Autumn leaves start to turn And she blows her chilling wind. The rain now feels colder and wetter Than the September kind, Flooding the parched earth And bringing a new spring.
It’s time for a clear-up (Or is it clear-out?) Out or up, no matter, stuff has to go… To make space for new things to come. A sort of Spring clean in Fall (There are no words for it… yet)
The strange thing about this time of year Is that releasing those things that you no longer use Can be seen as leaves falling from a tree They may still be of value to others: One man’s waste is another man’s water It’s the want not, waste knot!
Do we REALLY need it? Do we have a PLACE for it? Will we really USE it enough to own it? Do we LOVE it any more? When was the LAST TIME we used it? Won’t we bee better off if we RELEASE it?
Where there is tension, let it resolve. Where there are liabilities, let them be settled. Where there are past traumas, let them rewind. Where there is resistance, go with the flow. Where there is anger, let you have peace. Where there is darkness, let it be light!
Want not, for there is an abundance for all. Horde not, for others may have more need. Release yourself from things that no longer bring you joy. (For me it’s unread books and unplayed musical instruments) Untie the want knot and release yourself from stress. Come, join the revolution!
Last week there were no Thursday Thoughts. I was in Edinburgh and thinking far too much to write about it. Today I had to go up to London and got writer’s block until a chance Skype conversation with Malcolm about random stuff. It got my right brain going and I am now back in the flow.
In much of the work I do, I am drawn to creating order from chaos by documenting the present situation. One very useful tool is to take an inventory of what is. A version of the truth that is accurate enough to be good enough. It is like the difference between German and British accounting: German accounting is always exactly wrong: British accounting is almost roughly right!
So it was I was chatting to Malcolm on Skype who was listening to Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time – a discussion on James Joyce’s Ulysses. At the start of the talk, Bragg points out that it is one of the most famous books of the last century – and one that few have read cover-to-cover – myself included.
It got me thinking about the fact that 95% of books are never read. Mine included……
So I thought, what about an inventory of all the books I have – and then work out how many I have actually read? More than 1,000 books – and less than 5% read? I suppose that the types of books I collect are not novels. They are more like factoid books, text books, “how to” books. Bee books, personal development books. I don’t read novels. My father used to say “Life has enough drama in it that I don’t need to go to the theatre”. I think the same about reading books.
So the inventory, used with the mirror, forces to look at yourself, your behaviour, your reality. But the Skype conversation I was (and still am) having with Malcolm on this touched on another interesting thread. The fact that I am of a generation where physical books represents learning, knowledge and intelligence. But for my children, the world is very different. An Amazon Kindle could contain the same number of books as on my bookshelves and many more besides. For generation Y (which I call Generation Why – because they always seem to be asking the question Why?) the value of owning physical books is almost diametrically opposite to mine. To take an inventory of Apps on my MacBook (which I also collect) takes less than 5 seconds. The software can be updated across the internet when new versions arrive. Information is more transient. More connected, near-free to produce.
So what? Well it is time for me to start to clear the clutter of my bookshelves. To stop ordering physical books on Amazon. To change my behaviour. One of the most difficult things to do. But the inventory and the mirror are perhaps the most powerful tools to help change behaviour. Question is whether I can reduce my inventory without being distracted by workload, the bees, the dogs, the children – oh and that urge to go onto Amazon to buy another book on my Wish List!
Time for an inventory. Time to put the mirror up! It works with clients – but is so much harder to do to oneself!
You are probably past the point of setting New Year’s resolutions and have forgotten the one you set last year. Yet when you look back a year and look forward a year, it is surprising how little changes and how much stays the same.
Sure, 2011 was turbulent for many. In Europe, we seemed to leave the year with an uneasy sense of unknowingness about what lies ahead in 2012 for the Eurozone. And we are told that the world is now so connected that we don’t need New York to sneeze before the rest of the world catches a cold. The sneeze could come from Berlin or Beijing or anywhere else for that matter.
Yet there is nothing like a conscience and a critical review to remind you of what you committed to and what you forecast might happen…. And writing a blog is somehow a very public way of saying that I commit to something at the start of a New Year.
So it was that I was surprised to find that I went public this time last year to reduce my bodyweight. Apparently this is the most common New Year’s resolution that people make. I did actually manage to lose a stone between January and April last year – only to put on 9 pounds between April and Christmas!
So often, (in weight loss AND in business performance), the gains are difficult enough to achieve – but even harder to sustain. It is not that my body needs to be as heavy as it is. It is more about habit – and changing the habits that have been laid down over a lifetime. It didn’t take much for me to revert to my old habits as the summer came and the bees started to make honey!
Reading the press over the New Year, it was interesting to see that the UK population has become more and more obese – and some say over 35% is now obese. As has the banking system and, perhaps many of the service organisations that try to service our needs – or so the current UK government thinks.
So the question for me is how to we can reduce weight and sustain a healthy lifestyle in a world that seems to becoming more obese.
My diet last year where I managed to lose a stone in weight was not really a diet. I never felt hungry the whole time I was on the regime. I simply reduced the number of calories I ate.
In a similar way, the two puppies that we took on in September are a good weight – because they get fed the correct amount of food each day. It is interesting, also, that we have never been as healthy as our parents and grandparents were the 1940s when the country had food rationing.
It is not so much, then, about reducing weight. It is more about eating the correct amount you need to achieve and maintain a natural bodyweight.
So, for this year, as well as reducing weight (another stone would do), I resolve to try to sustain the weight loss. I would also like to do the reverse for my business – increase the revenues and sustain the flow! Funny that in March last year I earned the most in a month when my weight reduced the most!
Maybe one idea works with the other. Who knows? Maybe the Lean Folk know. Makes you think, anyway!
One of the great treats of Thursday (in addition, of course, to Thursday Thoughts) is Melvyn Bragg’s “In Our Time” broadcast twice each Thursday on Radio 4.
Last week’s programme (HERE) was about Heraclytus – one of the greatest pre-Socratic philosophers which is well worth listening to if you missed it last Thursday.
One of Heraclytus’ greatest observations was that everything flows, that everything is in flux, that everything changes. How right he was! It is interesting that there is not much new – for this is one of the foundations of lean thinking that underpins so much of modern management thinking.
Another famous quote of his was:
“No man ever steps in the same river twice,
for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
So as the speed of change has accelerated over the past three years, one begins to wonder whether anything is a constant.
The Ancient Greek Philosophers knew it all! Makes you think!
The “In Our Time” archive (going back to 1998) is well worth browsing – a rich variety of thoughts previously broadcasted on Thursdays long forgotten. I’m sure you will find something of interest – even if Ancient Greek Philosophy is not your passion!
Go on, step into the river! It is always different from the last time you stepped in. And you yourself will have changed since the last time too!
And this got me thinking….How is it that we ascribe so many negative connotations to a single idea – anorexic, anorecticbony, cadaverous, emaciated, gaunt, haggard, pinched, skeletal, wasteddeep-eyed, hollow-eyed, sunken-eyedgangling, gangly, unprofitable……etc. etc.
Isn’t it time for a new word to describe what is, essentially, keeping an organisation healthy? All better ideas for words and terms gratefully received!