Category Archives: Personal Development

Crouch, touch, pause, engage…


The 2015 Rugby World Cup is under way! From a leadership, management and team perspective there are many things that we can draw upon from the inevitable drama that is a part of any major sports tournament.

There’s the pride, passion and belonging that the players clearly have when putting on the team shirt – how can we as leaders foster the same level of pride, passion and belonging in our teams?

There’s the strategy that allows a team to disrupt and triumph over the match favourites as we saw when Japan beat South Africa. How do we as strategists develop a winning strategy that allows our organisation to punch well above our weight?

But as a supporter of Wales I’ve been concerned about all the injuries that the team have suffered recently. How resilient is this Welsh team? How competitive will it be having lost some of it’s key players? If Wales is to progress in this tournament it will need to have developed resilience.

I have also been concerned about maintaining the resilience of my own organisation – the IT job market is currently buoyant and the pressure to deliver more for less only ever seems to increase; how do we, as leaders, build and maintain resilience for ourselves and our organisations?

Here are some of my suggestions based on my experience and outlook –

Self resilience: – 

  1. Keep things in perspective. Worrying is draining and can lead to panic and/or unhealthy stress levels.
  2. Don’t panic, stay calm! Clear thinking will get you further than flapping. Try to work through the situation logically exploring scenarios, options and outcomes.
  3. Try to be realistically optimistic. Nothing is usually as bad as you first think and often there are unexpected upsides to bad situations.
  4. Seek out help and advice. No man (or woman) is an island; we all have connections and every connection is likely to know something that you don’t. Asking for help is a sign of strength.
  5. Try to find the humour in a situation. To see the humour in a situation we have to enter an observant role. The observant role requires physiological distance which in turn provides perspective.

Organisational resilience: –

  1. Be prepared. In the same way as an individual needs to remain calm in a crisis so should the organisation. If you’ve thought about likely scenarios and responses in advance then your likely to achieve better outcomes. It’s a lot easier to think clearly in a calm environment than in the midst of a crisis.  If the organisation has an effective business continuity plan in place to effectively manage the crisis then it is highly likely that the crisis will be shorter and have less of an adverse impact.
  2. Develop flexibility. Just as sometimes players are required to play out of position, sometimes it is really useful if you have employees who are capable of taking on tasks that are not normally within their day-to-day activities. This will often require investment in time and training but if it helps to eliminate single points of failure you’ll be glad that you did it should you be facing a crisis.
  3. Develop a strong employee value proposition. Someone will always be prepared to offer more money for the right candidate but what can your organisation offer that could differentiate it and keep your valued employees as part of the team? Research has shown that training, development and a sense of purpose can be more motivating than financial rewards.
  4. Seek out help and advice. As individuals we have connections that we can call upon for assistance and so should organisations. No organisation is likely to be entirely self reliant and good organisations will develop networks that outlast the individuals who initiated and built those original connections.
  5. “We’re in this together!” If as leaders we can articulate the challenge and a response that is credible then that will encourage belief and belonging. It develops a sense that provided we stick together we can face whatever is thrown at us and come out the other side feeling positive, no matter how battered and bruised we may have become in the scrum and the maul.

Do you have any advise on building self resilience and organisational resilience?

Don’t confuse motion with progress!

merry-go-round-in-coventThink back to when you were a small child and when you first rode a merry-go-round (carousel). The horse rising up and down and travelling at speed for a small child probably delighted and thrilled you. No matter how thrilling the ride the horse ultimately ends up in the same place time and time again having only ever travelled in a circle. This is motion.

Work can sometimes feel like being on a merry-go-round. Each working day you may be really busy – busy doing ‘stuff’ –  and there is no doubt that you are in motion. However, when you look back on the day, the week, the month or the year have you made progress? Ask yourself this – how is the ‘stuff’ that I am doing moving me closer to my real goals? Do I even know what my real goals are?

If you don’t know what your real goals are or how the work that you are currently doing is moving you closer to achieving those goals then you may be in motion but unlikely to be making progress.

So what can you do about it?

  1. Start with the end goal in mind. It doesn’t matter if the goal is to achieve something today, this week or an even longer time frame. Just make sure that you can articulate the goal as an outcome and not the activity. For example ‘Learn conversational French’ is an outcome, book on a ‘French’ course is an activity.
  2. Now that you have a your goal or goals you can start to list the activity or activities required to achieve the goal.
  3. Once you have the activities go to your calendar and schedule the activity or activities.
  4. Yes, you will find it a challenge at times to protect your scheduled time as the urgent tasks encroach on the important activities that move you closer to your goals. Try to treat that protected scheduled time as if you were meeting an important client or a meeting with the boss of the company – you’ll only protect the scheduled time if you consider it as being really important.

So that’s it – simple! You’ve protected your scheduled activity time and during this time you’ll be making progress towards your goals. Everything else and you are probably still on the merry-go-round!

I love Monday and here’s why!


Like most of us I love my weekends and they are never long enough. However unlike a lot of people I also love Mondays and here’s why: –

  1. Monday is like a mini New Year. It’s the start of the week and an opportunity to reboot, start afresh and say to yourself that this week I’m going to make a difference. Who doesn’t like new beginnings?
  2. I like being productive but there are some things that I can only do as part of a team. Monday is when my team and I get back together and we can all help each other move closer to our goals.
  3. Even when Monday looks like a real tough day I’ll try to think about how I’ll get through the day, what I will achieve, what I will learn. I also know with certainty that no matter how hard the working day is it will inevitably end. So I try to view a tough day as a challenge and take pride in getting through it.
  4. I’ll record my favourite programmes of the week and watch them on a Monday evening or perhaps I’ll have a take-away. Having something to look forward to is a great way to change the way you perceive Mondays.

I am fortunate enough to work in an environment that I enjoy with colleagues that are, on the whole, very supportive. However if you hate Mondays because you hate your job, you hate your boss, you are surrounded by toxic people or whatever the reason then why not use Monday to start to plan how you you’ll turn things around.

Here is a final thought from me….

If you work an average of 220 days a year that’s 44 Mondays each year.

If you start working at 18 years old and retire at 65 then you’ll work for 47 years.

That’s 2,068 Monday’s to hate – the equivalent of hating over 5 years of your life!

Love Mondays!

Choose your attitude!


Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best…

Okay so life isn’t going the way you want it to but here’s the thing – we need to understand that we can’t always control what life throws at us but we can always choose how we react! We can always choose our attitude.

We are in constant dialogue with our inner self. That inner dialogue is just like a software program that is running through our brains and just like any software it can be programmed – the name of the software program is “Attitude”!

So have you programmed your software to predominantly respond positively or negatively?

Try this – the next time someone asks you “How you are doing?”; how did you respond? Positively…”I’m doing great”, “Brilliant”, Fantastic” or was it more neutral/negative… “I’m okay”, “Not too bad”, “Surviving”, “Meh!” etc.

The good news is that this is software so you can re-program a negative attitude so that it becomes a positive mental attitude. How?

Three simple steps: –

  1. LISTEN to your inner dialogue. Are you having a positive dialogue or is the dialogue full of self-pity, self-defeat and constantly blaming others for what is happening to you?
  2. STOP it! If the dialogue is negative then stop it!
  3. START a positive conversation with your inner self! “I can do this!”, “I’m doing great!”.

Okay, I lied, it may not be that simple because in reality the “Attitude” program can be difficult to change and may take time. Constant positive affirmation is key.  Keep telling yourself how good you are, how you can achieve anything if you want to, if you fail then that it is a great opportunity to learn, when you hit an obstacle its just an opportunity to find a way over, around it or under it etc….you get the picture!

Remember this is primarily an inner dialogue….there’s no need to keep telling others how good you are (even though you are, right!).

An inner dialogue it may be but positive mental attitude changes the way you engage with others, it alters your body language, it soon becomes noticeable and that in itself can lead to some very positive outcomes!

So when you next encounter something that doesn’t quite go your way in life what are you going to be saying to your inner self…

“It’s not fair!”, “I can’t win!”, “I never win!”

or perhaps…..

“What can I learn from this?”, “I can turn this around”, “Next time I’ll win!”

And….. “Always look on the bright side of life!”

I am not liked by everyone and I’m okay with that!

Lone WolfWe all like to be liked. We’re programmed that way, if we are liked by the pack the pack won’t turn on us, the pack will protect us. Some people will do anything to be liked even if this means compromising values, beliefs and standards just to please, just to be liked. But think about this…

We live in a diverse world. Nurture, environment and experiences will have shaped our view of the world. My nurture, environment and experience will be unique, as is yours and as is the other seven billion people that share our planet. So not everyone is going to agree with you and some people, if you reveal the real you, are not going to like you. So what can you do about it?

Option 1: Become a chameleon and change your views, your opinion, your standards to please as many people as you possibly can. But this option will not work 100% because you will soon be seen for what you are doing and that in itself will be cause for some to dislike you.

Option 2 : Just be yourself! You have an opinion, you have a voice. Develop and nurture yourself to be the best that you can be and if that causes someone to dislike you then that probably says more about them than you. You can still be tactful, diplomatic and even conciliatory but stay true to your core beliefs, standards and integrity. Also keep an open mind to constructive criticism and realise you still have lots to learn no matter how old or experienced you are.

Fact 1 : Some people will dislike you no matter what you do.

Fact 2 : If you worry and care too much about what others will think of you it will constrain your development as an individual and you will never reach your true potential.

Fact 3 : It’s okay to disagree with someone on many things and still like and respect them as an individual and for them to like and respect you. Chances are both of you have chosen option 2 and are emotionally intelligent!

Fact 4 : Compromising is often a positive thing to do but also sometimes taking an unpopular stance is just the right thing to do.

Fact 5 : If you can’t be yourself then you are nobody!

So if the above sounds simple, easy and obvious remember it isn’t, we are all wired to want to be liked and most of us worry too much about what others will think about us. So what if by being yourself the pack turns on you, stops protecting you? Sure you should reflect as to what it is about you that has caused the pack to turn on you but also consider this – maybe you are in the wrong pack!