Puns and Quotes #7

“A man is not old until his regrets take the place of his dreams”

Yiddish proverb

“If life is about the journey not the destination, we should celebrate all the steps, not just the last one.”

James Butler

I’ve recently developed a phobia of lifts, but it is OK – I am taking steps to avoid them.

I met my wife when she was playing football.  I could see straight away she was a keeper.

I have a step-ladder I really love. I never knew my real ladder.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

This autumn I spent three weeks on holiday in the Pacific North West (Alaska and Canada).  Not only does it rank as one of the most memorable holidays (in a very strong field), it has probably provided sufficient inspiration for a year of blogs!  The trip was planned round a few “bucket list” items Bev (my wife) and I wanted to do:

  • Visit a friend who lives in British Columbia, who we haven’t seen for ten years, and never in her own home
  • See orcas in the wild
  • See glaciers calving into the sea
  • See grizzly bears catching salmon in the river

The last one had particular interest in a business sense, because I have used the bears-catching-salmon metaphor in coaching and training for many years.  The grizzly is at the top of the food chain and can eat almost anything, but it knows that if it goes to the river in September, the salmon will almost literally jump down their throat.  It is a great metaphor in terms of sales focus.

Bev had done a lot of research to find the top place to see this natural phenomena – and we invested money and nervous energy to catch a succession of smaller and smaller planes to get to a remote eco lodge where, we told people beforehand, seeing the bears eating salmon was “guaranteed”.

Except we don’t always get what we want, as the Stones taught us.  We were there, on a viewing platform just feet from a huge grizzly bear, a perfect spot to see her eating salmon.  Sadly, the salmon weren’t there.  On a river that can expect a peak of a million fish, in exactly the week we were there, just 5,000 were milling about down river – and none of them were jumping.

For us, a long-held dream was shattered.  For the bears, this could mean the difference between life and death this winter – the salmon are their key calorie source as they fatten for winter.  We had a clear plan, devised over years and carefully executed.  The bears had a plan, based on hundreds of years of learned behaviour across many generations.  But the salmon hadn’t read the plan…

The military have a saying that “the map is not the territory” – in this context I think this tells us that whatever we may have in our business plan, strategy or our life plan, that map is a statement of intention, it is not reality.  In life and business, we can encounter any number of versions of the salmon not turning up.

So, how should we react to this reality, as successful human beings and managers?  For Bev and I, we needed to redefine what success looked like – within the realms of what we could control.  So, we did have amazing bear sightings, we did see them eating mussels and barnacles and small fish, and we were in an amazing landscape and wilderness.  Hard not to see that as success…  For the bears, they needed a plan B.  They won’t survive by slapping their head and saying “Boo hoo, poor me”.  They need to eat something else, as much as possible, and get ready to hibernate.

  • When it comes to your life and business goals, do you have a plan?
  • To the degree that it is in your control, are you assiduously working that plan to give it the best chance of success?
  • If you face unexpected uncontrollable outcomes, now or in the future, what’s your Plan B?
  • If this article has made you think about something in your life, what can you do today to change things for the better?

We don’t always get what we want.  But we increase the chances if we actually know what we want, and have a plan to get it.  I humbly hope my bear story helps inspire you to plan on getting more of what YOU want.

Scott Adams – comedy genius

I am a huge fan of the Dilbert cartoon by Scott Adams – his ability to cut through the realities of working life is incredible.

I like him so much I subscribe to the Daily Dilbert – an emailed cartoon every day, which is one of the things that makes me smile each day.

As I celebrate 15 years of self-employment, today’s strip seemed especially relevant!



How can we stand together?

Like 9/11 and 7/7, last week may become a memorable point of inflexion in many of our lives, and in the life of our nation.  Notwithstanding the obvious human emotion invoked by the horrible events in Manchester, our time will be defined, as many of us are defined in our own lives, not by what happened, but by the reaction to what happened.

As dark forces seek to render division amongst communities, my own belief strengthens that, as with challenges in the workplace, the solution doesn’t lie in blame, recrimination and further conflict, but in finding common humanity as a means to establishing a collaborative way forward.  As someone with no religious beliefs and a deep love for Southern Africa, I have always been fascinated by the theology of Ubuntu – defined by some by the phrase “I am because we are”.

Whether in dealing with the demonisation of a religion because of the actions of a tiny few, or in dealing with the more mundane practicalities of serving customers in our own work, I believe we achieve more by working together, understanding difference and exploring commonalities.

Stephen Covey first introduced me to the tenet “Seek first to understand” – the concept of listening to others, trying to comprehend their background, their beliefs and the reasons for their decisions.  Whether between colleagues, between teams, between parties in a trade relationship or between communities and countries, I believe we have much to gain by first trying to understand each other.

To do that, we must have conversations, not just with those in our group, with those who believe what we believe or think what we think, but with those who will challenge us, question us and perhaps provoke us.  Failing to do so means we judge them based on our assumptions, our prejudices and our fears, and something tells me that is not going to produce the best results.

It is possible for opposing views to coexist in a system, provide all parties show respect, and know their responsibilities to each other.  Our media, and some of our business experience, may suggest that respectful, responsible, tolerant behaviour is increasingly rare.  I beg to differ.  I just think it is increasingly drowned out by the noise of the other approach.

Allowing that to happen, or resisting it, is a choice, and I hope, prompted by the unity shown in Manchester and elsewhere, that as a community enough people will stand up and say “we stand together, whatever our colour, creed or orientation”.  I believe that is how we win this struggle.

High Intensity Interval Training – Not for the faint-hearted!

A massive thank you to all those who supported my recent endeavours at the local gym’s Class-a-thon.  After no training, and no CV-related exercise in living memory, I did a Spin class at 9pm and then the HIIT class at 4am.  My dear wife did 3 classes in 4 hours from 3am!  I was doing OK until the last twenty minutes of the HIIT, then it became a mental battle not to to be ill!

So, I have learnt that I hate Spin, am way less fit than I realised and would happily murder Connor the PT instructor.  I have also learnt I have amazing friends and clients who between them have donated over £600 to an amazing cause (http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/CHOKO).

The thought of me in a leotard or leg warmers was too traumatic for many, but here’s the evidence of my hard work!

Thank you all so much.