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Guinness Book of Records World Record Attempt

The lighter side of life in community engagement is not to be under-estimated.  What a joy to be amidst the happy crowd today seeking to gain entry to the Guinness Book of World Records for the ‘greatest number of people to walk a short distance with a book balanced on their heads’.

We didn’t get the record on this occasion (too much fun and not quite enough organisation), but maybe next time …… :-)

Book BalancingIt is of course ‘good to be level headed’ :-)

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Updated focus for Finding Your Future

It has bFYF Bannereen an interesting week for my voluntary work, with a number of new contacts asking me for my ‘Elevator Pitch’ (Usually I get all my work from recommendation or via people who roughly know my skills and background).  As I was answering, I found that I was saying:

  • I am about helping people maximise their potential.  What this means is:
  • Refreshing their leadership (reminding them what led to their being leaders and the motivations they had as leaders when at their most energetic).  I make the difference as a Leader myself and through coaching other leaders.
  • Sharpening the focus on what are the key issues and the results needed to maximise future potential and sustainability.  I make the difference through analysis and challenge.  That this works is based upon my skills to listen, to gather evidence and to engage with the people delivering the outputs, in a dialogue.
  • And, in these times, critical success factors are related to reducing risk through an ability to test the financial reality and viability of plans for the future – to sustain & tune what should continue and to change to what will be required to meet new needs.

One of my audience – ready to do his sales pitch suggested getting it made up as a banner!

So thank you to the Hampshire Flag Company for engaging in the process.  And a shout out for Chris Shipp the designer.image1d4c7b

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Nelson Mandela Birthday – 18 July 1918

Like so many people,I have been awed by the life and impact of Nelson Mandela. And today, the anniversary of his birth in 1918, I continue to draw inspiration from this extraordinary man and hero of our times.

In a letter dated 1 February 1975, written from Kroonstad Prison, he wrote:

“In judging our progress as individuals we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education. These are, of course, important in measuring one’s success in material matters and it is perfectly understandable if many people exert themselves mainly to achieve all these.”

Hardly contentious, I would have thought, but he goes on to write:
“But internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being. Honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, pure generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve others – qualities that are within easy reach of every soul – are the foundation of one’s spiritual life.”
nelson-mandela-desmond-tutu-sizedI might question that they are ‘within easy reach’, but I believe his words capture something inspiring as to personal motivation for public service. They reflect an observation made by President Barack Obama in 2010 in a forward to ‘Nelson Mandela, Conversations with Myself’ that: ‘Through his choices, Mandela made it clear that we did not have to accept the world as it is – that we could do our part to seek the world as it should be.’
What a gift this one life has turned out to be for so very many. And what a legacy for continuing inspiration his life will be.

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Be Exceptional – Civil Service Live 2013

I was lucky enough to catch the lecture/presentation by Steve Radcliffe at the Civil Service Live 2013 event at London Olympia today.

Steve Radcliffe BookCoverThere was much to engage with during his presentation, which encouraged us, as leaders at any and all levels (including of just our own actions), to have something important to do and get it done.  He had a clarity about dialogue in setting the ‘what’ and that it be a ‘robust’ dialogue so that vision became coupled with ‘committed’ action – reflecting the highest level of engagement for delivery.

What made it stand out as a presentation was his plain speaking about what Whitehall and the Civil Service (his audience – and relevant to Local Government too) needed to do better.  And in making this pitch for working at leadership skill, he spoke very plainly about how we each could examine our impact, recognise the light & shadow of our performance, and develop as individuals and with colleagues.

Highlights for me:

  • In setting the ‘what’ – Engage with others so that it is co-invented, co-created and co-designed.  This wins significant commitment by those who respond to the shared objective.
  • Recognise people and their performance – Acknowledge progress and people’s part in its achievement BUT also speak your truth about poor performance.  The latter is very often not done or ‘poorly’ done.
  • Improve through conscious practice – purposefully try to get and be better.
  • Remember to create A Great Support Team – they will sustain you and be added-value as advocates of the shared Vision, Mission, Strategy, Approach and Plan to deliver.  And there is risk and ‘shadow’ from trying to do it alone.

Looking Steve Radcliffe up on the internet shows he has a book – I plan to read it for more insights ……….

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Thought for the Day – Fluff or Substance? If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.




I like quotes that make me think (and it is nice if they make me smile too!).
I thus collect ‘Quotes of the Day’ as conversation pieces for students to browse in classes I coach.
Today’s offering:


“It is the same with men as with horses: those which do the most prancing are generally the ones which make the least progress.” (Baron de Stassart, 19th Century Dutch-Belgian politician)

A cautionary tale for all politicians?  Discuss?

A while ago, my best friend told me of a story she had heard where Mrs Gandhi once described two groups that she had routinely observed in the world: the group of those who wanted the credit and the group of those who wanted to do the work.  The payoff line is that Mrs Gandhi recommended that if you wanted to join a group you should consider joining the second group – there is less competition and the queue to enter is shorter.

I think public reward and recognition is important and has its place, not least to encourage others to get involved.  But I do believe it should come from respecting effort and skill applied for the benefit of others.

And my personal experience is that, if you can find the energy and opportunity, making a difference is its own highest reward.

Question? How can we create a supportive culture to encourage volunteers, appropriately recognise their voluntary contribution – BUT – still recognise that people need to make a sustainable living before they can test their energy and commitment to this ‘additional’ effort?