Thursday, October 10, 2019

It's World Mental Health Day!

I was chatting to someone the other day – I’d been feeling low, some situations had got on top of me a bit and I was struggling with my mental health.  Over the years, I’ve got to know myself quite well – I generally know what the triggers are for me and when I need to be careful to take stock of what I’m thinking about and the situations I might find myself in.  If I’d had a cold or hurt my back and was feeling out of sorts or in pain I’d have no trouble saying this is why I was just being quiet at my desk or why I needed a day off, so why does it not work the same way when it is mental health related?  There has been so much talk about mental health awareness, mental health first aid and campaigns such as ‘It’s OK not to be OK’, so why is there still such a stigma around mental health?  We asked the question, if someone is off work long term because of mental health, why do we not talk of them in the same way as if it were because of cancer treatment or a major operation? 

I didn’t have the answer at the time – and I’m still not sure that I do, but I have given it some thought.  I don’t think there is one answer – if it were that simple we probably wouldn’t have so many people suffering.  But I do wonder if some of the reason is because we are taught and encouraged to look at the positives or ‘on the bright side’ of situations we find ourselves in.  Every cloud has a silver lining! We are told to think of those who are in worse situations than us.  Of course there are people in worse situations than us – the list is almost endless -  there are people who live in poverty, people who don’t have homes or clean water, people who have lost their job or home through no fault of their own, people facing loss or illness, people who are exploited in all sorts of ways – all of those situations and so many many more are very real for a lot of people but probably need a blog post all of their own. 

I believe we all have our own mountains. Perspectives are different and we will all view mountains differently.  Challenges come in different ways for each of us.  Don’t ‘dis’ someone else’s mountain. What isn’t significant to you can be huge to someone else and vice-versa. This isn’t a case of ‘my mountain is bigger than yours’.

Comparison is the big issue for many of us.  We used to refer to ‘keeping up with Jones’’ – the small circle of our network would have been our neighbours, our work colleagues or family, perhaps some influence from 4 or 5 television channels and a handful of lifestyle magazines.  It came down to the size of house you had, the car you drove or holiday you went on, perhaps the various appliances or gadgets in the house or shed.  I maybe simplifying things a little to male a point but in the past 25-30 years it’s completely different. We have hundreds of TV channels, social media is influencing everything we do. We have opinions and expectations about everything from everyone.  We’ve gone from posting a cheque and waiting up to 28 days for delivery for something we wanted ‘mail order’, to now shopping online with instant payment and getting cross of the item doesn’t arrive the next day. 

We want it all and we want it all now, and then we want some more. We wonder why we feel exhausted but we are always striving for something - for the next thing - we end up feeling like we aren’t coping – we have to be everything to everyone, do everything, live life to the full.

I wonder if what we really need to consider is how we can be kinder to ourselves and to others. Do we lack compassion for those with poor mental health - the word compassion comes from Latin ‘compati’ meaning ‘to suffer with’ - do we suffer with others or do we lack patience and grace?  In my own life I’ve experienced people letting me down when I needed them the most - but a lot of people don’t know how to handle other people’s struggles and it is more comfortable to ignore it or turn our backs.  Compassion doesn’t mean we allow ourselves to be walked over and taken advantage of.  I think a person who is suffering with poor mental health needs to come to a point of realising they need some help and works to get better.  If you had a bad knee you’d go to the doctor for help and if you have an operation to fix the knee there’s still work with physiotherapy to get it back to full strength - the same works for mental health - it takes hard work and determination and it isn’t always a quick fix. 

Be your own best friend - learn to help yourself. Be aware of the things you do and the people you spend time with that build you up and make you feel positive and energised and do more of them - limit your time or stop altogether, doing the things and meeting the people who just leave you feeling drained emotionally. People will let us down, they are human just like us and no one is perfect.  Other people are not responsible for our mental health or our happiness, we need to do that for ourselves.  Talk to someone.  Write a journal.  Find the thing that helps - walking, singing, yoga, baking…the list is long!  It’s OK not to be OK but don’t stay there and don’t do it alone. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Be a cheerleader!

We were watching the end stage of the annual Guernsey half marathon on Sunday. The runners had completed over 13 miles of the coast of the island and the finish line was almost in sight.  Most of the runners looked tired, some of them, exhausted! They had given everything to this race. The thing that struck me thought was as we and other spectators clapped them and shouted words of encouragement like ‘you’re nearly there’, ‘keep going’, you’re doing great’ as they ran past, it seemed to be making a difference to them. Some visibly perked up, their tired shoulders rose, some pushed out their chest and pushed on, one or two managed a smile, a thumbs up or even a strained ‘thank you! Some didn’t seem to even notice we were there but we clapped all the same. 

Talking with someone who has run a number of half marathons they confirmed to me the positive effect of the support, the clapping.  It got me thinking – I’m good at that(!) – and the word ‘cheerleader’ came to mind.  As we do these days, I Googled ‘cheerleader’ – and Wikipedia tells me that cheerleading is ‘an activity in which the participants (called ‘cheerleaders’) cheer for their team as a form of encouragement’.  As I thought a bit more on this I pictured the American football cheerleaders – probably what comes to mind for most people when they think about cheerleading – they shout for their team and support them throughout the game, no matter how they are doing, winning or losing, their enthusiasm remains, they still cheer. They also encourage the crowd to support their team. 

We all need cheerleaders in our lives and we need to be a cheerleader. 

I was listening to a podcast of a talk by Jayne Sargeant at Lifecentral Church (19th May 2019 – Live Your Best Life – Love Beyond Yourself) and she commented that living your best life always involves other people – living beyond ourselves, making a difference, helping others. A life of contribution and connection.  Jayne quoted Mother Teresa, who said ‘do small things with great love’.  This really ties in with being a cheerleader – we need to connect with people, take time to listen and support.  Cheering someone on doesn’t mean you need to agree with them when you think they are doing the wrong thing but it does mean having their best interest as your intent, being kind and encouraging.  It means loving someone not for what we get in return, clapping them along, not only in the times when they are winning but when their legs are tired, when the finish line seems a long way off or when the other team is scoring more goals.  It means speaking positively about people and encouraging others to do the same.  It means noticing what is important to others and letting that become important to you too.

Who will you shake your poms poms for? 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

A year of adventures!

A year ago tomorrow I went on first date!  I had been on other first dates during the past three or four years, made a friend or two along the way and met various men who weren't as they first seemed!  I'd been left disillusioned and disappointed many times and wondered if I would ever meet anyone I might want to share life with.

"We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us, and make us kinder. You always have the choice" Dalai Lama

So, I went on another first date.....I very nearly cancelled, not sure if I could really be bothered with going through the motions of making small talk and wondering how soon I could leave without looking rude - but this time it really was different.  Our first date lasted seventeen hours - we talked and walked, ate dinner, drank wine and talked some more.  We met again the next day and a couple more times during the week that followed! And here we are a year later.....!

My previous post was just before this time and was all about being brave on my adventures, but I was learning to be brave about letting someone get close to me.  I had been on quite a journey of finding myself again after divorce - it is the perfect cliché, but it really was the truth for me and I was in a place of knowing the only relationship I wanted was one that would compliment the life I had, not complicate it!

"The thing about being BRAVE is it doesn't come with the absence of fear and hurt. Bravery is the ability to look fear and hurt in the face and say move aside, you are in the way".  Melissa Tumino

I had to be brave again - the first time Ben told me he loved me and asked me to be his girlfriend I told him I didn't want him to love me!  I was scared.  I was scared of loving and loosing again - trying to protect myself I guess.   A friend reminded me that nothing is certain in life and sometimes we have to take a risk.  I was grateful for that advice and decided to take it one day at a time - not thinking about how it might all work out (or otherwise) but enjoy it for what it was.  Ben is kind and patient, yet persistent in loving me.  My previous experiences had made me cautious and I tested him  for a while, but the one thing we shared right from that very first date was honesty. Being real is important to both of us - there’s no judgement or self-righteousness, it’s a mutual respect, an openness to be who we are.

It hasn't all been plain sailing - when you get to forty-something and have both been married before and have children, it can have some challenges - but sharing life, sharing the ups and the downs and continuously talking, being open and honest makes a big difference and I'm so glad I didn't cancel that first date.

Why am I sharing this?  With so many of my other personal posts, I hope it might help someone.  Take a risk, what if you miss out on something wonderful for the fear it might not be?  It's a calculated risk - I'm not saying take a chance on anyone or anything - you'll know if it might be worth it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Being brave

It’s been a while since I last blogged. As usual, there’s been loads going on in my head but most of it isn’t shareable or even sensible!

What I have been thinking about though is fear and bravery.  Anyone who has read my previous blog posts will know about my 40@40 list - some would call it a bucket list, but it is a list of 40 things I’d like to do during my 40’s. I’m about half way through it and have ticked off some really fun, interesting and crazy things! In five weeks time I’ll be ticking off another one....going to New York.  Even typing that I can feel the butterflies of excitement and nerves in my belly.  I haven’t flown anything more than a couple of hours since 2001 and I’m doing this one on my own and meeting a friend out there.

One of the things I’ve learned since becoming single is that you can’t sit around and wait for life to change, for things to just happen to you or for circumstances to change to the way you want them to be. However, sometimes stepping out to do those crazy things and for me to tick off experiences on my 40@40 list isn’t easy. I’ve needed to be brave - to “feel the fear and do it anyway” as the expression goes.  Some people have told me I’m amazing and inspirational when they see me getting on with life and experiencing new things, travelling on my own, studying, doing work in my house.....but the reality is I’m not really that amazing! It’s not amazing  or inspirational to feel so lonely that you don’t know how life will ever be any different, or lay in bed with crippling anxiety that prevents you from sleeping. Mostly now I can beat it but sometimes it beats me.  But I have learnt to be brave. I have learnt that each day is a new day, that often those dark times are just moments and over time I’ve found strategies to help.

It would be easy to decide not to go to New York - to feel the fear and back out, to feel the fear and be paralysed by it into staying home (there’s still time for that to happen!!!). But, I’ll be the one missing out and won’t get to see the places I’d like to see or do the things I’d like to do.

I suppose I’ve been thinking more about this lately because of what I see on social media - there’s some great stuff online, it’s a brilliant way to stay in touch with people who don’t live near us and there’s loads of information, ideas and inspiration, but at the same time we need to be careful that we don’t don’t spend so much time looking at what other people are doing that we lose the perspective of reality.  Facebook and Instagram are so often a show reel of lives that it’s easy to become dissatisfied and disappointed with our own lives when in actual fact those ‘perfect’ people and families have just as much ‘stuff’ going on as we do.

We think everyone else has it together, that they everything we want and we can sink into our own misery, but what I’ve learnt from talking to people, from listening and observing is that there are lots of people who you think have it all and have it all together that actually don’t!!

I often find myself with time alone at home and while some people would enjoy this, I have to be careful not to have too much time alone as my overthinking brain works in overdrive and I can quickly become negative and miserable.  I’ve realised that I can’t sit and wait for an invitation to spend time with other people and I need to be brave and do the asking.  It’s brave because they might say they can’t meet and my brain will quite often read or hear that as they don’t like me and don’t want to spend time with me!! But, as often as that happens, there many times when they are free and we all benefit from sharing time together.

So my message through all these words is be real, be open, be brave!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Review of BIFM CI event - Feb 2017

On Friday 10th February, we held our first BIFM Channel Islands event for 2017.

This was the first event with me as deputy chair of the branch, so I was excited and nervous at opening the day and introducing the speakers and the links in-between!  We had a great line up of speakers to present on our topic of people.  It was interesting to hear people approaching this from a HR perspective but in reality the subject of people is one we all need to understand more about as we all deal with people in everything we do. 

We were privileged to have Liz and Dave Kentish with us from the UK.  Liz is past deputy chair of the BIFM and together they run their business Kentish & Co.  Liz started the first session of the day talking about Cognitive Dissonance – where situations involve conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviours – why do we do something even though we know it’s not right? 

We had two lists of questions/statements to answer – for example: ‘texting when driving is dangerous’ – I’m sure most people would agree with that statement and yet when we looked at the second set of questions, the example was ‘I have texted whilst in control of my vehicle’!  – have a look at the link here to their blog post where you can find out more and look at the questions/beliefs we looked at in the session.  

Around the room people shared their responses and it was noted how we tell ourselves stories to justify what we do or the way we think.  We know what the right thing is to do but we don’t always do it – we have a personal choice to change our behaviour but we need to make a decision – in the words of Yoda “Do or do not, there is no try”. 

Our next speaker was Andi Raziya, front of house manager at the old government house hotel.  Andi was enthusiastic and entertaining as she shared her passion and experience for customer service.  She explained how looking after our internal customers (the staff) means that they will in turn look after the external customers (our clients/guests).  Customer service is all about how it makes you feel, what makes you feel good?, the customer feeling good about the service or product.  

Andi gave 5 points around the best customer service:
1.     Understanding people – you don’t know what people have been through to get to you. Ask questions and find out what they like – what do they enjoy? How can you tailor what you are doing for them in response to this? 
2.     Recognising their needs – treat each customer as a VIP – what you find out in the first point will help with knowing their needs – Andi gave the example that a guest travelling for business might need a room with a larger desk for working than perhaps a couple on a romantic break who might like champagne in their room!
3.     Communication – the most vital requirement for all organisations – makes us or breaks us. 
4.     Training – Andi told us how they look for personality within the person when recruiting as they believe they can teach and develop the other skills.  Training empowers staff and boosts team confidence, it makes it a happy place to work with happy staff who make more money.
5.     Rewards – the rewards programme involves the staff themselves, voting for their peers. It motivates good work with instant recognition vouchers and an employee of the month scheme. 

Andi told us how the founders of the Red Carnation Group are investors in people, they know the people who work for them and give them opportunities.  They believe in people and lead by example. 

A great way to be and an encouragement to those of us working in teams, to encourage our teams, to build the level of service we provide to our customers, whether they are internal or external – treat each customer as a VIP must be something we remember! 

Richard Hamilton from BIS Consultants brought another topic to us –  “Understanding Relationships – what works and what doesn’t”.  Richard started by encouraging us all to take responsibility for ourselves and to be honest during this session in order to get the most out of it.  Author John Powell said “communication works for those who work at it”.   We looked at communication and how we send and receive messages but do we understand and accept them?  Does the person we communicate with receive and understand it in the way we send it and therefore perhaps how it is accepted or otherwise depends on this.  Richard got everyone involved by drawing a ‘charting communication’ picture.  With ourselves in the middle, we drew other people with whom we communicate regularly but then looked at those lines of communication – what are the issues?  Are they open lines of communication?  Perhaps just manageable, we just do what we have to.  Or maybe they are erratic – you don’t really know what kind of response you are going to receive from that person or worse still, a closed line – where communication has broken down, there’s no trust, no relationship.

Richard explained how listening is a huge part of communication – Stephen Covey quote “most people do not listen with an intent to understand, they listen with an intent to answer”. If we ask someone how they are, do we really want to know the true answer or are we hoping they will say they are fine and we move on?  Be prepared to stop talking and be interested! 

We were then challenged to look at our charts of communication again with regards to how we impact others.  How our attitude affects our behaviour which in turn can affect the other person’s attitude and their behaviour, and it continues.  Perhaps the issues we have with our lines of communication with others is down to how they feels the line is coming back to us – do people come to talk to me and not always know what kind of response they are going to receive?  We briefly looked at transactional analysis – the parent, adult, child responses and how this will affect effective communication.  Be self-aware, if you’re having a bad day, don’t set up a meeting you know will be difficult.  Give yourself the advantage!

Communication doesn’t just happen – think about it, understand it, work at it, practice it

After a short break for tea and biscuits we were back onto the agenda with Phil Eyre from The Learning Company bringing his presentation – “Creating Purposeful Work: connecting team passion with the needs of your organisation”.  Phil started with the statistics, worldwide, only 13% of employees are engaged at work! Not only are the remaining 83% not engaged, 24% are actively disengaged!  This is costing organisations money but also people are frustrated and not fulfilled. 

So many questions – why are we here? What makes us unique? What drives you?

Simon Sinek gives a great TED talk called “How great leaders inspire action”

Finding our purpose is key – autonomy over our ability, time and resources and gain mastery in our purpose will be motivating.

Phil shared a story about President John F Kennedy, visiting NASA in 1962, noticed a janitor carrying a broom – he went over to the man and asked him what he was doing. The janitor  replied, “well, Mr President, I’m helping put a man on the moon”.  We all have a part to play, a purpose.

What is the purpose of facilities management?  It’s to make something happen…..Phil called it the ‘unseen essential’.  He encouraged us to think of the ‘great’ reasons for being in FM.  When teams understand their purpose, great things can happen – a purposely connected team will perform well.  They are move fulfilled, there is less staff turnover, they become more creative and more engaged.

Phil lead us in some workshops – helping us to think more about purpose.  When we were young, what did we want to do for a job – what qualities were associated with that role and how does that relate to what we do now? As homework, we were encouraged to think about what our purpose in life is – looking at our strengths and qualities.

We all have a curriculum vitae – the course of my life… about a propositum vitae – the purpose of my life?  What would a PV look like for a facilities manager? What characteristics, passions, motivations, mastery, unique skills do you want to see?  

And finally, how do you know what your team cares about?  What are you doing to find out?

It was a challenging and thought provoking presentation – the people in the room engaged with the workshops and it gave some food for thought which I hope will continue long after the training day itself. 

Over lunch there was an opportunity for networking – an ideal opportunity to discuss further the topics from the morning session as well as making new contacts and sharing stories.

Liz started the afternoon session with “Sparkling Moments”.  This is a solution focus approach to coaching based on the principals of not fixing what isn’t broken, when you understand what works, do more of it but if it’s not working then do something different.  

Liz got everyone into pairs – the first person asked the second to tell them about a personal ‘sparkling moment’ at work over the past few weeks, a time when they felt really good about being there.  What made it sparkle? What did they do? What did others do?  The first person listened for all the details, the evidence being explained to them.  Then they swapped over and the second person asked the same questions of the first.  Then it was time for feedback – what did their story tell you about their excellent qualities, skills and resources as a person?  They shared what they had heard and complimented them.  When they had said thank you the pairs swapped over for feedback to the other person.  The third part of this exercise was to find a small, yet specific action which will increase the likelihood of more sparkling moments.  As a large group we then shared what we found interesting and surprising about what we had heard/said.  It was interesting that it is so easy to lose or forget those sparkling moments because of general ‘noise’ in our day to day.  Liz left us with the challenge to encourage others to look for their sparkling moments.

Jo Cottell from Guernsey Mind was at the event to speak on mental wellbeing in the workplace.

You will know from my previous posts that this a subject I have personal experience of and I could relate to so much of what Jo was speaking about.

Guernsey Mind is a local charity promoting positive mental health. 

Jo started by telling us that we are all different and simple practical solutions work best for us to have good mental health.  We should be able to feel confident to talk about our mental health without facing discrimination. 

Good mental health enables us to live life well, have healthy relationship and be physically healthy.  It enables us to face the natural up and downs of life and grow to fulfil our potential.  Mental health has an effect on business – good mental health amongst employees will reduce sick days and the costs associate with that, will improve performance and productivity, lower premiums for healthcare, a positive corporate message – an employer of choice because it’s a caring organisation.

Jo gave us some interesting statistics such as 1 in 6 people at work have a mental health condition; 70 million days are lost from work each year, every 2 seconds someone Googles ‘depression’.   In Guernsey, specifically, 33% of sickness and long term disability claims are related to mental health (SSD, 2013).

Surprisingly, there is no law in Guernsey (yet!) specifically relating to discrimination on the grounds of disability (mental health) although the Health & Safety Ordinance 1987 states every employer must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of his/her employees………including the provision and maintenance of a safe working environment.

We also looked at stress – good and bad stress and the physical reaction it causes.  We often seem to have too much to do and too little time and add on the pressulres of life and we wonder why we are stressed! We work long hours trying to get better results or more completed yes end up with low job satisfaction and more sick days.  We don’t take enough breaks, get run down, become unproductive and tired.

Jo gave us some pointers of what to look for to recognise the symptoms of poor mental health – generally looking for changes in someone’s usual behaviour – reduced performance, altered patterns of behaving or living, changes in mood, physical symptoms etc. And the changes in ourselves – not able to recognise own ability, finding it difficult to concentrate and be productive, feel out of control, fear the future. 

We looked at the common signs and symptoms of anxiety and also of depression – the physical signs, feelings, thoughts and behaviours and then what we can do to help ourselves.  Jo encouraged us to ‘fit your own mask first’ – making sure we are well in order to help and be of use to others.  Taking time for breaks at work, for exercise and proper holidays (away from emails and mobile phones!), doing things that make you happy, learn to say no when appropriate. But we also looked at what we can do if it all becomes too much – if stress is unmanageable or you feel unwell – the first thing was to talk to someone – perhaps someone at work or even use the services at Guernsey Mind.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help – focus on getting enough sleep and exercise, eat well and do things you enjoy.  GPs can also help, along with mental health services if a referral is required.

Jo then looked at what can be done to encourage a mentally healthy workplace culture.  Talking was important, focussing on positive things, having a mental health policy, offering additional support if required as well as training to highlight signs and symptoms of poor mental health and how and where to get support. Implement initiatives to support wellbeing such as healthy eating, social opportunities and exercise.

Deloitte made this short film about the people they employ who have and live with mental health – This is Me -

David Kentish brought us the final session of the day – 'Your Personal Brand'

We looked at what a personal brand is – personally and professionally.  What makes a brand successful – if it’s relevant and/or trusted.

A personal brand will make you stand out from the crowd – let you talents shine and you’ll be picked.  Even though we tell ourselves what other people think of us doesn’t matter, actually to a point it does!  You need to let other people know what you stand for.  People will buy from people they like and trust.  Within all of this it is important to still remain who you are – don’t try to be someone else.  Imitation doesn’t work!  You can take on the attributes you admire in others and build them into your own personalities but don’t try to be someone you are not.  Promote your strengths and build on them – tell people what you’re good at and use examples and improve what isn’t so strong.  You will stand out by your positive behaviour, not by dressing as batman! 

This was another interactive session when we got into pair to discuss our personal brand…..we thought about our current brand, what we wanted our brand to be and what the gaps were between them – the challenge then was to draw up an action plan on how to achieve what we wanted. 

David referred to our online brand – social media and business networking site – what we post and how we comment all relates to our personal brand.  He also noted that our brand offline is important – how we dress, our behaviour and language and being respectful.

David summed up the session with the advice to ‘be the best ‘brand of you’ that you can be’.

It was a full day of learning, being inspired, challenge and interacting.  Busy planning the next event now!!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A reality check

I've just come back from a week in France with my two girls. 

This was our first holiday just the three of us. Previous times have either visiting friends and last year we travelled withy sister and niece. 

The travel and accommodation was booked about April time and we were all excited. I've wanted a holiday in France for years and never made it so this was a long awaited trip. However a few days before going I started to get a bit jittery about the enormity of what I was doing. A week on my own with the girls in a foreign country, driving on the 'wrong' side of the road for the first time and not really knowing where I was going. The nerves set in and my biggest concern was not having any adults to chat with. 

The travel to France and our campsite went well except for the sat nav trying to send us down a no entry road! The girls were in the pool before we had even unpacked and were instantly happy!   Over the next couple of days we had a few trips out and more time around the pool. I read lots and enjoyed relaxing in the sun and watching the girls having fun. 

It was a good couple of days into the stay when I realised I hadn't had a full conversation with another adult!  The mobile homes we stayed in were positioned well if you liked privacy! Not so good if you're hoping to pass the time of day with people as they walk past.  Fortunately the family opposite were English and I struck up a conversation on evening, asking if they had had a good day, where they had been etc. (Interrogation perhaps more than conversation!).  This led to a few more conversations over the next few days until they left for home the day before us. 

My worst fears had been realised and I was struggling a little bit. Don't get me wrong - we had a lovely holiday and it was generally relaxing and enjoyable. The girls had a great time and didn't want to leave. They want to go for two weeks next year!!!  However being a single parent on a site full of families highlights the singleness. I've come home emotionally drained.  I've seen Facebook full of wedding anniversaries and weddings this week and it's hit me quite hard. In two weeks time I should have been celebrating 20th  wedding anniversary, instead it will just be another Thursday in September. Some people might be thinking I should be over all of that by now, time to forget and move on - if that is you then please feel free to stop reading and move on!  I make no apology for still having moments of feeling the loss and sadness and hurt of the lies, deceit  and destruction of infidelity, for the shattering of family life and broken promises and dreams.  But they are generally only moments - this week perhaps a little more than a moment but it will pass and I will have moved further forward in my journey.

Today I'm grateful for a friend noticing I was at the end of myself, and with the saga of loosing everything in my fridge and chest freezer after loosing power at home whilst away, offered to finish cleaning out the chest freezer for me! A really unpleasant job when food has been defrosting in it for days! 

Sometimes I think it is good to have a splattering of honesty - to realise life's journey isn't always an easy one. There are some really good parts to it but there really some tough paths too. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

What is success?

So, I tweeted…….

“Just pondering, is it only the individual holding themselves back or does their environment contribute to how successful they are? Discuss”.

Sometimes I wonder if I try to punch above my weight – when I say that I mean, am I trying to be something I’m not or trying to achieve something I’m just not cut out to do?  I worked as a florist when I left college for about 9 years – it was a family business and I helped my dad to run it.  Time came for me to move onto other things and I got a job as a doctor’s PA in a local GP surgery.  Someone actually said to me ‘you’ll never stick it in an office!’  Well, I lasted 3 ½ years in that particular office and have been in another one for a further 13 years!  And generally I think I’ve done more than just ‘stick at it’. Guernsey people are nicknamed ‘donkeys’ because of their stubbornness – I can be stubborn or maybe just determined but if someone says I can’t do something then I would usually take that as a cue to prove them wrong and make sure I can! 

I have dreams and aspirations to be successful.  One of the replies from my tweet was ‘it depends how you define ‘success’’. I guess that is true……success will look different to many people -  so I googled…….what does success look like?  There were lots of different responses and here are just a few…………

·         the achievement of something desired
·         it’s when people start searching you on Google instead of Facebook
·         Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out
·         Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life, it’s about what you      inspire others to do
·         It’s being able to go to bed each night with your soul at peace (Paulo Coelho)
·         A mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have hard work and a certain sense of purpose (Margaret Thatcher)
·         Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it (Maya Angelou)
·         Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm


So, does success come easier to some people rather than others? Do some have to work harder to get the same result?  

“Most people can ride a bicycle, but not everyone can be Olympic winners” – Petra Wilton – Chartered Management Institute

<image004.jpg>One of the oldest arguments in the history of psychology is the nature v. nurture debate. 

Nature – genes & hereditary factors, physical appearance and personality characteristics

Nurture – environmental variables – early childhood experiences, how we were raised, social relationships, surrounding culture

I guess there is an element of nature determining some of what we can do – if you need to be 5ft 10” to be a model and you come from a family of short people, no amount of hard work will enable you to grow the extra 5” you need to make it to the cat-walk! Some people are naturally extrovert – they love to be in front of people and the centre of attention. To stand up and speak to a room full of people will be a joy for them – to have all those people looking at them and listening to what they are saying. For others, it could be the thing they fear most! But learning how to control the fear, how to address people with confidence, understanding the quality of the information they have to pass on and share with others, they can become a great public speaker. 

Having a strong self-belief is very important in becoming successful – whatever that success may look like.  For some, getting out of bed in the morning and managing to complete daily tasks will be a great measure of success – illness or disability could mean this is a challenging exercise and to get through it will be a huge achievement.  For others, undertaking a new qualification, or achieving promotion, perhaps becoming the member of a board of directors would be their success. 

But what if there is something you really want to achieve?  Someone once told me I could do anything I wanted to.  He was encouraging me - to believe in myself, to set some goals and to focus on my abilities and grow.  Often the things we enjoy are the things we are good at - grow those talents, work hard and focus on ambitions.  

Society wants instant gratification but success is a non-instant process. It takes time, effort and at times, failure.  Failure is also a part of success and getting up again, learning from the experience and perseverance is all part of the journey.  Ensuring our minds are open to learn and set to grow.  

Spend time with positive people – those who will encourage, those who can share in the journey - those who will support, be there to help pick you up when the going gets tough. Those who will help you remain focussed in what you want to achieve.  We are a reflection of the people we spend time with so choose those people wisely.  Need to be responsible for ourselves, the goals we set - dream but be realistic, make wise choices and enjoy life. 

Success looks different to everyone – have a desire to succeed – at whatever level that might be.