Archive for January, 2009

Are you going to finish strong?

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

A really worthwhile video clip from Nick Vujicic, and a lesson for us all in overcoming obstacles

On the tiles?

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

I discovered that there is a cracked slate in the roof of Cooke Towers; annoying but one of those things one might think.  So I called the roofing guy back to fix it, assuming it had happened when the other roofing repairs were done. No problem gov was his initial response. a little while later he was telling me that “It couldn’t ‘ave been us gov”.  What can you say?  The tile needed fixing and I had spares (or so I thought!)

It turns out this called for a special tile and half size and I didn’t have those. never mind he would come back in a week or so and fix it for me for ?100.  Seemed steep, but it had to be done didn’t it?  A week on I got a text saying he was too busy for this tiny job.. sorry .

I did a little more research, and got in another recommended roofer and now it appears that:-

  • As all these tiles interlink, they have to take off all the tiles above to the (newly repaired!) ridge line, and
  • Those tiles are scarce as they are no longer made!

I’m now looking at ?200 or so!

It seems life is a bit like my tiles.  All these interlocking components that in order to repair one bit you have to disturb other (apparently) perfectly good elements of the greater whole, bits that are very securely locked down.  Small wonder most of us have little appetite for disturbing the status quo.

Has anyone been rattling your tiles recently?  What choices did you make?

“Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character…”   Stephen R. Covey

 “All fixed set patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability. The truth is outside of all fixed patterns.”  Bruce Lee

International Wellbeing Survey – Results

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

MTV conducted a survey of 5,200 young people between 8-34 in fourteen countries to explore their sense of wellbeing  and how they see the future.  The UK came 6th, behind India, Sweden, USA, Denmark & France.  One of their key finding was that the people in the developing world were more optimistic and less stressed about the future. 

I think that this is a key finding.  If you think / feel that you are on a journey then tomorrow can always bring surprises and interest.   You never know what lies around the next bend.  If however, you feel that you have arrived and you have settled, then change is likely to be a bad thing.

I have always believed that my live is a journey and I aim to make sure that I am still exploring and learning till they nail down the coffin lid!  Amidst the chaos in the world markets at present is uncertainty, but also unprecedented opportunity and challenge and the space to make a difference.

Now is the time to feel excited and do something different!

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end”  Ursula K. LeGuin

“When you have completed 95 percent of your journey, you are only halfway there.”   Japanese Proverb




An interesting thought

Friday, January 23rd, 2009


“When I let go of what I am,

I become what I might be”

Attributed to Lao Tzu

Some questions for you…

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

  1. What are the unresolved issues in your life at present?
  1. List them…
  • What has prevented you from addressing them?
  • What do you have to see / hear / feel for you to decide that it is time for a change ?
  • What aspects of your situation would you wish to:-
    1. To change?
    2. And which bits need to remain the same?
  • Who else would be affected and who do you need to talk to about these changes?
  • Who can help you make these changes?
  • What are the likely problems you will encounter and what can you do about them?
  • What would be a good first step?
  • What resources do you need to effect this change?
  • What will success look, feel & sound  like?
  • How will things be different for you and those affected once you resolve these issues?
  • What do you need to take the first step?
  • Take 10 minutes to answer these questions and today and be the start of your change!  Do let me know what you do with this please.

    The wrong incentives

    Friday, January 23rd, 2009

    I was listening to a prominent banker talking about the banking crisis and one thing was very clear to me.  One of the key drivers for this was the way that the banks defined and rewarded success.  They wanted to drive up profits, and rewarded the people who came up with more and more inventive ways of describing things as ‘profitable’.  They gave them big bonuses which meant that others saw this and emulated their ‘success’.  In other words, they created a financial feedback loop and those of you who have stood near a speaker stack which is feeding back know how damaging this can be when it is amplified!

    It is the job of leader to take a balanced view of what is going on.  They have to encourage innovation, and pushing the envelop but also to ensure that excess is avoided and the voice of prudence is heard.  This was a classic case of the Emperor’s New Clothes, but we were the poor schmucks who are paying for them!

    “Pleasure is the greatest incentive to evil.”  Plato

    The Little Chef Change Experiment

    Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

    I don’t know if you have been watching the Channel 4 programme, ‘Big Chef takes on Little Chef’.  Heston Blumenthal, the 3 star Michelin chef, went into one of the most run down of our bits of national food heritage, Little Chef to see if he could revitalise it.  He looked at what they prepared, how they prepared it, and the environment in which they operated.

    I didn’t necessarily buy into all his methods or ideas but the there was no doubt that not only did Little Chef need to be much better but the motoring public deserved much better too.  The thing which interested me was the reaction of the staff.  Initially they were sceptical, some were openly hostile to the new ideas, then they were scared they couldn’t do it.  When the big unveiling came they felt incredibly proud and excited.  This was an experiment in running a more successful restaurant, so it needed to make money as well as serve better food, and when they feared the bosses might not carry on with it, they then began to wonder if they could go back to the tired old ways.  The thing was the experience had changed them too: it changed how they saw themselves, their attitude to their own sense of value and their dreams of the future. 

    That is the the thing about Change, you can never really go back!

    “I can’t go back to yesterday – because I was a different person then”   Lewis Carroll

    “I wanna go back
    And do it all over
    But I can’t go back, I know
    I wanna go back
    Cause I’m feeling so much older”  I Wanna Go Back – Eddie Money

    “I got it wrong”

    Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

    I was facilitating a meeting for one of the bigger London councils the other day and one of the expert speakers, an adviser to Downing Street, stood up publically and said “I got it wrong”.  Now we all know that everyone makes mistakes, but I can’t recall the last time I heard an expert admit to such human fallibility. 

    The thing is that if we don’t feel that we can admit to getting things wrong, we are doomed to justify and defend our current position, even if it isn’t working for us!  Saying “I got it wrong” is very powerful, very liberating and very hard!

    Perhaps today is a good day to practice this art, if only to ourselves….

    “In science it often happens that scientists say, “You know, that’s a really good argument, my position is mistaken,” and then they actually change their minds, and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.”  Carl Sagan


    Sunday, January 18th, 2009

    I have talked in the last two days about conflicts and reconciliation.  Both are linked by trust, or its absence.  If you can find no grounds for trust then reconciliation is very hard if not impossible.  When trust breaks down, conflict often results.

    So where does trust come from?  We tend to trust things and people that we can understand or are like us, hence the power of the ‘old school tie’ or belonging to the same club or even gang.  It follows that if we don’t come from the same background, or if we don’t know much about the other, the first thing is disclosure so that one can try to build common bonds based on shared experiences.  Sometimes we need to look at quite basic links; in Northern Ireland, during the troubles, mothers on both sides of the divide found commonality in wanting to protect their offspring.

    The next component is to be predictable, to do what you say you will and to behave in a way consistent with the information that you have disclosed.   If I get bitten every time I poke the dog with a stick, I might not like it, but I know where I stand; the reverse is also true, if I behave well and get rewarded by getting a positive response back then there is something I can work with and trust.

    When we look at behaviour that doesn’t make sense to us it is usually because of missing bits of information the other party holds, and these are often how we feel about what is going on.

    How do you feel about trust and what can you do to build more trust in the world?

    Prayer of Trust

    “MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.

    Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

    And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.

    Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” Thomas Merton

    Conflicts & Resolution

    Saturday, January 17th, 2009

    One only has to look at what is going on in Gaza to see where the failure to resolve disputes can lead and the insane actions that it can lead one to.  The total failure of the Israelis to properly engage the Palestinians in any kind of meaningful dialogue has lead to this appalling situation.  Quite naturally the Israelis want to stop people sending rockets into their homes, but from this seemingly innocent and reasonable desire stems their bombing of schools and UN compounds in Gaza.  And the only harvest they can reap is another generation of Palestinians who have yet another reason to be willing to suffer almost anything if it hurts their enemy.

    Clearly this is an extreme situation, but it is the logical extension of all failures to resolve our disputes.  These stem from people seeing the world differently (and I have written a number of times about this) and their belief that they have to compete for what they want rather than co-operating.  If in order for me to win, you have to lose then the outcome is inherently unstable and negative, and sows the seeds for tomorrow’s dispute.  Most of us have had situations with either neighbours or colleagues where we have fallen into this kind of situation.

    The alternative approach is to look for a solution where both parties needs are met, perhaps each ends up with a little less than if there had been a one-way solution but each party is able to move forward without resentment.  You have to take the time to communicate, to understand how each party sees the situation and the world, understand their needs as oppose to their wants (which are also important, but needs must be met, but wants can be traded.)

    Whilst it is simple to describe this process, finding the stillness and courage to use it is hard work.  When we feel threatened, we usually attack or run away, and neither enables this kind of dialogue.  If you find yourself in this kind of position today, I wish you the courage to find a Win:Win solution to your troubles.