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on developing leadership qualities


I suppose that, to start this blog off, I should define leadership qualities, but they are something that I can know when I see them, but find it very hard to pin down exactly what they are. It is a bit like looking at a painting. What makes a great artist? There are things like composition, brushwork, use of colour and so on, but put something done by a competent amateur alongside a Rembrandt or a Turner or whatever and the difference is obvious even to an uneducated eye like mine.

One my years at work I have seen leadership good, bad and average and would say that most of the leaders that I have encountered were inconsistent. There were some who had one moment where they could have stood with the top ten percent and then never reached those heights again, some who were generally awful, but had the odd moment where they did well and others who were average performers with the occasional moment up or down.

This leads to another question and that is how do you evaluate success as a leader? Results in terms of the way that the teams that they lead have performed is one, but it is not entirely reliable because I have seen badly led teams achieve remarkable results despite the person at the top. Perhaps a more reliable indicator is in the number of people that come through their ranks and go on to achieve good things. Some good leaders may be loved, but some are unloveable despite their abilities. Respect might be another criteria, but are we talking here about respect for their professionalism or as a person? Either could be relevant, but neither is a given.

And so it is hard to pin these things down. Physical presence might be a factor, but now always. Chaerisma is often mentioned, but it does not always make for a good leader even if it does tend to attract followers. Most measures are subjective and they are in the eyes of those who follow or look on. I know what I like as they say, and when I see it I know it.

The problem that I had to face, as do all leaders, is how do you develop others? John Adair maintained that it can be taught and his Action Centred Leadership principles are well established. I agree with that to some degree for I have attended and ACL course back in my early years as a junior manager in a large corporation. It is not a course that I remember fondly because the tutor was somewhat wooden and gave no signs of leadership qualities whatsoever, they worked through the syllabus by rote and I did absorb some of the thinking, but I made my way home thinking that it would have been so much better had it been delivered by someone who demonstrated leadership from the front.

For me trying to teach leadership is a bit like teaching someone to play an instrument. There are many people who can pick up enough of the rudiments to be able to play a recognisable tune, but you they may never get much further than that. The better leaders will benefit from tuition and, as I discussed last week, blending theory with practice is the most effective mix. It depends on the individual though and they have to have something that represents a talent for leadership; some spark that will light their fire.

All leaders have to start somewhere and trying to spot those elusive leadership qualities in someone who is not yet leading is your next challenge. In my most successful years of doing this I used to give people mini projects to deal with, allowing them support, but room to fail and always being prepared to accept the consequences of any such failure. Another opportunity was to have one of the team chair out monthly meeting. It provides an element of pressure in that you are amongst your peers and have your boss down the table too, but you are in a more benevolent environment that you might otherwise be. Seeing how someone manages to control a meeting like that is an opportunity to observe whatever leadership qualities they may have and to see where they might be helped along with advice. (Many of these meetings were videotaped and the results could be observed and dissected at leisure afterwards).

These are slightly artificial pressures, but observing people in the heat of battle is a great opportunity to see how the lead. Are they just watching their own corner or are they looking out for the team? Do they encourage their colleagues or harangue them? A good leader will always be observing and forming judgements, if for no there reason than you want to improve team performance generally, but within that looking for signs of tomorrow’s leaders is important.

What specifically am I looking for then? Mostly it is about subtleties; do they have a feel for when to push and when to back off, are they seeing the different needs of individuals in terms of what motivates them and makes them tick, how do they assess the mood of the team and evaluate the environment in which they are working. Life is dynamic and so change is constant. Having the ability to read that change and be able to adjust the focus of the team accordingly is another leadership skill. Seeing how people think, how they reason things and their decision making process against what is known and what is predicted gives an indication of their potential.

Something else that I will be looking for is whether or not people naturally follow because you cannot lead without followers. Someone with good leadership potential will show that tendency to naturally take charge, but if you put someone in charge of a task will the others accept that leadership or not? There is a difference here between leading and being bossy that you should be able too see.

There is no one size fits all here. List your own top ten leaders and consider them in as dispassionate a detail as you can and you will probably find that there are a range of styles; there may even be ten different ones. You can learn from what you deduce, but do try to develop your own styles for copying someone else is unlikely to work for you. Also don’t be afraid to learn form lessons of poor leadership as there are bound to be a reasonable number of such examples around you.

the lockdown log 54


It is grey and cold again today after a brighter start. The greenhouse is working as the temperature was up around 40C earlier when the sun was out. The plants that I started out with last week have all come on leaps and bounds under glass and so I am very pleased with progress.

I had intended to weigh myself when I got up this morning, but I was about 45 minutes later getting top and forgot so I will try and remember to do it this evening before bed. I am always heavier in the evenings, but I do want to have a quick check on where I am especially after a lax Easter weekend as far as calorie control was concerned.

I did try to re-start exercise walking in the afternoons this week as the weather has been cold and windy with of which preclude some of the jobs I want to get on with, but on my one effort it snowed and so I gave up having only managed 2k. I am still getting in over 10k a day in the mornings any work though and have been filling in using a neighbour’s treadmill on days off. She is moving this weekend though and so that option is going to be closed to me. I don’t want to re-join the gym (even if it does open) and will rely on the weather getting better and allowing more pleasurable walks.

This morning I have done the shopping alone as The Berkshire Belle does not do cold outings and she stayed in bed whilst I went off foraging at first light. A three shop trip this morning; Lidl, M&S then Aldi, but we are shopped for the week. I will make fish pie tonight; we haven’t had that for a while and it will give us a second seafood meal of the week. As a confirmed carnivore I am getting used to moving away from red meat and these days a steak that is about half of the size of the ones that I used to eat myself will do the two of us as the protein content of dinner.

We are down to red meat about once a week now, not so much from trying to avoid it as because there are so many other things that we can cook and enjoy. Whilst we do have our routines around food, always having dinner at 6pm for example, we have never got into the pattern of certain meals on certain days of the week. We might make a slightly greater effort for our dinners Friday through Sunday and possibly try and do something special for lunch on Saturday and Sunday, but that is about it apart from our bottle of wine that we make last over two days, usually Friday and Saturday, and firing up the coffee machine for a latte on Saturday and Sunday.

Trying to keep variety in our meals is important to us and it is surprising how many different things you can do with 250 gas of mince or a couple of chicken thighs. One of the things that has crept more and more into our cooking is the use of spices and using them to impart flavour rather than heat. There is a lot more to a curry, for example, than bunging in a handful of chilli and some the best curries we have eaten have not been hot at all.

One thing that we two differ on is that if the Berkshire Belle enjoys her meal she will not go looking for extras, but if she has something that she does not enjoy the contents of the cupboards develop a strong gravitational pull for her. I am the opposite and if I have really enjoyed what I have eaten I have to fight hard to stop myself going after more, even if I know that I will regret it by overeating, but if I don’t enjoy my meal I will usually just give up and have no interest in a supplementary bite. Having had a nice meal going out to the kitchen to wash up can. be torture for me with all of the temptation around me and I will often just make a black coffee (instant from a jar) because it will fill me up to a degree.

Out in our back garden Mrs Reynard has three babies, not the two that I thought. She has the task of finding food for that family as well as for herself and as she entertains them under our deck for at least part of the day I am not sure what we might face in a few weeks time by way of unfortunate aromas. The last time that we know we had a fox family living under there it was before the council had introduced wheelie bins and we got back from an early holiday to find the back garden full of part destroyed bin bags. Nature is wonderful, but…

I am back on clearing out my upstairs office as it is too cold for concerted efforts outside. I thought that the purge of last February had got rid of most of it, but there is still more rubbish coming to light, most ion which begs the question “Why am I keeping this?” A lot of it is stuff that would be useful to me if I was still widely working as a consultant, but as I have largely given that up I really do not need this vast source of reference and so there is a steady pile of paper feeding the recycling boxes.Last weekend I read through one of my day books that covered the period October 1998 to November 1999 and was staggered by just how much I was doing and how far that I travelled to do it, despite a car crash (hit from behind) and a bout of diverticulitis. It brought back a lot of memories of people and places.

That’s it from me for this week. Stay safe wherever you are and thanks for looking in.

on theory versus practice


That title almost suggests a rivalry or conflict between the two, but they are complementary tools. A leader needs both and the more of each that they have the more effective their leadership should be. You can start with either, it really doesn’t matter which. The important thing is to keep a balance between the two. 

Theory is fine from the basic thought process through to detailed research. Taking time to consider why things work, or don’t work, is important. Reading, listening and discussing should be something that we all do so that we can understand out actions and the likely consequences of them. Continuous improvement is essential, but theory alone will not be enough.

As a practitioner you gain experience and that builds two things. One is that you can improve your judgement and, for some tasks, you will cease to consciously think about certain things and just do them automatically. Think about driving a car, operating a piece of equipment or playing an instrument. To begin with you are slow and jerky in how you do things, but, with practice, you just do them fluidly. The same applies to how you lead or manage as your experience makes some things instinctive in the way that you respond. The other thing that experience brings is that you can better understand the theory if you have done the job and being able to relate theory with the practice of doing. For some they will begin to contribute to and further develop that theory.

There are theorist who have never practiced and there are practitioners who have not studied theory. It isn’t a problem, but the better people in either discipline have experience of both fields and the marriage of both makes for the best results. From my own experience some of the worst people that I have had to work for have been stuck in one camp or the other and, if I had to choose, I would go for a practitioner every time for there is an element of truth in the old adage that those who can do and those who can’t teach.

One example comes to mind of a boss who was on an MBA course and at team meetings we would get to some point of planning and he would announce that he had just done that module on his course and, pulling the relevant binder off his bookshelf would regale us with its contents. Now there would be the odd nugget that we could use, and did, but most times he was not bright enough to spot the relevance and would go banging on past that point with all sorts of bullet points read verbatim off the page; he had no real idea of how to apply the knowledge let alone apply it to any good effect. The theorist at his worst.

Your abilities will evolve as you go along. You will learn from your mistakes and, better still, from the mistakes of others. If you also try and learn from your successes you can pool all of that and go read some theory to see where you can spot the joins; how much of your success and failure can you match with the theory. The correlation of these points of reference can help you improve through a better understanding of the theoretical side of what you do and a better understanding of why certain results come from your actions (or inactions).

It is not always easy as a practitioner to find the time to study, but it is worth finding some if for no other reason that the better you get at your job the more time you will find that you have. All too often you can find yourself firefighting issues and coping with re-working mistakes. These are the two biggest wastes of your time and as you get better they are the easiest things to fix. Use the time that this gives you to think further about what you do and how you can do it better is the best investment you can make in yourself.

It is not easy, but none of the good things are cheap. Something as worthwhile as this is worth working for. Give it a try, starting today.

the lockdown log 53


The Berkshire Belle has had her second Covid-19 vaccination and is showing no ill effects beyond a bit of fatigue. All being well I should get the call for my second one soon as I was about 3 weeks behind her for the first jab.

The greenhouse is built and in use. As with some many elements of these jobs I am going through the anti-climatic phase now and fighting the urge to stop working on all of the other little jobs that need doing. It was not an enjoyable construction job and I had to push hard to make myself get it done, but four afternoons over last weekend and into this week saw it finished apart from a couple of cosmetic touches that I will get around to at some point.

More jobs loom though and the spurt of growth amongst the vegetation brought on by the warm weather of the last few days will drive my next priorities. One thing that I want to get done before things get too advanced is to put in the cabling for some garden lighting. I can wire up the lights later, but need to get a new cable from the junction box on the house down to the bottom of the garden fairly soon. These little jobs help keep my mind active and distract me from other things that I would rather not have to consider.

My blood test results came back on Tuesday and I am at the same level as 6 months ago. I am waiting for a call from the surgery to discuss, but the bottom line for me is that I have maintained my blood sugar levels below the diabetic threshold and so would like to get off the Metformin if I can. At the test this time I was not weighed in and nor did they take my blood pressure so I assume that they are not too bothered about either factor and that that is another good sign.

I have not weighed myself this week either. Last weekend I decided to let myself off the leash as far as food and drink intake was concerned, not that that means that I gorged myself, far from it, But I was doing a lot of physical work both paid and any home and so I ate to support that effort. As far as alcohol is concerned we shared our weekend bottle of wine as usual making it last two days and I did, on Tuesday, down a 500ml bottle of beer as a reward for finishing the greenhouse. Hardly a blow out and I have not had to loosed my belt off; if anything I have thought that I might need to open top a new hole soon.

With the holiday weekend coming up we might be a bit more generous with the food and drink. A second bottle of wine is traditional for us so that we get a glass and a bit each Friday through Monday. I am working every day except Sunday so it is like any other weekend to us. We will not get any visitors nor we will we go visiting so it will be js=ust us and the cats as usual. I will have a check weigh next Thursday just to see where I am and I will take it from there. Next week looks to be very cold again and that is not conducive to light eating, but the better weather is not far away and I will soon be back on salads for lunch. We have already started a policy of sharing a pear or an apple for afters at lunchtime and will try to keep that us. If it fends off temptations for a mid-afternoon snack then that is a good thing.

It is Friday afternoon now and I want to get this finished and uploaded before I settle down to cook tea (spare ribs and stuff to go with them, but cooked indoors; it is too cold for firing up the barbecue).

Take care all and stay safe, wherever you are.

on the snowflake generation


I only have myself to blame; in fact pretty much all of us of my age do, for these are our children and grandchildren after all. I don’t really know where I went wrong, possibly I did not really see the warning signs, or did not realise their significance if I did, but we are stuck with what we have for the time being.

Maybe we were all too liberal in our thinking and in the way that we wanted to protect our loved ones against the less pleasant aspects of life, but the result seems to be that we have bred successive generations of people who seem much less able to cope with the realities that they will have to face up to.

I first became aware of this in the late eighties when a group of us in the office were making jokes about the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. We were mostly male and aged from our thirties to fifties and some, not me, were ex services people including one of the ladies present. Black humour was a defence mechanism generally and was a standard part of our conversation in our open plan office. It applied to the minor frustrations of day to day work as we tried to cope with our myriad tasks, but on this morning one of the crew, a former merchant navy officer walked in to start work and asked what NASA stood for. After an someone had called out the correct answer he replied; “Need Another Seven Astronauts”. Poor taste maybe, but it got a huge guffaw from around the room to be followed by another question; “Where do astronauts go for their holidays? – All over the South Atlantic”, this greeted by groans, but also one of the two eighteen year old girls who had just joined the team rushing out of the room in obvious distress.

She had been so upset by the comments that she flatly refused to work with us anymore and arrangements were made to swap her with another team, but before we had sorted that out the other teenager also asked to move. It was a chastening experience and caused a lot of debate amongst us. Some were in the good riddance camp; if you can’t take it, get out whilst others were much more sympathetic and felt that we should cut out at least the worst of the banter and, as always, there was a group in the middle who didn’t really care either way. Nothing much changed and I remember a similar clutch of jokes about the Zeebrugge ferry disaster a year later. Another teenager, this time male, who had joined us from school the previous Summer burst into tears at his desk. It was pointed out to him that one of the protagonists in the jocularity has seen colleagues killed on the streets of Belfast just a few years previously and that some of us dealt with our grief very differently.

I will talk specifically about some of my own experiences as a boy. I saw my first dead body when I was thirteen and I found a corpse in a ditch beside the road, a victim of a hit and run accident. The person had disappeared around three days earlier and this was in mi-Summer; the corpse was not an attractive sight to say the least. About three months later whilst out on my Sunday paper round I witnessed a serious road accident and, as the smallest person present, crawled into the crumpled wreck to try and stop the bleeding from the driver’s leg whilst an ambulance was summoned. I didn’t succeed in my endeavours, but was still trying when he died.

Yes, I did cry a little over the second incident, but I don’t feel that either trauma had any adverse effect on me. Instead, like my parents generation who had experienced WW2, it helped me learn to cope. It isn’t that I am unemotional, far from it, but I have an acceptance that the world can, at times, be a nasty place and bad things happen. I have no need to try and find someone to blame or otherwise justify what happened, I can just accept that it has happened and move on.

I feel sorry for those who do not seem able to cope with the slightest setback, let alone bereavement and I feel guilt for having been part of the cause. There is not a lot that I can do to help fix it either expect, perhaps, to try and raise debate as I am doing here. It has taken us about forty years, maybe more, to get to this point and, as the pendulum swings, at some point it will come back the other way. I will be long gone by them I suspect, but I hope that the world that my grandchildren and great-grandchildren are growing up in will see them better able to deal with life. I, and my generation, have not had it too bad as Harold Macmillan pointed out in my boyhood. I am sorry that my legacy is not even better.

the lockdown log 52


Well, that makes it a year and what a year it has been. Ignoring the plague, as best as I can, I am still working on the transformation of the back garden and am physically a different person. Mentally I am holding it together and do not think that I am any more, nor less, weird than I have ever been. Perhaps others should judge that though.

Tomorrow I go for my 6 monthly blood test and should know the outcome of that on Monday or Tuesday. I am hoping that my blood sugar results will still be down where they were last time and that I can reduce my Metformin dose or come off it altogether. I am not losing any more weight at the moment, but muscle build up may well be part of that. All of the heavy lifting and other activity that takes upon my afternoons is having a visible presence in the way some tee shirts are getting tight across the chest and shoulders (this time last year they were tight across the belly). I did have one moment of extreme hope earlier this week when I went for a weigh in before bed and the scales had me at 98.5 kg. I moved them to find an old fuse on the carpet beneath and they then gave me a more realistic 107 kg. Never mind.

My new greenhouse has the frame up, but I have found some other problems that need sorting before I finish it off. One of these is a couple of rotten deck boards that I will replace as soon as I can find the right sized timber and another is in dealing with my neighbour’s rotten fence that is now exposed. Project management was ever thus, but I will get there soon. Once the greenhouse is up and operational I can start work on some of the rest of what needs doing to get the deck functional again as a deck rather than a construction site. This time of year is one where planting starts and I am trying to get my head around the hanging baskets and what need to go into the areas that usually get planted with annuals.

Some of the management training and experience kicks in with this sort of thing and I find myself instinctively treating it all like work. I have a day book back in use for keeping To Do lists, sketching ideas, doing little for and against lists to help decide on problems and so on. I suppose that I did it for so many years it has just become second nature and I find that it does help me.

The skip has gone now so I am starting to get a pile of discarded or unwanted stuff that will had to go to the council tip soon. Most of the old shed is getting reused for various things and to such good effect that I might not have enough of it left to build the bench for the BBQ that I had planned on. I am a compulsive hoarder of things that might be useful though and may well have enough odd pieces of timber available. You’ll find out here in the coming weeks how I have got on.

I am writing this early on Thursday with the aim of getting the bulk of it written before nipping out on a shopping run around 0800 and then being able to get out into the garden for two or three hours before the rains that are forecast arrive around lunchtime. If I cannot work outside later then there are some inside jobs on the list that can take up my afternoon and then it will be time to cook dinner and another day off will be gone. I have some celeriac soup that I made last night for lunch today and tomorrow; just diced celeriac with a little garlic and about half an onion plus salt and pepper with water to make it liquid all whizzed up with the stick blender. I am not sure how it will taste, but it shouldn’t be too bad.

Stay safe out there wherever you are.

PS.

The promised rain not only arrived early, but we had a couple of showers through the morning so no power tools in use outside today. A very frustrating morning in that, in addition to weather delays, my plan for the greenhouse would not work. A re-think over lunch fixed that and good progress was being made when it chucked it down and I abandoned further work to come indoors and study the greenhouse assembly manual to get to grips with the next couple of stages.

I may have been an interrupted day, but I have got a significant part of the greenhouse build behind me now. The rain may be a benefit in that, sitting here, I realise how much the day has taken out of me. I have had to indulge in some serious contortions as well as using a lot of physical strength, things that I could have done easily even ten years ago, but which are a lot harder now. A paracetamol beckons I think and then half an hour with the Revitive before I start to cook dinner. Sole tonight – looking forward to that.

My labours have been helped a lot, at least mentally, by wearing my headphones and getting the old iPod into action. I do love my music and find that it keeps me in a good place when all about me is not going so well. It was a big factor in keeping me sane during my 6 weeks in hospital a few years back.

See you next week

on the ABC principle


I’ve joined a new Facebook group recently and have been sharing memories and catching up with people from a 30 year career. A lot of things have come flooding back including the ABC principle, although that was something that I had learned even earlier.

I’ll take you back to around 1975 and the East End of London. Much of the docklands area was abandoned and near derelict, but it made good space for some transport operators to use and these were amongst my customers as I plied my trade selling commercial vehicle parts and hydraulic fittings. I worked for a franchise operation and was asked to spend a couple of weeks with someone from the parent operation who would advise on credit control and debt management, not that I had much trouble in that direction as most of my customers paid cash and my only concern was to be sure that they were not dud notes I was accepting.

My new partner was ex Royal Navy and ex Kent Police and he looked it. I am not sure how much value our two weeks together were, but I hope that he, being new to this job, got an insight into what really went on at the sharp end rather than what those in the ivory tower thought. For my part I got little from it as his appearance, and the fact that we were running around in his dark blue Morris Marina rather than my usual van, meant that a lot of my customers that that we were the Old Bill when we drove into their yards and my orders plummeted. However, on the last day he gave me a nugget; the ABC principle.

I had taken him the he Waterman’s Arms on the Isle of Dogs, Dan Farsons’ old pub, for lunch and he gave me that bit of advice which he claimed came from his days in CID. ABC: Accept nothing, Believe no-one, Challenge everything.

To me at first it sounded very cynical and, to a large degree, counter-productive for a salesman who was trying to build trust with customers, but as he explained it a degree of sense emerged.

Accept nothing, at least at face value. That isn’t the same as rejecting everything because it is all useful, but don’t trust anything until you can verify it.

Believe no-one. It is not because they are lying, rather that even if they believe what they are saying is true, it may not be. They may also be only telling you what they think that you want to know. If you ask ten eye witnesses what they saw you will get ten different answers, so listen, question, and file it all away until, as with the first point, you can verify it.

Challenge everything. Look at it from every angle that you can think af and then think of some news angles. Test every theory and, you guessed it, verify it.

On that day I took the advice and did not believe it. It all sounded like it had come from an episode of The Sweeney, but I considered it and, in time, tried it. I found that it worked for me. I accept that it is a little extreme, but if you apply the ABC principle with a little common sense it works and will serve you well. For my own part I have applied it very strongly when considering disciplinary matters and accidents at work through to a more casual application pretty much every day when considering something that needs doing. It has kept me out of trouble more often than I can remember.

So don’t take my word here, but do challenge the thinking if you do nothing else. Think about it, work on it and see what you can do with it. You might find that it works for you too.

the lockdown log 51


Progress on the garden project is still picking up and, despite discovering a couple of things that need fixing that I had not anticipated, there is a lot of visible progress. All being well the greenhouse assembly will start any day now.

The exercise regime is slightly compromised by all this work in the garden, but over the last week I have gone through the 800 km (500 mile) mark for the year to date so I am looking god for over 3000 km for the full year if I can keep this pace up.

I have talked about some of my soup making in earlier posts and thought that a bit more on what I do might be off interest. I don’t pay too much attention to quantity as I am most often using up things rather than working to any recipe so I have put some photos below to show one of last week’s efforts.

The first photo shows a mixture of veg cut up ready for roasting. There is squash, onion and a white sweet potato ready for the oven and then the same tray after about 40 minutes on 160 in a fan oven. The final shot shows the results having been whizzed up with a stick blender. I allow the veg to cool before putting in a jug and adding water to about cover the veg before blending. I like my soups smooth and fairly thick, but you could just add more water or stock if you like a more liquid end product. I add salt and pepper before blending and then try the soup as it warms up before adding more seasoning if necessary.

The end product sometimes, as here, does not always look too appetising, but there is nothing in it by way of preservatives or additives; it is just veg and water and usually it is fairly tasty. A litre of soup lasts me a couple or three days. I make whatever I can with what I have; parsnip (usually with a dash of cumin or Garam Masala), red pepper with sweet potato or tomato, celery, leek. I try to avoid adding potato as I am trying to keep the carbs down, but eek and potato is a classic combo.

In the background of the middle photo is the start of a seafood risotto that was in production for dinner that night.

I don’t know what the calorific values are of my various soups, but they should not be too bad and they seem to work for me.

And so here I am one week away from a year of lockdown logs. There have been a good few times along the way when I wondered if I would get through this far. So much has been learned about this plague since we first encountered it and often what was first thought has proved not to be the case. As an asthmatic I was at ne time though to be more vulnerable, then evidence suggested that people like me have a better resistance to Covid-19 for example. There is still much to learn, but as the weeks pass science learns more. I feel much more comfortable, although nowhere near complacent.

Stay safe wherever you are.

on heroes and villains


Which are you, hero or villain? If you have made anything out of your life you will almost certainly be both and this is one of the things that leaders have to accept and learn how to deal with. How you deal with it will define you, so getting it right is important.

The hero thing mainly comes through results. If you are constantly delivering then you will be well regarded from above and, if you ensure that your team get the glory, or at least share the rewards, then flowers will be lain in your path. Or not, because any success you enjoy will bring about jealousy from some of your less enlightened peers and they, along with anyone above you in the hierarchy who is also none too secure will see you as a villain. They will feel threatened and it is no use trying to present that they won’t because it is a fact of life that in any organisation there will be some who react that way.

If you are at the top of the tree then you can set the agenda for your organisation and one of the first things that you should be doing as a leader is to establish the right kind of culture, but for most people they can only do that within their own team and hope that others see the benefit and follow your lead.

Jealousy and fear are emotions that are common throughout the animal world and is not just confined to us humans. It is unlikely that we can ever change so what needs to be done is to try and avoid the things that trigger them. You can’t hide success, and you shouldn’t, but don’t ram it down other people’s throats: A little humility goes a long way. Being open with your peers about how you do things can also help, not least because if they can use some of your methods to help themselves the the organisation that you all work for benefits too.

Fear is harder to cope with because it can be even less rational than jealousy. If you are more successful than a colleague then they may fear for their job. Again, sharing what you do and how you do it might help, if nothing else it shows that you want to be on their side and not a threat to them. The fear factor can also apply to your boss as I have found more than once. There is nothing wrong with having one of your team who can run rings around you in some aspect of work; you should want people who are better than you working for you, but not everyone can cope with that. My approach has been to always be open about what I am doing and, when I get the chance to talk to the next person up the line, to say how supportive my boss is and how much that contributes to any success coming my way. Taking the threat away as much as I can.

When all is said any done you can’t win them all and some people will not be won round. My consolation has always come from two sources; firstly in results. If my part of the empire is doing well then I am doing my job and I expect no less from myself. The other factor is through having a motivated team who are, because they are generally happy, delivering the results that are cheering me up. If I have these then it does not matter if some see me as a villain and, most of the time, I don’t care if I am a hero to anyone or not these days: I have been around long enough to become comfortable with who I am.

It wasn’t always that way though and I have had some hard times with self doubt and all the baggage that comes with that. If that is where you are then stick with it. Experience is everything and do not worry too much about the times when things go wrong, just learn from them and get better. Trust your team and work with them to make them better. Learn from your peers even when they don’t want to help you and encourage feedback on how you are doing. If you can believe in yourself through it all you will make it. One last though: it doesn’t matter whether others see you as hero or villain for if they think of you as one or the other then you have been noticed and people who are noticed have a tendency to get the opportunities to get on in life.

the lockdown log 50


It has been a big week for me in that I have got a huge amount done. That all helps me feel good in general even if it does still mean that I have bad days or parts of days. We all do. For me though the issue is about how I react to how I feel.

It is so easy to just drop into a funk and do nothing. I am not that keen on what’s on TV these days, but I can read or just play games on a tablet or even just gaze at the ceiling. The problem with any of those things is that I end up feeling guilty about having wasted time and so I end ups feeling worse. For me the answer is to just do something; there is always something that needs doing and, if I do something, it reduces the job list a bit and I feel a bit better even if it is only because I have knocked off a few of the things that are hanging over me.

The same applies on those mornings when I wake up and don’t feel like working. Maybe my sinuses are playing up or my digestion is out of sorts or my joints are a bit creaky or I just feel yuk. There are dozens of possible causes, but I just get up and go to work. Skiving off might be attractive, but that is not how I am wired or how I was brought up so I get on with it. I don’t like the alternative because it is about self respect and if I lose that then I am not going to feel too good.We have choices and it is up to us how we choose.

Today is my day off as usual and the weather is grim with high winds and occasional heavy rain for the second day in a row. Monday and Tuesday were spend largely securing the garden for this bout of weather and tying a tarp over the skip to stop the contents going walkabout. Yesterday and today I have been camping in the garage sorting that out and tidying up. The old shed is two thirds gone and I am keen to get that job done, but taking the rest apart is not a job for days like this and so a bit of time working indoors is a welcome diversion and it needs doing anyway.

One of the benefits of spending so much time out of the house is that it takes my mind off eating and removes me from the pantry, ‘fridge and cupboards. With no temptation and my mind on other things it helps the diet along even if I am not over bothering about it. I have the appointment for my 6 monthly blood test set for the last week of this month and am hoping that the results of that will confirm that I have moved out of the diabetic spectrum. If so perhaps I can come off, or reduce the dose of, Metformin. Fingers crossed. Although I am not taking especial notice of diet I am trying to stick to keeping my carb intake down and managing portions. My weight is fairly stable on my weekly weigh-in so I am achieving a balance between muscle development from all of the heavy DIY and taking off fat.

My walking is closing in on 750 km for the year (over 460 miles) and so my thoughts of trying for over 3000 km walked by the end of 2021 is looking possible. That is just from exercise walking and does not include pottering about during the rest of the day. I am still finding that the Revitive works for me and have suffered a couple of time when I have forgotten to use it the day before.

Anyway, I have, as I said, had a good week overall and I can’t ask for more.

Stay safe wherever you are.covi