Posts

Perfect Pizza!

“It’s the centrifugal force” I said, as my daughter Cristi gave me a bit of a strange look!

In attempting to make home made pizza at the weekend for the first time ever, I learned a lot about the key ingredients and the due process of making the dough. Both are essential for perfect pizza.

The Ingredients

Strong plain flour, yeast, salt, olive oil, warm water and a little warm milk mixed together create a perfect dough.

Then the fun begins.

Kneading the dough on a well floured surface for 5 minutes creates a smooth and slightly tacky texture. Then, you pop the ball of dough into a bowl, cover it with a wet cloth, leave it for 90 minutes, allowing it to rise to perfection.

Time to knock back the dough.

Gently lifting the dough out from the bowl, kneading it again, then leaving it for another 45 minutes to rest a while. The passage of time is key.

Now, roller in hand, it was time to roll out the dough.

The first two bases were impressive and I determined not to toss the dough, frightened that I’d make a mess of my perfect creation! However, on the third base, after watching a “how to throw dough” video,  I incorporated the toss into my routine. Gently balancing the rolled dough on my fingertips, I tossed it into the air, with a gentle rotating spin action at the same time and capturing it again on the back of my hand.  Performing this action three times, allowed centrifugal force to stretch out the pizza base to perfection!

Adding on the toppings, making sure the oven was on full blast, pizza trays were already hot and getting the oven timings right were crucial finishing touches.

The result.  Perfect Pizza’s!

However, it has to be said, although Pizza’s 1 & 2 were good, adding in the toss for Pizza 3, made the difference between good and great!

In my allegory filled mind, there are dozens of pictures forming about this due process.  There are multiple comparisons to be made and lessons to be learned.  Time, ingredients, process, heat, practice, that little extra toss.

What allegories come to mind for you?

To move from good to great, sometimes you just have to throw in that little extra…. (toss!)

Now to do it all again, this time Gluten Free!

Mind the Gap

In a podcast interview yesterday I was asked, “Why is personal development so important?” I shared a few ideas at the time, however….
On further reflection post interview this morning, I recalled a regular pre-lockdown experience during my travels taking me through the London Underground. The phrase “𝒎𝒊𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒈𝒂𝒑” is both seen and heard every time you board the tube. It’s a simple a safety announcement, a caution to remind every traveller of the small gap between the platform and the tube. That small gap varies from station to station and in turn it helps us to be much more observant and self-aware of the challenges all around.
In a similar manner, personal development is all about being prompted to “mind the gap” in our own learning in life between who/where/what we are and who we really want to become.
Personal development helps to build our self-awareness by bridging the gaps in our learning. It gives you the opportunity to take a long hard honest look at the areas of your life that may be in need of some improvement. It also enables you to get to know who you really are, what motivates you, what you are passionate about, where you would like to go in life and what your true values are.
What gaps do you need to bridge in your personal development?

Swimming Lessons

Yesterday, I returned to the swimming pool. It’s been a while! Today, getting out of bed, I’ve learned another lesson…..pacing myself!

This morning, I’m aching all over. In my enthusiasm of being back in the water, it feels that I have simply stretched myself just a little too far.

Have you felt that way before?

I certainly enjoyed myself in the pool. One length after the other. There were quite a few new social distance guidelines and restrictions also in play. That said, I’ll be back again soon enough for sure.

I am a firm believer in learning, growth and development, it certainly is important to push yourself a little. However, its also important to pace yourself too. That is my lesson this morning. The aches and pains are none too pleasant. I am certainly tuning into my body today. Now I know I should have listened a little more yesterday.

Pacing means finding the right balance of activity and rest for your unique situation. In hindsight, I wished that I’d taken it just a little slower yesterday and paced myself better.

Its time today to give myself another good talking to and remind myself (again), to find the right pace for myself.  Less really is more!

How do you pace yourself when it comes to life?

 

Curiosity

“Tell me, on a scale from 1 to 10, where are you right now?” I asked curiously…

Since my earliest childhood memories, I’ve been curious about things, people, nature, places, history, travel and culture to name a few. I have always been eager to know or learn something new and understand “why?” That probably explains one of the seemingly insatiable penchant’s of mine…..reading books!

One vivid memory from my childhood involved filling a jam jar with some foliage and then capturing a bumble bee. I’d already had some help to put some holes in the lid of the jar, so that any bee’s I captured could breath. I recall observing and listening to the bee for no more than a day, studying it, feeling sad about keeping it in a jar and then setting it free again.

Curiosity is often seen as the driving force behind not only human development, but developments in science, language, and industry. I know too that it is a vital component in coaching and mentoring

My experience is that questions driven by the curiosity of a coach can be the catalyst and driving force for change. I have come to understand that curiosity is the key to learning. It can help to expand our empathy too by helping us understand life experiences different than our own.

What are you curious about?

Why study?

“Studying – the act of texting, eating and watching Netflix with an open textbook nearby” – that’s one definition at least!

Why study? Do I really need to?

An oft heard question targeted at a parent, from a challenging teenager perhaps?

Growing older, I’ve discovered that I love to study, i.e. “devoting time and attention to gain knowledge” – perhaps that is a more traditional definition!  In fact, my penchant for both good books, research and news commentary have developed over the years into something akin to an addiction!  Duolingo, online resources, daily reading and personal tuition have certainly all been extremely important for me right now, as I refresh my Dutch language skills.

So what are the fruits of study? What does it give us in our life – if anything? Why bother?

In my mind, there are many rewards. For example, I’d expect that that there will be an upside in all of following areas of our life, including….

Education, Knowledge, Understanding, Awareness, Influence, Perspective, Appreciation, Decision Making, Opportunities, Achievements and many, many more!

One key aspect of study, is discovery. New insights, new information, new inspiration, new strokes of ideas! Frequently referred to as “aha” moments. They can be magical, exciting and motivational.

My top tip – 𝐑𝐒𝐕𝐏 – 𝐑𝐞𝐚𝐝, 𝐒𝐭𝐮𝐝𝐲, 𝐕𝐢𝐬𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐞, 𝐏𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫

Why not study? And yes – you really need to! Go on, pick up a new book today!

Are you FITT?

Are you FITT?

The FITT principle is a smart acronym that gives athletes a workout plan to help them achieve their goals – yet, in a very similar manner it applies to our learning and development habits too.

Ask any athlete and they’ll tell you what FITT stands for – as follows;
F-Frequency: refers to how often you exercise.
I-Intensity: refers to how hard you exercise.
T-Time: refers to how long you exercise for.
T-Type: refers to what kind of exercise you do.

The FITT Principle can help you create your own powerful learning & development plan.

For example – let’s consider studying for a new skill or learning requirement:
Frequency – how often you study
Intensity – how hard you study
Time – how long you study
Type – what type of different study tools you use

If you want to improve your learning & development ‘fitness’ – then apply the FITT principle to your plan and routine. It won’t be long before you witness a difference and your learning will be a winner!

Forgetfulness!

“That’ll be £29.50 please.” “No problem” I replied…. And then it happened!

I checked my jacket pocket for my wallet, then my other pocket, then my trouser pockets. “What a plonker” I thought and confessed to the checkout operator, that I’d forgotten my wallet. She laughed. “Don’t worry about it, it happens all the time!” I laughed too. I realised I’d changed my winter jacket to a summer jacket and simply hadn’t put my wallet in my pocket. The shopping was set aside and I promised I’d be back in 20 minutes.

On arriving home, my wife was working in the garden. She looked at me quizzically and asked “where’s the shopping?” I responded “I forgot my wallet.” She burst out in laughter too!

Back to Tesco. I collected the frozen products, back to the same checkout, paid my £29.50 and we laughed together a little more…

Almost all of us do thoughtless, impulsive silly things, sometimes through a simple oversight. In fact, blunders are not only an acceptable part of life, but they may even be very helpful. Mistakes frequently help us learn and grow. My experience is that past failures may be guideposts to future success!

Thank you Tesco for helping me see the funny side of my little gaffe and for the good laugh too!

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?

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?

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?