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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Image credit: http://www.endingthegrind.com/ Continue reading

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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Great news for the UK – another BBC repeat

When I visited a secondary school last week and asked about how much work they do with computers, I was disappointed with the replies. All students up to Year 11 (aged 11-16) do several hours a week, but it is limited to using applications – creating posters, monitoring costs, writing newspaper articles. They use computers, but they don’t do any programming at all.

I was even a little surprised to hear that all pupils are taught how to type, since I would have expected that by the age of 11 most, if not all, would have proficient typing skills.

But only the next day Tony Hall, the director general of the BBC made a major announcement which is set to change all this.

BBC_Plans to get the nation coding Continue reading

The future – watch it happen or make it happen?

Probably not a name familiar to most, Corning are a huge name in glass products. They deliver components to manufacturers of products which support our everyday lives including mobile phones, tablets, televisions and fibre-optic cables. I first came across them in the context of GorillaGlass for smartphones.

This visionary video shows their view of the future. It’s not all going to happen overnight, but it’s a glimpse of what is on the horizon.

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Friends. How well do they really know you?

Have you ever been asked the question “What would you want your friends to say about you at your funeral“? It’s the sort of question we’re sometimes asked on training courses aimed at understanding how well we know ourselves, and it’s one of those embarrassingly awkward questions which modesty or lack of self-confidence prevents us from answering truthfully.

In the past year I have attended three funerals – elderly relatives and friends who had been ill for a while and whose time was finally up. On each occasion, I learned far more about them through listening to their eulogies than I ever did during their lives.

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[Image courtesy of smartcanucks.ca]

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Want to feel special? Talk to Customer Services.

I recently experienced how it feels when a company really understands its customers. It wasn’t that they knew what I wanted to buy – they knew how I wanted to be treated.

I enjoy coffee and am a big fan of Nespresso. Ever since the early days, I’ve liked their approach to delivering great coffee with convenience. My dream machine would be one of those professional Gaggia machines – but they’re not really practical in a domestic setting. So I’m now on my third generation of Nespresso machines and have encouraged countless others to follow and be part of the Nespresso Club.

Recently my machine developed a fault. The coffee wasn’t quite as good as it should be and I had noticed the occasional small pool of water leaking onto the kitchen surface. Based on my usage, I had received an email from Nespresso Club – “It is time to descale your machine” – and although I’d followed the instructions, it hadn’t helped. I rang the Freephone number and found myself in a completely new world of helpfulness. I wasn’t just a customer – I was a Club Member.

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Slow down, and get more done!

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to get things done, and how little time there is?

The usual reaction to seeing time ticking away is to pick up the pace; to work a bit faster; to cut corners. And that sometimes works – if you’re running late to catch a flight, it might pay to hurry along before it’s too late. But I find that more often than not, the faster pace becomes the new norm, and the next step is to increase the pace once more in a never-ending cycle.

I have recently been encouraged to do things differently, and it is working. I’m deliberately slowing down, and I’m seeing the benefits – I’m getting more done.Slow Continue reading

Sporting success provides a model for career success

The BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012 awards were screened last night, and after the absolutely exceptional sporting year we have had in Great Britain, it was sure to be a close contest. In the event, it was won by Bradley Wiggins, followed by Jessica Ennis and Andy Murray – but the final result (decided by a public telephone vote) seemed largely academic in comparison to their sporting achievements earlier in the year.BradleyWiggins_SPOTY2012[Photo courtesy of BBC]

I couldn’t help but notice the parallel with career success, particularly with students (graduates and school-leavers) who are taking the first steps in their working lives. Continue reading

What the Paralympic Games gave us

I was unsuccessful in my sustained attempts to get tickets for the Olympic Games of London 2012. I finally “settled for second best”, and got tickets to the Paralympic Games some three months ahead of them, and long before there was any indication of the excitement which they would bring. I had made the mistake of assuming that the Olympic Games would somehow be better than the Paralympic Games – big mistake! How wrong I was…

The Paralympic Games were not only spectacularly successful from a competitive perspective; looking beyond the competition results themselves, they gave us so much more.

Neil Crofts recently identified Ten things we have learnt from the Olympics on his excellent Making Mondays Magic blog. Thinking about my own experiences of being at the games, this is how I see it: Continue reading

We are all different

The Paralympic Games of London 2012 have had a lasting effect on many of us, and much has been written and spoken about the “eye-opening” which we experienced. Many of us have been in complete awe of the competitors – we have watched in disbelief as “disabled” competitors have achieved the unimaginable.

Much has been discussed about prejudice, and how we individually react to disability. In a recent blog post, I suggested that “disability” was too negative a term, and proposed that “differently abled” would be more appropriate. I visited the Paralympic Games myself and was truly amazed by the achievements of these sportsmen and women, and have changed my view on this.

Matt Stutzman, born without arms, won the silver medal in archery at the Paralympic Games. He also holds the Guinness World Record for the longest shot – not by a disabled archer, but by anyone.
Matt Stutzman, archer[Photo courtesy of The Daily Telegraph, AP]

He said “Around the athletes’ village people keep coming up to me and asking what sport I do. Most reckon I’m a swimmer. One guy thought I did basketball. That’s some idea, a guy with no arms playing basketball. When I say I’m an archer, they say, ‘So how do you shoot the bow?’ I say: ‘With my feet, doesn’t everybody?’Continue reading