flowing motion

Posts Tagged ‘UK

Do you want traffic to your blog?  Write about bad job descriptions!  I mean it ~ bad job descriptions.  See, I know how to do SEO.  Bad job descriptions.  People put bad job descriptions into Google.

Amazing.  But they don’t have to search far. Job descriptions are uniformly bad, spinny and scammy and show woeful lack of understanding of the purpose of a job.

In the throes of a general election, Britain, home of satire, has produced this wonderful spoof of the typical HRM effort at describing what we do at work. Jobsgopublic.

It’s funny, very funny, but not so much for the HR profession. When will we lift our game?

Affect images and political campaigns

“for the student who seeks to learn; the voter who demands to be heard; the innocent who longs to be free; and the oppressed who yearns to be equal.”

I badly want to hear candidates in the general election describe “we the voters”.  I so badly want to hear.

I want to feel the “throbbing resonance” of shared beliefs, shared purpose and shared hopes.  I want to feel the protection of an arm around me as we whisper our fears.

As a relative newcomer to UK, I want to hear the shared mythology that long time residents share and reassure them we are in this together. I want to see their shoulders relax and their eyes light up.

We are a different place from the US and we are on a different journey.  And maybe in my noobe status, I am not hearing what is being said.

Maybe though we are going to have big surprises when the results are announced.  Maybe too social movements like Hang_em will take off.

What do you think about the connection between the politicians and the voters?  I’d love to know.

QUOTATION FROM: Barack Obama addressing the United Nations Wednesday 23 September 2009

It wasn’t as boring as we expected

It’s a cultural thing.  Brits were surprised their politicians weren’t dead boring.  The debate wasn’t quite as boring as watching Congress pass the Health bill but I did switch over to the The Huff Post to read about Obama at NASA announcing 6bn for commercial space flights.  Now that is exciting!

But it was boring

Truthfully, I am a geek.  I watched Congress pass the Health bill.  Of last night, I can remember except marveling at a newspaper picture of the 3 contenders’ ties.   I wonder what women would wear?

I was also amazed at how nervous the leaders were.  So much for our adversarial system of public life.  It scares the most competitive of us silly.

So morning after.  What can you remember of what the leaders said?

So what happened in Britain yesterday to rival 6bn for commercial space flight and the introduction of SDR’s by IMF.  Three pale male and stale in brightly coloured ties said  . . . .?

Oh, and an Icelandic volcano shut down our air space.

Why the right make me shudder

I have some right wing friends. Really I do.  But I generally don’t like their friends.  Right wing people tend to have potty mouths.  Even when they have developed smooths and smarts, their general dislike of people shines through.

It’s funny. They claim to be worldly.  The truth is that they have a overweening need to feel superior.  They like races because someone loses.

Is competition so bad?

The trouble is that the right are such sore losers themselves.

I accept their equally scathing view of the left.  They think we are too idle to be competitive.  It’s true that we sometimes won’t have races in case someone loses.  It is not a slander.  We do believe that we can’t have losers when we our people can’t stand losing.

If we are to have races, then we must love losers.  We have to be grateful to them.  If we have a basic need to dislike people, then we have trouble with this basic requirement of sportsmanship.

We can’t have competitive systems for people who are bad losers

Uh-uh.  Giving races to people who don’t like people is like putting a free bar in front of someone with a track record of drink driving. It’s daft.  Remove the temptation.  Serve a good soft drink first.  Serve food.  At least charge cash for the second drink.

Am I being nanny-ish?

I don’t think so. I am being worldly.

I was once told by someone living in France that you cannot serve alcohol there without a meal within a defined distance of a motorway.  Of course, the customer might not eat the food. But they have to pay for it.  And so they might as well eat it.  It’s French food after all.

I like the Australian habit of tracking down the person who sold alcohol to the drunk driver.  Yes.  Take responsibility for your actions.

We can’t give races to people who are addicted to racing yet don’t know how to lose.  We can’t vote for the right because far too many people on that side just don’t like people. 

We can’t vote for the right because they don’t take responsibility for the effect of their races on the losers.

When might I vote for the right?

We’ll vote for you when your policies tell us what you will do rather than what you will do to us.  I want to hear how your policies limit you not me.

Of course, you say that about the left too.  It is true that the authoritarian left likes being in charge.  We must be careful only to put in charge those people who bring a substantive vision and administrative competence

But will I vote for someone with substantive vision, administrative competence and an need for 95% of the population to lose so they can win.  No.  How can I?

I need a substantive vision, administrative competence and a set of races where losers and winners are different every day and are all part of the after race party.

I need all three attributes in a politician but the first two can never outweigh the third.  Whoever designs the race must take responsibility for the effect on the losers.

Right now in Britain though we are going to go broke if we don’t find fair leaders who have vision and administrative competence.  And so we must ask the question.

How are we holding the conversation to produce such an purposeless election?  How can we be contemplating a government who doesn’t even feel responsible for all the people of Britain and the effect of its decisions on people who had no control on the design of the race?

Were you a Brownie, Cub, Scout or Guide?

As a girl, I was a ‘Brownie’.  I love the “Be Prepared’ part.  I like thinking up a plan and making it happen.

It’s snowing in UK

This morning I set off for London knowing that snow was expected.  I left London earlier than usual and found I rather like driving in snow.   Cars slow down and observe a decent stopping distance!

And I had prepares, a little.  I had a sleeping bag and a flask of hot water just in case!

What are the tricks of driving in light snow?

But what I hadn’t expected was losing my brakes.  A car in front of me slowed down and I tried to as well.  Aha!  Judder judder.  Nothing but judder.

I pumped the brakes thinking I could dislodge some ice.  Nothing happened.  I just closed on the car in the front of me.

So I hastily started to change down (we have manual shifts here) and looked left and right to pick a snow bank to skid into if the gears didn’t slow me down.

I did slow down, thankfully. And this happened again several times.

So much for being prepared!  I realized that I know nothing about driving in snow.  I need to find out!

Competence matters in this world.  It really does!

PS  I took 1 hour 50 minutes to get back in snow driving most of the way at 25 miles an hour.  Going down to London in fine weather this morning took 2 hours 15 minutes much of it at 5 miles an hour.   Snow has led to efficiency!  I just need to develop a good mental model of safe driving.

Any tips?

Where were you the day Lehman’s crashed?

I had spent a long day sequestered in an office building in London. Coming out into the dark evening, I was surprised to see a serious story in the free newspapers handed out at the entrances to the Tubes.

The 158 year old bank, Lehmans had declared bankruptcy and 10 000 financiers, bankers, clerks and support workers who arrived at work on the prestigious Canary Wharf were told they must cease trading and clean out their desks.

Our response to abrupt crisis

Abruptly losing your job and your livelihood is not a disaster but it is certainly a crisis. Some of Lehman’s employees may have taken the first plane out to a sunny beach, but most of them would have sat around the next day wondering what to do. The day after would have been a day of rumination. What went wrong? Could it have been avoided? Who is to blame? And, ultimately, what should they do to retain the same income, status and meaning in life.

Career coaches and people in career crisis

Many career coaches will see erstwhile employees from Lehman’s and may have seen some already.

Proxy career coaches in the form of doctors, bank managers and employment agents will see them sooner. What is the best advice that we can give Lehman employees and all others whose way of life comes to an abrupt, surprising and juddering stop?

What it feels like to be in a career crisis

The first thing we need to remember is being laid off is a rude shock. Having had no preparation for the event,

  • Ex-employees do not know what to do
  • Ex-employees panic
  • Ex-employees want it to be ‘all OK right now!’

Our task as career coach

Ex-employees may have no experience or training in damage control. They may be have no experience in managing their own emotions and attention. This is our task if we are to help them succeed. We must help them to

  • Regain emotional equilibrium
  • See the solution
  • Regain control

What we will achieve as a career coach

We are not, though, going to make it “all OK right now”. Our clients will want us too.

A year ago when Lehman’s crashed, even the pundits thought we might spring back to normal like a new elastic band.  But, for most people, the early teens of the 21st century will be a time of enormous transition. A country with a GDP of 1.4tr cannot dole out 1.0tr without having to make some adjustment.

Yet there is a flip side to a bad situation.  When your house has burnt down so to speak, there is little point in building one that is exactly like the one before. We build a better one.

Our challenge as a career coach

In the early stages, when our clients want everything to be OK, when they are in the first of the five stages of grief – denial – they will not want to work through the long hard slog of rebuilding.  They will want everything to be bounce back. We have to work with them even though they are in no mood to work.

Helping them find any foothold as they work through their grief is important. Listen to them. But also help them keep moving. They have a lot of rebuilding to do and every small step will be important when they emerge from the emotional turmoil further along the line.

The career coaches that we need

Coaches who can do more than say “aha” are needed now. We need coaches who can help people take baby steps while they are overcome with emotion.

6 questions I ask professional career coaches

It is amazing that this is not taught on work psychology degree programmes.  These are the first 6 questions that I ask professional career coaches.

  • How do we work with people overcome by grief?
  • What practical steps can any of us take when our career and life has fallen into an untidy heap?
  • How long does it take to rebuild a career mid-stream?
  • How soon can we introduce the idea of rebuilding a better career to a client overcome by grief?
  • How many people really do rebuild a better career after such a disruption?
  • What distinguishes those who begin that project from those who don’t?

I Want Rhythm Not A To Do List

When I was young, I loved To Do lists. What a buzz! I would list everything I had to do, set a priority and set about ticking it off!

I loathe To Do Lists now. I threw away my diary years ago when I worked on an MBA programme and the lecture times changed so frequently that my diary looked like a dog’s breakfast!

Now I like a rhythm. I like to sense the time during the week, the month, the day, the year that I should be doing whatever I should be doing!

Rhythmless Britain Where Seasons  Take Us By Surprise

It is difficult to dance through life in Britain. Bills arrive at odd times and are paid at odder times. The tax year begins on the 6 April – why? Who knows. There is no rhythm to anything. People even seem surprised when winter approaches. “It’s cold”, people say. It’s December. What did they expect? I know what I expect.  “Good!  It is cold.  Now I can  .  .  .!”

My Seasons By The Bottle

I want my life to be a dance with my goals. Like these bottles at the Vesuvius Cafe on Canary Wharf in London. 52 bottles laid out in 12 sets, I want to mark the passing of the seasons with the right wine and the right food. I want to celebrate the seasons of life by going to the market to buy food in season and cook it with a sense of adventure.

I want my head around learning to dance with life. I don’t want to spend my time chasing the clock and ticking lists. Lists and clocks lower quality of life as surely as squalid air travel and grubby packaging around supermarket food!

It is not only Luddites who like to savor life

Now believe me, I am no Luddite. Never have been. I like progress. I like thinking up better ways of doing things.

But I want to savor life. I want to have time to listen to people. I want to notice the seasons and enjoy them, not complain about them.

To represent the season of my life, I have a handful of goals

I’m not sure I have the system right, but at any time in our lives, I think it is good to have 3 to 5 ‘goals’. When I was in New Zealand, I had 3.  I had my rather large university course.  I had settling in a new country.  And I had departing from an old country. That’s enough! What didn’t fit into those three folders had to be put aside.

Now I have five ‘goals’ ~ I wish I had three but I have 5!

  • I have settling in a new country
  • I have my writing ~ this blog mainly
  • I have my community and town of Olney
  • I have my next website supporting career decisions
  • And I have the website I want make – a gratitude site.

My goals change with the season of my life

In due course, the season of settling in (another) new country will pass and my goals will change.

For now, I can ask whether what I am doing helps me learn how to achieve these goals. What do I learn about my own thinking? What do I learn about my overall story from each of these goals and the way they come together?

It is the way I explore these 5 goals that will give me the rich life that I take into the next season as surely as my summer harvest must be full to provide a good autumn and a good Christmas supports an energetic spring.

I’ll achieve my goals better if I slow down and explore them well

My goals are a framework to coddle my efforts and softly support the tentative explorations of the land in which I live.

The way I explore my goals determines how well I meet them.  To explore them well, I must make plenty of space for them and stop rushing around being in a hurry.

Put that to do list aside!  What are your goals?  What are you learning about how to achieve them.  Enjoy!  In a few years, these goals will be gone from your life and replaced by others.

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Thanksgiving in UK

We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving over here ~ at least not en masse.  But Americans who live among us do.  Some celebrated early and have regaled us with stories of botched gravies and seasonal accompaniments. Others have desperately needed lettuce.  And others insist on making cranberry sauce from scratch.

Naive questions from foreigners

I asked my American colleagues what you are celebrating.  They were dumbfounded.  It’s an excuse to eat one said.  Another sad you were celebrating the first harvests of the Pilgram Fathers ~ and then laughed embarassedly!  Political holidays are always so awkward!

So Happy Thanksgiving to you.  May you have a good time with your families and safe travels!

Are you sleep walking through your life?

Well are you alive? Do you have pulse? At best, are you sleep walking through life? Are you wandering from one thing to another not particularly enthused by anything, maybe grumbling when you have a chance, spreading your vague dissatisfaction but wishing you weren’t?

Are you keeping company with people who are dull and dusty? Do you work in an industry or a company which is really a zombie? Slowly dying, but not aware of their slow decay and certainly not in the market for anything lively or exciting?

Deteriorating as slowly as possible is not a life. Denying that we are just deteriorating as slowly as possible is not a life either.

6 symptoms of stagnation and deteriorating as slowly as possible

John Olgbert listed 6 symptoms of a community that is “slowly deteriorating”, stagnating in self-satisfaction and lack of urgency.

1. “Phoning-it in”

We go through the motions. We take short-cuts. We do our second-best work in the belief that we are so good that 2nd best is good enough. When we are challenged, we even argue that no one will notice – and probably laugh.

Assessment: What task will take the longest this week – either in one go or when you do it repeatedly? Are we going to try a new way of doing it or are we going to use the same methods and words that we have recycled for years?

5 If you will add a completely fresh and flourishing look

3 If you are making an improvement

1 If you are following a script written by you or by any one else.

2. Cynicism

When other people do better than us, are we are jealous or envious or admiring and curious. Do we find some way to diminish the successes of others so that we don’t have to take any action ourselves, either to catch up, or to advance our own dreams?

Assessment: Who does what we do so much better than we do? What do they do that we would like to do just as well? Or are we able to dismiss our dreams readily with “don’t have time”, “not important”, “not my priority”? Of course not, :), that’s why we noticed in the first place.

5 I know someone who does a better job than I do and I watch what they do with curiosity

3 I am jealous of someone but I do try to find out how they do what they do

1 I don’t care!

3. Nostlagia

We spend more time describing what used to be and how good it was than talking about what we are doing now and the people we are with now.

Assessment: What were the best conversations that we had during the week. How many were about the past and how many are about now!

5 Our enjoyable conversations about now exceed enjoyable conversations about other times, other places and other people by 5:1

3 Our enjoyable conversations about now exceed enjoyable conversations about other times, other places and other people by 3:1

1 Our enjoyable conversations about now exceed enjoyable conversations about other times, other places and other people by 2:1 or less

4. Few volunteer

We don’t volunteer to lead and no one else does either! Fewer and fewer people want to be part of this game!

Assessment: How many young people are banging on you door to be taken on as an apprentice? How many tasks did you volunteer to do with a spring in your step knowing that this is a community that you really want to be part of?

5 We have more good volunteers for leadership positions and they volunteer without cajoling

3 We have enough good volunteers for leadership positions but we have to put some effort into attracting them and rewarding them

1 We have not been able to find enough people to take on leadership positions

5. Dull tasks don’t get done

The little things that make the difference don’t get done and feel like drudgery.

Assessment: Do you spend all day chasing people to do what no one wants to do?

5 Everything is shipshape here and I wonder how and when all this work gets done

3 Work gets done but I do have to make a list and double check

1 There are small tasks everywhere that are yet to be completed

6. Self-importance

Even though the celebration is over and we are in a new race with new people and new priorities, we are still introducing ourselves as winners of the last race.

Assessment: We are rightly proud of what we achieve and so is every one else. Everyone admires us and we rarely hear any negative feedback. Of course, everything is perfect around here 🙂

5 We are alive to differences in opinions and interests and when we agree to differ we do so respectfully expecting to join forces on other projects

3 We do have goal but we expect to be respected by our rivals

1 Rivals? What rivals?

Rate your life and your involvement with our community and company!

I’ve used this to rate the various places I have worked. It provides a good summary of when we should be thinking of “recrafting” our jobs. A rating less than 25 and we should we listening to Dr Rao on Googletalk (YouTube) and doing some career housekeeping!

Of course, if you have rated 18 or below, you will be feeling so energy less, you will click away and look for another diversion.   Do you yourself a big favor and right this minute, right a short summary of your day, figure out what you could do better.  Then right away, write down Why you did so well. Do that now.  Recover your life.  Fall back in love with life again.  Even if it seems the most impossible thing to do.  Begin.

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My Saturday mornings are zombie time and this week I have been pondering zombie-lives

How do you spend your Saturday mornings? Some people race around. I find that the best review programmes tend to be on radio and TV on Saturday mornings and I like to let the world wash over me, get up late, and spend some time reflecting on how the week went before I go out to do the shopping and join friends for a meal.

During the week I tend to push observations that are not particularly practical to the back of my mind. In my Saturday morning time, I pull them to the front and tidy them up – make sense of them.

This week I kept brushing up against full-scale denials

In quite unrelated incidents I remembered and noticed a peculiar habit that some people have ~ that we must all have ~ of denying reality.

Of course, it is absurd to think we ever have a completely accurate grasp of the world around us. And we know that there is nothing more delightful and shocking than the view of the world from a completely different perspective. But sometimes we actively deny reality.

Mother of an abused child syndrome

  • I once lived and worked with people who had what I called “mother of the abused child look.” Whenever anything difficult came up, they looked past your left ear.

No one else lives here syndrome

  • I lived previously in a place with quite shocking art. It had no depth perception and the background was often blurred. The background certainly never had people in it except as a silhouette on the horizon.

We are invented the moon, we really did

  • I’ve known communities who live a perfectly Walter Mitty life. They have quite grandiose ideas about their contribution to the world matched only by shocking squalor of their physical circumstances and sparseness of their professional knowledge.

Denial in the big bad West

In the big bad West of the developed world, there is another phenomena. This is not necessarily an individual phenomena, I might add. We all do the things I describe, so it is a cultural phenomena – a collective way that we experience our collective life and express our collective purpose.

As it happens, as it does, a good description of this phenomenon arrived in my Google Alerts in a post on leadership from by John Ortberg, whom I don’t know, but I take it from the details is a Christian minister in the USA. Sadly there is no comment box to leave a note appreciating his work. It you are running an Alert on yourself, thank you.

Deteriorate as slowly as possible

John makes the point that many people seem to live by a motto “Deteriorate as slowly as possible.”

When you have been big, rich and powerful, inevitably there is some decline ~ at least in bigness, richness and power.  Inevitably when you live in a country that is big, rich and powerful, then you have, say, a 66% chance of not really being big, rich or powerful yourself and you live in the reflected glory of people who make your country big, rich and powerful.

The flip side of success then is deterioration. That is is just reality.  It is not a psychological phenomenon.

It becomes sad, it becomes a denial or reality, when we aren’t aware of our deterioration, or we are stuck in deterioration ~ moaning, complaining and whinging such as the English are prone to do. Deterioration is part of our life. It has to be as the shadow of success.  But we must live well within it.

How should we deal with deterioration?

How should we deal with deterioration? Gracefully? That is one option. Gluttonously – that is another option – I know someone who said she enjoyed living in decadent societies. But why not exuberantly? Why can’t we enjoy the morphing and regeneration that is a natural part of life as a snake changing its skin? Why can’t we celebrate the cyclical shriving? Why can’t we celebrate newcomers and mourn the departure of old ways in dignity?

I’ll list John Orteg’s questions for recognising communities who are deteriorating in an unhealthy way in Part Three: Questions to Recognise Cultural Deterioration and What To Do About IT

Part Two: Deny Deterioration at the Cost of Your Love of Life

Part Three: 6 Symptoms of Deteriorating as Slowly as Possible


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