Being

I hesitate to share this story, but as I reflect upon what happened, I plead with you, let your hearts tune in for a just a moment.

There is a popular movie in the cinema at the moment – Little Women. On Sunday evening, I spent spent the most wonderful hour listening and observing to two of my favourite little women. It was a real joy as I witnessed a ‘guid auld blether’. Although both of these women are in their 80’s and 90’s and may be ‘little’ in physical stature now, they are positively huge in love and spirit for the Watson and Temple families respectively. In addition, they have influenced for good hundreds if not thousands of friends and neighbours. Thank you mum and Auntie Joyce for your kindness, love and constant examples of goodness.

My point?

They were 𝙗𝙚𝙞𝙣𝙜 themselves.

I’d like to comment on the pretence that far too many of us are addicted to the policy of 𝙨𝙚𝙚𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙜 rather than 𝙗𝙚𝙞𝙣𝙜.

Things are not always what they seem, and neither are people. I have been fortunate in life to meet some remarkable people and great leaders, endowed with grace, humility and goodness. No matter the situation, difficult or easy, their motto was clear…

𝐓𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐞𝐞𝐦

In 2020, choose to 𝙗𝙚 and not 𝙨𝙚𝙚𝙢

Traditional Feasts

Yesterday, one of my daughters and I were the Chef’s for Christmas Day Dinner, turkey with all the trimmings.

We started early afternoon with oodles of enthusiasm by placing the turkey in the oven, peeling potatoes, preparing the other vegetables, roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, stuffing, gravy, bread sauce, Yorkshire puddings – it was our annual feast!

Time passed – we both noticed how we quickly began to tire. Our initial vigour started to wane. Giving each other a little pep talk until we once again found our stride.

My other daughter set the table and before we knew it, all 8 of us were sat down tucking into our delicious meal together. It was a feast alright. In fact, afterwards we felt so full that we both collapsed on the sofa for a wee nap to recover – we were exhausted!

As I reflected upon the experience I recognised there was a lot of learning going on!

Preparation – we needed lots of that

Planning – getting things done in the right order

Enthusiasm – was key to getting the job done

Teamwork – working together made it easier and fun

Precision – Ensuring that each step produced the right result

After years of going solo as the Christmas Chef – what a delight it was to start a new fun tradition with my daughter.

Have you any new traditions?

Pathways to Purpose

Why am I here?

What is the purpose of life?

Where did I come from?

Philosophers have struggled with these questions for millennia.  As I continue to walk on the path of my own journey, I love this old fable, perhaps even more appropriate to share in the Christmas season. I hope it will give you some clues to your own purpose.

“Once a king had a great highway built for the members of his kingdom. After it was completed, but before it was opened to the public, the king decided to hold a contest. He invited as many as desired to participate. Their challenge was to see who could travel the highway best.

On the day of the contest, the people came. Some of them had fine chariots, some had fine clothing, fine hairdos or great food. Some young men came in their sports togas and ran along the highway. People travelled the highway all day, but each one, when he arrived at the end,complained to the king that there was a large pile of rocks and debris on the road at one spot, and this had hindered their travel.

At the end of the day, a lone traveller crossed the finish line and wearily walked over to the king. He was tired and dirty – but he addressed the king with great respect, and handed him a bag of gold. He explained, “I stopped along the way to clear away a pile of rocks and debris that was blocking the road. This bag of gold was under it, and I would like you to help me return it to its rightful owner.” The King replied, “You are the rightful owner.” The traveller replied, “Oh no, this is not mine. I’ve never known so much money.” “Oh yes,” said the king, “you’ve earned this gold, for you have won my contest. He who travels the road best is he who makes the road smoother for those who will follow”. Author Unknown.

It is my sincere hope that as we serve and help others along their paths in life at home, in families, in government and business organisations we will be ever mindful of the greatest servant of all, whose birth we celebrate this Christmas Season.

It has been wonderful working with so many new clients and organisations in 2019, may I wish you a very Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year.

Purpose, Meaning and Life Long Learning

I was inspired by Neal A. Maxwell when he observed “Each generation is consumed with building sand castles which the tides of time soon wash away, clearing the beach just in time for the next “tourists” to start the process anew”.

What consumes your time and thinking?

When all is said and done – what really matters most?

What will you focus on today that will really make a difference?

Finding your Flow

4 days, 21 workshops, 600+ participants, great fun, powerful learning and one absolutely exhausted me! I loved it!

Facilitating so many short workshops over the course of a few days called for a huge amount of focus, concentration and stamina. Not only was it difficult and challenging, it was extremely worthwhile.

In every 55 minute workshop, I was completely and totally absorbed in the whole process, I was in “the zone.” Reflecting this morning, the following thoughts came to mind..

– Being present, in the moment

– Clear goals, immediate feedback and real purpose

– A very high level of concentration on a limited field

– Finding a balance between skills and challenge

– The feeling of control – Effortlessness

– An altered perception of time

– At one with my actions and consciousness

– Feelings of fulfillment and enjoyment

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this “Flow.”

Do you recognise any of these feelings? Have you ever felt that kind of joy, happiness or “flow”?

It was fast paced, using an outline agenda, I sang “Set a Goal” – taking everyone by surprise, there was always applause, I shared thoughts and ideas, I pulled participants into conversation, sought feedback, had discussion groups and an engaging activity to close.

I love what I do.

Find your Flow!

Decisions

We’re always deciding something.

Stripped down to its essentials, life is about making choices and decisions! Who will I vote for? What direction will I move in now? What job will I take? Who will I marry? Is that the house we really want? Will I have that healthy piece of fruit or that tasty cake?! Do I really need that new car? Isn’t it time we moved abroad? What will I have for lunch! Its election time again…. who will I vote for this time around? Big or small, decisions determine our destiny.

As taught by Robert D. Hales, we need to examine our motives every time we make a decision. Life’s plan and the challenge to be successful are demonstrated in an Aesop Fable,  “The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey.” The objective of the man and the boy was to journey to the city marketplace and sell the donkey for winter provisions. As they started to town, the father rode the donkey. In the first village, the villagers said, “What an inconsiderate man, riding the donkey and making his son walk!” So the father got off the donkey and let his son ride.In the next hamlet, the people whispered, “What an inconsiderate boy, riding the donkey and making his father walk!”

In frustration, the father climbed on the donkey; and father and son rode the donkey, only to have the people in the next town declare, “How inconsiderate of the man and the boy to overload their beast of burden and treat him in such an inhumane manner!”

In compliance with the dissident voices and mocking fingers, the father and son both got off the donkey to relieve the animal’s burden, only to have the next group of onlookers say, “Can you imagine a man and a boy being so stupid as to not even use their beast of burden for what it was created!”

Then, in anger and total desperation, having tried to please all those who offered advice, the father and son both rode the donkey until it collapsed. The donkey had to be carried to the marketplace. The donkey could not be sold. The people in the marketplace scoffed, “Who wants a worthless donkey that can’t even walk into the city!”

The father and son had failed in their goal of selling the donkey and had no money to buy the winter provisions they needed in order to survive.

How much different the outcome would have been if the father and son had had a plan to follow. Father could have said, “I’ll ride the donkey one-third of the way; Son, you ride the donkey one-third of the way; and we’ll both walk the last third of the way. The donkey will arrive at the marketplace fresh and strong, ready to be sold.”

Then, as they received confusing advice while traveling through each hamlet and village along their way to the city, they could look at each other, give a reassuring wink of the eye, and say, “We have a plan.”

Do you have a plan? Do you know where you are going…..

  • In your personal life?
  • Or in your family life?
  • Even in your career and work life?

If not – then here are some suggestions that will help along the way.

Firstly, Know Yourself. In order to make a good decision, you really need to understand yourself, your values and what makes you who you really are. There are lots of great personality tests on the market and working with a good personal coach will help you to identify what your core values are. When you know yourself, your core values and what you want out of life, decisions are a lot easier to make. By taking time here, it’ll enable you to really identify what the problem is that you are trying to solve.

Secondly, Consider the Long Term. This approach to decision making requires time, patience, and probably most important of all…. courage. It takes courage to listen to your inner self, to slow down, ponder, reflect and consider what really matters most. All of these factors allow the creation of some space for yourself, so that ultimately you will hear that inner wisdom, intuition even, thereafter making a decision will become much easier. But!! No matter how strong that intuition is, always do your homework and systematically check through the pros and cons of the options on the table first. Never be short-sighted.

Thirdly, Gather the Facts.  What do you really need to know? Decide what information you will need to gather in order to come up with and develop various options to choose from. The more options you have to choose from, then the likelihood is that your final decision will be a much better one. Spend as much time here as you need to consider and then evaluate the options at hand.

Fourthly, Listen! As a professional coach, I spend a fair amount of my time listening to others and over the years I have learned that it is much better to get other peoples perspectives, before you start sharing your own views and opinions. When faced with making the big decisions, it is always better to seek some others viewpoints and listen intently to what they have to say.

Finally, Make the Decision. After you have done all your homework, then now is the time to commit to the way forward and make the decision. Make the commitment and follow through. Even if after all of that, the decision turns out to be the wrong one, don’t let your ego get in the way, its still okay to change course. As I’ve written of before https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/leadership-essentials-humility-vs-pride-daryl-watson humility is a great quality to possess.

In conclusion, there is no scientific formula that will magic up a guaranteed correct decision every time…!!! Further evidenced in the HBR article here… https://hbr.org/2016/03/a-checklist-for-making-faster-better-decisions However, these 5 tips for success are well worn, tried and tested principles that will guide you in those critical decision making moments that are ahead for us all.

Shared Repertoire

“Would you like a pair of slippers Daryl?” “Yes please” I replied.  “I packed my own” said Philip, as we each spontaneously burst into a fit of laughter.  Our new common practice as Extra Dependent Team (EDT) coaches, meant that our shared repertoire now required the wearing of a pair of slippers.  Much better even, if they were your own and transported from a far-flung part of Europe!

“Shared Repertoire” – its not a simple phrase that just rolls off the tongue – that’s for sure.  But knuckling down under the watchful eye of our master coach Dave and working through some simple steps together, we came to understand the power of this new-fangled term.

As a new team member, sometimes it’s a little difficult to fit in.  My fellow coaches had already been working together for a while, I was the newbie.

We started to explore what we each consistently do across the team.  Picking up our markers, the flipchart was quickly filled as we recorded our competencies, processes, jargon, tools, equipment, along with our stories of success and failure.  Dave had a new term for all of that too. And then it happened.  We recognised that we were much, much stronger together, we were in sync, in one powerful moment, it felt safe with each other. I felt at home.

What does your team have, that others don’t? How do you sync with one another?

Suspend Judgement

Have you been too quick to judge or too slow to listen lately? Suspend our judgement – easy to say, hard to do perhaps?

Whilst facilitating a recent coaching workshop one of the core topics addressed was suspending our judgement. As we discussed the topic, at first there was some hesitancy about what we meant by it, but eventually settled on the tendency to make judgements about what we are hearing as we hear it.

When we listen, the messages we receive have to compete for attention with the aggregation of all the other information that we have ever received. The accumulation of this information, acquired over our lifetime, makes up our view of the world – in essence our basic belief system.

I love this quote from David O. McKay consider this… “‘Words do not convey meanings; they call them forth. I speak out of the context of my experience, and you listen out of the context of yours, and that is why communication is difficult.”

Active listening means suspending that judgement until you are sure that you have understood exactly what someone is saying, through questioning, probing, checking and summarising – it requires an open mind. As a listener and a leader, we should be open to new ideas, new perspectives, and new possibilities. Even when good listeners have strong views, they should suspend judgement, hold back on any criticisms, and avoid arguing.

Developing the habit of choosing to suspend judgement, even just for a moment, is tough to do. If we want to communicate effectively however and get really good at listening, then it is essential. Stephen Covey said that “the quality of life depends on the gap between stimulus and response”. What we do with that gap is how we improve our experiences, and our lives. Sometimes its really tough – isn’t it? Or is it just me? I know on many occasions I haven’t done too well. But I can improve! Creating this gap in the first place is essential. We can’t choose our response, nor can we improve our response if there is no gap in the first place! I am certain that as we choose to slow down, pause, step back, allowing our minds to unclench and open up to new ideas, we can suspend our judgements. Good luck – give it a go today!

Repetition

I was just married, living in Holland in 1994 and was struggling with the language. I’d like to share a learning lesson in a kaaspakhuis (cheese warehouse) in Woerden. My first job in the Netherlands!

Dutch cheeses are ripened for many weeks, sometimes for more than a year, and are often covered with a yellow plastic coating. The plastic coating is added layer upon layer to prevent the cheese from drying out – and at the same time turning the cheese regularly maintains an equal consistency After many days of practice and repetition – I became an expert at applying the plastic and turning the cheese. It was heavy, smelly work – row, after row with shelves 12 cheeses high! I’ll never forget the smell, nor the improvement in my physical fitness & strength over the course of a few weeks of constant repetition!

I’m not exactly sure of the psychology or the science, but what I do know is, that when we repeat something over and over – it becomes easier to learn.

In simple terms repetition enhances our learning. We learn by doing. Zig Ziglar observed that “Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.”

The key to real learning is repetition.

What repeated learning will you embark upon today?

Recharge!

How often do you recharge your personal “life” batteries?

Whilst addressing a group of 18 – 30 year olds recently, I asked them how often they plugged in their smartphone to charge. Their response – daily, mostly overnight, one had a super turbo charge of 20 minutes! What was their charge at that moment in time? Everything from 27% to 97%. Daily usage drains power.

When we plug in our smartphone every night, we recognise that this device is not actually self sufficient. Smartphones require maintenance and recharging in order to function at their best. In a like manner, we know we need to plug in to recharge. After all, we have physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional needs.

When working with individuals and teams, frequently we pinpoint together what it is that might be draining their energy or “power.” A difficult boss, facing up to a challenging conversation, overwhelmed with too much work, a family problem etc.

Keeping a smartphone charged isn’t something you do just once and forget about it, it requires to be plugged in daily.

What’s your personal charge like today?

Top Tips
– Take some me time and switch off
– Slow down, consider what matters most
– Step away from the issue
– Exercise and have some fun
– Meditate
– Establish daily habits