Integrity

Here in the UK, it is the day of our general election and this latest “buzz word” has become one of the most over-, and misused, words during a dirty and personal campaign. One where honesty and morals were certainly not on the top of everyone’s agenda. Not surprisingly then, upon hearing someone tell you how honest and moral they are, your initial reaction is one of mistrust. Politicians certainly have a lot to answer for!

But is it just politicians who are to blame? No, is the short answer. They are the ones who are “en vogue” right now but just a short step back in time provides us with evidence of other “supposable” reputable groups of people doing the exact same thing. Bankers, the Police, Lawyers, Priests, Kings, Queens, celebrities, in fact, the list goes on and on and all of whom have somehow been entangled in some reputation damaging scandal that has resulted in mistrust. We’ve created a whole new generation of scepticism.

In my industry, as a language service provider, we too have had our fair share of scandal and bad press. You don’t have to do too much Googling to uncover some highly amusing bad translations, warring factions within a company causing irreparable damage to it and its ultimate demise, and stories of rabbits becoming accredited court interpreters. Is there any wonder then, when a sales person, who also carries with them a professional stigma too, approaches somebody about being able to help them with their language needs that they get a very frosty response? It is, quite frankly, a difficult one to overcome. Especially as within this industry there is a very strong human bias in the final delivery of the service. Linguists, Project Managers, File Technicians, Vendor Management Teams, Salespeople and then all the usual company administration teams, all mean that, at some point, mistakes are inevitable. Therefore a strong emphasis on how you, as a company and a salesperson, deal with these human errors is something that can truly distinguish you from your peers.

It is herein that the word integrity is of real value! Do you have an integrity DNA strand in your professional and personal lifeline?

In a world where social media places your life on public display, it can be very easy for somebody to take a look at what you’re saying and doing almost 24/7. In fact, when somebody doesn’t have a social media presence, they are often seen as “wanting to hide something”. So here’s the rub, whenever you’re online, be that on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or wherever, you have to be aware that this is going to become your digital DNA, both as a person and as a company. If integrity doesn’t shine through here, then you might as well have a 1-star review on Amazon.

Inside the hurt locker!

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, I was a fortunate participant in my cycling club’s annual Humber Bridge Audax. Every year Huddersfield Star Wheelers meet up at Huddersfield train station and set off on an epic flat ride (flat for us anyway) out to the Humber Bridge and back in a day. In the previous years, I’ve not been available to join the ride as it has always been on the late May bank holiday weekend, but this year we had nothing planned and I was given the proverbial “day pass”. This year was also different too, it was now an official open Audax and therefore open to all clubs so a total of 90 riders were expected to join in the fun.

I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it either! My training, in the build-up to the event, had been marred by illnesses and a severe lack of time in the saddle, raising my concerns of even completing it, nevermind being able to keep up with my usual riding partners. As the day grew ever closer, a watchful eye on the weather for the event turned up the paranoia one notch further. We were forecast an outbound tailwind, but a fairly brisk headwind on the return leg and every cyclist I know knows what that means when you’ve already got 120km in your legs before the turn. So throughout the week preceding Sunday’s epic adventure, my inner voice was formulating all kinds of excuses as to why I could fail and why it might not be a good idea to even embark upon such a journey.

It was Thursday, however, when I set my mind somewhat at ease. I completed my last “hard” short training session and smashed an arbitrary goal I’d been seeking for years, on my VLC (virtual lunchtime commute). I felt good that evening and at least the weather forecast hadn’t gotten any worse since the beginning of the week so I settled the argument with the voice and told him I was doing it.

Friday I coached, Saturday I coached, Sunday I woke early and had a VERY large portion of porridge. The day had finally arrived and I set off on a cool and drizzly Sunday morning for the 8am station meeting point. I set off in good time so I took it fairly steady, as it was going to be a long day out. When I got there, I met up with a whole bunch of familiar faces telling tales of the suffering of years gone by and I was all on, to tame the “told you so” voice in my head. I also heard that the “Steady Eddies” were already long gone, as they had taken it upon themselves to leave at 6.30 so as not to be returning way after dark, so my get out of jail free card of riding at a more sedate pace had already been used up, unless of course, we could catch them up.

We set off and the large group was very quickly split with a pacier bunch making a break due to traffic signals riding through town. By the time we reached the roundabout at Grange Moor, there were a number of very distinct groups and I found myself at the front of the second one of these groups. As the undulating terrain through Flockton began, it became clear that a couple of the riders our group were new to this form of riding and this caused for some early concertina-ing, which can be quite energy sapping. After the second rise, when the front two riders rapidly scrubbed off speed as opposed to just digging in a little, I let my momentum carry me through and then put in a few strong pedal strokes to carry me to the top of the hill. This quickly formed a gap of around 200m, after continuing at that pace on the flat for a while, and as I came round the corner I caught sight of the leading group, about 250m ahead. I was between a rock and hard place. I decided to just keep on pedalling and hoped that I would either be able to tag onto the back of the leading group or get swallowed up by the trailing second group as my energy drained. Fortunately, my good friend Steve had registered what had happened and picked up the pace of the trailing pack and they caught me about 100m out from the leading group. We made up ground towards them fairly swiftly and before we reached West Bretton Roundabout the leading group was now around 24 or more strong.

Using the tailwind to our advantage we made great progress out to the first checkpoint and took a wise decision not to hang about more than to get our cards stamped and fill up our water bottles. By this time the sun had also come out and what started out as a grey drizzly morning turned into a wonderful sunny day.

The halfway point of Humber Bridge was the next stop and, having lost a couple to the lure of a longer rest and ride out at a more sedate pace, we set off again around 22 strong. The pace was, once again, pretty stiff but even with an unbalanced load sharing on the front it still made it attainable for everyone involved and we arrived at the Bridge ahead of the Steddie Eddies. They did clock us though! And sneakily snuck into the cafe ahead of us whilst we took a photo opportunity 🙂

HB1.jpg

HB2.jpg

Refuelled and ready to go, although my food arrived delayed and I was forced to leave 1/2 a coffee cake and 1/4 of a baked potato as a result, we started our return journey.

The headwind very quickly made itself known and we had to arrange the group on the fly to balance the load sharing much more evenly. To a large extent this worked well and our average speed, although taking a hit, didn’t diminish too much. It did, however, take its toll and there were a few who could no longer take their turn at the front. On one occasion this was me too, as two of the stronger riders in front of me pushed up the pace so much that I was struggling to hold on whilst directly behind them and so when it came to me doing my bit I lasted no more than a minute or two before having to own up and calling for some assistance from behind. We reached the final checkpoint at the same time as this same group in the previous year had only just left the Bridge, and Dick wasn’t going to allow us much time to breathe before rallying us all back together to continue. With one energy spent casualty having to stay behind at the stop, we received a rousing and very clear instructional speech from Jonny asking those who could do their bit to do it, but to, this time, keep the pace more reasonable as we all needed to get back together. At this point, I held my hand up to announce that I would struggle to do my bit but I’d give it a go as did two or three others, honesty was needed at this point.

It was in this final leg of the journey which found me sat inside the hurt locker. I’d done 2 turns on the front, despite announcing I probably wouldn’t be able to, but with 30 miles (50km) left to go, I was hurting badly. The next 15 miles (25km) I was in a pretty dark place, every slight elevation caused me pain but I managed to work through it and by the end of it I still managed to enjoy the final 15 back to the starting point and didn’t hold up the group all too much either.

After 7h44m34s in the saddle, I’d managed to complete 237km at an Avg of 30.6kmh making this the longest ride I’ve done to date. It is a credit to the group that I rode with, as much as anything else, as to why I accomplished this in the way that I did and I’d like to thank each and every one of them for their encouragement, support and laughter when it mattered most. You are a credit to your clubs and yourselves and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the day. And yes, even when I was sat in the hurt locker!

Cheers

HB3.jpg

Taking myself away

As I’ve mentioned on a few occasions over the last few months, I’ve been practising mindfulness meditation since the beginning of the year, and I’ve found it to be extremely powerful. So when I awoke to the horrific news from the centre of Manchester this morning, just 35 minutes away from where I live, I was grateful that this practice has become part of my morning ritual. As the morning’s news later unfolded and the details of the trauma and devastation it had caused to the family, friends and public services were unveiled, there was nothing more needed than an extended lunchtime walk into the Pennines.

Taking myself away.JPG

These hills are just 15 to 20 minutes walk away from my front door and I am eternally thankful that I returned to them in 2003, after an 18-year absence. I find an immense amount of peacefulness when I’m alone in them and today, solitude was just what I needed.

It is during these times of nationwide sorrow that I believe the practice of inward reflection is such a valuable skill to have. It is all too easy for people to start accusing one thing and another for the atrocities that have occurred and in so doing, stirring up more tension in an already snare drum taught situation. I don’t exempt myself from this either, my initial emotions of pure hatred towards the perpetrators were so violently charged that I was shaking with rage. However, I applied my acceptance principals, not of the act but of the feelings, and was later in a position to uncover where they really came from and why. This did not, in any way, diminish the abhorrent levels of disgust for the ones who carried out this mindless act of inhumane violence towards children, but it did allow me to not fuel their crusade by vowing for revenge. Violence has never defeated violence in any situation ever, over the long term. It has always been love and compassion that has finally conquered.

Whilst the horrors of last night are still so raw, it is hard to believe that there won’t be violent repercussions of one sort or another and there are those who will justify their actions on a world stage. However, I make a very humble plea to everyone, please, don’t fight fire with fire! We are not going to resolve this with bombs, guns and reciprocating violence. Anyone who has had any form or military training knows, that the most effective way to neutralise your enemy is to take away their communication lines and their funding.

So these awful examples of the human race thrive on social media and electronic messaging. Please, before you re-post ANYTHING, check the source. Don’t allow their network of followers to grow through inadvertently advertising for them.

And finally, to all the leaders of the world, there is enough anecdotal and physical evidence available to your country’s intelligence services to allow you the luxury of understanding who is funding these organisations, so just STOP trading with them! Regardless of what that means to your GDP. One parent’s child’s life is worth more than the world’s GDP combined and the sooner we accept this the sooner we can quench the radical fires of terrorism.

Take your time, if you want to speed things up.

I am a fairly recent meditation convert! For me, it has become a habitual part of my day and without it, I no longer feel as though I have maximised my potential for that day. It is quite astonishing how much more I have been able to achieve purely by taking more time out to complete a human defrag.

Keeping on topic about AI, which we’ve been covering over the last few posts, I think the analogy of a defragmentation is perfect. Most of you will have experienced the effect of running a defrag on your PC at one point in time and you will have experienced how much quicker it becomes as a result. So imagine doing this on a daily basis in your head. The time spent doing it is such a positive investment as results are increasingly demonstrating to me on a daily basis.

The mind is, of course, itself a computer and one which is far more complex than the manufactured ones we use in our daily working life. So imagine how many broken fragments of information are scattered within it and how crazy the filing systems and archives are which are used to retrieve this information. By taking the time to become more present and to start registering thoughts without acting upon them, we gain an amazing ability to reset and restore those fragments in a much more balanced environment. This makes the recollection of them more readily accessible and is the main reason why the art of slowing down to speed up works so well.

When you continue with this practice, the mind, body and soul all gradually begin to work in unison and things that were previously viewed as highly important, frequently end up on a metaphorical leaf floating away down the river into the infinity of “none-pertinent”

So in a similar vein, the decluttering of my CRM over these last few months has revealed some significant leaf floaters, ones where my energy of the past has been misguided and has consequently now been refocussed on areas which are far more important. This has been one of a series of recent exercises which have yielded far more progression than my previous status quo of trying to do a little bit of everything for everyone.

So yes, my life is still very busy and prioritising is still a must, but by slowing things down and taking time out to meditate I have found that I’ve managed to find more time and not lost time. If you haven’t tried it, don’t knock until you do and if you have tried it but it didn’t work, then maybe seek some professional guidance because I can assure you, it really does work.

Remember! In sales the only real finite resource you have is time, so use it wisely.

Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS)

Over the weekend I was privileged to be able to offer some of my time to helping others in a sport I adore. As some of you will be aware I am a qualified British Cycling level 2 coach and throughout the year I have the joy of sharing my passion with all kinds of people from all walks of life and in all age groups. I regularly feel like this is pure selfish indulgence as I can pretty much guarantee that I get just as much out of it as those do who I am honoured to coach. Nonetheless it is purely a voluntary position and therefore it does have to fit in around my other commitments and getting that balance right can sometimes be a challenge.

When Sunday morning arrived I wasn’t entirely rested as the night was a little shorter than usual due to a late night with my lovely wife and then an early wake-up call from my energetic little 3 year old son resulted in some very tired eyes. After a quick breakfast I embarked upon the trip over the Pennines to the the National Cycling Centre in Manchester to be greeted by a very friendly face and a VERY welcomed cup of coffee.

After a short introduction we were split up into 2 main groups and logically all the coaches were together in one group whilst the volunteers were in another. We, the coaches, were then taught the latest in coaching techniques to facilitate the further development of FMS.

So what is FMS? – For those of you who remember the youthful days of climbing hills and trees, jumping in and out of back gardens and kicking a ball around an empty field; you’ll be subconsciously more than familiar with FMS. It is, as the name suggests,  “Fundamental Movement Skills”. What is very sad about having to be taught how to teach these is the fact that we now have a second generation growing up in the western world who do not have them. As for the first generation it is already too late for them to ever reach their full sporting potential in a large majority of cases, but it ISN’T too late to reverse a significant portion of the damage already inflicted; if we all take ownership of what it is we’re failing to do right now.

FMS then! The ability to perform simple tasks such as jumping, skipping, kicking, hopping turning, twisting, balancing, catching, rolling…. the list goes on. It is brutally alarming that we’ve already got one generation arriving into their adult life who are missing these basic skills and a second generation already in the making with the same deficit. Why?? well the simple answer is us! We are to blame really. We’ve allowed our children to not become bored, we’ve wrapped them up in cotton wool and we’ve created a society where protectionism prevails over common sense. We give them electronic entertainment devices to feed their need for everything to happen right here and now and they rarely go outside, especially if its raining, to enjoy simple playtime with their peers.

It has therefore become my job, and coaches like me, to help children find their FMS so that when their raw talent does shine through, and they are picked to progress into the elite training environments of our sport, that they do have a chance to attain their full potential because they’re no longer lacking the Fundamentals.

Applying this same logic to the world of business I wonder how long it will be before we realise that we’ve also got a “fundamental management skills” deficit and that this selfsame protectionism (or as I like to call it the “passing the book” attitude) has resulted in a wave of talent coming through who no longer know how to take ownership. They’ve never been allowed to fail as somebody has always found an excuse for them, “Oh the resources weren’t available sorry they couldn’t deliver on time” or “Ah yes the power went down so they didn’t have access to the internet” or “Actually they did deliver 2 out of 4 so I think that’s good enough don’t you?” Consequently they have now been attuned into finding the blame elsewhere rather than looking at themselves first, and all this from a very early age.

I really don’t want this to be viewed as a “When I were a lad” post, because it isn’t. I’m actually taking ownership of this outcome. I want everyone who reads this to think about their own situation, as a parent, as a business owner or as an employee and ask yourself a simple question. How does what I do make a difference?, and more importantly, what is the difference that it makes? Once you’ve rekindled yourself with this then apply a few basic foundation building skills of your own so that our younger generation can grow up and gain a full and extensive experience of real life, with all it’s beauty and hardship that comes with it. Encourage them to take ownership of their own outcomes and give them the confidence that they can tell you when they’ve messed up without the fear of you blowing your top and then covering up for them. Together we can help realign the next generation of talent with reality, because the world they are going to be living in will be far more demanding than the one we’re all living in right now. It is our duty to ensure that they have the Fundamental Skills of Life to prosper in it.

Feel free to let me know how and what you’ve done.

TGL

Ultimately I’m the one who is to blame

All too often in life people are looking for somebody to take the rap if something doesn’t go to plan. It is has stemmed from quite a healthy notion of … “Okay this hasn’t quite worked out right, let’s take a deeper look at where things went wrong so we can learn from our mistakes”  but this has long since become an exception to that initial notion.

Sadly there are a whole raft of bad practises now in play who’s sole aim has become to exonerate blame in the event of something going wrong, my personal pet peeve is the COPY THE WORLD into every email… but let’s not go there right now.

So let’s take this back to basics. I am in sales, I am the outside representative of my company and I have a duty of care to every one of my clients. If something goes wrong it is my fault… NO… it IS my fault!! What goes on behind the scenes has nothing to do with it, what happens in world politics has nothing to do with it, and what happens within the client’s company has nothing to do with- This is my mindset and therefore I am solely accountable for everything I recommend to all of my clients.

Clearly upon dissection of each individual occurrence it is most likely going to have been a fault outside of my immediate control but by taking on this mindset I am doing two things.

  1. I am extremely diligent in my scoping of every project- and I have an amazing team behind me who help me do this.
  2. I am ALWAYS available to my clients and no request or enquiry goes unanswered (I don’t have my head in the sand hoping it will go away).

This clearly does not make me some kind of superman; all this does is makes sure that no matter what I promise I deliver, and the same goes for my personal life too. The thing is, this isn’t just something you can switch on and off at will. Once you start taking ownership, you start to do it in all walks of life and in my view that is predominantly a good thing. However here’s a small word of caution. If and when you do make this mind shift, be prepared to let people down! Not because you’re getting things wrong all the time, but because you will stop taking on everything, as the sheer volume of responsibilities you will have will become overwhelming.  At first this is a difficult one to deal with, especially if you are always one for “helping out”, but believe me in the long run you’ll be thankful that you’ve read this because a little disappointment here and there is much better than loosing your integrity through not keeping your word.

Have a great weekend and be mindful of what you promise.

TGL

Living in your #phone 2

I recently blogged about some trade-show etiquette and moreover my pet hate about living in your phone. I titled the blog “Living in your phone #part 1” and with good reason. I could probably do a whole series of these and still not find enough vocabulary in any language to describe my love-hate relationship with the mobile phone.

I am fully aware of their uses, I am fully aware of their flaws, I’m also fully aware that we all have a unique relationship with these inanimate objects. But for me to openly admit I love my phone (see love-hate relationship statement above) is actually quite worrying. It has been this realisation that has prompted me to become pretty ruthless in the way I use my phone and judging by my observations over the last month since making this shift, I think there is a huge percentage of people out there who should also evaluate their own relationship with their phone. Do you love it? Is it “your life”? Do you look at it last thing at night and then first thing in the morning before you even get out of bed?

If, like me, you’ve answered YES to any one, or more, of these 3 questions then you may need professional help, or at the very least a digital detox. It is remarkable how many people are now choosing holiday locations based on internet and mobile phone connectivity as opposed to going somewhere because they want to go on vacation.

So what have I observed? How and why has it come about? And what impact has it had on me?

What I’ve observed:

In the last month I’ve been very in tune with the mobile phone habits of everyone around me. I’ve taken mental notes, and I will probably go on to take written notes as I continue with this “one man’s view/study”. People, when staring at this little LED screen, are largely oblivious to anyone else around them. They genuinely have their noses buried into their mobile devices. I’ve seen people walk straight into path of oncoming rush-hour traffic and luckily been avoided by one of the 2 in 5 who weren’t using their phone whilst driving. In fact, on that note, there were a total of 7,966 penalty notices issued in a week of enforcement in November last year, which was a staggering increase from May where just a 2,323 were issued in the same location. (report from the Guardian in January this year) 

During my 2 days in London I was walked into, pushed to one side and plain ignored by people with their ears or heads in or on their phones. I even experienced a group of “executives” out on a business meal spending at least 60% of their entire networking hours stuck in their phones. It has really become a ignorance pandemic and I believe that we should lead a charge to reverse it.

How has this come about?

Let’s be honest I don’t really need to educate anyone here, mobile phones have become, pardon the pun, our right-hand man. Nothing in our lives goes on without us getting some sort of notification to tell us about it. Auntie Judith has her birthday, Uncle Tom is going away for 3 weeks, the dog needs feeding, Lucas needs his medicine, Julia has just reacted to Joe’s photo…. The list of constant interruptions are infinite. And we just keep on adding to them with app after app and social network after social network. – Ironically this blog will also be delivered to a bunch of social networks too, so you see what I mean. We can, however, take control of it and as a very recent convert I can assure you of the liberating qualities some of the following simple actions can have on you.

  • I first of all consolidated my entire social media apps into one folder. I don’t want to give these up completely as they do serve a very useful purpose but I do not need to know about Julia’s astonishment to Joe’s photo followed by Joe’s baffled reaction as to why and the ensuing public airing of their personal dirty laundry.
  • I then turned off ALL notifications for social media. not even that annoying little red number telling me how important these 32 messages between Julia and Joe are.
  • I then consolidated all my news apps into one folder and repeated the same exercise for anything else battling for my 4.7″ of LED attention.
  • Next up was email, the productivity killer of all sales reps. Not a single tone or vibration occurs when I get an email. I have time scheduled to respond to emails on a daily basis and outside of that, if something is urgent, then people can call me. After all I do have a MOBILE phone.
  • I have stopped commenting on political threads with opinion and or reflection of my own. If you comment, you do so to get a reaction, so thereafter you’re ego self is looking constantly to gauge that reaction.
  • Finally I have taken a 4 week break from all social media. This was done so that could break the chains of addiction. The rabbit holes of conversation threads have been an Achilles heal in my life for far too long and I needed to abstain for a period of time in order to break free. Don’t get me wrong, some of the things I’ve written have been posted, I just haven’t checked to see what reaction they’ve been awarded, this is not about me this about me helping others, and I do hope that some of you find it useful.

What impact has this had on me?

I feel the word profound has been a little over used in recent times, but in this case I am going to use it. The profound impact this has had, alongside a series of other life changes, has been overwhelming. I have uncovered so much more time to invest in areas of my life which have previously been neglected. I have been able to listen to and observe things with much greater awareness, and in sales believe me that is such a powerful asset, but most importantly I have been able to take back control of my distractions. I don’t have to answer every single message immediately, I’m not going to lose touch with everyone if I don’t open up Facebook, Twitter or Instagram every 2 hours and I can embrace and even enjoy the benign bickering of my two young children as they push each others’ trigger points with such incredible precision; a talent I am unquestionably envious of because if I knew how to do this that accurately my job in sales would be so simple. In short the return to my phone being an asset as opposed to being a self-imposed life-line has been an exhilarating experience. It is a digital detox journey upon which I’ve begun to travel but one I know that is going to continue throughout the rest of my life as new distractions compete for my attention in the future. Taking back control of this is just the beginning, remaining in control is chapter 2.

Getting outside after a long week

It might be quite apparent to some of you that I am a great believer that we should spend as much time as we can outdoors. So after a deterioration of health within the family unit towards the back end of last week there was very little opportunity for any of us to be out of the house much. Over the weekend however things improved significantly and today we had some glorious weather in our part of the country, albeit a bit on the chilly side. No such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing choices; is a regular passage spoken in our house. 

So off we set, with the sunlight streaming through the car window we headed north east to Fountains Abbey. Making good time on some strangely empty roads we arrived well before lunch and flashed our national trust cards upon entry. We love it there, their well maintained grounds and stunning views are just the tonic you need when you’ve been cooped up in your office half the week and travelling on public transport and pounding trade floors the other. Add to that two little ones who have were both going square eyed from the relentless repeats of the sound of music and fireman Sam (sickness bugs kind of do that to you) and the inevitable energy release followed by total energy drain were of no surprise. 

With only 1/2 mile left to go they’d both had enough but the promise of lunch and a warm room to eat it in was fortunately tempting enough to help them reach their final reserves. After this we had another fairly traffic free drive home and our vitamin D had been given a well needed boost. 

This is why I enjoy my life so much. Everything is intertwined the energy I gain from days out with my loved ones like this set me up perfectly to tackle a new week of work ahead. One compliments the other in harmonious equilibrium and the challenges from either are made easier by the joyful memories of the other, bringing a state of zen like stability to both worlds. 

It is time in the open air that helps with the healing process of my mind, revitalising every fibre of my being. Is it any wonder therefore that I’m sat here right now waxing lyrical about the virtues of being outdoors. We all have to make choices in our lives and today was certainly the right one to make in mine. 

TGL

If you live in the present your new world starts every day!

Over the last 48 hours there has been so much talk and comparisons made regarding the inauguration of the latest president of America. I do not doubt in the slightest that things on the world stage are going to change over the coming weeks, months, years; and I really don’t want to start hypothesising about where America is going to be 5 years from now, because quite frankly there is precious little I do in my life which can influence the direction she is taking. What I can do though is take control of my own life. I can influence the small few who surround me, who need me, who love me, and who believe in me. Who then in turn can do the same to those in their close circle of life. If we start looking for all the good things to share, smiling at people we barely know and sharing our inner most thoughts with those who we truly love and trust, then maybe just maybe this united act of loving kindness can steer the world in a more harmonious direction than the one we’re currently being fed by the world’s doom and gloom press. 

Every day I wake up surrounded by my loving family, I meditate and find inner peace to start the day, and I then try to share some of this joy with anyone I can so they too can have a small moment of happiness in their day.  I am not special, I have a million flaws, I hurt in so many ways but I live in the present moment and as a result my life has a new beginning each and every moment in each and every day. I learn from the past, I forgive myself and others for things I now understand to be hurtful and I continue to listen to my body, my mind and my surroundings so that I don’t make these hurtful mistakes again. I don’t always succeed either but I try and by doing so I change over time. So if you too, as I did not all too long since, find yourself being absorbed by the poison of the press and those who preach it without validation, then take a moment to breath, think about where you are and become present in your here and now. It will, I assure you, take away the initial pain and help you focus on what really matters, YOU and those close to you.

TGL 

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”