being but also for professional self.

TGL

Terry’s takeaway 02-12-2016

Beauty in the mundane

Long dark mornings and early dark evenings have been a productivity killer for me in the past. It wasn’t until recently that I’d found a way to beat this demon into submission and I’ve done this by finding beauty in the mundane.

Mundane – lacking in interest- A pretty harsh word when you consider that a large portion of what we do in our life could be categorised as such. So finding a way to break the mould and the stigma attached to it has been quite a challenge.

So what have I done, and how does this help?

I have quite simply changed my mindset about the “mundane” – yes I did say this was a challenge but bear with me. It actually requires a huge amount of positive thinking to do this and it is the final outcome that keeps me motivated.

The analogy

Imagine you’re a train on a track. You’re heading down the East Coast mainline the stations you stop at are all the same, the speed you travel between them is regulated and there are any number of incidents which could occur on-route that could affect your arrival time positively or negatively. Every day there is something different going to affect your journey and you could even have to move track; but no matter what, get there you will and your work for that part of the day is complete. Regardless of how difficult the journey can become you have to keep moving forward. And it is the engine driving the wheels and the wheels moving along the track do this. These two elements are the mundane.

The real world

To transpose this into my world I have to relate to the destination as my client’s outcome. Each time I speak to a new potential client he has a final stop, the finished article in whatever languages that may be. Along the journey there are a number of steps we have to complete, both in the sales process and in the delivery process; these are the stations on-route. In most cases we have to stop at each and every one of those stations in order to complete our job properly and in some case there are even additional stops required (the track deviation).

The mundane in all of this is the necessary admin, the recording, the follow up, the attention to detail, the list is extensive and though the content can vary tremendously, the task is always the same.

What I’ve been able to do recently, in very much the same way as listening to the clickety-clack of the train on the track, is find some peace and tranquillity, comfort in fact, of knowing that each time I enter this information into our CRM I’m one station closer to helping my client achieve their outcome. And that is a very power motivator.

At this time of year then, I liken being surrounded by darkness to a long tunnel on my train journey and use it to complete the mundane, in comfort and harmony.

TGL