The trip of a lifetime

I’ve written about this before, but as I look back on 2015 and ahead to 2016 it feels appropriate to write about it again – if for no other reason than to remind myself.

As we celebrate the New Year, some of us will commit to doing things differently in the coming 12 months. Many will plan to exercise more, to eat more healthily, or to drink less alcohol. The more disciplined we are, the longer our commitment will last but it’s easy to become swept away by euphoria and to over-commit; or worse, to lose sight of what is really important.

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Elements of a great placement

I have often been asked what makes a great placement, and although I’ve not published this before, the list below is a combination of the best practice I have witnessed and recommendations I propose.WorkPlacementsDoneWell Continue reading

Got a round hole? Find a round peg.

As I wrote last year, mentors do an important job. Many organisations have excellent schemes for apprentices or graduate trainees and they deliver tremendous results. They have carefully planned development programmes, run by the best people. And they make adjustments when things change, as they surely do, over the years.

But some organisations don’t enjoy the same success despite their best intentions. It isn’t always immediately obvious why they under-deliver. The long timescales inherent in personal and professional development programmes don’t help. But one of the reasons is that the wrong people are involved.

Helping others isn’t for everyone. Some don’t enjoy it; they don’t see the value; or they don’t have the patience. Whatever the reason, some just aren’t cut out for it.

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It’s not what you know…

I recently ran an employability session at a secondary school. One of the themes of the day was about what students can do to make themselves more attractive to prospective employers.

Many of the students saw themselves as a trainee Superman or Superwoman – eventually capable of everything, knowing everything. They saw their time now at school and their future time at college or university as being a time for learning everything they needed – forever. And that somehow if they didn’t learn it now, they’d never do so.

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To be honest

If you knew you could improve someone’s performance by having a difficult conversation, you would have that conversation, wouldn’t you? Easy. How about if that person was the company Chairman? More difficult, perhaps. Would it be easier if you knew that the Chairman craved honest feedback, and was desperate to hear from you?

So what’s stopping you?

Honesty

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Inspiration from the top

The Winter Olympics are now in full swing, and they bring an abundance of inspiring stories in the same way as the Summer Olympics of London 2012 did.

Much will be written about new Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold over the coming months, and UK Sport will rightly see her as further evidence that their Talent ID programmes such as Girls4Gold deliver tangible results. Such was her dominance of the women’s skeleton event ahead of Sochi 2014 that many (unreasonably) suggested that the result was never in doubt. Given the scarcity of Winter Olympic gold medals in the history of the GB team, it is surely only a matter of time before the tabloids dub her Lizzy Yarngold.

Lizzy-Yarnold

[Photo credit www.telegraph.co.uk]

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New Year’s Resolutions – think big and eat more chocolate

I wrote this last year but decided to reblog it this year. After all, it still makes a great deal of sense.

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With only three weeks remaining of the well-worn 2012, our attention starts to turn towards the sleek and shiny new 2013. Full of possibilities, excitement, opportunities and challenges, it looms large on our horizon. For many it will be the start of something new; for others it will bring something to an end. One thing we can be sure of – uncertainty.

December is traditionally the time for setting New Year’s Resolutions – those promises we make to ourselves and others about what we’re going to do differently in the new year.

Before rushing to add “join the gym; eat less chocolate; drink less wine” to the list of resolutions, I would recommend reading this lovely poem by Nadine Stair (aged 85). More about its background here.

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Five tricky questions for First Year students

People go to university for a variety of reasons. One commonly-cited reason is that it helps get on the first rung of the jobs ladder – for many careers, a degree is a mandatory requirement. But why else?

During those few short years at university, a great deal of “growing up” often take place forming the transition from late-teenage years to early-adulthood and the first stages in becoming a “professional”. Some of that transition happens without any conscious effort. The most successful students take concrete steps to drive their development forward so that they’re ready-baked on graduation.

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“The End”. It never is though…

On 4th August 2012 Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins woke up as Olympic champions with gold medals reminding them that a day earlier they had won the final race in the Women’s Double Sculls at Dorney Lake. But now they felt empty, lost and on unfamiliar ground. For every day of the previous four years all their plans had been about working towards 3rd August 2012. Everything they did in training, every little detail they planned was all about delivering their best performance on that one occasion – the final – with no second chances. The only deliverable which mattered to them was a gold medal on 3rd August. All their plans ended on that date. It was as if 3rd August was the last day ever, and nothing existed after it.

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News just in – “I’m not a clever man” says King George V

I came across a great quote attributed to King George V who reigned from 1910 to 1936.

I am not a clever man, but if I had not picked up something from all the brains I’ve met I’d be an idiot“.

I don’t know the context in which he said this, but it makes so much sense to me.King George V banner Continue reading