In big trouble …

I think I’m pretty good at multitasking.

I can spin many plates and find ways of keeping nearly all of them up.

I love the challenge of just keeping things moving.

I do lists.

I tick off list items.

I add to the list.

I tick more off.

I make calls, I text, I write letters.

Lots of them.

But give me a book and I’m in big trouble.

I can only read in silence.

Without distraction.

The TV and radio must be off.

The cats must be asleep.

And not snoring.

The guy slamming his car doors outside my house needs to behave.

The boy racer trying to hit 50 mph down my residential road needs to grow up.

The postman needs to leave the large package he cannot get through my letterbox, despite a number of noisy attempts, on my doorstep and gently post a note telling me.

I just lose myself in the book.

Almost any book.

It’s a form of mindfulness.

It’s certainly spiritual.

A complete transportation into another world.

Lost in space.

Literally.

I’m not giving up on books.

Oh no, that’s not going to happen.

I’d just like the world to become just a little bit quieter…😎

Slow down and breathe …

What’s going on?

Why the rush, the impatience, the rudeness, the lack of tolerance?

 

Competitive bus queues, 

Barging in the street, 

Car horns blaring,

Waiting in line, fuming.

 

Everyone in a rush

They’ve left it too late

Time Management an alien expression

Slow down and breathe… please.

 

Courtesy “out of the window”,

Blood pressure peaking,

Heart rates soaring,

Connections to meet

 

Eating on the go

No time for a break

Texting whilst running

Headphones at peak 

 

Everything urgent

No space to reflect

Adrenaline pumping

No manners to detect

 

Slow down everybody

And appreciate the journey

There’s much to see and enjoy

You will be pleasantly surprised

 

What you are truly missing …

 

The trip into town …

I’d booked the exhibition tickets a month back.

I meet my friend Brian regularly to keep in touch and a “trip into town” normally takes us back to our days in business when we both worked together in the City of London.

We rarely talk about business.

We talk about our lives after business.

We talk about family, current events, we stray into politics, we share funny stories, we talk about writing (he’s a great writer).

It doesn’t really matter what exhibition/event we book.

It’s just another great opportunity to meet.

However he does his homework and reads up, in advance, on the exhibition background, history, future events.

It keeps me on my toes – I’d better read up too.

Time flies over the day as we chat and chat.

Topics at random.

Highs and lows.

Laughter and the occasional difficult moment where unexpected emotion might kick in.

And takes us both by surprise.

Another great exchange.

Another delightful, supportive, trip into town ….

You shall not pass …

My secretary, Val, had phoned in sick.

The temp agency we used in these situations responded immediately and Lisa, the temp, arrived at my office within 30 minutes.

I had a busy day ahead catching up on writing a key business report for my Chief Executive so I asked her to protect me from all visitors and phone calls until lunchtime.

The hours flew by.

The report was completed.

I eventually came up for air and opened my office door and walked out to see Lisa.

“Thank you Lisa for protecting me this morning – did I have any visitors?”

“Only one, a tall guy with dark and grey hair, in his fifties I guess”

“I blocked his path towards your door and he look very surprised, slightly stressed”

“Did he have a strong Scottish accent?” I asked anxiously.

“Yes that was him and he’s left you a note…”

The note read …

When you can possibly spare the time please call into my office.

“Was he anybody important?” asked Lisa

“He’s the Chief Executive Officer, so I’d better rush up to see him!”

The CEO’s secretary, Sarah, escorted me into his office and sat me down.

He slowly looked up from his papers.

A serious expression on his face.

“Who was that secretary who stopped me from getting in to see you?”

“She totally blocked the doorway and wouldn’t let me pass!”

“I’m sorry, that was an agency temp secretary, Lisa, who was covering for Val who is away sick today.”

He looked up, smiled, and said “Don’t say sorry, she was amazing!

I’d like you to give Sarah, my secretary, her agency phone number so she can protect me when she is away on leave next month”

I left his office with my heart rate very slowly getting back to normal …and thanked Lisa again for doing a great job!

The 365 Update …

We meet once a year in London.

Normally in November because D visits her family in Australia for a couple of months in December and January.

We used to work together in my Corporate days and we have stayed in touch via annual update lunches.

She never forgets to remind me that it might be a good time for us to meet up.

A text message always asks me for some free dates.

We then meet up and have 3 hours of information exchange, amusing stories, recommendations on reading and films.

Both trying hard to not let our lunch go cold as the information flows back and forth.

She is bubbly, interested, a supreme listener and full of energy.

She reads more books, in more depth than me.

She sees more films of all types than me.

She makes allowances 😎

A review of our past year takes place minute by minute but is nicely topped up with a sharing of current perspectives and experiences from our busy and different lives.

A highly recommended annual event.

A bit like an automatic (and much needed) software update but much more fun.

I just need to remember a list of 4 or 5 highlights of my year so I can contribute to my side of the exchange.

And still gratefully reflecting on the fact that limiting to 4 or 5 highlights is still a real challenge – there is always so much more to highlight.

And for that I am extremely grateful.

Today was like a continuation from last year’s meet up.

Almost seamless.

Always enjoyable.

Thank you again D for that annual text message reminder ….

I am updated once more….

On the radar …

It was my birthday yesterday.

I’ve never been fearful of age – in fact I seem to positively embrace it.

I tend to confirm my age nowadays by taking my birth year from the current one but that’s not an issue.

My mental arithmetic is still good 😎

But yesterday’s birthday was something special.

Nothing to do with presents/gifts at all.

Although I did appreciate them (before I get into trouble!).

It was stand out special due to the number and care of the number of contacts I had with family and friends.

People who are often off the radar, due to their busy lives, just taking a moment to wish me happy birthday via social media, via text message, via a phone call.

People from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Greece, South Africa, USA and the UK.

Yes, I’m now quite surprised and humbled at the global reach.

I have been reflecting on why I am just so fortunate to be receiving this attention and care.

I hope it might be because I do try really hard to do it to others – just a moment of connection and support whenever the opportunity presents itself.

There really is no greater feeling.

Thank you … all of you.

Turbulence ahead …

Life is not smooth.

Nor is it predictable.

But for me that’s what can make it interesting and fun – when I’m feeling good.

However understanding why certain days are great and others a complete strain is a tough job.

I’ve been reading quite a few blog posts lately from people I follow and meeting a few friends who are struggling with the pressure of work, of illness, of relationships.

I tell my friends that I’m definitely not qualified to suggest informed, professional solutions but I’m always available for a chat.

I tend to insulate myself from the odd bump in my own mood by surrounding myself only with people who make me feel good when I meet or talk to them.

Those supportive types who give you a buzz with their energy and enthusiasm or just listen attentively while you talk and talk…. and talk.

And offer another perspective or two.

Better to have a face to face meet up of course (body language is invaluable) but even written exchanges can help.

However if I cannot meet them then a chat over the phone, for me, wins hands down.

Texts can be ambiguous and not really dynamic, like speech.

Texts can intrude, annoy even and add to the load.

I can cover much more in a live conversation.

So I know who to call.

Know who to meet.

I have recently realised that I really do have a “help me out” list of friends.

I guess I have been subconsciously building it all the time.

Not in a mechanical “numbers game” type of way.

Not loads of people either, just a handful who I can ring at any time.

I hope I’m on their list too.

I can never predict when I might need to connect up and be recharged a little or be a source of support for somebody else.

But I am prepared 😎

I knew, at that first meeting …

I don’t forget my days in Corporate life.

I was very fortunate to have had a range of interesting jobs throughout my career and met some very fascinating people.

Some of them have remained good friends despite moving on to other companies, other countries and other challenges.

We remain connected mainly by the technology of LinkedIn, Facebook, E Mail and the good old mobile phone (well it’s been around for a while now!)

So yesterday I was reminded on LinkedIn that one of the guys I recruited back in 1993, Gary, had a birthday.

I sent him a “hope you are well” type birthday greeting.

He came back with

“Thank you Steve, I am now 52 so we have been connected for half of my life – thanks for keeping in touch!”

He was recruited by me as a potential “high flyer” in finance and wow did he fly!

Charismatic, knowledgable, tenacious, and a great team player too.

I just knew, at our first meeting, that he was perfect for a role in my team.

I used to run, after work, informal 60 minute one to one chat type sessions with potential shortlisted candidates.

Time consuming but so useful.

This was before actually deciding whether to invite them back for the formal interview board a few weeks later.

This process allowed both of us to talk through the CV, see how the chemistry worked and chat through any questions they had about the role being offered.

I tended to know, after this meeting, whether it was worth moving to the next stage.

And often so did they.

Gary is now a very senior Finance Director in another company (he’s moved about and upwards over the years to broaden his experience) and deserves his position.

Back in 1993 I knew he was good.

Very good.

You just have this feeling.

In some small way, due to my decision to offer him a job and him accepting, I have influenced his life a little.

That’s how critical these decision points are.

He certainly influenced my life.

He made my job as his manager really easy.

And made a real difference.

And I knew that he would … at that very first meeting …. 😎

How did I miss them? …

I’m not sure I really noticed them in the past.

In fact I know I didn’t.

It was only when I started my walks that I was completely overwhelmed and totally fascinated by them.

They were everywhere.

In all colours and shapes.

Changing with the days, the weeks, the seasons.

I’m talking about trees.

I love them.

What a history they tell.

How beautiful they are.

When I see the sun reflecting through the leaves, changing by the minute, I could watch them for ages.

My friends even post tree pictures on social media and specifically tag them to me in a lovely “saw this and thought of you” way.

After I got past my “how did I miss this?” phase I realised I was just rushing too fast in life and missing the journey.

Almost everything on my walks became amazingly fascinating.

The photo in this post is of a local tree I’ve been trying to capture for ages but my timing has always been wrong.

One afternoon last week, driving home, I saw it but couldn’t park anywhere near it.

So I went home and did the long walk back to it and thanked it for not shedding its leaves while I parked up!

In a previous life I suspect I was probably a tree…. well that would be my choice if I had any say in who or what I was 😎 …

Little things matter …

I’ve been thinking.

A dangerous pastime.

My mind has been buzzing.

No particular order of topics or thoughts – just a background of noise making me drift off and then focus back for a while.

When I analyse it there are one or two issues I’m wrestling with.

All manageable.

No real showstoppers.

But it’s the little things that either make me feel good or low.

An accumulation of little things that make a big difference.

Some words of encouragement, some humour, some sharing of stories, some help you have given and received.

Then you face those outstanding tasks that keep on slipping, some unbudgeted events that keep throwing your plans out of gear, some unreasonable remarks or responses.

They all add up.

They can tip the balance on my mood.

You need to seek out the good little things.

You need friends who make you feel great.

Consistently and predictably great.

You need blog exchanges that make you smile or think differently.

I’ve been grateful for these!

The negatives will always flow in.

But you can offset them if you work out how important they really are and, of course, keep on collecting those positive vibes.

This is an unusual blog from me.

From where did this surface?

I just feel so much better writing it down …😎