Taken a wrong turn?

Ever put your trust in someone who’s then let you down?

It’s a situation we can all relate to – especially at work.

A conversation with someone in this position recently reminded me of a couple experiences in my distant past. The trouble with some humans is it can sometimes take repeat experiences to learn the lesson!

Similar to the person I spoke to recently, I was in a recruitment admin role in a complete rut. I knew the role was never going to expand and neither was the micro business it was in. One of the clients headhunted me to a role in their new start-up. Looking back, I didn’t reflect on the offer to check it was real and what I wanted. I believed everything I was told after all the offer was made by a client – they wouldn’t exaggerate the truth…..would they?

Of course! The thing I’d buried at the time was they were human first and foremost.

At that point in time, I was bored, frustrated and going nowhere professionally so I accepted the offer which I quickly realised was a big mistake! I could do nothing other than try to make the best of things until something better revealed itself. After all, who can leave a job without another to go to when they have bills to pay?

Shortly after came my repeat lesson. I was approached by a headhunter I knew about an ‘exciting new opportunity’ to set up a talent hub within a business who had done a lot of research and had interested clients lined up to use the hub’s services.

Too good to be true? Yep it was. The opportunity was real but they had done no research. There were no interested clients lined up.

The difference this time was my attitude. This was a blank canvas. I could grow it how I wanted it to be. Over a number of years I grew that talent hub into a multi award winning programme which made a real difference to many people who had experienced barriers to get into work.

So why share this with you? Well a couple of reasons really:

  1. We are all human and trust those offering us an escape – without considering it might not be the right escape.
  2. Sometimes when you make a mistake you can turn it into the most magical thing ever just by changing the way you look at it.

If you are in a rut professionally, frustrated and feeling like you are on a burning platform, take the time to stop and think what your purpose is. Plan your own escape journey to where you want to be. Otherwise you may end up having repeat experiences which are exhausting and worthless.

Passion Map – Do You Have One?

The global pandemic and yo yo-ing UK restrictions over the past year + has enabled a period of reflection for us all.

“Where are we?” “Are we happy and fulfilled?” “Is something missing?” “Am I on the wrong road?” “Are my relationships healthy or toxic?”

Just some of the questions we may have considered over this time.

Catching glimpses of the highlights of HRH Prince Philip’s funeral over the weekend and seeing some of the unique things he had planned – such as symbols of his love of carriage racing and land/range rovers – got me thinking about how much planning we put into living our best lives.

How many of us run on automatic pilot? Doing everything as habit almost on automatic pilot just means we are existing not living.

Having a Passion Map enables us to really examine all areas of our life and ask ourselves those difficult questions. Especially “am I where I want to be?” or “am I on the path to get where I want to be?”

Slowly, we are seeing the seeds of change – restrictions are gradually lifting. Is now the time to devise our own Passion Map?

Life is too precious to return to automatic living.

What do you think?

Making a positive difference when you don’t even know it….

Earlier this week I was contacted by someone who had been selected to take part in Growing Talent in 2019.  Growing Talent is an employment empowerment programme I run, which has been on hold since March 2020 due to Covid (www.growing-talent.co.uk).  

At the time they had many personal pressures to deal with which had reduced their self-confidence to an all-time low whilst greatly increasing their anxiety – exhausting as we all know.

They worked hard to complete the Orientation Week – confidence building workshops – prior to going on the employer’s site working well with their peers on team and individual challenges.  Gradually shoots of growing self-confidence started to appear.  More importantly, a smile returned to their face.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t maintain the routine of work back in 2019 and left before completing the programme.  This made their contact this week even more thought provoking.

They have been a carer for over a year working extensive shifts caring for the vulnerable is tough enough for anyone let alone doing this role in the middle of a global pandemic.  The people this person supports all have varying stages of dementia – challenging for individuals, family, friends and carers.

Finding the strength to make decisions and changes in their personal life took massive courage.  With everything going on, they still put others first and decided to move into the care home to support their peers and residents as much as possible.  Unfortunately, they got Covid themselves and had to self-isolate.  Now the residential care home is currently Covid free – a big relief for all.

As I’m reading all of this information they sent, my pride and admiration swelled.  Their growth from 2019 to now is inspirational.  The reason they wanted to get in touch now was to not only share their journey but thank me for my teachings.

Anyway, my point is, that, no way could I have gotten through the turmoil of Covid in a Dementia Care home and self-loathing induced by personal pressures if it hadn’t been for your teachings and even that week of lessons really in prep for growing talent. Thank you for the lessons, thank you for the courage and the self-belief you instilled in me, before I could really believe in myself’.

As a trainer/facilitator passionate about encouraging people and businesses to be the best they can, I often wonder about those who aren’t ready to move forward.  I know see, even instilling a short time of self-belief and proactive personal nurturing makes a difference to them long term.

What’s the point in sharing this with you?  To share we may not always know the outcome of something we do – that doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful and positive.

Never stop trying to do what you know is right.  You are having a bigger, positive impact than you may realise.

Hidden Figures – Acceptable?

It’s long been known and accepted within business that figures will be ‘fudged’ to give a more favourable report on their performance.

 

Take a look at Estate Agent’s house descriptions – often not the same in reality.

 

Today Times Radio reported on the results of their Freedom of Information request from all healthcare trusts in the UK and found there are over 15 million people waiting for their hospital NHS appointments having been referred by their GP for further investigations.  Times Radio went on to report the Government’s official figures of this waiting list is just over 3 million as their stats are not centralised.

 

It’s accepted tough decisions needed to be made during the pandemic but there seems to be no clarification on whether the 15 million is accumulative backlogs from prior to the pandemic or if this figure is due solely to the decisions made to protect the NHS during the pandemic.

 

Either way it seems unacceptable to ‘fudge’ figures when lives are at risk.

 

We’ve already seen countless people who have discovered their unknown cancer has now spread as they couldn’t be seen during the pandemic.  For every individual there is a family who will carry the lifelong scars of these tough decisions.

 

Whatever the real figure, we can’t change what’s happened but we can come up with a solution to address this backlog now.

 

Will there be action or blame shifting?

 

 

Can we all rise from despair?

Overthinking negativity can feel like trying to swim in quicksand.  Panic rises, struggle intensifies the quicker we sink.

 

Taking a step back to analyse where we are, where we want to be and the journey to get there can give us the best foundation for change and getting out of that quicksand feeling.

 

Seeing the feature of new Graduate Malala over the weekend I’m reminded of where she started – shot by the Taliban for speaking up for girls’ education as a teenager – to relocating to the UK, going to school in Birmingham, studying, and graduating from Oxford University along the way becoming the youngest  Nobel laureate after winning the Nobel Prize in December 2014 as well as setting up the Malala Fund and the Education Champion Network with a vision to see every girl in the world get at least 12 hours education a week – what a journey.

 

Whilst Malala is an extreme journey, it shows we can change what’s ahead of us.  Opportunity lies in the most obscure places and can present when we least expect it.

 

Take a step back, analyse what’s really going on.  You can’t change what’s happened before – that’s history.  We can all change the path we’re on…….if we want to.

 

What’s stopping you? – Yourself maybe?

Coronavirus has forced us to stop and take stock.  Yes, we didn’t see it coming.  Yes, we don’t know when it will end. Yes, we still don’t know what the end result will be.  But, this is a unique, once only opportunity to stop, take stock of where we are in our lives and ask ourselves – am I where I want to be?

 

Hopefully, for most of us it will be a resounding ‘yes’.  For those who maybe feel change is needed in some areas of their lives, what usually stops them doing anything about it is them.  The negative part of their brain interrupts with self-doubts which get louder and louder if we let them.  This is perfectly natural as our brains are programmed to keep us safe and they do this by amplifying risk – think fight, flight or freeze situations.

 

We can learn tricks to move forward such as not thinking you can’t but just doing it.  I’m minded of the people throughout history across all corners of the world who have achieved great things when on paper stereotypical thoughts would be they can’t.

 

One who had diverse careers including that of a stuntman didn’t switch to being an inventor until his mid40s.  Trevor Bayliss initially starting making products to aid his peers who had been disabled through stunts.  On hearing about the AIDS breakout, he got to thinking of the isolation of remote villages who didn’t get healthcare information easily until he invented the wind-up radio – no batteries needed.  Totally accessible.

 

A fuller interview with Trevor is featured below…..

Taken from The Conversation…  This interview was featured following Trevor’s death in 2018.

 

Trevor Baylis, who has died aged 80, left his school in London at 15 without any qualifications. But he went on to become a physical training instructor, an engineer, a stuntman and, at 45, a full-time inventor, eventually finding fame for developing the wind-up radio.

Many of Baylis’s inventions were inspired from his time as a stuntman. He had friends who had suffered life changing injuries as a result of their work. “Disability is only a banana skin away,” he often said.

As a result, he focused his effort on inventing devices to help people with disabilities in their everyday lives. He came up with over 200 of these devices, which he named Orange Aids and included one handed bottle openers, foot operated scissors, can openers and sketching easels.

Then in 1991 he saw a TV programme about AIDS in Africa. The presenter described the difficulty of getting important health information to people who couldn’t afford batteries for their radios. Baylis immediately went out to his workshop to see if he could build a suitable generator for a radio. It only took him 30 minutes to come up with a solution.

The resulting clockwork prototype worked well but he struggled to get anyone interested in producing it. In 1994, as a result of being featured on the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World programme and in an interview on the World Service, a backer came forward to help start manufacturing the radios in South Africa, employing disabled people. The vast majority of these early production radios were sold to aid agencies to distribute freely, but over time they also became very popular with consumers in the developed world and were able to be sold for profit too.

When Baylis’s design was manufactured as the BayGen Freeplay radio, it won him 1996 BBC Design Awards for Best Product and Best Design. It is still considered an iconic piece of British design, featuring in the UK Science Museum collection. Spin offs from this design included a wind-up torch and MP3 player, along with shoes that generated enough electricity from the movement of the wearer to charge a mobile phone.

The wind-up Baygen Freeplay radio. J. D. Pfaff/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

Despite his fame, Baylis felt he had often not received the financial returns he deserved for his inventions and began to campaign for better protection for inventors. He argued that intellectual property theft should be a criminal offence. He suggested that all school children should learn about inventing and intellectual property in the same way that they learn about art. In 2003, he set up Trevor Baylis Brands to help inventors struggling to develop and protect their ideas, helping over 10,000 people and launching many spin-off companies.

Baylis provided some early examples of how design could respond to both social and environmental problems by producing products that didn’t require expensive and polluting batteries. He made his radio very durable and easy to repair so it would last as long as possible, a real shift away from the usual consumption driven product market. A 1998 study of radios with different power sources found that, despite its weight, the Baygen had a significantly lower overall environmental impact over a five-year lifetime than any other radio on the market at the time.

Ripples of change

Sustainable product design still struggles to be recognised and applied by industry today. Yet the innovation displayed by the Baygen radio, initially using human powered energy systems and later supplementing this with solar power, produced a ripple effect in the market and large corporations began to develop similar products.

Although many criticised the product for being unnecessarily robust, it wasn’t created for the same kind of use as typical radios in developed countries and instead was designed to be as durable as possible. Baylis’s radio illustrates the complexities of balancing environmental, social, ethical and economic decisions in design and is still a useful discussion piece for aspiring designers today.

Trevor Baylis embodied the role of the inventor, always looking for solutions to problems and proving his novel ideas through many prototypes. He understood the value of design and considered this to be an important step in the commercialisation of his ideas.

Baylis received an OBE in 1997 and a CBE in 2015 for services to intellectual property. Despite his many successes, he once said he had one big regret: not being selected to swim for Great Britain in the 1956 Olympics.

Wind-up radios can still be brought today.

 

If you are reflecting on potentially changing something in your life right now, don’t let self-doubt in.  Instead think about the wider impact you could make not only on your lives but those around you.

 

You don’t have to be an inventor to make a difference.

The end of Growing Talent for 2019

Our Graduation on 16 December marks the closure of Growing Talent for 2019.  Thanks to the funders, it will be back in 2020 with 6 new programmes confirmed.

 

As we approach closure of this year, I reflect back on the trials and triumphs of 2019 for Growing Talent.

First the trials!

January 2019 we kicked off with the new format of Growing Talent – reducing down the time spent training in the vacant role with the employer from 10 weeks to four.  The Orientation and Holistic weeks remain the same. This has caused a few concerns.  For those people who have multiple barriers to employment, four weeks isn’t always long enough to grow in confidence to be sure the end role is the right role.

JobCentre Plus has been restructured with leads who knew Growing Talent well moved to different roles.  This has meant a vastly reduced support from East, West and North London districts.  Unfortunately, this meant we lost an excellent employer with great roles based around the M25.

With the full roll out of Universal Credit, JobCentre Plus has little contact with unemployed people who just need a confidence boost.  Each JobCentre is authorised to display what posters they want.  With so many of their own Government programmes, Growing Talent posters were never put up!  Therefore, those people submitted by JobCentre Plus often have more barriers to overcome in their quest for employment.

 

Now the Triumphs! – which for me eclipse the trials!

From January – December 2019 we had 34 unemployed people start Growing talent from all social, educational backgrounds.  Out of these, 27 completed Growing Talent and secured their permanent jobs.

 

We had our first father and son success story!  Referred by a friend who secured their role on Growing Talent in 2018, Navin applied and secured his role with Mitie based at Embankment Place.  Navin introduced his dad Nalin to me.  A fascinating career with diverse experience including a long tenure supporting the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to London!  After multiple senior management roles, Nalin decided to retire.  When he realised it was too early and he wanted to return to work, he encountered employers looking at his past experience rather than what he wanted to do now.  After an introduction, Nalin started a night role as hotel manager with Club Quarters.  He told me last week he’s now secured the day role he wanted at another Club Quarters Hotel and is very happy!

 

Bernie who was on the same Growing Talent with Navin, wanted to go to Canada and see a bear.  He told me a few weeks back he’d achieved his dream.  Bumping into the Graduates of Growing Talent and seeing them achieve their goals and grow so much is awe inspiring.

 

I know from the feedback all participants give me at each stage of their journey, Growing Talent has literally changed their lives.

 

The triumphs far outweigh the trials!

 

BBC London People – #GreaterLondoners ……..

Really proud to be nominated to @bbclondonpeople Instagram project #greaterlondoners.

 

Although the journalist got a few things wrong, including it was an unpaid week trial I did for the accountant not paid it made me reflect on what I have achieved.  Through the Real Apprentice and its successor Growing Talent, I’ve got over 600 people into permanent full-time jobs – literally changing their lives – as they tell me.  All with barriers.  All without the confidence to secure a job the traditional route.  One of these, Shennell, nominated me for this #greaterlonder project. #proud #humble

 

I drew on my experience years later when devising the Real Apprentice which run from 2004 to 2013 and won multiple awards including the best of Europe to Growing Talent – 2014-Present.

 

It’s amazing the difference we can make to others without realising the impact we make.  I’m guilty of not reflecting on what I do enough.  I believe most of us don’t reflect on our actions and affirm just how great we are!

 

Take time to nurture yourself.

Check out the feature below:  

London Chamber of Commerce – what to expect?

After four years of running my business delivering Growing Talent and Mental Health/Wellbeing programmes, I felt the time was right to increase my business awareness, network with like-minded organisations and ultimately grow Growing Talent to get even more people into work from diverse backgrounds.

 

Quite a big membership fee for a ‘one man band’ organisation but the events and knowledge LCC showcase they deliver on their website should make this cost-effective.

 

I guess you only get out what you put in!

 

My first networking event is on 6 June 2018 so not long to wait to see if the proof is in the pudding or not!

 

If there are any fellow members out there – I’d appreciate your top tips!

 

Update – 8.6.18 – for the first half hour I wondered what I was doing there!  There was no staff to direct, no kind of instruction manual – although I now understand there is an introduction session for new members which kicks in a couple of weeks joining!  So we were all in a large room with team/coffee etc and left to our own devices with colour coded badges – although not everyone had been given the key to the colour coding.  Equally, I was wrongly coded as a PR company! How many others were wrongly coded as well?  A couple of people I spoke with told me they were not renewing, others said they had grown strong client relationships.  I guess more than one event is needed to form a true opinion!

 

 

Life skills from the Navy Seals…..

Admiral William H McRaven gave an insightful life lessen in a graduation speech in 2014.  Key points came from his basic seal training back in 1977 and is highly relevant today……..  You can track down the film on You Tube…

If you want to change the world – or just your part in it:

Start with making your bed.  what was the point of daily bed inspections?  To set the bar.  If you can’t do the little stuff – you’ll never do the big stuff. It sets a positive note for the day – you’ve completed your first task!  If nothing else, you’ll come home to a well made bed!

Learn how to paddle! A boat will only travel efficiently if everyone works together.  Know when to ask for help. The ‘munchkins’ where the best paddle team.  From different backgrounds, different statues, all had heart, worked together and won the challenge.

Get over being a cookie – for failed uniform inspection, seals had to go in the water then roll in the sand – called ‘cookie’.  They then stayed in this all day.  Many couldn’t take this constant failure and dropped out.  They missed the lesson of failure.  You have to keep going.

 

Embrace the circus: for failing a physical challenge, a Seal had to do two extra hours.  Embrace it, it builds stamina.  The lesson is you will fail and sometime fail often but keep going, it builds stamina and resilience.

 

Go head first – sometimes you have to do things a different way and dive in.

 

Face down the bullies – Seals are trained to stand their ground when swimming in shark infested waters.  If a shark circles – punch it hard on the snout – it will swim away.

 

Be the best you can – especially in the darkest moment.

When you’re up to your neck in mud – start singing! – The power of hope.  It takes just one person and spreads quickly.  Think of Washington, Lincoln, King, Mahala

 

Don’t ever ring the bell!  In Seal training, there is a brass bell which people ring  to give up.  Never give-up.  Keep going you will succeed.

 

“Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up — if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today.”

“It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status. Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward—changing ourselves and the world around us—will apply equally to all.”

“Changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it.”

Some great lessons for us all………..