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Baby Steps

๐‘จ ๐’‹๐’๐’–๐’“๐’๐’†๐’š ๐’๐’‡ ๐’‚ ๐’•๐’‰๐’๐’–๐’”๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’Ž๐’Š๐’๐’†๐’” ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’ˆ๐’Š๐’๐’” ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’‚ ๐’”๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ๐’๐’† ๐’”๐’•๐’†๐’‘ – Chinese Proverb.
Arriving in a different country, understanding a new culture and an unfamiliar language can be overwhelming at times – it certainly isn’t an instant process!
It has been over 26 years since Monic and I have lived in the Netherlands and we are already noticing how so many things have changed.
That said, one big thing that I have already learned is the value and importance of taking ๐’๐’๐’† ๐’”๐’Ž๐’‚๐’๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’š ๐’”๐’•๐’†๐’‘ ๐’‚๐’• ๐’‚ ๐’•๐’Š๐’Ž๐’†.

The first few steps

Tentatively, we have taken our first few steps of exploration in and around our local area. It is so beautiful, with lovely scenic walks and the people are so friendly.
Meeting with each of our missionaries one by one, has been an absolute joy.
For the first time yesterday, I was able to travel from one destination to another in the car with only a little help from the GPS. Driving can be especially challenging, especially due to the high volume of traffic and the proliferation of cyclists, everywhere!
Sitting in meetings where the language is completely Dutch no longer feels quite so painful or complete gobbledygook.
Slow, but sure, steady progress.
I have found that many of the happiest and most successful people I have encountered in life have achieved their level of life and work success by taking small baby steps, and then making one positive choice after another.
Positive new habits and routines are created incrementally, one baby step at a time. Indeed, it is through the process of change, that we discover who we really are. Patiently and carefully I am learning to lengthen my stride, one little baby step at a time!
What is a small, first step you can take and implement now in the changes you are facing in life?

Asking Questions

What will you do differently because of what you learned today?

Asked any good questions lately?

Questions can be extremely powerful. They help us to think, feel and do things differently.

We all need to learn how to ask great questions!

Some professionals like doctors, lawyers and journalists are taught how to ask great questions as part of their training.

In my own professional career through sales and coaching, I have found it equally important to be able to formulate and ask the right question.

Questions aid performance, close sales, help provide inspiration and direction, they even help to build trust and rapport.

“Management teams aren’t good at asking questions. In business school, we train them to be good at giving answers.” – Clayton Christensen.

Itโ€™s time to be a little more curious. Asking questions is an important part of life and learning.

As a coach, I am constantly asking questions to help clients move forward.

– What do you really want?
– What do you need most right now?
– So what?
– Why now?
– How can you be truer to yourself?
– Can you tell me more?

What question can you use today to unlock your own potential?

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,ย  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.ย  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.ย  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.ย  There are multiple comparisons to be made and lessons to be learned.ย  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 “๐’Ž๐’Š๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’ˆ๐’‚๐’‘” 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.ย  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!ย  In fact, my penchant for both good books, research and news commentary have developed over the years into something akin to an addiction!ย  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 – ๐‘๐’๐•๐ – ๐‘๐ž๐š๐, ๐’๐ญ๐ฎ๐๐ฒ, ๐•๐ข๐ฌ๐ฎ๐š๐ฅ๐ข๐ฌ๐ž, ๐๐จ๐ง๐๐ž๐ซ

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 โ€“ letโ€™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 ยฃ29.50 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 ยฃ29.50 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?