Monday, 6 December 2010

Snow & Seth!

Well we are buried up to our armpits ( literally!) again. It gives plenty of time to reflect on what on earth we are doing. I believe this latest gem from Seth Godin's blog is exactly what it's all about for us...The Road Less Travelled.

The world's worst boss

That would be you.

Even if you're not self-employed, your boss is you. You manage your career, your day, your responses. You manage how you sell your services and your education and the way you talk to yourself.

Odds are, you're doing it poorly.

If you had a manager that talked to you the way you talked to you, you'd quit. If you had a boss that wasted as much as your time as you do, they'd fire her. If an organization developed its employees as poorly as you are developing yourself, it would soon go under.

I'm amazed at how often people choose to fail when they go out on their own or when they end up in one of those rare jobs that encourages one to set an agenda and manage themselves. Faced with the freedom to excel, they falter and hesitate and stall and ultimately punt.

We are surprised when someone self-directed arrives on the scene. Someone who figures out a way to work from home and then turns that into a two-year journey, laptop in hand, as they explore the world while doing their job. We are shocked that someone uses evenings and weekends to get a second education or start a useful new side business. And we're envious when we encounter someone who has managed to bootstrap themselves into happiness, as if that's rare or even uncalled for.

There are few good books on being a good manager. Fewer still on managing yourself. It's hard to think of a more essential thing to learn.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Latest article

Well even though I haven't blogged for a few days I have been published online again...& someon'e even put it on twitter!A first!
Really getting into this new social media thing!!!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Simon Sinek

A friend of mine recommended this clip & the book that goes with it.

I love the way he puts his message across & totally agree with the importance of "why".
As Nietzsche put it, " if man has a big enough why he can cope with almost any how".

A theme picked up by Viktor Frankl which I will continue next time!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Asseriveness tips

A lot of us swing between passive & aggressive behaviour. Keeping the middle ground of assertive behaviour can seem daunting. Most of us equally know that the key to getting our point across without compromising ourselves or others is to behave assertively.

The rules which follow are general and comprehensive. You will not need to follow them all in every situation, nor will they have the same order of importance in all cases. They are therefore given in no significant order.

1. Be clear about what you want

If you don’t know what you want, you will find it difficult to communicate your wishes and needs to others.

2. Choose your time and place

Choose the most appropriate place to communicate and time when the other person can listen. If necessary, delay the discussion (even if only for a few seconds) until you can give the matter your full attention. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you need time to make a decision or to gather more information. You should, however, agree to make a decision by a certain date and stick to it.

3. Repeat what the other person says or requests before you respond

This shows that you understand the message and helps you to check that you have understood correctly. It does not mean you have to agree.

4. Take responsibility for what you say

Use ‘I’, ‘Me’ and ‘My’, rather than ‘She/he says’ or ‘Everyone says’.

5. Make a clear statement
Doing this can be more difficult than it seems, especially if you are under stress. It may help to rehearse your statement. Don’t allow yourself to become upset or to lose track of what you want to say.

6. Be specific

Go straight to the point and identify clearly and directly what you want or what you want to convey.

7. Express what you feel

It sometimes helps to say that you feel anxious, happy or angry when making a statement, request or a response. But say it only once and then return to the point.

8. Acknowledge the other person’s feelings

This demonstrates that you understand the situation and empathise with the other person.

9. Be prepared to ask for more details

Asking someone to give more details or to give an example of what he/she means can help to avoid unnecessary conflict.

10. Do not be side-tracked

If the person you are talking to tries to side track you, listen to what is said and then repeat your own point. Do this again if necessary. This technique is known as the ‘broken record’.

11. Give reasons, not excuses
It is better to give reasons rather than excuses for what you want to do or don’t want to do.

12. Be prepared to compromise

Think about your ‘fallback position’ before you start to communicate. When you have expressed your feelings, be prepared to agree an outcome which everyone can accept.

13. Don’t apologise unless there is a good reason to do so

Don’t say ‘sorry’ merely because the other person is unlikely to be pleased, for unnecessary apologies compromise your position. Apologise only when you have said or done something you genuinely regret.

Monday, 1 November 2010

It's been a wile...again!

Long summer nights have turned into long dark ones and here I am again having avoided blogging for ages. In part I think it's because I'm not that interesting...and then people keep telling me to share what's in my head! My winter resolution is to get into the habit & hopefully it will stick!
I've recently been considering why I do what I do( again!). Challenging & changing times are great opportunities to re-evaluate where we are up to & in what direction we are heading.
My "why" is all about choice, freedom & inner peace. It all starts with that and is shaping all other activity.  For example, I have managed to reduce my hourly rate( to make  my services more inclusive) by increasing the amount of corporate work. I believe my biggest challenge at the moment is to continue this approach in the face of corporate cautiousness & more limited budgets. In particular there is a good deal of interest in bespoke retreats to enable teams/groups to re-evaluate their own "why". Once the "why" is clear we can tolerate uncertainty & ambiguity much better & our "how" & "what" evolve according to prevailing circumstances.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Seth again...

...this describes my journey perfectly!

Hope and the magic lottery

Entrepreneurial hope is essential. It gets us over the hump and through the dip. There's a variety of this hope, though, that's far more damaging than helpful.

This is the hope of the magic lottery ticket.

A fledgling entrepreneur ambushes a venture capitalist who just appeared on a panel. "Excuse me," she says, then launches into a two, then six and eventually twenty minute pitch that will never (sorry, never) lead to the VC saying, "Great, here's a check for $2 million on your terms."

Or the fledgling author, the one who has been turned down by ten agents and then copies his manuscript and fedexes it to twenty large publishing houses--what is he hoping for, exactly? Perhaps he's hoping to win the magic lottery, to be the one piece of slush chosen out of a million (literally a million!) that goes on to be published and revered.

You deserve better than the dashed hopes of a magic lottery.

There's a hard work alternative to the magic lottery, one in which you can incrementally lay the groundwork and integrate into the system you say you want to work with. And yet instead of doing that work, our instinct is to demonize the person that wants to take away our ticket, to confuse the math of the situation (there are very few glass slippers available) with someone trying to slam the door in your faith/face.

You can either work yourself to point where you don't need the transom, or you can play a different game altogether, but throwing your stuff over the transom isn't worthy of the work you've done so far.

Starbucks didn't become Starbucks by getting discovered by Oprah Winfrey or being blessed by Warren Buffet when they only had a few stores. No, they plugged along. They raised bits of money here and there, flirted with disaster, added one store and then another, tweaked and measured and improved and repeated. Day by day, they dripped their way to success. No magic lottery.

What chance is there that Mark Cuban or Carlos Slim is going to agree to be your mentor, to open all doors and give you a shortcut to the top? Better, I think, to avoid wasting a moment of your time hoping for a fairy godmother. You're in a hurry and this is a dead end.

When someone encourages you to avoid the magic lottery, they're not criticizing your idea nor are they trying to shatter your faith or take away your hope. Instead, they're pointing out that shortcuts are rarely dependable (or particularly short) and that instead, perhaps, you should follow the longer, more deliberate, less magical path if you truly want to succeed.

If your business or your music or your art or your project is truly worth your energy and your passion, then don't sell it short by putting its future into a lottery ticket.

Here's another way to think about it: delight the audience you already have, amaze the customers you can already reach, dazzle the small investors who already trust you enough to listen to you. Take the permission you have and work your way up. Leaps look good in the movies, but in fact, success is mostly about finding a path and walking it one step at a time.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Seth Godin

I subscribe to this guy's blog. He has some useful stuff to say...worth a look.
Here's an example:

Fear of shipping

Shipping is fraught with risk and danger.

Every time you raise your hand, send an email, launch a product or make a suggestion, you're exposing yourself to criticism. Not just criticism, but the negative consequences that come with wasting money, annoying someone in power or making a fool of yourself.

It's no wonder we're afraid to ship.

It's not clear you have much choice, though. A life spent curled in a ball, hiding in the corner might seem less risky, but in fact it's certain to lead to ennui and eventually failure.

Since you're going to ship anyway, then, the question is: why bother indulging your fear?

In a long distance race, everyone gets tired. The winner is the runner who figures out where to put the tired, figures out how to store it away until after the race is over. Sure, he's tired. Everyone is. That's not the point. The point is to run.

Same thing is true for shipping, I think. Everyone is afraid. Where do you put the fear?

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Well worth making time for...

This is such a great metaphor for well as being an amusing insight into the world of an uptight therapist! Grab a coffee, sit back & make 15 minutes for this little movie.

Our time is up

Monday, 7 June 2010

THE world's worst blogger?

Well just how long between blogs can a person leave it?! The snow is long gone, the meadows are a sea of yellow, the fell tops are white with cotton grass and we have 2 goslings. All in all spring is well & truly sprung. We are still waiting on the hawthorn tree to blossom - less of a may tree & more of a june tree! What a contrast to the last entry here when life was very challenging. We are fast approaching the longest day when it hardly get's dark at all up here. All our vegetables are shooting up short it really feels like the good life! I am off to the Network North Exhibition in Newcastle tomorrow where I am speaking as well as to spread the word about Prydale!

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Elvis is dead

Well our beloved piggy died today. Just like that. One minute he was going about his business and the next just lying there in the snow. A huge shock for us all especially the kids. It seems as though he choked on something he was eating and that is what did for him. I cannot believe that he has survived all this terrible winter weather only to choke as it is hopefully about to improve. I thought i'd be writing earlier this week to celebrate the 1st rain of spring. It was short lived as it has turned to yet more snow.
Elvis RIP

Monday, 22 February 2010

Self Leadership

Looks like I will finally get to a network meeting in Newcastle tomorrow( 1st since mid december!).Just as well as I am giving a short presentation called " how do I self lead?" This has come from a conversation with Tamsen Garrie of 4networking and the following text is reproduced with her kind permission. Whilst I will be presenting as ever there will be time for debate & I hope to learn as much from others as I can This dog is a fine example of leader & follower depending on what the situation demands. He remains forever alert & curious.

How do I Self Lead?

Inspire yourself

Martin Luther King Jr. is unlikely to have achieved what he did if he’d said “I have a suggestion.”

Being able to inspire others starts with being able to inspire ourselves. When we can aim for something that matters enough to us to commit to it, work hard for it and suffer failures before we achieve it, we can we expect others to get excited about it too.

It’s important to frame your own vision in a way that compels you. If you decide on something you want to do, and clearly picture what the future is like when you get it done, you create inspiration for yourself. Then, and only then, can you connect others to that same vision, or even one of their own, so that they change their own behavior and set out in a new direction.

Set the path/pace:

Imagine a piece of string on a table. “if you pull it, it will follow you anywhere but if you try to push it, it will go nowhere.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

Self Leadership is about knowing where we want to go and then going there with a sense of purpose. If we are sure of our goals and are moving toward them, we are leading ourselves in a way that others will quickly notice. Decide what you want, decide to pursue it, decide how and then go for it!

Being someone that you would follow:

Knowing everything you know about yourself, would you follow you? It’s an important question. If the answer is no, then you have work to do.

That doesn’t mean getting everything right. What it means is continually challenging ourselves to be the person that we would respect, admire, and follow. This is not the same as creating a public perception of who we want to be. Working to actually be that person takes time, effort and commitment, but as we become someone that we would follow, we begin to see that other people have noticed, and are behind us.

Continually developing:

The minute we think we know all the answers, we have stopped listening and learning.

Leaders who are able to overcome their own challenges by learning more, applying new thought processes and constantly considering new ideas will be able to address the new obstacles in their path much more successfully. Keep pushing yourself with new challenges. Find things you are scared to do, and do them. Every time you take a step like that you learn something new, you acquire a new way of thinking. Soon there are fewer and fewer things that you can't handle or don’t have experience with. Others around you will watch you learning and breaking through barriers and soon begin to do that for themselves.

Thought the following philosophical piece sums it up beautifully:

Live a Life That Matters

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.

There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, or days.

All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.

It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.

Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.

So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.

The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.

It won't matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.

It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.

Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built;

not what you got, but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success, but your significance.

What will matter is about what you learned as well as what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence, but your character.

What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone

What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.

What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident.

It's not a matter of circumstance but of choice.

Choose to live a life that matters.

Saturday, 20 February 2010


It's been about a month sine I wrote about being fed up with the snow. A month on and it has eased a bit and we can get vehicles to the house etc but there is still snow here from pre Christmas and I reckon it has only been above zero on at most 2 days. We had to pay to get a digger to dig us out in the end as we were running out of heating oil. Other snow costs included skidding the car into a wall, a collapsed roof( just finished fixing it today) and to cap it all a busrt pipe in the holiday cottage. As you can tell the novelty is long gone. It is still very beautiful out here and guests are loving it....really looking forward to some above freezing temperatures. Spring still feels a long way off and we will wait & see what has survived the onslaught of the starving rabbits. Trees,plants even building wood has been eaten!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Fed up with the snow!

Well, as beautiful as this scene is it is also the track up to Prydale. We have now been snowed in for a month and not even a tractor or digger can get up here. So the school run/shopping trip begins( & ends!) with a 3/4 mile walk through deep( min 3ft) snow to where the vehicles are parked. Not so bad on the way down on a nice day but laden with shopping/animal feed in the dark & freezing wind on the way is starting to become more than a little tedious! We are still ok for heating oil etc but we really could do with a thaw. Looks like it's raining elsewhere but guess's falling as snow up here!

Thursday, 7 January 2010


Well as you can see it's been snowing for a fact it hasn't stopped or gone away since 17 Dec 09! To start with it was great and we were sledging in the moonlight at New Year etc. Now there are drifts that are over 6ft and the track up to Prydale has disappeared under at least 3ft. So even doing the basics like going to school or shopping means a 1/2 mile walk to the car...not too bad going down but a real trial coming back up...especially carrying shopping on a sledge. We are still ok for oil/coal but if this runs as it could well for another few weeks then even that necessity to keep us all warm could start to be in short way of

getting a tanker here until there is a thaw! Meanwhile we are homesschooling the kids, living off what we have in store from the summer/what is in the freezer etc. Goodness knows how they survived up here years ago.

All our animals are ok at the moment although some of the geese have disappeared. I only hope they have flown off somewhere rather than succumbed under a deep drift. It really is a harsh reminder of just how vulnerable living creatures(including ourselves) are up here.

This image is of a 6Ft wall! It is amazing how the wind/snow interacts with the landscape and whilst it is very hard going in many ways at the moment it is one of the most beautiful times of year...especially on a sunny day........more to follow