The lonely ride

I had planned this year to cycle 100 miles in a day but with Covid and the restrictions I have not had the chance to ride socially. Not that I have have been much into this aside from last year when I rode to Exeter over the three days with the Bugbrooke Badgers.

Sunrise as I headed towards Oundle

I planned a route to Hunstanton and set off at 5:30 on the 1st of August with the weather forecast indicating low 20s and slight chance of rain. The ride was enjoyable the main highlights were enjoying a Wimpy burger in Kings Lynn and being passed by an old lady on her E-Bike in the Sandringham – I would like to add we were going up hill and my legs were grumbling!

In fact she was the only person I chatted to for the whole ride.

When I reached Hunstanton I met my son and his friend he’s know since they were about 3 or 4. They had clearly enjoyed the experience of driving out together and chatting along the way. For my part is was good see them and these two young men full of energy and be able to converse.

So on reflection the ride was actually lonely. Would I cycle this far again? Yes – no question. Would I do it alone – probably not. Whatever we do we are social creatures and the best memories are of shared experiences.

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!

Productivity Inspiration

For a lot of us, our day to day, week to week follows a familiar pattern – there is usually a lot to cram in. However, I have really noticed a repeated theme that has been bothering me and that is by the end of the week I feel drained – yesterday was pretty bad. A lack of motivation and not getting much done made me feel like a loser.

Sunday’s, like this morning, I feel more refreshed so, amongst other things, I picked up my copy of Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt. The exercise on the Freedom Compass was really insightful and best way for this to stick with me is to copy it out – then return to it and annotate.

Michael Hyatt Freedom Compass

I have been tuning into the Free to Focus podcast for sometime now which is a great addition to the books and website. It’s one of those where the talk is easy going but there’s always a takeaway and the theme of looking at productivity and life gains from different angles not only makes for interesting listening but re-enforces some of the learnings that are part of the overall programme.

One other person who has been an influence is Samuel Suresh who has infectious approach to learning with his college studies. I would encourage you to take a few minutes to look at his YouTube channel. Isn’t how the young learn from the old but the old also have a lot to learn from the young?

Whatever you are doing I wish you a blessed day.

In Admiration of the Thistle

Yesterday I paid a visit to Burton Dassett Country Park. Set on a hill with commanding views across Warwickshire and Oxfordshire, it is a former site of industry used to quarry out iron ore and these days is turned to nature with sheep free to roam.

I arrived at 7:40 and sat down with my breakfast – coffee and marmalade sandwiches. Noticing the lonely plant that’s the emblem of Scotland I picked up on the bright pink-purple flower stood completely alone in a sea of sheep nibbled grass.

The Proud Thistle

Standing tall, the thistle seems to be a bastion of defiance to the wind that sweeps across these hills and the sheep that eat everything else. Creating a small protective ring, it’s spines protect it like sharpened stakes that would have defended an Iron Age hill fort. Growing tall and reaching for the sun it flowers it’s distinctive blooms that catch the attention of passing insects which given the location are likely to be few and far between.

The thistle (Asteraceae Cirsium) seems to have innate resilience meaning it can withstand dry hot summer days and long cold winter nights as well as being trampled on. As the summer wears on the beautiful flowers give themselves over to thistledown, catching the wind and taking to the air the effort growing so tall and majestically makes the effort worthwhile.

What a wonderful plant! Defiance and resilience are two words I would associate with Scotland.

Adolphus Broadfield Cohen – the story of A.B.C., as he was known at school

Adolphus Broadfield Cohen, Lieutenant 17th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment Lt Adolphus Cohen Courtesy Bootham School A Bradfield Cohen (as he …

Adolphus Broadfield Cohen – the story of A.B.C., as he was known at school

This is a fascinating series of articles keeping the memories of the Leeds Pals alive. I should write one on my relative Harry Speight.

The Post COVID Me

I realised the world I Inhabited pre COVID was fixed both mentally and physically. Bound to work, bound to shop, bound follow social rules, bound to think and act in certain ways. These past weeks have changed my perspective with the realisation how much humanity is made up of selfishness and selflessness.

So if I do anything, it will be to let go of the shackles of own perpetual conforming and progress to my journeys end following an unfettered route.

Coffee Philosophy

I buy my coffee from a small shop in town where they blend, toast and grind. Gail complains as it ‘stinks the car out’ when we bring it home, but I love the smell.

I have a moka pot that I use to brew it and other than water I never add anything else. When I am in the office it goes with me a thermal mug and every I time get a kick with the first sip. At home I have this arty cup but never get quite the same hit like the thermal mug. 

Lovely coffee..but when I first started drinking it I had powdered coffee with with milk and sugar.

This begs the question why have I reverted to something in its ‘base’ state when most of my tastes in life have become more complex? 

Over to you!

Painful Pinch Points

I am making no shame of this but the blog below is self therapy. I dont mind if nobody reads it.

The Coronavirus work for me started in the middle of February when it became apparent our colleagues in China were not going to be returning to work. As we purchase some of the component parts we need to finish off our products there was a lot of figuring out to be done. We ended up creating new tools on the fly so we could identify which customers we would effect and when. I had a dedicated team on this and also immersed myself to support their work. We worked tirelessly with colleagues in operations.

Point 1. Account managers were getting agitated. Every Monday I have a start of week and right off the bat one of the guys started really complaining about the accuracy of information questioning about peoples ability/commitment. It struck me as he didn’t give a care for the efforts that were been put in.

Point 2. Within a few days our tools were giving better information and I assigned support to each account manager. Some ignored this and begun to mis represent the information when advising customers.

Point 3. Our group leadership team were information about impact to customers, what we were doing and how we were negotiating. Not a problem usually but some days this was occupying four or five hours and this was impacting front line time. So I made a call and took a project manager and got him to replace my role in supporting sales. A week or so later in a meeting a person more senior to me called me out in front of everyone else. His real problem was my project manager didn’t get him a report until 6pm the day before.

As we all know the situation in Europe rapidly escalated. We then had customers closing, understandably without notice. So again a core team quickly adapt to this change. I think people finally began to realise we have to work together or so I thought.

Point 4. Preparations were being made to get as many folks home working as possible. I held a full group briefing and was shocked by the selfish attitude of a minority towards a demand to be released immediately (they weren’t set up to work from home at that point). This was in a room where a number of their co-workers would need to remain. So much for caring for your comrades!

This brings me to point 5 that happened yesterday. In a matter of fact way a colleague figured he would be financially better off to be furloughed (and thus not permitted to work) than take a cut that we had discussed the previous day but remain working part time.

I have worked hard. But I have questioned myself and my abilities. I cannot sleep properly. I am tired. But I am not sorry for myself – I need to learn, take action and move forward.

Given the above, I have an absolute empathy for the work everyone in the front line of the Coronavirus pandemic is doing. The pressure on them in a volatile situation is life or death and there is nothing more precious than life.

Business as Usual (Not)

Over the weekend I have reflected on a very difficult week at work where things have been said and done that has left me feeling like I have been kick out of the park.

Through a series of chances I found an advert for a job. This morning I penned my introductory email with the following (edited as there was more) text:

Firstly, I have had an unusual career so far, in that I have worked for one company for the past 28 years. However in that time I have had many different jobs, not all listed my CV. I often tell people the company either likes me or is trying to find me a job that I can actually do!

As the awareness of our impact on the world has increased, I cannot sit still and run business as usual. So what I have is a wide range of business experience and the passion to be making a positive difference. I hope this introduction suffices and I look forward to hearing from you in the coming days.

I like to think the above paragraphs convey a little about my personality, skills and sense of direction.

Work plays a massive role in my life, I need to be focussed and remain true to my personal core values while ever more cultivating opportunities for the vision I have for me.

Yesterday may have been business as usual but today is not.

The Longest Journey

I was listening to Clay’s Coaches Notes yesterday on the way to work. His Thursday episode was about his smack between the eyes sentence from a Sioux Indian saying ‘The longest journey you will ever make in your life is from your head to heart’.

As I pedalled along I reflected on this and the very intense week that was going at work. Without going into detail, we made major changes in 2019 cutting our cloth according to our income only to find the conditions worsening and having to do the same within the first weeks of the new year.

My immediate reaction was ‘yes, I get this’ but quickly followed ‘no, this is wrong for me it’s the other way round’. And here’s why:

I think a lot and feel passionate about certain topics – the bigger picture, right thing to do stuff, my base instincts. Like when you get out of side, smell the air and direction of the wind. The sense of freedom to do something. This is my heart and it seems to beat more strongly the older I get.

My head is rational, logical and conformist. I am restrained and don’t always say what I am thinking. In my job I will tow the line, I seek solutions when conflicts occur and take the monkey off other folks backs. I have to factor the practical things in life like money, mortgage and bills which add to my head.

But as Clay mentioned these words I reflected my heart is bigger but isn’t as dominant as a result my head inhibits my heart.

Therefore my longest journey will always be the other way round.

I woke up early this morning regretting, with my head, an email I had written yesterday to my boss from the heart. Do I regret after writing this blog entry? Hell no!

My Three Key Words for 2020

I have been putting together my intentions and goals for the year ahead. I am definitely not alone in this and imagine lots of people are thinking about resolutions. But resolutions should be more like evolutions as to set discrete goals from one year to the next does not make sense when there are long term things to achieve – for example planning for retirement, children’s college fund or re-training for a new career.

I have been a subscriber to the the Havana Cafe Podcast by @soulcruzer and @sarahbethhunt. In 2019 I learnt to have 3 words to guide the year ahead and although I had a go, in truth the words, I chose had little meaning to me as I had not properly understood how to use them and how they could impact me.

In the last few months of the 2019 a few things came together and my thought process started to become more defined. This was helped by writing a blog and the blogpalschallenge19 was my brain dump to the world. It was also Sarah’s messy morning routine of meditation which I quietly had a go at and will continue with. However, the defining word for me was ‘messy’, in that messy is actually okay when everything in life today is about instant perfection.

So here are my words for 2020 and what they mean to me:

Explore. Get lost. Rediscover my lost skill of curiosity and build up on it.

  • More reliance on instincts and intuition.
  • Dig beyond the headlines. Don’t be fed. Question – everything if needed.
  • Literally go and get lost. Ditch the iPhone & Garmin go and discover.

Proactive. Address procrastination be confident in taking action from the front.

  • See the path ahead and set about clearing the way. Define and communicate.
  • Learn new skills in business development. Crucial to Hoshin goals and I will need to seek help.
  • Balance decisions on time, cost, quality.

Circular. Start breaking from leading a linear life and move to a circular one.

  • Respect circle of of life, the changing seasons and get involved with my local environment.
  • Make better use of the tools and gadgets I have. Improve them before buying new.
  • Develop a project exploring how I can work within a circular economy.

These words form a bigger picture that goes beyond 2020 and are more affirming of a life I want to lead but also support my responsibilities to my family and my colleagues.