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Thursday, 29 November 2012

Don't go cold turkey this Christmas

I don't want you to go cold turkey this Christmas but I would like to you to consider your addictions and the impact they have on your life and how you may wean yourself off them. After all what benefits might there be in 2013 if your behaviour was no longer determined by your next fix of: tweeting, blogging, reading emails, compliments, attention, news, chocolate, wheat, sugar, caffeine or what ever else you might be addicted to.

As you can see by addictions I'm not looking at those I have no qualifications and experience in ie addiction to illegal or prescription drugs, alcohol etc. I'm looking at the addiction we have to all the other things we say "I couldn't live without it for a day - I'd die". Perhaps a little extreme a reaction but I would like you to notice your reaction to you considering going 3 days without each of the following:
  • Access to emails
  • Access to the Internet
  • Eating chocolate or sweets
  • Drinking Caffeine in its many forms
  • Bread and other wheat products (pasta to name one)
  • Your favourite TV programme or Game (you know the one you watch or play repeatedly) 
  • Reading or watching the news
Now what about your reaction to going 3 days without:
  • Eating your favourite fruit or vegetable
  • Drinking water (by drinking other fluids instead)
  • Talking to a friend 
  • Writing to a colleague
  • Reading a book
  • Listening to music
  • Going to the library to use a reference book
If you're an addict then your reaction to going 3 days without anything on the first list is likely to be a lot different to your reaction to the second list. Although I know I am making an assumption about the unlikeliness of you being addicted to anything in the second list.

Of course some addictions hide and we're in denial about the impact they have on our lives. We only realise the strength of the addiction when we try going 3 days without something - although we do need to go 28 days to really get it out of our system.

As I've shared in blogs over the last few months I've been having problems with my knees. The doctor suggested a new knee and I thought I'd look at what else might be impacting the pain I was having. This blog isn't about the link between wheat and my pain it's a blog about how addicted I was to wheat without knowing it.

In the past, for a variety of reasons, I've tried many different exclusion diets - meat, alchol, dairy, nightshades (pots & toms) and had very few problems with doing so for up to 28 days or more in some cases. Although that first jacket potato with cheese and beans after the nightshade exclusion was pure bliss. It was a totally different story when I tried to give up wheat. A reaction that I can only put down to being addicted to wheat because it included:
  • Saying "It's impossible to have a meal without wheat"
  • Looking in my very full fridge and having no clue what I could make 
  • Being told, 4 weeks in, I was becoming boring because it was all I talked about
  • It was all I thought about too
  • Moodiness
  • Grumpy too
All I can say is if I had a healthy relationship with wheat and went without it for a time it shoudn't be noticeable to me or you. It certainly shouldn't consume my every waking moment. It certainly shouldn't stop my ability to see alternatives that exist in the situation.

What would consume your every waking moment if you gave it up and what steps will you take to easily release the hold of this addiction?

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Inspiring change inside and out

Cold turkey picture source: anothercreation.blogspot.co.uk via Alison on Pinterest

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Looking for the worst in people

In yesterday's blog I shared a card from the set I use when coaching clients. Today I'd like to share a couple more starting with this setback:
  • Looking for the worst in people? Expecting the worst situations? No wonder you live in a hostile and painful world *
This points to the fact that our thoughts have a significant impact on our reality. If I perceive the world as hostile I'll set my internal filters to notice all the hostile acts and ignore all the peaceful and loving acts. If I perceive the world as hostile I'll become defensive and look after myself and not think of others. If I perceive the world as hostile I'll judge every situation, every action, every word from that perception. Every person I encounter will be a potential threat and every event a potential disaster.

Even as I write the words I can feel my shoulders tightening and my face starting to grimace. Not a position it's easy to start being positive from or to start seeing the opportunities that exist within.

This second insight provides the antidote.
  • You use your critical perceptions to draw forth perfection, not tear it down *
A great reminder that we have a choice of how we use our minds. We can perceive the hostile and spiral down or perceive the opportunities and spiral up.

Next time you notice your thoughts spiralling down remember you have a choice to change direction.

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Drawing forth perfection in purchasing not tearing it down

Picture above links to a video source: youtube.com via Alison on Pinterest
 It can be viewed directly here (it's a great reminder that even security camera's view the positive too - we just use them more often to focus on the opposite)

* The insight & setback cards used here are from the Transformation Game © Innerlinks - www.innerlinks.com.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Speak When Inspired

There's a card (*) I use when coaching that asks us to consider the impact of

'you speak when inspired and say nothing when you're not.'

It came to mind today as I searched for a subject to blog on. I've got a list of potential blog items with subjects that inspired me at the time of adding them to the list. The issue is that days have passed since then and they no longer resonate for me. They may resonate tomorrow but not today. So future blogs may touch on: not having time to listen, the impact of short term decision making, anger, lean conversations and our personal best.

This blog - well it's a reminder to only speak when inspired and say nothing when we're not. (If you forgive me the few lines it took to share the insight.)

Alison Smith
The Purchasing coach
Inspiring change inside and out

Mona Lisa picture source: en.wikipedia.org via Alison on Pinterest


* The insight card used here is from the Transformation Game © Innerlinks - www.innerlinks.com

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Fab at 50!

As I sit here in Bamburgh for a week of 50th birthday celebrations I'm reflecting on my first half century and the next one to come. I did have a vision of writing a number of lists of 50 but know the first point to be so true and thus offer a consolidated list of 50 with elements from all of these potential and imagined lists :-)

1. Keep it Simple
Something I could do well to remember more often.

2. Divorce
3. Self Employment
4. Peri Menopause!
Great reminders, if ever there was, that great things come from the challenges in life.

5. Joy
6. Laughter
7. Fun
8. Intuitive
9. Analytical
Are the gifts, that I must accept (not beat myself up about), that I share with others.

10. Follow my passion
11. What someone thinks of me is simply one opinion
12. Flow means I'm doing the right things (and walking in treacle often means I'm not)  
13. My intuition is spot on (and so I need to listen to it more/always)
14. 99.99% of what I worry about never happens
15. I get my energy from being with people - so working from home a lot isn't helpful
16. Thoughts create reality (so be careful what I believe and think)
Are the key insights from life that have driven the change from who I was, to who I am, to who I will become.

17. Politics and game playing at work (in other places too)
18. Blaming others and not taking personal responsibility
19. Profitability without giving
20. Win/lose mentality (not win/win)
21. Anger that serves no purpose
22. Us/them thinking (not we)
23. Lack of compassion
24. A health care system that thinks its acceptable to save someones life and then when the resulting quality of life is unacceptable deny them the means to die
25. Lack of communication (in soooooo many places)
Are, some of, the things I'd like to change in the world.

26. Complete writing my book and more importantly get it published
27. Stand up for, and take action, on what I believe needs to change in business
28. Continue to share insights on my blog and via social media
29. Always challenge the status quo (ie the ruts we get ourselves into)
30. Support the adoption of the living wage in every corner of the UK (with suppliers particularly)
31. Understand what advocating a living wage worldwide would mean (that sounds & feels huge!)
32. Achieve financial independence (so does that)
33. Achieve life balance - with even more fun & laughter
34. Sort my blinking knee out !!
Are on my To-Do list to be the change I want to see in the world.

35. Loving
36. Open
37. Trusting
38. Enthusiastic
39. Joyous
40. Positive
41. Challenging
Are on my To-Be list to be the change I want to see in the world.

42. Sustainable and life enhancing business practices
43. Everyone in the UK earning the living wage (or more)
44. Discussion about what a living wage means worldwide
45. People I work with inspired to make the changes they need to in their work & life
46. The qualities in my To-Be list embraced in business (politics & foreign affairs too)
Are the positive outcome of my actions (I hope, pray and trust anyway)

47. Life begins at 50
48. Age is in the imagination
49. 50 is sexy too :-)
Are things, I hope, to learn during the coming months.

On the 50th anniversary of my birth, as I celebrate the passage of time, the events, the insights, the friendships, the tears, the laughter, the frustrations, the challenges and the achievements, I remember the ultimate truth that I can....

50. Just be me and know I am enough

Happy Birthday to me,
With Love
Alison x
Encouraging change inside and out

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Business values and payment of the living wage

I suspect your business values would point to you paying the living wage - so I do hope you are already paying it or have steps in place to rectify the situation internally and with your suppliers. 

It’s living wage week this week here in the UK - where organisations are being asked by the Living Wage Foundation to sign up to paying a living wage – ie a wage that enables those in receipt of it to meet the basic costs of living. In London that figure is £8.55 and outside London £7.45 (£1.26 more than the recently increased minimum wage).

I can feel the resistance already of many organisations not supporting payment of the living wage. I'm sure as living wage week progresses there will be many others who can more adequately answer some of the concerns raised. One point I'd like to make, and it would be funny if it wasn't so serious a point as I only blogged yesterday about the validity of values statements, is this:  

Values are how we determine what action to take - the same should be the same for business values. If we have a decision to make we should be able use the values statement as criteria for determining if it's a yes or a no! Let's just see how some common business values fair when asked "should I be paying the living wage?"
  • Respect 
  • Lead by example
  • Honest
  • Socially responsible
  • Integrity
  • Open
  • Value the individual
  • Dignity
  • Standards of excellence
That's a yes then.

Even if an organisation has included the need for profitability in their values statement, and most don't, I'd suggest meeting all the other values would negate the extra £44 per week per person you may be needing to pay. Especially as a procurement professional I could save you that in a heart beat from somewhere else. At least you could then hold your head high and know your profitability isn't at the expense of respecting and giving dignity to those who work for you on a wage significantly less than most of us reading this blog.

What can you do to ensure your organisation signs up to pay the living wage internally and to it's suppliers?

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Sowing the seeds for the payment of the living wage by our suppliers too

Living Wage Foundation logo source: livingwage.org.uk via Alison on Pinterest

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Business Values - do they exist?

I read a tweet about value's led leadership this morning - and whilst I don't know what the tweeters mean by the term it had me thinking. After all - every leadership action comes from a value - the problem is sometimes these actions and the arising outcomes from them are not what we'd want them to be. For example the bankers back in the noughties were making decisions based on their, and possibly even the organisation's, values. Unfortunately the value hierarchy they were operating with led to the worldwide crisis - in other words not values we'd all support!

I wrote a blog back in 2011 about whether I think organisations can even have values and share it again here.

Values are what drive all our behaviours. What values aren’t - are things we decide or even choose to have ie they’re not conscious they’re unconscious. See last week's blog for more on personal values.

The challenge is can we translate personal values into business values? I know many organisations have published values statements but I wonder can we really suggest the current values statements used by most organisations are the same or even similar to our personal and unconscious values? And therefore should we be even calling them such? I’d suggest not - for a number of reasons:
  • When eliciting personal values we start with an individual’s behaviour to understand the value(s) driving that behaviour. Business values seem to work the other way round and simply become aspirational choices rather than something that reflects or explains current actions. 
  • Personal values cover ALL our actions. Many business values seem to concentrate on the ‘softer’ aspirational values and forget about the ‘harder’ values that would inform for example the strategic direction, profitability or pricing choices made. 
  • Even if people have the same core value, what behaviours they judge to be acceptable or unacceptable will differ greatly. Why else, for example, are there numerous linkedin group discussions exploring what integrity or honesty mean. Business values statements are therefore useless without a statement of behaviour to identify what the values looks like for that organisation. 
  • Because they’re our personal values it’s automatic for us to behave in ways that support them. Unless our values are aligned with an organisation’s it’s likely we may find taking on its values and associated behaviours difficult. If they’re in conflict with our own even more so. I certainly don’t see much evidence of values based alignment in interviews or restructuring when new or updated values statements are published.
  • Making any changes to our personal values and/or their hierarchy (ie their relationship to each other) is not easy. Yet many organisations’ management teams seem to issue a new and improved values statement every few years and assume it’ll work.
Which all means I’d much prefer we found a different term for all those business values statements and yes even for values led leadership. After attending a session with Alisoun Mackenzie this morning on heart centered leadership I wonder if that's what we should be aspiring for?

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Sowing the seeds for purchasing behaviour aligned with business values heart centered leadership

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Coaching insights on being heard

I use a tool with individuals and groups called the Frameworks For Change Coaching Process *. It's a wonderfully insightful tool and as it's been a long time since I shared it via social media I thought I'd do so today on a challenge faced by many in procurement. 

Let's imagine I have a situation where what I'm saying is being ignored. I know what I'm suggesting makes sense. I know it will benefit those I'm speaking to and the business as a whole. In fact I'd go so far as to say it will help the business achieve it's goals - especially around reducing costs and increasing profitability. It will even help reduce risks and in some organisations increase revenue. What is there to not to want to engage with? Yet many stakeholders don't want to and will do everything they can to ignore us. I touched on stakeholder engagement in a previous blog but I wonder what additional insights the Frameworks For Change Coaching Process * may have to offer. Let's see. 

There are 3 sets of cards and it's the response to the question asked by each of the different cards that provides the insight to the situation. Obviously here in the blog it's only my insight you're getting. In coaching sessions it's richer for others' points of view and the dialogue and enquiry that takes place around each card.

Insight card: You were brilliant, firm, and steady in a very rocky situation
I know for me that I can come away from some conversations and think I was perhaps too firm and that small voice inside starts to question my style. Perhaps I should have said it this way not that etc and on and on... and sometimes... on and on.

I think my takeaway from this card is that sometimes we do have to be firm and steady even when the other person is clearly unhappy with our response. For me so long as I listen to my intuition on when to be firm and not my ego I'll be ok!

Remember sometimes people have to hear a new idea many times (some would suggest over 7) before they start to accept it's validity or even start to be open to think about it's applicability to them. So keep going and keep engaging.

Potential Setback card: You are setback by COMPLAINING in the current situation.
Ouch! I wrote a blog about taking personal responsibility last week and not blaming others. By doing that we understand what we can do to facilitate the change we want to see in the situation rather than sit back and wait for the other person to take action.

This card, however, isn't simply about finding a solution to the complaining - it's about recognising the impact complaining has on us and on those we're communicating to and with. Complaining is very time consuming and it's also a very draining and negative activity. It, therefore, can't but help have negative consequences on the rest of our day.

Remember it's very difficult to be inspired and creative after we've just had a good moan! I'd suggest therefore it's about recognising the 'complaining' energy before it gets hold of us and our stakeholder and make a choice to change tack - even if that's just to one of constructive feedback. That at least will shift the energy to a more positive one that allows for solutions to be found and opportunities discovered. I'm not sure a complaining energy allows for that! I wrote more on state management in yesterday's blog.

Insight Card: You value and express the quality of ACCEPTANCE in the present situation.
It's easy to get carried away with wanting to change the world or your part of it anyway. The challenge is in understanding the difference between firm and steady and being like a bulldozer! Acceptance gives us that understanding. Acceptance that others may never see it the same as us, acceptance that others have other goals, acceptance that they disagree with us, acceptance that we can't have the change today and it might take a bit longer.

Releasing our expectation and attachment to a certain outcome can allow for a more open and free energy between us and our stakeholder. Who knows what then may transpire as a result. 
  
Mentor: Trust
This card asks us to think about someone who is a role model to us for, in this instance, Trust. What would they do, feel, say in the situation. For me I get a sense that's not about giving up, it's about continuing to be firm, continuing to communicate and continuing to have faith and trust that the message will get through - in time.

I'd love to hear what insights you got from the cards and this exploration of them.

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Sowing the seeds for effective personal and interpersonal skills for your purchasing team

* The process, the insight, setback and mentor cards used here are from the Frameworks for Change ® Innerlinks - www.innerlinks.com.

* I wrote some notes many moon and life times ago on 'Keeping on track in a downturn' and whilst out of date regarding my contact details it may provide some insight on how this tool might be used in a group setting.