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Medium…

𝐖𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐣𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐲 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐨𝐝𝐚𝐲?
Monic and I love to take walks through Leidschendam.
The length of our walk is generally determined by the amount of time we have allocated to exercise in our daily routines.
We have identified three routes.
Short – 20 minutes
Medium – 40 minutes
Long – 1 hour
Our morning conversation usually goes something like this.
“Is it short, medium or long today?”
Yesterday, we decided the “medium” walk was in order.
We then put in the necessary effort to make the journey.
As usual, we enjoyed our walk together.
Talking, observing, laughing, sharing and planning.
Regularly we are surprised how very few people we see out walking.
Oftentimes, we will complete our walks without meeting a soul.
Yesterday we especially enjoyed seeing and hearing the green parakeets. There were about 10 of them and they like to make a lot of noise.
In addition, we loved seeing many little ducklings.
Slowing down allows us to see, feel and hear different things.
It is during our walks that I notice many simple moments are filled with a sense of connection and peace.
Why is that we miss so many moments in our own life?
Is it that there are always more busy thoughts that preoccupy our minds?
It’s time to slow down.
Where will your journey lead today?

Just this once

“Can’t we do it just this once President?”

Sound familiar?

Small choices, big consequences!

The question reminded me of this piece from a long time ago by Richard L. Evans.

“There is in our language a dangerously disarming phrase by which people often persuade other people to compromise principles.

It is the phrase “𝐉𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐞.”

“Just this once” has a siren-like lure.

It is the forerunner of the phrase “Just once more.”

It is the beckoning voice of a false friend that leads us from safety to a false position, first “Just this once,” and then “Just once more.”

“Just once more won’t matter.”

“Just once more, and then I’ll quit.”

And so, we sometimes move from one false step to another, often deluding ourselves into thinking that this is the last time.

In some social and personal matters, many of us live somewhat this way.

Tomorrow

We may know, for example, that we are living our lives at a pace we cannot keep up, but we hate to refuse a friend. Thus, we are led from obligation to obligation, and each time we say “yes,” we tell ourselves that we are saying it “Just this once” and that tomorrow will be better.

But tomorrow is seldom better except as we have the backbone to make it better.

In matters of eating and appetite, people often go from one indulgence to another, always saying to themselves, “Just this once, Tomorrow I begin to diet.” “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.”

“Just this once” becomes especially serious when people persuade other people that a principle is a matter of frequency rather than a clear-cut matter of right or wrong.

It is true that a onetime offender is looked upon with more leniency than a frequent offender. But stealing “Just this once,” lying “Just this once,” deceiving “Just this once,” or any other act of immorality urged upon anyone “Just this once” is a dangerous doctrine.

“Just this once” is a long step, but “Just once more” is an easier step, and so men often forget their own fetters from link to link.

If it isn’t right, let it alone. Don’t do “Just this once” what shouldn’t be done at all.”

Listen out for the phrase in your own life – you may be surprised how often it occurs.

Consider your actions carefully, and the consequences that may occur.

How will you respond next time?

The Right Thing

“𝐀𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐞 𝐝𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠?” I asked…
Life has some strange turns – let me explain.
Recently I recalled an experience from some years ago, when I faced a difficult moment of truth, when my moral courage was challenged to do the right thing.
I was faced with a difficult decision of remaining quiet during a tough sales negotiation with a senior colleague, or correcting (what seemed to me) a deliberate glaring error that my colleague had made.
The error that was influencing the clients buying decision in a very positive way.
Correcting and embarrassing my colleague in front of the client was forefront of my mind – I didn’t want to do that.
So, I decided to wait for a break in our negotiations.
During the break, I pointed out the error to my senior colleague – who was not too pleased with me. I chose to hold my ground.
Some minutes later, it was determined to return to the negotiation table, share the mistake (at great cost to our deal), but secure the deal with our integrity intact.

We did “𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒓𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈.”

I was reminded by a quote by Gordon B. Hinckley; “The problem with most of us is that we are afraid to stand up for what we believe, to be witnesses for what is true and right. We want to do the right thing, but we are troubled by fears. So we sit back, and the world drifts about us, and society increasingly adopts attitudes and standards of behaviour that most of us do not approve of.”
My message today is – consider your moral compass and choose to do 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠!
Do what is right even though it seems that you will be alone in so doing.
Your conscience will always be clear and the truth will set you free.
Facing a tough choice today? Remember to do the right thing.
#integrity

You….growing older.

It is later than you think.
Remember how short our time is.
It is a characteristic of youth to suppose that life is long and time is in abundance.
Growing older is never easy.
There comes a time in everyone’s life when confronting ourselves with ourselves is mandatory.
“There is an old man (or woman) up there ahead of you that you ought to know.
He looks somewhat like you, walks like you.
He has your nose, your eyes, your chin.
And whether he loves you or hates you, respects you or despises you, whether he is angry or comfortable, whether he is miserable or happy, depends on you.
For 𝒚𝒐𝒖 made him. He is 𝒚𝒐𝒖, grown older.” – Author unknown.
What kind of narrative are you writing for your life?

Interruptions!

“Will I answer that?” I thought.

It had been an extremely busy day.  Our schedule was packed full.  On arriving home around 3.30pm yesterday, I said to Monic that I was going for a walk to get some fresh air, stretch my legs and generally chill for half an hour.  I asked if she wanted to come, but she needed to attend to some other things.

So, off I strode, along to the canal side to enjoy a pleasant stroll and clear my thoughts.

Pausing along the way to enjoy the nature and the windmill, I pulled out my phone to take a picture.

And there it was, the phone was silently ringing, some young missionaries were trying to get a hold of me.  And then came the thought above!

What is it about a ringing phone that compels us to answer it?

I was so enjoying my little walk!

Interruptions!  How do you deal with them?

So, I chose to answer the call.

“Do you have a minute?”  asked the young missionary, “I just have one quick question. I can call you back if it is not a good time?”

Smiling, “on you go” I said.

We spoke for 10 minutes and resolved the immediate matter at hand.  We talked, shared, asked questions, problem solved and above all I listened.

How many times a day do you hear those fateful words?

Frequently, one-minute turns into 10, one question becomes several, and you can end up losing big chunks of your day.  Balancing the need to be accessible and productive is a challenge that we all face at times.

All that said, I enjoyed our conversation.  We resolved a few things together and followed up later with an email to address the main concern.

Interruptions happen, so it’s how you deal with them that matters.  Over the years I have learned to expect them!

Each of us oftentimes face many random factors in our day. They will control you unless you control them. It’s your choice.  And yesterday I chose to take the call, and I am glad I did!

My advice, if you do need to interrupt someone, give them the option of turning you down without appearing rude. For instance, instead of “I just have one quick question,” ask “Is now a good time to talk?

The Pursuit of Excellence

“And what are you going to do now?” asked President Goodman, my Mission President.
It was the summer of 1985, and I had just completed my full time mission for the church in London. In our departure interview he gave me a little booklet entitled “The Pursuit of Excellence.”
The introduction was as follows; “The Pursuit of Excellence is an achievement challenge designed to help a participant develop a Christlike life of love and service. Accomplishing this objective requires a diligent and serious effort in fundamental aspects of a truly Christian life—spiritual, intellectual, social, physical, and in service and character.”
And so my own quest in the “pursuit of excellence” commenced.
It was a voluntary initiative, there was no award or completion certificate, it simply encouraged you to set stretching goals….. and I did. Frequently!
In fact, many years later, Monic set up a similar successful programme for the Relief Society in Dunfermline, based on the same little book.

What is excellence?

Excellence is a curiously powerful word. It implies the highest standards and great devotion to something.
In the New Testament, Paul encouraged the Philippians (4:8-9) to pursue excellence and to practice the things that had been taught to them.
He wrote; “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any 𝐞𝐱𝐜𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Oftentimes too many of us settle for less than what we can actually become. Many choose to live far below the privileges and possibilities of their own lives.
It requires effort! But we need more excellence in our thoughts, in our motivations, in our faith, in our actions, in our drive and in our determination to live life at its best.
Excellence awakens ambition, emboldens enlightenment and inspires a journey of self-discovery.
Are your goals and ambitions in life aimed at below your very best?
Or are they simply mediocre?
Are you willing to practice excellence?
Choose to live up to the level of your possibilities – today!

Optimism

Life constantly sends us challenges to test our positivity, and to be able to look towards the future with optimism, in spite of such difficulties isn’t always easy.
Recently I was reminded of the story of the two buckets that went down the well; as the one came up it said, “This is surely a cold and dreary world. No matter how many times I come up full, I always go down empty.” Then the other bucket laughed and said, “With me it is different. No matter how many times I go down empty, I always come up full.”
Much of life is dependent upon your attitude and how you respond to situations. Our attitude makes all the difference.
“Remember, a good attitude produces good results, a fair attitude fair results, a poor attitude poor results. We each shape our own life, and the shape of it is determined largely by our attitude.”
M. Russell Ballard
In the ups and downs of life – what attitude will you choose today?

How do you decide?

The tension was tangible in the gymnasium as the girls lined up on one side and the boys on the other.

As a youngster at school in preparation every year for St. Andrews Day, we learned how to do some Scottish Ceilidh Dances – The Gay Gordons, The Dashing White Sergeant, The Pride of Erin Waltz, The St. Bernards Waltz and a Canadian Barn Dance have all been etched into my memory. Don’t get me wrong, over many years these dances have provided many hours of fun and created wonderful memories.

However, those days of lining up at school were both painful and unforgettable! The boys had to cross the gym floor and pick a girl to dance with.  I have no idea how the girls felt?! All kinds of teenage angst and turmoil were exposed in those fleeting moments. Far reaching, defining decisions effecting your credibility and status amongst friends were determined in those character building seconds. Somehow, I found the courage from somewhere and learned that it was best to get off your marks quickly and race across the gym floor, otherwise the biggest dread of all was that you’d end up with the last pick of the girls. That was risky and always had consequences!

When it comes to decision making, I’ll never forget those lessons from my dance classes – pause, breathe, ponder, choose, do!

How do you decide?

Stay or Go?

“Do I stay or do I go?”

Hinge Points are pivotal moments of truth in our life – for some of us, they may be happening right now. Moments that are deeply personal and significant that enable remarkable life changes.  An instance, a point in time where strength of character should be shown, or a stand against the odds is required. Here is a story of my very own.

My personal journal entry – Tuesday 17th October 1989.  “Today, I had to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life.  I endeavoured to organise a line of thought that would actually have a positive frame of mind on the choice, the dilemma I was facing. Do I stay or do I go?”

The day before, I’d just returned from my first trip to the USA, where I had enjoyed the most fantastic 3 week holiday and road trip with wonderful friends.

The Situation

I returned to my job, Tuesday morning, to find that my employer had turned things completely on their head for me.  A great friend, colleague and mentor had been sacked…. Yes… Sacked!  In total shock and as I listened in disbelief to what had happened, my heart sank.  As the day wore on I became very, very disillusioned.  Finishing time couldn’t come quickly enough for me.  I went straight to my friends home to determine what had really happened.  As I listened to his story, it became clear that I was going to have to make an extremely difficult choice….Whose story was right? And ultimately the consequence…

Stay or Go?

I was 24 years old, still relatively young and inexperienced with the vicissitudes of life and more importantly business political life.  What should I do?  I returned home and spoke this challenging situation through with my parents. How grateful I was that evening for family who whilst growing up, had taught me strong values and principles .

Coaching

I shared the reality of the issue and we then considered every possible option that evening.  Little did I know it then, but certainly do now, that the coaching around options that my parents gave me that night, has become a stable model in my own coaching profession now, when having to consider choices in life. What was the right thing to do?  Could I work for an organisation that did these kinds of things?  It was a tough lesson for a youngster in corporate affairs.  The night wore on and my last entry of the evening was simply this…”I’ve decided to quit.”

There were many immediate consequences, including difficult conversations and very emotional situations to deal with.  However, the upshot was, I handed back the company car, faced up to the reality of unemployment, little money and endured a pretty challenging time for the next 3 months, until another (and better) employment opportunity arose.

Moral Courage

Courage requires consequence. If there is no cost, no risk or consequence, then courage is easy – and empty.  In fact, as consequence rises, so does the amount of courage needed to take a stand.  It is I believe in our very nature to admire those who stand against the odds, many great leaders come readily to mind. However, simply stated, courage is meaningless without consequence.

Where physical courage often prompts others to follow and take action, moral courage can be very isolating.  When a person stands on principle, speaks truth to power or tells peers what they are doing is wrong, others will sometimes fall away.  In my opinion, moral courage often puts people in a lonely place; and subsequently, extreme strength of character is required by anyone displaying moral courage.

Thomas S. Monson has stated that “Life’s journey is not travelled on a freeway devoid of obstacles, pitfalls and snares.  Rather it is a pathway marked by forks and turnings.  Decisions are constantly before us.  To make them wisely, courage is needed: the courage to say ‘No’ the courage to say ‘Yes.’ Decisions do determine destiny. The call for courage comes constantly to each of us.  It has ever been so, and so shall it ever be.”

Each of us will have to face up to ethical and moral challenges in life.  The clock continues to tick by, for your very own personal moment of truth to arrive…. and it will.  We may not be able to solve every corrupt action in the world, but each decision is taken one by one, by one… by you, me and others just like us around planet earth.

What decision will you choose to determine your own destiny?

Career Choices

It was 2002. Setting off in the early hours of the morning, I knew it was going to be a very, very long day. In fact, not one that I was particularly keen on.

Following a client visit in Dumbarton, I arrived in Campbeltown around lunchtime. However, the journey down along the A83 that day was absolutely stunning – Scotland at its very best!. I was there on a sales visit with a supplier, who was demonstrating a new CCTV system to a large new potential client. It was only 175 miles from home, but it had taken over 4 hours to get there. After another 4 hours of demonstration, it was time to turn around and head home. By this time, it had gone 6pm. There wasn’t much of a rush hour down there, in fact I decided that I would take a leisurely drive back home. I didn’t have any real haste. The lessons learned over those next few hours were unquestionably a pivotal point in my life.

As I started back up the A83, the sun started to set. My thoughts turned from the demonstration of the afternoon, to much more important questions – such as “What am I doing with my life?”, “I’m not in the least bit interested in CCTV – so why am I driving for hours on end selling this stuff anyway?” “Is this just all about the money?” As the light started to fade I pulled over to look over the sea towards Northern Ireland to view the onset of the night sky. It was a beautiful clear evening. As I was reflecting on all those questions and more, I witnessed several shooting stars as well as the Northern lights (for the first time), in all their majesty. As I gazed heavenward, it was a quite remarkable, inspiring light show. I stood for a while fascinated by the beauty of creation. Those few moments had a real impact upon me. I started for home determined to face the future with much more faith and to embark upon a career journey that would enable me to get up every day and really love what I was doing.

That career journey has taken lots of twists and turns over the ensuing 18 years. There have been numerous difficult decisions. Lots and lots of personal procrastination, other seemingly more important priorities, along with mega doubts & fears within myself that I could actually do something that I loved. The journey also included two redundancies, a challenging selection of opportunities in between, mixed with a real belief that I could eventually take the leap of faith, face the fear of the unknown and start on my own.

The differentiators?

A supportive family – who put up with me long enough and encouraged me to turn the dream into a reality. Supportive colleagues over many years, who helped me to understand the capabilities that I had been gifted with and developed over a long period of time. All of whom helped me develop my faith and take that step into the unknown. Thank you one and all.

“Smiles in the sunshine and tears in the rain
Still take me back where my memories remain
Flickering embers go higher and higher
As they carry me back to the Mull of Kintyre”

These are the words from the third verse of Paul McCartney’s – Wings #1 Hit record – The Mull of Kintyre. I have often reflected upon my journey that day and these words have always inspired me to reach for higher ideals, values and purpose in life. So, it is with all of us – don’t settle for the mundane – in fact never settle for it! It is important for each of us to have those meaningful conversations with ourselves and nearest and dearest about happiness and what makes each of us tick! If you are stuck in an unhappy career, perhaps its much more to do with your personal motivators. Now is not the time to revisit Herzberg’s Motivation theory – around incentives and hygiene factors – but I wish to encourage you to look deep inside yourself and question the reason and purpose of your work – is it meaningful – is it what you really want to do? Looking inward is the critical step, to face up to your fear. Now is the time for faith – not fear!

I love this quote from a wise leader Boyd K. Packer, he stated… “Faith, to be faith, must centre around something that is not known. Faith, to be faith, must go beyond that for which there is confirming evidence. Faith, to be faith, must go into the unknown. Faith, to be faith, must walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness.”

One of my favourite poems is by Christopher Logue.

Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It’s too high!
COME TO THE EDGE!
And they came,
and he pushed,
and they flew.

As you consider your challenges at home, at school, or in the workplace – reflect upon those things that really matter most. Face up to your fears, look inside and take those first few steps into the darkness – you can do it!