Follow your passion, or be practical? (September 2014)

Hi

Last month I said a good sighting of a beautiful leopard would make up for the cooler weather moving into the Kruger Park. Many people asked if I got to see my leopard. Well we got to see two together!

 

It was through very thick bush and we think they were a bit miffed with us as we may have interrupted their mating, so they moved away quickly!

But it was very special. They are such beautiful creatures – apparently the only remaining large cats that can be found roaming free in the African wild.

mating leopard

leopard

 

Another great sighting was a tawny eagle with its kill, a very small baby buck. Sad for the buck and its mother but a big meal for the eagle. A reminder of the cycles of nature.  tawny eagle with kill


Follow your passion or be practical?

At the end of last month I walked past the radio in time to hear the radio presenter ask “Should children follow their passion or be practical?” He went onto say that over previous days some experts had commented that children need to be going into fields of study that qualify them in areas where SA is short of skills or where the money is. Rather than fighting for jobs where supply exceeds demand.

 

I picked up bits of the discussion as people called in. There were many views expressed, and personal experiences shared. And by the end it appeared there were as many pro practical as there were those pro passion. My leaning is towards following your passion but I also appreciate the practicalities.

 

What concerns me is the situation in the workplace where leader-managers often find themselves frustrated by people who don’t want to be there. People who for whatever reason haven’t followed their passion and now have little interest in their job.

 

As frustrating as that is for the manager, it must be a horrible place for the employee.

We spend a lot of hours at work. I think we are all entitled to find satisfaction and joy in being there.

 

If we are that employee what can we do? If we manage someone like that how can we help them?

 

1. Is it possible to change to another position that is better aligned to your strengths and interests?
This could mean a total career change or a change within the current industry or perhaps just a sideways move within the current business.

 

2. Or whilst keeping the current position could you swop some tasks with a colleague so you both get a change or take on an additional small project. I remember a PA with a passion for the environment who whilst remaining a PA got to be an advisor on a “green” project.

 

3. Try taking a step back from the work and review its value. If done well how does this work impact fellow workers, the company, the industry, the community, the country ….? Is there an alignment anywhere with your own values? Can you find meaning in what you do?

 

4. Are you good at what you do? Could you be better? It is much easier to feel motivated when we feel competent. What can you do to become better at your work – study, practise, accept coaching or mentorship?

 

5. If your real passion just can’t be brought into your work then look for a hobby, sport, volunteer activity that makes use of your strengths and brings you alive. If we feel fulfilled in our personal time the increased energy and enthusiasm spills over into the rest of our lives.

Think of the person who loves to teach but wanted a job that paid much better than the teaching profession. They can volunteer on Saturday mornings at a centre giving extra tutoring to struggling kids.

 

Whatever we do, if we do it to the best of our ability and with our best attitude, it can bring joy to us and those around us.

 

Regards

Alison

© copyright 2014 – All Rights Reserved


Quote of the Day

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs – ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~ Harold Thurman Whitman

“The circumstances of your life have uniquely qualified you to make a contribution. And if you don’t make that contribution, nobody else can make it.” ~ Rabbi Harold S. Kushner


My Little Black Book

Two excellent facilitators, Julie and Chantal, are soon presenting a very valuable 2 day hands on workshop, ‘BOUNCE in the face of adversity’.

Julie says, “It creates an oasis … a respite … a space … for you to begin transforming immobilising fears and feelings – such as hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness (which often emerge through adversity, trouble, trauma and tragedy) – into feelings of worth, value and optimism.”

Does that sound like the break you need? If so book now for September, October or November.

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Is your day push, push, push? (August 2014)

BBI_bee

Hi

Gosh the middle of August already. I find the way time moves so strange. How the second half of anything seems to go faster than the first half. Do you also find the months speed up after July?

I am off to Phalaborwa tomorrow to spend the weekend in the Kruger Park. My husband has been working up there on weekdays for a few months now. The last few weeks he has spoken about how hot it is getting. So I was very much looking forward to wearing shorts until I checked the weather forecast. It was hot until today but will be cool for the weekend! Oh well a good sighting of a beautiful leopard will more than make up for that – fingers crossed.


Is your day push, push, push?

Do you spend your day pushing yourself? I was brought up to be driven. To push myself towards a goal all the time. I could jam pack every holiday with pre-planned activities and if I left a gap my mother would jump to the rescue with something from her never ending list of chores! My mother is the ultimate delegator!

Around 2000 my homeopath said to me, “Do you know how much you use the word ‘doing’? Stop trying so hard, just let it be”. I didn’t even know what he was talking about!

 

Note to SelfAnd then about seven years ago I read ‘The Call’ by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. The main learning I took from her was that it was possible to get work done without focusing on ‘doing’: that ‘being’ can be very productive, that the difference is your focus on the task and your choice and enjoyment in doing it.

Since then I have become for the most part a person who plans ahead and then lets go of the future and focuses on and in the moment. It has been hugely beneficial from the perspective of stress. No matter how much I need to do in a day I rarely get stressed about it.

However some days I also feel unproductive. And I continued to feel there was a contradiction between having and achieving a vision or outcome, and living in the moment. So I sometimes jumped back and forth between full on ‘doing’ and a degree of ‘being’.

I discussed this dilemma with a number of friends without getting clear on the answer.

 

For months, a colleague, Donna McCallum who you may know as The Fairy Godmother, has been sending out video clips talking about a Flow Experiment that she and her business partner were conducting. I mostly ignored them until a few weeks ago when one of her emails resonated with me. I felt compelled to register for her free webinar about Flow.

There was a lot of very useful information and interaction in the webinar but what really got through to me was her suggestion (and personal experience) that if we are clear on where we want to go, then Flow-like living (or working) will take us there.

Finally I can see that ‘being’ and ‘driven to achieve’ can work together.

 

Flow Experiment LogoSo I have signed up to join Donna and an ever growing group of people, to experiment with Flow for a year. To see how each of us can tweak the concept to work for our personal work and life circumstances. To learn from Donna and Timea’s experience so far, and to learn from each other.

There is a fee for participating. (Anyone who signs up before 1 September gets a big discount.) Donna has some great programmes – in person and on-line – that she has been running for years. As a huge added bonus one gets to participate in those free of charge during the year.

Because I really think this experiment has the potential to be life changing I have accepted Donna’s invitation to be an affiliate and I am inviting you to consider joining me in this experiment. If you look below in ‘The Little Black Book’ section you will find information on another webinar like the one I ‘attended’.

 

Whether you want to join in the experiment or not, take a look at the videos on this page. Perhaps they will give you some ideas for making work flow easier for you.

 

Perhaps from all the many things you have to do today you can start with the one you most want to do and just focus on enjoying it whilst you do it. And only when that is complete think about what next you’d most choose to do.

And when you go home tonight as you eat, as you talk to your family or play with your children, stay in the moment with what you are doing, with yourself and with them.

Regards

Alison

© copyright 2014 – All Rights Reserved


Quote of the Day

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


My Little Black Book

Want a life of ease, effortlessness and Flow?

Donna McCallum, the Fairy Godmother, is the very best webinar facilitator I have yet come across. She is doing a FREE 90 minute Webinar on Finding your Flow.

During this webinar you will learn:

  • How to empower yourself to succeed not by pushing, stressing or forcing, but by tapping into Life’s natural Flow of grace and intelligence.
  • The paradox of Dreams and Goals, and why our Goals can create stress and how to shift that.
  • 3 Steps to quickly shift your reality whenever you’re in stress, anxiety, guilt, pushing, forcing or fear.
  • The 4 states of mind and how to shift into a FLOW state to be in ease, balance, joy, lightness and abundance in your life.
  • About the ease, efficient action and effortlessness that is available to you when you embrace Flow.
  • More about the Flow Experiment and how it works.

Date: Tuesday 26th August

Time: 19h30 South Africa (17h30 GMT; 13h30 EST; 10h30 PST)

Place: Online

Spaces are Limited

Register Now to Reserve your place

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Are you selfish? (July 2014)

BBI_bee

Hi

So we are past the winter or summer solstice. I always find this strange as one tends to think of it as the middle of the season, but although the lengthening of night or day does change over, the winter or summer is usually just getting started.

However this year, here in Joburg, nature seems to be thinking of skipping the rest of winter. We already have very busy, chirruping weavers building nests and our jasmine is flowering.

 

Whichever hemisphere we are in we have just passed the halfway mark of the (Gregorian) calendar.

Perhaps a time to look back and evaluate what has worked for you in the first half and what maybe wasn’t so successful? And then to make some decisions for how to make the second half as worthwhile and enjoyable as possible?


Are you selfish?

“In the case of decompression oxygen masks will drop from the panel above you. Give the mask a tug and place it over your nose and mouth breathing normally. Place the mask on your own face first and then assist children or anyone experiencing difficulties.”

Anyone who has flown on an aircraft has heard this instruction. Why do they recommend you get your own mask in place first? If we are without oxygen for longer than four minutes we could experience brain damage and death but long before that we would begin losing consciousness and can’t help ourselves or others. If we put our mask on quickly we can help a lot of people within that four minute window.

 

Taking care of your self is not selfish unless you do it with no awareness or concern for others.

 

When we care for ourselves we have the health and energy to live our lives both at work and home. Whether things are running smoothly or there are tons of challenges, we can manage so much better if we are feeling well – physically, mentally and emotionally.

 

It is important to care for ourselves whether we are the boss or the worker, whether we live alone or have a family to take care of.

 
What we need to do to take care of ourselves can be so many different things depending on ourselves and the circumstances.

We need to make energy, take time off to recover quickly when we are ill, get realistic about what can be fitted in, take the pressure off ourselves with smart planning and prioritising, and set boundaries.

 

To hear more about Self-care in all aspects of your life you can listen in to the teleseminar that my good friend Liesel Teversham has convened.

She has 12 experts from around the world speaking on their own areas of expertise, for three weeks. My slot, on Self-care for Leader-Managers, is on Monday 7th July. If you miss the live broadcast you can still access the recordings for four days. Get your FREE access pass and more info here.

Regards

Alison

© copyright 2014 – All Rights Reserved


Quote of the Day

“How you treat yourself is how you are inviting the world to treat you.” ~ author unknown


My Little Black Book

I recently met with Cynthia Schoeman, MD of Ethics Monitoring & Management Services. Workplace ethics are so important in all size businesses. I am pleased to see that more companies are beginning to pay attention. If you want to raise its profile in your business Cynthia offers a comprehensive range of ethics services: to assess and report on ethics, to implement an Ethics Management System and to train executives and staff. Also look out for her 2nd ethics book, Ethics Can, which will be published at the beginning of August 2014. www.ethicsmonitor.co.za

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Life and Business Lessons from The Marico (June 2014)

BBI_bee

Hi

Every winter I get a shock when the first cold front arrives, as it did on Friday here in Johannesburg. One would think after all these years that I could remember how cold it would be! What I do remember is how in 1981 the cold fronts always arrived just in time for the weekend. I wonder if that is going to be the pattern this year?
Anyhow I understand the cold should get rid of lots of bacteria, viruses and pests so helping us and the plants remain healthy. And it is a lovely opportunity to wear all the beautifully coloured silk scarves I have been making.


Life and business lessons from The Marico

Last month I said I would be sharing thoughts and lessons from our time in The Marico. It was our first visit and delivered more than we expected.
That is already a reminder of an old maxim – “under promise and over deliver”. Such a simple concept and yet one that few people practise in their work. One can also apply it to how we give customers (internal or external) an indication of delivery or completion dates.

 

Groot Marico village itself is small and dusty but there are real gems in the form of beautiful places to stay, fascinating salt of the earth
people to meet, culture and history to connect with, and delicious cordon bleu dinners at the local restaurant.

 

TheEyeoftheMarico

This is Die Oog, or The Eye, of the Marico – the origin of the river. As you walk out from the high reed beds into this special space it feels as though you’ve arrived on a movie set. The water tastes delicious and is crystal clear. I had no idea it was ~15m deep. Apparently it is a great scuba diving spot hence the structures on the right.
When we asked for directions at the information office Santa explained that we would be entering through a lesser known access point. The official marked entrance, where I believe an entrance fee is charged, she said was owned by a not so friendly landowner. Another lesson – be very careful of unnecessarily irritating a person of influence.
We struggled a little to find the farm entrance until a rough looking, kindly man hailed us asking if we were lost. He says he redirects about 30 people a month.

Once we reached the alternate access point we found that this landowner is so friendly that he not only freely allows visitors entrance to his farm but he has also laid a walkway through the reed beds and even provided a clean long drop toilet cubicle where one parks. Both men were such beautiful examples of generosity of spirit.

 

In the village Santa gave us a tour of the Herman Charles Bosman Living Museum.

Some years ago a small group of people formed a Literary Society to preserve Bosman’s writings and to create a museum. The first few years were spent clearing a piece of land that had been a dumping ground. They then built a perfect replica of the school house where Bosman lived and worked.

After this they turned to the Batswana people to ask them what they would like to build to represent their part of the history. Black and white worked together to build huts and learn how to plaster them with mud and cow dung.

Today individuals and groups visit the museum where readings and music evenings take place. School children come to learn folk dances of the Afrikaner and the Batswana and how to use medicinal plants. These individuals working together, old and young, black and white, with little resources, have built a legacy.

 

The day we were returning home we were already 20km out of the village on a dirt road at Die Oog so rather than back track to the main N4 road we set out to find a route on the roads less travelled. What a pleasure. The roads were in good condition and took us through interesting hamlets.
Whilst still on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere we stumbled across this monument erected by the local farmers in 1938.

RoadsideMonument

When we rush through life on the main highway we miss opportunities to make special memories.

 

Working out our route home was interesting. Looking at the GPS we had too narrow a view to make a decision as to whether continuing on the dirt roads could take us in the right direction. We needed to bring out our map to get a better, bigger view.

That big picture enabled us to create a strategy which connected where we were to where we needed to be, home – our goal.

Then we looked at the routes the GPS was suggesting when set for either fastest or shortest route. Combining the GPS and the map we were able to find an optimised route which fitted with our vision of a more interesting drive.

When we combine big picture thinking with detail we can achieve the best outcome.

Regards

Alison

© copyright 2014 – All Rights Reserved


Quote of the Day

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!” ~ von Goethe


My Little Black Book

On a recent Friday afternoon I took a parcel to Postnet Greenside to be wrapped and couriered. The driver was about to leave the shop with all the parcels and I was too late. However he offered to wait for mine.

That was excellent service and the staff are great. Postnet Greenside is at 139 Greenway with parking in Gleneagles Rd. Call them for directions 011 027 8434

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Lessons from Botswana – Cooperation, Creativity & Contrasts (May 2014)

BBI_bee

Hi

We had a lovely week away returning in time to vote in South Africa’s fifth democratic elections.

It had a special significance for me. In 1994 when I voted I was pregnant with my second child. And yesterday my son voted for the first time.

Our time away was spent exploring Gaberone and enjoying good food, wine and conversation, with old and new friends. On our way back from Botswana we spent two nights in The Marico.

I love experiencing new places and observing people and nature. It energises me and gets me thinking of the lessons to be learnt. I had so many thoughts that I am going to share some of them with you today.


Cooperation, Creativity & Contrasts

On our first day we visited the Three Dikgosi Monument. Our guide gave us a lesson in Botswana’s history. How I interpreted it was:
The path from British Protectorate to independent Republic was a long one. There were a number of attempts by Britain and South Africa to “take over” but the three main chiefs peacefully but determinedly worked to maintain a level of independence for the country.

They had a shared vision and they cooperated with each other. They listened and watched closely so as to pick up and act on each political shift that threatened the area’s status. And when they realised more action was needed they travelled to Britain seeking an audience with the government.

The government tried to fob them off but they had cultivated friendships in England. These friends assisted them to travel around the country drumming up support for their cause until the government was pressured into meeting with them. This began a process that would eventually lead to independence in 1966. That visit was a very well run PR campaign!

It sounds as though these three chiefs demonstrated excellent leadership.

ThreeChiefsMonumentGaberone

Even the decision as to where the capital should be seems to have been solved in a mature manner. The original main place was Lobatse but being in a small bowl between the hills it was thought to be too small for a capital so Gaberone, 70km to the north, was chosen.

 

Gaberone is a very dry city, especially at the moment after a couple of years of drought. On the edge of town is a lovely small game reserve without natural water. But someone has come up with a creative solution. The reserve is integrated with the sewerage system. Underground pipes bring the sewer water to open ponds that apart from a slight smell, are just like small dams. We saw some lovely birds there, including an African Purple Swamphen.

 

A few blocks from where my friend lives we saw a strange sight – on the dusty sidewalk, a beautifully decorated table and chairs, under an awning, set for a celebration. Gwen explained that it belongs to a local lady, an event planner, who changes the colours and themes every week. What a wonderful example of creative advertising.

StreetAdvertisingGaberone

 

We also visited the brickfields down by the river where people hand make clay bricks and bake them in a homemade, communal kiln. I am sorry I didn’t take a photo. It was like a scene out of biblical times. And yet a couple of kilometres away was the neat, clean CBD with amazing, modern buildings.

CBDBuildingGaberone

 

For me these contrasts and the different ways of doing business are part of the “colour of Africa”. Something which is hard to explain. One needs to spend time in Africa to experience it. And then as my husband says, “Africa gets under your skin and it’s very difficult to leave.”

Next month, thoughts from The Marico.

Regards

Alison

© copyright 2014 – All Rights Reserved


Quote of the Day

“The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.” ~ Bertrand Russel


My Little Black Book

Our host in Gaberone was Gwen Watkins, owner of a communications consultancy that operates across Southern Africa. Amongst her many PR talents is that of training event planners. Our holiday was like a well run event from the accommodation, to the food and beverages, to the guided tours. Gwen certainly walks the talk.

Apart from writing and editing she also offers practical, short courses that cover such fields as ‘Creating and implementing PR strategy for SMEs’, ‘Creating and managing practical & profitable events’, ‘Writing for internal & external stakeholders’, ‘Perfect PA events’ and others. www.freelancers.co.za

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Trust & Respect – Golden keys (April 2014)

BBI_bee

Hi

Here in South Africa April is the month the school children love and the business owners rue.

It is a month of public holidays, school holidays and mild, sunny autumnal days. Very challenging if you want to get a lot of work finished. However there is plenty of research to show that we are much more productive when we take regular breaks so perhaps we can make this a month of revitalising long weekends and still complete the work?

Later in the month we are off to south east Botswana returning via Herman Charles Bosman country. I have never been to Gaberone nor Groot Marico before, so any advice for what not to miss will be appreciated.


Trust & Respect – Golden keys

One day my daughter commented that she was lucky that I trusted her. My response was that I trusted her because she had never given me a reason not to do so. So it was she who had created her “luck”!

Being respected and trusted are golden keys for leader-managers to be able to help their people to achieve extraordinary results. But I think they are just as important in all our relationships.

One of the most robust discussions I have facilitated in a Conversation that Matters was between around 25 employees of a business unit discussing whether respect was automatically given or had to be earned. There were strong proponents for both extremes and then some who felt it should initially be given by default but the subsequent behaviour would determine whether or not it continued.

It is almost impossible for me to trust someone without respecting them, and vice versa, so I prefer to keep the two terms together.

On a recent programme I was facilitating with a great group of leader-managers, the talented Nikesh made some clever illustrations of the points his small group discussed as well as those from the feedback to the larger group. He was happy for me to share them with you. It is quite fun to work out the meaning of each. Like one of those puzzles in the Sunday paper.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis first one was whilst answering the question “What actions/ behaviours breakdown respect &/or trust?” Which others can you think of?

No matter how well respected or trusted you are it takes very few “poor behaviours” to shatter it. It is a gift we need to treasure.

 

 

These next two illustrate suggestions made in answer to the question “What can you as a leader-manager do to earn the respect &/or trust of your team?” Have some fun seeing if you can work them out. And which others can you think of? Then test yourself as to how personally aligned you are to these actions or behaviours.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To what degree do others at work and home respect you? And trust you? If that is already high, well done! I hope you are using that wonderful foundation to build some really effective collaboration.

If it isn’t as high as you’d like it to be, no problem. Think about what behaviours you need to change in yourself and start work on them – one at a time. Bit by bit you’ll get there. At the same time look for people you can respect and trust. It’s a two way street.

Regards

Alison

© copyright 2014 – All Rights Reserved


Quote of the Day

“Trust is the emotional glue that binds followers & leaders together. ~ Warren Bennis & Bert Nanus


My Little Black Book

This is for those of you near to Centurion. With all my family’s sport participation we have spent a lot of time at physios.

As each of the children moved away to study they reluctantly separated from our long time physio Wendy Viviers and found practitioners near to their place of study.

My daughter took ages to find anyone who could meet her high standards. Eventually she found Kobus Maree in Southdowns, Irene.  www.kobusmaree.com She appreciated his knowledge and expertise as a physiotherapist as well as his genuine concern for his client’s well being.

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