January 8

Against all odds….

Against all odds….

What does it mean to be really driven by success? We often hear people talk about career success using words such as drive, focus, passion and commitment. We should also acknowledge for many small businesses attributes such as dedication and self-sacrifice are part of the landscape. But what is reality?

In a Sunday Times article last year, there was a joint interview of James Dyson and his son Jake. Jake recalled how, when his father was developing his bagless vacuum cleaners, he built 5127 prototypes before he got the concept right. Yes, 5127! Can you imagine the long hours and the challenges of trying to fund this work as well as deal with a young family?

January 3

Resolutions… The Party’s Over…

Resolutions… The Party’s Over…

Was trolling through the Fast Company News bulletins this morning (recommend as a source of general business reading) and came across an article “The Trick to Actually Making Your Resolutions Stick This Year”. Made me laugh, given my post recommending that you Shouldn’t make resolutions..

However, I note the themes are broadly similar between this post and my blog so note these here for convenience:

December 31

Resolutions – give them up!

Resolutions – give them up!

It is that time of year, when people think New Year, new leaf… turn the page. They do this by resolving to do something differently and live a different life. Let me ask you a question, do you do this? If so, what is your track record. (#Resolutions)

It is a curious custom. Once a year after we have spent quality time with family and friends, we realise that we may have some different choices. You regularly hear of people who are fed up with the 9-to-5 existence, who desire better life outcomes (such as more exercise), different body shapes, to give up alcohol, tobacco etc. There are many things people might desire to change given the impetus of a New Year.

December 21

What got you here….

What got you here….

When I watch television programmes like The Apprentice (#TheApprentice) I always pay attention to the ways in which candidates appear to limit themselves. Time after time, in the boardroom, candidates defend themselves with their claims that they can sell, or project manage (when they are not trying to point out each others failings). As a coach, I always try to notice the ways in which people could improve and realise their potential.

What the candidates don’t appear to understand, is that the ability to sell or manage a task are ‘givens’. To get the investment, Alan Sugar appears to expect that people are competent in these areas. From time to time he also expects that candidates also live up to their stated abilities – notable this series was the finance person who didn’t work out the break even on the coach tour they were required to organise and make money from. Business is about getting money from your customers bank account into your own, so you have to sell, but you also have to manage your business, market and lead.

November 24

Think like a winner

Think like a winner

Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton (#lewishamilton) – World F1 Champion – great achievement

Whilst this is the pinnacle of his year, you can’t forget the twists and turns that made this an exciting season for him. Engine failure in the first race left him trailing in the rankings right from the start. This was to happen again, because of various different circumstances and he found himself with a 20 point deficit for the Championship lead three times. How did he respond? Lets hear from Hamilton in his own words: “I really thought for the following days and turned my focus to a different area. I came back to the races with a slightly different approach. I won’t explain exactly what I did, because I need to bring it to the races next year, but I did tweak my approach throughout the weekend.” (source: BBC News).

November 18

Guaranteed Success!

Guaranteed Success!

That got your attention.

We see these suggestions all the time… “5 ways in which you can be successful”, “15 ways to be the next billionaire”. Fantastic… I have so many ideas about how I can be the next Warren Buffett it is incredible. However, whilst I am living the dream I am, alas not Mr Buffett Mk 2 (in reality nor would I want to be, but that is another story…). My personal favourite is how to be successful like Richard Branson (or any other great entrepreneur of our time).

July 24

What is good customer service?

What is good customer service?

A great many years ago, I bought a pair of boots in the US whilst on holiday. I rarely wore them and they tended to sit in the back of a cupboard most of the time. After I had owned them for about 10 years I got them out to wear and found that the soles had started to perish. This was a very well known brand. I wasn’t particularly impressed, so I wrote to their UK Head Office. I got a nice letter back and was asked to return the boots. In the covering letter I enclosed when I did this, I mentioned that I had bought the boots in the US and would be happy with a repair. Given the age of the boots I also said I’d be happy to pay (as I figured this would be cheaper than replacement.

June 14

Happiness is by choice and not chance….

Happiness is by choice and not chance….

I came across this quote recently and it is a prescient reminder that we have more choice than perhaps we think we do. We often make up reasons why we have ‘got to’ do something. “I will get fired”, “So and so will hate me”, “It will all end in tears”… How many of these things are true in reality? It is a choice. I will be at work tomorrow morning because I choose to be. If I don’t show up, I may get fired, I may not. The point is I have a choice about what happens and I can control my own destiny. There isn’t someone with a loaded gun at my head ‘making’ me go to work.

We often forget that we DO have a choice. We make things up, we imagine dire consequences. We allow ourselves to be swayed about what could happen. In this world, the consequences assume a life of their own and they stop us from taking action and being responsible for our own success.

Ask, find out, don’t assume. Happiness is a conscious choice.

May 11

Career Curveball

Career Curveball

As we all know, life sometimes involves twists and turns that are both unexpected and seem to shatter well laid plans. The result is that the course of your future life trajectory changes quite significantly and it may not seem as if this is either positive, or in your best interests. For some people, the change is as much physically life changing as it is mentally life changing – such as for severely wounded and handicapped servicemen coming back from active service overseas.

Something that very few people will know about me. Throughout my teen years I was very keen on joining the Army. I went to Westbury for officer selection and consequently went to Sandhurst. After 3 months, the Army decided that it was perhaps better if chose something else to do with my life… even though the experience made me even more sure that that is what I wanted to do. I was 18, it was December and the only thing I had ever wanted to do was taken away from me. Pretty much a career curveball…. (#careercurveballs).

April 2

Getting more out of your career

Getting more out of your career

People often ask me how I manage to accomplish so much, given my busy life and career. I often ask myself the same question, when I am reflecting upon how far I have come in life. As well as working, I managed to complete a Masters degree last year, have learned bass guitar (in the last 4 years) to the point where I can play in a band with professional musicians, have a large garden/allotment, run my own business and still find time to write blogs and articles for magazines and journals. As a coach when I talk to people one of the biggest issues that I hear is work life balance and lack of fulfilment.

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