Tuesday, 21 December 2010


One of the hardest personal development lessons I've found has been taking ownership of how I'm feeling rather than blaming other people e.g

"You made me angry" becomes "I got angry because you did X" or even better "I allowed myself to get angry when you did X."

A book* I was reading recently took it a stage further and suggested that anything we get angry at other people about is an aspect of ourselves that we don't accept. After all we can all be late, less than perfect, selfish, arrogant, lazy, mad, childish, etc etc**. So why is it that sometimes someones lateness, selfishness, laziness makes us angry? The book would suggest it's because we don't accept that quality in ourselves. That is if we don't accept it in ourselves of course we won't accept it in others either.

The trick to releasing the anger is in being able to accept that we have , do or could in the future demonstrate this trait and then seeing the positive this trait provides us. If we do this others demonstrating the trait will then no longer trigger the same response.

Do let me know how you get on - I'm doing it with imperfection!

Festive Greetings and wishing you a wonderful, abundant and laughter filled 2011.


Alison Smith
Helping Purchasing Relationships take personal responsibility 07770 538159

* The dark side of the light chasers by Debbie Ford

** Of course even this list simply sheds more light on aspects of myself I don't accept. If you nodded your head and accepted these traits in yourself that's a sure sign that you need another list. You may find you need to write another list to get the emotional trigger to at least initially denying the accuracy of this blog. A sure sign you've got a trait to work on is an emotionally charged response of "I'm never that." Do keep going till you get one of those and then try accepting it!

Stop the blame game - everyone is doing their best

Perhaps it's the coach in me but every time I hear someone blame the current situation on someone else I want to jump in and help them understand at least the inaccuracy of the language they're using.

"This is the 2nd time you've done this to me" in reality is "This is the 2nd time this has happened to me."

"They haven't even gritted the road" is really "The road didn't act nor look like it had been gritted recently."

"They should have been able to get the runways clear by now" would at least be "I believe they should have been able to get the runways clear by now."

Notice how the 'energy' changes in the alternative but more realistic statements. I know it's human nature to look to blame someone but that doesn't help our blood pressure, it certainly doesn't help the other person solve the problem and it certainly stops us understanding how we can help.

So next time, before you start to blame someone else for the situation, remember:

* People make the best choice they can at the time
* Every behaviour has a positive intent.

Stoping those in purchasing relationships from blaming others

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Do we thank people so little?

Within the last 24 hours a simple thank you has been taken to be a complaint. This makes me very sad - do we receive thanks so little that we automatically assume someone is complaining?

Whilst in the supermarket yesterday I thanked one of the ladies stocking the shelves. It was a thankless task as the produce disappeared as soon as they'd put it out. It was very busy as for many of us it was the first day out for over 2 weeks due to snow and ice. I made a point of thanking one of them saying we appreciated their efforts on keeping the shelves stocked. The lady automatically replied "we're trying our best" in a tone that best suited perhaps earlier complaints about empty shelves.

Unfortunately I had to call the house insurance company this morning and they said someone might not be able to call me until Monday to sort it out. When I received a call 30 minutes later I again thanked them for the hard work in keeping up to date with what must be a huge increase in calls. Again the answer was "we're trying our best" in a similar tone.

It has to be said that thanks made to refuse collectors when collecting the bins, in a local park and at the side of road earlier in the year all received a shocked responses as they finally registered that a member of the public was thanking them for the work they do.

Who have you thanked today?


Enabling purchasing relationship to show appreciation

Thursday, 9 December 2010

It's just all those (other) nutters on the road!

I landed at Edinburgh airport 12 days ago hours before the snow hit the area. Having got home safely the car hasn't moved since! I'm very excited to share that tomorrow I hope to be taking to the road again. However from other people's conversations apparently I still need to be wary of the nutters on the road! You know the ones......

Going too fast in their 4x4
Going to fast in any car really
Using their brakes when it's icy
Going out at all when it's a blizzard out there
etc etc

The difficulty I have is who are all these nutters because everyone I speak to believes themselves to be a great example of good, careful and courteous driving and it's all the others that are the nutters.

I wonder what would happen if we accepted that we too can be that nutter on the road?

On a similar vein I hear friends discuss their anger at the application of holiday due to missed days at work due to the snow. Yet I'm not sure many of those people have offered to pay the garage mechanic, milk man, newspaper man, hair dresser, cleaner, window cleaner etc for their cancelled/unavailable services.

So over this festive season before you start having a go at someone for a wrong you perceive them to have done please remember you're just as likely to have done that wrong in the past too. It might just reduce the blood pressure and provide a little more good will to all men at this time of year.

Helping purchasing relationships to take responsbility

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Simples - not really - lowest cost comes at a price!

The lack of blogs and tweets from me this month has been due to the time spent travelling back and forth and up and down the country. The content for such blogs hasn't stopped appearing though and the main theme for today's blog 'the price to be paid for low cost' is as a result of all this travelling.

Price one: Unacceptable behaviour
Have you noticed what sort of people we turn into in order to get a seat when using low cost airlines? The tannoy announcement squeaks into life and we're all on our feet and pushing forward. No one listens or cares about the priority boarders and young children who have to fight to come forward. We seem to only care about ourselves - eyes are kept firmly looking at our feet as we push forward to ensure we get choice over where we sit! Not a great advertisement for humanity - and I won't even start on the behaviour once on board trying to put bags into overhead lockers.

Price two: Suppliers start to charge for all those extras
It's a wonder anyone can determine who offers the lowest cost when we get charged for all those extras. Which of course will differ between airlines and on recently trips have included:

A seat - with one airline I have yet to find out how to say I don't want to pay to choose my seat
Airport check-in - when the email doesn't provide any links to do it online
Airport bag-drop - when the internet wouldn't let me change my details when plans changed
Payment - ranging from £4.95 (go on why not just say £5) to £9.95 (£10)

I appreciate these charges should enable me to choose whether to receive the service or not. However being charged for 'must haves' (a seat, payment) and increasing the likelihood of us having to pay the additional admin fees for airport handling are simply ways of increasing revenue for the airlines.

Price three: Specification drift
Is lowest cost what we really want then the lowest car hire price means ringing them up when we arrive at the terminal for them to send a minibus to come to pick us up to take us to the hire car!

Price four: Poor Service
A great example was when we were asked to put our coats and bags on our knees because the overhead lockers were full and people still had bags to put in them!

You might think I'm just having a bad day and enjoying the rant - and yes that's true - but all of these 'Prices' are also evident where we work too. In my own discipline of purchasing it's all too easy to see unhappy suppliers doing the same as the airlines and making us pay for forcing the price down. As a local MD of a SME said to me the other week "that last 10% cost reduction has just cost them all the good will. They will pay for everything extra and I can assure you that will cost them more than 10%".

What price is your company paying in it's search for lowest cost?

Ensuring purchasing relationships deliver value

Monday, 25 October 2010

There are 3 versions of the story!

The Lyrics from Shame the latest song from Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow starts with the words...

....."There are 3 versions of the story - mine, and yours and then the truth"

This is something that is often forgotten when we communicate with others. It's so easy to act and speak as if our 'story' is true. It's certainly our reality but it may not be the other persons - and neither interpretations may be strictly accurate.

There's a few things to consider when exploring the 'truth' of a situation:

1. We can't possibly take in 100% of the data available to us.
2. We therefore have to filter the data available.
3. The filters we use will be based on our Values, Beliefs, Memories and Preferences.
4. This process of filtering results in Deletion, Distortion or Generalisation of the situation.

On other words our representation of the situation is as imperfect as the next persons. The key in any communication is remembering this fact and ensuring that before any action is taken that common understanding has been achieved. Otherwise what you think you've asked someone to do may not be what gets delivered.

Enabling purchasing relationships to understand all versions of the story.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Great expectations

I heard an interview with Howard Jacobson the winner of the Man Booker Prize 2010 as I drove home last night. After being an early favourite to win he'd been relegated by the bookies to the bottom of the list. As a result of no longer having an expectation of winning he commented that he'd really enjoyed the evening - eating, talking, drinking etc. It came as a HUGE surprise therefore when he was announced as the winner.

I wonder how often our expectations - whether good or bad - get in the way of us enjoying the moment. Howard certainly suggested that if he'd know he was a possible winner he'd not have enjoyed the evening. It's sad that such a great day might have been marred by the expectations weighing so heavily.

On a similar vein my personal trainer had me doing 10/20/30/30/20/10 repetitions of a number of exercises this morning. The dread started with my first repetition - ie before the effects of the physical exertion kicked in. I certainly wasn't happy on one exercise when I thought I was on my 2nd set of 30 to find I was only on my first.

I can think of many other instances where my expectations - good or bad - have seriously impacted my life up until an outcome is known - and who knows may have even negatively impacted the outcome itself.

My call to action today is therefore for us to release our expectations and experience the moment and lets notice what we notice.

Ensuring judgements and expectations are released in purchasing relationships 07770 538159

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

What do you get on your soap box about?

A small thing but the cashier in M&S commented on how much she also liked a juice I was buying today. I realised in that moment the difference it makes being sold something by someone who has passion for the product.

I have repeatedly told clients that they should ensure the work they do involves something they enjoy, are good at and have passion for. In this context passion isn't just about liking the product or service but being passionate about the difference it makes and being even more passionate about why the difference matters. I usually ask "what do you get on your soap box about?"

The other week I realised whilst I'm good and enjoy helping people get on track and truly believe we should all get out of bed with enthusiasm for the day ahead I don't get on my soap box if you don't.

So I wondered what I did get on my soap box about - of course others could tell me - purchasing and business behaviours! After all I've worked in business within Purchasing/Procurement since I left uni! More and more I can be repeatedly heard saying we need more authenticity, integrity, trust and honesty in business. Because this truly does connect with my passion this purpose provides the motivation every day to want to make a difference.

So having had a dual personality for the last four years and having spent energy trying to keep my 2 halves (Purchasing and Personal development) separate I realise it's time to be authentic in all that I do and bring the two together. So from now on I will be concentrating my efforts on Transforming Purchasing Relationships - those with yourself, as a team and with suppliers.

I'm sure my observations in blogs will continue but I'll be as interested as you to see how they change now I'm no longer schizophrenic!

What do you get on your soap box about? And how can this inspire you every day to make the changes you want to see in the world?

Helping purchasing relationships find and live their passion

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Watch your language

I use aromatherapy oils to support me in staying alert and enthused during the day and relax in the evening. I've always felt uncomfortable with the one I use in the evening because it's called "Stress" which reminds me to ........ ahh yes get stressed - even though I know it contains oils aimed at relaxation.

I think the person who tweeted from World of Learning (#wolce10) today reminding us we need to concentrate on "well being" rather than "stress reduction" should speak to the originator of the stress oil. It would certainly be more conducive to relaxation if the name of the oil more closely resembled the desired outcome rather than current state.

I also read a blog today where the terms punishment and penalties were used in the same sentence as supplier relationship management. I don't know about you but most relationships I have don't include punishment and penalties. If they want to use such terms then can I suggest they change their desired outcome to that of a contratural arrangement. If it's a relationship they wish to foster then they may wish to rethink the language they're using.

What language are you using and does it support the outcome you want?

Developing common language within purchasing relationships 07770 538159

Friday, 24 September 2010

Stop accepting the unacceptable

I admire the athletes who this week have made the decision to not attend the commonwealth games in India. Not necessarily because I think it's the right decision but because it's the right decision for them and they didn't allow other factors to stop them from making the decision.

Many of these athletes have worked for years to prepare for this event - for many this might be the last time for them to perform in such an event - and yet they still made the decision to not go. It won't have been easy. I'm sure there will have been many trying to convince them otherwise. So hats off, hands clapped and backs patted for their making the decision and sticking to it.

In business I hear too many times that things can't change. Normally, just as with the athletes, it's because a lot of time and effort has been invested in the current outcome. Unfortunately until we start saying NO to the unacceptable and following what's right for us then the unacceptable will continue to claim the high ground (if that's not mixing too many metaphors?).

So next time you accept the unacceptable because it will....

keep the food on the table
make things easier with others
keep your stakeholders happy
make the company money
avoid you having to re do the work

...think again. It's time to start trusting and acting on your convictions not just thinking about it.


Alison Smith
Ensuring purchasing relationships trust and act on their convictions

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Are you using information as a tool for empowerment?

In a recent conversation about use of his Blackberry Barack Obama was quoted as saying "Information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool for empowerment."

The challenge of course is how to move beyond the distractions and diversions of the Internet to such a place of empowerment. Here's a few suggestions - I'd love to know how you manage this challenge.

Aim for humanly possible not technically possible.

Just because it's technically possible doesn't mean it's humanly possible. We can't ever hope to keep up with the technology only manage it effectively. There are still only 24 hours in a day and cramming more hours in on the Internet wont help.

20% of the effort will still deliver 80 of the information. Therefore notice when the law of diminishing returns kicks in and stop looking.

Move beyond the Information to Knowledge, Understanding & Wisdom
More and more information doesn't lead to increased understanding. It's the evaluation of that information that will provide the insights. More depth, less quantity.


Alison Smith
Empowering purchasing relationships in their use of information and data

Thursday, 9 September 2010

iPhone iPhone in my hand who is the ........

When considering who can help us make comparisons comes to mind. Although there are many more out there helping us compare more than meerkats. In fact anything you could wish to compare - finance, food, cars and what are the dating sites if not a means of comparing one potential partner with another. has even got an app named iSimples - so there's no getting away from the ability to compare what ever the technology you're using.

Many people who I work with, and I'm not immune either, have challenges around comparisons. Other people are often more this or that than them, or less this or that. With the increase in use of social media the ability to compare ourselves with others has increased dramatically. You don't really need an app to find the evidence to support your own belief about yourself - it's simple - just do a search on google and there you are a list of why you're not good enough........

Hold on a minute I wonder what a comparison app for our skills and attributes would be like......
....see link on RHS in Useful Articles for short story I wrote for those unfavourably comparing themselves with others with a little help from an iPhone app!!

Because we should celebrate our own uniqueness and accept our differences.
Helping you find passion in life.

Alison Smith 07770 538159

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Lay back and think of England!

From conversations recently I think that's how many of us are approaching life.

Before you disagree could you please just do an inventory of all areas of your life and confirm how many of them you're perfectly happy with.


How did you get on?

What I've noticed is we do really seem to put up with a lot of what should be unacceptable in our lives. We just say "That's life", "That's business", "That's relationships for you", "That's just the way it is" or even "That's old age for you."

I had a conversation a few weeks ago with someone who was putting their physical and emotional symptoms down to old age. The problem with that is old age doesn't go away and yet the symptoms could. I remember the new lease of life my dad got when at the age of 75 he got his first PC, or how much happier a friend was when she changed her eating habits, or another friend took up a hobby.

Please don't just lay back and think of England and put up with a life that's not making you happy. Identify the symptoms and then explore the opportunities to getting to the other side. There are always many more opportunities than you think.

and that's me now off on holiday for a PC free week - wooop woop

Helping you find passion in life

Alison 07770 538159

Sunday, 18 July 2010

It might look, feel or sound right to you - but what about to them?

The means of the communication is the response that we get. In other words if someone doesn't understand what we're saying or even worse has got angry about it often it's not the message they're reacting to but how we're communicating it.

When we communicate with others we often do so in a way that best works for us. However the person we're wishing to communicate to may have different preferences to us. If we don't change how we're communicating to them we'll therefore often miss the opportunity for them to truly understand our message - we might as well be speaking a foreign language.

The key is understanding the different preferences that exist and adapting our communication appropriately to reflect these. Here's just a few suggestions on the different types of preferences we have.
NB Someone's language and behaviour will often give their preference away once we start paying attention to it.

Are they more visual, auditory or kinaesthetic. If visual we'll certainly get a better response if we provide a picture or diagram than a 10 page report. Pay attention to the words used too.
If auditory - words such as clarity, harmony, question, tell etc will resonate with the person.
If visual - words such as vision, focus, insight, perspective etc will provide more clarity.
If Kinaesthetic - words such as feel, flow, balance, hold will enable them to grasp what you're saying.

Which of these motivates the person the most. It's certainly worth remembering not to tell someone who's motivated by achievement that what they are doing will help them bond with the team. They want to hear words like success, results, aim, goal etc. Affiliation people want to hear words like harmony, support, share, rapport etc. Those motivated by power want to hear words like control, command, impact, influence etc. Well they do if they're motivated 'towards' these things. You'll have to use others words if they're really motivated 'away from' failure, being alone or weak!

If someone looks for sameness then don't tell them all the ways the new system is different to the old one - tell them the similarities first. If they desire difference give it to them.

You'll certainly get resistance if you give a set of instructions to someone who has a preference for options and variety. Conversely telling someone who likes a procedure to be flexible may generate resistance instead.

Detail/Big Picture
Don't jump in with lots of details until you've determined whether they like it - many people only need to know the big picture in order to make a decision, many others want to know the big picture to get an idea of whether they want to hear the detail. Someone who likes details loves it and the more the better.

As our preferences come over in all our communications I wonder what preferences you think I may have? and how could I have changed what I said to make more sense for you?

Monday, 12 July 2010

I thought you knew?

Much is said about how recognition helps with retention of staff and it comes in many forms. For today I'd like to concentrate on the appreciation from a manager of a job well done and how that appreciation is communicated?

Since we often show appreciation as we ourselves would like to be appreciated I'd like to flag to the 40% who know you've done a good job, and don't need to be told, that there's another 40% who need to be told (apparently the remaining 20% do a bit of both). I can assure you that just because you keep giving them the best projects, keep giving them raises and never shout at them doesn't mean they know they've done a good job. I'd even go so far as to suggest that many will continue to doubt they do a good job until they hear otherwise. Just think what that doubt is doing to their performance.

The form and timing of that communication is also important. That is will the individual get more from a public or a private thank you, is it enough to say it or does it mean more in writing? For me I realised that the more the person had gone out of their way to show appreciation the more it meant. So just telling me at the end of a conversation about something else didn't have the same impact as, for example, someone I've never met ringing me within hours of reading my newsletter to say it had had a profound impact on their day.

So please for the 40% who need to know don't just assume they know they've done a good job - tell them.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

What's on your To Be list?

I'm preparing for my 'Pots of Confidence' workshop tonight. Most of the evening will be taken up decorating a mug or plate with words, pictures or designs to inspire - such as the one shown here.

My house is full of such inspiration - postcards, pictures, quotes on every surface. Someone visited last week and couldn't believe I had my mission and values pinned up in my bathroom :-).

I was wondering why doing this was important and why it worked. Then I realised we do it every day for our To Do lists. That is we write a list and check it regularly. We even write reminders for ourselves on post its. So why not do it for our To Be lists?

If I look around my office at my To Be lists then I am reminded to: Love, have Patience, Be the change I wish to see in the world, Joy, Awaken, Boldly reclaim my power and even to Grow wings and fly. They're accompanied by many of my brother's beautiful landscape photographs.

What's on your To Be list and where will you put the reminder?

Friday, 18 June 2010

It came into my heart to do it

On the way home from a meeting last night I was listening to the Archers on the radio and Eddie Grundy said "It just came into my heart to do it". I just think that's such a wonderful saying. I often use 'it came to mind' and wonder what I'd do differently if I did listen to my heart a little more often? What about you?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

How does your garden grow?

A recent conversation with my neighbour with whom I have an adjoining garden made me realise we have very different views on what efficiency in the garden means. I'd suggest we're at different parts of the spectrum.

To me efficiency in the garden is ensuring I give the flowers optimum and natural conditions for flowering - sun, water, space etc. I'd also suggest it's about me also being able to use the space for relaxation etc. So I place my attention on activities that support this happening. Therefore you may well find weeds in my garden and moss in my lawn but unless I have the time, and unless they're getting in the way of me achieving my desired outcome, I wont do anything more about them.

My downstairs neighbour has a different strategy. It feels to me like their attention is not on the desired outcome but instead they're concentrating more on a to do list e.g "Can we cut back this paeony because it's stopping me cutting the grass" - when it's just about to flower. My outcome of beautiful flowers in the garden is greater than my desire to have the grass a few inches shorter for the next couple of weeks. My neighbour would disagree.

It did get me thinking though about efficiency at work. I like many people have a to do list. Yet how many of those things would be on that to do list if I applied the same logic to my work as I do my garden? and in the past how much stress have I given myself by rigidly keeping to my to do list when it no longer serves the outcome I want?

Which all reminds me about a card I have which says "The difference between a flower and a weed is a judgement" - isn't efficiency about determining just what and how many of those weeds need taking out rather than removing every last one?

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Do you know or do you need to be told

I saw the next door cat as I came home last night. Well I heard her first - as they've just added a collar with bell to try to stop her catching birds. Poor thing looked very dejected as she walked along the path. From the point of view of the cat I would imagine she's happy if she catches the bird and yet her owners are happy when she doesn't. In this instance it's really easy to understand what a good day looks like for both parties and understand how they are different. The cat's also unlikely to be impacted by the owners beliefs and visa versa.

In our lives I'm not sure it's always that easy. I had a GREAT day yesterday and yet is that because I know I did or because this morning I've had tweets and emails thanking me for the inspiration in my blog, newsletter, coaching and a workshop? and if I hadn't got that response or even worse if I'd got less than enthusiastic responses would it have meant it wasn't a great day or I hadn't done a good job?

I know our goals have an impact on the judgements we make but there's also something else that impacts us and that's whether we're internally or externally referenced. That is do you know you've done a good job or do you need someone else to tell you?

Both have their down sides - someone who is internally referenced and knows they've done a good job can find it hard to see other people's points of view and not understand nor accept feedback on how their performance could have been improved. Those who are externally referenced may sit there waiting for feedback and if it's less than positive may take it very much to heart.

The key is understanding your preference and the up and down side of this. Then working on either being more open to others opinions or not needing them at all. When working with others it's about understanding their preference too and perhaps ensuring those externally referenced get the praise and you find a way of providing feedback to those who are internally referenced in a way that they are able to hear.

I know for me it's about listening more to my intuition in the moment about whether I'm doing a good job and turning down the negative internal chatter that appears after I've finished anything that seems to undermine my achievements.

What about you? Do you need to listen more to others feedback or turn down your sensitivity to their comments?

Monday, 14 June 2010

Pleasure - are you getting enough?

"You must love waking up to that view" said a friend at the weekend?
(For those that don't know it's a view which includes the beach, the Firth of Forth and Edinburgh on the skyline and one that I often maintain keeps me sane.)
"I'm not sure I notice it anymore" I replied!

Just one of many reminders this weekend that I'm forgetting to stop and take pleasure in the small things.

The other example was whilst having a facial. The women took her time as she applied the facial scrub and then the face mask. I found it wonderfully relaxing as she placed hot towels on my face and gently used them to remove the scrub and later the mask from my face. Again the application of moisturiser was delightful. A pleasurable experience and one that left me feeling relaxed, positive and good about myself.

I don't know about you but when left to my own devices I don't take that time, I don't delight nor revel and take pleasure from many of my daily routines - and yet the answer should be why?

In a day that's full of doing and sometimes a distinct lack of pleasure why not take those extra few minutes throughout the day to give yourself a boost of pleasure by taking time to look at the view or savour your favourite lunch.

I'd love to know how you get on - so do share your little pleasures with us so we may be inspired to find them in everything we do too.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Who are we not to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

'...we ask ourselves "who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?" Actually who are you not to be...' Marianne Williamson

I painted this plate with Marianne's words on my recent holiday and now have a daily reminder as I eat of how fabulous I am :-).

The quote also goes on to say
' we let our light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same...'

I wonder what daily reminders you have around you to ensure you too remember to allow your light to shine and remember how brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous you are?

Friday, 28 May 2010

Are you in 1st or 5th gear or on cruise control?

Go on humour me and just try sitting there doing nothing for 5 minutes.


How did you get on? I would imagine there will have been a number of reactions:

Not bothering to do nothing
Start and give up after a minute
Do nothing with one eye on the Internet
Do nothing successfully for 5 minutes
Do nothing for 10 minutes

It was such great weather at the weekend - yes even in Scotland - so I sat in the garden chatting with a friend. We must have been there for 4 hours. During that time I never managed more than 20 minutes in the chair at any time. I fidgeted for the whole time - I moved my chair, went to get a drink or wandered around the garden. My friend on the other hand was in her chair for the duration. In fact 4 hours relaxing was a record for me and that was only possible because that took place after a holiday of 2 weeks.

I would suggest my friend was in cruise control and I was in 1st gear! I wouldn't dream of running my car in 1st all day so why do I think I can do that to myself?

I can hear some people saying they don't need to do nothing and anyway it's such a waste of time. I met someone last year who worked 60 hours a week and then relaxed by being on so many committees and in what time he had left was on the golf club!! Wired wasn't the word for him!

Quite time doing nothing daily helps our mind, body and soul in so many ways. Just try it for a week and notice the positive impact.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

PASSION in Business

I realised I talked a lot about business values and hadn't written any myself so I rectified that the other week. Imagine my surprise when they started to spell the word PASSION and even more when I realised the first value would be profitability!!

PASSION - without passion where would a business be!

Profitability - a reminder for me that we wont be able to keep doing what we're doing unless the work we do is profitable. Others may not need reminding but I do otherwise I'll keep forgetting to value (ie charge for) the service we provide. I love that it ended up being first on the list. We'll also apply this value when dealing with suppliers and other partners.

Authenticity - about saying "No" not "Yes" if that's the right thing to do and searching for those who we can easily say yes to because they accept us for who we are.

Sustainability - ensuring actions allow for the sustainability of our business, others' businesses and the planet.

Service - remembering why we do what we do ie to make a difference in others' lives by getting them back on track and connected to what gives them passion every day.

Intuition - not all business decisions will come with logic and lots of supportive data.

Openness - being honest sharing who we are and our journey and walking our talk even if we don't always find it easy.

Nurture -nurturing others so they may develop and grow and be the change they want to see in the world.

I'll let you know how we get on.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Inspiration to make a difference in the world in under 3 words

Pathfinder, Simplicity in Crisis, Unlocking Profit, Making Genuine Connections and Light in the Dark (ok that's 4 words) have all been recent examples of missions identified in recent sessions with people.

The discussions arose whilst exploring the seven steps out of the creek. Many realised they had got as far as Mission and got stuck!! There seemed to be so many things they could be doing and therefore lots of potential customers. However they didn't seem to be quite generating the attraction they needed or weren't quite enjoying their work as much as they knew they could.

Ever since starting working for myself I've been told to find my niche. The desire not to restrict potential customers has meant I'd ignored doing that. Until I realised that I could have more passion every day if I stuck to what I was really really good at than trying to do things I was just good at. Of course I'd also be doing what provided the most value to my clients too.

To get the answers above we just explored what we were really really good at (and enjoyed and had passion for) - and more importantly what benefit/value it delivered to our customers. The hard part was then identifying 2/3 words to describe the work that inspired us. We could look at what words we'd use with clients later - our mission is something we can connect with that provides daily inspiration and a reminder why we do what we do and how we can make the biggest difference in the world.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Recharge your batteries

I don't know about you but I have to keep an eye on my energy levels. A recent increase in activity and enthusiasm has meant the need to recharge my batteries has been at the forefront of my mind.

So imagine the scene - I've just sent some emails mentioning the need for me to ensure my energy levels are maintained. I walk into the kitchen and decide to make myself some porridge. I put the spoon into the box to bring out some oats and what comes out but some oats and an AA battery!!!

A long story how they (there was 2) got there but a great reminder that recharging our batteries is as much about what we eat as it is exercise and everything else we do.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

It starts with giving

At a recent workshop I tracked a number of my projects to highlight the benefits of networking. However when I traced the work back to it's origin I realised that that was more about giving than getting. Yes I'd got some work out of the interactions but the original intention was more about me sharing myself and being of service to others.

The examples of giving included: Volunteering for Young Enterprise and Action For Children, offering advice and sharing thoughts on LinkedIn discussions, sending congratulations to fellow purchasers on their success, ad-hoc coaching, sharing articles, speaking, introducing people and general enthusiasm for other people's books, workshops and groups.

The key of course was giving with no attachment to outcome other than to be of help and assistance and because it made sense.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Simply STOP what you're doing

In the book I've written Stop is the first step out of the creek and getting back on track. The more I work with people and talk on the subject the more important I realise Stopping is when doing anything in life.

It's easy to understand metaphorically when we're up the creek that stopping would be useful. It's easy to understand that to not continue to move up the creek any further might be useful. It's easy to understand that stopping might provide time to assess the situation and understand what direction to take in the future. It's also easy to understand that going around like a headless chicken isn't helping. It just doesn't seem so easy to do it and STOP. It's as if the one thing that would help - ie stopping is the one thing we're unable or unwilling to do.

What I realise is stopping is important at any new turn in the river not just when we're up the creek. That is before committing to taking a particular course in the river stop and reflect on what's driving the decision and understand how it aligns with your passion and purpose in life. It's only then that you can ensure you start to avoid the creeks in life.

Love and Acceptance

Please find below highlights and insights from a solo Transformation Game with the intention 'I intend to love and accept myself exactly as I am'. Further details of the process used can be found in the 'Transformation Game' article found on the list of articles on the RHS of this screen.

Please note the Transformation Game is used with a personal rather than business audience. Some of the language and examples used therefore are more appropriate for a personal audience - I have however chosen not to translate nor amend the notes here. Instead I invite you to simply amend any words or ignore any examples that get in the way of your learning and any insight taking place.

I have used a game played on behalf of a character from my forthcoming book and facilitated by her coach. Anne is 35 and got divorced three years ago. Whilst everyone else thinks she's doing well she's constantly tired and certainly isn't as happy as everyone expects her to be.

For Anne the challenge with loving herself exactly as she is has been the constant need for development and belief that there's a perfect state of being that she needs to attain. Which meant she realised that she would only love herself when she achieves that state of perfection and not before!

What about you? Before reading further you may wish to spend some time considering your own relationship with the intention. Do you love and accept yourself exactly as you are? If not are there certain times or certain people who help you to do this and others who hinder? How would life be different if you did? With that in mind please consider your reaction to the following cards, and where helpful Anne's interpretation (Playing a game, whether on your own, with others, facilitated or not would of course add a depth of exploration we've not been able to share here):

Angel: of Delight :-).
For Anne this was a reminder to enjoy the journey of life not make it about continual improvement. Which of recent times seems to have reinforced a belief in the lack of perfection rather than see the perfection in simply being.

Insight: You are able to point out a friends lack of awareness without appearing judgmental or making them feel inadequate or inferior.
Which prompted her coach to ask Anne if she can do this with others why not herself? A reminder that she wasn't inadequate nor inferior even if she had things she wanted to change.

Setback: You are setback by your infatuation.
The dictionary describes infatuation as 'a foolish or exaggerated passion'. They wondered in this context whether that meant that passion for perfection is foolish? Of course the key is understanding how that sets us back and for Anne it was the procrastination that comes from not doing things until she's got better or reached perfection! As Anne remembered a time when she did this then she realised it's also taking a lot to energy to hold herself back from doing all those things she wants to do in the world. No wonder she was tired!

(If you're exploring your own relationship to the cards you may want to identify and fully describe a time when you were set back infatuation too. This is the case for all setbacks as connecting with the pain involved may help release the setback.)

Angel: of Purification.
For Anne connecting to this energy felt like a release of all the beliefs that she had that had kept her infatuated with perfection. "A bit like turning off the PC and turning it on again when we've tried everything else to resolve a problem!" she said.

Insight: You meet the needs of others as though they were your own.
When Anne thought about doing this, because her focus was on being of service to the other person, she forgot about the unhelpful beliefs and just accepted that who she was enough.

Setback: You are set back by your resentment.
Yes resentment of all those people who Anne thought had achieved perfection and who she'd put up on a pedestal! The real setback was resentment took up time and energy and resulted in lack of focus on what she wanted to be doing. So a reminder to start taking the initiative and also be grateful and appreciative when she saw people clearly doing what she knew she wanted and could do.

Insight: You stepped out and crossed over the line beyond your dreams, beyond your drama and into the truth of life.
Anne loved this card. She said "It's such a great reminder to just blinking get on with it and stop faffing about!". Life could be so much more than it is and Anne realised it was only herself stopping her doing that!

Setback: "I'm not willing to put myself out there unless I'm 100% sure"
A GREAT reminder that this belief still has the capacity to stop us in our tracks! That stepping out beyond our drama means putting ourselves out there NOW.

(What about you? what could you do today to put yourself out there? Whilst reading our interpretations might be useful finding your own relationship with the cards will help you understand any actions you could be taking.)

Insight: Tough assignments are only given to the best students.
:-) - A reminder Anne could handle it.

Setback: You are set back by your defensiveness.
Anne got very defensive when discussing this card. As she connected with the feeling of defensiveness she realised she stopped listening, started defending and justifying and just dug herself into a big hole. A hole that took some time to get out of once the reason for the defences had gone. Not that helpful really she realised.

(What are you being defensive about?)

Setback: You are set back by your attachment.
Anne realised she was attached to 'developing' and that attachment was driving a lot of behaviours which were getting in the way of being in the moment and enjoying the journey. Which continued from the last setback on not listening and added: not noticing, not enjoying, not exploring, not laughing, not.. not... not... mmm which sort of defeats the object she realised!

Which Anne summarised when she said "I'm making it much too much hard work and I need to get into that energy of Delight, Transformation and Magic that I talk about often not this constant not being enough anal gazing!"

Insight: I love and accept myself exactly as I am.
They did laugh when this card emerged as it seemed to be suggesting Anne was nearly there even if she still had one more insight to go. The 5 awareness tokens (rather than 3 for most insights) that came with the card were a reminder of the benefit to be gained from truly embracing this affirmation. Anne started to understand how life would be different as a result and how happiness was in the moment not something to be found when certain criteria where achieved.

Anne's last card was
Insight: I forgive everyone, I forgive myself, I forgive all past experience. I am free!
Which seemed to be about forgiving herself for the past and fully connecting with the angel of delight!

(What about you? How do you relate differently to the affirmation ' I love and accept myself exactly as I am'? What actions have you identified as you read these notes - when will you take them? Do you need to share them with anyone to ensure they get done?)

The process, insight, setback and angel cards used here are from the Transformation Game copyright Innerlinks

The Transformation Game can be purchased from Amazon and Findhorn. Facilitated games are available worldwide and games for 1-12 people are currently available in Scotland with the author and other UK locations and worldwide if you want me there in the future.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Business values - time to wake up and smell the coffee

As a business owner do your business values reflect your own personal values or do they additionally include values that ensure the sustainability of the business? As a manager of an organisation are the values consistent with still being here in a year's time?

In the preparation for a session I facilitated I had to explore a variety of business values statements and I was surprised with what I found. Values statements are intended to reflect the values that will ensure those working for the organisation know why they're doing what they're doing and how to do it.

Lets just compare 3 organisations stated values:
Integrity, Honesty, Openness, Personal Excellence, Constructive Self Criticism, Continual Self Improvement and Mutual Respect.
Body Shop
Against Animal Testing, Support Community Trade, Active Self Esteem, Defend Human Rights, Protect Our Planet.
Innocent Drinks
Natural, Entrepreneurial, Generous, Commercial, Responsible.

I'd suggest looking at the values statements that Innocent Drinks is the one that has taken seriously the need for the values to reflect reality and to include the need to sustain the organisation in the future.

A real eye opener for me and a reminder that my business isn't me and needs to have different (or perhaps just additional) values that are more entrepreneurial.

When did you last turn your mobile off?

..and I mean for more than an hour for a meeting? Asking people this question has generated such a great response with lots of "Yes ...but" excuses and yes I mean excuses. Is anything so important 365 days a year to mean we can't have just one day without access to the phone?

I went to Islay the other weekend and had 5 days without turning on my PC. Yes no LinkedIn, no Twitter and no blog for 5 days!! However despite intermittent reception I never turned my mobile off - now that would have been a step too far!!

However it was in one remote part of the island where I could hear nothing except nature (water, wind, seals, birds etc) that I finally got it. I could feel myself letting go of all the constant doing and I relaxed and of course life seemed a lot different from this more grounded place.

The first step out of the creek is Stop and it really means STOP. Take time to ground and feel connected to nature and the living world around you. It's only then that you can be certain that decisions made are not based on fear.

So if your response to me suggesting you turn your phone off is "that's cool and a great idea" you don't really need to. If your response involves any excuses I'd suggest you do.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Are you connected to or have you abandoned your personal values?

I've had lots of conversations with people over the last few weeks either unhappy and unmotivated themselves or with unhappy and unmotivated people working for them. In all cases this was negatively impacting the company's brand.

The problem seemed to be the non alignment of values between the individuals and the company. In fact not non alignment as much as they'd abandoned their values!! The WHY they had allowed this to happen had a few components.

In some cases the person just wasn't clear enough about what their personal mission statement was. So they joined or even set up an organisation that seemed to meet their needs and then became unhappy when their unconscious needs weren't being met. Understanding what motivates you and the outcome you want to have on others is really important in ensuring that you can jump out of bed with enthusiasm every day. This can take some time but is well worth the effort. I'd also suggest it doesn't have to be in words that others understand. This is about finding the words that best motivate you.

For example my personal mission is I'm a path finder - I help people transform their lives by getting them on their path. That may not make sense nor motivate anyone else but so long as that informs what I choose to do and what I choose not to do that's what's important. As you will see from my web site, blog, LinkedIn and Twitter I choose to translate this into Paddle Finder for career creeks. Clients find this description easier to understand what I can do for them and relate to.

If you're clear about your own personal mission statement it will be a lot easier to keep on track when aligning with an organisations mission. Are you clear about your personal mission?

The other type of situation was people joining an organisation where their values were not aligned with those of the organisation. They therefore then apply and operate from their values when working on behalf of the organisation. The problem here is that others then see how they operate as representing the organisation. Which can significantly and sometimes negatively impact the perception of the organisation's brand.

Agreeing values statements and code of behaviour to meet these values is one solution. However sometimes it's simply the case that the person's values will always conflict with those of the organisation and they should not continue to work there. A hard decision but one that is best for both in the long run.

How does you personal mission statement align with that of the organisation? What changes do you need to make to achieve better alignment?

Monday, 15 February 2010

Improvement in my health and fitness means more Paddles found!

Is your means of inspiration restricting your success?

I had a conversation with my personal trainer about my health and fitness goals and realised the reason for their success or failure will be the same as any goal I set myself. That is:
  • without clarity of direction - how do I know what action to take
  • without inspiration and motivation - why bother
  • without action - I'll never get anywhere

I think I'm clear about what I want (and if you're not see the Well Formed Outcome on the rhs of this blog). So if I can get the WHY right I'll be inspired to be motivated to take the necessary action and not sit here eating chocolates as I type this!!

Which has got me thinking about the different motivations we have for improving our health and fitness.

On my NLP trainer trainer we were introduced to 3 groups of motivators:

  • Achievement
  • Power
  • Affiliation

We each have a preference for one of these which will mean we have different whys for health and fitness dependant on our preference:

  • Achievement: to reduce weight by y, to run a marathon in under x hrs, to fit into a size z etc. Or not to fail at any of these.
  • Power: to do what I choose rather than being limited by my health or fitness
  • Affiliation: ......

And here's today's learning for me. I am motivated by affiliation but can see many reasons why this doesn't always work for me to achieve improvement in my health and fitness.

  • I went to the gym every week with Di because I'd promised her and enjoyed her company. As soon as she was unavailable and subsequently moved I didn't go!!
  • I went to a dance class and had fun with Lindsey. When her job changed and she couldn't make it the whooping in class wasn't the same and I found more reasons to not go.
  • I now have a personal trainer and I enjoy the sessions and certainly don't want to let him down so attend sessions regularly. If he's on holiday I don't do anything!!!!
  • When I had a lodger or have visitors I eat much more healthily. Living on my own doesn't provide the same motivation.

In the past I also realise my affiliative desire meant that health and fitness activities were undertaken to:

  • Make myself more attractive
  • Pacify family and friends who were nagging
  • Be loved

But success was short lived. As my personal trainer said in a class the other week "If you don't love yourself first how can anyone else." Which is the crux of the problem. Affiliation naturally means we look outside ourselves for the reason why we do something. Our health and fitness is personal so how can we make that work?

Which still leaves me with a lack of sustained motivation for my health and fitness.

  • If I had children I could use the motivation that I want to be able to play easily and tirelessly with them and even be here for my grandchildren. (I have to say I was very pleased I managed a handstand and cartwheel at Imogen's 3rd birthday party last year - so I can see that could inspire).
  • I could try making health and fitness a means to an end and tie it into me being able to help more people transform their lives and get back on track. Every inch and every pound lost means another 1000 people transformed (based on increased longevity?). I can certainly feel the difference and will write that on a flip chart and put it on the wall in the kitchen.

But that still feels like a cop out.

  • I wonder about connecting to my higher self and doing it for who I could be at my best? Which feels better and isn't about doing it for others.

I'll let you know how I get on - once I've finished the chocolates. Although as I've been typing the blog the words used have changed from health and fitness to MY health and fitness so something has shifted.

I'm not letting you get away with it either. What do you need to do to take charge of your lack of motivation and be inspired to take action?

Monday, 25 January 2010

Are you over extending yourself?

During Personal Training today we did some boxing. During the session I got a few twinges from muscles that I knew I shouldn't be using. On assessing my technique we realised I was over extending myself. If I continued for too long then the twinges would turn into something with longer term damage and impact.

That got me wondering about how we over extend ourselves in life. We try too hard, we push to far, we do too much. In the short term perhaps not a problem at all. But just like in PT today if we continue the strategy of over extending then we can't help but be impacted in the long term.

If I'd got my technique right I'd have been more effective. Which reminds me of a fabby session with Graham Canning of the Kaizen Institute the other week that had me thinking about applying lean principles to every day life not just car manufacturing! Sometimes being effective it's not about doing more but less.

Who takes ownership of business communications

In my last blog entry and in a couple of LinkedIn groups I issued a challenge to 'say it is as it is'.

It's interesting that whilst the example I used was a business one people suggested using caution when 'saying it as it is' personally. Quite rightly I was told that we don't just share an opinion with others without first considering the validity of them needing to hear our opinion nor consider their feelings. Empathy and rapport were both mentioned when considering the timing, words, tone and way in which the opinions are shared.

It made me wonder if that's what's missing in business communications? It's all too easy for someone to send out a company missive and hide behind the anonymity e.g:

* You're flight's been delayed by 3 hours and can't tell you any more.
* You're on the aircraft and the doors are closed but we're not taking off for 2 hours.

As soon as we spoke to a person - at the desk or the pilot - the message changed. There was certainly more empathy and rapport.

I'm not sure what the answer is but something to consider when asking business to say it as it is.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Say it as it is - campaign for 2010

I'm typing this from the runway, near enough anyway as I am on the plane. I arrived at 05.00 and it's now nearly 6 hours later and I'm still at the same airport even if on a different flight to a different airport!!!

Not a lot any airline can do about the impact of snow on their ability to land aircraft safely. A lot an airline can do on how they choose to communicate to their travellers. I've had 2 different experiences so far this morning.

The first is the type I'm sure we'll all used to - corporate lines, half truths to reduce the potential costs or negative response from the customers. Or even worse being told what they think you want to hear rather than the truth. Frustrating to be at the receiving end of and no use to enable us to make decisions or understand why we're not getting the service we expect.

The second is the refreshing type of saying is as it is. The BMI Captain on BD053 this morning did just that. "Sorry we're not going anywhere - this is why and more importantly this is why we've boarded you and what we need to do to increase our chances of getting an earlier departure time. Yes that has repercussions on the options you have but it's a choice I've had to make." WOW - that's honesty - thank you. And I think has meant we're still here 2 hours later and relatively calm.

I certainly aim to operate from 'saying it as it is'. It's not always easy and I often get told that I shouldn't be so open. That is the clients don't need to know the choices we've had to make nor problems we might be having. I disagree not least because people have a 'flannel/waffle' filter and know even if unconsciously they're not getting told everything. Which can lead to unwarranted mistrust or worse.

So my call for action today is to 'say it is as it is', congratulate those who do and let those who don't know that you'd appreciate their honesty and openness.