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