A quarantine surprise

September 1, 2021

I have just returned from a month in Norway visiting my wife’s family, having not been able to meet them at all for two years. As you can imagine, for my wife especially, it was incredible to be with them again after so long.

What is harder to imagine is that when we – us and our three teenage children – discussed the whole trip, every single one of us had a surprising highlight: the four days we spent right at the beginning of August in a non-descript quarantine hotel within a stones’ throw of Oslo Gardemoen Airport.

Our food was brought to us three times a day in brown paper bags and hung on our hotel room doors. We had our small and by-no-means-impressive rooms to live in and a concrete car park with a small banked grass verge for a bit of outside time. We could also head off-site once a day for a walk.

It was the most severe simplification of life I have ever experienced, even taking the lockdown life we’d become used to over the last year to a whole other level. It could have been a nightmare. Why it wasn’t is tremendously interesting and something I’m keen to learn from.

We enjoyed large quantities of time together. We watched some movies, talked lots, read some books. We played very simple games (UNO anyone?)! Most of life’s distractions were removed. It felt like genuine rest.

There are some massive lessons to take with us back into ‘normal life’. What we do with these, I’m not quite sure yet, but to do nothing would, I’m certain, be missing a big opportunity.


Systematic clarity

July 27, 2021

We have been trying to make progress with sorting out our garden this summer.

It’s not going very well.

The big problem is that we aren’t really sure what we want to do. We have an idea, then another one. Then we go back to the original one. I’ve started a bit of DIY patio restoration, then decided we should get someone in to do it. It goes on like this.

We have actually got some things done and it does look better than it did a couple of months back but we haven’t progressed anywhere near as much as we could have done and there’s been a lot of wasted effort.

In truth, it’s not that important to us and it’s certainly not urgent (and wasting a bit of time in the garden can be good for you)!

When we find the same thing happening though in areas of life, including work, that are very important, this becomes a problem. Question is, what’s the solution?

We can try hard in every individual situation to exercise our best planning and problem-solving skills or we can find / create / customise a system that helps guide us through the process of ALWAYS creating clarity on ALL the things that matter most.

What am I doing with my life?

What am I doing today?

What’s the purpose of our organisation?

What’s the purpose of doing this specific task?

With clear direction we can create a clear plan. With a clear plan we can take positive action. Without clarity, we can never achieve what we want and are capable of.

As Brené Brown puts it,

Clarity is kindness.

It can take a lot of effort to establish your system and more so to turn it into a habit, but it’s absolutely worth it.


My kind of leader

July 9, 2021

Sports commentators say a lot that is instantly forgotten and then, occassionally, utter words that become ingrained in our minds for ever. It may not endure in the same vein as “There’s some people on the pitch, they think it’s all over…” but one comment at the end of the England v Denmark semi-final this week caught my attention more than any other.

The standard of the leaders in the past couple of years in this country has been poor but look at that man there… he’s everything a leader should be: respectful, humble, tells the truth, genuine. He’s fantastic, Gareth Southgate.

Gary Neville

Whatever your thoughts on many other leaders, there seems to be consensus on this matter. Most agree with Gary Neville that the current manager of the England men’s football team is a great guy and an excellent leader.

He’s not ‘showy’, he’s not egotistical, he seems to genuinely care. He speaks out clearly and thoughfully on important issues. He makes it about his team, not him.

In an interview after this historic win that takes England to their first major final since 1966, astonishingly, Southgate gives special mention to members of the original squad who were then excluded from the final group of 26 that were selected for the tournament. That is remarkable inclusivity and awareness in such a heady moment.

Lots more will be said and written about him, especially if he leads the team to victory in the final, and rightly so. Who wouldn’t want to work with this kind of leader? Clearly his current team do.


Should I stay or should I go?

June 28, 2021

This seems to be the big question for many right now and the impact of how we answer it will be huge in the coming months.

I had two appointments postponed last week, both because the other party had a one-hour meeting slot booked and then discovered they should attend in person, thus doubling (or more) the amount of time that meeting would consume. Cue the reorg of everything else that day to accommodate.

It seems so clumsy and inefficient.

Ah, but in the previous few weeks I’ve had my first in-person meetings in what feels like years, and loved them! I enjoyed the journey, the traffic, the parking, even the signing in at reception. It may have taken nearly half a day instead of 60 minutes but I returned refreshed and energised. So much so, I booked some more, including the first LMI UK team non-Zoom get-together since 2019!

I could make this a long post but it really doesn’t need to be. There is one simple message: THINK!

It would be easy to say yes to everything and go back to how things were. Equally, we could decide to keep everything virtual and miss out on the magic that happens when people are together in the same room. That ‘magic’ that is so much more than just ‘achieving the meeting objective’. Think relationship-building, fun, connection, wellbeing, ideas, inspiration and more.

My plan is to still do an awful lot of meetings remotely, feeling delighted about the efficiency and simplicity of it all. I’m going to choose which appointments to attend in person, treating them as special occasions and valuing every minute in the real-live company of other human beings.

We have a unique opportunity to shape the future in really positive, productive ways if we’re mindful of the decisions we make.

Oh, and whatever you decide each time, best make sure everyone else knows too!


Meetings that feel successful.

June 24, 2021

Video link: https://youtu.be/P1QrLD038H8

A quick follow up to the last post about the joy of short meetings! Just because a meeting is short, doesn’t mean it’s been successful. For it to feel successful to all participants, everyone needs to have been heard and feel that they made the contribution they had to make and been part of the agreed direction and future actions that are decided at the meetings.


Better, shorter meetings!

June 23, 2021

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ylzi9O2syNQ

A short video inspired by a rare occurance. My scheduled one-hour meeting today was done and dusted in just 20 minutes, including a bit of social chat. It’s not always possible, but certainly worth noticing when it does. I’ll share some more meeting thoughts soon.


An ordinary day

October 27, 2020

Today is just an ordinary Tuesday – could it be a great day though? A meaningful, enjoyable and positive day?

A day when I make progress on important work and encourage others in their work? Why not?

Could it be a day when I am kind to myself, mentally and physically? And do the same to others?

What if today is one of those days where I live as I want to live, true to my values and in line with my purpose? On a Tuesday?!


To a larger degree than I care to admit, it’s my choice.


Who gets the credit?

September 28, 2020

There is a famous saying that goes something like,

“It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.”

It’s variously attibuted to Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan and others I’m sure. I’m hoping that none of them mind who gets the credit – it’s a great quote! Working together with others to get the thing done without vying for position or self-promotion is so powerful and utterly joyful.

I have the pleasure of working on a couple of things just like this at the moment. Reflecting on what makes this possible, I put it down largely to:

  • having a clearly defined purpose that all parties are inspired by and therefore committed to.
  • good organisation so that collectively we have clear goals and definite plans so that we each know what our actions and responsibilities are.

Have a good week and if you’re lucky enough to be part of such a team, especially in very challenging times like now, remember not to take it for granted.

 

 

 


This is important because…

June 24, 2020

Motivation is a really big deal.

If you can understand yourself and what motivates you then you can make choices that enable you to live with more energy, enthusiasm and happiness, as well as generally getting better results in whatever you put your hand to.

If you can understand others’ motivation, then you can help them do the same and that’s powerful.

One way to experience high levels of motivation is to be consciously connected to the value of what we’re doing.

This is important because…

If you can’t complete that statement above in a meaningful way for what you are currently doing – both from a ‘big picture’ perspective and in the nitty-gritty of your current tasks – you are most likely feeling demotivated.

This leads to two options – either there isn’t a good reason for doing it and you should stop. Or, and this is really common, there are mulitple good reasons for doing it and they’ve just been forgotten or drifted out of mind.

Here you should definitely stop and revisit the purpose that was there in the beginning.

Blank piece of paper. Big heading, “This is important because….”

It will make a world of difference.


The day-to-day disciplines of leadership

June 22, 2020

In this latest episode of So What About Leadership? Roisin and I discuss the less exciting but incredibly important aspects of leadership like discipline, process and systemisation. Hope you enjoy!

LMI UK & Ireland · So What About Leadership 18.6.20