Tag Archives: purpose

This Little Thing Inside

No Fear No Career Gaping Void

The best business people, artists, etc., live in that uncomfortable space of never feeling quite good enough.

They know that the biggest rewards lie in the things that terrify us.

Everyone’s afraid. Not everyone lets it stop them.

The above picture and words appear courtesy of the lovely people at gapingvoid. Thanks for the permission to reproduce them here.

One Day At A Conference…

I spent a day last week in some lovely company at Workplace Trends 2014. In the middle of the conference – the first ever Workstock popped up. Workstock 2014 was a series of pecha kucha stories – each only just over 6 minutes long, bound together by a series of even shorter tales, written by someone thousands of miles from the event, who had never met any of the speakers. Confused? I don’t blame you – so maybe hop over to Neil Usher’s blog or Richard Byatt’s and get a feel for what when on at the event. 

Creativity Constrained

I’m a fan of the pecha kucha format – 20 slides, each on the screen for 20 seconds – 6 minutes and 40 seconds to tell your story. Constrained by the timescale, your creativity is driven to the fore. The format doesn’t appreciate umming and aahing, you need to be on your game, and you have to be prepared. PK is just not a format that tolerates winging it. And it’s hell on your nerves.

Nearly my turn. I stood at the side of the stage, nervously waiting as my short story was read out loud. Words I’d not heard before now – but somehow strangely familiar. Truthfully I struggled to take them all in as my heart pumped, blood thumped, nerves jumped. It’s only natural to be a little scared. This little thing inside.

I was nervous for three reasons. One – the PK players that went before me were excellent. Despite the constraining format everyone had breathed their own life into their tale. Two – I could sense that everyone in this group of 11 storytellers was on edge, I think we were subconsciously fuelling each other. Three – I was planning to do something for the first time – a PK mix of slides, live music and live drawing. Why make life difficult when you can make it even harder?

Feel The Fear – And Do It Anyway

Time to go. I can’t quite recall what happened next – I just fell into the performance and blended a rehearsed sequence of thoughts with adrenaline, and a wonderful sense of support from the people in the room.

Pecha Kucha Clash City Rockers

photo c/o Rose Haslem

I rattled, buzzed and hummed, and I was done. My final words as I left the stage – ‘Thank f*ck that’s over’. This little thing inside – subsided again. As I sat down – a lovely lady handed me a piece of paper:

Workstock Appraisal

This sheet of A4 instantly and forever became the best appraisal I’ve ever had. Timely, encouraging and to the point. Thank you. I enjoyed as much of the rest of Workstock as my gratefully slowing heart would allow me, and the day went on. We were all filmed so I look forward to reliving the whole thing again soon in a slightly more relaxed state.

Since Workstock I have been bowled over by the reaction to it, both as a complete performance,

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and to my contribution.

Speak To My Soul

Currently I am struggling, at times I find it hard to process why my work, particularly the work I’ve done in recent months, has provoked such strong reactions in the people around me. I am both excited and scared by what is going on. This little thing inside.

Yin/Yang/Belief/Doubt/Nerves/Excitement.

A bit like how the hotel staff gently slide the express checkout envelope under your room door, its arrival barely detected, so I’ve gently snuck this little thing inside into a few recent conversations. And it turns out that most people I speak with about this feel similarly, to a lesser or greater extent.

Yin/Yang/Belief/Doubt/Nerves/Excitement

Does this make you or me me feel any better? I’m not sure – I suppose a doubt shared is a doubt halved. It certainly won’t make the little thing inside go away, which on reflection is a good thing. As I am finding out – when we feel the fear, and do it anyway, we are making a difference.

The best business people, artists, etc., live in that uncomfortable space of never feeling quite good enough.

They know that the biggest rewards lie in the things that terrify us.

Everyone’s afraid. Not everyone lets it stop them.

Not good enough. Says who?

Happy Anniversary

Maybe it’s just me but I think I’m seeing more than the usual share of Happy ‘Work’ Anniversary messages on LinkedIn this month. Doubtless some of my recruitment friends will either endorse or disprove the theory that more people get new jobs in January than any other month of the year.

I also read a loving, uplifting tribute to a father by Neil Morrison this week. His Dad has turned 70, and Neil’s ‘Lessons in Life’ is a great piece about dignity, trust, wine corks and more. Real birthdays beat work birthdays hands down.

Neil’s post put me in mind of my Dad, and then it hit me that he died two years ago today. In the immediate aftermath I wrote about aspects of loss several times, and then disappeared down a rabbit hole of paperwork and grief. That stuff got done, like stuff does, and I wrote about a sense of emergence for Alison in her December 2013 advent blog series.

The emergence continues at pace. In business terms, 2014 has started how I always wanted a year to start, productively and enjoyably. I am crafting a space where I help people collaborate more effectively, help them explore better ways of working, and get comfortable with creativity and experimentation. More and more people are asking for that help and I’m thankful and excited. I love my work – it often brings me to huge laughs and tears, and much more besides. I’m thankful. Did I already say that? Who cares – I am thankful.

I choose to believe that where I am right now is a complete product of where I’ve been before, and in making that choice, I am able to see the death of my father as one of those pivotal moments that lends huge support to the foundation of my life. Taking strength from loss is one of the hardest things I do, and one of the most humbling and fulfilling things too.

As my good friend Heather put it:

There is so much out there about how to succeed, but so little about how to make it through a hard time. Learning how to rest, grieve, change, and get through difficulties are the essential ingredients of any success. Thank you for this!

Thank you Dad, and happy anniversary.

In a lovely coincidence – I have today received a note from the Friends of LittleHeath Woods (FoLW), a place we played as kids, and an organisation Dad supported staunchly. We made a donation to the woods after Dad died, and the FoLW has decided to reintroduce English Elms back into the woods in Dad’s memory. A regeneration project in Paul Shaw’s name – what a lovely thoughtful thing to propose, made even better by the fact that I learned of it today.

What makes a community work?

Work out your purpose

Participate

Set goals

Be patient. And how! We seem to know that patience and persistence are important and yet so many folk feel disappointed when things don’t click and work – straight away.

Don’t meddle. I like this. There’s a world of difference between participating and meddling. Most work fails because managers don’t know when to get out of the way and let folks get on with it. Could the same be said for communities?