From average to exceptional – time out, luxury or necessity?

My daughter goes to a school in North Wales, quite a way from where we live and a week ago I decided that rather than just go to see the teachers and pick her up and come straight home again, which is a 9-hour round trip, I would take an north walesextra day and take some time out. I had been very busy, running hard in my business, delivering value for my clients and it had been a particularly tricky time for my family as my daughters had both transitioned into the next phase at school and I felt I needed to take a break to unwind, re-energise and re-connect with myself and my why.

There is something about the air in Wales that I love and also something about the sea and the sea air which brings an inner peace to me and helps me to re-charge my batteries and re-connect with myself.

Before I went on my trip though, I felt really guilty about taking time out, and on the surface, it looked like I couldn’t afford to take the time, as I was so busy working in my business and delivering great programmes for my clients and also my younger daughter had been quite ill and had ended up in hospital for a couple of days, so taking even more time out seemed like a luxury I couldn’t afford. My inner wisdom, however, knew that if I was going to be able to continue to stay ahead, deliver exceptional programmes for my clients and build my business to the next level and achieve my purpose, I would need to challenge my conventional thinking and change the status quo and maybe change a few things in order to operate at a new level, in other words an upgrade!

relaxing-officeOn the surface however, there was no evidence that I needed to change a anything, as nothing was “broken” that needed “fixing” however my inner wisdom knew that it was a good idea and all I needed to do was to trust myself and go with the flow and not over think my way out of it (which I can often do!).  Anyway, my thinking went like this – in the worst-case scenario, I would simply take the time out and catch up on some sleep and feel better afterwards, that alone wouldn’t be a bad outcome and in the best-case scenario I would re-energise, see some amazing countryside, re-connect with my “why” and get a few pointers to help me move forward with more purpose.

The scary thing was that I didn’t really know what I needed to do to achieve the best case scenario, however I decided to take a bit of my own medicine and give myself one thing to do for the 2 days that I often give to my clients to do as an exercise, that was to ask myself “I’d love it if….” the key is when given this task, not to over think it, to let go of it and simply to have it your mind and to trust that something will come, as and when you are ready.

"We must never be too busy to talk time to sharpen the saw" - Stephen Covey

“We must never be too busy to take time to sharpen the saw” – Stephen Covey

The outcome was that I had a fabulous time on my own, appreciating the dramatic scenery of North Wales, discovering a great walk which took me up a large very steep hill, which once I got to the top, I had an amazing view of the coastline and the surrounding countryside for miles around.  The thing I realised was that if I had stayed down at the bottom of the hill, there was no way I would have been able to appreciate the view and all the amazing things I was able to see from the top, so it really was worth the effort making the steep climb to the top, even when it got a bit slippery in the mud.  I realised that the hill was a metaphor for my trip, how often am I deep in the detail (the content), running fast, with no time to check in and to look up and see where I am going and acknowledge my achievements so far and appreciate the journey and appreciate the amazing surroundings that I live in, As Stephen Covey would say, how often are we “too busy sawing” with no time to “sharpen the saw’.

To be honest, I enjoyed my time so much that I had forgotten about the task I had set myself on my journey up! Anyway, what transpired was that on my first night home from my trip, I woke up at 3am, mind buzzing so much, that I had to write my thoughts down before I went back to sleep, and all my answers to “I’d love it if…”  came flooding out. In fact, what happened is that it took me back to my “why” which is about making a difference, and it gave me a deeper connection to this why at a whole new level, I also had some ideas for how to get started with the next part of my journey to achieving it.

 ~Author: Lucy Czakan

Rubbish! – “Leave” it alone!

rubbish-in-headHave you ever considered the amount of litter we collect on a daily basis?

Not the litter you put in the bin, but the stuff you collect in your head, every single day.  How often do you empty your waste bin on your laptop?  …and what about the one in your head?!?!

Leaving home this morning, I’m conscious I am not home again until Friday evening as I drag my suitcase full of my weeks clothes behind me as I walk to the station.  About halfway down the hill I become conscious of a type of hissing, scraping sound and wonder what it can be.  I look around me as it seems to be getting louder and louder and then I notice a huge pile of leaves being swept along by the bottom of my case.  Of course, I lift my case up and let the leaves stay where they are…..an operation I choose to repeat a few times down the hill…..

…but this got me smiling and laughing!  What a great analogy for what happens to us every day of our lives!  We drag our “life” along like a suitcase and without conscious thought, collect loads of “dead leaves” which bundle together and gradually start to become noisy and eventually impede our performance and progression!  There’s definitely a physical resistance created and yet the “noise” these things make in our head can grow and grow and make it impossible for the clarity of our natural innate wisdom to be heard.

autumnYet, on realising this, the great thing is, all we have to do is “lift the case and let them be” and the system self-corrects.  We don’t need to take time analysing them all, repacking them, putting them in a bin…they are natural and just like the leaves will blow away, disintegrate naturally and in doing so provide much nutrients for future growth.

I love this time of year!  The colours a wonderful reflection of natures circle of continuous growth.

Why not stop for a minute today, look around you and appreciate such physical and metaphysical beauty.

Above all…have fun, always.

~Author: Antony Tinker

Why don’t we celebrate honest conversations?

honest conversation5I have recently changed careers and one of my new responsibilities has been to conduct a series of telephone explorations with a wide variety of team members from a variety of companies.  These conversations have revolved around what is going well and what not so well in their teams and business areas.  I have been impressed with everybody’s openness and honesty with me during those calls.  It has always been borne of a desire to improve – to improve relationships, to improve energy management, to improve output, to be more efficient and so on.  Nobody has been honest and open with me because they want to take a pop at somebody or because they want to gain an advantage over a colleague, yet almost without fail, each conversation has finished with the interviewee apologising for their openness and saying, “I’m sorry if I have appeared overly negative.”

Those closing statements made me look back at my last job, where I was an internal consultant with a clear and explicit brief to be prepared to speak truth unto power.  I realise now that when out and about, I was regularly acting as an Agony Aunt, hearing the honest conversation that those I was talking to wanted to have with their bosses.  The same has applied here.

So, what is it that stops us from doing so?  Fear!  Fear of being seen as negative, fear of not being seen as on-board with the newest shiny idea; fear of being perceived as closed to progress and new ideas, fear of being seen as the one who stifles the energy and most of all, fear of the consequence of that perception (promotion, opportunity, reward, security and on it goes).  In short, fear that our boss will see us through a negative lens and that nothing will change so there is no point in taking the risk.

So, why do leaders get irritated by open and honest comment?  Because they are busy, because they have external pressures being brought to bear, because they believe that they have too little time to deal with things as they would wish, because deadlines are looming, because it will create more work when they thought the project was over and because they too have concerns about how they will be perceived and judged.

I know and believe this because I too have been there but this is a list of excuses and reasons, there is only one cause – our leadership.  We, as leaders have allowed the fears to grow and dominate our minds and the minds of those we are meant to be leading.  Young officers in the Army are taught that leadership is about doing the right thing on a difficult day when no-one is watching.  Often that right thing is creating an environment where people can speak, listening to them without Business Meeting In Busy Office Foyer Areajudgement, acknowledging their comments and observations and being prepared to do the right thing no matter what the pain.  It’s worth it in the long run because improvement is always at the root of an honest conversation but it won’t happen without your leadership.  How about committing to it today?

If you’d like us to help your leaders develop further, then contact the iTS Leadership team today.

Author: Tim Sandiford