Posts Tagged ‘action’

Just in time?

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

How often have you heard the phrase “I was just in time” or “I ran out of time..”?  They are so common place that we scarcely give them any thought.  I have written before about the concept that the only time you can make a change is Now; the past has already gone and the future isn’t here yet.  The reason for this blog is that I have been aware that it has been a long while since I have written and whilst it is true that my personal circumstances have had much to do with that, it is more complex than that.  I rather think I am ‘out of time’ at present.  That is not to say I don’t have enough time, quite the reverse.  I’m out-of-time in the sense that I am not very present in the present.  This particularly odd for me as I am a vey ‘present tense’ kind of person. 

I’m certainly not living in the past, that feels like it is a very,very long time ago.  Nor am I living really in the future, as that is only glimpsed dimly, as if through a fog.  But, oddly, nor am I fully present, in the present; it is like my life is stuck in a traffic jam on the way to somewhere important.  I can’t go backwards, I don’t control my forward motion either so I must merely wait…

I mention all this not to bore you with my personal life, but rather as a little warning as it is my observation that many people fall into the trap of not living or working in the present and everything good is going to happen tomorrow.  If you do not act today, then tomorrow will be much the same or at the very least someone else will control what happens then.

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”  Carl Sandburg

“We must use time as a tool, not as a crutch.”  John F Kennedy


Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Regular reader will know that I have been fiddling about with my ponds recently, and one project was to increase the flow of our waterfall, by installing a second pump.  This arrived yesterday, and I duly installed it.  Imagine my surprise when I woke this morning to find we had lost hundreds of gallons of water over night.  Apparently not all the water was falling back into the pond and the accumulation of all these ‘spilt’ drops was a a 6” drop in level! 

I think there is a parallel both in our personal and business lives.  When our enthusiasm drops or morale falls, initially you can’t see any difference, but over time, it becomes very apparent.  It is strange how a series of seemingly tiny events can have such a profound impact.  I was lucky, as I had quite long time between my before and after pictures.  If you don’t have such a clear ‘picture’ that things have changed for the worse, but none-the-less feel that things are not as they should be, assume that you are right and look for your ‘leak’.  We are much better at spotting this kind of tiny change using our intuition rather than our brains.

I’d be interested in any examples you have of this kind micro-change and how you spotted it and what you did.

“Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.”   Warren Buffett



Monday, August 17th, 2009

I have had a life long love affair with waterfalls and though I have seen relatively few in real life and  with  the notable exception of Niagara, none of the biggies, I am without fail moved whenever I see one.  For me, even the smallest waterfall is a thing of beauty & magic.  Of course, I’ve wanted to have one but it has always been too much of a project to try.  However, today, everything came together.  I had been given another pump and filter, had half the required electrics (but more importantly now knew how to complete them) and some time off.  So today, I made a life long dream come true.  It is only a very little waterfall but I guess it was a bigger dream…  Of course it isn’t fully completed yet; the landscaping still needs doing, but it is functioning.

Dreams are powerful things, and all the more so when you act on them.  I hope the rest of you don’t wait over 50 years to make your come true!  I’d love to hear some stories of what you have done to make your dreams happen, and what happened next…

Believe in your dreams and they may come true; believe in yourself and they will come true”

“Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”  Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenens


You don’t know what you have till it is gone…

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

I did something I seldom do today, I left home without my watch.  I spent the rest of the day glancing at my bare wrist, and feeling daft.  I guess most of the time I normally look at it, I am hardly even aware of it, yet when it isn’t there I am hyper-aware.  I wonder if there is anything that you might really miss if it wasn’t there and if this thought should trigger some action…..


Thursday, October 9th, 2008

I was talking to an old friend, sometime customer and colleague yesterday and we were discussing clients and the current economic climate. He has built and run a number of multi-million pound businesses and now finds himself in unaccustomed role of the being the external support to others. He is noticing the power and impact of being on the outside looking in and asking apparently simple questions.

When one is in the front line, dodging bullets, one quickly and naturally loses perspective. It seems there is an inverse relationship between the power to act and the ability to see clearly. I believe we all improve our performance with the input of a third party who can question, support and guide us.

This morning I was talking to my wife about something and I said “It is just like…” and she said “Exactly! That is just what it is like!” This brought to mind my experience with business leaders who often make the same comment. The thing is, once you have a label like that you can act and it unleashes all your resources which you can then focus on resolving the problem.

Before Action comes Clarity…

If you are feeling uncertain or unclear, talk to someone outside the situation


“More important than the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity” Francois Gautier

“Simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy” Richard Holloway



Lost & Found

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

We all have the experience of misplacing something; that bunch of keys or those spectacles that we have put somewhere safe and sensible and now they seem to have been teleported to a parallel universe.  It is very frustrating, possibly irritating but we usually get over this quite quickly, in my case, usually once I enrol the help of one of the ladies in my life who seem to be able to see things differently and can just go straight to the lost item, raise their eyebrows and say “Here they are..”

The thing is that it isn’t only things that we lose, sometimes we lose our way, and that is both more distressing and more serious.  We feel lost, unsure of our decisions, not knowing which way to turn or who to talk to.  I think everyone experiences this, but when you are running a business if feels deeply threatening.  Particularly in times like these, when the environment in which we all operate is in state of flux or chaos.  Who you talk to at times like this?  Who do you trust?

It is one of the roles I fill for my clients who value an external perspective, and who find my questions helpful; in fact, I always seem to be doing this for friends and family too.  However, we all need someone we trust, someone who can challenge and support.. who do you turn to?

If you can’t answer this question, one strategy is to:-

  • Recognise your state,
  • Stop,
  • Avoid making key decisions,
  • Take some time for yourself, do those things that feed your inner person, and
  • Just wait till ‘normal service is resumed’. 

I know this is hard advice to follow, but few good decisions are made in this place, and recognising that you have lost your way is the first step to finding it again…  If you are in this uncomfortable place today, I wish you luck!!

“Stand still. The trees ahead and bush beside you are not lost.”   Albert Einstein


  1. The Value of a Sounding Board
  2. Mentoring

Wall Street rescue plan

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Democrats & Republicans are frantically arguing about the package proposed by the US president to spend $750 billion shoring up the financial markets to prevent the US economy going into a tail spin. I have no doubt they all believe that this is a serious situation, and that they, and the people they represent, are in grave risk of getting seriously hurt by this situation. However, I have heard politicians earnestly arguing that it is un-American to interfere with results of a free market, and others saying that if there is money going here then they need other funds to help schemes they deem worthy. All these principles and good intentions and meanwhile Wall St burns…

Principles are all very well and when you are about to spend a sum equal to the GNP of Canada then you need to give it a little thought, however, there is a time to think and a time to act. Imagine arguing with your wife about which things you should drag out of your burning house first, the budgie or the holiday snaps…

Leaders act, they need an instinctive grasp of how to look after the people who look to them. Few of us will ever have to face this kind of decision, but fiddling whilst Rome burnt didn’t help Nero and is unlikely to work any better today.

“What to do if you find yourself stuck in a crack in the ground underneath a giant boulder you can’t move, with no hope of rescue. Consider how lucky you are that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn’t been good to you so far, which given your current circumstances seems more likely, consider how lucky you are that it won’t be troubling you much longer.” Douglas Adams

Much ado about NOthing

Friday, April 11th, 2008

I suspect that America’s cultural imperialism and the power of Hollywood may have seduced us thinking that the answer to every problem lies in… Action! I say this whilst recognising that men are far more enthralled by this notion than women, or perhaps we are just victims to our yang energies. Whatever the reason, it leads to way too much busyness.

There are times when, truly, nothing works; when all that is required is to do no thing. I woke this morning very aware of the call of this state. For me it consisted, at that moment, of just lying in bed, literally not moving a muscle, just letting my mind float wherever it wanted. When I am in this ‘space’, even moving a finger is the wrong thing to do. I suppose it must be a personal version of a meditative state, though frankly, I never got anywhere that good when I have meditated!

I have been aware of needing to create some personal space for a while now, and the need to slow down, but have done a pretty poor job of doing so. This morning I awoke at 5’ish to the sound of the dawn chorus, my day’s activities cancelled by others’ choices, and the sun shining. So, today, I shall surrender to the Power of Nothing.

You may not be in such a lucky place, but I commend it to you both for the sake of your health and wellbeing and also as a philosophical response to some of the problems in your life. There are many times when our most positive response to a situation is to do nothing, and this is often the hardest ‘act’. So today, before you act, ask your self if nothing might not work better?

“Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” Oscar Wilde

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein


Feeling Stuck? ACTION!

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

We are in the early stages of one of those periodic major renovation phases house owners are painfully familiar with. Our garden, which had always been a little ‘au naturel’, had become more of a jungle, the house is showing the signs of 3 healthy, active children growing up in it not to mention 3 cats! It is a daunting challenge knowing where to start and how to invest our hard-earned pennies. For quite a long time we were slightly frozen in this state of ‘not knowingness’.

Eventually my wife got a little more decisive and got in a garden contractor. I was thinking ‘tidying up’, she was thinking ‘war on weeds’! After we had had a small army of men and earth movers here for over a week it has been utterly transformed. I suspect the pharaohs used people like these to build the pyramids!

Why am I sharing this with you? Well the interesting thing is how, once you begin a project, things that you couldn’t know before you start suddenly come clear. I often help businesses with their strategy and I employ a similar approach. Get moving, and adapt as you learn more. If you spend too long planning you tend to get more and more stuck, and as Helmuth von Moltke famously observed “No plan survives contact with the enemy“, so what is the point having a perfect plan? Get moving, learn from what you do and adapt as you move forwards.

Those organisations that are able to learn and adapt fastest have a competitive advantage and the market to themselves for a while. This strategy will work just as well for you if you are feeling a bit stuck. Today, if you feel like this, DO SOMETHING, it really doesn’t matter what, just get moving and you will notice that you see things differently and feel differently. So Good Luck… and …ACTION!

“Just Do It.” Nike