Time to think

I have had a week off work. Well it was supposed to be a holiday and time to relax but I had other ideas. I had lots of chores to do and things to catch up on. So many chores that as I write this on Friday night there are still many more to do.

As many who know me will agree I am not a pretty sight after a night out. I don’t drink but I have found a way to get a lack of sleep hangover that means I don’t miss out on that joy. This week I had managed to book tickets for bands on consecutive nights, not the brightest idea. But I had a great time both nights and have some amazing memories.

Despite the fact it was a holiday I still managed to keep connected and on a number of occasions switched into work mode. This is partly because there is a big conference next week and partly because I think I am a little obsessed.

Yesterday was a key day for me and despite feeling drained it has given me the kick up the rear end I needed. I saw my life coach, which isn’t at all like you imagine from the awful people who have been on TV. This has been a way to identify the issue I have and find a way forward. It is coaching that helps me with my life – simple as that.

It has helped me hugely over the past three years and yesterday felt like a watershed moment. I have been rebuilding my resilience and trying to focus on my own wellbeing but it is not good enough. I have dealt with surface issues and gone no deeper. Going deeper is challenging and makes me feel vulnerable.

But I came away with a lift of homework and a plan to start to make significant improvements. Part of which will be not to pack me week off with so many things. I need to have time to think and to breathe. I can only give my best to those around me if I have looked after myself. This has been a great week but now I need to start to look after myself a little bit more.

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An honour and a responsibility 

I am feeling in a reflective mood for many reasons including that we are heading towards the conclusion of 2017. It has made me take stock of a few things and particularly from the past week or so.

Last Thursday night was the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) North West region Pride awards, which is a big date in the PR and communications calendar. For the first time we attended and  received a special recognition award for the work in the aftermath of the horrific terror attack in Manchester. 

I admit I shed a tear or two when the details of what the team did were read out. The team are amazing and have had to do things no communicator would ever expect to face. It was remembering the dedication, commitment and professionalism that was shown throughout. There were cancelled holidays and nights out, there were very long shifts and there were few rest days. The recognition of those PR colleagues who gave the team a standing ovation was worth so much to us all.

It is only now almost a week after the awards night that the achievement has really sunk in.

The other signicant event last week was that I was made a fellow of the CIPR which I still have not quite fully grasped. It feels a little unreal. I am very grateful to the people who nominated me and helped me achieve this honour. 

I do feel the burden of responsibility as Fellows for me have a duty to help enhance and progress the profession. I am sure there are things I should and will do to live up to this honour. I am overwhelmed by having the recognition from fellow PR professionals. 

Earlier in the year I blogged about the amazing feeling of being made a Fellow of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA). Having both is beyond my wildest imagination and I just hope I can do justice to both of them. I am committed to living up to the support and confidence that has been shown in me this year. 

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Blogtober: what have I learnt

I gave myself a seven day break after finishing Blogtober. For anyone that didn’t know or missed it that was a challenge of blogging every day during October. It isn’t a major pressure for me after I completed a blog every day during 2016. Nevertheless it was still tough and taught me a lot about myself.

Firstly it had reinforced how opinionated I am and that can be both good and bad. I hold a lot of views on work, life and other things and this can be positive. But I need to make sure these views are challenged and kept in check so that they are helping me on my journey.

It has reminded me why I do the job I do and that at the heart is a love of communication in all yes forms. Writing will always be my first love and I need to find the opportunities when I can do it during my day. It is really easy to lose sight of what’s I chose this career. Life gets busy and complicated and it can be a distant thing. Focusing on blogging during the last month has brought all those feelings about communication flooding back.

There is a lot going on in the world and close to home. I have had no problem finding subjects for my blogs as there are no quiet days at the moment. This has been a hugely challenging year with barely a moment to catch my breath. In my professional and personal life there has been so much happening although sometimes it has been a little painful to share.

Finally I have realised that when I put my mind to do something and am passionate about it then I can achieve it. I love having that knowledge and feel the world is my oyster. I just have to work out what I want.

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Happy Samhain

I don’t like Halloween and this may have a lot to do with the fact I have mild coulnophobia. For anyone not sure what that is it is a fear of clowns and for some reason there are a lot of them around at this time of year. I find the whole dressing up thing not to my taste and trick or treat can be really menacing. But there is something I do appreciate at this time of year.

In the past this was a time to celebrate Samhain, a time when the barrier between life and the spirits is at its narrowest. When you read into it this is where a lot of today’s Halloween traditions come from but there is a part of it I really value. This should be the night when we celebrate our ancestors and those people who brought us to this point in life. 

Tonight I am going to do that and I will start now. First I am grateful to my Granny Taylor a wonderfully individual and eccentric lady who could write a great story. I love that I have taken what she did and made it my work and profession. Then I was privileged to have known and loved Bamper as my Grandad Taylor was known. He was so loving and had a range of phrases that can be used in many situations and live on today.

I am grateful to my Granny Coleman such an interesting woman who we sad goodbye to only a few years ago. She was always immaculately turned out, loved her dogs and had a larder always full of treats for visiting children. Finally, my Grampy Coleman a man who new antiques and was involved in many clubs and societies. He was quite a scary man to a young child but had so many amazing stories.

I hope that they are proud with what I have done so far and what I have achieved. I treasure the photos I have of them on the mantle piece and feel them with me. So tonight I will remember them and thank them for all they have given me. Happy Samhain everyone.

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Make a difference 

I had the chance to do something good today for someone else. A situation arose where I could either step up and help or just ignore it. The whole situation had no impact on my life and was about other people.

There was no question about what I would do. I had the chance to improve someone’s life in their time of need. I took time out of my day to sort the issue out and I was pleased I could help.

This was the sort of thing that will never feature on an appraisal. No one will really know what I have done. It is important to me to do this and try to improve people’s lives when I can. The little things are what makes the difference and getting involved in acts of kindness.

If we all helped others around us then the world would be a happier place. We can all make people smile if we recognise the times we can make a difference. Recognise them and then do something about it.

When someone comes knocking on your door, when someone asks for a little it is help will you be there to help? Will you go out of your way to make a difference?

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All ears 

If there is one skill that is underused and undervalued it is listening. It is often said that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. But the modern life is more about us all broadcasting than consuming information.

I have been reading a lot this weekend about internal communication and employee engagement. One of the key differences between the two for me is that internal communication is broadcast where employee engagement is about involvement. For involvement we have to have active listening at the heart of the organisation.

It starts at the top of the organisation where a CEO has to be able to listen to feedback and consider what it means to the future of the business. If they are aware of what the view of the frontline is then they can make more effective decisions and support more effective communication. To do all this though the workforce needs to feel confident to be open and honest without repercussions.

As communicators we need to be better listeners than writers. Perhaps we need to be as good at both. If we don’t listen to what is going on around us then we can’t effectively advise about the best course of action. We can’t get the right information and clarity without listening and ensuring we have a clear understanding. We can be wide of the mark with communication if we haven’t got context.

In 2017 where social media is prevalent and we can all broadcast from the palm of our hands we do more shouting than ever before. There is so much information put out into the world. But are we also listening rather than just adding to the noise?

A new week is upon us tomorrow so perhaps we should all make a decision to do more listening than talking.

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A matter of time

Tonight the clocks will go back and at the same time many people will be enjoying Halloween parties – this really is heading into winter and the end of 2017. The nights will be dark early and we will want to rush home to get in the warm.

It is a difficult time of year for many people. There are those who suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder and people who just have their normal activities curtailed. It can feel like a really tough time and if that wasn’t bad enough we are forced to start thinking about Christmas.

The last thing I want to do at the moment is to start preparing for the festive season. I want to try and enjoy the last two months of the year. When the time is right I will start to think about Christmas. 

If we are to survive the winter months we need to look after ourselves and be kind to ourselves. I started that today when I went for a massage it was just what I needed. Time to unwind and someone trying to unknot my tense muscles. I need to do more of this including eating well, restarting my meditation, picking up my gratitude journal again, treat myself to some new clothes and enjoying the exercise I get at the stables.

All those are things I should do on a regular basis but at this time of year they become even more important. So I am going to use the extra hour tonight to get some extra sleep and hope to wake in a positive mood to face the winter.

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