Taking the wind from my sails … and using it in another way

Have you ever been in a situation where you have thought “What happened there? This was not in my plan”. This has been a funny week… Not laugh out loud funny, but strange funny. Firstly a trip to Shanghai was postponed. This meant a frenetic 10 days of activity came to a sudden stop and life took on a slower pace. Time to go outside into the garden, hang out the washing, bring it in…… big mistake…a split second error in judgment and balance meant I spent a big portion of the morning at A&E, getting my painful, swollen knee examined.

No broken bones, but newly made plans now in tatters and a pair of crutches for support. “Never mind”, I consoled myself, I can write, make phone calls, plan and design for the coming weeks….. Ever the optimist and making the best out of a bad situation. 

I am definitely not superstitious, but the third thing to happen was losing my voice…… Bringing me not into a silent world,  but one where I have become an observer: watching, listening and waiting for things to happen. Being immobile and without a voice is a temporary state for me and I look forward to my recovery. It has however, made me think of others for whom immobility or not being heard is a permanent state. 

So I will consider and pray for those who are immobile: either physically or stuck in an unexpected rut, caught in a life they never expected to be in. I will ponder those who have no voice; either because no one is listening or they are unable to vocalise what their needs are.

 As I have had time to think,I will be making a mental note to myself:

  • Don’t crave the busyness but savour the still quiet moments; this is where life happens and friends connect
  • Listen carefully to others but hear what they are not saying and cannot say
  • Help others, whenever you can, to move, from where they are, to where they should be
  • Use your gifts unsparingly and be as generous as you can be

So the wind was definitely taken from my sails this week, as the saying goes, but life’s lessons can always be used in other ways to enrich, not only your life, but others too. 

Sliding doors

IMG_1126 Did you ever watch the film “Sliding Doors”? If you didn’t.. a London woman’s love life and career both hinge, unbeknown to her, on whether or not she catches a particular tube train. We get to see it both ways, in parallel.

In one version the doors shut in front of her and she misses the tube and the other she gets on the tube and…well you need to watch the film. Whether you are into rom-coms or not; there are some profound ideas in this film.

In essence the idea is that one small action or inaction can change your life and “Sliding Doors” demonstrates this beautifully.

IMG_0160In one version of your life, Learning & Development is peripheral to any organisational needs and is subject to the whims of budget holders.

 

IMG_0847In the other reality, Learning & Development are central to your organisations strategy and all your learning will be delivered in a timely fashion to learners who will inhabit an environment that supports life-long-learning.

 

These realities may be extreme but is the former closer to reality than you may imagine? If it is, then, like “Sliding Doors”, which subtle change could alter your L&D experience? “If only we had done this, then our whole experience of L&D would be different.” Interesting isn’t it?

Let’s imagine a scenario: we pass a senior manager in the corridor, she turns around and says “Oh…. by the way….we need some customer service training in the next few weeks. Customer satisfaction is down 5 points and we need to get it back up again.”

IMG_0160Scenario 1:

“Yes of course, I have some great ideas for exercises and we can do it in double-quick time. I know it is going to make a real difference”

IMG_0847Scenario 2:

“I would love to help of course. Could I have just 10 minutes of your time to really understand what you think we need, so that I can deliver it in the best way to achieve your outcomes?”

A subtle difference, but one of these can have a huge impact. It’s nothing new because it’s the same old drum I have been banging on for a while… be brave L&D…..#Daretodream. Dare to ask stakeholder to identify their needs, correctly, not just taking their word for what is going wrong.

Which scenario is most like the way in which you operate? Would you like things to be different? Then join us on one of  The Learning Loop®   courses or attend one of our Showcase events. Otherwise, contact us directly.

 

 

Are you a big pie or small pie thinker?

image“Freely you have received, freely give…” Matthew 10:8

In the west we are rich beyond the imaginations of the majority of the rest of the world. This BBC news clip echoes this:

On current trends, Oxfam says it expects the wealthiest 1% to own more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016. 

And yet, I meet so many people who are less than generous with their resources, time and “stuff”. These are the “small pie” thinkers. These people hold onto everything with clenched fists because they are scared of losing what they have. When they give, it does not have much value and is used as a lure for what they might be able to sell. They believe that there is only a small(metaphorical) pie and they need to keep as much for themselves as possible.

If the statistic above is true, the “small pie” is not our reality. Our pie is big and we have lots. Yes there is always someone who has more…..but we have lots already……So here is my take on “big pie” thinking. We have a big pie and we in the west have a big portion of it, so if we give some away (even to the poor in our society) we will still have lots. Here is the great thing about giving away your pie…..you get loads back in unexpected ways.

So some of you who follow my blogs (and I know you are out there Astrid!) may be wondering what this has to do with L&D……. as always there is a link. I have worked with some pretty generous people who share lots and love to collaborate…. great “big pie” thinkers. I am going to name a few, but apologise if I miss out anyone….

  • Sharon Young of Pearlcatchers
  • Lisa Price, Clarity People
  • Mike Collins, DPG
  • Andy Pearce, On Track Learning
  • Julian Kettleborough, The Studio
  • Karen Foundling, creative coach
  • Jane Hirst, Developing your potential
  • Lucy Hayward, Freelance consultant

I have worked with Sharon and have been associated with Pearlcatchers for a number of years – great collaborators.  Lisa, as HR Director gave me my first role in soft skills, moving from IT training. Mike Collins has been a great encourager in anything digital – he is a real guru! Andy, a client of mine who generously has given of his time to help promote the Learning Loop. Julian, a director of the Studio is collaborating with us on our Showcase event in November for the Learning Loop, in what will hopefully be a mutually beneficial project.

The remainder, I am proud to call my associates and friends, because they give their time, share resources, ideas and support. It is not always possible, as a small business to be able to pay everyone for everything they contribute, so if you “freely give” your time, resources, ideas and support, all of which are free…… you can collaborate on projects you never even thought possible.

Every month I give away a brand new training activity(that I have designed) to my monthly subscribers. Why? Let me list a few reasons:

  • I love it when others can use my ideas – sometimes I get to hear their stories about how it went (*see below)
  • I love the idea that I may have saved time for someone, somewhere or made them smile during a training session
  • I know that this idea or activity will not be my last, so I have “freely received” and so know I can “freely give
  • I get back so much more, not expecting to get anything in return

*At the World of Learning September 2015, I met a Astrid Ennis, a reader of my blog, who came to my stand and thanked me for sharing and told me how much she enjoyed receiving her free activities and my updates. It made me smile and made my day…..

So what would be the effect if we, as L&D professionals all started to think in a “big pie” way? How would L&D consultants benefit? How would organisations benefit? What would it be like? I would love to find out!

By the way, the concept of “small pie” and “big pie” thinking came from my husband Gareth Gadd, who so generously donated his thoughts on this!

 

Overcoming my greatest fear……part 2…..with friends

In May I shared my thoughts on my greatest fear and was just about to do something brave… Exhibit at the CIPD L&D show at Olympia. My greatest fear for the event was…….that I would look silly. On the morning of the 13th of May I could only manage to eat half of my breakfast. At the show…….looking around at the stands surrounding me, my stand was different…..too different? Too colourful? Not serious enough? Doubts flew and buzzed around my head.

What happened at the show amazed and astounded me, but also made me think about anyone else who may have similar thoughts and feelings. We all want to fit in and so when we have thoughts that differ from other people we can doubt our own convictions. How do we break free of these doubts when all around seem to have a different viewpoint?

I do not often give advice and this is no exception, so I will just share what I have done to help me overcome my greatest fear that week:

  • Share your ideas with people you respect and trust 
  • Ask for honest feedback and ask them what you could do differently
  • When people you trust praise you say “thanks” and then inwardly digest it. Begin to believe it
  • Ask for their advice. Be aware you can choose what to do with this advice
  • Ask for the support you need
  • Feel the fear and do it anyway! (Yes I know it’s a book already)

Here are some photos of the event and I cannot wait to continue the conversations with those who stopped by and gave some of their precious time to find out what we do.

   

     

Our Greatest Fear

IMG_0001_2The prose at the end of this blog comes from Marianne Williamson and is called “Our Greatest Fear”. It has been a great inspiration to me and helped me overcome some of my British reserve” (even though both of my parents are Polish!)

Reading this for the first time, it really made me think about what my greatest fears are. In no particular order these are some of mine:

  • Appearing arrogant or big-headed
  • Success
  • Failure
  • Looking silly

I could probably spend a lot of time on each of these, but it is the first of these that has impacted the development of my career and my business most of all, up until a  few years ago.

Common scripts running through my head were:

“If you are good at something, others will notice and tell others about it”

“If you tell someone you are good at something they probably will not believe you”

“People who publicise themselves are full of themselves”

These scripts did not serve me well. They prevented me (in the past) from:

  • Writing articles to be published in a professional journal
  • Writing blogs
  • Writing a book
  • Exhibiting at professional exhibitions to promote my business
  • Putting myself forward for a speaking slot at conferences

And some others too……

By May the 15th I will have done all of the things listed above. So what has brought about this change of heart and mind?

  1. I  have reflected on my own performance and then used others feedback to weigh it up
  2. When others have praised me, I have resisted the temptation to say “It’s nothing…” instead I have thanked them and inwardly digested their praise.
  3. I offer “my way” as an option and not an absolute (except for my thought on objectives of course!!)
  4. I invite feedback, but how I accept it is my choice
  5. Listening to others points of view is still important to me
  6. I know I can change my mind…..

So……if you fear looking arrogant, then ask yourself

  • “How many people have told me I am good at this?”
  • “Deep down, how do I know I am good at this?”
  • How can I put this across to others and offer it as an option?”

IMG_0079Finally …… I would encourage you all to shine and then encourage others to shine by your example …… you never know what you might catch yourself achieving!

 

Our Greatest Fear — “Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson, Harper Collins, 1992

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

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 you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not 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 own 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.

 

Putting on your thinking hats……..

greenhatRecently I was working with a client, running a leadership workshop where we explored different ways of thinking. It really reminded me of what a great tool de Bono’s “6 Thinking Hats” is.

blackhat

whitehatI used an example of a children’s party to introduce the concepts of different thinking styles to the same situation. Putting on your black hat, might end up with a very boring party and definitely no running around! The green hat would allow you and the child’s imaginations to run riot and have the party of their dreams. The
white hat would be concerned with numbers, names and logistics. redhatRed hat thinking would ensure you considered the emotions and enjoyment of the occasion.

What really worked well in this workshop was then applying the same process to a current project and discussing how the thinking may alter your perspective and/or actions.  Finally we considered if there would be an bluehatyellowhatappropriate order to the thinking hats for their situations. This led to a very interesting discussion with a group of highly technical people, when they realised that they need to use their red hats a lot more, so that they can possible avoid some of the conflicts they are experiencing. This meant that the red hat was dotted at regular intervals in their 6 hats thinking sequence – what a revelation!

 

blackhatbluehatgreenhatyellowhatwhitehatredhat

 

What or who inspires you?

IMG_0036Mike Collins of DPG prompted me to do a selfie of “What inspires you about L&D?” as part of promoting the CIPD L&D show next week and coincidentally David Allen shared an update on LinkedIn asking “Who inspires you?”. Both these prompts have got me thinking….

Life in the last year has taken an unusual turn for me… I am very busy working and also need to be busy because of my circumstances. I love what I do but what happens when I come back from a training event shattered and in need of an early night? What makes me get up early the next day to prepare for the next event? What makes be give my all for the next client, even though my energy reserves are low?

The picture to the left says it all(nearly). Any trainer who has been around the block will know exactly what a light bulb moment is. For me sometimes it is almost imperceptible…. a faint glimmer that something has shifted, changed or landed. It is not always comfortable for the learner, when this happens, but it signals the start of something. I can detect it sometimes because the individual goes quiet and may appear deep in thought. The opposite might happen too – I have had the odd individual be quiet vocal when they “get it”.

So who inspires me? That is much more personal. I wanted to think of someone eminent, gargantuan in reputation and add some witty line to show how I was using that individual’s actions to model my own career. In reality my inspiration comes from a good friend, who lived life to the full and made all around her feel they were special. She made me laugh, still makes me smile when I think of her and reminds me that there are bigger things to be worried about than the colours on my flipcharts or the number of LinkedIn connections. People are important. Relationships are important. Being real with people is important. If you can make a difference to one persons life, whoever that person is ….. then that makes it all worth while. That is what gets me out of bed in the morning……

My friends name? Pat McHale….. sadly no longer with us in person, but here we are having peach bellinis last February at lunchtime, in north London.

Pat