Thursday, 17 May 2012

I've moved

Do please join me on my new blog:

I'll be blogging about the same things. I'm just reminding everyone in the title why I do what I do and that's to make a difference in buying, purchasing and procurement activites in business.

Do join me there and also on TwitterFacebook, YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn too.


Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
+44 (0)777 538159

Friday, 4 May 2012

Interview or naked party?

I attended a CIPS local chapter meeting last night facilitated by Lynsey & Jack from Hays here in Scotland. The topic was CV's and interviews - and whilst I'm not looking for a job, and was there mainly to network and connect, I still came away with many things to do differently.

One overriding message, for me anyway, was a reminder that the words we use impact what's going on in our head and therefore have an impact on our state. This in turn then impacts our behaviour.

For example we use the word Interview. Our head may then form a picture of an interrogation. This may then lead us to start imagining angry people shouting at us, all the things we don't know the answer to and/or being asked questions that have us siting there in dumbfounded silence unable to utter a word. With these images going around our head it's easy to understand how stress levels increase and our ability to think clearly starts to diminish.

If there's a link then to the words we use, the pictures they create in our heads and the resulting actions we take I'd suggest it's useful to be aware when these are helpful and when they're not. If unhelpful we then have 2 options:
  1. Change the word we're using to a more helpful one.
  2. Change our representation of the word.
The tip most offered for interviews is to imagine the interviewer naked which is simply option 2 in operation. In the session yesterday Jack suggested we see an interview as a meeting where we're exchanging ideas. Where both parties are checking the other out to see if they like each other. Which unless you also get nervous in meetings may very well work. In a tweet today someone suggested we go a step further and imagine it simply being a chat or even as a party! Whether the use of party works for you is really down to the state the word generates in you and the actions you're then likely to take as a result. I'd suggest a naked party might be taking it a little far!

Alison Smith
Helping Procurement find the right words when dealing with stakeholders

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Respect - what does it look like to you?

Yesterday I blogged about our relationship to time. As a result of tweeting about the blog I asked did someone being late show a lack of respect. It was a trick question really because as I explained in the blog - those with a preference for In-Time won't believe so and those with Thru-time preferences will.

And they're both right - from their worldview anyway. I suggest it's up to both parties to understand the other's worldview. Those In-time should understand that their colleagues with Thru-time preferences may judge their behaviour to be disrespectful and understand the repercussions if someone holds that belief about them. Those Thru-time should understand that those In-Time would believe that their undivided attention in meetings is more respectful.

Which had me thinking about our values - of which respect might be one.

Our values are what inspires and motivates our daily actions. They're what determine what we will do and what we won't do. They also determine what we do and don't admire in others and therefore how we judge them - and ourselves for that matter.

Even at it's simplest level what values are in our top five can and will lead to disputes between individuals about what to do and what doing it means. As another blog in Supply Management suggested when I chunked our values into Achievement, Affiliation & Power. Someone valuing Achievement and Success may very well want to manage a project differently than someone valuing Affiliation.

Every action is motivated by a need to achieve a value - yes even actions that a majority of us would deem to be unacceptable. Which brings me to the added complexity that our values are nominalisations and we each have our own definitions for what achieving them means.

If I take respect for a moment then it might mean any, or none, of the following to someone:
  • Being on time for meetings
  • Giving our undivided attention in meetings
  • Listening to what others are saying
  • Acknowledging you have heard what others have said 
  • Saying thank you
  • Doing what you say you're going to do (see blog on being faithless and therefore trustworthy)
  • Being honest
  • Doing what they want you to do
  • Respect for yourself
  • Respect for others
  • Respect for the planet
  • Fairness (which I'd suggest is in fact another value)
The key is understanding that your definition of respect is just that - yours and that others are likely to have a different understanding of what respect is or may not even value respect as highly as you.

Alison Smith
Helping Procurement understand their and their stakeholders' values.   

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Are you always or never late

If I was to ask "which of the following applies to you when arriving for appointments?" most of us would be able to find one that applies most often:
  1. I'm ALWAYS early
  2. I'm early 
  3. I arrive just in time
  4. I'm late
  5. I'm ALWAYS late
I'd suggest I'm 3 most of the time with equal distribution for 2 (if I have no idea where I'm going) and 4 (if I get caught in traffic because I didn't allow much time for delays).

The fact is both 1's and 5's get frustrated with each other for different reasons. 1's will think that 5's don't respect them because they're late, 5's think 1's are being over sensitive. Both will certainly think they're belief about the other is right. And from their worldview they're both right.

In NLP there's 2 descriptions used for our relationship to time which help explain this difference:
  • In-Time - where you're living in the present fully experiencing what's happening in the moment 
  • Thru-Time- where you're viewing time from a distant - thinking ahead to the future or back about the past
Those who arrive early I would suggest are likely to be Thru-Time - thinking ahead about what they need to do to get to the meeting on time but they may be seen to be distracted in an earlier meeting. Those who are late are likely to be In-time - fully present and in rapport with those in a previous meeting but not aware of the time and approaching next meeting.

We each have a preference for which style we use most but the key is being able to be flexible and switch between them as appropriate. I'd also suggest we need to realise when we've got stuck in one mode and take action, as I think I demonstrated in my 'Hare or Tortoise' blog based on my 4 day adventure on the farm recently. When I went from Thru-time Hare to In-Time Tortiose.

Alison Smith
Helping procurement work in and thru time appropriately

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Patience and the Important Meeting

Last Friday whilst on my farmyard adventure we moved some sheep from one field to another. About half a mile of it was along a country road. Obviously when doing this traffic can be affected - which happened on this occasion. A queue of 3 cars developed in the 5 or so minutes it took to move the sheep. One of the drivers asked how long it would take and when told "5 minutes" promptly turned the car around. This has happened before when one businessman exclaimed "but I have an important meeting" and has been known by the farmer as Important Meeting ever since. In both instances the detour taken would have been over 15 mins vs 5 mins of waiting.

I appreciate the frustration - I've been there and done that. When we're busy it's easy to allow our journey to be the most important journey anyone has ever made. To want everyone else on the road to get out of our way. To make moving the goal - especially not moving slowly or even not stopping the goal. It does however highlight some questionable beliefs:

  • I am more important than anyone else
  • Constant moving is more effective than stopping
  • Moving quickly is more effective than moving slowly
  • Others on the road don't have a valid reason for being there
  • and certainly not as important a reason as yours

  • Next time you start to get impatient just look at the underlying belief that's generating that emotion and ask your self about the validity and truth of your thinking.


    Alison Smith
    Helping procurement teams take time to assess the most effective speed of progress

    Wednesday, 25 April 2012

    Should you be wearing or wanging your wellies?

    On my 4 day adventure on the farm this weekend I wore these wellies for the whole time. In fact I put them on as I got out of the car and took them off again as I got back into it 4 days later (yes I did also remove them when in the farmhouse).

    This morning I spied a tweet selling wedge wellies and then another offering wellies for your wedding:

    Whilst I love these latter 2 styles they wouldn't have been very useful over the weekend.

    Isn't that also true in business. We need to use the right tool for the job - I'd suggest that's as true in sales, HR and Finance as it is in Purchasing and on the farm.

    However once we've found a tool that work's we can't keep bringing it out and thinking it will work for every situation and every eventuality. Which I think many businesses do with their external spend. You see everyone thinks they can buy and I suppose that's because they can. The challenge in business is they should be purchasing or procuring ie using an increasing number of specialised tools and techniques to apply to the spend and supplier relationships to unlock the value.

    Which means instead of wearing the wellies you might need to wang them instead!



    Alison Smith
    Helping you unlock value in your business by ensuring you're using the right tools when purchasing 07770 538159

    For more on the #digdeep theme applied to business see my pinterest board

    Tuesday, 24 April 2012

    Tortoise or the Hare

    The tractor I drove this weekend whilst at the farm in Cumbria had some interesting images for the gears. That is the gear I used would allow me to go at Tortoise pace, but had any of us been confident in my driving I could have taken it up to a Hare's pace - although I still think that's quite slow.

    I think the images reflect the journey I went on during my 4 day experience on the farm.

    Day 1: Gear/Thoughts 16 = Hare - Head full of what I did yesterday, what we're doing today and how far day 4 seems away. In other words head miles away e.g. I moved a sheep using it's lambs as bait (perhaps not quite the right word - carrot might be better) and my head got distracted and I wandered off to the pen we were heading for not realising the sheep had gone in the opposite direction.

    Day 2: Gear/Thoughts 13 = Rabbit - head a little less busy and distracted. Perhaps the hardest day as the head started to let go of things but the panic around that set in. When you're used to 16 thoughts running around at the same time it's hard to let them go to concentrate more attentively on one or two.

    Day 3: Gear/Thoughts 6 = Turtle - head a little clearer - when we got to the tea breaks I realised I'd not looked at my watch and was surprised it was that time already. When I moved sheep my attention was on the task in hand not thinking about anything else and as a result infinitely more effective.

    Day 4: Gear/Thoughts 1 = Tortoise - I woke in the night and instead of automatically reaching for my phone to see what time it was I just thought "the alarm hasn't gone off so not time to get up yet" and went back to sleep.

    Some people may go on a meditation weekend to achieve a sense of being. Others get creative and draw, paint or write. Others go for a run. For me it would seem - however odd it may appear - a few days hard work on the farm gets me into a state of being.

    What enables you to get out of your head and just be? More importantly when did you last do it and when have you next scheduled to do it?


    Alison Smith
    Helping Procurement teams find life balance and well being

    Monday, 23 April 2012

    Swapping the office for the farmyard

    I disconnected from the Internet and office for 4 days this weekend and spent my time on a friends farm in Cumbria.

    I'm not sure what I expected - I know a connection with nature was something I'd always encountered when visiting for a day - but 4 days and working on the farm was something different.

    I'll share the learning over forthcoming blogs but just wanted to share the schedule here to give you a sense of what I got up to:

    0700 - feed pets lambs
    0830 - feed and water and check the sheep in pens and helping with births as needed as I did with these 2 after farmer Ian had checked they were presenting correctly!!

    1000 - Morning cuppa
    1020 - Feed and check other sheep out in the fields with farmer in training Neil

    1230 - Lunch
    1300 - Feed pet lambs. Although this picture is posed as most won't take the bottle like this for a number of days as they need more assistance and encouragement as per earlier picture.

    1430 - as 10.20 plus moving sheep back out from pens to fields or bringing in any in need of closer attention or to access better grass. Ian & Neil shown here.
    1630 - afternoon cuppa
    1650 - as 14.30 including lots of gate opening
    1900 - feed pet lambs including the very ill ones that might not make it :-(

    Wonder when you last disconnected and what you did to relax and recharge your batteries?

    Friday, 13 April 2012

    Spiral up or down?

    When you woke this morning what choice did you make? Did you choose to spiral up or down?

    I'd suggest if yesterday you were spiralling up that today you found it easy to continue to do the same. If yesterday was hard, you felt a little deflated or had let things get to you that continuing the spiral down may have been set as the default for today.

    I've had many conversations with clients and friends about this over recent weeks and noticed the same in myself too. Let me give you my example:

    It started with a cough which floored me for 2 weeks - I ended up staying in the house watching rubbish TV, sleeping a lot and eating rubbish too. For the following 4 weeks I was travelling with work which meant living in hotels and spending time on trains, planes and automobiles. The routine of rubbish TV, lots of time alone, grabbing food on the go continued. Weekends were a blur of catching up with emails, housework, sleep and yet more rubbish tv. I was only just managing to keep on top of emails, work and to-do lists. Energy was waning. I was certainly in a spiral down.

    It would be easy for me to simply put it down to (ok..blame) the cough and the travelling and take no action. However that's 6 weeks of wasted opportunity, and there are simple things I could have done, even when ill, to enable me to spiral up. Even if only one step at a time. Things such as:

  • Taking my vitamins

  • Eating better

  • Drinking more water

  • Getting outside in the sunshine

  • Walking on the beach even when raining

  • Watching programs that inspire me (via TED, youtube or yes even on TV)

  • or progs that make me laugh

  • Reading

  • Spending time with other people

  • Taking baths not showers (this is a biggie for me)

  • Being creative

  • etc

  • Why - because these are all things I've written about in previous blogs that sustain me and help me maintain my passion for life - even if one day at a time. Do you know what sustains you. More importantly have you written them down for easy reference in times of need and when you've forgotten?

    It's soo easy to buy into the spiral down and make decisions that support that movement. Next time you notice the change in direction go to your list of things that sustain you and make a choice - do one of them or even better do more than one of them. And notice what you notice.

    PS you may like the PINTEREST vision board I've just started that acts as a reminder of what sustains me


    Alison Smith
    Helping Procurement teams to spiral up!

    Image at top of page from On Your Mark's web site where there's an excerpt for a book called Spiral up!

    Our Deepest Fear

    Our Deepest fear by Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love

    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate
    Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
    It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us
    We ask ourselves “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous”
    Actually, who are we not to be ?
    You are a child of God,
    Your playing small doesn’t serve the world
    There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure
    around you
    We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
    It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone !
    And as we let our light shine
    We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
    As we are liberated from our own fear,
    Our presence automatically liberates others.

    Wednesday, 11 April 2012

    Disposable Lives

    I saw a tweet recently by Leslie Kohler about completion of her book Disposable Lives. It's a title for a fiction book but it resonated for me for life in general.

    I don't have any story to tell or insights to share as such on this today just a few questions:

  • Are you treating your life as disposable?

  • Are there aspects of your life that you treat as disposable - health? relationship? work?

  • Are there people you treat as disposable - partner, family, friends, colleagues, those who making your life easier?

  • Are there behaviours that you treat as disposable - connection? balance? honesty?

  • Are there beliefs you treat as disposable - sustainability? greater good?

  • and more importantly

  • what will you to do to make the necessary changes.

  • Alison

    Alison Smith
    Helping procurement offer permanent and sustained difference to your business

    Saturday, 31 March 2012

    It's YOUR fault

    Yes YOUR fault - Your fault we had a financial crisis, your fault that the UK ran out of fuel at the pump this week, your fault many of our children are over weight and yes your fault that many adults are equally unhealthy. It's certainly not the fault of just one banker, one politician or one food manufacturer.

    Yes I know it's my fault too - but isn't that the problem so long as we use words that either take collective responsibility or put blame on one person we have a get out? It's no longer something we have to do anything about because someone else is responsible. Don't believe me..... just read the next paragraph and compare it with the first.

    Yes OUR fault - our fault we had a financial crisis, our fault that the UK ran out of fuel at the pump this week, our fault many of our children are over weight and yes our fault that many adults are equally unhealthy.

    Which paragraph has you even considering you might be to blame or be able to do something to change it?

    Two news items today illustrate expects of this:

    Earth Hour: Today many monuments and cities will be turning off their power to encourage us all to rethink our energy consumption. How many of us however will applaud those monuments and believe that they've done it on our behalf. In reality they're trying to inspire us to take action.

    Neutrino Scientist quits: Putting our head above the parapet, however many provisos we include in our statements, can seem very risky.

    Forth coming blogs will consider further aspects of this lack of responsibility we all seem to take and look at how we make decisions - because those living on credit, filling jam jars with petrol, joining the mile long queues at petrol stations and eating those cakes all have made a decision to do so.

    And remember it's always others who do these things and not us! (That's certainly what we all believe - if our actions and words are anything to go on)


    Alison Smith
    Helping Procurement teams take responsibility 07770 538159

    Friday, 2 March 2012

    What we can learn from Eurovision and Engelbert

    The shock announcement that the 76 year old crooner Engelbert Humperdinck would be representing the UK in the Eurovision song contest has certainly inspired me to review my business strategy.

    The odds apparently are against the UK because of the voting process. Yet we have proved it is possible to come in the top 10. Even if we have only managed that three times since we last won back in 1997 with Kartina and the Waves with Love shine a light.

    Over the years different processes for selecting the singer have been chosen. I don’t think, however, we’ve ever been so surprised with the decision as we were last night. Twitter reverberated with the incredulity and disbelief of our representative. I’m sure many like me where checking the calendar wondering whether April 1st had come early.

    Time will tell whether the strategy has been successful. Yet it’s a great example that if the last time you achieved your goal was 15 years ago and only mildly successful 21% of the time since then that it’s time for a change in strategy. And not just a slight change in strategy but time to consider an ‘off the wall’ ‘out there’ ‘we can go to the moon with this technology’ type of strategy.

    What’s only been successful 21% of the time in your team? It might be time for some creative thinking on what ‘different’ might look like. We won’t know if we don’t at least try. After all the only thing we have to lose is mediocrity?

    Create a great day

    Alison Smith
    The Purchasing Coach
    Sowing the seeds for procurement teams to think outside the box
    Alison@thepurchasingcoach +44(0)7770 538159

    Wednesday, 29 February 2012

    Break out of the old

    If butterflies did what they'd done in the past they'd have died and not grown to their full potential. I'm not sure we're any different?

    In December I facilitated a session on keeping on track in 2012. As part of the process we identified all the skills we'd used to achieve what we did in 2011. We then looked at our goals for 2012 and identified all the skills, behaviours and beliefs we needed to add into the mix to achieve them.

    The reminder was that to achieve an outstanding, bigger, better & greater 2012, as I wrote on the day, then we needed to remember these other skills not keep doing what we'd done in 2011.

    The challenge is we find the old ways easier to do. I fell down the stairs and found it really easy to slip back into the 'misery loves company' energy. Yes I did need to take it easy but instead of wallowing I could have used the time to imagine/envision and inspire myself whilst my body healed itself.

    What behaviours do you need to pull out of the toolkit and start using to ensure you achieve your goals in 2012?


    Alison Smith
    Helping Procurement teams break out of the old and transform 07770 538159

    Butterfly picture from mgcpuzzles - it's a jigsaw!!

    Friday, 24 February 2012

    The right resources at the right time

    Imagine the scene: I've just completed some of my personal training session and my personal trainer says we're moving onto the above exercise (ish). An exercise I've done before lifting 20 kgs. I take the bar in hand and get ready to start. I notice it feels heavier than normal (but it isn't) and already hear my internal dialogue telling me I can't do it. I change the dialogue and do the exercise easily.

    But here's what I learnt. At the time just before I started the exercise I wasn't accessing any of the resources (in this case muscles) needed to complete the task. It was only in making the first move to start that those resources turned on.

    Isn't that also true in life. We can talk ourselves into not being able to do something and yet that's based from a position of inactivity. As soon as we start to look for the solution we'll certainly then engage the resources we have to make it a reality.

    Wednesday, 22 February 2012

    Just simply walk the talk when talking

    I went to a conference at the weekend and the insight after the second speaker is likely to change how I speak, teach and even write in social media.

    When we arrived we had time to visit the exhibition stands. We weren't there long however. The sale pitches offering us "miracle cures" were simply too much and drove us in the opposite direction.

    A little later the first speaker stood up and continued the theme telling us all about their "revolutionary" "magic" "new" "wonderful" "innovate" process. The process wasn't many of those, and yet if I'm honest the premise upon which it's based is nearer my current thinking than the next speaker's. If they'd got the tone right they'd have been pushing on an open door. After all they were talking about things that were well within my comfort zone. The evangelical tone, the need to be right and yes even their ego just got in the way of the message.

    The second speaker was talking on a subject out of my sphere of experience and comfort zone - eating raw foods (to the exclusion of the cooked variety). However my experience of what she said was so different. She simply offered her beliefs as just that. They weren't "new" "exciting" or "something not to be missed" they were just beliefs she used to make decisions in her life. She then just explained how she's managed to apply these beliefs to her daily life. Allowing us, I'd suggest, to pick and choose what we might like to take away from her speech.

    The message for me was clear - we simply need to walk our talks and share it in ways that allow others to have different opinions. Being evangelical, getting on our soap boxes and ramming it down other's throats and pointing out the error of people's ways wont get us far. As a strategy it will undoubtedly drive away those who may find what we have to share of use if only we'd let go of the need to be right.

    I then found this quote in a book I was reading 'act and be as though how you are dictates that everyone else will be that same way' by Kant. So if honesty is your thing you just need to be honest and expect others to be honest not start telling the world about how dishonest the world is.

    I said I'd got a lot from the day - lets see whether you think the tone of my blogs/tweets have changed as a result.

    Create a great day

    Helping procurement walk

    "This conversation is older than my children"

    "This conversation is older than my children" said a colleague from 15 yrs ago when we met recently.

    Did I laugh - oh boy did I laugh. Although you know we often laugh when things have landed and have real meaning for us. It was true - the statement I mean. I had just given an excuse for not doing something that I'd been using since I first met him about the time this picture was taken.

    The interesting thing is of course the story I was telling myself wasn't true - they very rarely are. You know the type of story:

  • I can't do that

  • It wont work

  • I'll only fail

  • etc etc

  • Having the 'story' held up for what it was stopped me in my tracks. It now acts as a great reminder ever time I try to retell the story that the only person who believes it is me. Since it's not helping me achieve what I want in life I have a choice keep it and keep getting what I've always got or ditch it and see what happens.

    Will you join me in ditching the stories that no longer support your growth?

    Alison Smith
    Ensuring the stories procurement teams tell about themselves are helpful

    Friday, 17 February 2012

    Finding the motivation

    We know that in order to have the energy to do all the things we'd love to have achieved before we die that we should:

  • Exercise - or at least cut down on the couch potato impersonations

  • Eat & drink healthily - of the min #5aday & max #14aweek variety

  • Spend time with those we love - and not just on the 14th of Feb

  • Spend time doing things we enjoy

  • and avoid food, drink, people, places, activities etc that are not good for us

  • Yet so often we continue to do that which depletes our energy. Since we know what we should be doing I'd suggest it's finding the motivation to make the changes we need to work on.

    One suggestion is to find a big enough PAIN we want to move away from and then anything is possible. The issue is often the pain (less years and less active body in our old age) is seen as too far away and even "wont happen to us". So we don't take action until it does happen to us (or someone close to us) or it's too late. The key is finding a pain we can relate to now. That's why challenges such as climbing Kilimanjaro or events such as getting married act as a great motivator - the pain of not making the changes are too big and not even worth contemplating that we take action.

    2 things happened this week that might shed some light on another solution.

    The first was burning my fingers on the oven. I've burnt my arms many times and they've spent many minutes under the cold tap. This week it was my fingers turn - what PAIN - and was followed by 2 hrs in water. But you know what? I've a new respect for the oven that has changed my behaviour towards it.

    The second was cutting tomatoes out of my diet for 2 weeks along with some other potential culprits for my screaming knees. Long story short but lets just say that a little squirt of tomato sauce on Wednesday teatime led to severe reaction. Suffice to say that any doubts I had about persevering (It's too hard, I like cheese, I don't know what else to cook, it's wont work etc etc) were soon kicked into touch. Resolve has been bolstered and exclusion continues for a few more weeks to give my body time to find balance before trying to reintroduce foods.

    In both instances without the physical pain I would have wavered and continued to do what I'd always done. I'm not suggesting we all run out and physically do harm to ourselves in order to find the motivation. However if you do want to make changes you might want to look for a short term pain that will fortify your will power.

    Wednesday, 15 February 2012

    True understanding of team work

    There's a card in the FCP process I use that invites us to "break through your closed shell of isolation into a true understanding and experience of team work.”

    When this came up in a session I facilitated we explored 3 aspects to the card:

  • breaking through the closed shell of isolation

  • true understanding of teamwork

  • true experience of teamwork

  • It’s certainly very difficult to keep on track if we isolate ourselves, so too if we experience teamwork where everyone operates in their own silos. I'd also suggest that knowing what we should be doing is different to actually taking all the necessary steps to make it happen.

    What would breaking through your closed shell of isolation into a true understanding and experience of teamwork look, sound and feel like to you? What would you do doing, saying and hearing? How would it help in the current situation? What would you be doing differently?


    Alison Smith
    Helping individuals, businesses and procurement experience team work and keep on track in 2012 07770 538159

    Thanks to the centre for teaching excellence for the photo - there's an interesting article on their website on teamworking skills and being an effective team member.
    The insight used here is from the Frameworks for Change © Innerlinks

    Just do something different - NOW

    I had got into a rut in personal training being cooped up in the house all winter. So the first sunny day of 2012 and we stayed outside for the whole session. Fresh air, new perspective - what more could a girl want.

    When did you last do something different?

    Wednesday, 1 February 2012

    Balance in Life

    Following on from yesterday's blog on life balance - Susan Jeffers has a model that I often use with clients to explain why we should aim for 'life balance' and not 'work/life balance'.

    The model Susan uses splits our life into different areas such as the 9 listed below (each of us may have different words but she encourages readers to identify 9).

    Each of the 9 areas provides us with something we need in life. What they are and what they provide will be different for each of us and link to our own individual hierarchy of values. It's this hierarchy and our ability to meet these unconscious desires that will ultimately determine our level of motivation, satisfaction and yes even wellbeing.

    So for example: Work may give us Achievement, relationships may provide Love, hobbies may bring Spirit, leisure may provide Freedom and friendship may bring Connection. In the short term if we don't get Achievement, Love, Spirit, Freedom AND Connection we we may not notice any ill effect. In the long term, however, if all we're getting is achievement then our lack of love, spirit, freedom and connection will make itself heard one way or another - feeling unfulfilled, lack of motivation, unhappiness and yes even illness.

    In essence one area cannot meet all our needs. Therefore in order to have a life that ensures all values are being met it is important to have activities in a number of different areas. So work cannot be someone’s whole life – in order to function, in order to get what they need to survive they need to do other things. In the example above they need to spend time on work, in a relationship, on leisure, on a hobby, with family and friends, on personal growth, contributing and with their higher self. It’s not just because other people want them to but in order to meet their own unconscious physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs.

    What areas of your life do you have too high expectations of by spending all your time on them? How can you find more balance in life?


    Alison Smith
    Helping you keep on track by aligning action to your values 07770 538159

    Tuesday, 31 January 2012

    Do you want work/life balance or life balance?

    Like many people I'd always used the term 'work/life balance' until I applied a tool I use in coaching to myself and realised the term I was using was half the problem, for me anyway, and that was because of the images using that term painted for me and the impact they then had on my stress levels.

    At the start of the session my goal was to understand what I needed to do it ‘have work/life balance’. As I wrote at the time 'like a lot of people I never seem to have enough time and energy to do everything. I feel like I’m a hamster in its wheel. In fact I have two wheels, one wheel for work and one for the rest of my life.' Stress then came from trying to balance both wheels. When on one wheel I worried about the other and vice verse.

    Just writing that down seemed to shift something. I realised, for me, balance would only be achieved when I only had one wheel to manage. Thus 'having life balance’ allowed me to, even if only metaphorically, have more control over my life and what I chose to do with it.

    I'd be interested in the metaphors you have for life or work/life balance and wonder how those metaphors may help in understanding what needs to change to simply reduce the internal stress of trying to manage it all.


    Alison Smith
    Helping individuals and teams stay on track by finding balance 07770 538159

    I've shared more on life balance on this blog too using Susan Jeffesr model as a base.

    Friday, 13 January 2012

    Wellbeing Champions

    Earlier this week I tweeted that 'it's in all the ways we can't see that we make the biggest difference'.

    Is our quest for wellbeing any different. Whilst we can educate, inform, blog and even provide policies that support wellbeing, is it enough to inspire others to be motivated to make the necessary changes? For me it’s all the small things we do and are seen to do that provide the inspiration. As I was reminded before Christmas when someone sent me a note to say ‘you inspire me to live more healthily’. I know this comes from how I am in the world and in all the small things I tweet/blog/chat and share photo's about (as above) rather than the work I get paid to do.

    In any organisation, therefore, the key is identifying those individuals who influence others behaviours and ensuring they are seen to be demonstrating the behaviours that support wellbeing. Many organisations won’t stand a cat in hells chance of having wellbeing if those with the most influence ignore and override the signs of stress, have no life balance, don’t take their holiday’s, skip lunch, live on adrenaline and coffee when adrenaline is lacking and/or are known to consume a week’s allowance of alcohol every Friday night?

    Who are your wellbeing champions – and how can you ensure they are able to express how they achieve wellbeing rather than hide it?


    Alison Smith
    Helping procurement teams find balance and wellbeing and keep on track

    Monday, 9 January 2012

    TRUST in the Toolkit for 2012

    Yesterday I added Excellence into the toolkit for 2012 based on Cirque Du Soleil's way of being in everything that they do. Today I'd like to put TRUST into the toolkit.

    It's obvious in the picture above and this wonderful video, both from Cirque Du Soleil, that the performers are required to put 100% trust in their colleagues - both those on and off stage.

    Having just finished my own personal training session I realise that they also have to trust themselves. My personal trainer has just added another 5kg to my weights and I was certainly doubting my ability to do the exercise. The negative chatter started as I told myself:

  • I can't do this

  • I'll drop it

  • I'll hurt myself

  • I'll fail

  • My personal trainer trusted I'd be able to do it. It was just lack of trust in myself that was generating the less than positive thoughts. Which, of course, in turn made what I was doing so much more difficult.

    But something changed today, and that's because I didn't grumble to my personal trainer, I didn't give voice to my doubts, I simply told myself I could do it and got on with it. And in so doing realised:

  • I can do this

  • I can keep hold of it

  • I can stay safe

  • I can and will succeed

  • How is lack of trust in yourself stopping you achieving your goals and what do you need to stop telling yourself to succeed?


    Alison Smith
    Helping you trust yourself and stay on track in 2012

    Your Toolkit for 2012

    In order to achieve our goals in 2012 we will each be drawing daily on our internal resources. These internal resources might include: perseverance, trust, action, communication or laughter etc. The key to success is accessing these resources when they're needed - it's no use perfecting our communication skills when action is required, or taking action when focusing on what direction that action should be in is paramount.

    I've noticed however that we often react unconsciously to situations using the most obvious resource or one that we find easy to use. You'll certainly find my answer to many situations is yet more communication :-). The difficulty with that strategy is that it often doesn't work, or makes our goal harder not easier to achieve. It's a bit like using the wrong sized screwdriver - you might make it work but it will take more time and you might ruin the thread of the screw on the way. This year I really do wish every one of us a year to remember for all the right reasons. To assist I'm going to be blogging regularly about the many resources - tools if you will - that we may have in our personal toolkits but may be wary of using. Do feel free to suggest some resources you'd like me to cover. Why not join the discussion on my facebook page where collaboration, loyalty and excellence are some of today's suggestions.

    As a start to your toolkit development you may also like these notes from a session I facilitated entitled 'Keeping on Track in a downturn' where the final resource suggested was AUTHENTICITY.

    Looking forward to a wonderfully inspiring and delightful 2012

    Alison Smith
    Helping procurement teams stay on track in 2012 07770 538159

    Tuesday, 3 January 2012

    The end of your world could be upon you!

    The end of your world could be upon you.... and I don't mean 21st December 2012 I mean today, tomorrow or if you're lucky some future date many days from today - but it will come.


    Because none of us know how much longer we will be here - and as hard as that sounds it's a fact.
    I'd love to start the year as I normally do with plenty of tips on goal setting and how to keep on track (and I promise they will come). However they will be very much future orientated and some of us many not be here to reap the rewards. That is:
    • We eat well or exercise today in order to be healthy tomorrow

    • We work hard in order to get some result in the future

    • We learn so that we may apply it next week

    • and we procrastinate plenty and put things off until another day (or is that just me?)

    The picture above is one of the daily photo's I sent a friend from August 26th last year shortly after her prognosis until she went into the hospice late in November before dying peacefully in her sleep on 28th December - 4 months later. Each picture was my invitation to her to remember to:
    • Stay in the moment

    • Enjoy each day

    • Remember she was loved

    • Speak from the heart

    • Leave nothing unsaid

    • Find gratitude in the small things

    • Laugh

    • Remember and appreciate the good times
    That is to believe in tomorrow but live for today.

    I'm not suggesting we stop setting goals, exercising or eating healthily. What I am suggesting is we find some time each day to really live for today - because we really don't know how many more of them we may have. I'm sure my friend, and her husband on their holiday abroad in July, were busy imagining a very different Christmas and New Year with their family to the one that enfolded. They had many precious moments between August 26th and December 28th but many of those were because they knew the end of her world was near.

    It's easy to act is if it's never going to happen - this blog is a reminder that it will - don't let those small moments pass YOU by.

    In loving memory of a friend who will be sadly missed x