Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Don't speak ill of another

I saw a tweet the other day that said “Don’t speak ill of others – write it in the sand by the water’s edge.” Which I paid attention to for reasons that become clear if you visit the #landscapingyourlife facebook page which the photo above was taken for.

What interested me on Sunday, as I took the picture and posted it on Twitter, was how apt it was for twitter that day. My twitter feed was full of people speaking ill of those that were making the headlines over the weekend.

I was reminded of a video from 1992, which I only recently saw, where a 12 year old reminded us that adults tell children not to do things and then promptly do them all themselves. On twitter and even on other blogs I can see adults doing what they tell children off for doing and that’s ‘calling others names’ or labelling them as this or judging them as that. How can we know these words to be true, what reason is there for doing it and what’s the positive outcome?

My suggestion today is if we wouldn’t let our child say the words about someone at school don’t say them about someone else.


Alison Smith
Helping teams realise their potential

PS: Authentic Power’s blog yesterday on not judging her mother is another great reminder about the impact we have when we attach judgement to others. Another piece by Julia Hill perhaps more related to the landscape metaphors I mentioned earlier said ”I thought to myself, how in the world do we think we can end the clear-cutting on the planet if we’re so effective at clear-cutting each other”

All you need is some extra motivation

My favourite phrase is by Guillaume Apollinaire and says:

"Come to the edge" he said.
They said "We are afraid"
"Come to the edge" he said.
They came. He pushed them.
And they flew.

This quote has never been so apt as it was this morning as I watched fledgling seagull twins (see picture of them with one parent) as they were fed by their parents. They’ve not long left their nest and for the next few weeks they will spend much of the time on the ground being fed by their parents as they learn to fly. As in previous years their initial flying attempts are over walls and more hop like than flight and will go on for many days/weeks as their confidence and flying and feeding skills develop.

This morning I realised, however, that they could perhaps fly sooner if they had sufficient motivation. A third chick appeared and the parents of the twins made it very clear it was not welcome and were attacking it. I could not believe the flight this chick then took – over the road, over gardens aerial acrobatics at it’s very best as it was chased by one of the parents.

I wonder how often in life we all need that extra motivation to get moving?

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Landscaping Your Life

I will be developing a new blog to cover this new tool but for the time being just wanted to let you know all about Landscaping Your Life (LYL) - as I'm very excited.

It's been a friend since I developed it 10 years ago. It uses landscapes as metaphors for life. You know the sort of thing: stuck in a rut, walking through mud, going around the bend, going with the flow, plain sailing etc. In essence LYL helps you effortlessly (because we're using a metaphor) plot a route from where you are to where you want to be and take the necessary steps to get there.

It's very flexible. So, whilst if the weather is fine I do like to get management teams outside walking around real landscapes, photographs work just as well - it's just a different process. In fact many of those who were at the very first LYL session in the early 'oo's still have their landscapes at home and still remember the learning and insight.

I've set up a facebook page to share LYL ideas and concepts to keep you on track. July competition is all about Milestones. I'm also sharing LYL videos on youtube which currently includes:

* Going with, not fighting, the tide,

* Stepping out into the unknown,

* Looking around the corner (or going around the bend)

* Getting out of the rut (pictures of which will be the August competition over on my FB page).

I look forward to landscaping our lives together

Alison 07770 538159

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Job satisfaction - how important is it?

I’m currently working on a contract cleaning project. As part of this we’re developing the business requirements which has involved considering how we define what clean looks like. It’s also involved an assessment of current practice. This assessment has included the time taken to undertake the cleaning. Comparison of these times across the organisation may, along with other data gathered, enable us to identify best practice.

Imagine then my quandary when I read in the Urban Worrier by Nick Thorpe about his experience of bed making at a monastery in New Mexico. He realised that his need for speed and competitive nature wasn’t enabling him to fully embrace the activity and enjoy it. So “I give in and slow down”... “I would not, I suspect, win a hotel cleaning contract – but I defy you to find more contended cleaners.”

As a procurement professional my goal is to ensure value for money for the organisation and have, and I’m sure will continue, to negotiate contracts that focus on speed to undertake activities. As a coach my goal is often about ensuring job satisfaction including wellbeing and passion for life. I just wonder whether, how and when as a procurement professional I should be considering job satisfaction of our suppliers?

Are we each any better than the NOTW?

On the one hand I join with others in outrage at the actions of some News of the World employees and contractors regarding phone hacking. On the other I wonder at our ability to forget we're often no different. Don't we, just like the NOTW, keep quiet until it's no longer feasible - whether that's in personal, commercial, national, international or global interests.

Apparently the phone hacking took place 6 years ago - yet it's only now that anything has happened. Many people must have been involved and many more must have known about it and yet no one said anything - and not just Rebekah Brooks.

It's as if a blind eye is turned until someone else gathers irrefutable evidence and/or we realise others agree with us and public opinion is on our side that we take action. It's as if when the game is finally over we suddenly start speaking up! Until that time we'll keep quiet along with everyone else.

I'm very sad about the amount of time and media space taken on this story when there are many others that have more far reaching and significant impacts. I'd like to hope that this story signifies a change in people speaking up - I suspect however that it's the very fact that speaking up isn't personally impacting those doing it that nothing will change :-(

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

What level of perfection are you aiming at?

Last night someone on the TV said we must aim for perfection ie 100% because then we might achieve 95%. He suggested if we didn’t aim that high we would end up settling for 75%.

I understand the sentiment but surely it can’t be that simple. After all much of my coaching and facilitation is aimed at helping those who are seriously and negatively impacted by their drive for 100%.

I’ve been thinking about perfection since I watched the Red Arrows in an aerial display over Edinburgh a week ago soaring over us with such precision and yes perfection. Here’s where I’ve got to and would love your comments to help refine and expand my thinking.

Whilst I don’t know what level of perfection the Red Arrows need to be at for a display I’d suggest it’s nearing 100%. It needs to be and perhaps that’s the key – if the risk is high enough the price paid (in any resources e.g. time, effort, £ etc ) in achieving perfection is necessary. However for those flying with the Red Arrows I’m sure the activities they need to perfect are very specific. They’re not asked to be in armed combat or carry out other duties. They’re allowed to concentrate all their attention on perfecting a specific number of skills over a very specific period of time. I’m sure that must be the same for any other risky and perfection needing professions such as surgeons, emergency services etc.

So what do I think we can learn from this?

* Accept that perfection isn’t possible for everything we do
* Allow the risk to assess the activities we wish to apply perfection to
* And if we’re going to aim for perfection limit the skills we’re aiming for perfection in