I love …

Here are some of the things I love:

OK, I’m madly proud to belong to my family. I love being married to Sue – an utterly amazing woman.  And my daughter and two sons and their wives are wonderful people, all adults now with lives of their own – I couldn’t wish for a nicer family. And I now have four adorable grandchildren. Utterly entrancing.  The header pictures our family in 2013 – A little dated, but I love it.

I absolutely love coaching people. It is an amazing privilege to be part of a process that changes a person’s thinking and results in them having a daily life that really works for them  – changes that make every day a better place to be from here on.Coaching brings me into contact with a wide variety of people, from CEOs and managers to single mums and young people, people with different faiths or none, different cultural backgrounds – and each individual wants a better future for themselves and those who matter to them.

I love choosing and creating the coaching tools we use. These are a product of up to date practical research, are well tested and a dream to use. They are safe and really get results.  There is nothing quite so personally rewarding as seeing clients getting what they want from their coaching and hearing that they’re so much happier based on techniques we’ve developed in house! And I get to train people too.  Its the icing on the cake.

I love business. There is something very important about trading successfully, and I love it. Not just for the money, though that is an essential ingredient to modern life, but for the involvement, the collaboration, and the way that working in a business-oriented world provides a certain discipline, a framework, to my life. Now I coach businesses too. What a delight.

I’m totally hooked on my motorbike – Well, I actually have two: a 2008 BMW R1200GS and an old Burgman 400 ‘scooter’.  I surrendered to four-wheel transport when Sue and I got engaged decades ago, and returned to biking in September 2008 when I bought a Honda Deauville on eBay. Within a month I’d been to Italy and back, and then upgraded to a bigger newer bike, a 1200GS, which I crashed in January 09, aided by a kind lady who “didn’t see me”.  Hmmm.
Needless to say, that hasn’t been the end. I replaced it asap and I’ve now visited just about every country in mainland Europe from the Arctic in Norway to the Carpathian Mountains in Romania and the Mediterranean – Greece, Croatia, Italy, Spain. (Somehow I missed Macedonia. Don’t ask.) I have a Hilleberg tent I sleep in each night camping wild, and absolutely love the unique freedom and solitude that lone biking provides. A complete and refreshing change from my ‘day-job’.

Roots

For many years I never realised what was possible for me.  I was born on a tiny ‘starter’ farm that my dad rented from the Council.  When I was nine, we upgraded to a bigger farm, and as I grew up we all worked very hard, from dawn ’til dusk to keep body and soul together.  At 19 I went to St Paul’s College of Education in Cheltenham for a three-year Certificate in Education from Bristol University. I was now a school-teacher, and loved it. I taught Design and Technology to teenagers for ten years.

At College I fell in love with a 17 year old girl, Sue. I was utterly smitten with her, and, after 18 days of being madly in love I proposed that we should get married. She accepted, and we married at the end of my training 16 months later. We’re still happily married, despite the significant ups and downs that life brings. There have been some very tough times, and some utterly joyous ones.

I was 23 when I met a Scotsman who changed my life.  Campbell showed me what it is to be a truly amazing person. He lived that way and helped me rewire my own thinking. His influence changed my life. Sadly, Campbell passed away in January 2009.

Campbell taught me about some of the really important aspects of a successful life and how I could have them.  I learnt that what I had thought were essential ingredients to success were often anything but, in fact they can actually stop you succeeding.  I also discovered that true success is not only for the elite, the materially well off, or only for other people. It is available to everyone, and is about living each day well, not merely arriving at that final destination.

Community Brain Theory?

Yes. We may think that our brain is in our head, but it is designed to reach far beyond that, and because it is a living organism, it does. By itself.

You're in there somewhere!

In Powerchange we know that it is not possible to NOT communicate. Human beings are designed to influence each other’s thinking, trade resources and team up, and that happens automatically whenever people meet together. We can inhibit the process by causing division, suspicion and isolation, but that inhibition is itself a communication.  Far better for you and the rest of your community to collaborate intelligently with the way human resources work best: when they are linked together.

So how, according to Community Brain Theory, does it work?

Human beings communicate through the five senses, and give out signals via body, speech, touch, facial expressions, tonality, etc.  We take in information through our eyes, ears, skin (touch again) nose and mouth (this time through taste, not words) and a complex blend of each of those. They are interpreted by our brain to provide meaning and clarity so that we make sense of the input we are receiving.  Even when we are asleep the process continues: a cry from a baby, the smell of smoke, an unfamiliar noise, or a bright light will be interpreted by our brain in ‘unconscious’ mode and alert us if necessary.

When we are awake we instinctively know how important it is to connect with others.  The truth is, our survival depends on all our brains working together to produce the future.

Let’s see how this works:

The alarm goes, we get up and put on an image that is chosen to communicate what we want others to think of us.  Among many other things, our clothes indicate status (pinstripe suit or boiler suit?), state of mind (smart or casual?) and how we want others to perceive us (sharp or relaxed.)  Things like make-up, hairstyle, after-shave, posture,and cleanliness all send out signals, intentionally or not, of what is going on in this person.

A few words with the booking clerk at the station gets us a ticket to town, phone calls during the day drum up more business, the email we send to the boss gets us promotion (or maybe the sack!) and the private call to a new friend gets us a dinner date for the evening. (We don’t know until later that it produces a life-partner and four children.) We chat to a trustworthy colleague about the forthcoming date, and on the way back to our desk notice a poster on the noticeboard about a children’s charity we’re interested in. We decide to enquire further. Dinner goes well, and we decide to meet up again – soon.

And so it goes on. More and more links. One brings a new job. Another a new friend. Another … who knows where any of them might lead. And each of those connections actually changes the physical structure of our brain and subtly adjusts the way we think.

Community Brain Theory (my label for the explanation of this collaborative process) encourages mutual interdependence. It as if your community is a body, with arms, legs, a head, and a central nervous system that works in harmony and reaches out to other communities that it itself needs. Through the integration of those millions of above- and below-the-surface connections your life is enriched, you and your family thrive, and you have the opportunity to serve others – an essential ingredient to emotional and psychological health.

In fact, without that participatory integration, you will surely die, just as a severed finger dies when separated from the body, so your brain starts to die when it becomes separated from the stimulation of a wider community.

It appears we are designed to collaborate, it seems, and just for the record, I’d like to find a way to collaborate with you.

Any ideas?     Mail me at andrew@powerchange.com

Damned by Speculation

What speculation has damned your life?

Speculation is the theorising about something for which there is no evidence. ANYTHING to do with the future is speculative, because we don’t have the future right now, so we don’t ACTUALLY know.

“I know what everyone will think if I do that.” Speculation. You don’t KNOW. Even if you were to ask them, you will get a speculative answer because THEY don’t know what they would ACTUALLY think. It hasn’t happened yet. You or they may be able to take a very good guess, but until it happens, that is all it is. A guess. No evidence.

“It would be a disaster to lose my job.” Speculation. There are swathes of evidence to show that losing a job can be the best thing that happened to a person – even ones who thought it was going to be a disaster.

“I’m going to make millions.” Speculation. You don’t know you will be alive in three hours time, so how can you know that?

“You’ll be in a wheelchair by the time you’re 40.” Speculation. My dear departed Dad was told that in his early twenties. He died aged 86 and only occasionally used a wheelchair in the last few years of his life when he walked short distances slowly and we all wanted to walk greater distances faster!

“You’ll never make anything of your life.” I’ll not be damned by such wanton speculation! History is filled with the achievements of people who were told they couldn’t, they were not allowed, or they didn’t have what it would take. When I hear those words, I speculate about the inaccuracy of such speculation! The question is not “Can I do this?” but “Do I WANT to do this?” If the answer is yes, then I ask “OK, HOW can I do this?”

The cleverest statisticians can and do predict the future, can and do build up a reputation for accuracy (to within a certain percentage either way, of course), and can and do get things extremely right… and wrong. They are aided by the smartest computers available, which also are unable to take into account the myriads of unknown alternatives, any one of which will provide a ‘different from predicted’ result. Reason? It’s speculation. How many times have we been told by ‘experts’ that this or that disaster is going to happen – and it didn’t?

When it comes to thinking about the future, I’m happy to speculate to some degree, assess risk, and make considered decisions that I suspect may affect my family and future generations. I also think it’s wise to hold my speculations and predictions about the future lightly, knowing that only some of them will happen. Right now, the FACT is, none of us knows which.

I hold the future lightly. I live simply trusting that when the unknown or unexpected arrives I will have the resources, within and beyond myself, to make the most of it. I call that ‘living by faith’, and I’ve found it to be a wonderfully relaxing and rewarding way to live. Adventurous and risky? Well, yes, but this ‘simply trusting’ means I can enjoy my life much more fully, and ask “What if..?” with an excited, creative tone in my voice, rather than one of fear and dread. When unpleasant circumstances arrive knocking at my door, I can learn from them too.

What speculation has damned your life?

What will happen if you ‘simply trust’?

Maturity Indicators

As coaches in Powerchange we encounter many clients who recognise that they are responding in a ‘teenage’, if not a ‘little child’ way, and want to change that. During the coaching conversation, they may ask us to give them an indication of what mature behaviour is all about. I’ve put this blog together in order to help us all be more mature.

Please note that I’ve differentiated between ‘adult’ and ‘mature’. They are not necessarily the same. ‘Adult’ is usually regarded as the physical age of a person. Maturity is a behavioural characteristic, regardless of age. Young people can behave with amazing maturity and some older people can behave very immaturely.

1. They are principle-based.

Principles do not alter from one month to the next, which means principle-based people are reliable and trustworthy. They don’t jump around reacting to to different opinions, preferring to be consistent and go with considered decisions based on their own thought-out deeper values. They are unshaken by flattery or criticism. They understand that nothing is as good as it seems and nothing is as bad as it seems. Children say, “ He told me to!”

2. They take responsibility for their thoughts and actions.

They refuse to blame other people or circumstances, and accept that they have made and will make mistakes. In order to live that way, they know they need to keep learning – especially from their mistakes – and put a high priority on wisdom. The wiser they get, the more more wisdom they want, and the more grateful they become for every source of wisdom, learning and knowledge. Children say, “Its not my fault.”

3. They are patient.

One key mark of maturity is the ability to delay gratification, which involves surrendering the need for immediate ‘feel good’ in order to get greater long-term gains. They focus on what is important more than what is urgent. A mature person is able to keep commitments even when they are no longer new or novel. They continue to do what is important even when it has lost its initial surface gloss.  Children say, “I want it now.”

4. They are interdependent.

They know that, just as dependence is childish and independence is adolescent, so interdependence is a mark of maturity. They feel secure within their own sense of priceless worth. They are not threatened by others, but see them as potential contributors and valuable collaborators towards each other’s success. They know that respectfully serving others means they themselves will gain. Mature people aren’t consumed with drawing attention to themselves. They’ve learn’t that humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.  Children say, “Me, me.”

5. They choose to be an example of a life well lived.

They know that being a good example to others can only happen when they have respect for themselves and others. They know the next generation is as important as their own, and so embrace their responsibility to live in a way that is worthy of imitation. They are not afraid to be fully themselves, knowing that they have nothing to hide, knowing they have cleared out the skeletons in their cupboard. Children say, “Nobody’s looking.”

“When I was a child I thought as a child; when I became a man, I put away childish things.”