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Making the best of your life

10 May 2015

NLP Courses out and about!

Delighted to be able to announce our new suite of NLP courses, to run over the Autumn and through Winter, bringing some cheer and energy into this transitional time of year.

Our learners consistently report transformational change when studying NLP with us, and we love facilitating the learning.  We are very pleased to have exclusive use of the luxurious Cranmer Country Cottages to give the courses a flying start, a venue familiar to us and much appreciated by our delegates last time, the swimming pool adding a little oomph factor, as well as the beautiful surroundings.

As ever, the prices reflect a no profit culture, and we're happy to answer any questions or give more information if you would like some.

We have the Master Practitioner beginning on 28th September,and the Diploma/Practitioner beginning on 29th.  Please do get in touch if you would like more details, from Julia McGinn

2 Apr 2015

The Power to Change

Today I wanted just to include this piece as it articulates perfectly the power of health and life transition.  Enjoy.

31 Mar 2015

Making and Breaking Habits

I was struck last month by a fine article by Mary Oliver in the inspiring online resource Brainpickings on the value of habits. It resonated because I had found myself only the day before encouraging a team with whom I was working to extend their perspective on what constitutes a habit.
What do you think of when you hear the word habit? Is it something like smoking, drinking, overeating, or some other easily recognisable activity? This is quite a common response.  However, in organisations and indeed elsewhere, it’s useful to remember that we create habits all of the time – the habit of talking about someone instead of to them, the habit of going home a bit late, the habit of procrastination, the habit of moaning – whatever it’s going to be.  Habits form a key part of the working environment and culture.
We hear lots of mythology on habits – how long it takes to make one, how long it takes to break one, and so on. I am not keen on the rigidity of these claims of `how long’ as in my experience, a habit can be made or broken in many different ways and time frames. It seems to me that there are three stages to habit breaking or creation, when it comes to workplace culture change – and each of those stages might have all kinds of nuances or aspects. However, in essence, to either break or create habits, we need to do the following.
  • Recognition – take a workplace habits inventory.  How do we do this?  Well, begin to notice. Habits reveal themselves in language, practice and custom. `I always have to have a coffee before I can think properly’.  Notice how you and others behave in meetings, how people react after meetings (the uncensored conversation in the rest rooms, over lunch).  Notice what the cultural habit of meeting and greeting is – the CEO ignores the team, the CEO is `in the habit’ of making sure they say hello whenever possible. What is the expected time input habit?  Habits are what shape a culture, either into a healthy thriving culture (Herzberg, 1959) or into a culture with a heavy shadow side (Egan, 1994). With whatever tweaks, we see well established evidence through time and place which indicates key factors for creating and sustaining winning cultures.

  • Evaluate – how do these habits impact the working culture?  This is a question of adding up the pros and cons. If outspace conversations mean that no one is going to speak openly in meetings, then they are a poor habit.  If they are a sounding board for creativity for what might be said next time, they are useful. And so on. So, what are the costs and consequences of workplace habits?

  • Create new habits.  One of the tenets by which we work is not to take away anyting that has served a purpose until we have something better to replace it with.  So we need now to discover what habits might create more accomplishment.  This is where Mary Oliver’s viewpoint helps.  Habits can give structure, and in new culture creation, this can be more than useful. A manager I know in the third sector has overcome the paper trail challenge faced by many who regard themselves as people workers first and foremost. He has changed his personal conceptualisation and concrete application so that the paperwork is integrated into the client encounter, and if it can’t be done immediately, it is diaried in such a way that any client centred task is not ready to tick off until all paperwork is complete. This is different from when he used to leave it `till later’.  He has changed his habit, to create better outcomes, less cost, more positive consequences.
Sound easy, doesn’t it, and in essence it is.  Where the challenge sometimes exists is in the will, the skills and the capabilities to create transformational habits, and this is where sometimes individuals, teams and organisations might need a little help.  Equally, you might be surprised at how easily change can come about.

My current habit change is in the area of multi tasking – or not!  I will be reviewing this personal challenge in the near future! 

22 May 2014

Ooops! Learning the value of Data Protection

It's been a busy time, as ever,  now with moving house (new study - yay) to be a little nearer to Lincoln.  Walls are being painted, floors laid, while tenders are going out, courses written, and Dr D Senior engrossed in an intensive contract.  Last Friday, what with all this and building and moving the pigeon lofts (do you know about these yet??),  we took joy in relaxing in front of the TV with a nice glass of red.

Then the pin came out of the hand grenade.

"Have you seen my briefcase?'"  Dr D idly said, as we chilled out.  A slight tremor rippled through my veins. No, I hadn't.

"Okay. Must have left it at the new house," he said, as the routine was for him to drop by there as he came home to present and soon to be redundant quarters. We topped up our vats and continued to chill.

So when I had a phone call the next day to say that no, he hadn't found it, and imagined that he might have left it in the gents or the restaurant in the building he was working in - a building with massive footfall I might add -  the grenade was unexpectedly live, and  the tremor in my veins resumed. So much so that when the phone call ended, I must confess to an increased heart rate and an expletive or two.

I was not in the least concerned about the monetary value of the contents of the briefcase, the laptop, various other gadgets, the briefcase itself. No. My first question to myself was:

Was there any sensitive data in there not yet encrypted?

This would not have been the case two years ago, before I had been trained by the excellent Mike Martin and Paul Adams, previously of Admar,  now of Griffin House Consultancy, in the principles and demands of the Data Protection Act.  Prior to that, I hadn't fully integrated how much we needed to know, imagining that DPA was for bigger companies.  This ridiculous misapprehension, despite being reasonably intelligent and priding myself on ethical practice.

Training in DPA was a delight.  Mike and Paul produce a cracking course, and being the gents that they are, have made it interactive, interesting and fun. And I learned a shedload, to protect my clients, and my business.

So on that fateful Saturday morning, I knew that I had been utilising my learning,  yet I just had that niggle - was Dr D Snr's vigilance up to scratch?  My mind ran overtime.  What if he hadn't yet complied between the morning note taking and the afternoon loss?  What if someone found the laptop and discovered access to some high powered confidential information?  What if we were sued?  What if we lost the possibility of future work?  What if we had unwittingly compromised a client?

I needn't have worried.  Further investigation revealed that no data had been unlawfully accessible, as himself had complied to what we had learned. Not only that, some kind person had in fact discovered said briefcase and handed it in to the security officer.  Phew.  Aren't people great.

Thank you then to Griffin House Consultancy.  Before undertaking the course, I think we might have been in hot water last Friday. As it was, we experienced merely a little ripple in the waters.

I would recommend ALL business owners to go on one of the courses.  I know that there is one in Mansfield in June, and you can find details through the following LINK   Then you can be confident that you have protected your clients and yourself. And, you'll have a bit of fun and gain good networking.

5 Apr 2014

There is no failure, only feedback.

Last Wednesday, I went for my final appointment with my eye surgeon at Lincoln County General, the end of a journey which began in October 2012. My check up was to put the seal on after three bouts of surgery, and to have a stitch removed from my iris. A stitch so tiny I could hardly see it, even when removed. A miracle of skill and science.
My surgeon, Mr Castillo, thanked me for the postcard I had sent him from Thailand. It had been, of course, my pleasure. I sent it from Ko Chang, one of a cluster of breathtakingly beautiful islands in the region. With the gift of full sight that my surgeon had given to me, I was able to do full justice to all that I noticed there visually. The innocence of a child’s joy, the responsiveness of those taking pleasure in that innocence: the sheer natural stunning beauty of the island, its silver seas, it lush green foliage, its bright sky and shimmering air;a busy pier, supporting a bustle of islanders and tourists, with its tapestry of clothes, aromatic and colourful foodstuffs, bespangled jewellery, toys, glistening bric a brac; fascinating facial interchanges between people,a myriad of expressions betraying the nuances of hope, hurt, disdain, appreciation, uncertainty, derision, pleasure, hilarity, love. 

I remember being moved to send the card, as I sat in the dusk after a wonderful day exploring. I was moved to remember that twelve months ago I’d have been only able to see all that I saw through a light brown haze known as cataracts: three months before, after surgery went wrong and I lost the lens in my right eye, I could only see through very dark glasses and a contact lens: yet just three weeks prior to my visit to Thailand, after some self healing and yet  more corrective surgery, now I was privileged to drink in the beauty around me.

When mid surgeries,  in a deep uncertainty of prognosis and possibilities, and ruminating on the operation that did not go well, I confess to a mental blip, and a degree of natural curiousity.  Could anything have been done differently, I'd asked my surgeon, would better conditions in the operating theatre have prevented the unfortunate outcome? Mr Castillo had listened to me patiently, explained all that he could, made no empty promises, was truthful.

And after a time, when he discovered that he was able to make the corrective surgery, I believe that in his own frame, he was as delighted as me.

At the end of the process, the day before he gave me the all clear to fly, Mr Castillo told me the following.  
`You know, when we work in this area, we never know exactly what will happen.  And you have to learn something from everything and anything that happens, because we are dealing with people, not tins of beans.  I say to my students, a great surgeon is not about being perfect all of the time, because now and then the unexpected will occur.  The great surgeons are the ones who know how to deal with the unexpected, to be able to evaluate when things have not gone smoothly, to be patient and explore every possibility with attention, and then learn from that process. The great surgeons are not those who seek only perfection for their egos.  They are the ones who learn from the problems they encounter. And that, that is what I tell my students.’
At no point had this wonderful man considered my surgery a failure, simply a process that had not yet run smoothly. 
I loved him for that, and I hope to send him more postcards, more celebrations of the outcome of his deep understanding and philosophy, without which he might not have bothered to continue to improve and share his outstanding. 

2 Apr 2014

People Create Their Own Environments

Some notes from the day that I arrive in Thailand :)

I wake up on the plane, somewhere in the ether between time zones.  I hear two people, The Moaning Minnies, their voices carping to each other in the seats in front.
I can never get to sleep on planes, it’s just so uncomfortable, isn’t it?
I stretch, adjust my blanket, take a swig of water.  I notice the guy on my right, one seat between us, who is cozied up in a Parka, black neck rest in place, blankets up to his chin. Fast asleep, just as he was 4 hours before.
And then there’s the time lag.  That’s going to be a nightmare.
Hmm. Well, if that’s what you think, I imagine that’s how it will be.

I get up, go and make my ablutions, do some yoga stretches, settle back down.  I open my Kindle, don headphones and get back into my audiobook, the excellent What a Carve Up, a Jonathan Coe masterpiece of political satire.

Clearly, all parties alluded to here, although on the same plane, were in highly different environments.

A memory jumped from back to front of my consciousness, a memory from many years ago, when I was admitted to hospital to have a second bout of surgery connected to a cancerous tumour in my breast. 

23 Feb 2014

The Map is not theTerritory

So here I am, it’s Thursday morning, and I’m packed, ready to go to Thailand, Siam, as my partner insists on suggesting.
`As a matter of interest’, I ask him, `when did Siam become Thailand? Do you know who changed it, and why?’
He didn’t know: I said I’d look it up.  I booted up the laptop to go googling, only to become distracted by a message from my daughter, K, who is in Thailand already, and meeting me tomorrow from the plane.
`Mum’, she warns, `there is a convoy of famers on their way to the airport.’
I think she is going to tell me a joke.
`They don’t seem to be threatening anyone’, she goes on. `I’ll let you know when we’re neara.’
Aha. I realise that she is serious.  This is to do with the political unrest that is bubbling in Thailand because many of the country’s residents would like to overthrow the Prime Minister. Not a joke at all.  She goes on to tell me some of the mechanics of what might be happening, and then offers me huge reassurance.
`I have Reiki’ed your journey.  And mine.’
I smile. Then respond.
`Great. As it happens, I always travel in a purple light.  I will send some light pyramids your way as well.’
I read out the exchange to my husband, who looks at me funny.  Reiki and light pyramids don’t figure hugely in his map. He is more likely to be wondering whether I am completely losing it, as I close down the computer and jam my sandals into the bottom compartment of my new rucksack (K has my old one) and give a satisfied `yay’ as I find more straps to tighten up the whole caboodle.
I have no idea, of course, what is really in his head: I am not a mind reader.
`Be careful’, he says.  `Come home safely.’
Our intentions match.