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October 2018

On a lovely holiday to the Caribbean a few years ago as a family we were walking down to the beach and we were stopped by a lovely man who wanted to engage with us and try and sell us something. To grab our attention his opening line was ‘stop acting so British’ he went on to say ‘Why are you rushing, the sunshine isn’t going to go away, learn to chill’ Me being me, I am always on a mission, always in a rush, but why. Where do I want to get quicker?

This man really got me to think, I am very bad at self-imposed pressure. Setting my self near impossible work schedules, even moaning at myself when I don’t cycle as fast as I should when out cycling. Why?

But I am learning, I sometimes I now drive the long way route home through my favourite villages to appreciate what is good about where I live. Instead of jumping on the tube in London at the nearest station I walk and take in the great buildings the city has to offer. I sit outside with a cup of tea and no mobile device and enjoy the moment and the fresh air. Turn the radio off when driving and take in the surroundings. Watching a film and not fast forwarding it. I enjoy getting up 10 minutes earlier so I can enjoy my breakfast, instead of gulping it down like a hungry Labrador dog.

Trying to enjoy the moment is becoming a new hobby of mine. ‘Slow down David why are you in a hurry?’ I ask myself. To help me slow down I have read a lovely book called Mindfulness for the Mindless which takes you on a lovely trip of techniques to enjoy what you have got and to create a positive mindset. The book then provides some very good techniques specifically on Mindfulness to focus on the moment. Naturally you can’t just do mindfulness every now and again, you have to work at it and make it part of your life. It’s worth the effort. It’s like practicing and learning to do 30 press ups it doesn’t just happen you have to give your time and effort. As someone said on a course recently ‘ I need to go away and practice my practicing’ which I thought was great way of putting it. Perhaps we can give ourselves a bit more time and effort instead of charging around. I am off to sit in the garden and enjoy the stillness and the fresh air.

 
 

September 2018

We sometimes say the wrong things at the wrong time and in the wrong way in spontaneous situations or when we just don’t really know what to say, and often with people we haven’t met before. We may then think, why did I say that?

I once attended a meeting where the client wanted me to me to share all my ideas with them before agreeing to commit to the work. For some reason I got a little defensive and implied that I was not willing to do that and the meeting went a bit sour, plus I was getting a bit frustrated with them not making a decision. Afterwards I sat down and wondered why I reacted in in the manner that I did.  I was a bit annoyed with my response and behaviour. I concluded that a bit of humour would have been a better approach, or gaining more information about their position. I really wasn’t being myself.

This is often a challenge when we put ourselves in certain situations. We are not being authentic and true to ourselves. Being happy and comfortable with ourselves is essential in Future Proofing ourselves to cope with all the potential challenges that we may be faced with. Help is at hand... A wonderful book called From Vulnerable to Invincible by Sarah Jones takes the reader on a great self-development journey that covers being authentic in a simple and easy way; to make sure we are comfortable in being ourselves and behave in a manner that supports us as an individual. I love the concept “so you can be more of a successful version of yourself”

 
 

July 2018

In the big wide world of business and life we are often waiting for “them” and “they” to sort things out or make things happen. But who are “them” and “they”?

For example, “I am waiting for HR to sort out ………My manager hasn’t told me about……………the customer hasn’t decided yet so they are stopping me from hitting my target”.

I have a friend who is often saying “if only” he had brought this or that. Wouldn’t it be great if he could buy something he hasn’t got. He is always talking about winning the lottery and wishing for stuff he hasn’t got. He lives in an absolutely wonderful house I often say to him, but to most people you have won the lottery when they see your lifestyle. If you want something else, make the choices and make it happen, but please stop going on about it!

We often don’t like to admit that we have choices or options. It’s easy to wait for someone else to do something for us. Once a week my wife asks me if I have phoned a certain person. Naturally I reply “no, I haven’t had time”. Now, if I go home tonight and my wife says that the certain person has called and they have just won £6.8 million on the lottery, do you think I would find time to phone them?  Yes, I think so too! It’s not that I don’t have time, it’s that I chose not to call them - be honest. We all have 168 hours a week and it’s up to us how we spend that time. Make the choice. Think about all the stuff we have in our houses that we never use or need. Then we complain we haven’t got any money, but it was our choice to buy that stuff.

To Future Proof ourselves we need to accept that we all have choices and not to complain about “them” and “they”. I do appreciate that in life people are sometimes dealt a difficult hand that they don’t have any choice or choices on. It’s often these people who are inspiring and make the most of their situation, which is often very challenging.

Choices are something that a lady called Sonia didn’t think she had. She is now a reformed drug taker and a alcoholic and she always felt that alcohol and drugs had chosen her. Her very moving book called This Isn’t Me  tells of her long battles with addiction and the impact it has had on her life, family and especially her son,.It’s a very gripping read and wonderfully written and very emotional. I read from start to finish on a train trip back from Edinburgh. The key part is page 131 where Sonia spells out the concepts that we all need to follow in terms of beliefs, responsibilities, situations and our actions and choices. It’s very powerful and very real advice. I won’t reveal any more.

 
 

May 2018

Bill Clinton once said of Nelson Mandela; “95% of the time we disagreed, but I am sure 100% of the time he understood why I thought that way”.

How often do we spend our time trying to get our point across instead of understanding how the other person sees things? And, as importantly, why they think that way? If we understand how others see things it does make it easier to work to a consensus as we can come up with ideas that suit both parties. Naturally that does involve patience and high tolerance levels -which is another story for another day.

On some of my training courses I draw a picture of a church on a flip board. I then ask the participants to reflect on what the church means to them as an individual Responses often are:

• God
• Religion
• Waste of time
• Pointless
• Harmony
• Stain glass windows
• Christening, marriage and death
• Root of all the problems in the world
• Love
• My nan

I then ask what does that tell us? Responses are normally that we all see one thing from a different perspective, which we then discuss. We then look at why people have different perspectives on the same subject in this case the church. Discussion then goes on to upbringing, own values, disinterest, beliefs, priorities, programming, conforming, schooling, family and more. So, it’s not just understanding that someone sees one thing from a different perspective but why they think that way. We can then have meaningfull conversations.

Enter Mo Mowlam. I have been meaning to read her autobiography for ages and finally got around to ordering a copy. What a read! Here is a woman that took on trying to bring peace to Northern Ireland (good luck, most people thought). Whilst she wasn’t admired by all she was by many, and very well respected. Without going into politics too much she tried to do something that no one in the British Government had ever done. And that was to understand all of the different view points of the political and religious and other interested parties who were involved in Northern Ireland at that time. Whilst Northern Ireland even now isn’t a bed of roses she tried her best to talk to everyone one involved and seek to understand their view point and why they felt and thought the way they did. And then the ultimate goal was to find common agreement and a common way forward. Again, I won’t go in to detail on the Good Friday Agreement but she was a driving force in understanding, collaboration and trying to bring people together. She is no longer with us but made a great impact whilst she was. Her book is a detailed and fascinating insight in to her role as Secretary for State of Northern Ireland and how she went about getting to get all sides to move forward.

 
 

April 2018

Often we hear stories of professional footballers and sports people who, as they come to the ends of their careers, struggle with fact they are no longer number one or first choice on the team sheet. They miss the adulation and the crowds, the excitement and the buzz of competition. The transition in to normal life can be very challenging.

Actors also often struggle as they become of a mature age, with fewer roles on offer and sometimes their past experiences and successes count for nothing as they seek new parts in plays and films. Their agent stops phoning them and it can be a frustrating time.

Some are better than others in finding new ventures and careers in coaching, media or even away from their sport or the acting world altogether. Or they just settle for a part on a reality television programme, often to the amusement of the general public.

But do we suffer the same or could potentially suffer in the future? Are our skills up to date? Do businesses value our knowledge, skills, ways of thinking and experiences? Do we, like the sports personalities and the actors need to think about our future and focus how we can Future Proof ourselves?

An entertaining autobiography by Adebayo Akinfenwa tells of his career as  a lower league footballer and how he is making plans for the next steps in his life. He very much is taking the Future Proof Yourself concept on and making it happen.

Adebayo, unlike the premier league players, won’t have enough money to just sit back and swim in champagne swimming pools for the rest of his life. He has maximised his potential as a footballer and now he has a plan and good on him!

Who is he? Well, he plays for my local team Wycombe Wanderers and when he joined us a few years ago I thought: “Why would we want him?” He isn’t your typical athletic footballer but he has a great style and  attitude. He’s never injured and never misses a game and has been a great team player, scoring crucial goals for us. Google him if you want to find out more.

So, what’s his plan? He has set up his own brand and has become very well know on social media. He is looking to make things happen by  appearing on all sorts of programmes. He is known as the world’s strongest footballer and has even been working with a games developer.

 
 

Jan 2018

New Year – New Learning Opportunities

Welcome to 2018 - 365 days of new experiences, that’s if you take them!

Experiences come in all types of formats; conversations, reading, watching, physically doing something, travel, networking, listening, understanding someone’s point of view, new places, new friends, and many more.

So, do we take the opportunity to learn or just end up doing the same things over and over again?

Learning can be very motivational but it’s essential in our careers to keep learning; - technical skills, people skills, IT Skills, social media skills, industry and market knowledge.

Have you considered, no matter what age you are now, how will you keep yourself employable until you retire? It’s a tough question to answer and many of us shy aware from it.

Mention the word annual ‘appraisal’ and again most of us dislike the concept. No matter what our company does in terms of appraisals or Personal Development Reviews (PDRs) or if we work for ourselves I doubt we enjoy the process.

But we should as professionally it is vital to know what we are good at and what needs improving. Also, where are our future opportunities and how do we take them, plus what can hold us back?

So, go grab a coffee, switch your phone off, get out a notebook and start asking yourself: “How will I make my self marketable for the rest of my working days?”

If you need any help please drop me a line.

Talking of learning from experiences my book of the month is Eddie Izzard’s autobiography ‘Believe Me’. What an inspiring read about a person who struggled to make a career as an actor. He started as a street performer and went through the tough route as a stand up comic, continually learning what worked and what didn’t to become a great actor. The book naturally covers many other areas of his life that he had to address in being transgender, but what grabbed my attention was how he constantly went out of his comfort zone to take on new experiences and to keep learning.

So, make 2018 the year you go and grab a new experience or two. There are plenty out there.

 
 

Dec 2017

The ultimate Christmas gift that doesn’t cost a penny - How do you want people to feel once they have met you?

Dear Readers,

How often do we sit down and think about this?
Our focus is often on what we want to achieve or
get from a meeting or a conversation rather than
thinking of the impact we have on others.

Coming up to the season of good will what can you give others?

Your time
Your listening
Your interest and engagement
Your understanding,
Your consideration
Your patience
You being present in a conversation
Your empathy

During social gatherings over Christmas try and observe and notice how often people finish off each other’s sentences or just interrupt the person who is talking. We are all guilty, but we just aren’t conscious that we are doing it. We are too busy wanting to say our bit rather than being present in a conversation.

I call it “blokes down the pub” conversation. Notice how many times the topic of conversation changes as no one is really listening but just wanting to add their anecdote and talk across others and compete with the views or experiences.

We often interject with statements like: “But when we went…”, “What you should do…”, “Did I tell you the time…” or “The best thing to do is…” instead of actively listening.

To help us all improve our understanding in relationships and communication I highly recommend the book Your Brain is Boss by Dr Lynda Shaw. The pages on 'how do you want people to feel when they leave your meetings' are refreshing and help you stay engaged during conversations and challenge you understand people’s feelings, which ultimately helps you to build trust with whoever you deal with. The book covers the importance of being there for the other person, which in turn will make you more influential in your dealings with others.

Don’t forget to give listening as a Christmas present to all you meet.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas,