That was the week

It has been another busy week with some long days and late nights. Surprisingly though it hasn’t had a negative impact on me and I have wondering why? One of the reasons has to be that I am dealing with a small health issue I had so now I find I have got a lot more energy. But that alone cannot be the reason that I am still feeling resilient. I put the positive mood down to five things.

  1. I have still been able to spend time doing what I enjoy – even though I have struggled once again to fit everything into my day I have spent some quality time with my horse, my gerbils and my family. This is always a great way to recharge my batteries and put me in the right frame of mind for the following day.
  2. The team has remained strong and supportive – having a strong support network is essential particularly in this busy, modern world. I have blogged before about the importance of this for resilience. Both at home and work I have some amazing and supportive friends and family.
  3. We have maintained a sense of humour – the work in the office may have been significant and the challenges many, but we have still kept a positive and light-hearted approach as much as possible. As I sit here tonight I am trying to find something funny to watch on television to continue to help my mood.
  4. I feel valued – even though it has been a really busy time I have been able to see the work as valuable and felt as though I was able to make a difference. There is also recognition that the work is valued by the organisation and senior people, which has a huge impact on how you feel.  Recognition is an important factor for most people at work.
  5. I have been taking it one step at a time – and this is a key element. I have a huge amount that needed to be done this week and more to do next week. The important thing is to make the situation as manageable as possible. It means breaking things down and taking it one step at a time.

I have put my feet up now and am unwinding but still feeling able to deal with what I have on, and that is resilience.

 

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Behind the window

Today is the start of Advent and that means the chance to have a daily bit of joy with the opening of the advent calendar. When I was growing up there was little in the way of choice about the calendar then there was the arrival of chocolate advent calendars and now there are many options. I even spotted a cheese advent calendar that was mentioned by the media.

We very easily slip into the routine of opening the door each day during December. It is an enjoyable experience and we get something out of it. I wonder why we can’t use the same approach with other things we should be doing every day like eating well and exercising. If we can quickly make something a habit perhaps we can make it a good habit that will benefit us.

I am on the final month of my #ayearinblogs challenge and it has become part of my daily activity to sit and write a blog on a subject pertinent to the day. In the early days it was something I had to think about and remember but now I simply fire up the laptop and start to write without another thought. It has become a habit and rather like the advent calendar it has become part of my life.

We often create barriers to doing those things that we either want to or we need to. Life and daily events get in the way and it can mean we don’t achieve what we want to. There is always something better to do than go to the gym or to do some household chores. But we can change this with a bit of determination and commitment. Those are two qualities that I have used to get me through this year of blogging. This challenge has taught me a lot and when I open the door of my advent calendar I will reflect on it.

 

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Defining the future

If you have read many of the blogs during this year or even in previous years you will know that I have a real issue with ensuring communication and public relations operates at a strategic level. It is something that I believe is vital if the industry is to develop and be ‘taken seriously’ in the future. This is one of the reasons that I applied to be part of the Foresight Panel that the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has established.

There have been many challenges so far mainly because this is a huge subject to tackle and getting into people’s diaries particularly when they are at a very senior level is never easy. Of course being based in Manchester has added some issues of logistics for me with much of the industry focused on London. The work is being led by Ella Minty who has defined it as ‘understanding the perception of PR held by its service users and finding ways to bridge the gap between perception and reality’. (Find out more in the update here http://newsroom.cipr.co.uk/tata-uk–pgi-directors-warns-pr-to-define-strategic-value/)

The aim for me has to be to find ways to improve the standing of PR and communication so that it sits alongside legal, finance and others as a strategic advisor to the board or bosses. The world is changing quickly and there are some fantastic opportunities for communication professionals that are ready to take them. We are at the point of being able to really take things forward if we have the determination and motivation to do this.

PR needs to be able to define its own future. I see it as ensuring communicators have a clear understanding of the business they are representing, they can demonstrate support to frontline service delivery, and they are committed to continuous professional development. This is about more than doing effective PR for the PR industry it is about a fundamental reassessment of what we see as important to the role of communicators.

I am hugely privileged to be able to play a small part in this by sitting on the Foresight Panel asking questions and discussing the critical issues for the future of the industry.

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Dare to learn

I have watched with interest the coverage from three events run by my old friends at Commshero. The theme of the conferences was ‘dare to fail’ which was an interesting subject. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend but the idea of failing is one that doesn’t fit well with modern life. Perhaps it is time that we all need to give failure a make-over and a bit of positive PR.

This is about dealing with adversity and the perspective we take when things don’t work out. I haven’t yet met a PR or communication professional who has done something with the desire for it to go wrong. We are all looking to get results and do the right thing for our clients, organisations or businesses. But how many of us are comfortable with saying this didn’t work so we are going to learn from it and do this instead? Very few I imagine.

From a young age we are taught to learn from our experiences. If we go to close to the fire we get burnt and so we build our knowledge through what we learn. We go to school and the learning continues from the experiences of people throughout history. However, when we get from education into the world of work, and particularly the world of communication, we expect to always get things right.

We are rarely judged on getting things wrong or failing, but we will be judged on how we deal with it and what we do as a result. If we keep failing or making the same mistakes then quite rightly questions will be asked. However, we can use failure as a chance to develop and become better at what we do. We can use it to reflect and learn so that we have built on our experiences.

Failure is such a negative word. Perhaps we should ban it from discussions about activity and results instead we can talk about the learning to take forward. So perhaps rather than ‘dare to fail’ it should have been ‘dare to learn, develop and move on’.

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Get out of my head

There are many times when we listen to what other people say and it isn’t always a positive thing. According to my mum, I need to listen to what she says because of her life experience and the fact she has my best interests at heart. I have to listen to bosses when they highlight an issue or talk to me about some aspect of work. There are also those times when we need to listen to those around us when they warn us of danger or problems ahead, particularly when they have our best interests at heart.

But there are lots of occasions when people who don’t want to help us say things that if we listen to them can cause us problems. They may not even mean it to be unsettling or upsetting for us and yet we still take that information the wrong way. Why do we do it?

Usually we are listening because it is a subject that we have a weakness about. It might be about our personality or appearance or about something that is close to our hearts. Often with these things we lack a sense of perspective and when things happen or comments are made we can’t help but listen. In these cases we let the comments of another affect our approach and they get into our minds leading to self-doubt.

Self-doubt is a very damaging and can leave us stuck in one place unwilling or unable to take appropriate action. When we listen to some people who may not know us, or know our issues we give them space in our heads. They suddenly are given increased credibility that means we create doubt in our minds. We have to be strong if we are going to be able to deal with the comments but remain unaffected by them. Life can be a challenge and so can working out who to listen to and who to keep out of our heads.

 

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A lot left to do

I have had a frustrating day. For a number of reasons I haven’t done what I wanted to. The list I held in my head has not been achieved and that makes me feel annoyed. I know that ‘to do lists’ are really just something that should be used at work but if I don’t make a mental or physical note then I can miss doing some important tasks.

Instead of doing the paperwork that I had been planning I ended up doing some Christmas shopping and trying to get rid of a niggling headache. I did manage to get quite a few festive gifts but it took some time before I felt a bit more human. I sit here tonight getting ready for the week ahead and still have a pile of paperwork that needs to be completed.

I seem to spend my whole time working to a timetable. When I am at work it is meetings, shifts and tasks that need to be done and when I am at home it is the call of the horse, the work to keep the house ship-shape and family. It isn’t something that worries me most of the time but when days like today happen it frustrates me. I head into the week with a sense of being overwhelmed by a backlog of tasks to be completed. It isn’t a good place to be.

I wonder what happened to my approach as a teenager when I would be quite happy to sleep in until lunchtime at the weekends, go out at night and then rush to complete homework or essays before the start of the week. It was a carefree time when there was no rush to achieve a whole list of weekend tasks. So what has happened?

Like most people, we get weighed down by the responsibilities of adult life. Today may have felt like a bit of a wasted day but I need to change my perspective and realise that I can do those things tomorrow or the day after. Deadlines do exist but I create more of them in my head. I can put my thoughts to better use and focus on what I have done this weekend.

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A fond farewell

We all find change a bit unsettling. Human nature is that we like to have certainty and to know that things will be similar tomorrow as they were today and as they have been yesterday. We know that this is not going to be the case because events happen and we can’t know what is round the corner. When it is people leaving an organisation or team then the change can be even more concerning.

There are some strong friendships and bonds that are made through work. We spend a lot of time together and often dealing with very difficult and traumatic circumstances. It makes the connection between employees a significant part of working life. I have worked in my current job for some years now and so many I have worked alongside throughout this time are now moving on. Some are retiring and some are moving to new roles. The impact is the same in both cases.

I have learnt a lot from many people that I have worked alongside. I hold some treasured memories and lots of events that make me laugh or smile. I will miss lots of things about each and every one of the people who have and are leaving. But it is important to keep focused on the positive from the time that I have had with all these colleagues.

The workplace will change with a new set of people in those roles. It doesn’t mean it will be better or worse, it will just be different. I won’t be able to rely on those people who have been around me for many years and have offered support. I will need to build some new relationships.

I will take the positive experiences I have had with those who have moved on. I will welcome the chance to work with new people and learn some new things. Above all to all those people who have recently left or are about to leave I am grateful for the time I have had working with you. Good luck for the future.

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