Come Sun or Cloud…

Given that I’ve not long been back from an extended holiday period in Italy, I found it interesting that I should have the following insight in my own back garden only a couple of days ago…

It is very simple and frankly, I’m amazed it has never occurred to me before but then that is the nature of some thoughts – one day it simply dawns on you doesn’t it?

Anyway, the other day it was shaping up to be quite a pleasant sunny afternoon. So I took my lunch outside, sat on a chair and picked the bits of meat and cheese off my plate. When I had finished, I realised it was a lot hotter than I had anticipated and removed my shirt, soon followed by the t-shirt I had on underneath also. I rarely miss an opportunity to maintain a recently acquired tan!

I sat there for a good while, truly appreciating a bit of sunshine and thinking about a specific situation I am facing.

With my eyes closed, I was deep in thought when the sun went behind a cloud. At this point, I invariably grab my prescription sunglasses and ascertain how long the sun will be absent. If it’s a huge cloud, I normally go back inside and return to whatever I was doing before lunch.

On this particular occasion, the cloud was not too big and so I waited, sunglasses having been returned to the table.

Ever since I can remember (probably beginning in the famous, seemingly endless Summer of 1976) I have loved the feeling of the sun eventually emerging from behind a cloud and the sheer warmth landing perfectly on my closed eyelids.

It is almost magical and I love it every single time.

This time, when it came, I suddenly realised something that went deeper than my eyelids.

It went all the way to my heart.

Things can be extremely difficult when there are clouds in your life.

Sickness, relationships, business, work (or lack of). Anything that is causing delay and the ensuing frustration that follows can be tiring as well as a source of great stress and pain.

But when the sun finally comes back out, all the darkness can be left behind. Not always easily forgotten for most of us but bask in the sun long enough and it becomes easier to imagine a brighter future. Remembering how good it felt can help you to patiently wait for it to return yet again.

And it will. Always.

Come sun or cloud – and there will always be plenty of both – it is a wonder of creation. You can only do what you can do and then you simply have to wait.

(This is not my back garden!)

And the best bit of all is, you don’t have to go to Italy or anywhere else to have your eyelids licked by a ray of hope.

Simply look up, close your eyes and be encouraged when the warmth comes.





How Much Time Do You Have?

“How much time do you have?” When you hear someone say this to you it usually indicates they may have quite a lot to say.

What about if you ask yourself the same question?

There is no accurate answer of course.

Not if you’re thinking about how much time you have until you die.

I find myself coming back to this question more often than perhaps I care to consciously admit. The work I find myself doing is rich and varied but it all comes down to the same thing in the end…

What are you going to do with the time you have in your possession?

Many people’s lives are dictated by the extreme time constraints they have become accustomed to as part of their work or simply, their expectations of life in general.

“I don’t have time for that…”

“It takes too much time…”

“If I only had the time to do…”

You and I all have our own version of this familiar, almost daily script.

A little which ago, I heard a story about Ed Sheeran and Paul McCartney. Apparently, Ed Sheeran heard about something that his hero, Paul McCartney had said about his obsession with guitar playing.

Many people have heard about the ‘10,000 Hour Rule’ which stipulates that in any given area of expertise but especially in the area of performance of any kind – you need to have practised for 10,000 hours to get into that revered space of ‘expert’ or ‘world class’.

Anyway, Ed Sheeran heard that Paul McCartney reckoned he had chalked up over 100,000 hours – simply because throughout his life at any opportunity, he keeps picking up his guitar and plays.

Ed Sheeran was so blown away by this accomplishment that he apparently decided to get rid of his XBox and any other form of ‘gaming distraction’ and instead, use the time he would have spent playing on these things to apply to his own guitar-playing. In addition to his presumably regular practise sessions.

It remains to be seen if Mr. Sheeran maintains this high level of commitment to his craft but I thought it was yet another reminder about how we choose to spend our time.

In my own life, I am developing a passion for helping others find creative ways to use their time – especially while they’re at work – in order to become more productive, more effective and hopefully, more satisfied with how they spend their daily allotment of time.

Here I am delivering a workshop about just that and hopefully, all of the attendees will put into practise even one change that will enable them to feel more fulfilled by what they do every day.




Amazingly, No One Had Died!

I love reading books that can genuinely change your life. The Bible would be one of those for sure, and I try to read a bit of that every day.

I’ve already written on this blog about the amazing power of ‘Time to Think’ by Nancy Kline and the revised ‘More Time to Think‘, which I encourage my clients to read as well as practise – as much as they possibly can. If you missed it the first time, you can read it here

Well, a few weeks ago, one of my clients was telling me about a book that he has on his shelf but hasn’t got around to reading yet. It is called ‘Deep Work’ and whilst it totally complements the premise of ‘Time to Think’, it also allows you to put the strategies into immediate practise without any collaboration from anyone else at all.

My client and I agreed to read the book simultaneously (not literally you understand!) and review together at another session to see what implications there would be for both of us.

I haven’t got the space to give you full details of the impact that this book has had on me, but what I can do is talk about one small but significant aspect.

The sub-heading for the book is Rules for Focussed Success in a Distracted World. In one chapter, the author, Cal Newport suggests that if you are someone who doesn’t need more than a couple of seconds of delay before pulling out your mobile phone, then you will struggle to remain focussed when you are trying to engage in some Deep Work.

I instantly confessed to myself that he was talking about me as well as pretty much everyone I know under the age of sixty as well as a few who are over that age.

By this stage of the book, I had become so captivated by the sheer level of productivity and time management efficiency that can be achieved with a bit of hard work, cold turkey and good old-fashioned persistence, I was determined to prove to myself that I did not have to remain a slave to the ubiquitous distractions that track my every move and mood.

So I decided that when I went out the other day to run a few errands, I would actually – and deliberately – leave my mobile phone at home.

It was tough I have to admit.

Just leaving it there on the desk, all alone, with no one to hold it or speak into it, no one to check in with it intermittently.

I felt almost as if I was leaving a helpless baby in its cot while I popped out for an hour or two.

Leaving my phone felt irresponsible, mildly perilous and borderline illegal.

I have to confess also, I did have a moment of fear when I suddenly realised I would be in serious trouble if my car broke down, or there was a freak rain storm and I needed to call for help.

Thankfully, I dispatched all of those pathetic excuses aimed at keeping me in my digital cage and left my phone anyway.

At the supermarket checkout, I inevitably found myself in a queue and guess what, I looked around, smiled at one or two people, let someone go in front of me as he only had a couple of items. I even had time to soak up the mild thrill of making it this far without the so-called comfort of having my mobile phone on me.

Although at times, it did feel like a risky mission… albeit low risk.

I truly enjoyed a coffee in the sun, whilst simply gazing at the various people walking by, doing their thing…constantly checking their phones.  I was especially sad when I was convinced they were sat opposite a partner or friend (that is a whole other subject which I may return to at a later date).

By the time I returned home, amazingly, no one had died!

I had done it.

It sounds somewhat pathetic – when you really consider the challenge – but I have to tell you the feeling was very liberating indeed.

I loved the fact that I had one missed call! A genuine missed call – not one that I chose not to take because I was busy looking at something or talking to someone else.

Since then, I have been continuing to rein in my mobile distraction. I am constructing a plan that will allow me to do more Deep Work at the same time as live a normal, modern, multi-connected life – just not literally at the same time.

The section in the book where he talked about getting your phone out after a two second delay is called Embrace Boredom. An interesting invitation; why not resist that urge to pick up your device and – instead – take a few minutes to look out of your window, or speak face to face with a real human being, or go for a walk – the greener the better (another scientifically proven asset to your thinking).

What all this really translates into is this: if you can cold turkey your way out of this addiction to distraction, you may well find that you are appreciating a more productive reality.

Please feel free to reply with your most common forms of distraction and what you intend to do about them now.