Yesterday morning, in my capacity as a listening volunteer for the Samaritans, I assisted in giving a talk at Venning Barracks, Donnington for their Mental Health Awareness day.
WO2 Payne had coordinated a great line up covering substance misuse, mindfulness, gambling, suicide and the support available in the wider community through the Shropshire Armed Forces Outreach hub.
As I watched the other speakers two words jumped out at me as they are so key to the coaching process, let me explain why after a brief overview of the days proceedings.
First up was Vanessa Carter of Grey Box UK Ltd– WOW, what an amazing woman. She really knew her stuff and delivered a lot of information in a very funny yet thought provoking and engaging way, I would thoroughly recommend her.
I couldn’t possibly convey all the goodness that she delivered in a few lines of a blog post so I’m not going to try but the message for me which really stood out close to the start of the talk was
‘People take drugs to change the way they FEEL.’
This was then followed by a lot of information not only about the different drugs we can misuse, how they are made, what they do and how they do it with the resulting side effects but also about our natural ways of feeling good such as hitting targets (my line of business,) love, sex, adrenaline, testosterone and the dopamine and serotonin etc that our body releases.
Like I said, too much information for me to go into and I wouldn’t be able to deliver it half as well as Vanessa but if you do one thing from reading this post please go and Google ‘Gordon Ramsey how cocaine is made’ and it will hopefully put you off considering ever taking it forever!!
Next was Cynthia from ‘Find Happiness In You.’ Talking all about mindfulness.
She explained how her tough no nonsense attitude had only managed to take her so far and how she had even scoffed at the concept of her sister having postnatal depression.
When Cynthia was going through a divorce and was pregnant with her third child she even went as far as setting herself a timer for 5 minutes of crying before brushing herself off to face life head on.
Unfortunately this strategy only worked temporarily and in the long run worked against her. She too found herself in the depths of depression with what she felt was simply unexplained and uncontrollable crying as a symptom. Medical intervention would not be available for six months after her diagnosis.
Thankfully she found sanctuary in a local wood. Noticing the difference when she took herself off for a piece of peace she began her somewhat reluctant and sceptical journey into meditation and mindfulness. Clearly it was worth it as she teaches and runs workshops in mindfulness now.
My key takeaway from her talk was spending time in ‘quiet observation without JUDGEMENT.’
Mick and I were next up talking about the Samaritans and the work being done behind the scenes to create a suite of military community specific services. If you’d like to know more about the Samaritans and the work we do then your local branch will have an outreach team who could visit your place of work. Military specific information can be found here https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/military/
For me, the main points I always aspire to get across about the Samaritans though is that we are #thereforeveryone! You don’t have to be suicidal to call, in fact it would be much better if you call before you get to that point.
Although we do signpost to other organisations we don’t give advice, we are there to listen to your feelings, to help you explore your feelings and hopefully help you get them in check before they overrun you but most importantly we are non judgemental, it is a safe place to talk. Talking really does help you get your thoughts and feeling straight.
Despite the name, Samaritans are a non Christian charity. The freephone number 116 123 is operational 24/7 365 days of the year and won’t show on your bill. All calls are confidential unless in very specific circumstances but essentially a volunteer will not be able to see your contact details. You can text, email and even still write to the Samaritans. Non of the volunteers are paid to be there, we listen because we care.
I have no doubt that the training I received to become a listening volunteer for the Samaritans has made me a better person.
Next was Justyn Larcombe but sadly he couldn’t join us at the last minute. I would thoroughly recommend checking out his TEDx talk about how his gambling addiction temporarily ruined his life here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AN3VLLlkdI
Last but not least we had Sarah and Sandy from the Shropshire Armed Forces Outreach centre talking about the services they can offer not only to veterans and service personnel but to their families too. Concerns such as schools not knowing how to effectively use the service pupil premium funding wisely to asking your GP if your notes are up to date with the correct code to indicate you are a veteran and may be in need of additional support. They really are bringing together the people who can help so each person gets the assistance they need in every area of their life utilising all the different charities for all the different issues.
It was interesting to take on board that not all service leavers, especially young service leavers, identify as being a veteran. Somehow the word seems only suitable for Chelsea Pensioners and World War veterans in their minds but that’s not to say they don’t need support. Having the right environment and community to surround them is an essential part of a more peaceful transition into civvy street. After all, if you have spent most of your life behind the wire how could you possibly know the nuances of utility bills, prescription charges and dentists fees etc?
So going back to those two words that stuck out for me today. Feelings and judgement.
These words are so important from a coaching point of view because everything we do, we do to make us feel something. Buying new clothes, eating sugary food, skydiving etc all generate a feeling. But have you stopped to think about how you want to feel on a daily basis? And is it ok to want to feel like that? When you think of that feeling, are you worrying that others may judge you for wanting it? Are you judging yourself for wanting it?
Somewhere in your subconscious you may be running a script which is telling you that you don’t deserve to feel happy, accomplished, powerful, whatever it may be for you. At some point in your life you may have been conditioned by an experience or the opinions of others to think badly of wanting more money or even not wanting to be part of the rat race. All of that could in turn sabotaging your efforts to get from A to B.
If that sounds like you then please do get in touch, I’d love to work through this with you and get you on the road to what true success means for YOU.
Firstly though let me tell you about the quote from the photo montage I’ve shared with this article. ‘Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor.’ I love this quote because if I hadn’t been in the room (if you can describe any of the halls in the NEC as just a room, the NEC is massive!) then I wouldn’t have met my favourite new contact Ian Calvert who in turn wouldn’t have introduced me to Warren Cass, who’s book I started reading and subsequently found this quote in.
Ian took me under his wing because I stuck my neck out and was willing to take a risk on the mic at a ‘Meet the journalists’ session. I’m sharing this because I want you to stand up and speak the next time the opportunity arises, it’s all too easy to sit on our hands and let these chances to shine float by – I didn’t shine by the way, I sucked, BUT the following day I went back and did it all again and guess what, I was much better second time round. You can’t improve on nothing.
There were four main stages at the festival that never went silent as well as other smaller sessions you could attend, it was really hard to choose where to be but it wasn’t hard to choose my first speaker which was Lord Bilimoria the founder of Cobra Beer who started his speech with the epic quote, 'Fortune favours the brave.' Stirs the soul right?
Here are some key takeaways from his speech
1. Don't only be the best in the world, be the best FOR the world.
2. Profit is not a dirty word.
3. The word which sets entrepreneurs apart is GUTS! You've got to have guts to do it and you especially need guts to stick with it.
4. You don't have to be good at art to be a creative. Creativity and Innovation is essential to entrepreneurship.
5. Don't be scared of the future, it is unknown. When crisis hits it's not what happens but how we deal with it.
6. Always play with a straight bat – have impeccable integrity.
7. My favourite, is this lovely word he used a couple of times - be 'Humbitious.' Humble and ambitious.
Next up is Louis Barnett, he became the youngest ever supplier of chocolate to both Sainsburys and Waitrose at the age of 14.
Here are his top marketing tips:
7. People don't buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it (Simon Sinek)
8. You and your people are your BIGGEST asset, look after yourself and them.
9. If you think of your brand as a person then your brand is the personality and the clothing is the marketing.
10. You need more than one memorable feature, think of the whole customer experience with regard to all five senses. Use sound, sight, taste, smells, and textures in unique ways, do you have a jingle, what colour do you use in marketing, can you use a scent in your packaging, how do your business cards feel when you hand them over?
There was so much more in this presentation than I am able to repeat here, definitely check Louis out, he is a really incredible guy with a wealth of knowledge and experience behind him.
Andy Schabelman, the man with a whole lot of HEART. Andy was one of the first 30 employees of AirB&B and is now heading up international expansion for Fiverr.
A powerful question Andy uses when interviewing to create teams and which he delivered from the stage was 'Tell me a story of when you were just you and you were proud of being you,' Such a great way of getting to the core of peoples natural talents.
Here are my key takeaways from Andy.
11. True 'success' comes from following your heart and communicating with heart.' Heart = the core of creating a movement.
12. How are you truly identifying and alleviating fear for your customers? Alleviating fear matters because it is the precursor to freedom.
13. Give yourself permission to delegate.
His work at Fiverr is based around the ethos that everyone should have freedom and control over their own life with access to a global economy.
Next up, Ninder Johal's talk, if you think you don't know who he is then maybe you're more familiar with the smash hit (which always gets me dancing) Mundian To Bach Ke by Punjabi MC which Ninders record company Nachural Records took into the charts.
My key takeaways from this dynamic man.
14. Make sure you understand the journey of your customer and the threats to your business - Ninder gave his first-hand experience of the way the music industry changed from CD's to downloads and how this took its toll on his business.
15. Be someone who does more than just generates wealth.
16. Join boards, learn from good people around you and surround yourself with better people.
17. Don't just network with people who look like you, dress like you, like the same things as you, be as diverse as possible when choosing the people you learn from.
18. Know your numbers, when you have them, slash your profit projection by 50% and increase your expenses projections by 50%
19. Don't cry about your problem, busy yourself looking for a solution to your problem.
20. When things go wrong don't blame anyone else.
21. Be courteous to people, email them back.
22. Get up every morning and SMILE
23. There is no limit to what you can achieve.
24. Even when you reach a success position, you still need to network to meet the people who have the ideas that could end up putting you out of business.
25. And most importantly, when you come across people who say you can't, you haven't got the right skillset or you don't deserve the privilege of a dream - IGNORE THEM!!
It was really great to see Teresa Boughey and Beverley Nielson from the Black Country Chamber of Commerce talking about the Women in Leadership programme - 'supporting, celebrating and inspiring women in business.' There were some really interesting case studies shared, I only wish there had been more time!
26. Make your family your ambassadors and allies.
27. Inspire and involve others.
28. Integrity - always do your best for YOU and others.
29. Help those around you, be a cheerleader for others.
30. Greatness is just outside your comfort zone, be proactive.
31. Find your voice - speak out and share your opinions.
32. Never stop learning - be open to new ideas. You can't always be right but you can always be learning.
33. Know your market, focus on it clearly and love your customers.
34. Join forces with your local universities.
35. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!
Last but not least the amazing Joseph Valente.
‘Whatever the mind can conceive and believe the mind can achieve.'
Imagine this sentence belted out three times in a row to emphasise the point, which is exactly what Joseph Valente did to open his speech because he is so passionate about hammering this point home being the living example of how it is so very true.
Key takeaways from Joe:-
36. Be clear on what you want, what YOUR definition of success is, be it money, health, happiness, love etc?
37. You must have a strategy to get it.
38. Use the law of attraction as broken down below.
VISUALISE IT - see every tiny element of what success means for you and start with the end in mind (Stephen Covey.)
FEEL IT - be passionate about it, totally immerse yourself in how it would feel to have what you want, the sounds, the nerves, imagine feeling every element of what life would be like once you have what you want.
BELIEVE IT - You have to believe in yourself and your power, don't limit your thinking to where you happen to be right now, if you don't believe in yourself then no-one else will either.
Joe told of how he used to have the Forbes logo as his phone screensaver, when asked why he said 'Because I'm HAVING it,' and shortly after he became named one of Forbes top 30 under 30.
He is now a best selling author, winner of the apprentice just aged 25, he has already bought his shares back from Lord Sugar because he felt he was holding him back, he warned to think of an investor relationship like a marriage and not jump in too soon. His business continues to go from strength to strength, in fact ImpraGas was named national boiler installer of the year 2019 beating British Gas.
Joe has been so successful he has even managed to retire his mum but insists that he won’t stop as constant striving and increasing his goals is what keeps him going.
So there you have it. If you managed to read this far I’d love to know which was your favourite and what you would add to this list?
I was lucky enough to interview Michael Coates for the BeGlad Movement back in 2018. He is a lovely caring and pro-active guy who has set up his business on strong ethical values. He joined the military at the age of 16. After leaving the armed forces he went on to become a fire-fighter before setting up his own pest control business with his friend Des. To add to that repertoire he now hosts an award winning podcast called Declassified.
Michael was meant to be presenting at the recent Facebook for veterans event but couldn’t attend at the last minute due to a close family member falling ill. Family first, this is the kind of guy Michael is. Obviously I was gutted not to meet him in person but thrilled to see a copy of his book on every seat for the delegates to take home with them. A book I had been meaning to buy for a while.
I love this book because it gives, gives, gives. The start is all about being business savvy, defining the foundations of your business, the importance on interdependence and good leadership skills, all with a military twist. The second half is all about recognition and elimination of household pests. On the surface may seem odd as Michael and Des run a pest control business called Combat Pest. Surely they don’t want to put themselves out of business? No, but they do strongly believe that everyone should have the right to live in a pest free environment. They recognise that not everyone can afford to use pest control services and that council budgets are falling. With increased urbanisation and reduced rubbish collections etc the chances of infestations are on the rise, especially for those in social housing. By providing the information and structure necessary for the average person to be able to fend off the most common of pests themselves they hope to ease the rise of pest infestations in the neighbourhoods around us.
This book is packed with not only thought provoking information but solid, actionable and practical steps. It is tempting to give you a synopsis of each section but I really think you should buy the book and have a read yourself. You won’t be disappointed. There is a lot of sound advice, why interdependence is important, what lead Michael and Des to start the Combat Pest business, their ethos and values that underpin the success of their business. And at their very core, the primary unshakable mission, they want to help, both their customers and the people they work with, and they do this by employing veterans, reservists and family members of serving soldiers.
The biggest revelation for me when I first came across Michael via the Declassified podcast and his business, which I really want to draw your attention to, is the fact that small businesses can have a big impact on global issues. Through working with Buy 1 Give 1 Combat Pest Control are able to positively influence the lives of street children in Afghanistan. Each domestic job completed results in one day of education being gifted. Commercial projects contribute to the training of African pouched rats by APOPO to detect landmines and curb the injury rate to innocent people, especially children who are likely to set them off by accident when playing. Having set up in business to achieve a primary objective – to help other people, I think this has 100% been achieved.
To find out more please follow these links.
Combat Pest Control
Buy 1 Give 1
The BeGlad Movement
@PollyCharnley is a coach, mentor and NLP Practitioner. She is also the founder of the @BeGladMovement.
When I began to write this post I struggled a bit. There was the part of me that tuned into my deeper desires to show respectful discretion; in these days of social media where we show each other every crevice of our lives there was still a part of me that felt funerals were a very private and sacred affair and no one needed to know that I had been to one. However having thought about this a little, I also agree that they can and should be a time for reflection and celebration. I am hoping that Mr Tracey would not mind me putting these thoughts down.
Yesterday I attended the funeral of Harold Tracey, or Lee as he liked to be called. I did not know him in any way shape or form. A call went out on Twitter to say that he was ex RAF and had no living relatives to attend his funeral at Shrewsbury Crematorium. As I write my little family is based at RAF Shawbury just a 25 minute drive away from the crematorium. My best friend who is currently living in Plymouth tagged me in the post which is how I came to be in attendance. Such is the power of social media.
It would be dishonest of me to say that as I was ironing my black dress I didn’t have the odd internal less than generous thought float through my mind, ‘What am I doing?’ ‘I’ve got loads of jobs to do,’ ‘What difference will me being there make anyway?’ But I knew I had to go, it was my duty to go. I knew nothing of this man’s service, other than he had served and therefore he was part of my extended family. The British Military family. But more than that, it is because of men like Lee doing such immense and selfless things that I have the great liberty of choice. Was just under two hours of my time really such a big sacrifice in comparison to the things he had done for me through his incredible service?
When I arrived the coffin had already been carried in and there was no space to sit as the crematorium was absolutely packed, it was wonderful and moving to see. I listened as a kind hearted chap called Nick who had befriended Mr Tracey shared just some of the stories that they had clearly enjoyed together over many a cup of tea. He listed off all the places Mr Tracey had been, too many for me to remember. I particularly felt chocked when I heard how Mr Tracey had been sent to an orphanage, he thought it was hell however rather than just looking after number one he found the strength to be the champion of the smaller more vulnerable kids and stuck up for them. This moved me because only the previous evening I had spoken to my husband about how I hoped my own son would display these qualities when he is old enough to understand.
Mr Tracey’s wife sounded equally interesting. Apparently she was a singer and actress but also a part time weapons handling instructor!
As I stood there I couldn’t help but think about my own Grampy who lived with my mum and I when I was growing up. I feel extremely lucky that I got to hear his stories and have a generational point of reference. He was a farmer so never went to war; in fact I had no military connections at all until I married. Our grandparents have so much knowledge and life experience they would love to share with us if we gave them the time to do so. Of course there are some outdated modes of thinking which certainly do not need to be carried forward but please don’t discredit the power of a timely story to reflect upon to help you figure out your own situations in life.
After the service I loitered a bit as I wanted to tell Nick how well he had read and how much I enjoyed hearing Mr Tracey’s story. I also managed to talk to some neighbours who had been very fond of Mr Tracey. I think it gave them great comfort to see such a good turnout. They were amused when I said my husband was at work and didn’t even know I was there.
So what is the purpose of this post? Well I guess to firstly bring your attention to the fact that some of the most worthwhile and soul enriching experiences can be found in the most unexpected of circumstance. That putting other people first actually gives you a deeper sense of wellbeing than you may initially think. And also to encourage you to volunteer. Mr Tracey’s friend Nick was an RAF Association befriender, having only known Mr Tracey for the last 16 months of his life its clear how fond they had become of each other.
What has this got to do with coaching? Nothing really. Only to re-iterate that talking unlocks very powerful gifts and some things have to be experienced to be understood.
@PollyCharnley is a coach, mentor and NLP Practitioner. She is also the founder of the @BeGladMovement.
A month ago I was standing on the platform of Kingham station waiting for a train to whisk me away to London Paddington and something occurred to me. I am a platform… Of sorts. (Bear with me on this!)
So, I follow a lot of ‘influencers’ online. They have massive followings, some know how to get you firing on all cylinders, like you could take over the world and some calm you down and remind you to reunite with your higher purpose. It’s easy to look at these big names and their social media tribes of thousands and thousands of followers and be totally in awe of who they are. You’ve probably even found yourself thinking, ‘I could never be as big as them, so why even bother competing,’ but truth be known, they probably had very similar thoughts too once upon a time.
Having read a lot of the classic personal development books, how to win friends and influence people, the road less travelled, the power of now, the seven habits etc etc and being an avid follower of the more modern gurus such as Brendon Burchard, Marie Forleo, Tony Robins, Oprah, Mel Robins, Gabby Bernstein, it’s clear that actually, there’s not THAT much new material out there. What there IS, is a personal spin. There are the same teachings but with a different angle, an up to date metaphor or two to help us ‘get it’ in our contemporary conditions. There are very few people that can claim to be 100% the creator of anything as we are all learning from our surroundings on a daily basis.
So, why am I saying all of this? Because I want you to know that YOU are an important part of someone’s journey, that YOU are a train station of sorts. You have the power to influence other people, even in the smallest of ways so that they get on your train and end up at an even bigger station in life. So value your knowledge, share it widely and don’t be afraid to help other people as best you can.
Kingham is a lovely little Cotswold village on the Oxfordshire Gloucestershire border with a quaint but busy train station. The platform I was standing on was only small but it was enough. It was part of my journey. It had the ability to get me onto the train I needed to be on, which in turn would then deliver me to the destination I needed. You are a platform. As Denise DT says, ‘You don’t have to be the creator, being a contributor is just as important.’
Your contributions matter.
Polly Charnley is a coach, mentor and NLP practitioner. She is also the founder of the @begladmovement.
On Wednesday the 26th June 2019 Facebook London signed the Armed Forces Covenant.
I wasn’t going to miss this. We are currently based up a RAF Shawbury so
I packed my bags on Tuesday evening and waited for my husband to get back from dive club before driving the two hours to collapse into bed at midnight in my mums house. Up again at 6am I showered and got ready to catch the train from Kingham to London, a great opportunity to catch up on some social media. I navigated my way through the warm wafting heat of the underground from Paddington to Westminster and into the Park Plaza Hotel. There was a fantastic energy in the air. Within moments of walking through the door people I had only ever met online before were coming up to say Hi with hugs like they were my long lost friends, it felt so good to be amongst such positive, dynamic and forward thinking people.
Business owners from the military community were invited to a fantastic day of networking, inspirational speakers, panel discussions and live master classes on the many ways Facebook and Instagram can help boost your business #fbveteransboost. At this point I want to say a massive thank you to Facebook London for putting on such a great event and feeding us so well too and an equally huge thank you to the Heropreneur network who do such great work supporting military business start ups through their mentoring programme.
The theme of the day was community, and what a community the British Military is, warm and fiercely supportive with a healthy dose of humour. For me this was a fantastic opportunity to meet up with some people I had only met through the power of the internet before, as well as meeting lots of new and inspirational business owners. I love meeting people in the flesh, building rapport and cementing the bonds with common interests.
The words of Simon Harmer really shone for me that day, he confidently walked onto the stage on his prosthetic legs and delivered a funny and heart warming account of his story. I was lucky enough to interview Simon for The BeGlad Movement in 2018. He was a combat medic serving on a tour of Afghanistan when he had his legs blown off. This man is so inspirational, when a nurse in the recovery hospital suggested he should look for three positives for every negative Simon decided he needed to look for five. My favourite quote from Simon that day though, ‘I live every day as a thank you.’ Find out more about Simon here
I can’t write this post without mentioning how disappointed I was not to see Michael Coates from the Declassified podcast. He runs a business called Combat Pest Control, again I was lucky enough to interview him too and was so inspired by the way he set up his business. Not only does he champion the employment of veterans and spouses but also giving a proportion of profits towards the education of children in war torn countries and towards the training of African pouch rats. Unfortunately he couldn’t be there on the day as his mum fell ill and family should always come first. Thankfully the amazing Woody, Brian Wood MC stepped in at the last minute to lead a panel discussion on Michael's behalf. That is the power of a great community with strong relationships, being there for each other in times of need. Hear more about Woody and his incredible story here
It’s important not to underestimate the power of community. Even if you are not as lucky as I am to be part of the military family you can still curate a tribe of supporters around you. Looking for people who share your values and lift you up is imperative as a self employed small business owner but it’s also equally important that you distance yourself from negative people too. Although you may not feel it too much in any one instance a steady drip of negative talk can be a secret assassin. Like Simon was told, you need to look for AT LEAST three positives for every negative because evolution has wired our brains with a negative bias.
With this in mind it’s important to acknowledge our minds and our mental health especially as business owners. Naturally we are go getters, used to being self disciplined to get where we want to go but we are bombarded with a heck of a lot of information daily which is tiring to sift through; if we’re not careful it can send us into thought loops that go round and round. Taking the time to share your thoughts with your community or even better having the undivided attention of a coach or mentor for an hour really does help unpack all the ideas, clear the wood from the trees, and sets you free to move forward more quickly and effectively.
Recently I posed the question ‘Which platform brings you more business? Instagram or Twitter?’
I posted a poll to my Instagram stories and I posted a poll asking the same question to my Twitter feed.
Twitter gives companies a better way to interact directly with customers than Instagram. That's also a big reason why Twitter continues to be one of the top social media channels. You can quickly communicate in real time. Instagram is more focused on the content than customer-to-business interaction.
Gary Vaynerchuk says that Twitter is too noisy, it’s definitely still the place to go for breaking news when something is kicking off but Instagram is where you get more of your followers attention. And holding the attention of our potential customers is what we need to do to be able to create an impact.
So what results did my polls pull in?
100 percent who responded through Instagram claimed Instagram was best for business.
77% of those who responded through Twitter claimed that Twitter was the best. I sensed there may be a slight biased towards the platform which you happened to be viewing the question on in the first place!
And, there’s the thing. Surely where we spend the most time and put in the most effort is going to be the place we see the biggest results.
Behind every social media platform is that element of ‘social.’ It’s where you hang out and where you interact with people. I could have thrown into the poll Facebook, Snapchat, or even a traditional in person networking meeting – which by the way is my favourite way to get business. But that’s not the point I am trying to make here. It’s not really about the platform it’s about the commitment and engagement.
More and more of us feel that we need to have these social media accounts to back us up, to validate us almost. But do we really need to be everywhere? Could we be spreading ourselves too thinly unnecessarily? Being realistic and selective about where we spend our time, (and time is money,) will help us to focus our attention and efforts more effectively to serve our beautifully curated communities.
As well as our websites our social media presence is acting as a 24 hour sales assistant, always representing our brand and if you’ve got it right, answering the key questions about who you are and what it is you do. Giving the visitor enough information to decide if you’re likeable or at all relevant to their needs.
And that is what business is all about after all, fulfilling a need. I read in a marketing book many moons ago now, no one wants a drill, what they really want is a hole.
I know that no one really wants coaching, what they do want though, is to reach the next level of success, after all, ‘what got you here won’t get you there,’ as Marshall Goldsmith says.
Personally I like both platforms. I enjoy the ‘in the moment-ness’ of Twitter, it’s far easier to show appreciation for content via retweets and the conversations really do flow.
Instagram speaks to the designer in me, although that is a double edged sword as I don’t generally add to Instagram in a spontaneous way because I wouldn’t want to mess up my pretty feed.
I'd love to know your thoughts on this - feel free to add to the conversation either over on instagram or twitter! (see what I did there?!)
What I learnt at the circus.
Two weekends ago (yes I know it’s taken me a long time to get round to writing this blog post!) I was lucky enough to be able to fit in a trip to the circus, not just any circus, the beloved Giffords Circus. A magical village green circus that tours England throughout the summer.
I’d not been for years and at the time the big top was pitched on the stunning historic grounds of Sudeley Castle – where, incidentally, my husband and I were married four years earlier.
This year’s show is called ‘Xanadu’ meaning an idealized place of great idyllic magnificence and beauty. We were transported back to the 60’s where flower power, peace and love reigned true.
Here are some of the thoughts that crossed my mind while taking in the show.
Are you letting first impressions blind you to valuable connections?
Close to the beginning of the show we were introduced to a very smartly dressed mother and father who are busy chasing after and berating their young daughter who is clearly intrigued by the hippies and flower power surrounding her. She tugs in the opposite direction to them and they scold her in their ridiculously up-tight voices. They clearly want to be seen as upstanding respectable people.
They run in and out of the ring in between acts until eventually towards the end of the show the young girl manages to break free and subsequently encourages her parents to surrender to the movement of peace and love. A fantastic display ensues with the parents taking it in turns to glide through the air around the ring suspended on a rope. It was so spectacular my writing skills just aren’t up to describing this act with the true justice it deserves.
The fact that I had paid such little attention to this couple throughout the show got me reflecting on the hidden talents they went on to display. We’ve all been to networking events and been asked ‘What do you do?’ I’m not a big fan of this question because I don’t feel people should be defined just by the job they do in that moment in time. We all have a history of experiences and most of us are planning many more.
How someone seems on the surface may not be the full extent of their talents, talents which may be of use to you. I’m not suggesting, ‘So tell me your life story then?’ as an opening question at a networking event but ‘What are you passionate about?’ Or ‘Tell me a little known fact about you?’ might be a nice alternative. Warning - make sure you are ready with your own answer should the question get turned around on you though!!
Be open to the fact that first impressions can be deceiving. Don’t presume you know or write anyone off too quickly.
Direct opposites can work well together.
The policeman and the hippie. Although they were polar opposites in the show these two
came together and performed an amazing balancing act. Using their individual strengths they were able to flip and tip and roll together. How often do we look to socialise or work with people who are like us? Could it be, that accepting we can’t do it all and that we are not always right might help us to find people with an opposite yet complimentary skill set? Allowing someone else to bring something completely different to the table could elevate our game and help us break new boundaries. Embrace different.
The juggling act and work life balance.
I personally don’t believe in work life balance. There I said it. After all, who wants an equal amount stress to their levels as happiness. Much better to accept that sometimes family is going to have to take the lead and other times work is. Some projects will take more time and other tasks will have to go on the back burner.
At the end of the day the juggler was never holding all the balls at once, he bounced some in, he took some out, sometimes they were in the air and other times they were balanced on his neck. You will drop balls and that’s ok, the word multitasking was actually invented to describe the actions of the first computers, humans are not computers. Just make sure you take some time now and again to check which of your balls actually need to be in the show.
The star of the show!
The general public may often think of the clowns as filler acts but at Giffords, for me, Tweedy really was the star of the show. His energy and enthusiasm coupled with silly gags and audience engaging mayhem made him the life and glue of the show. All team members are important; some team members may have skills which are more important than you think.
I was once employed as a receptionist for a tech firm. I turned that job into something of my own. I wasn’t just simply meeting and greeting customers at the front desk. I was counselling staff, maintaining morale and setting them up for the day with a cheery smile. I made ‘flapjack Friday’ a thing, with votes on chocolate chips or raisins an important debate (Sometimes I’d make two batches.) Team morale is important and often overlooked when considering how to increase productivity. You may have staff who are not the highest paid or the most highly skilled but that doesn’t mean they don’t play a key part in your company ecosystem.
Ending on the note of increasing team moral have you considered how my Kick Ass Kindness workshop could help your business team? Click here to find out more,
Last week I was honoured to be asked to host an open discussion at the RAF Shawbury Hive for Mental Health Awareness Week.
Although the subject of mental health is getting more coverage now, especially in the armed forces it is still considered a taboo subject. The veterans seem to be leading the discussions around PTSD, suicide and the much more palatable term ‘mental fitness.’ This is all really fantastic and can’t be encouraged enough however as my husband is still serving I am still very keenly aware that there is still a code of silence behind the wire.
The fact of the matter is that serving personnel are worried about their jobs and what their peers will think of them. Spouses are concerned but don’t always know who to turn to and a lot of the time are under strict instruction not to breathe a word to anyone on patch. It’s because of this I think it’s really great that more and more stations like RAF Shawbury are getting on board with the conversation to help encourage those who are suffering to come forward and be helped.
Despite the theme for this year’s mental health awareness week being body image I decided to freestyle it a bit and came up with the topic of kindness instead, Kick Ass Kindness in fact. After all, it’s something that is free, makes both the giver and the recipient feel good and makes for a happier working environment as well as home environment. The other key point is that we could all be a lot kinder to ourselves.
If you would like me to facilitate a kindness workshop at your place of work then please do get in touch.
Earlier today I was propped up against the dining room wall (why don’t Apple make their charging cables longer? #firstworldproblems) trying to finish the last minute Tesco order on the iPad via our dodgy internet connection when I noticed an orchid that I had neglected and presumed dead (it kind of gets forgotten about in the window that it sits in) had actually flowered beautifully without any intervention from me at all! It looks fab.
This got me thinking about the times when I’ve dashed off to the downstairs office (My husbands name for the downstairs toilet) and left my son on his play mat. Of course, he kicks off as soon as I leave the room however sometimes you just have to sit in that downstairs office a little longer than maybe you would like to ladies! And do you know what? Quite often it’s in those moments, when I have given up shouting down the corridor ‘Mummy won’t be long darling, mummy is just having a (you know what) darling, I’ll be back in a minute darling,’ and my son realises I am not coming straight back that he miraculously manages to find a toy (amongst the gazillion of toys on his playmat) to entertain himself with, all by himself, and goes quiet.
So from a business point of view, I would like you to think about leaving it alone! Giving it a rest! And what I actually mean is giving yourself a rest. Walk away from the problem solving, stop racking your brains over an issue and go get your nails done. If that’s your thing. Personally, I never put anything on my finger nails as they go all brittle if I do, but that’s not the point. Go shopping; go see a friend/relative for the day. Go to the local pool for an hour, visit your local gallery. Just get out of your workspace (note, I didn’t call it an office) Sometimes we really do need some distance between ourselves and our work to get the next flash of inspiration. And if you employ anyone sometimes you need to give them some space to be able to truly shine and show initiative. It’s all too easy to micro manage and suffocate folks, why did you hire them again..?
I’m not saying run for the hills and pretend an issue doesn’t exist, and of course if you are a service provider then you can’t just leave a customer stranded however there is a balance that needs to be struck where you allow yourself the time to rest your brain so it can start to work properly again. Plus being out and about will prompt ideas that you may not have had if you were stuck in your ‘office’ (chortle, chortle.) Wasn’t it Gandhi who said that if you have a busy day you need to meditate for twice as long? Only I could quote Gandhi after a toilet joke. Anyway, you get my gist.
I’d love to hear about any ideas you have had recently when you were slacking off. Maybe all of a sudden that day out at the Polo became profitable because you met your next big client there…?