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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?

Looking & Learning

“Daryl, I love your object lessons!” said a course participant.  “Many years ago you had me construct a periscope, and I’ve never forgotten the principle of lifting my vision.”

You can find lessons for life in everyday items and activities by simply looking around. As you consider your audience, reflect upon the things you do and observe each day. Your surroundings can come alive with answers to help you teach.

Consider using a simple object as a metaphor or an analogy to help connect the learning.

Some of my favourite objects include – Ear plugs, spectacles, a compass, tuning forks, light bulbs, a torch, wool, stabilisers, tools, batteries, eggs, juggling balls, spinning plates, bread, kitchen utensils, remote controls, razors, periscopes – the list is endless! Look around and use your imagination.

Many years ago, my father taught me the power of observation. Sat in the garden he watched and marveled at the industry and work rate of tiny ants. A few days later he shared those observations in a remarkable speech. I have never forgotten the lessons about work, industry and service. I find through small and simple things the most powerful lessons are learned.

What are some of your favourite object lessons?

Don’t interfere!

A recent experience reminded me that as a leadership coach, one of the greatest lessons I ever learned was that the best leaders have sense enough to pick good people to do what needs to be done. But more importantly, they also have self-restraint enough to stop themselves from meddling with them, while they do it!

My invitation today is a gentle reminder to all of us – to stop meddling! Instead, remember to trust others and simply let them get on with it!

Remember – leadership is a lifelong learning process.

Learning – one by one

I was ready and prepared for 15 participants in the virtual classroom, yet only one person had joined. We waited a few more minutes for any late comers, but alas, no one else joined.
“Now what?” I thought to myself.
I suggested to the participant if they’d like to continue or postpone their attendance to the next session of the workshop in January. After a moment, she responded, “I’m happy to go ahead on my own.” So off we went into our session together.
Our content for the 90 minute session was all about the importance of storytelling in the workplace. After brief introductions, I started into my delivery routine, with a short story of my own. Quickly it became very apparent how powerful a 1-1 virtual learning session can be.
Together we discussed each of the slides one by one, along with current research and virtual activities. We considered several of our own stories, how powerful they can be in the workplace and in our own lives, when shared in the right way. So much so that we dissected some of our own stories even further, eking out simple principles to bring greater clarity and meaning to experiences that life had brought us.
On reflection, it was an insightful 90 minutes, filled with a richness, wonder and powerful 1 on 1 learning.
Key learning takeaway… Never dismiss the one!

Endurance

ooh, ouch, Ouch! OUCH! 𝗢𝗨𝗖𝗛!

Maybe I’m just a little adverse to Dentist and Doctor surgeries. I’m not a great fan of either, getting prodded and poked isn’t high on my list of favourite things to do. A wimp, I hear you say!

I had to have blood taken for a medical test last week. As instructed I’d come fasting and hadn’t eaten or drank anything for about 15 hours. After some pleasant introductions, it was time to take the blood. I wasn’t anxious about it as I’d given blood for tests a few times before at a Doctors surgery. This time was to be a little different.

He started in my left arm. The first attempt, no joy. Then to my right arm, again no success. Back to my left arm, once again, it was fruitless! Back to my right arm, another attempt – still nothing. “Bone dry” he said! By this time, I was starting to feel like a pin cushion. “I’ll have to take it from the back of your hand” the Doctor said (5th attempt). A little more painful for sure, but finally, at last, the blood started to flow! What a relief!

There are many challenges in life…

Sometimes we all just have to endure some pretty painful experiences for a little while, before the results start to flow!

What painful moments have you had to endure?

Mistakes

It was a painful error. “That one wrong move cost me the game” said my son, as his younger sister wrapped up Settlers of Catan at the weekend.

Catan is a family favourite in our home – and possibly yours too.

For the second week in a row, the youngest member of our family was victorious. It was also much to the chagrin of her older brother! Yet, only a few moments previously the game was in the balance. It was simply because of one move made a little earlier in the game, that the damage was done. Ultimately, a short term advantage led to the defeat. It wasn’t until a few moments after making the move, did he realise his error, which ultimately cost him the game.

The learning occurred for my son when he owned up to making the mistake. Yes, he was irritated a little by his lapse in judgement and I’m sure he’ll learn from the error and think things through more carefully next time.

One wrong move in a game of Catan, isn’t as serious as making a wrong move in life. Yet, in life too, we sometimes make poor choices that can ultimately have life changing consequences.

Mistakes are simply a part of the learning process and are very valuable. Its okay to make them, as long as you learn from them and remember the lesson.  So, lets embrace them and keep moving forward!

What mistakes or wrong moves have you made at home, at work, or even in life and what lessons did you learn?

Annoying!

“There’s something not right with that tyre dad, I’ve had to blow it up again” said my son Kyle.

Both my son and daughter had mentioned this fact to me several times over the last few weeks. It was a little thing really, but it was starting to bug all of us.

So on Saturday I took their car into the garage and had them look at the back tyre. After a couple of minutes, he’d found a nail in the tyre and subsequently off he went to fix the puncture. Ten minutes later – the job was done and my wallet was £20 lighter.

The tyre had become a bit of an annoyance, due to the infrequent, unpredictability and intermittent nature of the flat tyre. Finally, it had been going on for quite a few weeks, plus Kyle had been into the garage before and they’d found nothing – even more annoying!

Annoyance – a cause of irritation or vexation; a nuisance.

What little things do you find annoying? What pushes your buttons?

Some top tips to deal with those little irritants!

– Slow down, breathe – is it worth getting upset about?
– Consider your perspective, the momentary issue will pass.
– Have fun, laugh at yourself, don’t take it too seriously.
– Ask yourself how important the matter really is.
– Ask yourself is their something I can do to make it better?

Obstacles

As a youngster, I was always picking up a new sport, entering a race, or trying out for a new team.

Somehow, in my first year at high school, I managed to qualify for the 100 metres hurdles at our annual schools sports day at the local athletics stadium. My hurdling technique was limited at best, and yet I made it to the final. I gave it my all that day, but ended up finishing in last place. That was the end of my hurdling career! However, I did end up playing football, rugby, basketball and badminton through my high school years, enjoying a fair bit of success and failure too in many of the team sports.

The key to success in my sports journey was having highly effective coaches to help us all along the way. I have fond recollections of the enthusiastic guidance Mr Montgomery and Mr Galbraith provided on many occasions.

In a similar manner, I feel extraordinarily blessed to do something I love every day. As a qualified coach I have regular opportunities to help people along their way in their personal life or professional development. Life has a great tendency to keep raising the hurdles that come along. Yet, experience has taught me that working with a coach can help overcome any obstacles.

How can I help you improve your position?