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Complementary Character Defects

I’ve been thinking a fair bit recently about the fact that Joyce and I live and work together, partly because we will soon be recording a podcast with Ian and Tracey Earl to talk about this very thing.  Then, last week, I was talking to a new business acquaintance of mine, Glenys Chatterley of EBN Networks, and she said that she and her partner had ‘complementary character defects’ and I immediately asked her if I could steal the phrase.  So here we are.

There are many challenges and joys to marriage or long-term cohabiting life, and there are a surprising number of us who choose not only to live together and raise a family together, but to earn our money together.  For Joyce and me, this just sort of happened.  There is a story, but I don’t want to pre-empt the podcast.

Challenges

I won’t say it is without its bad moments, but we’ve never had a row about the business.  Parsnips, yes.  Business, no.  The joys far outweigh the downsides.  Joyce is imaginative, a people person, she loves to talk, to advise, to stretch people.  I am task oriented; I don’t like risks.  She thinks it is easier to beg forgiveness than seek permission, I want my permission slips in triplicate.  We both love to serve people and if we can make them laugh along the way, that’s a bonus.

My character defects are countered by hers.  You could say that she is impetuous, and I am sensible, or you could say that I am fearful, and she is brave.  Whichever way you couch it, her character strengths are my defects and vice versa.  There are many couples like this, but they don’t always see the differences as a good thing, they try and make the other more like themselves, but that is like buying your dream house, knocking it down, building a block of flats and then wondering why it is not your dream house any more.  Somewhere along the line, the point has been missed.

Egg shells
Photo by Elle Hughes on Unsplash

Of course, not everybody can work with their partners for money, some of us do it in our hobbies, and our households, but my question is, do you see their character defects as complementary to your own? The chances are that you compensate for each other in all sorts of ways, like two halves of an eggshell.  Of course, you can fit them together to keep the egg inside safe, but this takes being aware of where the points and recesses are.  Or, you can keep jabbing the sharp bits into each other in the hopes that their pointy bits will break off.

Hopefully this is just a phase, a re-adjustment to some change of circumstances, or simply the dross life can throw at us.  Some couples do this a lot, as they work out how to make life fit, but my suggestion is that the solutions will not lie in where both sets of strengths sit, but in aligning your complementary defects.

Act!

If you are jabbing each other, think about contacting us for some mentoring so we can help you fit the shells back together again.

The power of apologising

We all make mistakes
By Chuttersnap on Unsplash

We all make mistakes.  That’s one of the many irritating things that make us human.  Sometimes we make little mistakes.  Sometimes we drop enormous clangers that have major repercussions.  Most mistakes are because of communication issues. Sometimes we compound the mistake by blaming other people, and while that’s not ok, its understandable.  None of us want to feel responsible for making other people’s lives harder. We all want to achieve the feel-good factor, because it makes us feel good too.  Its how we handle it that defines what kind of person you are.

Apologising genuinely.

I messed up big time yesterday, nothing deliberate, but it had major repercussions in the piece of work I was doing and more importantly, it hurt somebody. It made their life harder, made them cross, and I suspect, made them sad.  I only found that last bit out this morning.  I emailed the person concerned, taking note in detail and importantly, I took responsibility for the bits I could have done better.  I also explained where the responsibility lay for the bits that I depend on other people for.  Note, that, I didn’t blame them, I simply explained who was responsible for what.  I offered to reflect on my errors, I was polite, and I pressed send.

Apologising appropriately.

After I pressed send, I still didn’t feel right.  So I rang the person I had hurt and apologised, I took responsibility, I didn’t make excuses.  I literally said, ‘I’m really sorry, I dropped the ball, it is my responsibility’.  That wasn’t the end of the conversation, it was the start of a constructive way back in our working relationship.  Actually, saying the word sorry matters.

Apologising proportionately
Photo by David Holifield on Unsplash

I know several people who say they will never say they are sorry because it is only a word.  These people tend to make grand gestures, buying gifts, doing great acts of penance (often badly) or similarly embarrassing actions.  I find this utterly cringeworthy.  I have trouble believing these people are genuine.  Why is this?  Been there, done that. It’s not about being sorry and making the person you have hurt feel better. It’s about gaining some bizarre sense of nobility.  Yes, sorry is just a word, but words are powerful and sorry is one of the most powerful there is, especially when it is not accompanied by excuses.  A genuine apology can stop a tirade in its track, if it is said with enough depth of truth to be heard.

Moving on

In the day, apologising was often accompanied by an act of contrition or repentance. Sometimes making amends is important, but in general, and in business, correcting our mistakes and putting mechanisms in place to ensure they don’t recur is normally the best course of action.  Off the back of my apology today came one of the most useful and clear sighted conversations I’ve had with this person ever.  Now we need to follow up and do what we said would be more likely to work.

Self-reflection
Photo by Anthony Tori on Unsplash

And now we breathe.  We think about what went wrong, we put it right, we move forward and most importantly, we learn.  We learn to do things better.  We learn to take responsibility proportionately.  We learn that thinking rather than reacting is always going to work better.  The measure of a person is not being perfect, its about how we handle the fact that we are flawed.  Finally, we let it go.

If apologising is something you could be better, contact us for some help. And no, I don’t always get it right either.

Don’t, no, DO get me started!

This week we have a guest post from my friend Taz.  It’s not the kind of thing we’d normally go for, but as I can honestly say that she lives what she speaks, I’m delighted to host this post for her.

Don’t DO get me started!

If there’s one thing positive to come out of Covid19 it’s the boom to the online fitness industry meaning that there is a wide range of workouts to choose from.  There’s so much choice from the king of PE Joe Wicks, to Kayla Itsines sculpting that summer ready bikini body.  But how do you choose an online fitness instructor that is right for you?

Choose a live workout:

It takes a lot of discipline to set aside time for a YouTube workout, there’s always something else that will crop up.  By signing up for a live workout you know that you have committed to being in front of the screen at a particular time, it’s harder to get out of!  Live workouts also allow you to connect in real time to the session, and the instructor can see you and provide you with guidance for important adjustments and well-earned praise.  A good workout should always start with around a 10minute warm up and finish with a cool down to protect you from risk of injury.

Workout your workout goal:

What do you want to achieve?  Are you looking to build strength, sculpt muscle, burn fat or a way to switch of and relax?  Set some short, medium and longer term goals, figure out what might stop you from achieving them and find strategies to overcome those barriers. There is always a solution to help keep that motivation in place.

Whatever the goal, you need to enjoy the process!  Whether it’s a strength circuit session, pilates, high intensity interval training, cardio or yoga, you have to think what is right for you and keep your eye on those goals, reminding yourself of what you’ve set out to achieve.  Telling friends and family what you want to achieve also helps to keep you accountable.

The Perfect Workout? 9 Steps to Find the BEST Workout Plan | Nerd Fitness

Combat the confidence:

If you are new to working out, the idea of starting can fill you with dread.  You will worry you’ll make yourself look silly, that you don’t know what you are doing or that you’ll not even be able to keep up with everyone.  The gremlins will creep in.  But the truth of the matter is that a good instructor should help take that away from you by guiding you through the session.  Everyone has had to start somewhere, learn the various movements and are continuously working on improving their own form. You’ll soon realise that everyone is focused on their own workout and very quickly you will feel familiar with your new surrounds, and more importantly, gain fitness.

Gym Anxiety – Fighting the Exercise Fear! – Exercise.co.uk

7 Ways To Overcome Exercise Anxiety (womenshealthmag.com)

Find the time and prioritise:

Your health is the most important and valuable thing you have, and it needs to be prioritised.  If our body is healthy, so will our minds be.  If our mind is healthy, we are happier and achieve more.  It’s an upward spiral of positivity.  So, whatever the barrier whether it be work, children, tiredness that generally takes over, try to make some tweaks to your weekly routine and find an online workout that allows you to do what you can.  Even a couple of short 15 minute sessions throughout the day will help you reach that recommended level of 150minutes of activity a week.

Get active your way – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

What now?

If you are keen to start working out and need a friendly helping hand, do get in touch at taz@tazfit.co.uk and we can do it together.  You won’t look back!

Taz x

THE DIFFERENCE

So what is the difference between Counselling, Coaching and Mentoring?

Image result for counsellingCounselling is undertaken by you and a fully accredited counsellor. On the whole you do most of the talking, the counsellor is only there to guide you in discovering the answers to your problem yourself.

Image result for coaching Coaching is much more thought of within the sporting and business sector, though not exclusively. The coach will guide and teach you on how to develop your skills. Whether this is at the gym or in your current role at work.

Image result for mentoring Mentoring is where the mentor and the client have a two way conversation. The relationship is very different to that of the counsellor or the coach. The mentor would help the client to up skill in whatever area the client requires. The role of the mentor is much more in line with being a good friend, big brother, or sister.

Of course all three professions are bound by the rules of confidentiality. The only time confidentiality should be breached is if the client disclosed committing an act of terrorism, harming someone else, or harming themselves.

In my role as a mentor I have guided my clients in many, many areas. These can range from helping university students manage their money, how to stay safe when entering new relationships, and how to work with their tutors. Often when working with autistic people I’ve helped them come to terms with their suspected diagnosis or how to seek medical diagnosis, to accept their differences but not to be ashamed of them but to own them. I have helped people understand what is blocking them from progressing. The client and I would identify what it is from their past that they have created as a truth, collected evidence to prove that that truth is true, but that “truth” has now become their roadblock.

So how do you identify which one of these three professionals you require?

Image result for three professionals

I guess the role of the coach may be the easiest of the three to identify with. For instance if you want a progress at work you may go to your up line and asked them to teach you the skills that are required. Or you might ask someone in your up line if you can be accountable to them for fulfilling your targets. Or maybe you want to lose a certain amount of weight and become fitter, therefore you might seek out someone at your local leisure centre or gymnasium for help, advice, and to be accountable to.

Becoming the client of a counsellor is often for a shorter period of time, for a specific problem. It is common to be initially offered one meeting a week for six weeks, which is quite often adequate, though this can be extended. Often the client goes to the counsellor with one specific problem, though when resolving that problem it may raise other issues. The role of the counsellor is to listen, not to disclose anything about themselves, nor to solve the problem for the client but for the client to solve the problem for themselves.

Like the counsellor the mentor may also only offer one meeting a week for six weeks, though it is common for this to develop into a longer period of time. The relationship is very much a two-way flow where the mentor will share about themselves and their experiences as well as the client. So for instance if the client is struggling to manage their finances it would be appropriate for the mentor to speak of how they have learnt this themselves, including hiccups along the way. Obviously, the mentor would not reveal in-depth personal information, but it is important that the mentor shows that they have empathy with their client.

On a personal note I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Counselling Coaching and Mentoring. Had I wished to have become a counsellor I would have had to take another year’s course equal to a Master’s Degree. At the end of that year I would have then had to register with a counselling association Image result for counselling associationbefore I went into practice. This is not required to become a Coach or a Mentor, in fact no qualifications are required, and you do not have to be a member of any association.

That being said, working with a trained, experienced Mentor like me is always advisable.

To find out more please contact us.

Defining the edges – meditation for those who don’t meditate.

I’ve been doing a lot of painting over the last week or so – the wall and ceiling kind, not the Michael Angelo kind.  I’ve painted in 2 colours – pink and black.  Not my choice, but not my living space, so our call to service means we serve, even if we don’t entirely agree with the choices.  The only limit on that is if supporting that choice would put the person or somebody else at risk of physical, mental or emotional harm.

Photo by Sandie Clarke on Unsplash

I hate doing the edges, particularly that fiddly bit at the top right-hand corner where three walls meet. Weirdly, I don’t find the top left corner so difficult.  Perhaps it’s because I’m right-handed yet left eye dominant.  This leads to interesting eye patches made out of tissue paper on the shooting or archery range, but that’s a story for another day…

Strangely though, I’m quite good at the edges.  If I can get to the point where I’m not thinking about it too much, the act of edging can take on quite a meditative state, from which I emerge with a peaceful mind. I’ve often, I discover after the event, thought through issues that were bothering me, or simply calmed my brain.

Noisy brain

My brain is a frightfully noisy place.  I have a theory this is linked to my high IQ.  I don’t say this as a brag.  I’m factually in the top 3% of the population, maybe slightly higher, but my emotional intelligence can be rather low. This is not always a great place to be for somebody whose job and study can involve interviewing people from an experiential approach.  Actually, I suspect my emotional intelligence can simply never get my IQ to shut up long enough for the emotional intelligence to come to the fore.

The noise can take any number of formats, the least comfortable always happens at bedtime.  This is when anything up to 3 or 4 songs can layer themselves in my head, in full, glorious orchestration.  There will almost always be a Latin number, Clare Teal’s 2009 rendition of ‘Tea for Two’, with the amazing Christopher Dagley on the drums, and often a rousing hymn from my Church of England/free church heritage. All of these are fantastic pieces or genres, which I love, but not all at once. These aren’t on loop. They are playing over each other, vying for prime position until the sheer cacophonous collage becomes overwhelming. The ONLY way to stop this noise, for me at least, is to listen to the spoken word as a I drift off to sleep.  This situation perplexes and disturbs my wife, who is convinced that my brain never has chance to ‘defrag’.

Finding the quiet
Photo by Le Minh Phuong on Unsplash

Classic meditation works sometimes, but this concept of sitting still and doing something for me strikes me as sinfully indulgent.  This is not an attitude towards mental wellbeing that I endorse by the way, just one I live with. We are all complex beings with flaws. Instead, I have a number of activities that allow my brain to wander into a place of quietness on its own.  These include edging the walls, audio typing for PhD students, heavy digging in the garden and sieving the compost.  The wonderful thing about three out of these four is that they also, so some extent, exercise my body.  They are however, often weather dependent, so I haven’t solved it entirely.

If you have a noisy brain like me, many of the classics – meditation, yoga, pilates and prayer, may work for you, and if they do, that’s fantastic.  If, however, like me, you need a kind of active trance, do let me know what it is. Then we can share with others and understand that whatever works for you, works!

Change, Good or Bad???

How do we view change? Do we look forward to it? Or do we dread it?

For instance, if you’ve scheduled a Zoom Best Overall Video Conferencing Service - businessnewsdaily.com meeting with a potential client, who then at the last minute changes the time of the meeting. How does that make you feel?

Examples

Maybe you booked a holiday to go to Euro DisneyEuro disney Logos and then the pandemic struck with all its restrictions. Now even though you’ve changed the date three times you now feel you can no longer go. How does that make you feel?

The people you have lived with for many years all of a sudden decide to move out. How does that make you feel?

You go to the fridge to eat that last piece of chocolate cake The BEST Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever | The Novice Chefonly to find someone has beaten you to it. How does that make you feel?

In all of these scenarios something has changed that you didn’t plan to change. For some people, in some of these instances, they may just shrug their shoulders and only feel slightly inconvenienced, after all it’s no big deal. For others it can completely throw them off track.

Let’s look at these scenarios again.

Expanded Examples

You’re working from home, maybe you have children who are also off school and you’re trying to help them with all their homework. Premium Vector | Little school children learningYou scheduled a one hour business meeting over Zoom. You’ve set the children a fun activity they can do without your help with a scrumptious reward if they don’t disturb you during your meeting. And then right at the last minute the person you are scheduled to speak with asked to change the time!!! Now what to do? Do you sweetly say, “Of course, no problem at all”? Knowing full well that your children will create havoc if you try and reschedule their fun activity and goodies. Or do you tell this potential new client that it’s not possible to reschedule knowing that you risk losing the contract. You have a choice.

Your family has been really looking forward to their holiday at Euro Disney since before the pandemic struck. Euro Disney a Disgrace - Disneyland Paris, Marne-la-Vallee Traveller Reviews - TripadvisorEach time you change the date the family, though they understand the restrictions caused by the pandemic, are still upset and sulky. Though Euro Disney are being fantastic about rescheduling your stay, the booking has run out on your Eurotunnel ticket who won’t let you reschedule. You have already lost the money on this ticket so do you, buy another ticket which you really can’t afford, or do you cancel the holiday altogether? Making sure you promise the family that you will rebook once the pandemic is under control? Either way the family is upset and cross with all parties holding you responsible. You have a choice.

You have extended family living with you long-term and though this has been a slightly rocky road overall you have enjoyed it. Our Favorite Books About Unhappy Families — Barnes & Noble ReadsAnd then one day they come to you to say they are moving out with immediate effect. No matter what you say they are not open for conversation even though you believe it’s not in their best interest. So what do you do, keep trying to persuade them to stay until a proper plan can be put into place. Alternatively you just let them go hoping it won’t end in the disaster you think it will end in? Either way you know that you will be made to feel bad and wrong. You have a choice.

Last night after dinner there was one lonely, chocolatey, lush piece of cake left.

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake - Nora CooksYou took it to the fridge and hid it behind other foods hoping no one else would notice. At lunchtime the following day, whilst everybody else was occupied, you tiptoed into the kitchen, you quietly opened the fridge door, moved everything that was hiding your secret stash. You were drooling with anticipation of the texture and the taste of that hidden delight… Then, to your horror the space was empty, you searched other shelves, pulling out random foodstuff, bowls, jars, looking for the hidden chocolatey delight. As each second ticked by your heart began to sink. Your mind wrestled with not being able to taste the delights of the rich chocolate and the soft moist sponge. The choice of what to do next, sink to your knees sobbing into your arms at the disappointment. Or storm around the house accusing everybody that they had stolen your hidden delight? You have a choice.

Conclusion

In all these above scenarios we have a choice to make. And it would be easy to say that one choice would be good, and one choice would be bad but is that really the case. What do we mean by choice anyway? Now, making a decision is much easier; you way up the pros and cons. You can even draw a line down the centre of a piece of paper. Put pros on one side and cons on the other and weigh up which one would give you the better result, but a choice is just a choice, not a decision. It’s not a good choice nor a bad choice, it is just a choice. Yet we find it so much harder to make simple choices and usually we end up making a decision. The choice is not dependent on the end result, a choice is just a choice, chocolate, or vanilla, you choose.Chocolate OR vanilla? Choose. Choice is a useful and interesting distinction. It tells us a lot about our beliefs and values. It al… | Chocolate, Vanilla, Ice cream

Proofreaders – the goalkeepers of Quality Assurance

Danele Buso, Unsplash
Danele Buso, Unsplash

When you get on a plane, it’s filthy dirty and you watch the neighbouring plane having its luggage thrown carelessly out of the cargo hold, do you think to yourself, ‘I hope the mechanics were a bit more thorough’? Yet very few companies have their websites and service level agreements quality checked before putting them out in the public domain.

Then the trouble starts.  A client pushes their luck and there’s nothing you can do because your service level agreement has a gaping hole in it. Your website promises the earth because in your familiarity with the text, you didn’t notice you missed a word out.  That word is normally ‘not’, so you’ve just promised the exact opposite of what you’ve intended.

If all this seems logical, my question is, why aren’t you engaging the services of a proofreader?  It doesn’t have to be me, although of course I’d prefer it if it was.

Would any team, football, ice hockey or netball, take to the pitch/ice/court without a goalkeeper?  I think not.  Yet the majority of PhD students won’t pay to have their theses proofread until they’ve been given minor corrections.

If this seems like a false economy to you, why not change this?

What is proofreading?

Officially, proofreading is checking for spelling, grammar, punctuation and sense.  This is different from editing.  Proofreaders aren’t responsible for making sure you stay ‘on message’ or that you don’t have a glaring hole in your plot or argument.  In truth, those of us who are good, and who have a sense of integrity, are not going to set you up to fail like that. We  will go out of their way to pick you up on those things.

Markus Spiske, Unsplash

Officially, proofreaders don’t make changes.  They make suggestions for improvement.  Many of us have worked in some kind of training, teaching or other empowering roles, so our reports do sometimes read like marking, but we don’t use red pens!  In fact, these days we mainly use computers, but traditionally we use blue pencils.  My great aunt was a proofreader for the BBC World Service and I still have some of her reassuringly chunky pencils.  One is in a memory box; the rest are still being used for their original purpose on the rare occasions I get a printed out manuscript.  The work is in my blood.

So, my question is, do you treat your quality assurance and proofreading like a ropy Sunday League team, who puts the kid who turns up every week, full of enthusiasm, but with no aptitude, in goal?  Or do you treat it in the same way the first division teams do, investing in trained, experienced personnel, and encouraging and empowering them with as much information and support as possible?  If you want to move the quality of all your words to the premier league, contact us now.

Cats and Other Nonhuman Companions

Why cats you may be asking? Why not, I reply?

We are living in extremely weird times, no social interaction, wearing face coverings, no schools, working from home and the wonderful technology of Zoom.

We here at CoomberSewell Enterprises LLP https://www.coombersewell.co.uk/ own two delightful, but very different, further babies.

Now Kevin is of a mature age,  a little rickety on the back legs, and sleeps more than his younger counterpart. Kevin is a tabby cat, who has lived life to the full and has the raggedy ear ends to prove it. He is not so keen on catching mice as he once was but will happily eat up the remains that his female companion hunts for him. Kevin likes nothing more to come and sit on our laps and snuggle up under our chins whilst we scratch his neck and ears. He will purr contentedly all the time it suits him; he will move from my lap to her lap and then back to my lap until he gets bored when he will walk around the furniture until he can sit contentedly on the windowsill watching the world go by.

And then there is Woof… A female tabby cat who is a little confused by her name and lives the persona of both cat and dog. Woof has her own personal slave who tends to her every whim and need. Her slave is autistic, a recluse and a selective mute. For him Woof is his constant companion. She lives in his bedroom with him, and though he cannot tolerate human physical contact she is allowed to snuggle into him for warmth and tummy cuddles. She persuades him several times a day to feed her Dreamies, to play games which do include the occasional scratch and bite when he least expects it.

These two cats are a delight to the whole household and in these times of lockdown have become a source of distraction and fun.

Perhaps I should also mention our eight chickens who live in a very large luxurious sun house with a huge fenced in enclosure to run around and play in. Now, I would not want you to think that these chickens are in any way, spoilt after all they only provide us with eggs everyday which we sell on to very appreciative friends and neighbours. Inside their wonderful sun house they have a large shelf that they snuggle together on, to sleep every night. They have eight nesting boxes, though I am unsure why they only lay their eggs in one? They have food and water, a ladder to walk up to their bed, sawdust on the floor and a large bale of hay to keep them warm. Out in their run they have two logs to jump on and off of and to find insects to nibble on. They have home-made climbing frames and on the 1st of January they acquired their own Christmas tree. In their run they also have a large bale of straw which has been de-roped, and they have scattered to their hearts’ content. They also have an automatic feeder which these very clever chickens have quickly learned that if they jump onto the treadle the lid pops opens and they can feed to their tummy’s content. Every morning my other half takes them out scraps of food left over from us humans, laced with plain biscuits and warm water. She changes their roosting paper, cleans up their mess, checks their water and their feeder to keep our delightful, productive chickens happy in their daily task. Every evening she visits them again, cleans up after them again, and entices them back in to their warm sun house with delightful treats.

And of course there are the fish, some who live outside in the pond with lots of lily pads and pondweed. The other fish live a warm life in their tropical tank filled with beautiful plants, a sunken pirate ship, beautiful stones and slate.  Today they welcomed 10 new companions, making them welcome in their tropical home.

I hope you have some furry friends or other nonhuman companions to help you through these difficult times. Cuddles, fussing and talking to our beloveds helps with the feeling of isolation, loneliness and the long days.

But should you need a chat with a fellow human please don’t forget we are always here, willing and able to listen and help where we can. info@coombersewell.co.uk

Phoenix from the Ashes – Happy New Year!

My first company was called HG Phoenix.  It didn’t last long – I met Joyce and it quickly got absorbed into what is now CoomberSewell Enterprises.  As any business which has survived the ashes of 2020 may be doing right now, I’ve been thinking about the symbolism of the phoenix from the ashes. I’ve been thinking about the future and how sometimes to move forward, we need to acknowledge our backgrounds and how we are the product of our upbringings, for good or ill.

New Beginnings

When I started HG Phoenix, I’d just resigned from a job with a boss who later had a class action taken out against them for bullying.  The choice of Phoenix was the obvious one. I was rising from the ashes of my tattered confidence, but there was also a family connection.  My mum always told stories of a distant ancestor called Sarah Phoenix Perfect, who, she had always been led to believe ‘came from the gypsies’.  I couldn’t call the company ‘Perfect Proofreading’. That would be opening myself up to all sorts of trouble, but I had always had a romantic fascination with SPP, as I call her in my head. I never believed the ‘gypsy’ tales but resolved that if I ever wrote romantic or erotic fiction, this would be my pen name.  I haven’t written the novel (yet). Years on however, my parents have genealogy as their major non-faith pastime and it turns out its probably true. SPP is real, and she was adopted into the family from a traveller background.  As my theology colleague Steven Horne can attest, traveller records can be a little… oral, so after that, the trail goes cold.

Background

The HG was simple – my father’s middle initials, and I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl.  It was with my parents’ faith in me, and encouragement from an unforeseen quarter, that I set out on my new adventure.  The internationally renowned jazz singer and radio presenter Clare Teal, who I knew a little and whose opinion I value to this day, encouraged me to do what I was passionate about and made me happy. The rest would follow.  The path has been winding, but CoomberSewell Enterprises is a quietly successful business.  Some people question the use of the word Enterprises, but we use it as a reflection of our mindset; innovative, enterprising, hopeful and kind.

Moving Forward

As you shake the ashes of 2020 off your feet, whatever it has cost you whether that is your job, family members or security, I encourage you to look at the strong foundations your upbringing has provided you, however barren the landscape looks.  I totally acknowledge my good fortune in my upbringing in have hard working parents who instilled strong values in me.  No family situation is perfect, and others will have got their strengths and values despite their upbringing.  Nevertheless, that is where the stories we tell ourselves are rooted.  If you are having trouble seeing the wood from the ash, do contact us for a mentoring session with Joyce.

Work Life Balance at Christmas

Joyce and I have made the decision to close the business for a few days over Christmas for the sake of work life balance.  Actually, that’s not true, we’ve agreed that unless the work is already in the diary, from the evening of 22nd December to the morning of 4th January, we’re not taking any more work on.  I have one student to see and one small proof reading job in that time.  It’s time for some Us time.  I last opened an email connected to my school work on 19th December.  So, there’s the first commitment broken, that was supposed to be 18th December.  It’s the morning of 21st December and I’m already fighting the guilt.

Work life balance is a funny thing, especially if you are in any way self-employed, if you work in education, academia, or any of those other industries where the assumption that your good will means that you will go far beyond your job description.  Already, I have a list of at least 5 tasks to be tackled over our ‘leave’ and 4 of them are career or business related.

The See-Saw of Work life balance

For all of us, but particularly for the self-employed, balancing the see-saw (teeter-totter for my American friends) of work/life can be very hard.  There is a strong temptation to say, well, if I just do a half day on my emails, I can get a head start on the first day back… That is the thin end of a sticky wedge.  Yes, most of us went into self-employment to do what we love, but it is too easy to spend the quiet times on the bits we don’t love.  I’ve just spent nearly two full days catching up on the accounts.  Yes, it needed to be done, but did it have to be done right now, in the run up to what is left of Christmas?

Prioritisation

Often, I work with my students on managing both their study and their personal time, in the full knowledge that I could always be somewhat better at it myself.  There are many charts, apps and tables you can use to help with this – just google it, or look at Stella Cottrell’s Study Skills Handbook, a great investment for academics and students alike (The link is to Abe Books, other book sellers are available).  My favourite tool, however, was originated by Dale Carnegie.  I probably don’t have the copyright to reproduce the tools here, so let me just ask the pivotal question.  In your planning, do you consider what is important, or simply what is urgent? It sows the seed in our minds, that if something is only urgent, but not actually important, perhaps there is no need to do it at all?

Take a Beat

Unplug by Jess Bailey via Unsplash

So, as we run up to what is going to be a Christmas like no other (I write this while the news that we are in Tier 4 is still sinking in), I am asking you, telling you, maybe even begging you, to think about what is important, not what is urgent.  For me, this will be Zooming family and friends, going for walks, digging fresh spud and picking fresh Brussel sprouts for our Christmas Dinner.  It will be sitting through the Dr Who New Year special with the young members of the household, because they enjoy watching it with us.  It will be taking a breath.  So, by all means, contact us for mentoring, proof reading, or whatever else it was that is urgent that we can do for you, but also, sit down for five minutes to make important plans.