Movement or progress?

Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse moves. Ask yourself: are you going to chose the path you walk, or be blown by the winds of circumstance?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about longevity – its impact on the modern workplace, our leaders, our health. All thoughts prompted by a great book called The 100 Year Life by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott.

And it’s funny how, as I’ve allowed this particular thread to lead me hither and thither, I’m increasingly struck by the sense that this brave new world perhaps isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I embrace my inner “grumpy old man” a little to easily, but bear with me.

Well being or being well?

As someone who works in learning, I’m very aware of our propensity, as learning professionals, to be taken in by the latest “shiny” thing, and I think it’s fair to say that wellbeing, mental health awareness, mindfulness and resiliance training are the sparkly new kids on the block…

And whilst I’m unconvinced by the claimed benefits of these “interventions”(which, by the way, is something only the UN should do) there’s a serious question to be asked about why, it would seem, people are so unhappy? According to the Trading Economics website, the average weekly hours worked in the UK are 32 – so we aren’t working ourselves into an early grave – and whilst we’re being sombre, the suicide rate is at its lowest for 30 years according to the Samaritans.

Yet, all I hear is how stressed people are, how much they have to do and how little time they have to do it in.  So, clearly, there’s a disconnect somewhere. The key question being – where? Which made me wonder if our problem is one of quantity over quality?

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Your noticing has been served

Physician, heal thyself

I’m not sure about you but I’m better at giving advice than receiving it. My privilege as a trainer and performance coach is to be able to fall back on “do as I say, not as I do”. This is not something I’m particularly proud of and nor is it something I want to admit to those I work with. I console myself, professionally at least, with the fact that my diagnostic skills lie in helping others and not myself. It also can’t be very helpful for anyone with the unenviable task of being my coach.

Recently, however, I was offered some advice and in spite of my habit, I took it. Surprisingly, to me anyway, the shift in awareness it provoked has rippled through my whole life. My own coach is a mindfulness expert and while we don’t spend too much time on this topic she set me a related task. I was to take an everyday activity and be fully in it as I perform it, noticing the sensations provoked by the experience.

Now, I’m not good at doing what I’m told. I will find ingenious ways not to do the homework I’ve been set (the French “devoir” always seemed a much more appropriate name). But over the Christmas break I had little excuse not to do one of the two very simple requests made of me.

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Those (negative) thoughts…

We apparently born with two fears. Fear of height and loud sound. The rest we develop in throughout our lives. Such fears drain confidence and one of them is the fear of failure. The bad ‘news’ is that ‘If you’re not prepared to be wrong (or to fail), you will never come up with anything original.’

Imagine you are driving your car on a road for hours and haven’t seen any car for hours and your GPS, or whatever app you use, shows the nearest gas station is several driving hours far in any direction – you are literally in the middle of nowhere. Then you get a flat Tyre. You stop and open your trunk. You don’t have a jack.

Sunset is approaching quickly, you lock your car and start walking. After around 2 hours, you spot a house. Walking towards the house you start thinking – how should I approach the house? do they have a hostile dog? What if the people living there are not friendly? Will they help me or attack me? All those doubts and negative thoughts keep hammering your head; you feel uneasy and scared, but you carry on.

You get to the house, knock on the door. Someone opens the door with a surprising but very sweet smile. You explain what happened and the person not only has a jack but invite you for a bowl of soup, drives you back, helps you changing the tyre and you follow your journey…

Does it resonate with you? These are the negative thoughts which come to drain confidence, create doubts and prevent you from reaching your goals!

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