Category Archives: Inspiring

Keep on Running

Keep on Running

Or in my case, walking. On November 27th I was encouraged to take part in #RWRunStreak, which is a simple challenge about taking exercise for a mile or more, each and every day until the New Year.

So far – I’ve walked over 60 miles and ridden my bicycle 22 miles. I’m enjoying the discipline of getting out into the fresh air every day, and I’m enjoying other things too. Saying good morning to people, having time to think about my work, becoming more aware of my posture and simply noticing what is around me too, is really enjoyable.

I often fit the exercise around other tasks I need to complete – Tuesday’s walk took me into town to get a few supplies for a workshop I’m facilitating tomorrow, and the previous day I walked 6 miles over an hour and a half to get to a meeting.

There are a few friends along for this journey too, and though we’re thousands of miles apart, its been fun keeping in touch via social media to motivate one another. I asked my fellow challengers how they are feeling so far, and here’s what they said:

Dominique Rodgers: Yesterday I walked to the courthouse (by mistake) and then city hall for a passport. The most challenging and rewarding part of this, for me, is figuring out how to fit a walk into the jumbled puzzle of my day. It’s been fun and everyone’s encouragement has definitely helped.

Broc Edwards: Doug, Dominique, and John (and, obviously everyone else one this public forum) – I’m enjoying it a lot too. Prior to the challenge, I ran/biked, at most, 2 out of 3 days. Having the commitment means getting a bit creative, sometimes accepting that a day’s run will be less than normal, going for a run when I don’t otherwise feel like it, or fitting it in at an odd time. Because of all that it’s a great experience and has taught me so much about where I was holding back or making excuses or just being sluggish. And, yes, seeing what others are doing, hearing about their experiences is encouraging and inspiring and really eliminates my excuses.

John Hudson: Great job, Doug! It has been great having all 3 of you along on this little journey. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do it this year, but decided to give it a shot. Now, we are so close to the finish! I hope to keep this going, to some extent, in 2015.

Broc: That’s the challenge, isn’t it John? Easier to do when it’s a short term commitment vs rest of your life. Daily isn’t 100% realistic, but when the timeline is open ended, it’s too easy to put off to another day.

John: Absolutely, Broc! I like having the goals and then the team surrounding me for support and accountability.

I’m enjoying weaving this exercise into the #100HappyDays challenge – they support each other nicely at times. I think what I’m trying to do here is make wellbeing a habit, which is in turn, improving my work. Thanks to John Hudson for encouraging me to start this journey, and to Dominique Rodgers and Broc Edwards too for coming along. Keep it going folks.

In case you missed it – for every pack of Stop Doing Dumb Things ordered in December I’m making a small donation to Arts Emergency. If you’ve been meaning to order some cards for yourself or as a gift to others, now might be a good time? Thanks for your support.

Data Needs Stories

I was at an event last week at which the CIPD launched a piece of research called: Volunteering to learn : Employee development through community action

This piece of work is itself part of Learning to Work – a programme led by the CIPD to promote the role of employers in reducing youth unemployment. In my experience – the gap between school and work is a big one, and I think the role the CIPD is playing here is one of the most exciting and important things I’ve seen and experienced from the institute. I encourage you to take a look and if you’re not already supporting this good work – try to find a way to do so, please.

Back to the event. We heard from a number of people in business who are supporting this work and research through skills based volunteering programmes. I found a lot of what we heard was very heavy with data. Talk of the impact on, and measurement of, among other things:

  • Engagement scores
  • Wellbeing
  • Desire to remain at the company
  • Networking
  • Social and environmental awareness

And then we heard from Simon Collins. Simon works for Caterpillar and he too was there to share his experience. Simon spoke about the importance of skills based volunteering from several perspectives:

Firstly Simon was open about how it fits with his own career choice in talent development. He spoke briefly about his own experience as an unemployed post grad, ‘a scary time’, and he talked about how, as a parent, he observes a lack of career guidance and advice in the world of educationHe reflected on how the value of any advice given is often linked to the enthusiasm of the advisor.

Simon spoke to us about the vulnerability that often comes with being out of work, the vital rebuilding of confidence that skills based volunteering can have, and a lovely observation that this kind of volunteering is about helping people see they have something to offer. Simon sketched out a quick tale of someone he spent time with who felt that because he had no ‘work experience’, he therefore had no CV as such. In conversation it transpired that the person had a lead role in a project at University to develop, launch and sell a product. The project had exceeded its targets and Simon rightly suggested that this project was a great example of real work, and something relevant and useful to build on. Simon told his story in a much more compelling way than I am currently relaying it to you – and nevertheless the effect of his story has stayed with me. There were figures quoted by people for many of those data points I referred to earlier, and I can’t recall a single one.

In conversation with someone afterwards I was suggesting that we should hear more stories – fewer numbers. I was reminded by the person I was speaking with that the numbers help some people to make the case for volunteering and social responsibility in general. Ideally – I see these kind of activities sitting in the ‘right things for the right reason’ box, and yet I appreciate that businesses have to understand and allocate resources to meet needs.

So why am I writing this blog today? Two main reasons. First and foremost because I want to do my bit to highlight the excellent work the CIPD are leading on here. And second – to serve as a reminder that data needs stories. I’m 86.7% more convinced of that now than I was when I started writing this.

Half Time

Monday 30th June. We’re half way through 2014 – time flies and all that. Today is also the fifth anniversary of my departure from the BT corporate machine.

I was reminded of this half year point by my friend Michael Carty – who has just published his Social Media Half Year Honours List. I enjoyed reading and reflecting on Michael’s post and scribbled a short note about some people who are making an impact around me this year. As encouraging as ever, Michael suggested I play with the notion further, so I have. Lists are flawed, this one has little in the way of data to back it up – and I’m doubtless going to forget someone’s worthy inclusion – but here we go.

First up is everyone who has offered me work so far this year, even those whose offer I’ve politely declined. Your contribution is essential – thank you.

I couldn’t do this work without Carole’s support – smart, kind, adaptable and with an elegant ability to kick my ass, which I sincerely appreciate.

Heather Bussing is someone I always look forward to hearing from. She is bright, and through her provocative writing, she encourages and invites the very best challenges and thinking. Unvarnished loveliness and a pleasure to know.

Dwane Lay – funny and considerate, and a karaoke master.

Neil Usher’s personal rage against the machine is written with such elegance and prickle, it commands attention.

My dialogue, friendship and work with Meg Peppin is inspiring. With Meg’s help I’ve truly come to appreciate the importance of having someone to check in with. She is:

Just a little dangerous
Trusting and Trustworthy 

Meeting Michael VanDervort has been a 2014 highlight for me. We follow each other from afar on social media and having a chance to share jokes, beer and pizza in Louisiana will live long in my memory.

I’ve only met Euan Semple once or twice, and his shares and scribbles are often a joy and a challenge.

My good friend Ade Bird, with his mix of kindness and vulgarity is an essential friend. We met at school a bazillion years ago and have failed to shrug each other off since then.

August and September hold so much potential it’s scary – trips to Illinois, New York City and Ohio will give me opportunities to catch up with so many good people and the chance to see Sabrina Baker and the team at ILSHRM again, and do experimental stuff with Joe is very exciting. Steve Browne aka The Joustmaster aka The President of the United States of HR is also right in the mix along with the team at OHSHRM.

Robert Ordever is someone who cares about his work, and puts a smile on my face. So does Bina Briggs – a focussed optimist who I’m fortunate to know.

The 2014 Facilitation Jam team have been excellent. I love the Jam – and through my interaction with others who enjoy the concept, I’m convinced that more people need to find the time to hone their practice, their work, in an emerging, free form way.

And I couldn’t do what I do without Carole so knowing she’s here too is very important to me. I know – I already mentioned Carole – but hey, it’s my list I’m in charge.

What does all this mean? I’m just grateful for the people in my life I guess. Michael – thanks for inviting me to think about this. At the 2014 half way point – who is doing it for you? Whoever it is – I hope you find a way to let them know.