“What’d I Say?” What’d I Say / Ray Charles (Charles)

“What’d I Say?” What’d I Say / Ray Charles (Charles)

Way back in the day, when I was still at school, a nine-year-old kid wrote to the Children’s TV show “Blue Peter” to ask for their help in “making people or animals alive” (sic).


Specifically he wanted (by 1st March);

  1. A diagram of how everything works
  2. A model of a heart split in half
  3. To know the sort of syringe used for cleaning ears
  4. Tools for cutting people open
  5. Tools for stitches
  6. A fibreglass box (8ft x 3ft)
  7. A picture of a man showing all the arteries


The Editor of the show duly wrote back to the kid, stating that they were very intrigued in the boy’s fascinating list, and suggested that he followed up with his G.P. to get the first tranche of his required information.


Later on in the 1970’s, a 12-year-old kid from Bradford had watched Britain’s David Wilkie triumph in the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal by winning the Breaststroke Gold Medal. Being an “average” club swimmer (but nothing more – his words) he told his swimming teacher that he wanted to emulate Wilkie’s Olympic win himself.


The swimming coach sat the kid down and said something like, “OK – so what would be your first step toward that goal?”


You might know the second kid as Adrian Moorhouse; 100m Olympic Breaststroke Champion at the 1988 games and you might even know that the first kid was Anthony Hollander? Professor Hollander is Head of Integrative Biology at Liverpool University and successfully implanted an artificially grown windpipe into a woman’s body in 2008.


The point? We all have responsibilities; as teachers, leaders, supervisors, coaches, parents, friends and siblings for somebody else’s dream.


These two stories are not about the fact that neither Biddy Baxter nor Moorhouse’s swimming teacher were more important or that they knew more, but that they chose the right response. Anything other than encouragement of what may have been just a pipedream (pun intended), would have killed the dream stone-dead.


What’d You Say?


“When Your Socks Smell Of Angels But Your Life Smells Of Brie” Don’t Marry Her / Beautiful South (Rotheray/Heaton)

“When Your Socks Smell Of Angels But Your Life Smells Of Brie” Don’t Marry Her / Beautiful South (Rotheray/Heaton)

It takes a certain character, a special type of person, to be well organised and committed to the workplace.

I’m talking about those people who are on top of things; they know where everything is and what is likely to happen next.

These are folk who don’t need Time Management – they Manage Time, not the other way round.

With that in mind, they get to work early and are able to get ahead with planning the day. At the end of the working day they invest some time in reviewing and forward-planning the next day. A strict workplace routine is advisable and certain workplace habits pay dividends around filing, claiming expenses on time, writing to-do lists and using an organised template to keep track of calls and timetables. Work is work.

Corporate socks washed and ironed – ready to serve.


It takes a certain character to get the balance all wrong too.

Time spent noodling around at the office when your kids are busy growing up.

Sunday afternoons given over to preparing for work the next day or, worse still, travelling to some far flung place where Monday comes early.

Anniversaries or birthdays can be forgotten, calls home have to be postponed because you were busy on the “work phone”.

Trips to the park, meals out, camping trips and sports days rely on you needing a “signal” for work.

And of course your annual vacation is decided only after the Review Meetings for Project Stealth have been finalised…


Work life smells good; home life stinks.

Been there – wore out the T-Shirt.

“I Read The News Today, Oh Boy”  A Day In The Life / The Beatles (Lennon/McCartney)

“I Read The News Today, Oh Boy” A Day In The Life / The Beatles (Lennon/McCartney)


Have you ever bought a newspaper and wished you hadn’t?

Have you ever hung on 10:30 to watch the local news and gone to bed worrying about stupid facts, shark attacks and Council Tax?

If you want to get depressed quickly, read the news. If you want to go from a 10 to a 1, tune in the News At Ten.

Maybe you you’ll be less informed? Well, people seemed to do pretty well before the outbreak of 24 hour rolling news.

Maybe you wont be able to have a ‘View’? Seems like there were debating societies long before TV came along.

Maybe you won’t know what you are talking about? Didn’t seem to do Mozart, Einstein or Darwin any harm by not reading newspapers.


I did my own poll recently and bought a cross-section of rag-top newspapers and skimmed through them. On average I got to Page 9 before I read anything remotely positive or uplifting. Maybe you could start at the centre pages and read from there? Well, only if you want to know that Paris Hilton has come down a dress size or that Lindsay Lohan has a new toy poodle.


What you focus on magnifies – and so if you regularly consume news about disasters or danger or inequality or war or violence or hatred or celebrity cr*p then guess what your subconscious will feed on?


So thanks. We now have a 30 minute void in our day that feels like a missing molar; what could we do instead Nige?


  1. Go for a walk/run
  2. Learn a new skill (see You Tube)
  3. Make something (ditto)
  4. Tell someone how much you like them
  5. Watch nature going by
  6. Celebrate something (anything)
  7. Listen to an Album
  8. Plan your future
  9. Read an Obituary (yes, really)
  10. Iron a vest


Don’t worry, you wont miss out.


“You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet/ Bachman Turner Overdrive (Bachman)

“You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet/ Bachman Turner Overdrive (Bachman)

Upon hearing me talk about the power of ‘Think It, Believe It, Do It’, a number of people roll their eyes skywards and ask whether we can talk about something more realistic.

When I ask them what they mean(!), they want to talk about Time Management or Process Management – something that will actually make a difference to the bottom line (sic).

I’m not convinced about what my Body Language leaks at this point but they soon back this assertion up with, “It’s just that all this Performance Through Beliefs and Mindfulness and NLP are all a bit New Age aren’t they?”


So when Muhammad Ali coined “I am the Greatest” in 1964, somebody should have told him to concentrate on his sparring instead.


And when in 1907 William James wrote, “It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome” he should have got a grip on reality.
And when Lewis Carroll in 1871 wrote in ‘Through the Looking Glass’,

“There’s no use trying”, Alice said: “one can’t believe impossible things”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour each day. Why, sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast”, he should have been dismissed as an idiot dreamer rather than a mathematician and logician.


When in 1750, Voltaire said “Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us”, he should have been asked if he could run Time Management courses.


When in 1615, Miguel de Cervantes, in ‘Don Quixote de la Mancha’ uttered, “Thou hast seen nothing yet”, he should have been advised to Copyright That in case a 1970’s Rock Band repeated the line centuries later.


Not Half.

“All I Want Know Is How Far You Want To Go” Back Down South / Kings Of Leon (Followill, Followill, Followill, Followill)

“All I Want Know Is How Far You Want To Go” Back Down South / Kings Of Leon (Followill, Followill, Followill, Followill)

Lots of people like to push the envelope. Expressions like, “really go for it”, ‘produce 110%” and “give it my all” serve to express how people strive to do things which are out of the ordinary.

But going the extra mile is now commonplace. Exceeding expectations with Customer Service and Personal Goals is the new benchmark. Bucket Lists are now the size of Giant Pails. Be the Best (of the Best).


After all, what’s the point of normal? Why would anyone aspire to be average? Even is half the people you know are below average…

Seriously, no one wants to get the end of their life to look back and wish they had done more, so my advice is go for the burn with everything you do.

Give it large.

Of course you will. Promise…?


So why don’t we aim for this level with optimism? Why do we settle for less than 100% positive? Why don’t we aspire to be totally happy?


Because its hard?


No! The things we talked about at the top of the page are hard. Work targets, Customer expectations or achieving things that are outside the scope of your comfort zone are hard. They take planning and focus and concentration and hard work.


Optimism, positivity and happiness take no effort at all, take no preparation nor cost you anything – you can do them quicker than you can say ‘discombobulated’. Granted, they may be outside your sphere of “high payoff activities” but in the long run they are the things that matter. They even make the hard things easy.


All I want to know is how far you want to go.

“Push The Button And Let Me Know Before I Get The Wrong Idea And Go” Push The Button / Sugababes (Buchanan, Buena, Range, Austin)

“Push The Button And Let Me Know Before I Get The Wrong Idea And Go” Push The Button / Sugababes (Buchanan, Buena, Range, Austin)

Clients often ask me, “What if we spend all this money training our staff and they go elsewhere?”

I reply, “What if you don’t and they stay?”

The problem is even more acute when we’re talking about the stuff I do most of; mindset change and getting people engaged with their work.

So back to the question… but this time replace the word “training” with “engaging” or “motivating”!

It should be a no-brainer but then comes the perennial question about what do we need to put in place to motivate people? BTW, I am of the camp that says you cannot motivate people but can create the environment in which they find it easy to engage themselves.

In a significant study done just after WWII (and replicated with the same results in the 1990s), people were asked, “What do you want most from work?”

The results seemed staggering. The top three were;

  1. Appropriate recognition
  2. Help on personal issues
  3. Being kept informed

These three factors edged out Salary, Good working conditions and such-like and crucially are in the hands of the Leader/Manager to provide and thereby create a motivational environment.

Old fashioned; pre-millennial – I hear you say.


Last week a similar online study asked what 2015 tech-savvy audiences wanted most from E-providers, as a Customer Experience. This is what they would actually pay money for

  1. I need speed and convenience – shorten the run-up
  2. The boring (pre-work) is done by the provider up front
  3. I want an Awesome Experience and Status
  4. I want to be “on the inside” (informed)
  5. I would like access to those (people) who know


Different list – new game – same rules.

You see, what people want is different but as their leader/manager, this is within your gift to provide!

1&2 are about getting in The Game earlier – help on personal issues/ambition

3 is about appropriate recognition of their needs

4 is being kept informed – at the Edge


And 5? That simply shows me that it’s still about people – getting access to the right folk. Back stage passes, access all areas. Mano-a-Mano.


Push the right buttons.

“Back To Black” Back To Black / Amy Winehouse (Winehouse/Ronson)

“Back To Black” Back To Black / Amy Winehouse (Winehouse/Ronson)

Most people are increasingly aware of their freedom to close accounts and open new ones. We are very familiar with the ease with which we can swap suppliers, plus we can rely in the new incumbent to transfer over the balance and continue with new transactions. Easy money.


Dr. Stephen Covey first made me aware of the concept of the Emotional Bank Account – relationship transactions that we have with others around us.

We are in credit with the other party when we help them, when we compliment them, when we give them useful feedback, make their life easier or show that we love them.

We withdraw funds from this joint account when we hurt them, when we mistrust them, when we let them down and so on.


If you have ever come to the end of a significant relationship – either they were taken away or one party walked away, you will know that it’s not as easy to reconcile the account balance that you hold with this person.

“Big deal”, you say. “My life is interest free”, you say. “I can switch my allegiance whenever I want because credit is cheap right now. Switching providers is not a hassle. It’s dog eat dog out there…”


But your parents?

Mums and Dads make a huge contribution to get the account up and running. All parents can end up in the red by supporting unwittingly, profligate youngsters. As teenagers it gets worse as the stakes get higher and he ability to pay back is merely a promissory note. The account balance goes further south as the offspring become parents themselves. This is now Portugal bailing out Greece.


Then one day, the emotional line of credit starts to turn. We begin to realise the sacrifices made by our parents. We understand that we can do something to turn the account around. Small, but meaningful deposits mount up over the final years of the account and hopefully by the time the account closes we are back in the black.

We all have a number of accounts and we don’t need Experian to tell us where they stand.


Make a deposit before it’s too late.