A job is not for life; let go and get more

In the corporate world of yesteryear, there was an unwritten assumption that a job was for life and, moreover, that it was a good thing to have a job that was for life.

Now, I get it, for those of you reading this in countries where jobs offer security through healthcare benefits and so on, I completely understand why having a job for life would be seen as desirable. However, that's not necessarily how employers see things anymore, so rather than being under a misapprehension about how secure your position is, perhaps you should be realistic about it instead. Plus, there's more than one way to achieve that kind of security and good planning will help you get that if you decide to leave the safety net of an employer you've had for a long time.

Portfolio careers, where people move - purposefully - through a series of jobs in related (or even unrelated) fields, have become much more popular for all generations in the last decade and with this shift, we've also seen more people starting their own businesses and going freelance. A recent survey found that 43% of those currently working full-time as independents report that they feel more secure working independently, up from 33% in 2011 (MBO Partners, 2015).

All of this flexibility gives us options for a successful, happy career in whatever we choose, working in ways that meet the needs we might have outside of our working life, whether that be with family commitments, work that is aligned to our values, opportunities to travel or with the ability to take time for ourselves.

In an interview for a full time employed position, it might well be inappropriate to say to the interviewer that you are only looking for a role for one to three years. The mindset of most companies that are recruiting for permanent positions is that you'll be there for life (demonstrating your loyalty along the way) and that they do not want to invest in you with training, development, etc. for what they might call "the short term". 

The reality, though, is somewhat different. If your goals are aligned to the needs of an employer for a focused period of time that suits both of you, then there should be no reason why you don't work successfully together for that time and then you part company on good terms knowing that you can always return, refer other customers/employees or act as a contract resource in the future.

I like to look at it like a series of cogs in a fine watch. In such an analogue timepiece, one cog is used to turn another, which then turns another. At some point in this process, cogs are in play and then stop being in play when their purpose is met. Sure enough, in any given period of time, any such cog could then come back into play, but for the time being, the cog has completed the process and added the value that was required of it at that time. 

Let's be honest, too, in that all the time you are working for an employer, they are assessing how well you are doing and whether you should stick around. Well beyond the probabtionary period - if there is one - there's a daily assessment of your capability and commitment to the business that may be unspoken and may, indeed, be at the unconscious level of your manager or department lead.

This gives rise to an implied permission for you to do the same. Now, most people don't constantly review whether their employer is giving them what they need and whether they should remain at that company. When I've met with clients, they tend to make an assumption that their job is a difficult part of their life to change and most people don't turn the tables on their employer and review whether the employer is meeting their needs. Instead, they might go on autopilot and only consciously evaluate their employer's suitability against their needs and requirements at the end of the year when new year resolutions are being made or when the company initiates a mandatory performance review process and forces the employee to think about their progress across that period, along with targets and development goals for the next period.

I would suggest that you need to make a conscious choice, each day, that going into work is the right thing for you. Now, I understand that having a bad day can throw off such a thought process and if you work to deadlines or in projects, there could be a number of days over any given period of time where you might have a series of tough days and you don't want to re-commit to your employer. But, on balance across each week, month or other period that you are empowered to define yourself, you should feel like your employer is serving your needs just as much as you are serving theirs. It is, after all, a two way street.

So, take away from this the right to evaluate whether your company is giving you what you want. If it isn't, maybe you should ask for some more of those things or, perhaps, you'll come to the realization that you can't get what you want from your current employer. Either way, you'll win; you'll either value the new outcomes or you'll be empowered to find a new way to get what's truly important to you. And that, my friends, has to be critical to you if you want to make your life amazing.

Rob Whitfield is the CEO and Founder of One Brit, No Bull, a coaching and corporate training company based in Los Angeles and operating worldwide. Rob can be contacted here or on (+1) 518 9NO BULL.

Sign up now for the free periodic One Brit, No Bull newsletter and make your life amazing with career, money, relationship, health and fitness, communication and other life affirming tips delivered straight to your inbox! Hurry! Sign up here!

As well as being an experienced management consultant and energetic public speaker, Rob Whitfield is a certified Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a certified Master Coach and a certified Master Practitioner of Hypnotherapy and Time Line Therapy. No Bull.

A lesson from Shakespeare in setting goals

I recently had a new client who came to me frustrated that he hadn't made any progress in achieving his goal. This person, who I'll call Bill for the sake of this piece, is driven and determined. When Bill set his sights on something, he works hard and gets there; whatever stands in his way. As with other coaching clients, there was never a question of whether Bill had the will to achieve his goals; it was almost like Bill decided on his goal and then went on autopilot, but for some reason, this goal that related to his finances just seemed much further out of reach. So I spent some time talking to Bill about his goals and his background and over the course of an hour, I discovered something about Bill that he didn't even know. More on that later.

When you're making decisions about what you want to do in your life, or what you want to have or be, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that you have to first know yourself and what's important to you and then, knowing this information, make your decisions with this at the forefront of your mind so you are being authentic. To put it another way;

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
— Polonius, Hamlet, Shakespeare

Being authentic in your decision making will give you so much more than a sense of comfort. You'll feel totally aligned to your goals, you'll be energized and won't feel like you're having to work towards anything because it feels so right for you to be taking action towards something that you are naturally inclined to do or achieve at the unconscious level.

If you don't consciously know what your unconscious values are - and most people don't because they are buried deep inside your unconscious mind - you may have trouble making informed decisions in your career, fitness, finances, health and other aspects of your life that align with what's truly right for you and you could end up expending a lot of time, money and energy in trying to get to a goal that you think is right for you but isn't authentic at the level of your unconscious mind. Taking a little time to work with a certified coach can help you uncover things that you didn't consciously know about yourself. It's always much better to make decisions on a firm bedrock of understanding than it is to make decisions and then wonder why your actions just don't seem to be getting the right results, even if you're doing all you can to get to your goal.

So, back to Bill. I worked with Bill to understand his values and as we uncovered more and more, he had what I like to call the "lightbulb moment" as all of the feelings he had been experiencing in attempting to get to his goal suddenly clicked into place and he understood why he was having them. Try as he might, he couldn't get to his goal and he gave that goal 100%. During our conversation, we adjusted a part of his goal and his eyes lit up. He was so energized and enthusiastic that I thought he would explode! Bill left that session excited and raring to go and he knocked his goal out of the park. It just goes to show that Shakespeare was right; "to thine own self be true".

Rob Whitfield is the CEO and Founder of One Brit, No Bull, a coaching and corporate training company based in Los Angeles and operating worldwide. Rob can be contacted here or on (+1) 518 9NO BULL.

Sign up now for the free periodic One Brit, No Bull newsletter and make your life amazing with career, money, relationship, health and fitness, communication and other life affirming tips delivered straight to your inbox! Hurry! Sign up here!

As well as being an experienced management consultant and energetic public speaker, Rob Whitfield is a certified Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a certified Master Coach and a certified Master Practitioner of Hypnotherapy and Time Line Therapy. No Bull.

Hear what they're saying and claim your free coaching sessions

Over the last 18 months, I've been thrilled to see visitors from around the world check out the One Brit, No Bull website to challenge their thinking, improve their careers, health, fitness, relationships, happiness and so much more, and I've heard from many people who have told me that they have changed their lives as a result. This fills me with joy! In this feature, you'll hear from some of my corporate and personal clients and then I'll invite you to sign up to the free newsletter in order to secure your own free coaching sessions; what will you achieve with yours?

To say the least, I have been feeling very emotional and really sad until last Friday when I talked to Rob. Our talk just snapped me out of me living in the negative and holding on to the past.
— A really happy One Brit, No Bull client

The next edition of the periodic One Brit, No Bull newsletter is launched later this week and in it, you'll have lots of great articles that will help you find a new focus, overcome your challenges and be who you want to be, have what you want to have and do what you truly want to do.

Rob is a fixer and healer in so many ways. He is able to clearly dissect overwhelming problems... and helped me to implement solutions that best serve my interest without the steps becoming a burden on my everyday life.
— A newly focused One Brit, No Bull client

On top of that, and as the world turns and carries us swiftly towards 2016, you'll find out how to claim a free coaching series in the newsletter. So, don't delay, sign up for the free newsletter now by clicking here, guaranteed no spam, and see how you can make your life amazing.

Being able to talk to Rob about not only my professional goals but about my personal life has helped me process all this change and begin to heal.
— An inspired One Brit, No Bull client

Rob Whitfield is the CEO and Founder of One Brit, No Bull, a coaching and corporate training company based in Los Angeles and operating worldwide. Rob can be contacted here or on (+1) 518 9NO BULL.

Sign up now for the free periodic One Brit, No Bull newsletter and make your life amazing with career, money, relationship, health and fitness, communication and other life affirming tips delivered straight to your inbox! Hurry! Sign up here!

As well as being an experienced management consultant and energetic public speaker, Rob Whitfield is a certified Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a certified Master Coach and a certified Master Practitioner of Hypnotherapy and Time Line Therapy. No Bull.

For full offer details, please subscribe to the newsletter or contact me using the link above.

Sign up now to claim free coaching and make your life amazing!

Over the last 18 months, I've been thrilled to see visitors from around the world check out the One Brit, No Bull website to challenge their thinking, improve their careers, health, fitness, relationships, happiness and so much more, and I've heard from many people who have told me that they have changed their lives as a result. This fills me with joy!

The next edition of the periodic One Brit, No Bull newsletter is launched later this week and in it, you'll have lots of great articles that will help you find a new focus, overcome your challenges and be who you want to be, have what you want to have and do what you truly want to do.

On top of that, and as the world turns and carries us swiftly towards 2016, you'll find out how to claim free coaching in the newsletter. So, don't delay, sign up for the free newsletter today, guaranteed no spam, and see how you can make your life amazing.

Rob Whitfield is the CEO and Founder of One Brit, No Bull, a coaching and corporate training company based in Los Angeles and operating worldwide. Rob can be contacted here or on (+1) 518 9NO BULL.

Sign up now for the free periodic One Brit, No Bull newsletter and make your life amazing with career, money, relationship, health and fitness, communication and other life affirming tips delivered straight to your inbox! Hurry! Sign up here!

As well as being an experienced management consultant and energetic public speaker, Rob Whitfield is a certified Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a certified Master Coach and a certified Master Practitioner of Hypnotherapy and Time Line Therapy. No Bull.

A trusted professional community for Los Angeles Executives

One Brit, No Bull has started an LA-based networking group for executives and those with big career aspirations. If you're a CEO, CFO, CMO, CPO, CIO, CTO or executive in a business in or around Los Angeles (or are visiting the area), take a look at the group and join free.

I'm building a trusted community of like-minded professionals who are happy to network, solve problems, identify opportunities and have fun along the way.

The next event, which is titled "The Deep End", is coming up so click on the link below to join the group and RSVP. By joining the group, you'll also be notified of all future meetings! 

Find out more about it and join free by clicking here.

Rob Whitfield is the CEO and Founder of One Brit, No Bull, a coaching and corporate training company based in Los Angeles and operating worldwide. Rob can be contacted here or on (+1) 518 9NO BULL.

Sign up now for the free periodic One Brit, No Bull newsletter and make your life amazing with career, money, relationship, health and fitness, communication and other life affirming tips delivered straight to your inbox! Hurry! Sign up here!

As well as being an experienced management consultant and energetic public speaker, Rob Whitfield is a certified Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a certified Master Coach and a certified Master Practitioner of Hypnotherapy and Time Line Therapy. No Bull.

Ford: Life threatening failures, lessons learned and lemonade

My family has been a Ford car family for over four decades, indeed, well beyond the time I can remember and some of my earliest memories are about our family's Ford vehicles.

Back in July 2015, I received a letter telling me that my vehicle has a significant defect that may cause "serious injury or death" in the event of the airbags being deployed.

I appreciated the letter, though it did concern me. Anyone who buys a product and is then told that it might seriously injure or kill them/other occupants of the vehicle is going to be concerned, especially when it's an expensive purchase like a car and it's so tightly integrated into daily life. I didn't, after all, just buy it to leave it out the front of my house so it could look good; it fulfils a critical purpose.

So, I called the number on the letter to get more information from Ford. And that's when the experience started to fall apart.

We began well with the customer services agent telling me about the recall and letting me know that there isn't a resolution for the issue yet but Ford would let me know when it was available. 

Then I asked the killer (no pun intended) question; "Is my car safe to drive?". On the recorded line, the advisor told me that the FAQs she was looking at said that it was safe to drive but that she wouldn't drive it if it was her car. That told me a lot about the situation.

Click here for video of the dangerous airbag inflator flying through a vehicle after deployment

I asked if there was a temporary vehicle/loaner that I could use in the meantime, but the answer was a solid no.

I then made what I thought was a valid point; if there was no resolution, Ford didn't know when the resolution would be forthcoming and they weren't telling me not to drive the car (even though the agent wouldn't drive it), what was the point of the communication? Did it provide any benefit to me, the customer? None that I could see, unless I was willing to just give up on my car until the resolution was forthcoming.

Now, I get it; if there are a lot of people in the recall program, then it's important that everyone is aware of the real issue and the consequences of the risk but this shouldn't be about reducing corporate risk, it should be about helping customers and providing them with the value they had paid for - safe transportation.

I asked to speak to a manager after about 40 minutes on the call, but there wasn't one available. I was promised a call back the following week.

When I spoke to the manager, I was told again that my car is safe to drive. Now, my understanding of the word 'safe' does not involve any aspect of "serious injury or death". Does yours? When I pointed this out, I was met with a cold silence and I could feel my Ford loyalty draining out of my body.

A Takata airbag victim after the minor road accident that triggered the deployment of the airbag. See end of entry for copyright information.

A Takata airbag victim after the minor road accident that triggered the deployment of the airbag. See end of entry for copyright information.

Over the course of the next month, I waited for more calls from agents that weren't forthcoming. I got the occasional voicemail but when I called back, no-one was available to speak to me. On and on this went until I took to social media to see if that would get someone at Ford thinking differently about it. I even offered my services to see whether they were short staffed or lacked the capabilities to communicate effectively and see this from a customer's point of view. No-one bit.

All of the responses from Ford on social media were very pleasant and very positive; of course they were, they were public. Anyone looking at the situation cold would think Ford is doing a great job in looking after me and coordinating resources to help. Phrases like "We greatly appreciate your @Ford loyalty! Please DM your VIN: I'll check things out on my end", "We hear your concern! Your DM was received, and we will reply shortly" and more recently and "I understand this has been an unnerving ordeal".

Then we moved to messages telling me that once parts are available, I'll be notified. Try as I might, I could not get Ford to see that this doesn't help me right now. I don't want to drive a car with, ironically, a safety feature that might kill me. That's crazy.

Weeks pass and the Customer Services Manager was going to call me, but didn't. This went on day after day. By Twitter, I offered an email address instead. Then I got a phone call and I was told that the recall notice was wrong. The CSM told me that although the issue applies to all of the cars that were identified, the issue will only occur when the car is in a high humidity and high temperature area. Being in California, she said, I should be fine and my car is safe to drive. That to me was a comfort. I asked her to put that in writing to me, because, after all, I had a piece of paper in my hand that told me I could be seriously injured or killed so I wanted an update to that with this critical information. Her email came through and it simply read, "As per our conversation, the recall notice you received for 15S21 indicates the parts are not available at this time. Ford Motor Company is diligently working with suppliers to get the parts. Upon availability you will be contacted to bring the vehicle in for repair.  If your airbag light comes on please get to the dealer as soon as possible." I got hold of her again and asked her to explain why our conversation and the new information she had provided hadn't made it into her email. On the recorded line, she point blank refused to email me the information she had told me in relation to my car being safe to drive. So, another avenue that turned into a no through road.

Faulty Takata airbag after deployment. See end of entry for copyright information.

I escalated to the CSM's manager who is the Customer Operations Manager and was told that I would get a call back the following week, which you may have guessed, didn't come when it was due. I turned again to social media and was given an alternative time and date, which also passed.

When I did speak to Len, I was told that it was a precautionary recall. What on earth is a precautionary recall? Either there's a risk and we shouldn't be driving these cars or they are fine. Len mentioned the high humidity area point again, but when asked, wouldn't put that in writing. Len didn't know when the replacement parts would be available but he did say it could take "weeks or months" for parts to be available. Imagine being without a car for months! Well, I don't need to imagine it because I'm already at two months. And counting.

I asked Len if Ford could buy my car back from me. He told me that it didn't qualify under California's Lemon Law. I look at my car now, parked outside my house, and instead of seeing a Ford, I can only see a lemon.

My own research shows that Ford has been aware of the issue for over a year, indeed, Ford knew about this back in 2014 for a smaller subset of their cars and in May 2015 for my car but didn't tell me about it for a further two months. Combined, the airbag manufacturer's exposure (Takata) covers over 34 million vehicles across 10 manufacturers. Although this means that Ford is not alone, it hasn't got the largest exposure and it doesn't give them the right to treat customers this way.

Being in professional services, I wondered what an appropriate response is to such a situation. What would I do if I were Ford and had their resources. And just to be clear, Ford's profit in 2014 was $6.3billion.

Here are a few examples to get us started;

  1. Engage a professional project or program manager to run the recall program
  2. Engage a change management or communications manager to define and run the internal and customer-facing communications plan
  3. Clearly identify the exact nature of the issue; when and under which circumstances does the issue take place? Are there other circumstances under which the issue does not take place? Fully scope out the problem and appropriate customer scenarios
  4. Investigate the required replacement parts and determine a timeline for creation, shipping and delivery
  5. Prepare the front line service teams so they are aware of how to replace the parts
  6. Clearly communicate the issue, the plan for resolution and if a full resolution is not known, communicate when you'll communicate next so customers have something to hang their hats on
  7. Give everyone in your organization the same information so everyone is saying the same thing and there isn't a disparity of information between people, teams and departments, the FAQs and so on
  8. Give all of the front line staff effective training in relation to how to deal with recall notices and, specifically, helping customers understand the issue and how Ford would help them out
  9. Put yourself in your customers' position and see how you'd feel if you were told your car could kill you; would you want to drive it before the replacement parts were fitted?
  10. Using the empathy you'd experienced in the prior step, build some options for the affected customer base. Help them get back on their (four wheeled) feet. Sure, it might cost you something, but the cost will be repaid in dividends through customer loyalty because you did the right thing rather than what you legally had to do. You showed empathy with your customers and then used that to provide workarounds
  11. Get everyone to understand what a commitment to a customer means to the customer, especially when there's a problem. You may only work 9-5 Monday to Friday, but this is impacting my life 24/7 and, thus far, for weeks and weeks on end
  12. Apologize along the way. Your supplier may have let you down in providing faulty parts, but the ultimate consumer of your product is having a shocking time as a result

It would appear that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined in or before June 2014 that a Safety Recall was necessary and Ford's response was to state in a letter from Steven. M. Kenner, Global Director of Automotive Safety Office, that "Ford has not approved a safety recall". The letter goes on to say that "service parts may not be available for many months and we may be unable to address customer concerns during that time". 

A sample of the Takata airbag shrapnel that hits the driver/passengers during airbag deployment. See end of entry for copyright information.

Almost three months later, Steve Kenner spoke at the Governer's Highway Safety Association meeting in Michigan. He's a perfect role model for corporate responsibility and championing customer safety, right?

Further research showed that there have been eight fatalities and more than 100 injuries linked to the Takata airbag issue, and in some cases the incidents were horrific, with metal shards penetrating a driver’s face and neck. The eighth Takata airbag fatality was in Los Angeles, which is where I live and where I was told on a recorded Ford line that I would be safe because it is not a high humidity area. This just proves that Ford is not taking this situation seriously and is putting customers' lives at risk in the process. Profit over customer safety is a strategy that will not lead to customer loyalty, customer retention and Ford's profitability in the long run.

During my subsequent conversation with Len, who you'll remember is the Customer Operations Manager, I asked if it would be possible to have my airbags disabled. I was told after Len checked with a colleague that I could do it myself but that Ford wouldn't do it for me. Len went on to say that his colleague had informed him that I had better odds of winning the lottery than worrying about the issue. Frankly, that is of little comfort to me and with my life at risk, these are not odds I'm willing to accept.

I asked Len whether any airbags had been replaced in the recall program. He answered that no, none of them had to his knowledge because the replacement parts were not available [more than a year on] and that there is currently no timescale for the delivery of said parts. My research has found that Takata's production capacity of just 450,000 units a month was recently doubled to 900,000 units a month and they've produced 3.8 million since the issue was first identified. This is just over 10% of the production required across the global recall program for all manufacturers. It looks like it's going to be a long, long time and, if we're honest, it's already passed a reasonable amount of time for replacement parts to have been made available and fitted to affected vehicles. Via a private message with Ford on Twitter following my exchange with Len, I was told "As Lenny said, they are expected to be available soon, and your dealer will reach out to schedule the repair". To be clear, Ford, Len didn't tell me that and so it's another case of misinformation, presumably in an attempt to placate me. When I went back to Twitter via private message pointing out that there have been no resolutions and no offers for interim solutions, I was told "For optimal resolution pls continue to work with Lenny & ur dealer; they're in the best position to assist". Words are easy to come by, apparently, but solutions, well, they are impossible to find.

I was told again by Len that Los Angeles was not considered a high risk area because it wasn't both hot and humid and so I told Len about the eighth death from a Takata airbag which took place in Los Angeles and also mentioned that we had had a surprisingly humid summer this year. Silence descended on the other end of the phone. 

The news of the lack of replacement parts means that I could well be in for more than a year without my car but, I'm reliably informed by Ford, that I should take solace in the fact that I don't have a Ford lemon. I had previously called my car Sally, for reasons I'm sure you can work out for yourself, however, I now call it Lemon.

To Len's credit (and actually, all representatives I've been in touch with at Ford), I don't believe he/they have been empowered to provide any further assistance to customers like me. That is part of the issue that Ford should own and rectify.

Len did offer a Z plan option, whereby I could buy a new Ford at just over the dealer price, thereby avoiding the retail markup. All of my friends think it's quite ironic that I went out and purchased a Ford and have maintained it regularly since purchase but when an issue arises, Ford won't look after me by providing a loaner (sure, it's expensive when multiplied by the number of impacted cars, but remember that 2014 profit of over six billion dollars?) and then instead of providing appropriate support gives me only one option other than driving a deathtrap; buy a new Ford. Hmm, let me think about that for a, oh, wait, I don't think so. (Update: I did call Santa Monica Ford to get more details just in case it was a great deal but after speaking with a sales person there, the promised return call never materialized. Perhaps they are out of lemons.)

I went from thinking that Ford cared about me to believing now that they don't care about me, nor the million customers who paid for a Ford car and are affected by this critical issue. It turns out that Ford doesn't care at all.

A few days ago I had to laugh when my local dealer sent me a reminder that my service is due. I wonder if they can bring the dealership to me as I'm certainly not taking my deathtrap of a car to them. And to top it off, I found out that my email address had been added to the Ford promotional database without my consent. If I enter the competition and win a new Ford, will that have reliable airbags?

So, Ford, here's my challenge to you. Sure, it's a complex situation but there are easy ways to help your customers out. And yes, it might cost you some of that profit, but you could - in theory - claim that back from your supplier or use your hundreds of millions of dollars in your "warranty reserve" that are specifically for this very purpose. Regardless, why not use this critical incident as a way of building customer loyalty rather than seeing it exclusively as a drain on your resources? After all, when life gives you lemons, aren't you supposed to make lemonade?

Rob Whitfield is the CEO and Founder of One Brit, No Bull, a coaching and corporate training company based in Los Angeles and operating worldwide. Rob can be contacted here or on (+1) 518 9NO BULL.

Sign up now for the free periodic One Brit, No Bull newsletter and make your life amazing with career, money, relationship, health and fitness, communication and other life affirming tips delivered straight to your inbox! Hurry! Sign up here!

As well as being an experienced management consultant and energetic public speaker, Rob Whitfield is a certified Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a certified Master Coach and a certified Master Practitioner of Hypnotherapy and Time Line Therapy. No Bull.

Note: I'm editing this blog entry for updates as new information comes available. It was first published on September 25, 2015 and last updated October 11, 2015. All images and video content remain property of the publisher and/or owner. They are used here to illustrate the points made in the article with the intent of getting car manufacturers to be proactive about dealing with the issue rather than simply issuing (passive) recall notices and not providing alternative means of transport to customers, putting customers at risk of serious injury or death.

One Brit, No Bull does Surfing USA

I'm of the opinion that it's important to try new experiences in order to understand whether it's for me and I encourage my clients to try new things because they don't know whether they will have a great time doing it or suddenly show an unexpected aptitude for a new hobby. For example, I have never studied the violin but I could be a world class musician. Stranger things have happened!

In pursuit of broadening my mind, and in part because I live in Southern California, I went for my first surf lesson last week. Until that point, I had never held a surf board and so it was a new experience.

We started with a quick lesson on the sand as to the many and varied actions that comprise surfing (I discovered through this process that it's not just a case of going out in the water, getting on the board and then having the thirty foot waves lift you in a glamorous fashion and bring you back to the shore). I heard about how to get on the board in the water, three techniques for getting from laying on the board to standard on the board, how to paddle in preparation for the wave to arrive and how to leave the board when arriving at the beach.

I mastered all of the techniques on the land and was then ready to head out into the water. It's actually quite a struggle just getting out to the right position with a ten foot surf board during high tide and with some exceptionally large waves. Just as objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are, waves when you're in the water are significantly higher than they are when you're standing at the shoreline looking out at the horizon. I like to call this the Meatloaf effect.

A key part of the standing on a surf board process is that it's important to keep your body balanced with your feet at right angles to the surf board but your head facing forward so that you're looking at the beach and where you want to go.

As I climbed on the surf board for the first time and was waiting for the right wave to head my way (this is an art as much as it is a science), I kept thinking about what the instructor had said about looking where I wanted to go.

In life, so many people channel their energy and focus on what they don't want; they don't want to be poor, they don't want to be unhappy, they don't want to be lonely, they don't want to be unhealthy and so on. In surfing, if I look towards the shoreline and focus on heading to the lifeguard tower (there's a practical reason why I chose to surf near that), then regardless of the way in which I get there - standing, kneeling, laying or otherwise - I'm still going to make it because I'm focused on getting there. If I look towards the end of the shoreline, and in California, that's around twenty miles away, I'm going to end up there. 

Life is like surfing; if we focus on what we don't want, we end up with exactly that. And if we focus on what we do want, commit to that outcome and put our energies into that, then we'll get that.

And as the right wave came along and I paddled like crazy, I focused on my target of the lifeguard tower and got up on my board, rising from laying flat, to kneeling on one leg and then kneeling on both legs. Now, that's not what I intended to do when I was on the beach looking out at the waves, but just as life doesn't always go to plan and give us the easy route to our destination, it turns out that surfing is the same. I got to the beach and right in front of the lifeguard tower, even though I didn't manage to stand in that perfect surfer stance.

My exit strategies from the surf board were all predicated on being in a standing position on arrival onto the beach and yet I found myself in every position but standing when, in practice, I was out there in water. This made for some comic endings to my otherwise Baywatch filled existence. 

The feeling, though, of surfing on that board for the very first time will never leave me. It was exhilarating and I was hooked and if I can do that on my first attempt, is there really any reason why I can't ride those thirty foot waves next time? 

Rob Whitfield is the CEO and Founder of One Brit, No Bull, a coaching and corporate training company based in Los Angeles and operating worldwide. Rob can be contacted here or on (+1) 518 9NO BULL.

Sign up now for the free periodic One Brit, No Bull newsletter and make your life amazing with career, money, relationship, health and fitness, communication and other life affirming tips delivered straight to your inbox! Hurry! Sign up here!

As well as being an experienced management consultant and energetic public speaker, Rob Whitfield is a certified Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a certified Master Coach and a certified Master Practitioner of Hypnotherapy and Time Line Therapy. No Bull.

Free yourself and your creativity will follow

Years ago, we were bound to our desks for the majority of the working day, save perhaps for a quick visit to the fax machine or the mail room to check on incoming letters (remember those?).

Today, with increasing demands in the workplace, expectations of employees being "always on" and carrying their own devices that bind us closer to work even though we may now be physically further away, tight travel schedules and so on, we don't always spend our working days at the office, let alone at our desks.

And it's time to celebrate that. When I look back across my career, I have done some of my best work on flights, in airports, on beaches, in hotel rooms, in coffee shops, on trains and many other places that one wouldn't consider to be typical venues for high quality work.

And why is that? I looked back at all of those times and started to see a pattern. I was choosing to do the work in those locations and I was in the moment when it came to the content that was ruminating in my mind. The time was right, even if - by traditional standards - the location was wrong.

By the same token, I work when I'm on vacation. Now, that might seem like an oxymoron, but it's true. Being free to think about what I want to think about allows my unconscious mind to give me ideas and insights that I wouldn't otherwise be able to generate if I was tied to a desk with the same four walls. And when those gems of ideas come forward, I want to make sure I've captured them and harnessed their true value.

When I go to a coffee shop, I no longer think it strange to see nearly every table occupied by people who have turned that three to five square foot space into a mini-office. We've come to accept that it's normal and aside from being put out that there's nowhere to sit because of them being there, we don't have an issue with it.

We choose to go on vacation to different places for the very same reason; we get to experience something new and that allows us to see things differently and learn about the world, ourselves and the people we are with. 

When we choose to work in a location that's different from our assigned location, we do the same. We free ourselves up from the (albeit mental) constraints that we place on ourselves in that traditional working location and we break through the barriers of normal and into a world of possibilities.

So, the next time you want to solve a difficult problem or you're hoping to look at a challenge in a different way, get up from your office chair and head to somewhere new. Give yourself permission to work in that new location and find that you'll probably solve the problem in half the time and feel better about it, too.

And if you're manager is one for seeing you present in the office, then get him or her onside by selling the benefits of such a pattern of work to them. Slowly build up trust, let them see the fruits of your labor in a new location and allow them the opportunity to share in the upside of your new found creativity. If leaving the office to work more effectively and efficiently provides a benefit to them, I think they'll be behind it as much as you are. They might even try it themselves.

Rob Whitfield is the CEO and Founder of One Brit, No Bull, a corporate training and coaching company based in Los Angeles and operating worldwide. Rob can be contacted here or on (+1) 518 9NO BULL.

Sign up now for the free periodic One Brit, No Bull newsletter and make your life amazing with career, money, relationship, health and fitness, communication and other life affirming tips delivered straight to your inbox! Hurry! Sign up here!

As well as being an experienced management consultant and energetic public speaker, Rob Whitfield is a certified Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a certified Master Coach and a certified Master Practitioner of Hypnotherapy and Time Line Therapy. No Bull.

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Calling all LA-based Executives!

One Brit, No Bull has started an LA-based networking group for executives. If you're a CEO, CFO, CMO, CPO, CIO, CTO or executive in a business in or around Los Angeles (or are visiting the area), take a look at the group and join free. I'm building a trusted community of like-minded professionals who are happy to network, solve problems, identify opportunities and have fun along the way. The next event, which is titled "The Deep End", is just a few weeks away! Find out more about it and join free by clicking here.

Don't laugh at people who are trying

Regular readers will know that I have a dog called Diesel. While out walking Diesel at the weekend, I happened to be passing by two people who were talking about a runner who was heading their way.

The two people were not talking in a positive way about the runner, who was a woman. Indeed, their comments - which all related to her size and weight - were cutting, derogatory and completely unsupportive. 

I was stunned when I heard the phrases being thrown around and even though I had passed them some way back, I could still hear them. I wondered whether the runner could also hear them as she passed by.

The scene played out in my mind a number of times over the next few days. I know from my own experience at school and in adult life that people judge based on appearance, however much we are taught to not judge a book by its cover.

I also know from my education that perception is projection and that, as Carl Yung explained, "everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves". Yung went on to explain that information which is most unconscious to us we must by need project out onto people and events around us.

So leaving aside the shock I felt at the vitriolic comments I overheard that weren't even about me (though I did, for a fleeting moment, consider whether I might be their next target), I started to wonder what these two people were going through inside and how this caused them to project that onto someone else.

The takeaway for me is that we all have things going on in our lives, however perfect things might look. Our outwards facing façade can hide a multitude of turmoil, challenges and dreams that either we work hard to fulfil or we lose along the roadside of life's journey.

The runner should be given significant credit. Just as we have no idea of the background of the two commentators, we have no idea of the runner's backstory. What we do know is that she had decided to make a change and she was acting on that decision such that she was out there and running and with each step, getting closer to her goal and achieving her dreams.

If someone is trying to change for the better, they need support, not ridicule. Indeed, what is going on in your world that causes you to project your bad feelings onto someone else who is taking time and expending effort to improve their life, fitness, career, or otherwise? That’s the question we should be asking of you. Or rather, that’s the question you should be asking yourself.
— One Brit, No Bull

Every transformation takes a decision, a commitment to taking action, the (often significant) action itself and a firm reinforcement of boundaries to prevent a regression to past behavior that doesn't support the goal being achieved. In this case, not only does the runner have to reinforce her boundaries internally, plus maybe at home and with colleagues at work, but apparently she has to reinforce her boundaries in the street. That's not right.

Encouragement is truly what’s needed, not judgment.
— One Brit, No Bull

So, I'm going to celebrate the fact that the runner was running and take comfort in the fact that she was getting closer to her goal with each step. As for the two people adding their harsh commentary, I'm going to suggest they take note of Jung's views and see if they can find a way to make peace inside so they can project the same peace and good intentions on the world outside.

Rob Whitfield is the CEO and Founder of One Brit, No Bull, a corporate training and coaching company based in Los Angeles and operating worldwide. Rob can be contacted here or on (+1) 518 9NO BULL.

Sign up now for the free periodic One Brit, No Bull newsletter and make your life amazing with career, money, relationship, health and fitness, communication and other life affirming tips delivered straight to your inbox! Hurry! Sign up here!

As well as being an experienced management consultant and energetic public speaker, Rob Whitfield is a certified Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a certified Master Coach and a certified Master Practitioner of Hypnotherapy and Time Line Therapy. No Bull.

Follow up Question and Answer...

I received a follow up question in relation to a point I made about people being scientifically programmed to look for external validation in my article titled, "we can pay compliments, but we can't spend them". As I care about my readers, I wanted to share my response publicly. The question and answer are shown below...

‘I’d be interested to know where you found the data that some people are ‘scientifically programmed to look for external validation.’
— Valued One Brit, No Bull Blog Reader

Sure, happy to help! Thanks for your great question. 

The development of the Meta Programs on which this point was based has roots with Carl Jung's work (including his book, Psychological Types, 1921). Jung was one of Freud's students and this work gave rise to being able to predict someone’s personality through the elicitation of three basic meta programs.

Around 20 years later, Myers and Briggs (who, actually, were students of Yung) were working on some of Yung’s concepts and they added a 4th meta program, which gave birth to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (or MBTI) psychometric test and was based on what are now called the “simple meta programs”.

When I was becoming certified as a Trainer of Neuro-Lingusitic Programming (NLP), we spoke extensively about the development of the meta programs and learnt about the additional complex meta programs that were identified in the 1970s by the pioneers of NLP.

Used appropriately (and that’s a big, important caveat), the various meta programs can be used as predictors of personality. The one I was specifically referencing is the Frame of Reference Filter, which allows us to understand whether someone looks for validation internally, externally or a combination of both.

For example, it could be said that it would be better for a self employed person/entrepreneur to have a frame of reference filter that is internal so that they would know themselves whether they are doing a good job, though, of course, an individual with an external validation frame of reference could still be an entrepreneur, but they may keep asking others around them whether they are doing a good job!

Thanks for the great question and feel free to reach out to me if you have any follow up questions!

Rob.

Rob Whitfield is the CEO and Founder of One Brit, No Bull, a corporate training and coaching company based in Los Angeles and operating worldwide. Rob can be contacted here or on (+1) 518 9NO BULL.

Sign up now for the free periodic One Brit, No Bull newsletter and make your life amazing with career, money, relationship, health and fitness, communication and other life affirming tips delivered straight to your inbox! Hurry! Sign up here!

As well as being an experienced management consultant and energetic public speaker, Rob Whitfield is a certified Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a certified Master Coach and a certified Master Practitioner of Hypnotherapy and Time Line Therapy. No Bull.

We can pay compliments, but we can't spend them

I work with people from a huge variety of professions; chefs, CEOs of tech start ups, real estate agents, authors, app developers, management consultants, market researchers, teachers and so many more. It's truly a joy for me to be involved in so many people's lives and careers.

Recently, I've been working with an actor who has been looking to excel in his auditions. For me, there are a lot of similarities between auditions, interviews and first dates; it's all about building rapport with the other party and helping them see your capability and, moreover, potential. By doing this, you help people see you in their futures, whether that might be a TV show or film, in a job or career or in a personal relationship.

First impressions are a fact of life, whether they are right or not. And first impressions are derived not just from how the person looks and acts (etc.) when you first meet them, but they are also shaped by the observer's own preconceptions and filtered by his/her unconscious mind based on a wide range of factors (which could be a whole post for another time).

Having appropriate confidence in your own abilities will help you shine on a day to day basis. Going beyond "appropriate confidence" may come across as arrogance and I'd suggest that should be avoided because it won't help your cause.

Further, some people are scientifically programmed to look for external validation of their skills, capability, whether they did a good job and so on, while others are programmed to look internally for that validation.

Regardless of programming, most people like receiving compliments though there's something very important to note about compliments; we can all pay them, and receive them, but we can't spend them.

Following a job interview, audition or first date, it's great to hear compliments and get feedback, but the aim of the game is to get to the next level and if we're not being offered a follow up audition, interview, or date, then compliments are still nice but are somewhat empty.

Compliments have no true value outside of how they make us feel. It's not like you can take the compliments you've received, head on down to your favorite store and go wild in the aisles!

I'd rather progress to the next stage of an interview/audition process (or better yet, be offered the job) than be given a hundred compliments that I can do nothing with aside from feeling good.

When the compliments are coming thick and fast, why not put yourself out there and find a way to ask how that links to the goal you were seeking, for example, "thank you for complimenting my ability to do X; I'm interested in how I can use that to help you in this role - perhaps we can discuss that further now".

Making the connection between the compliment and your intended goal (which should be aligned to the needs of the other party) will help you turn a nice (though not particularly useful) compliment into a useful tool for successfully closing the deal.

So what does this mean for us on a day to day basis?

  • Know the end game when you're going in to an interview, audition or date
  • Have confidence in your own abilities; this will shine through and help the person you're meeting with to see what you can do for them
  • Avoid over-confidence that can come across as arrogance
  • Work carefully to build rapport with the person or people you're meeting with. This will greatly enhance your success in the meeting. For more information on how to do this, get in touch using the details below
  • Enjoy compliments when they're given to you, but realize that in and of themselves, they hold no true value and what you're looking to do is to get to the next level or secure the job, role or next date
  • Find a way to use the compliments to help you achieve your end game; this turns them into a truly valuable commodity

As always, feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions, comments or want to discuss further. I'm happy to help!

Rob Whitfield is the CEO and Founder of One Brit, No Bull, a corporate training and coaching company based in Los Angeles and operating worldwide. Rob can be contacted here or on (+1) 518 9NO BULL.

Sign up now for the free periodic One Brit, No Bull newsletter and make your life amazing with career, money, relationship, health and fitness, communication and other life affirming tips delivered straight to your inbox! Hurry! Sign up here!

As well as being an experienced management consultant and energetic public speaker, Rob Whitfield is a certified Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a certified Master Coach and a certified Master Practitioner of Hypnotherapy and Time Line Therapy. No Bull.

Corporate Life: Stand up and be counted

I work with a lot of corporate clients and meet with individuals and teams on a daily basis. Companies hire their people because they are capable and they ultimately trust them to make the right decisions.

In the normal course of a day with a client team, I'll ask a question and given I always have "Vegas Rules" in my meetings (what happens in the room stays in the room), I'm surprised at the lack of candor (or if you're from Canada or the UK, candour).

The work I do with corporate clients ranges from partnering with individuals for performance-based coaching (to help people knock their performance out of the park), team-based facilitation, individual and team-based learning solutions (what might be traditionally called "training sessions") and designing and delivering energetic and engaging corporate events.

The topics I cover range far and wide and one of the key areas I find where people hold back is in the annual (or semi-annual) planning process.

One of my clients recently held their annual planning meeting, full of really capable leaders who are truly solid performers. I was invited along to understand how their process works and to provide some coaching in terms of the process, facilitation and holding them accountable for the expected outcomes.

During each of the breaks, I take time to have quick check-ins with attendees to see if they are getting what they want from the sessions.

First time round, everyone says it's going really well and they love the way the session is being run by the CEO.

By lunchtime, I've had the opportunity to watch the attendees for around three hours and in that time, I've heard lots of good ideas from the attendees but I've also seen a lot of shifts in body language that lead me to believe, based on my understanding of human behavior, that people are saying one thing but meaning something completely different.

And so, during the break, I reach out to people again and this time I challenge them to find suggestions for improvements to both the meeting and also to the outcomes of the session.

After a moment or two of silence, I then see what I like to call the "Hoover Dam" moment. People open up and say what they really think about the agenda, the process we're following in the room and the outcomes that they believe may be flawed.

Now, I'm used to people having different experiences of the same event, so I ask around and see if that is an isolated experience. And it's not.

After time to warm up and think about whether they truly like what they are hearing and seeing in the room, people start to share with me what isn't right about that meeting. And when they start, they don't stop until they've made every single point.

So with the feedback coming thick and fast, I get a great sense of the issues with the way the meeting is structured and how it's leading the attendees to specific outcomes like a bad lawyer leading a witness uncontested in a courtroom drama.

This makes me think about two things;

Firstly, the value of the session. It's costing the company a huge amount of money to have those people in that room for a full day and if the outcomes have already been determined, there's no value in having them there. It's not as if people are even buying into the outcomes; they know that they are a fait accompli and so there's no reason to have them there. In this case, if the outcomes have been decided, a carefully written email to the same people would suffice.

Secondly, knowing what these people think about the decisions that are being made, I wonder why they don't stand up, share their views on the process and outcomes and be counted. All of them disagree with at least one component (for good reasons) and many of them disagree with multiple points. They have their own valid perspectives of their business units and functions and they know them in more detail than the CEO.

This takes me back to the opening point; companies hire capable people and they trust these people to make the right decisions. But in this case, the right decisions are not being made because people are not communicating their thoughts.

Sure, I get it; it can be scary sometimes to stand up and be counted. But to this I say, is it better to stand up and be counted or is it better to stay quiet and let the wrong decision stand instead?

I collated comments from the group and after anonymizing them, I went back to the CEO with my feedback. And the funny thing was that he was shocked that no-one had told him how they felt in the ten-plus years the meeting had been run that way. He had hired capable people; people he trusted, after all.

So here's a challenge for you; the next time you're in a meeting and you disagree with what is being said, stand up and be counted. Find the right way to express your opinions and get your point across so that you can help shape the outcome and change the direction before it is set in stone. You may feel alone when you first make your stand but you won't be alone by the time you finish - it could well be that everyone else is thinking the same thing, too. And the impact of your stand will be felt by not just the people in the room but by all of the teams that rely on the decisions being made therein.

Rob Whitfield is the CEO and Founder of One Brit, No Bull, a corporate training and coaching company based in Los Angeles and operating worldwide. Rob can be contacted here or on (+1) 518 9NO BULL.

Sign up now for the free periodic One Brit, No Bull newsletter and make your life amazing with career, money, relationship, health and fitness, communication and other life affirming tips delivered straight to your inbox! Hurry! Sign up here!

As well as being an experienced management consultant and energetic public speaker, Rob Whitfield is a certified Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a certified Master Coach and a certified Master Practitioner of Hypnotherapy and Time Line Therapy. No Bull.

This winning technique will let you achieve more!

I get it, you're busy. Most people are. And if I told you to make time to do just one more thing a week, you'd probably laugh at me because, well, you don't have time to do the things that you've already got to do!

However, I'd want to challenge you on this. Why? Well, I'm willing to bet that there's always a way to get one more thing done in a week (and maybe even one more thing each day!). Here are a sample of ways you can make more time in an impossible situation;

  1. Drop something off your to do list completely because it doesn't give you value, or it doesn't generate enough value to make the task worthwhile (removing time draining, value-free tasks completely)
  2. Re-prioritize something more important on your to do list and do the less important thing another time (swap low value activities for high value activities)
  3. Get someone else at work or at home to do one of the things on your to do list so you have time to focus on the more important item (swap the person doing the activity)
  4. Use a service to free up some of your time, especially if you can pay a small amount of money to remove those routine, time consuming tasks on a permanent basis (swap the person doing the activity)

Now, we all rationally know that these are possible, but how often do you put these into practice? I'd be willing to suggest that you could do a lot more with a lot less time if you thought about it a little differently.

How often do you really look at your to do list and review whether the things on your list are actually valuable? I find a lot of personal and corporate clients just continue to run on autopilot, taking on tasks and completing them without questioning whether each task is a valuable activity for them to spend their time on. So, take a minute or two each day and consciously go through your to do list and decide whether you need to do the things on it at all and if so, which ones are your immediate priorities (providing the biggest value), which can be delayed for another day (valuable, but not urgent) or not completed at all (not valuable, so save your time and mental power by eliminating these from your to do list).

Then, you can figure out who will do the task. Simple stuff like this can significantly change how productive you can be, but moreover, it can really change the results you get because you are focusing on the most valuable things first! And in this world where it's easy to get stuck in administration and endless cycles of activities that don't get you a positive, valuable outcome, it's great to actually have something to show for your effort at the end of the day!

This is just one way in which you can look at things differently and there are many others across all aspects of your life, career and beyond that will help you bring new perspectives and challenge the norm in order to make your life amazing. For more suggestions, just reach out to me!

Rob Whitfield is the CEO and Founder of One Brit, No Bull, a corporate training and coaching company based in Los Angeles and operating worldwide. Rob can be contacted here or on (+1) 518 9NO BULL.

Sign up now for the free periodic One Brit, No Bull newsletter and make your life amazing with career, money, relationship, health and fitness, communication and other life affirming tips delivered straight to your inbox! Hurry! Sign up here!

As well as being an experienced management consultant and energetic public speaker, Rob Whitfield is a certified Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a certified Master Coach and a certified Master Practitioner of Hypnotherapy and Time Line Therapy. No Bull.

A perspective above all others

I have spent a lot of time on planes in the last month. Indeed, I travelled around 17,500 miles in just three weeks. It's not unusual for me to do so and it's a good job that it's never an issue for me as I fly regularly for work and I enjoy the experience of flying. I love watching the world fall away during take off, seeing the sun during the cruise at 36,000 feet and feeling the bump as the wheels touchdown at the destination. Then, of course, there is a world of possibilities when arriving in either a new or familiar location.

The best sensation for me as it all unfolds is the realization that we are always so deep in our problems that it can be difficult for us to see the possibilities that would enable us to solve the issues we are facing.

As soon as the plane takes off and the world is further away than when I was standing in the terminal building, I get an immense sense of perspective.

Suddenly, the constraints that we believe bind us are lifted and with a quick glance out of the plane window, I am faced with a view that reminds me that there are other people out there, there is more than the bubble I might otherwise consider myself to be in, and there's always more than one way to get to a destination.

As the hours pass, I push myself to see things differently. I find new solutions to challenges that I feel have plagued me for restless days and nights, I see possibilities where previously I only saw blockers and I feel my spirit rise - literally and figuratively - as the world reveals itself to me.

I know many people who use lots of different techniques to get the same outcome as I do when I fly and I encourage my clients to use these so they find new resources, options and ways forward. 

We can all truly grow when we face a challenge and choose to tackle it head on. Each time we do this and we overcome the challenge, we have grown and are able to deal with more - and bigger - challenges in the future.

And like my clients, I remind myself when I land that having the knowledge of the solution is only part of the journey to solving the problem. It's then up to me to make sure I harness that knowledge and keep myself honest as I complete the plan to get to the end game. So, as I walk off the plane after we've reached the stand, I know that I've made a commitment to follow through on solving that challenge and I hold myself accountable so that I don't lose that wonderful gift of perspective that flying offers.

What would you solve if you had a new perspective on your challenges and how would that help you grow? What if you could achieve all of the things you have your heart and mind set on? Wow!

Sign up now for the free periodic One Brit, No Bull newsletter and make your life amazing with career, money, relationship, health and fitness, communication and other life affirming tips delivered straight to your inbox! Hurry! Sign up here!

Rob Whitfield is the CEO and Founder of One Brit, No Bull, a corporate training and coaching company based in Los Angeles. Rob can be contacted here or on (+1) 518 9NO BULL.

There's no "undo" button in life

We've all made mistakes. And in life, there's no "undo" button that allows us take back an action.

Often though, people move from one mistake to another, creating a series of mistakes that spirals them into a place they truly do not want to be.

Think of a person you know on a diet, who goes out and drinks when they say they are having a dry spell. That's the first mistake. And then, having had a lot to drink they decide to consume all of the things they've said they won't eat; hamburgers, fries, bread and so on. They're compounding their first bad choice (given they were not drinking alcohol at all) with other bad choices (the food they were not eating) and the next day, they wake up feeling bad for the things they've done. They may also then decide to eat more food because they've already "fallen off the wagon". And so the process continues until days, weeks and months later when they realize that the breaking point was that first drink that was a mistake that triggered many others. And this is just one example of many...

Sure, it isn't great to make a mistake but one mistake doesn't need to lead to a series of them.

Making a mistake, and learning from it, can be a great outcome. And that's a lot better than making a mistake, not learning from it, and then compounding that mistake with plenty of others.

The next time you wish you had an "undo" button for something you did, remember that you can choose to learn from it and make a positive outcome or let one bad choice lead to another. It's your call.

Sign up now for the free periodic One Brit, No Bull newsletter and make your life amazing with career, money, relationship, health and fitness, communication and other life affirming tips delivered straight to your inbox! Hurry! Sign up here!

Rob Whitfield is the CEO and Founder of One Brit, No Bull, a corporate training and coaching company based in Los Angeles. Rob can be contacted here or on +1 5189 NO BULL.

Make your life amazing

We all have our own ideas of what amazing looks like. Perhaps your career is tip top and you are looking to improve an aspect of your personal life. Or maybe you think your relationships are great, but you'd like to achieve more in your career or work towards your fitness goals.

Whatever is important to you, you have to invest to get the results you are looking for. Remember, if you always do the same thing, you'll always get the same results and perhaps you've been doing that for far too long already!

So, make today the day you make a conscious change to your life. Choose or refine a goal, state it in a way that will help you be successful in achieving it, leave the doubting self-talk behind and go get it.

If you're looking for inspiration for your goal, or you need help articulating it or getting closer to it, just get in touch. And in the meantime, sign up now for the free newsletter and make your life amazing with career, money, relationship, health and fitness, communication and other life affirming tips delivered straight to your inbox! Hurry! Sign up here!

Congratulations to the lucky Grand Prize Winner!

Congratulations to the following winners in the final month of the One Brit, No Bull Spring/Summer 2015 Competition! Each person has won the prize stated;

  • S.S. from Leicestershire, UK: A 2 hour coaching session
  • P.L. from the UK: A 50% discount voucher for coaching services
  • D.S. from Los Angeles, CA, USA: A 50% discount voucher for coaching services
  • E.B. from the UK: A 25% discount voucher for coaching services
  • A.M. from Chipping Norton, UK: A 25% discount voucher for coaching services

And the grand prize, which is selected from all entries over the three month period, goes to:

  • P.P. from the UK: One coaching series from One Brit, No Bull, comprising 4 x one hour coaching sessions by telephone or Skype/FaceTime

Congratulations again, and remember that there are more opportunities to win prizes in future newsletters so simply sign up for the free One Brit, No Bull newsletter (here). And if you can't wait for that, start your personal transformation journey by requesting your free initial coaching consultation here.

NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT IS NECESSARY IN ORDER TO ENTER THE SWEEPSTAKES!

The Ups and Downs of Developing People

Annual Performance Management Cycles: The Ups and Downs of Developing People  

Recently, a number of large, high profile companies have said that they will be abolishing the annual performance review cycle. For those of us who have enjoyed, or endured, the process of gathering feedback from our (project) managers and having them reviewed by our career coach/counsellor or line manager, we have probably been through the ups and downs such a process can bring.

On the upside, mandating a process that requires us to get feedback (preferably both positive and developmental) on a regular basis each six to twelve months (depending on whether it is a semi-annual or annual cycle) means we are more likely to receive regular feedback that helps us to develop and grow in our careers. And if the process is tied to compensation and benefits, then we should, all things being equal, get closer to achieving or exceeding our goals providing the process is transparent and helps us understand where to focus our efforts. Of course, with feedback of any kind being a gift (it truly is, though that’s a separate topic for another day), it’s good to have either a pat on the back or an opportunity for improvement.

On the downside, if any of the parties (employee, project/line reviewer, coach/line manager) don’t actually buy into the process, they can pay lip service to any of the components that make up the process and depending on which party they are and how little they invest in the process, it can fail, even if it is a mandated process. For example, if a junior member of the team who has worked on three projects in a year gets one completed review, one very high level review and one review is not completed, the value of the annual cycle is pretty low anyway. If any of the parties do not truly understand how to set objectives, provide timely, appropriate feedback, then the process can also falter. And if any kind of performance distribution/bell curve is applied to the overall ratings, then even if every performer is a top performer, someone is forced statistically to be recognized as a “poorer” performer than their peers.

One of the immersive, experiential training courses I run is all about the topic of performance management, including how to effectively coach people and give feedback. I hear many horror stories about people being given feedback on incidents from two years ago even when there is an annual performance management process. I’ve also heard of people not having set objectives six months into a project. Believe me, I’ve heard all of the stories, and that’s without my own experience of having worked at Accenture and experienced it myself.

So, is this grand plan to abolish the annual review cycle a good idea? Popular in the professional services culture (especially in consulting) is the answer, “it depends” and that’s certainly the case here. 

The Washington Post reported that by removing the annual performance review, it would "do all of its employees and managers an enormous favor”. Is this really the case? The promise of employees receiving timely feedback from their managers is one that would be needed in a system where performance is measured annually anyway. The employee completes a project over 3-6 months and then there’s a review of that work, prior to the employee repeating that process until they have the required number of project reviews to cover the annual period. Most of the value sits within the project reviews, but equally, most of the time spent running the process is in the project review process. So, just by getting rid of the annual element that brings together all reviews for each employee (and often gives them a rating) doesn’t really make much of a saving in terms of time. And, it might be argued that having a coherent summary view across a period of time would be a good way to measure someone’s performance, and the individual might expect to hear a consolidated view, too.

Let’s be clear, removing forced rankings is a good step and allows people to be measured against expectations rather than being measured against expectations and everyone else’s performance at that level/grade. Removing time consuming paperwork is key, too. That said, the annual process doesn’t have to be a administrative process. Often, it’s the systems that cause the frustration rather than the process of providing feedback and developing others. In my view, every manager should be expected to develop their teams. All staff should be required to give feedback to people they work with. And none of this needs to be a paperwork heavy process. Indeed, it can be really (honestly) light touch. Although there is often a purpose behind recording feedback in a system that serves the individual employee, their manager and the company as a whole, the value in the process is truly in giving feedback and developing the person. The rest should be light write up and where companies often get it wrong is that the system of record is the main event for the annual process and the provision of feedback, development and support becomes the brief, secondary activity. That balance is totally opposite from where it should be. We should be spending 90% of our time on developing others through feedback and coaching and 10% of the time (absolute tops) on recording that in this form, that form, the other system and so on. To look at it another way, if the hours spent on filling in forms and updating systems were actually spent on developing people, identifying areas for improvement, offering feedback on their strengths, coaching them on how to get to the next level, then the time investment would be repaid many times over because of the individual growth each employee would experience. Now that is a performance management process that is worth investing in, and, frankly, pays for itself in terms of the huge growth and development of individuals, increased end client satisfaction, reduced re-work, increased company share price, etc. 

Deloitte’s new approach is testament to this; four simple questions (two binary, two open ended) reduce the administration significantly, without reducing the value of the information or the discussions that precede them. That said, at the time of writing, Deloitte hasn’t determined whether/how it will share the outcome of these questions with the employee that is the subject of the answers. That, to me, is ridiculous. As adults, we should be able to hear the feedback that is about us and in the event of these brief and binary question sets, we should get clear reasons as to why the answers are what they are. Without these, we are not giving individuals the opportunities to grow and develop. Instead, we’re just saying “you’re good” or “you’re not so good”. If I was on the receiving end of this, I’d like to know the answers to the (now only) four questions and I’d like some data and information to explain the “why”. There are other upsides to the changes Deloitte is introducing, including weekly check-ins with team members to help provide real-time feedback and guidance and, perhaps critically for the manager performing this role, it being part of his/her job, rather than in addition to it.

So, at a practical level, feedback given on the basis of a little though often will be more powerful. If I provide feedback 52 times a year, then I give the recipient of the feedback 52 opportunities to understand what they are doing well (so they can do it even more) and what they could do differently (so they can improve in these areas) and that’s much more powerful – and appropriate – than receiving feedback annually, or even 3-4 times a year. Plus, on-the-job feedback and coaching is more effective than giving someone feedback three months (or more!) after the event.

Each company will implement a process that they believe is right for them. Any performance management process can work well if it is implemented properly and it is based on sound principles. Shifting the focus from annual to quarterly project reviews doesn’t help per se, if the administrative side remains burdensome and perceived as more important than the act of giving feedback, coaching team members and developing people. It’s better to have a culture where giving and receiving feedback is the norm and documenting that is seen as a light touch afterthought (required to reduce corporate risk, etc.) than it is to have a solid, sturdy process that checks all of the boxes but fails to develop people along the way.

Rob Whitfield is the CEO and Founder of One Brit, No Bull, a corporate training and coaching company based in Los Angeles. Rob can be contacted here or on +1 5189 NO BULL.