Remembering the Good Times

Yesterday was a day of mixed emotions. I was attending the funeral of one of my former soldiers. It was a day of remembering the good times and also farewelling a friend. Back in my first command role I meet LCPL John “Rocky” Helliar. Back in those days I was living a few hours away and hence spent a fair amount of time at the barracks in Holsworthy. Rocky was in a similar position and hence spent a fair amount of time at the barracks also.

Back in the day we used to sit on the verandah after work and talk over a drink or two…. Talking about work, life and who knows what… Yesterday was a time to remember the good times. And also the good life that Rocky had led. He had three passions in life Family, Army and Rural Fire Service. After listening to the tributes yesterday, it became very clear to me that the Rocky I saw at army was the Rocky that everyone saw.

The stories from family members, the stories from friends, the stories from the Rural Fire Service and the stories from Army all said that Rocky was always there when you needed him. It did not matter whether it was saving Merimbula from fires or playing with the children in the extended family or serving with the Army supporting Aboriginal communities, Rocky was there. It was good to remember the Good Times.

Rest in Peace….

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Strategic Thinking is about Asking Questions

I have heard a lot of talk in many organisations about thinking strategically. Often the talk is followed by ideas… Some of the ideas are small and others big. One of the things that strikes me about human nature is how we all think we have the best idea. I am a believer in thinking big and striving for more. I also think that we need to think more strategically.

But what does strategic thinking mean? How do we think strategically? I know that there are many tools and methods that people and organisations use to think strategic. Some include the SWOT and the PESTLE. In the Army we have a Military Appreciation Process for planning operations and exercises. I agree with many of the models that organisations use and I think that they are useful. Do we dig in deep enough within these models?

I have observed that many people and organisation use a template to the way they plan and think strategically. Though they are good methods the problem I see the most is the way they are applied. People tend  to fill them in as a checklist and hence fail to get the most benefit out of them. I believe that to get the best out of the strategic planning you need to ask questions and dig in deep to the situation and the options.

I have found that when thinking strategic asking “what does that mean?” over and over again helps to be able to get a much more meaningful answer to questions. This I think has been where I get the most benefit in the strategic planning process. When it comes time to develop a plan, look at contingencies or ask questions, the asking of questions at the start has always paid dividends.

What a Beautiful Day in the Nations Capital

On Monday, after a week away, I was on my way to the office. The office is just down the road from where I live, so it is not a long drive. However it was long enough to enjoy the beautiful day. And what a beautiful day it was…. The sun was shining, everywhere was green after the rain we had had. And the mountains in the distance were covered in snow. It was a lovely scene….

It got me thinking about everything that I should be grateful for. I am blessed in my life and there is so much that I should really be grateful for…. No wonder I was bouncing at the office that day. It is really funny how when you are grateful for what you have in your life, you also get energised. When you are thankful for life and also to others, you receive so much in return.

The other thing about this moment on the way into the office was the way I was present in the moment. Being present in the moment, actually enabled me to see the full beautiful picture that lay in front of me. I know that at times I am in such a rush to get places that I miss the beautiful view right in front of me.

Some points to ponder today:

 

  • What are three things that you are grateful for today?
  • How did you celebrate these grateful moments?
  • What can you do to further celebrate these grateful moments?

 

Keeping Stakeholders in the Loop

I know that in nearly everything that I do there is a number of other people that are part of the activity. Commonly know as stakeholders, these people play an important role in what I do. Whether we are talking about business associates, clients or friends, I find communication is very important when dealing with stakeholders.

How you been in the situation where you are progressing with a project, just to find that the key stakeholders had a different view of the project? I know I have. I know that in the world we live in, there is more and more communication online and not as much face to face. This has caused unique challenges for me. For example in my Army Reserve Unit, I am the only sub unit commander that is not located in Sydney (where our higher headquarters are).

So what can we do to keep stakeholders in the loop? Some of the things that I do are:

  • Regular meetings or phone discussions with my boss and his key staff
  • Regular communication with my staff through email and face to face
  • Before an important meeting touching base with the attendees to discuss the items on the agenda and other key issues
  • Having regular updates on projects sent out to the project team
  • Having an agenda sent out prior to a meeting and also have minutes sent out afterwards

Doing these things and others, I have found prevents unpleasant surprises, while also ensuring that the stakeholders are aligned.

 

  • So what situations do you have that make it difficult to keep stakeholders in the loop?
  • Who are the key stakeholders in this activity?
  • How do you work to keep the stakeholders in the loop?

 

Not feeling well?

This week I was not feeling well on Monday. I had a cough, runny nose and sore head. So I left and headed home. On the way I stopped at the Doctor’s office and made an appointment for the next day. All in all there was nothing seriously wrong with me. The Doctor advised me that it was viral and rest was the best cure. So what was I to do?

Normally, when a little under the weather, I battle on and push through…. But is that the best option? Do I perform at a good level in this state? Do I do myself justice for my recovery if I push on? This time I took some time to rest and it was good to do so. I found that even on Thursday I was not feeling the best. However the rest was good on the body, mind and soul.

Being able to rest was very good on the recovery. I am glad that I scaled back my schedule for the week and rested. I know too often I feel that I have to push on…. But you know what, over the last week I have discovered there is very little that falls apart when I am not a work. Bottom line is I can take the unexpected time off and rest.

 

  • What do you do when you are sick?
  • Do you feel that you need to push on?
  • Or do you take time to rest?

 

Write It Down

 

  • Do you have many thoughts & ideas throughout the day?
  • Do you captcha these ideas?
  • Do these ideas fill up your mind as they flow around in your head?

 

I am not sure if you are like me, but I get heaps and heaps of ideas each day. These ideas range from items for the shopping list, all the way through to new business ideas. My personality wants to captcha them all… Unfortunately for me I find that the ideas keep flowing around and around in my mind until I forget them or record them. Can you relate?

As my mind fills up with idea after idea I find it had to focus and be present in what I am doing. I have had to find a way or ways to clear my head of all the ideas. What I have found that works for me is to write the ideas down. This worked well…. but then what? I ended up with a massive list of ideas which was just a data dump. I ended up sorting the ideas into three group.

The first group was the ideas that I want to implement in the near future. These ideas relate to my immediate goals and objectives. Then there is the next list that are great ideas, however they are not my priority list and I do not have the resources to implement straight away. These are the ideas that I would delegate or get outsourced. Ideas on this list include things like revamping my website. I would not be the best person to do this as my skill base is elsewhere.

The final list of ideas are those great ideas that would take my life or business in a new direction. However they are not in accordance with my current focus and plans. These items include new business ideas and many bucket list adventures. Yes, I do want to process them. However at the moment my focus is on another business or project. Though these are great ideas, trying to implement both projects would impact on the focus I have. These ideas I review on a semi-regular basis to either decide to implement, delete or leave on the list.

If you are like me, I hope this blog helps you to keep a clear mind.

Are you a Spectator or a Player?

It is interesting with the World Cup playing at the moment how many viewers there are world wide. Television screens globally are playing each game. I understand that it is a big event and there is a lot of national pride on the line. We should all be proud of our teams and support them. I know personally I am not a very good spectator and would rather play. No…. I am not at the level of these international athletes so spectating is for me when it comes to the World Cup.

However, when I review my life I realise that there are moment that I am spectating when I should be playing.

 

  • Are you living your life as a spectator?
  • Do you say things like “they should…”?
  • Do you believe that problems are out there and someone else fault?

 

If you answered “Yes” to the above questions, I would suggest, like me, you may need to review the situation. Yes there are things out I our control and yes there is time to be a spectator, like the World Cup. However are you the player in your own life? Are you directing and driving your life where you want it to go?

Saying “No”

Last week I caught up with a friend and we discussed what we have been up too. As part of the discussion we also talked about what we are not doing…. Strange you may say, but it can be the hardest part for a go getter like myself to actually say “no” to good projects. As Jim Collins has said “Good is the enemy of great”.

In our conversation we both talked about the things that we have not got to yet, mostly because we were doing good things (not necessary great things). Though it is true, if you want something done, then give it to someone that is busy. It is also true that if you are the busy person, then you need to ensure that you focus is on the activities that get you where you want to go.

Why is focus so important? If you live your life with a mission and I encourage you to, then you need to ensure that your daily activities head in the direction of your mission. Else you will find yourself without the time to do what is really important to you.

 

  • What are you doing in your life that is good, but not great?
  • What are the things that you have not got to, but are important in your life?
  • How can you re-organise your schedule to drop out one good task and replace it with one great one?

 

What is in your Control?

 

  • Are there things that occur in your life that frustrate you?
  • Are these things outside of your control?
  • Does this frustration impact on other areas of your life?

 

I remember many years ago, I was instructing on a course with the Army and there was some areas of frustration for me. These frustrations were outside of my control. It was about things that I had no control over and I was letting these frustrations impact on my performance as an instructor. I was fortunate to receive some very good advice at the time, though at the time I thought it was poor advice. One of the other instructors told me “Let it go, the sun will rise in the morning”.

As I said, I was not appreciative of the advice at the time. However as I have matured, I have taken the advice on. Basicly, when dealing with frustrations I have three key things I review about the situation:

  1. Is there something in the short term that I can do about it?
  2. Are people going to die, be maimed, or is it the end of the world?
  3. What can I do in the long term to make positive change in this area?

If I answer “no” to question 1 and 2, then letting it go is always better for my mental wellbeing. It will ensure that I stay in a positive head space. And yes there is, in my opinion, negative impacts from the issue, however these negative impacts are small in comparison to life itself. Over the longer term I will also put me in a better position to make positive impacts for this situation. To do this I need to maintain my positive mental headspace.

In the end this was great advice…. yes, it took me years to fully understand and yes at times I need reminding, however it has help me to not let other’s incompetence (in my opinion) or misunderstanding upset myself…..

 

Having fun with Exercise

Doing physical exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle…. That said physical exercise does not have to be something like running a marathon or pulling weights in a gym. To stay healthy it could involve a some gardening or even having a play in the backyard with your children. When you think about exercise, I encourage you to think wider and have fun with it…. Below is an infographic of how you can mix exercise with man’s best friend, your pet dog….

140616 Get_Fit_Like_Fido

What are some ways that you have fun with exercise?

 

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