Posts Tagged ‘self development’

50 Not Out

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Well, this is my fiftieth post on my blog (I haven’t been counting, honestly, there is a counter that tells me!)  As one of the key skills I seek to help others develop is that of accurate and objective self-reflection, I thought I should reflect on my blogging experience thus far.

How many blogs in the world are there? Having been to various events over the past 12 months and heard numerous figures quoted with apparent authority (but little real evidence), I’m not sure that anyone knows. Somewhere between 100 and 150 million appears to be as accurate as it is possible to make it. I have also heard that 100,000 new ones start every day, and also that two are created every second (which equates to 172,800 each day).

I have also been told that over 50% of those created ‘die’ within the first 3 months of existence and that over 75% ‘die within their first 6 months. I have no idea how many make it to 50 posts, but it would perhaps be a little meaningless (if in fact the other statistics have any meaning) as a post can be anything from a few words to several pages.

My blog has, however, been developing and growing for well over 6 months now, so I should congratulate myself for that achievement. I have also enjoyed it immensely – which I didn’t expect to.

When I first started the blog, I expected it to be a bit of a chore.  I didn’t expect it to help my creativity of thought in the ways it has. When I have quiet moments, or sometimes as my head hits the pillow at night, I start thinking about what has happened over the past day or so that I could blog about. What has happened that links into both business improvement and learning and development? What will people be interested in reading about? I find this whole process very positive.

I have a number of favourites from my ’50 not out’.

I was very pleased with my second post (Great Railway Stations of the World – 02.06.10) as I think it accurately describes what I was, and still am, attempting to achieve.

The blog that took me longest to write was “Ofsted – head in the sandpit?” (07.11.10). This was because I was very passionate about the subject but wanted to make very sure everything I said was accurate. It took me the best part of 3 hours but I was pleased with the end result.

Story of a Life” (18.09.10) was enjoyable to write as it involved the great Harry Chapin. What made it particularly enjoyable was that it started in New York and ended in New York – which wasn’t planned when I started writing it, but fitted with the post’s title (and the title of one of his greatest stories). Perfect!

I also wrote two about the Affective Domain (To the Affective and beyond – 22.07.10 & Playing with feeling and playing to learn – 26.07.10). I was particularly pleased with these as they are about an aspect of training delivery that I am passionate about, and because I got feedback from several people as to how helpful they were.

Which am I most disappointed with? If I was that disappointed with any I wouldn’t have published them, or would have removed them! Having said that, if I had to pick one it would be “Your national embarrassment” (26.08.10) as it felt a little forced when I wrote it and I’m not sure it really went anywhere. But does a post always have to go somewhere?

Accurate and objective self-assessment also requires feedback from others – so I’d be interested to know if there have been any posts of particular note for you?


Wishing you a Resourceful New Year!

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Do you want to take greater charge of your career?  The start of a New Year is a great time for thinking about changes you might want to make or opportunities you might want to pursue. Perhaps you are thinking of how you can take more control over your career? If so, with a little structure and focus, this can be achieved. Here are five tips to get you started.

Know exactly what you want to achieve

Know what you want – what you really, really want! Where do you want to be in 5 years’ time? What is your personal Vision for yourself? Martin Luther King had a very strong Vision – it was his ‘Dream’. You need to have your own. This is a critical part of your planning. It is critical because you are probably already leading a busy life. And having a vision or a goal may well require you to put additional time into gaining a qualification or gaining greater or different experience. This takes time, so you need to be sure that you will be able to give it the time it requires. You may need to consider what aspects of your current life you are going to stop doing or put on the back burner for a while. If you cannot identify such activities, you may well need to scale back your plans – it will clarify for you what aspects of your life and future are really important to you.

Small steps

If you acquire an old house that requires a complete renovation, you would probably break the job down into smaller jobs. Perhaps by looking at a room at a time, or one part of the renovation at a time (e.g. the roof, the flooring, the plastering). This is because it makes it easier and more manageable – and there is a sense of achievement as each part is ‘ticked’ as being completed. Your Vision should be no different. Break it down into smaller sequential steps so you can see how they will lead to the end result, but then you concentrate on one at a time.

Action plan

Create an action plan for the first of the steps. Write down exactly what it is you are going to achieve, how you will do it, when you will do it by and how you will know you have achieved it. Once you have completed this step, do the same for the next step. By doing this, if you have an overall 5-year goal it will not seem so daunting. And don’t forget to reward yourself for each action completed – promising yourself a small treat for each achievement is both fun and motivating! I have posted an example of how to create an Action Plan.

It’s easier with help

For two reasons. Firstly because having a coach or friend who can help you work out actions or how to achieve them can be so important. Sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees when we are developing ourselves, and someone looking in from outside can be just what is needed. Secondly, if we say to someone that we will do something by a specific date, most of us are more likely to complete it than if we only make the agreement with ourselves. This is because we know someone is going to support us – and check up on us!

Believe in yourself

This is perhaps the most important step. I work with so many people who could achieve so much more if they believed in themselves – and many do suddenly blossom once they have the self-belief. We have so many skills that we often don’t realise we have, and sometimes a mental approach that stops us from be as effective as we could be. If you make yourself smile, it’s difficult not to feel positive. There are techniques that can enable you to be equally positive about yourself and what you can achieve.

Go on, have a go! You will be amazed at what you can achieve!


Two of the best trainer models?

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

I am running a Train the Trainer Programme in a week’s time and am very excited about it. It is a while since I have done one, and for me, in working life terms, life doesn’t get much better than training trainers. Hence the excitement!

Part of my planning has been updating or preparing new handouts for certain models and topics, and this has reminded me of some of the excellent models and theories available to assist trainers in their work and own personal development.

I have just completed handouts on two of John Heron’s models – 6 Category Intervention Analysis (6CIA) and Dimensions of Facilitator Style (DFS). As I completed them, I was left wondering whether these are perhaps the best models available for a trainer to use to assess whether they are a ‘complete’ trainer?

Heron first developed the 6CIA model. It was designed to assist people involved in 1-2-1 helping relationships, such as a doctor working with a patient. As the name suggests, it categorises the helper’s Interventions into 6 Categories (Prescriptive, Informative, Confronting, Cathartic, Catalytic and Supportive). By using this model, trainers can ascertain whether they are using all the Categories, and whether they are using the most appropriate Category at the most appropriate time. I have seen it help a person understand a potential ‘blind spot’ they have by it illustrating to them how they were only using 5 of the Categories.

DFS also has 6 groupings, but here they are referred to as Dimensions (as opposed to Categories). These dimensions are Planning, Meaning, Confronting, Feeling, Structuring and Valuing. Heron developed this model to assist facilitators working with Groups (as opposed to 1-2-1s), and these Dimensions cover all aspects of how a facilitator and a group works together.

This model is sometimes also referred to as 18DFS. This is because not only does it have the six Dimensions, it also has three Modes – Hierarchical, Co-operative and Autonomous. Heron used the Modes to describe the exercise of power in the running of the group by the facilitator – moving from Hierarchical, where all the power is with the trainer, through to Autonomous where the group has the freedom to finds its own way. As each Mode can be combined with each Dimension, this gives eighteen possible combinations.

I find that one of the best ways of explaining this model is to imagine, as a trainer, you have a ‘mixer’, as a producer would use when recording music. On the producer’s mixer they have 6 controls managing the loudness or softness of each instrument making up the track, which they can change as they see fit – thus enabling them to create the perfect sound. As a trainer, change the instruments to Dimensions, and the loudness / softness control to the Modes. You then use your mixer to set the Dimensions and Modes at their appropriate level for the needs of the group, amending them as you see fit.

If you want more details of these models, you’ll find them on the ‘Discussions’ area of the Breathe Facebook Page. If you would like Microsoft Word versions (which contain additional information that I cannot reproduce on Facebook), please drop me an email and I’ll happily send them to you.

Are these the two best trainer models, or would you suggest any better ones? I’d be very interested to hear your views.


Deletions, Distortions and Generalisations from my schooldays

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

I went to a very enjoyable Reunion on Friday night for people who went to Northgate Grammar School, Ipswich and who celebrated their fiftieth birthdays this School year. I left the School in the long hot summer of 1976 having taken my ‘O’ levels, due to my parents moving north, and completed the remainder of my education in Yorkshire.

That was 34 years ago. And I had not had any contact with any of my ex-classmates since 1976, other than communication with 3 or 4 people via Friends Reunited and a few emails during the organisation of the event. 

It felt very strange prior to the event. I could remember so little about my time there or the people I was with, I felt like I was researching another person’s history rather than retracing my own steps. I didn’t recognise anyone at the event, although I did recognise names. The only person I was sure I knew – and was very enthusiastic in explaining to him how I remembered him – I didn’t actually know. I had got the wrong person!

It all fitted with aspects of some training I had been delivering within the NHS on the previous day. We were discussing motivating staff and dealing with people who may appear difficult. Specifically we were looking at the NLP work of Shelle Rose Charvet, and my experiences at the Reunion fitted very well with a foundation stone of NLP and Shelle Rose Charvet’s work – how we use our own personal filters to create our own reality of the world, unlike anyone else’s reality, through the Deletion, Distortion and Generalisation of information.

We delete things as we can only remember a certain number of pieces of information at any one time – best estimates suggest that it is around 7 pieces if information from an interaction or discussion.

We distort things – possibly why we have a Lock Ness Monster and large black panthers roaming the country. Closer to home, it explains how we suddenly see something possibly scary, and then realise it’s not quite what we thought it was.

And we generalise. People create a view of groups of people, or a personal norm (such as all car sales people are this, or all politicians are that), based on a few interactions or what they have heard from others.

And the whole of the Reunion evening – certainly for me – was based on Deletions, Distortions and Generalisations. When I left the Reunion, I think my one regret was that I didn’t have any notes or recollections that might have given me a fighting chance of having a personal reality reasonably close to someone else’s personal reality.

It emphasised to me the benefits of Reflective Practice and diary keeping. We forget far more than we ever learn, and in order to increase our potential to learn we can spend more time recording what we have achieved and how we have achieved it, and what we have not done well and why it didn’t go well.


That’s one small step for most people; one giant leap for Paul

Friday, July 16th, 2010

I think I have now got to grips with a blog – or at least the basics of a blog. Unless you tell me differently?  I have also received some great feedback about the website.

What is even better is that two people have said that the site doesn’t do quite what they would like it to. One person said they really liked it and wanted to leave some comments both on it and about it, but couldn’t, and another person said that they wanted to ask for a bit of help / advice but thought that the contact section felt a bit too formal.  To me, the common denominator in those comments was that it needed to be more interactive.

Having had my thinking hat on, and having spent many hours tinkering (and I mean ‘many’, due to my lack of computer skills!), I have hatched a cunning plan … so cunning – Blackadder might say – you could put a tail on it and call it a fox!  A plan that will – I think – go a good way to addressing that feedback. In fact, I’m really excited about what I have come up with!

The excitement is mainly due my ‘solution’ also enabling me to work on something else I have been thinking about for some time. Lots of the websites that I frequent or have looked at have forums for their members – CIPD, TainingZone, CMI, Glasstap, etc. These are great, however, you also have to pay to access them and / or they are very specialist.

Many of the first line managers or aspiring managers who I coach or train do not have access to any such forums. From the discussions we’ve had, they would find such a facility of great use. I know from delivering learning events that often the most beneficial, valuable and thought provoking aspects are when  we look at case studies  to which there are no obvious right or wrong answers. Because that’s what happens in reality.

But I don’t have the capability or resources to set up anything on the scale of those previously mentioned sites. But I would like to offer a facility to those who have attended courses (and those who come across the facility and find it of use) whereby I can continue to offer them support.

 People also tell me that they would sometimes like the chance to make contact away from a workplace computer, and it isn’t lost on me just how many people use Facebook – and how versatile it has become.

So, how can I deal with all that? Well, I have created a ‘Breathe Personal and Organisational Development Facebook Page’. This will enable people to leave comments on the website and to ask questions in a more informal way. It will also give others the opportunity to contribute to posts that people have left. People will be able to pick up ideas from reading questions and comments that others raise. Almost a virtual action learning set. And, of course, it’s all free!

I hope people will use it to pose a question, get a bit of advice or perhaps a resource they have mislaid. I’ll not have the answers to all the points raised, but in such cases there’s a good chance I’ll know someone who will.  It will be interesting to see how well it works or what level of take up there is. I’ve had great fun learning as I have put it all in place, so if it’s of use to one person, it will have been worth the effort!

And, dear reader, you can help me. As you may be aware, it is possible to create a ‘Username’ for a ‘Facebook Page’, however, a page has to have at least 25 ‘fans’ for this to happen. So if you would be happy to be a ‘fan’, it would be great if you could support this little venture by going the Breathe Facebook Page (via this link) and pressing the ‘like’ button – assuming you do like the idea – and that will enable me to give it a proper name!

And if you can see any other improvements I could make, please do let me know …

But – unfortunately – I haven’t solved the whole problem as I have now found out that one of the people who sent me the feedback isn’t on Facebook! – So let’s get back to that drawing board …


Self belief in the palms of your hands

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

One of the few quotes that I can remember (and still think of in certain situations) from studying English Literature at school is from “The Rivals” by R. B. Sheridan. From my hazy recollection, it occurs in the run up to a duel and Acres, the farm hand, says, “My valour is certainly going! – it is sneaking off! I feel it oozing out as it were at the palms of my hands!” Quite brilliant. I can smile now as I recall having on such occasions actually looked at my hands to see if I can see it oozing out! But if you don’t have that self belief, can you ever feel it deserting you? 

I received a lovely email from a person a couple of days ago.  I happened to see a post from her on the CIPD website and she seemed to be struggling in preparing for an exam. I offered to help, she accepted, and we had a number of telephone coaching sessions – on a no payment basis – leading up to her exam. I have never met her before and it may well be that we don’t communicate again.

She wrote, “I really wanted to thank you again for all your help. I don’t find very often in life that people are prepared to give up so much time and effort to help a stranger, and I really appreciate it. As I said before I believe it made a vital difference in allowing me to believe in myself a bit, and even if I don’t pass the exam, I at least feel that I did everything I could at that point.”

Two reasons for sharing this. Firstly, it is a great example of what I was trying to explain I wanted this blog to be all about in my last post – this will possibly make it clearer to you! The second aspect relates to confidence. It never ceases to amaze me just how many very capable people need that little bit of support and encouragement to start believing in themselves. And once they do, things just seem to start happening for them …

I was out coaching a person yesterday, and the person I was with also falls into this category. Someone who gets very little praise at work yet who has so many positive qualities. Working very hard, but no one is encouraging her development. Her company is not getting the best out of her. She is not as motivated as she could be.

There is a great site at that has all sort of tools and ideas for so many different development situations. If you think you could benefit from believing in yourself a little more, or if you are just interested in different ideas, have a look at what it has to offer at .