Weekly Workouts

Weekly Workouts

Over the past week, I’ve wound down my running quite a bit. No, I haven’t exactly been tapering, not for 10 miles, but I have been trying to learn lessons from last experience, not taking small risks of injury and trying to avoid over training. I know only too well the temptation of getting in more- more distance, more speed, more hills. But at this late stage and with the KWU relay less than a week away the work is all done. And the best thing to do is to play safe, relax, trust your training and look forward to the big day!

Monday-

I had already decided to run no further than 5k on any day over the next couple of weeks. So, to start the week, I took an early lunch break and made the most of that decision by doing a regular three miles around the harbour.

Distance: 3m

Time: 32m 35s

Elevation: 49ft

Pace: 10.52/m

Tuesday-

We had time for an evening stroll, again around the harbour. I did consider heading to a trail but we opted instead to just enjoy the views (and to fit in a visit to the shop!)

Distance: 3m

Wednesday:

Mid week brought some wet weather with it, which was a change from the sun we’ve been used to! I did manage to avoid a deluge, and it made for big skies.

Distance: 3m

Time: 32m 46s

Elevation: 46ft

Pace: 10.55/m

Thursday:

I spent the day in the office, and so had the opportunity at lunchtime to go for a trail walk, it was such a perfect day for it.

As I was walking and not running I started to climb up to Dun Mor, but stopped myself and turned back, realising that there was no point in taking a stupid risk with another scramble that I could easily enjoy another day!

Distance: 3.18m

Time: 58m 14s

Elevation: 364ft

Friday-

On the last day of April I finished my April accumulator with run 16/16to the West Loch and back. Slow and steady, trying to keep the heart rate low.

Distance: 2.65m

Time: 30m 5s

Elevation: 95ft

Pace: 11.21/s

Sunday-

Today I started the last of the Great Run Solo Accumulators, and this challenge is to have 15 runs PLUS complete four weekly steps. This week’s step is ‘Back on Track’, to celebrate tracks reopening we were challenged to run a mile as fast as you can.

Now, taking into account that I have the Kintyre Way Ultra Relay this week I was obviously not going to push too hard and risk injury. Neither did I want to leave it until later in the week to complete it, so I headed to the harbour, where the walkway is fast and flat- it’s probably as close to a track as we’d get in the village!

I did a half mile warm up, a mile as fast as I could comfortably hold without being stupid and so I wasn’t pushing myself too much, followed by a half mile cool down.

Turns out that my mile pace was 9.30/m – I’m pretty happy with that!

Distance: 2m

Time: 20m 58s

Elevation: 46ft

Pace: 10.28/m

The plan for the rest of the week is to keep running, but keep the distances short and to keep making smart choices to avoid injury! I’m really looking forward to Saturday. The weather forecast isn’t too encouraging, but it’s a bit too far away to be sure of that.

This training cycle has been a lot of fun, helped along by the Great Run Solo challenges, so I’m not sure why I’m going to do and how I’ll stay on track with no future races booked and no online challenges. At least we have the Leadership Journey 26 mile walk at the end of May. More about that soon!

Have a good week, all.

Wednesday Wisdom

Wednesday Wisdom

In my post last week, I alluded to the fact that everyone sees themselves as the main protagonist in life. Look, I’m blogging, so doesn’t that demonstrate that principle? Assuming what I have to say is important, has value and is of interest, aren’t I?

Anyway, I digress. We do position ourselves as central to our stories, and if we are able to be empathetic we can better understand how other people see themselves. I think that when people lose hope, or lose confidence they still retain an element of this but it is diminished. And it’s our job to help them recover that.

Everyone is ‘selling’ something, promoting something or trying to get others to better understand their point of view, and earlier this year I read Don Miller’s essential read How to Build a Storybrand. This book should be on your to-read list if you haven’t gotten to it already. As a writer, Don understands the power of storytelling and this book reframes how we can use that storytelling to improve our engagement with customers and with others more widely, all people we engage with. He uses some great examples to demonstrate where this does, and doesn’t, work well.

There are clear steps to achieving this but the one step that has stuck with me above the others is that customers don’t care about your story or your brand’s story. They care about their own, and want to know how your products can help them achieve their own story arc.

I’m simplifying the message, but this small snippet has stuck with me, and over the past few months I’ve been seeing this everywhere, and watching how people and businesses position their own story in comparison to how they centre their customer’s story.

I can’t recommend this book enough. Spoiler alert: Don tells you early in the book that he will spoil movies for you as he talks you through how the basic narrative construction works. It hasn’t ruined anything for me, but I have found myself putting his framework to the test when watching films! Try it!

Wednesday Wisdom

Wednesday Wisdom

Over the past week I’ve read a lot. And as a result of that I have lots and lots (and lots) in my head, bursting to develop into fully formed thoughts. But they’re not there yet. I’ve also been catching up on podcasts, covering everything from change to different mindsets to blaming people rather than systems. Whoa. Pretty full on, right?

But over and over, this past week has led me back to thinking about making mistakes and using them to grow and learn. I’ve also been thinking about what a journey to success looks like from the outside: linear, with no bumps. Yet we all know that’s just fantasy. No journey to success is without many mistakes, bumps in the road, full scale disaster, redirection, unsettling people (including yourself) and so on.

I was reminded of this Liz Wiseman quote:

For those who haven’t read Liz’ book, Multipliers, I’d highly recommend it.

I suppose being on the outside and looking at someone else’s journey is a difficult thing to do- we are all the heroes in our own lives and on our own journeys, so we have to remember to reframe that, and to recall that everyone is on their own messy, imperfect path with its own pitfalls and misdirection- and remember to be there to support each other along the way.

Wednesday Wisdom

Wednesday Wisdom

Downtime is so important, and I’m already at the midway point in my week’s leave. So far it has been lovely: some reading (not yet as much as I had planned), good food, running, stitching and listening to podcasts. And some wine, too. I think that’s why I haven’t read as much as I had planned: I’ve been catching up on a huge backlog of podcasts that have built up since I’m not driving a great deal.

When I was on my run on Monday, I listened to Whitney Johnson interview Molly Beck, the Podcast Whisperer, and it was fascinating! But the quote that leapt out at me was from the host, not the guest:

I just had to capture this as soon as I heard it, and I thought it was well worth sharing.

So if you need to hear it, please listen. Your effort won’t be going unnoticed.

Wednesday Wisdom

Wednesday Wisdom

Although I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reading about staying curious, part of the reason that I’ve restarted my blog with a focus on my Wednesday posts rather than my running is because I’ve also been doing a deep-ish dive into becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable, and not painting my exterior persona as being without flaws – it’s ok to just be.

And, with the trajectory we are all on this year there’s one thing I’ve been saying all too regularly: none of us has all the answers, so I’m also trying to open my horizons, share thoughts and let conversations happen. And given my penchant for unleashing my advice monster and demonstrating my ‘save it’ drama persona, I’m also trying to be more vulnerable.

A few months ago I read Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. Several of the lessons resonated with me, and I was nodding a lot as I read it. It probably helped that that first section focussed on our desire to feel safe- and given the pandemic, I think that has been borne out over the past few months.

But the book also talks about how leaders have to be honest, open and need to keep in touch with reality in order to stay authentic.

This quote is one that I keep reflecting on:

So, when was the last time we admitted to weakness, or to not having all of the answers, or allowing ourselves to be vulnerable?

Probably not often enough.

It’s a journey for many of us.

Wednesday Wisdom

Wednesday Wisdom

Since sharing my thoughts about The Advice Trap two weeks ago, I’ve continued to think a lot about the way we coach and use questions, and how curiosity is such an important, but often neglected, aspect of leadership. I’ve continued on the Year of Living Brilliantly journey and I’m finding it both helpful and challenging.

Yesterday I received an email from MBS works that really struck me. It talked about the recent full moon being known in China as the Hungry Ghost Moon, and later in the email asked us to thank our hungry ghosts.

And that really resonated with me. I’d had one of those sleeps the previous night which was disturbed, and I couldn’t get back to sleep because my brain kept wandering to those times in my past where I hadn’t lived up to my own expectations. MBS says that perhaps your regrets are there to remind you of a time when you acted to betray something you stand for. So the very next time I have the opportunity, I’m going to thank that ghost, get that lesson ‘in my bones’ so that the ghost can leave me alone. Hey! I’ve got it! Thank you! Now leave!

I’ve also found my brain recalling some earlier podcasts and TED talks, and I remembered hearing Tasha Ulrich talk a couple of years ago about transitioning our questioning from Why to What. She explains that why questions have a direct correlation with negative emotions, and they draw us to our limitations.

On the other hand, what questions keep us curious (that word and emotion again!) and they can help us to create a better future. They can lead us from victimhood and into growth.

She suggests that when you are journaling, spend less time on why things happened or why they happened the way they did. She suggests that we can start this new focus on what by asking three questions of ourselves in our journal:

1. What went well today?

2. What didn’t go quite as well today?

3. How can I be smarter tomorrow?

What journaling techniques do you use to shift to a positive focus?

Are you managing to stay curious?

What are your hungry ghosts asking you?

Wednesday Wisdom

Wednesday Wisdom

Over the past five months as we have navigated through this initial pandemic emergency and transitioned into recovery (or at least I think that’s where we are), I’ve heard lots of people say they are ‘crazy-busy’ or ‘flat out’. Me included.

I’ve enjoyed working at pace, delivering results, responses and projects at speed and I think we have a lot to learn from the compressed decision making processes we have benefitted from in recent months. I’m much more comfortable than ever before with picking up the phone to people I need answers from, or challenging people to get things done quickly.

I know I’m a productivity ‘diva’, and I would have said, until a few weeks ago, that I felt my productivity is valuable to my work, my organisations and my personal values. And I do still think it is critically important. But I’ve been reflecting recently on whether I should value myself in terms of being productive. Is that worth defining myself over? What does it say about me as a person?

Right now I’m trying to determine how I get everything done that I need to, that I support and deliver on my promises to others, and on holding fast to my boundaries. Saying no does not come easily.

A big resource for me over the years has been David Allen’s epic book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity. It helped me to crystallise how to get to a point where I get things out of my head and to stop thinking about ‘things’ and feeling overwhelmed. I think it has been a critical approach that has enabled me to cope over the years, but as these are now my intrinsic behaviours they have absolutely come to the fore in recent weeks and months. That, and managing my inboxes and social media notifications to stop the overwhelming feeling of having things I haven’t done!

I’ve read this book at least three times, and I’ve recommended it numerous times to numerous people, probably more so recently than ever before. And now I’m recommending it to you.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and can’t get unstuck to get things done, please read this. It will made a positive difference to you, your mental health and your productivity.

Find out more about Getting Things Done here.

Wednesday Wisdom

Wednesday Wisdom

I love Michael Bungay Stanier. He has a great voice, which is easy to listen to on a podcast. I really value his books, as they are so easy to read, to dip in and out of, and- unusually for business literature- they are actually fun to read.

I’ve read ‘Do More Great Work’, and I’ve read The Coaching Habit’. Twice.

But he unsettles me too. Why? He sees me. Flaws and all. And he know exactly why I have these flaws. To make things worse, he also tells me clearly what I can do to tackle those flaws, and spells it out that hard change is just that- hard to do, but worth doing.

He drills into leadership models I use every single day, including transactional analysis and the Karpman Drama Triangle. I work with someone (not directly) who helps me see when I’m wrapped in a drama triangle, which is really helpful.

And, Michael Bungay Stanier’s latest book calls out something I do all the time. It’s called ‘The Advice Trap’. As a rescuer (he describe my preferred style as ‘save it’ , my default problem solving persona is to offer advice to help others out, rather than developing more productive coaching behaviours.

But the subtitle of the book intrigued me even more than the title, because it outlines two characteristics I think I do display (at least sometimes: ‘be humble, stay curious’ and the remainder of the the subtitle is my aim: ‘and change the way you lead forever’.

To find out more, I headed over to his website, and what do I find? Not only really useful downloads and exercises, but Michael has an online free course: The Year of Living Brilliantly which looks right up my street…. so I have signed up! I’ve watched the first two videos, and already I’m challenged to engage better. I’ll no doubt keep you posted with progress and my thoughts about the course.

The Advice Trap is a really easy book to read, and I found myself nodding, and clearly picturing times when I’ve fallen into unhelpful patterns of behaviour. But the time is now to do the ‘hard change’ and to practice, so that everyone can benefit.

Practice, practice, practice.

Read the book. You won’t regret it. And find out more about The Year of Living Brilliantly here

Wednesday Wisdom

Wednesday Wisdom

It’s been a while! Yesterday evening I listened to Whitney Johnson interview Susan David for her ‘Disrupt Yourself’ podcast. Susan’s take on emotional agility and her belief that no emotions are good or bad really made me pause.

This quote in particular really resonated with me, so much so that I had to pop onto my blog to share it:

What have you done recently that has made you uncomfortable?

Monday Motivation

Monday Motivation