100-Day Challenge, Day 13. And a bit about kids and the world of work.


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No run today – knee trembling (no, not like that) and as I am suddenly conscious that running as often as I am when I am as overweight as I am may not serve structural integrity unless I am careful. in other words, I must give my joints time to rest between runs, and if there’s a twinge – I should take note. I’ve also been to the doctor, who thinks my numb toes may be a recovering slipped disc somewhere around L5 in the spine and I certainly don’t want to make THAT any worse. Baby steps, Buster, baby steps.

Other than that, I’ve cleared out a bucket load of clutter and I can move in my ‘office’, which means I am closing on the final chapters of Police Time Management, which I am editing to make it more up to date. And I still eat wisely.

I was briefly amused by a report in the Welsh press about the Assembly’s desire to create 1,000,000 Welsh speakers by 2050. Nothing wrong with that, but such reports always give rise to swathes of comments about the pros and cons of that particular project.

Regardless of the debate on that particular subject, it made me think about children’s education in general. Universities are complaining that students are having to be taught ‘educational basics’ when they get into that top level of education, because they aren’t learning it/being taught properly at the primary and secondary stages of school. That may be so, but there is something even worse about those levels of education – they don’t teach our children how to live.

I am talking here about ‘Second Resolution’ competencies, competencies that enable people to live and serve others because they aren’t busy simply trying to live. Where are their money lessons? Where are their ‘how bureaucracies work’ lessons? Where are their driving lessons? (Okay, maybe that’s a logistical issue but simple drivers’ education may help them get jobs when they leave – and stay alive, perhaps.) And my personal favourite, how to manage their time to be most effective at getting what they want while providing service so that others can get what they want.

Years ago, it was suggested that education was warped because it had one malign intent – to prepare children for the workplace. Well, that horse has bolted. Kids are arriving at work unprepared for it. They have a Geography GCSE but its relevance in entry-level retail or repairing computers remains to be seen.

They arrive in work unaware that they are entitled to contracts (where applicable), that the money won’t last for ever and that maintaining a CV is a good idea. They occasionally work with an unfortunate, source-unknown sense of entitlement. We now have courses now where managers are taught how to manage ‘millennials’.

I am a dinosaur, I know, but here’s how to manage any new worker. Learn these lines:

“Do as I say until you can show me you can do it properly, then develop ways to make it better. Show me you are trustworthy, then I can let you have your head. Communicate that you won’t be a liability and cost me, and then I’ll leave you to it.”

Not: “I’m sorry I am asking you to do ‘work’, really I am, but that’s what we are here to do.”

Okay, over-reaction, but the message we need to tell ourselves as much as we need to tell our kids, is that all work is noble, we learn because we don’t know it all, we all get better by doing, and we are treated better if we show respect and earn trust.

Competencies can be learned. Character needs to be instilled – by parents, by peers, by education.

And isn’t it great when a school does that?

100-Day Challenge, Day 12. If you’re tired – work even harder?

I don’t think it is a scientific fact, but I believe that the best time to run is when you least want to, which probably extends into the philosophy that the best time to do anything related to self-discipline is when you least want to do that ‘anything’. There is scientific research that suggests that just as overextending a muscle increases the strength of that muscle, over-extending one’s willpower (self-discipline) increases the capacity of that willpower, over time. For that reason, going to the psycho-gym is a good idea (provided that by ‘psycho-gym’ you don’t mean attending a Dexter-led Course in dissection of other human beings).

So, go me, because I really did not want to run until about half a mile into today’s effort. And like many personal development experts agree, I felt a lot better after I’d used up a couple of hundred calories.

Yesterday was the opposite – I didn’t go for a run and, oddly enough, after I didn’t go for that run I did NOT feel better at all.

Other goals also got ignored yesterday, while all my goals have been worked on today. Extrapolating that, one wonders if the mere ‘existence’ of activity begets further activity. This fits in with academics being well-informed in multiple disciplines in addition to their specialisms; people writing while speaking while travelling while having happy family-lives; and other examples of massive productivity by already busy people, which puts the rest of us to shame.

The busier one is, the busier one can get. The more chilled one is, the worse one feels about even the smallest of tasks. I can even attest to that being true – I can sit around with no tasks allocated to me, bemoaning that lack of work – only for the genuine emotional response that when a piece of work suddenly arises, I am being interrupted!

This is why busy people are the ones to ask to do more work – because they can, while the unproductive will fight the imposition so much that you give up on their ever doing it.

In conclusion, therefore – in order to avoid being tired, get even busier!

100-Day Challenge – Day 10.

The First Resolution is: “To overcome the restraining forces of appetites and passions, I resolve to exercise self-discipline and self-denial.”

Since I started the (latest!) 100-Day Challenge I have discovered a slightly stronger ability to apply self-discipline in terms of exercise and diet, partly because I haven’t gone b4lls-out and tried to starve myself, and I haven’t tried to run a marathon on day one – my old strategy.

Instead, I am running 2 miles a day to establish an aerobic foundation (stupidity excepting, see days 5-6), and I am just eating less – small muesli breakfast, 2 pitta breads with ham and salad for lunch while watching Daily Politics, then a decent evening meal – and this seems to be working. I am not entirely denying myself much and, let’s face it, compared to my many friends’ apparent ability to enjoy life I haven’t had much to deny myself. In fact, I think I shall have to take up some kind of vice in order to then start ‘denying’ it. I barely quaff, I use no drugs, and I have never had enough money to spend on gambling, expensive toys, frequent pop concerts or such like.

Ideas, anyone?

Diet and exercise aside, one discipline that needs more conscious application is ‘studying’. I am preparing for another driving-related challenge, part skill and part theory, and I am finding it hard to concentrate. I suspect that the main challenge with the theoretical part is that I am reading and re-reading material that is sooooo familiar that it’s like treading grapes. Lots of ‘effort’ but minimal immediately-apparent benefit. I guess most study is like that – you go over and over the stuff, but until the exam/test/challenge the benefit is hard to see. And then, occasionally, how the question is asked has a big impact on providing the right answer.

But all of this is working so far, and for that I am grateful. Now some din-dins.

   Okay, if I DID have a vice – and some money…….

Bullying is not legitimised because of your target. It’s STILL bullying.

As there appears to be little to say ‘different’ on a daily basis, let’s just pause the daily updates on the 100-Day Challenge and get back to philosophisin’.

What do you call it when a person of power constantly picks at and picks on a person whose ability to reply is compromised? I believe in the world of work, school and society they call this bullying.

Now, when the person of power is the press or a comedian, and the person they are picking on is a politician, celebrity or athlete, you might be forgiven for saying it is different, because the politician (etc.) has power. I, on the other hand, disagree – conditionally.

First of all, I am not talking about reasonable criticism or analysis. That’s fair comment by any party. However, when the ‘criticism’ gets personal (appearance, language, verbal slips), or uses abusive language (idiot, idiocy, fool, disgusting, stupid, etc.), or is unendingly repetitive – then a line has been crossed.

The reason I say this is because the politician (etc.) has no right of equivalent reply, because the second they respond using the same kind of language they get attacked for that, as well. It is ‘unseemly’ or (the latest one) ‘unpresidential’. And no media outlet ever accepted they were wrong when they were wrong, in the history of ever. They just do it a bit more.

A bit like that bully who kept picking on you at school. The more you cried, the harder they hit. That is why I believe some press coverage amounts to bullying. From all sides and towards most politicians.

Poor old Diane Abbott made a right noodle of herself over policing costs, and the bullying went on for days. Part of that is because every different media outlet to which she spoke afterwards covered it, but in my view, they (a) asked the questions again and again and again and (b) weren’t remotely interested in her answer. I do not like the woman or her politics, but what the media did – and then those so-called liberal comedians who espouse ‘fairness and tolerance for all’, did – was to bully her.

And I have to ask whether that kind of bullying is made easier because we like it. We like it because the person being bullied is someone who we dislike or don’t agree with. Or we like it because they have money and we don’t, or they want our money and we don’t want to provide it. In sports, it’s because they aren’t ‘our’ team and therefore it’s okay to be nasty. Or we like it because it isn’t us.

In the final analysis, too many of us – and far too many so-called journalists – are just flipping kids.

100-Day Challenge, Day 8.

“Good news, everyone!” (For those who don’t know, that is Professor Farnsworth’s catchphrase in Futurama.) Week one ended with a 3.6-pound weight loss and a faster 2-mile running time. That’s without a starvation, faddy, even calorie-focused diet – just eating wisely and exercising sensibly. And it is on-track for the 10 day target, although I suspect I shall have to raise my game next week.

While running after Abby today, it occurred to me that many people confuse values and standards in the sense that they equate the two directly, by assuming (for example) that when I say I want to perform at a high standard then I have to do so at your level of expectation, and that is manifestly not true. When I set out to exercise and lose weight, it wasn’t my intention to start performing 4-minute miles, 300lb weight-lifts and perfection in all other areas. It was to perform at the best level I can perform in the moment and with an intention of getting better as those moments arose.

Which is way of thinking I apply to all those overweight people that I see. I admit that I have been judgmental in the past, but now I have experienced their challenges I understand – they are doing their best and they are trying to make that best better.

Think about that when a colleague, friend or politician makes a mistake (other than ethical ones). The good ones are trying to be better.

Joke of the Day: What do you get when you cross The Atlantic with The Titanic?

About half way.

100-Day Challenge, Day 7.

The challenge with blogs like this is making each potentially routine day into something a bit more interesting – otherwise it’s ‘I didn’t eat much and I exercised’. Meh.

In this blog, I can add that I am suddenly having some concerns about my health, and I am determined not to look them up on the internet (doctors HATE that!). Nothing nasty – just numb feet (weird) and a pain in the neck, which is probably just a strained jaw. 😊 But it is surprising how a bit of discomfort and inconvenience can set you off track if you aren’t careful.

But I read my PMS every day, and so I continue ticking off all those tasks and maintain my standards while looking for opportunities to make them higher. Unfortunately, one value-related intent, which is to have a complete new set of good quality, professional-looking clothes and leisure wear, have to wait a couple of stone, but DANG I will look good when I get there.

In the meantime, joke of the day. What has four legs and can see just as well out of both ends?

A dog with its eyes shut.

100 Day Challenge – Day 6. YOU have a vice, and I know it.

Diet intact. Exercise, not so much. I am still suffering from the over-ambition of Tuesday’s AFL experiment, and while I have walked the umpteen steps that my Samsung insists on counting even though I never asked, I never got to do the run I’d planned. Shame on me. Everything else remains on track and tomorrow I will advise whether you need to berate me for a failure to perform. All things considered, I am moderately pleased with all the ticks I have in my ‘Three Resolutions’ Planning System, and that is not because I haven’t listed the failures!

Do you have a to-do list? You probably do, and it has been scientifically concluded that people get a bit of a buzz when they tick things off their To-Do List.

How do they know this?

They know this because we all have a habit. It is a bad habit. It is this – when we do something that is not on the list – we add it so that we can tick it off.

Go on – you do, don’t you?

Think about that next time you think that psychology is bull. We’re onto you!

100-Day Challenge, Days 4/5

Yesterday was fun. Sort of. The original planned entry for Day 4 was delayed when my good lady and I went to ‘watch’ our eldest son playing Aussie Rules Football, with the intention of watching an hour’s football then coming home. instead, I played two hours football and got home waaaayyy later than planned and therefore too late for this.

No biggy, one might say, except – I started running last Saturday after 6 or so months off. And I ran yesterday after work, for 2 miles. And then I had a big dinner. And I am 55 years old.

Anyway, when I arrived at the venue and was invited to play for the undermanned opposing team, in my enthusiasm to partake and contribute I forgot how knackered, full and old I was. As a consequence, this entry contains my excuses for not running.

Put simply, I am absolutely knackered, in pain nearly everywhere, and a lack of sleep was no help at all.

In terms of my values, yesterday was great, I said ‘Yes’ to something challenging and adventurous, contributed to someone else’s need, exercised and ate wisely (ish). And today I paid the price. I forgot the lessons that maturity usually brings, the lessons that wise men learn and apply.

Which is that while not blindly accepting limitations, they are there to be managed and challenged. I am not fit, I had not digested – I should have said No. Today, I pay the price of a year or so of largesse.

On the plus side – what challenges us makes us better. Learn the lesson, exercise with wisdom. Self-leadership decreed I should exercise and act wisely, but self-management should have made me apply more self-control.

Won’t happen again.

Cardiff 2004.jpgIt’s been a while…..

100 Day Challenge – Day 3.

First day at work on the 100 Day Challenge, and it was ‘one of those days’ when urgency was demanded but life got in the way. A job needed to be done that had to be fitted around prior appointments; then the necessary ‘things’ weren’t where they were supposed to be, nor were they where they thought they’d gone, and then miraculously they were back where they’d gone and the job got done. On the he bright side, while travelling from job 2 to job 3 my satnav decided a ‘straight line’ route would be better than a motorway route, so I explored parts of Wales I have never seen before (possibly Stella’s Pontyberry), and drove a spectacular valley route at speeds hitherto unknown for a Hyundai i20. Specifically, 60mph. And the opportunity for some spectacular overtakes.

Arriving home knackered, I still managed a 2-mile run, exercising our youngest family member, who is 5 years old at the weekend. Or 35 plus in dog years. Then it was marking IPI student’s submission, tasks arising, a household task, and then this blog. Soon be 7pm…… and I still have my Roadcraft studies still to do.

I need staff.

The main thing I achieved today was maintaining integrity with my values and mission statement – being patient and productive, particularly when challenged. And complying with my diet objectives.

‘You ate…..wisely’.

Philosophy of the Day: “I treat everyone I deal with in the same way that they treat me. Some of them get quite offended when I do that.”

Raise YOUR Standards – don’t lower or adapt them to those of others.

Judicious and tasteful intelligentsia who have gone to my mission page will note that one of my objectives is to “perform with a view to achieving meaningful outcomes, through excellent personal performance and the pursuit of ever higher standards”, which is something we all tend do when it comes to our working lives if we want to keep our job, or get promoted or a pay rise. One thing came to mind when I wrote that.

The first is that although we do exactly that ‘at work’ and therefore ‘when we are being paid’ – or when it is a hobby that engages us – we all have a tendency, at knocking off time, to not just knock off our work. In addition to ‘knocking off’, we kick off our shoes and metaphorically kick off our standards.

Of course, my own favourite example is demonstrated by the fact that in work we have to be focused and direct and we have to perform. Then most people walk out of the door, sit in their armchair, lean on the window sill, and with one finger steer a ton of metal at up to 80mph surrounded by other lazy bast4rds doing the same, ALL of them expecting the OTHERS to perform at a high level of skill while we, ourselves, just chill.

My favourite question in IAM lectures is this – what if you were en route to Ibiza and you looked into the aircraft cockpit to see the Captain with his feet on the dashboard, finger on the controls and gabbing on his mobile phone? Of course, HIS standards have to be complied with, while your own are negotiable.

(Don’t get me started on speech patterns, poor grammar and dress codes.)

Read closely: Your own standards are, or are seen to be, a reflection of how you see yourselves and, like it or not in the PC world we live in, they reflect how others perceive you.

I am amused by the directive that we should not stereotype people, when I see an adherent to the Green agenda with lank hair, ill-fitting clothes and a weather-ravaged persona. The same goes for pop stars (scruffy and unkempt but after a LOT of effort to look that way), young bankers (shiny suit, skinny tie, brown pointy shoes), ex-Army officers (country-gent shirt, moleskin trousers), women seeking ‘natural beauty’ and ‘gender respect’  (while paying hundreds to look like the wastrels from the US reality show whose name I will not type), and so on.

We stereotype OURSELVES.

Which brings me to self-leadership. Self-leadership means creating your own high standards and complying with them – not blindly following somebody else’s. It means deciding that you are one congruent individual all of the time, not a ‘professional’ 9-5 and a scruffy tw4t after work. It means acknowledging and accepting that certain standards benefit us all, and complying with them for the good of everyone.

(And acknowledging that the risky overtake or lane change on a roundabout that might have killed you just saved you the time it takes to unplug your phone charger when you arrive at work and try to park in your desk space. It didn’t even save the waiting time for the lift.)

Raise your standards and then strive towards keeping them. (No, it is not easy. Try anyway.)


100-Day Challenge, Day 2.

Yesterday went well. I started running again without injury, further than I expected given the time I have had off. I didn’t have lunch, although that was more by accident than design. And I did everything on my task list and still had time to relax. It is now 1030am and I am well into today’s list, too.

I have discovered a new approach to my planning, using the FranklinCovey 7 Habits Daily Planning System.

As you can to see, the prioritised daily task section on the left is divided into three headings. I guess it is so designed to allow people to separate work, personal and ‘other’ tasks.

I use it to divide the list into The Three Resolutions headings. Top section is the disciplines (mainly physical); the central section involves character and competence e.g. studying, exercising the mind, becoming better; and the lower section is a list of the services I provide. But as my book says, doing all these things serves improving in all three areas – the more disciplined I am, the better my character and the greater levels of service I can provide. The more organised I am about planning, the more time and better attitude I have towards the disciplines. And so on.

That’s m’new method. Let us see if it works as well as I hope.