Archive for September, 2010

Now we are Three

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Yesterday was another landmark day for us all at Cooke Towers, our youngest took his first steps into the world and went to Uni. It was somehow very different from when my eldest went some four years ago.   When we left her, the two of us drove home.  The house still had four of us in it, and two of us were here most of the time.  Now it’s just me and the girls and they are as busy they should be…

The day itself went well enough and the girls insisted on seeing him safely settled, and they did a great job. 

It is the beginning of another new phase for us all.  Life has a way of moving on whether we are ready or not.  When you are sailing or surfing you have to adjust your course and actions to the prevailing winds and water in order to succeed.  Life and business both require us to adjust and adapt.  Sometimes we are initiating these changes other times we can do is choose our response.   Business change books tend to forget this Yin aspect of Change and it is key to succeeding in the long term.

Now We Are Six  – : A.A. Milne

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six
now and forever.

On the Road Again

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

For those loyal readers who have been following my story, I thought I’d let you know that on Saturday, the big day arrived when I got my license back, so I can, once more, re-enter the world of self-transporting adults… a very BIG day for me!  The first place I drove to was the newly completed bench we had built and dedicated to Carys.  It seemed only fitting.  Later that day my family and I went to Carys & my favourite restaurant in the wilds of Berkshire.  It was a lovely day.

For me, the ability to steer my own course has always been crucial.  The last six months ‘out’ have been a clearly delineated period where I was in effect, forced to take time out.  I hope (and believe) that this will turn out to have been a good thing in the long term.  Sometimes, I feel, when we can’t change things, we are called on to accept them and that is only way to survive enforced change; to find something of value in it for you.  It remains to be seen what this next phase holds for me.  I now realise that rather than the clear, new start I had anticipated, it is  going to be a more gradual change of pace and direction, as I clear the decks ready to start to focus on the path ahead again….

PS>> For those of you who remember, here are Canned Heat with their “On the Road Again”

Gone Fishing

Monday, September 13th, 2010

The other day my brother, who has turned into a fanatical angler, came to take me out for a day’s fishing.  When I was much younger it was something I loved to do but have seldom had the chance to do it in the last 30 years.  He had to lug the now obligatory 2cwt of equipment and we settled down on a damp morning by a lovely lakeside.  It wasn’t long before I caught my first fish, which was about a 6lb carp, the biggest fish I’d ever caught till that day.  As the day wore on, the weather gently improved and we continued to catch fish.  By 5pm, there was a golden light on the water and all the colours glowed beautifully.  I watched herons come and go, a mink swim by and listened to magpies shriek. It was dusk when we packed up, having caught 40 fish between us, having had a lovely day out.

It occurred to me, on reflection, that many of the behaviours which help you to catch fish are also pretty important in business in general and in Change programmes in particular.  There is a lot of patience and waiting required.  This waiting is not a period of doing nothing, it is a time for observing the minutiae of what is happening.  In fishing you are looking for patterns on the water, in Change we look to see what people are doing and saying, and, just as importantly, what they are not saying and doing!  When, fishing, you need to change how you present your bait and the bait you use; in Change, you have to review how your message is getting across and adjust it for the audience, to consider what it takes to motivate your staff.  With both fish and people, you have no success unless you meet them where they are, or at the very least, you have to encourage them to come to you.  Fisherman do this by groundbaiting, or throwing food into the water near their bait; leaders have to create good reasons for people to want to change their ways.

So perhaps, if you are not getting the results you want, then you need to change what you are doing…

“The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”  John Buchan

“Fishing provides that connection with the whole living world. It gives you the opportunity of being totally immersed, turning back into yourself in a good way. A form of meditation, some form of communion with levels of yourself that are deeper than the ordinary self.”   Ted Hughes

Embracing Personal Change: How Katherine Russell Rich Makes the Most of the Unexpected

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

You may or may not have heard of Katherine Russell Rich, who is an American author, memoirist, and cancer survivor. But chances are that you’ll recognize the good sense of her strategies for embracing drastic personal change when it comes to your doorstep. She’s widely published and read, but in an article she wrote entitled “10 Ways to Embrace Change,” she opens up about how the loss of her job affected what she knew about herself and the world, enabling her to pursue her true life goals. The following are some of the most poignant points made by this inspiring author.

Engaging in Personal Reflection    

In Rich’s words, this idea can be encapsulated simply: “Don’t just do something; sit there.” It’s counterintuitive, it drives us crazy, and that’s the beauty of it. Instinct isn’t always the best compass in stormy waters, since it often browbeats us into multitasking ourselves into the background of our own lives. When change happens, it’s important to learn what it means to you personally, which is a process that requires time and active reflection. So sit down, be quiet, ignore that fight-or-flight stress going on in your brain, and centre your thoughts on the change that’s occurring in your life. Learn to understand it before you embrace it.

Switching Off the Savant

When change happens to you, don’t sic your big IQ on it or things will just get messier. Rich once interviewed a prominent linguist, Alton Becker, who said that “smart people don’t like having their minds changed.” This statement resounded with Rich, who knew from personal experience that it was true. If you’re going to embrace change, you can’t over-think it. This may seem contrary to the reflection advice above, but reflecting doesn’t necessarily entail brainy analysis of the situation. The change in your life has something to tell you, so just listen and keep your overeager brain cells to yourself. Another dimension of this “no-brainer” approach is to assume that you don’t know anything about yourself or the world. Just keep repeating the “don’t know” mantra, which will help you allow change to wipe your slate clean. If you look at everything with eyes that see only newness, you’ll be surprised at what you can learn.

Downsizing Across the Board

Objects and habits hold a lot of significance for us as humans. That said, you probably need to get rid of as much of that mental and physical weight as possible if you’re going to embrace change. This is part of insisting that you don’t know anything: if you don’t recognize your old familiar stuff, you can get rid of it if it doesn’t fit the change that’s happening in your life. Getting rid of familiarity, even though it’s comfortable, can enable you to become the true context of your own life. Change won’t happen to you; it will happen within you.

Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching various accredited online degree programs. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Building on cracked foundations

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

I spent an exhausting day mixing concrete to repair our rather badly eroded and cracked driveway.  I guess time will tell what kind of job we have done but there is little chance it could be any worse than it already was!  It occurred to me that perhaps most of us have to rebuild on cracked and damaged foundations.  Life and business have a way of chipping away at what we build and from time-to-time we have to strip it back to the more solid bits, clean them off and lay down something new on top to build on and go forward from. 

We are all brought up on the myth of perfection and yet reality keeps trying to educate us that little is perfect except (perhaps)  the mess we make sometimes…  Change and business and indeed Life itself requires us to stop from periodically and reassess and then rebuild.  I have had nearly 6 months enforced ‘holiday’ to do just this and in the last few weeks I have slowly begun this process.  Today the drive…. Tomorrow…. the World … (or maybe just my world!)

I wonder what you are either in the process of rebuilding building or in need of rebuilding…

“Do not worry if you have built your castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”   Henry David Thoreau

“Mistakes are, after all, the foundations of truth, and if a man does not know what a thing is, it is at least an increase in knowledge if he knows what it is not.”    Carl Gustav Jung