Friendships

I love this picture!  Look at our huge smiles. I can still remember, as if it were today, something subtle happening, that we were scarcely aware of – we all became friends, each of whom who have subsequently touched my life for good.

That day, the six of us made some powerful professional breakthroughs and connections in our own community of practice.  But above all, the part I cherish most of all, was the power of true friendship.

Friendship

Listening, laughing, understanding, being a little silly together and empathy were in all in evidence as we embarked upon a new journey in our work on extra-dependent teams.

“A friend is a priceless possession because a true friend is one who is willing to take us the way we are but is able to leave us better than he found us. We are poor when we lose friends because generally they are willing to reprove, admonish, love, encourage, and guide for our best good. A friend lifts the heavy heart, says the encouraging word, and assists in supplying our daily needs. As friends we will make ourselves available without delay to those who need us.” – Marvin J. Ashton

The photo was taken in Zurich, in December 2019, just a few weeks before the pandemic and lockdown.  Subsequently, the six of us have met by Zoom on several occasions.  Our conversations have been moments I hold dear, through what has been a challenging year.

Somehow these special moments of friendship seem to have a long shelf life, which I am so grateful for. They can sustain you even long after the moment has passed.

Good friends are a little like stars, you may not always see them, but you know they are there!

My conclusion – the only way to really have friends, is to be one yourself.

Go on, reconnect today.

Be Prepared

“Remind me again, what did he wear on the old scooter?” I asked mum, as we laughed together.

So, it was last night as we reminisced about dad’s scooter.  Growing up in Dunfermline in the late 1960’s I recall my dad in his train driver uniform leaving for work.  By the end of the 60’s all of the steam trains were replaced with diesel engines.  As the engines changed, dad also had to switch depots and ended up having to travel to Alloa for every shift, a round trip of 35 miles or so.  Dad never passed his driving test until the early 80’s, so every journey was made on his little scooter.

In the wintertime, the ride was not only treacherous on the old country roads of the time, but it was also a very cold one.  Before he set off for a night shift, on the chilliest of evenings, I recall dad padding and lining his jacket, sleeves, and trouser legs with old newspapers to lessen the biting winter cold and the piercing winds.  A simple old-fashioned way to stay warm, and his preparation was key.

A few years later as a young boy scout, I remember learning the motto of “be prepared”, which has remained as a constant with me throughout my life in all that I do.

Our world of 2021 is filled with uncertainty and I am sure for all of us, many more chilly and difficult nights are still ahead as we journey through the challenges life will bring.

So, are you ready for the next challenge and what can you do right now to be better prepared?

What is your strategy in life?

‘The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do’ says Michael Porter.

In August 1993, I met my future Dutch father in law, Bep for the first time. I learned a lot about him that day, including the fact that he was an avid chess player and amongst the top players in the local club in town. I’m a novice at best, but soon a challenge was issued. Out came the board, chess pieces and a clock too! I’d never even see a chess clock! Needless to say I was thrashed and humbled a few times that day.

Over many years of playing chess with Bep, I observed and learned much about him.

– he was methodical
– he valued time
– he planned carefully
– he was patient
– he anticipated
– he was exact

These characteristics were a pattern for his life. He was a highly skilled carpenter to trade and these qualities I presume were finely tuned over many years of practice.

Sadly, he is gone now.

I did manage a couple of wins over all the ensuing years and yet, I have never forgotten those powerful lessons he taught me.

The clock of life never stops ticking and each of us always needs to carefully consider our next move. What will yours be today?

Its time to laugh!

Sometimes when it gets really tough, perhaps in a challenging situation or conversation, the best remedy is simply to add in a touch of humour and laugh!

A guest speaker at a Yale University devotional took as his text the four letters ‘Y-A-L-E.’

“Y” he said “means youth” and he talked about that for 15 minutes.

“A” he continued, “stands for ambition” and that took another 15 minutes.

“L is for life,” another 15 minutes.

“E is for enthusiasm”… another 15 minutes to fill the hour.

As soon as the lecture was finished the students rushed to their classes as fast as they could go, all except one.

She knelt, apparently in prayer.

The speaker was deeply touched that he had so influenced at least one listener. He went down into the seats, touched the student on the shoulder and enquired why she was praying so earnestly. She lifted her face and said “I’m giving thanks that this is not the Massachusetts Institute of Technology!” 😅

If it’s a tough day ahead don’t forget to stop and have some fun too! 😊

Honesty

A few months after Decimal Day (15 February 1971), walking home from my grandmothers home, I stumbled upon a great find on the roadside. Unbelievably it was £40 worth of new notes. It was my lucky day! I guess I was around 6 years old at the time.

I shared the good news with my parents and they asked what I was going to do now? “Keep it” I exclaimed!

I can’t recall the exact words, but then came the teaching moment, “Is that the right thing to do?”

Shortly thereafter, the money was handed into “Lost & Found” at the local Police Station. Some weeks went by, lucky for me, no-one claimed the cash and I recall the money was invested in a bicycle!

As a parent, I’ve experienced similar trips to the Police Station with our children.

This was a great lesson learned for me as a child.

Choosing honesty that day, brought a warm fuzzy feeling inside, one I’ve never forgotten. It was the right thing to do, bringing peace of mind and self respect.

From Proverbs in the Old Testament we read “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Finally, as Carlyle said: “Make yourself an honest man, and then you may be sure there is one rascal less in the world.”

How important is honesty to you?

Small steps everyday

Stuck in a rut? Feeling a bit flat? Every day just feels the same? Not getting anywhere? Is it Thursday or Friday? Life feels dull & boring?

I’m certain many of us are feeling like that right now. I know, because its been confirmed in many recent coaching conversations!

Yesterday, whilst out on a walk with my daughter, trudging laboriously through the snow to Tesco (a highlight of the day), the underfoot conditions made it very difficult just to even put one foot in front of another at times. Yes, it can be tough! Yet, small steps helped.

So, what can we do about it?

I know there is a great power in establishing good 𝐡𝐚𝐛𝐢𝐭𝐬 and 𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬. However, right now lets change things around a bit!

There is great power in the old phrase “𝐯𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐭𝐲 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞.”

Start by looking for ways to add different experiences to your day and take that first small step and then a few more.

Make some new plans, have some fun, help others, try something new, be spontaneous, call friends, take that walk, volunteer, exercise, journal! Above all – take action! Go and do!

What variety of ideas have you tried recently?

Take a few small steps today!

Slowing down, to Speed up

On this chilly snow filled February morning, my thoughts turned to a memory from a few years ago. This is one of my favourite pictures of my son Kyle and I, just south of Provo, Utah on the western edges of the Rocky Mountains, in the Wasatch Front, April 2013. Waking up today, to our best snowfall of the year in Scotland, having a couple of these snowmobiles would have been really handy!

I recall those couple of days in Utah, in the middle of nowhere. Those snowmobiles were fast! Reaching speeds of up to 70 mph on snow filled meadows that seemed to go on forever, was great fun, exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time for the pair of us.

With today’s weather, it is very likely that I won’t get very far at all. Unlike those snowmobiles, equipped for the most challenging of winter weather, my ability to travel anywhere at speed today is likely to be limited to trudging through the snow on foot at best.

Like many of the storms we pass through in life, I have found that the direction we choose whilst travelling through them, is more important than any speed we attain.

Slow down and stay safe, wherever you are today.

How are you being finely-tuned?

Are you being 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐥𝐲-𝐭𝐮𝐧𝐞𝐝 ?

Over the last 2 days, I have spent nearly 8 hours each day on a brand new managing your team virtual learning programme. It has been a stretching experience, long hours, a few headaches and a little bit of pressure thrown in for good measure too. All that said it has been extremely insightful too.

Yesterday, as each of the virtual facilitators took it in turn to deliver a 75 minute section, we carefully listened and participated throughout the learning session. As each facilitator concluded their delivery, one by one, we took it in turns to provide feedback. It was a great experience to receive an in the moment peer review. I came away feeling as if I was being 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐥𝐲-𝐭𝐮𝐧𝐞𝐝 !

To fine-tune means: “to make small adjustments to (something) in order to achieve the best or a desired performance”

At the conclusion of the day, each of us thanked our virtual trainer for her guidance and assistance throughout. I came away feeling more prepared, more confident, more assured and primed ready to step up into action!

How are you preparing for your forthcoming assignments and how are you being 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐥𝐲-𝐭𝐮𝐧𝐞𝐝?

Are you going nowhere?

Are you going nowhere?

1 year ago, on February 1st 2020, I took delivery of my new car and was excited about the journeys ahead. Yesterday, it was back in the garage for it’s first annual service. In my 20’s and 30’s I’d be regularly driving 40,000 miles plus per year. In my 40’s & 50’s that reduced to circa 15,000 miles per year. This year, I’ve barely driven 5,000 miles and most of those were done in the first 8 weeks of ownership, pre-Covid19. Occasionally, I’ll go for a short spin, but never very far. The car passed it’s annual 40 point health check with flying colours, with tyres too that are hardly worn.

Most of the year, the car has been parked up outside, going nowhere.

Yet, just under the bonnet of the car, there is a powerful finely tuned engine, in prime condition ready to roar into action.

Similarly, there may have been days over these last few months when you’ve felt like you’re going nowhere. If you were to take your 40 point annual service health check, would you pass with flying colours, or are you feeling a little worn out?

If we want to roar into action, then we need to look after ourselves.
– Go out for a little walk (spin)
– Connect with others, listen and support
– Give of yourself
– Set a goal
– Eat well
Then you will be going somewhere!

Don’t Give Up!

Tuesday morning my brain was completely fried due to the complexity of a piece of virtual #facilitation.

“My, oh my, this is tortuous!” I thought.

Then came feelings of self doubt, fear, anxiety and a resignation that I simply couldn’t get my head around what was expected. I became a little grumpy….(well maybe a big bit!)

Consulting with a few other virtual facilitators, they felt exactly the same…(even more scary, and now even more grumpy too!)

I persevered.
Then I persevered a little more.
And still even more.

With a little more effort, a little more #patience, a little more #persistence and some practice & experimentation thrown in too for good measure, eventually…it started to make a little more sense.

By Wednesday afternoon, I’d cracked it! I was overcome with a huge sense of relief and started dancing around the living room.

This morning, as I get back online for the last rounds of the virtual facilitation, I am actually looking forward (and just a little excited too) about the day ahead. And I’ll have a bit of fun too!

Being taken of your comfort zone into your stretch zone, can be very painful at times – I can testify of that! Yet, strangely it also brings a great sense of accomplishment, once you achieve the goal.

Have you been stretched recently?