Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day

Mum died just a few days before my 19th birthday, over 30 years ago now, and I’m sitting here in a quiet house reflecting on how fortunate I am to be my mother’s son. A strong character, my mum taught me to be curious, to question authority – and though that notion inevitably gets me into a few scrapes, I do believe it is something wonderful, and something we could probably do with a bit more of in the world too. She also taught me about the importance of showing respect for others, and trying to earn it for yourself. I know I get this stuff wrong more often than I get it right, and it’s a worthy pursuit, so I keep trying. As each mother’s day rolls by, I have strongly mixed feelings about love and loss, as I expect do most people who’ve lost their mum. Today – love has come out on top. Thanks mum – I’m truly grateful.

Happy Mother’s Day

Like all proud dads I think my daughter is the best. As Keira grows and becomes more and more her own person, the mother’s love Carole has for Keira radiates through our daughter and is reflected in Keira’s kind, funny and smart personality. It’s a lovely thing to see – these things they have in common. Carole is currently sleeping, safe in the knowledge that she will be made a fuss of today. We do nice things for each other in this family on random everyday days too, but a day like this is a great time to stop and be thankful, so we shall be.

Happy Mother’s Day

Keep on Running

Making wellbeing a habit in pursuit of better work.

Keep on Running

Or in my case, walking. On November 27th I was encouraged to take part in #RWRunStreak, which is a simple challenge about taking exercise for a mile or more, each and every day until the New Year.

So far – I’ve walked over 60 miles and ridden my bicycle 22 miles. I’m enjoying the discipline of getting out into the fresh air every day, and I’m enjoying other things too. Saying good morning to people, having time to think about my work, becoming more aware of my posture and simply noticing what is around me too, is really enjoyable.

I often fit the exercise around other tasks I need to complete – Tuesday’s walk took me into town to get a few supplies for a workshop I’m facilitating tomorrow, and the previous day I walked 6 miles over an hour and a half to get to a meeting.

There are a few friends along for this journey too, and though we’re thousands of miles apart, its been fun keeping in touch via social media to motivate one another. I asked my fellow challengers how they are feeling so far, and here’s what they said:

Dominique Rodgers: Yesterday I walked to the courthouse (by mistake) and then city hall for a passport. The most challenging and rewarding part of this, for me, is figuring out how to fit a walk into the jumbled puzzle of my day. It’s been fun and everyone’s encouragement has definitely helped.

Broc Edwards: Doug, Dominique, and John (and, obviously everyone else one this public forum) – I’m enjoying it a lot too. Prior to the challenge, I ran/biked, at most, 2 out of 3 days. Having the commitment means getting a bit creative, sometimes accepting that a day’s run will be less than normal, going for a run when I don’t otherwise feel like it, or fitting it in at an odd time. Because of all that it’s a great experience and has taught me so much about where I was holding back or making excuses or just being sluggish. And, yes, seeing what others are doing, hearing about their experiences is encouraging and inspiring and really eliminates my excuses.

John Hudson: Great job, Doug! It has been great having all 3 of you along on this little journey. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do it this year, but decided to give it a shot. Now, we are so close to the finish! I hope to keep this going, to some extent, in 2015.

Broc: That’s the challenge, isn’t it John? Easier to do when it’s a short term commitment vs rest of your life. Daily isn’t 100% realistic, but when the timeline is open ended, it’s too easy to put off to another day.

John: Absolutely, Broc! I like having the goals and then the team surrounding me for support and accountability.

I’m enjoying weaving this exercise into the #100HappyDays challenge – they support each other nicely at times. I think what I’m trying to do here is make wellbeing a habit, which is in turn, improving my work. Thanks to John Hudson for encouraging me to start this journey, and to Dominique Rodgers and Broc Edwards too for coming along. Keep it going folks.

In case you missed it – for every pack of Stop Doing Dumb Things ordered in December I’m making a small donation to Arts Emergency. If you’ve been meaning to order some cards for yourself or as a gift to others, now might be a good time? Thanks for your support.

Data Needs Stories

Data Needs Stories – reflecting on some of the good work happening as part of the CIPD’s Learning to Work programme.

I was at an event last week at which the CIPD launched a piece of research called: Volunteering to learn : Employee development through community action

This piece of work is itself part of Learning to Work – a programme led by the CIPD to promote the role of employers in reducing youth unemployment. In my experience – the gap between school and work is a big one, and I think the role the CIPD is playing here is one of the most exciting and important things I’ve seen and experienced from the institute. I encourage you to take a look and if you’re not already supporting this good work – try to find a way to do so, please.

Back to the event. We heard from a number of people in business who are supporting this work and research through skills based volunteering programmes. I found a lot of what we heard was very heavy with data. Talk of the impact on, and measurement of, among other things:

  • Engagement scores
  • Wellbeing
  • Desire to remain at the company
  • Networking
  • Social and environmental awareness

And then we heard from Simon Collins. Simon works for Caterpillar and he too was there to share his experience. Simon spoke about the importance of skills based volunteering from several perspectives:

Firstly Simon was open about how it fits with his own career choice in talent development. He spoke briefly about his own experience as an unemployed post grad, ‘a scary time’, and he talked about how, as a parent, he observes a lack of career guidance and advice in the world of educationHe reflected on how the value of any advice given is often linked to the enthusiasm of the advisor.

Simon spoke to us about the vulnerability that often comes with being out of work, the vital rebuilding of confidence that skills based volunteering can have, and a lovely observation that this kind of volunteering is about helping people see they have something to offer. Simon sketched out a quick tale of someone he spent time with who felt that because he had no ‘work experience’, he therefore had no CV as such. In conversation it transpired that the person had a lead role in a project at University to develop, launch and sell a product. The project had exceeded its targets and Simon rightly suggested that this project was a great example of real work, and something relevant and useful to build on. Simon told his story in a much more compelling way than I am currently relaying it to you – and nevertheless the effect of his story has stayed with me. There were figures quoted by people for many of those data points I referred to earlier, and I can’t recall a single one.

In conversation with someone afterwards I was suggesting that we should hear more stories – fewer numbers. I was reminded by the person I was speaking with that the numbers help some people to make the case for volunteering and social responsibility in general. Ideally – I see these kind of activities sitting in the ‘right things for the right reason’ box, and yet I appreciate that businesses have to understand and allocate resources to meet needs.

So why am I writing this blog today? Two main reasons. First and foremost because I want to do my bit to highlight the excellent work the CIPD are leading on here. And second – to serve as a reminder that data needs stories. I’m 86.7% more convinced of that now than I was when I started writing this.