Polishing

Its time to polish the car again!

I don’t know about you, but cleaning, hoovering and polishing the car is important to me. There’s nothing worse than a dirty car.

In fact this Saturday morning, will be like many before, I’ll be out polishing soon!

It is not hard to notice when a car needs some tlc. This week I have put a few miles on the clock, however after a little bit of effort and polishing, the car will be shining again, just like new.

In a like manner, it got me thinking about how we are all in need of some tlc. However, I realised too that we are all being polished and refined through our experiences in life.

For example, this week through various coaching sessions, workshops I have facilitated, books I am reading and conversations I’ve had, I am acutely aware of the polishing I have received. I am feeling as if some personal rough edges have been polished, smoothed and perhaps, even in some respects (I hope) starting to shine. Like all of us, I’m a work in progress – and the polishing is very helpful! ”

A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials” – Chinese Proverb

How are you being polished?

change

 

Are you on the right track?

Living in Dunfermline, I have frequently travelled over the Forth Railway Bridge into Edinburgh and beyond on 100’s if not 1000’s of journeys over the last 50  years.  My dad started working as a fireman on the steam locomotives towards the end of World War II and spent virtually all of his working life driving diesel engines.  He had many stories to tell about the bridge, including the golden rivet and many a crossing during a stormy night (those are for another time!)

Recently, after delivering a series of coaching workshops in London, I returned north, departing Kings Cross Station, and got to thinking about a story I’d heard a number of years ago, by Gordon B. Hinckley….

“The course of our lives is not determined by great, awesome decisions. Our direction is set by the little day-to-day choices which chart the track on which we run.

Many years ago I worked in the head office of one of our railroads. One day I received a telephone call from my counterpart in Newark, New Jersey, who said that a passenger train had arrived without its baggage car. The patrons were angry.

We discovered that the train had been properly made up in Oakland, California, and properly delivered to St. Louis, from which station it was to be carried to its destination on the east coast. But in the St. Louis yards, a thoughtless switchman had moved a piece of steel just three inches.

That piece of steel was a switch point, and the car that should have been in Newark, New Jersey, was in New Orleans, Louisiana, thirteen hundred miles away.”

My question to everyone reading this article today is simply this…..

Have you thrown a tiny switch in your home, family, career or business life that has placed you on the wrong track?

Some years later Gordon B. Hinckley also stated that  “Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, side-tracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.”

I believe it is never too late to get back on the right track and enjoy those beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed that we are all entitled to, in each of our individual life’s.  We simply need to recognise very quickly when we are on the wrong track and never be misled by the sunk cost fallacy.

I recently found a beautiful quote that captures my thinking for today, by Jim Rohn…

“I find it fascinating that most people plan their vacations with better care than they plan their lives. Perhaps that is because escape is easier than change.”

My invitation to everyone is to slow down a little, by considering what matters most and change if necessary.  If you are on the wrong track, you can get back on the right track anytime, by simply throwing a little switch…..!

Therefore, what?

Puzzled, quizzical or completely lost by the keynote address?

Frequently I listen to talks, read journal articles, books galore and sit through lots of presentations as well as attend many meetings. Do I understand what the key message was for me? What does all this mean? Was it just a lot of hot air? (sometimes it is!) Subsequently, at the close of the address, the meeting or the book, oftentimes a thought will enter my mind….”Therefore, what?” It was a favourite call to action for Boyd K. Packer.

By implication, after all that has been shared, after all that has been said, what is the call to action, what does all this mean for me – “Therefore, what?”

The words of encouragement, the purposeful direction, the inspiring motivational speaker’s counsel will not make one jot of a difference in our lives if we choose not to change. Have you been inspired by someone or something?

“Therefore, what?” Its my experience that there are many who have not made the connection between what they say they believe and how they actually live their lives. There is a disconnect between words and actions.

Does this apply to you? Why not consider this question at the end of your next meeting, next presentation or next book.

I know I can do better. How will you choose to act?

#actions

The Dangers of Pointing out Faults in Others

It is all too common place and easy to find fault. Do you often point out what is wrong with others? Are you critical of others? Do you frequently fault-find? Are you judgemental? Does this make you miserable? Are you hurting others by pointing out their flaws and weaknesses?  If this describes you, this habit is probably ruining your life, you just might not realise it.  Are you where you want to be with this challenge in your life? What are you going to do about it? Read on – this may be uncomfortable reading for you…

Faultfinding is “the act of pointing out faults, especially faults of a petty nature.” Or in other words – continual criticism, typically concerning trivial things. Pointing out others shortcomings, flaws, criticising, carping, nitpicking, murmuring, using slander, regularly using pejorative terms about others, griping or perhaps in its worst form backbiting (attacking the character of another). Is it hazardous to your well being? Pointing fingers, judging others? Are all of these behaviours dangerous towards others? Is it an issue of pride perhaps? Is it ruining your life? The self righteous and smug thoughts that can provide a fleeting emotional boost, don’t lead to happiness. In my experience those who fault find the most, tend to be amongst the unhappiest people in the group or organisation. For a moment, lets pause and reflect upon how this may be adversely effecting you.

Faultfinding can and does twist the way we see others. It can also drive a wedge between you and others. For some reason or another, we may see ourselves as better or even superior. In essence we become intolerant of the weaknesses of others, in turn distorting the way we may view our own faults. From time to time I think we can all be a little prone to look at the weaknesses, limitations and failings of others. Through my coaching career, I have found that there are some who find fault and criticise in a very destructive way, which can be extremely debilitating to those on the receiving end. There is a huge difference from this, to providing constructive criticism and feedback.

By sad experience, I have found too that if I choose to pursue a course of faultfinding, not only do I usually end up hurting other people, I also end up hurting myself even more. By focusing on faults, we usually end up creating more divisions. Sometimes silence is the better option, with some truths best left unsaid.

Inevitably, in our own career and life journeys we are going to have differences with others. The things that cause us irritations vary widely from person to person. The question is not whether we have such differences, but how we choose to manage them. So – what can we do about it? How about considering each of these options….

  • We can choose to simply overlook the difference
  • Or – reserve our judgement and postpone any action
  • Perhaps even take up the differences privately with the person involved and have a courageous conversation with them.

Personally, I like the old cliche, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Gordon B. Hinckley suggested “each of us turn from the negativism that so permeates our society and look for the remarkable good among those with whom we associate, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults.” So, why not start expressing gratitude more often towards others. One of my personal habits which I have posted regularly in the past about is keeping a daily journal. It is a great way to increase self awareness. Frequently, I record the things that I am most grateful for. Subsequently, I can promise you that you will soon begin to see a difference in your life and a positive byproduct will be, that you will stop judging others, seeing them in a different light.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf shared the following story. “While looking for a new home, a young couple talked to potential neighbours about the neighbourhood and the schools in the area.

One woman they spoke to said of the school her children were attending: “This is the most incredible place! The principal is a wonderful and good man; the teachers are well qualified, kind, and friendly. I am so pleased that our children can attend this wonderful school. You’ll love it here!”

A different woman said of her children’s school: “It’s a terrible place. The principal is self-absorbed; the teachers are unqualified, rude, and unfriendly. If I could afford to move out of this area, I’d do it in a heartbeat!” The interesting thing was that both women were speaking about the same principal, the same teachers, and the same school.

Have you ever noticed that people can usually find whatever they are looking for? Look long and hard enough, then you will discover both good and bad in almost anyone and anything.

Remember, we can always look in the mirror, pause, reflect, carefully consider and honestly examine ourselves and our motives before we choose a comment to express, or a course of action to pursue. We need to examine our own minds, our own thoughts and motivations – but most importantly of all – consider our own flaws! As I do so, I am then acutely aware of my own personal imperfections – there are far, far too many to list here!! CS Lewis observed “It is no good passing this over with some vague general admission such as ‘Of course, I know I have my faults.’ It is important to realise that there is some really fatal flaw in you: something which gives the others just that same feeling of despair which their flaws give you. And it is certainly something you don’t know about……” He suggests further that…”Whenever the thoughts come unnecessarily into one’s mind [about others], why not simply shove them away? And think of one’s own faults instead?” After all what else is there to do?

I am always looking for ways to improve and change, hopefully for the better. We need to learn from our mistakes of the past, each of us have many choices to consider. We can continue to seek for the faults in others, or we can make peace with ourselves, search our souls and find the good in others. By so doing, we can work to extend to others the understanding, fairness, goodness and kindness we most likely desire for ourselves. Ultimately, we have a choice to make. However, I truly believe that whatever we desire to seek, we most certainly will find.

By considering the past, living in the present and looking to the future, let’s endeavour to cultivate the habit of noticing what is good, lovely, endearing, praiseworthy, kind, delightful, hopeful, brave, and inspiring in others. Let’s stop fault finding. Be an example of change, correct your own faults and be the best you can be. Turn your energy and motivation to looking for the good in others – always! I promise, that you will find freedom there and that you become a light for many, many others in your journey through life.

Points to consider.

  • What are my own faults & flaws?
  • Whom do you need to look at differently?
  • What further step can I take to be the good in someone’s life?
  • What will you do to change how you see others?

Preparation

Are you ready to lead? Are you sure? Why should anyone be led by you?

Many years of preparation and following others had led to that moment. A challenging situation, required decisive action. When the call came, I was ready. Instinctively I knew what to do. A leader steps up to make difficult decisions.

Don’t wait for an invitation – see the potential in yourself! If you’re starting out your career, say “yes” when someone sees the leader in you and offers you a chance to practice and develop new leadership skills. I recall many years ago, a wise leader said to me, “Daryl, what are you doing here?” It was a powerful challenging call to action, and it set my career direction. He and I both knew I needed to take another path – I just needed a push.

Are you aware of your personal values, do you know what they are? If not, then you need to know what is important in your life and what really matters most to you. How can you influence others if you don’t know what really matters to you?

Alexander Graham Bell observed “Before anything else preparation is the key to success.” Start early, be steady, observe, listen and learn how to follow. Be open to learning and growing.

What can you do now to prepare for the call to leadership? leadership

Sleep

What are you doing about your sleep? – is a question I frequently ask in coaching conversations.

For far too long, people have taken sleep for granted. Until the mid 1990’s most people got away with it. Then the way we communicate, the internet, email, mobile phones and social media changed everything and the 24/7 working mentality was born.

Do you sleep well? Do you know how to sleep well? Having struggled with sleep myself, I have made three key discoveries that have helped me in the last few years.

Firstly, and the most important was all about circadian rhythms and our very own body clock, which regulates all of our internal systems. Take time to learn about your personal rhythms.

Secondly, determine if you are a morning or evening person, that’s a fairly simple thing to determine, you’ll have a feeling for that. There are some who are in-between. I’m a morning person, so I get tired sooner and go to bed early. What are you?

Thirdly, the one size fits all of an average of 8 hours sleep doesn’t add up for everyone. In fact, we sleep in 4 or 5 cycles of 90 minutes.

Top tip, put your mobile phone as far away from bed as you can. Sleep is the biggest influence on our mood, performance, motivation and decision making skills – what will you do about it today?

Wisdom

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” – Albert Einstein.

Day in, day out, I work with leaders. I know many good leaders, in fact great ones. Conversely, in my 30 year career, I have also met others who have been mean and condescending, whose motto was simply “Its my way or the highway” as they say. Perhaps you have met someone like that?

I believe that wisdom is crucial to the field of great leadership.

Simply stated, wisdom is the ability to use your knowledge and experience to make good decisions and judgements. However much you might want it, wisdom is not something that you go out and get. It’s something that you must be open to receiving. It’s also something that comes not only through success, but failure too.

What then are some of the characteristics I’ve observed in wise leaders?
– They are self-aware
– They love people
– They serve others
– They are selfless
– They empower others
– They work hard
– They know their why
– They are trusted
– They are kind
– They are humble
– They are compassionate

Leadership is a way of behaving, whereas wisdom is a way of thinking.

Who do you know who are wise leaders?
What do you need to do to become more like them?
Are you becoming a wise leader?

Waiting

“What can I do whilst I’m waiting?”- The thought passed through my mind several times yesterday.

I waited in Starbucks for a hot chocolate. I waited on the train to arrive. 90 minutes later, I waited on another train to depart. I waited on Cristi for an appointment in the bank. Later still, I waited in the queue for cinema tickets with other family members.

What do you do when waiting? How do you use that precious gift of time?

Waiting can be frustrating for many! Here is one view on waiting – “to allow time to go by, especially while staying in one place without doing very much, until someone comes, until something that you are expecting happens or until you can do something.”

Even when we have the right perspective, waiting can be hard. We’ll always be waiting for something. But a season of waiting doesn’t mean sitting still. Conversely our waiting seasons can be a time of great productivity!

Our thoughts are our seeds of action. Someone once said that life is what happens to us while we are making other plans. When you have a time to hand, rather than just waste it – be more productive.

Why not:
– Breathe & enjoy the gift of time
– Keep your eyes open for humour in the present, you can always find something to smile at!
– Pick someone and start a conversation

What can you do to use the gift of waiting?

Serendipity

Stepping on the train yesterday was far different from a few days before.

Currently, I commute into Edinburgh to work with Standard Life Aberdeen, for a few days each month. The train is always crammed full with people – catching up on social media, reading a free newspaper or listening to their tunes.

Yesterday was unconventional.
It was a public holiday.
The train was quiet.

On the platform, I met a friend. Although, we see each other regularly, we rarely talk for more than a few seconds. Boarding the train together, we then sat together and spoke for 40 minutes on our commute into the city.

Serendipity – “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.”

We talked. We listened. We talked. We listened. We talked and then listened some more. We both recognised the power of open, honest heartfelt communication.

Serendipity, in fact, is the chance to be in the right place at the right time with the right people, so that good things happen. Yesterday, felt as if our conversation was of some significance in our lives – as if it was the most important one we might ever have – because who knows, it may just be.

So much of life depends on chance meetings that can lead in new directions.

Look out for one today.

Shortcomings

How do you measure up to your shortcomings?

At every stage of our lives we can struggle to overcome our weaknesses and shortcomings. This week, I have been in several learning workshops and coaching sessions where the topic of emotional intelligence, specifically self-awareness has been to the fore. Embarking upon a personal, searching inventory of yourself – is always revealing.

It is not an easy thing to uncover a personal weakness or shortcoming. Some people can feel defeated by their personal weaknesses and give way to despair. Others will endeavour to hide, ignore, or compensate for their shortcomings because of pain, embarrassment or their pride simply gets in the way and they procrastinate any actions that need to be taken.

Do you recognise that you have a challenge?

Are you determined to overcome it?

Once we recognise a shortcoming, we need strong determination and substantial effort to overcome it. This challenging process – facing up to our shortcomings – will refine our character and subsequently our weaknesses can become strengths. Facing shortcomings and taking action is acquired in humility.

Look ahead. Don’t let your past shortcomings limit your future potential. Take action.

What will you act upon today?