Projects, Thoughts, Wheresmylunch

Quick fix vs long term

In the 80s, I spent some time in the middle east travelling – it was the done thing at that time. Staple diet was generally street food consisting of cheap pizza or more often, felafel with salad and humous in a pitta bread. It did the job, gave me sustenance and provided me with the energy to get through the day. The mass produced fry up created memories as the taste was unique to me and memories of that place frequently flood back as I visit street food outlets that seem to becoming more popular in the UK.

If I want to spend more time enjoying nuances of different taste, this generally means taking more time and more likely costing slightly more than a felafel. Each dish has been crafted by a chef, and the experience enhanced by what is in the garden at that time. Time is spent being looked after by a good waiter or waitress creating experiences worthy of memory.

I chose what to put on my lunch table dependant of many factors. Is it to be special, is it a quick sustenance fix, is the location special, is there anything else that I dont know about, what memories do I want to take with me, is it a healthy balance, is it appropriate for what I need right now, do I want to experience something different etc? All of which are fine dependant on what I need at that time.

Sometimes I need to think about a quick snack, at other times I have time to experiment and really discover something special.

This reasoning can be applied to the work and voluntary life that I lead.

My role is to create a lasting experience for the people that I work with on different shaped interventions, by creating a unique blend of learning based on what is relevant for them at that time. The challenge of course, is that sometimes people want a golden bullet to solve all their problems and are not willing to give the time, effort and investment to deliver it. Similar to the expert chef, those that are good in my area, train for years, are not frightened to experiment with new ideas that could stretch and deliver even better output and thrive on delivering that great experience – but this comes with caveats.

My experience in the middle east does not lend me to remember the precise name or location of the street vendors that sold me food – the experience was adequate.

My world – I work with people that I agree to that want to self select to be the best.

My choice – and a great lunch table to be serving and eating at.


Thoughts, Wheresmylunch

There is comfort zone and then there is comfort zone

Last weekend I went walking with the family to the Peak District. We decided to do an easy walk from Edale up to Kinder Scout and back. This is not a high mountain and was made more interesting by the bouts of horizontal snow driving into our faces at about 30 mph.

We were equipped – we were each carrying a map, compass, spare clothes, emergency food, whistle, bivvy bags, and first aid kit.

We scrambled to the plateau having clambered over rocks and were met with a sharp reminder of the cold winds hit you as you come out from shelter.

We started walking across the plateau and were all taken aback by the next thing that we saw. A couple, probably in their 20s, were walking across the plateau. They were both wearing trainers, the lady in jeans and the man in summer shorts. They were wearing trainer socks, and were not wearing what I would consider to be a substantive waterproof for the environment. Neither were wearing hats. At this time, it was just wind across the top but we had already trudged through a blizzard on the way up.

I had to challenge them. I re-reemphasized that what I saw was not really sensible in these conditions. That when it snowed, and it would, that the temperature would drop significantly and they would be in trouble. They reassured me that they were carrying warm clothes and that they would be ok.

By: Jeff P

I can picture a cartoon – a man with full mountaineering gear talking to somebody on the beach. Certainly as a counter, the mountaineer would feel out of place dressed as they are on the beach so why not the counter.

They carried on walking. As we passed more people coming towards us, the topic of conversation was about the beach outfits that people were wearing. It started to snow, not just downwards but horizontal at 30 + mph into our faces. It was cold. We used a piece of clothing called a buff and pulled this over our noses to reduce the snow impact. It gave some respite although not total.

The ground changed. Previously we were walking along a nice stone path but this had now changed into a peat path. One step would be fine, the next would take you to the knee in peat bog. I was pleased that I was wearing a walking boot as a training shoe would easily have been lost.

I do not know what happened to the couple. I did check on mountain rescue but there were no reports. All indicators therefore suggest that this did not end in tragedy – I hope.

However, some things are sure – the couple certainly took themselves beyond their comfort zone. I am sure that they had lots of mixed emotions as they battled the cold, and I am sure that they will remember the experience for years to come.

It raised several questions for me :-

  • When does stupidity kick in when operating outside of comfort zone?
  • When does dillusion start impacting what and who we are?
  • What indicators do we look for and listen to that could indicate that we are approaching or have gone over the ‘edge’?

We are resilient and adaptable creatures, we construct situations to help us play out the endings that we want to play out. We protect our status by not appearing to be weak, but at what cost.

The walk was lovely for us. Walking in the snow is always enjoyable – the crisp soft compressing sound as the snow gives way under your feet, and the dulling of other sound around you.

This is what attracts me to this ‘home from homes’. This arena is not outside my comfort zone. I have learnt to respect this environment by preparing myself for whatever this can throw at me.

Big learn today on many levels for many people!


How to get rid of noise in the head and make sense of it.

Modern business conceptHaving a hyper active mind is a great asset when it comes to generating ideas and solutions to problems. However, with it comes a sense of overwhelm and confusion leading to procrastination and potential paralysis. With so many options, ideas and concepts, our basic programming cannot cope and we become ineffective.

There are many methods available to help to overcome this. One of the most effective is meditation – or using a modern word – mindfulness. By gently focusing and defocusing on different things, mindfulness allows us to let go of noise that is not useful, and bring together thoughts that could lead to something.

Another technique that could work is brain dumping. This method is particularly useful for the visual and kin-aesthetic types. Let me explain how it can work.

Firstly, you will need some props. You will need a big pack of sticky notes (I refrain from using the trademark as cheaper alternatives are plenty available in low cost shops). You will also need a good pen. In choosing your pen, think about how you enjoy using this pen to capture your best work. For the third phase, you perhaps should think about a system of capturing actions that works for you. Some prefer pen and paper for this, although I prefer to use an electronic solution such as Asana, or Outlooks own tasks.

The process is simple to follow and could form part of a daily routine.

1065252_161722661. With your pen in hand, and your pile of sticky notes in front of you, start thinking about the stuff that is going through your head. On each sticky note write a brief heading of what this is about and move on. Resist the temptation to develop a solution for what you are writing and resist trying to write too detailed a description. Move on to the next sticky label, and the next, and the next. Keep going until you run dry (The first time I did this, this first phase took in excess of 45 minutes).

2. Phase 2 is now the organising part. As you have what was going through your head (with no limitations), you can now start re-arranging the pile of sticky labels into categories and sub categories. I found that I came up with a list of blog titles, so I put these together in a pile. Go by gut instinct – put sticky labels together based on what feels right.

3. Phase 3 is now about capturing your thoughts. As you work through your category piles, start capturing the detail in a central task list (remember, this is a system that works for you). If a deadline feels appropriate, it probably is important for you to complete soon. Perhaps you will end up with a pile of ideas that do not fit with where you are at the moment. This is fine but as opposed to discarding them, place these in a separate place to review later.

iStock_000016383694XSmallFor me, the benefits of completing this quick and easy exercise was inspiring. I completed this exercise over a period of a week. The structure of the exercise introduced structure to my thoughts and allowed me to prioritise in a way that I felt was correct. The important aspects were scheduled into my diary and prioritised, whilst the non important were noted for a future day. It is now not a 45 minute per day exercise but perhaps a 10 minute one that helps manage time appropriately for the rest of the day.

Enjoy playing with this and please let us know how it works for you!


For coaches : A new way to log your hours

I have been trying to find a system that I could use to keep track of and log my coaching hours, CPD and supervision.

The Coach Zone Activity LogSimply put, I could not find a system so I built one.

This is now accessible and free for my fellow coaches to use. Simply drop across to The Coach Zone and register for your free account.

Once you have registered, you can access this valuable resource through the top menu bar to add and view your activity.

This will be the first of many such tools on this site so please come and join us there for conversation, banter and ongoing coaching development.



Coaching in the Professions

Many professions have expectations about ensuring regular professional development (CPD) is undertaken to maintain an accredited status.

This CPD generally is focussed around the technical aspects of that role (Eg. to fill knowledge gaps in new legislation and reflect on how this will impact clients, or changes in tax law that impact the way you handle company accounts etc.). This technical aspect can be fulfilled by technical reading, being part of a learning environment, conferences etc.

There are other more personal elements that generally fall outside of the technical CPD. These personal elements carry enough power to derail a leader, partner, or manager and are often overlooked. The impact may also not be enough to derail, but could impact the retention of staff, motivation of environment and how the organisation copes with a changing landscape.

A few of these elements and examples are

  • Confidence – how do you cope when you are continually challenged? How resilient are you really?
  • Effectiveness – what habits have got in the way of doing the stuff that you should really be doing?
  • Change – how do you deal with change, both in terms of personal and organisation level? How do your staff feel when you are in a period of change? What performance impact does this have on their motivation?
  • Work/Life balance – do you have one? If this is an issue, what methods can you adopt to get this back in control? What impact is your attitude to work/life balance having on those close to you?
  • Your values – how do you deal with something that challenges your values? Sure, you can detach yourself but how do you deal with those lingering thoughts?
  • Conversations – do you have difficult conversations? how do you deal with them effectively and professionally? What lingering thoughts distract you before, during and after that affect your professionalism? What about how you deal with difficult and demanding people? Are you difficult and / or demanding?
  • Awareness – what insight do you have into your team when you are working hard? What strategies could you adopt to help become better at this?

Obviously, these are just canned questions designed to provoke response. However, building up a trusting and challenging relationship with a coach that is external to your organisation can assist in pushing through some of these difficult areas.

Do these resonate with you? If so, perhaps an initial conversation could be a starting point so we can see if we can assist you overcome some of these more personal and familiar elements. Your first step is to have an initial conversation with us – book this here.


The Coach Zone and the best use of your time!

Do you find that the time that you have available for doing things is quite limited?

Do you find yourself drifting between tasks?

By: John Loo

This morning, I sat listening to an inspiring talk by Louis Barnett. Louis is an exceptional entrepreneur who started making chocolates at the age of 12, and started to supply mainstream supermarkets at the age of 14. He managed to combine a favourite of mine (chocolate) with an inspiring and amazing tale for a 23 year old. He has experienced rapid growth, near failure, successful exporting to Mexico and UAE, and wears a loud shirt.

The important take out for me was combined with a question “So, what is the best use of my time now?”

I could have stayed and listened to a morning of talks, and perhaps I should if I was conventional and conformist. But – I had an urge to get back to base and do something. I had an urge to get something out of my head and plant it in one of my businesses.

I had been toying with ideas for “The Coach Zone” for a few months and what it would look and feel like.

  • I want to grow a community of great coaches, CoachZone-Logo-Full-v1mentors and supervisors that could work together to help drive the services profession to new levels.
  • I wanted to help provide some basic tools that people might find interesting. From day one, there is an activity log and a to do list that can help you keep track of those really important activities.
  • I wanted to provide a place where people can interact, where they can talk freely and encourage their contacts to do same.

So here we go – The Coach Zone is now Live. Come and join us free and start growing the conversation as coach, coaching supervisor or mentor


So, what is the best use of your time now?

When you move from task to task – what is it that makes you go to that particular next task.

Is it convention?

Is it next on the list?

Or are you going to challenge yourself and do the thing that you really need to do? The thing that could make a different, that could deliver you to the next level in what you dream?

No excuses, go for the passion!

DM us on Twitter to let us know what you are doing – @wheresmylunch or @thecoachzone



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The magical discovery tour

I would like you to come with me on a magical journey.

A magical journey that will lead you through exploration to discovery and celebration.

A journey that will help you release dreams and change things forever.

A journey that is within your grasp and your control.

Your discovery and celebration, meeting and engaging in your destination.

By: Ewen Roberts

You have just stepped out of your Tardis and it is January 2016.

Welcome to 2016.

The wind blows gently through the trees allowing the late autumn leaves to drop to the floor. The stream glistens in the early morning light and the ground crunches as you walk over the new frost. You see a person walking towards you, a person that you recognise. The person is living proof that you have done what you set out to do in 2015, that the person has enjoyed their journey and that they are already set for an amazing 2016.

You ask one question and receive one answer from the familiar but younger face.

“I had achieved my 2015 goal before I had even started 2015″

This hurts when you think through the logic. Not only have you been a time traveller but so too has the younger you that is facing you. You think to yourself, how can I finish my 2015 before I even start it.

But wait, by understanding and experiencing the success that 2015 has delivered will help me to plan and make sense of exactly what I need to do so that I can focus on what I need to do. I have achieved my stretch goals – how have I done that?

By: daveynin

A great analogy that I have seen, is that once we set a GPS to guide us to a destination, we trust in that GPS to get us there. So, the plan of achieving those stretched goals is the route that my GPS takes me.

You now feel that the plan is something that just needs to be there. But monthly, the 90 days and annual plan needs some time spent on it as working with stretch goals can be quite challenging.

However, the more time you spend on the plan, the greater the sense of achievement and understanding of what you need to do, what resources you need and by when.

The younger you asks you

“Who do you need to be and what do you need to have achieved to be as happy as I am?”

You ponder and think forward to the plan and delivery. You just need some time and challenge in helping to realise the younger you.

Ok – time travel and meeting yourself in the future is creating a time paradigm and could be a trifle unbelievable. The purpose of this story is to open your eyes in a nice way to the benefits of playing your plan forward.

So to the next steps. Think about the question “Who do you need to be and what do you need to have achieved”  by the end of 2015. Be outrageous in your wildest thoughts (concerning your success and where you want to be). Working with these stretch goals is good. Jim Rohn suggests that to ‘set the goals high and hard because of what you BECOME by attempting to reach them.’

We will tune back to this more over the next few weeks but please let us know how you are doing and get in touch if you want some help.



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The 4Ds of daily personal improvement

Over the past few weeks, I have thinking about how I can improve my daily work.

I am compelled to share this with you as a gift and in a way that you can make an impact into your busy life.

These are what I am calling the “4Ds”.

Diarise – as soon as you receive a date of an event, appointment, celebration or task deadline, get the date into your diary (electronic or paper really does not matter). This way you make a subconscious link to the date and will start working towards it. Remember also, that as your diary changes, you should delete or amend your diary. Use it to update content and location as this will prove invaluable at getting you to the right place at the right time with the right information.

Delegate – if you are the best person to do an action, then fantastic. However, it is likely that somebody else may have the skills to make this better. It may improve the quality of the output due to the skills of the individual you have delegated, probably be delivered quicker and free up valuable time for you to concentrate on stuff that is your forte.

Design a system – I have come across an amazing amount of repetitive tasks. Some of these tasks can be automated. So, as an example – somebody connects with you on LinkedIn, but you need to take this across into your own system. Using a service such as Zapier (, as soon as a connection is made in LinkedIn, the available information can be fed into most systems automatically. However, be aware that as LinkedIn does not give you automated access into some details such as email address, this needs to be typed in manually BUT you have captured some of the details automatically.

Do it – Get on with what you need to do. Those difficult tasks are often the ones with the biggest excuses. The ones that we all put to the bottom of the pile. It is also likely that these complex tasks also release the most.

Action – Try this and see how this can help make your busy and complex life more manageable.




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What has a sound mixing desk got to do with the consequences of messaging?

The words that you use, the pictures that you share, the gestures that you demonstrate in meetings demonstrate how your business is in you at that moment in time. These visible and non visible signals, therefore are important to be aware of when talking to clients and staff. 

What messaging are you giving out? Are they continuous with your vision or are they a paradigm shift away from what you are trying to achieve.

Bill runs a manufacturing business. He has a passion for detail and this is congruent to the accuracy of his plant. His business is growing based on great reputation, but so too is the pressure on Bill to make his plant work harder to deliver greater productivity. Bill finds himself being drawn into managing the operation, to apply pressure to some of the plant staff to get the product out. His staff feel this and respond. Productivity is increasing and product is getting out of the door faster, but the overhead costs are increasing as overtime escalates. Bill needs to manage this overhead cost down to maintain his medium term profit levels but this leads to de-motivation within his staff. The returns rate starts to increase and Bill finds himself having to address this now. Bill focuses on quality again, after all, this is what he loves. The cycle starts again.

What we see in this example are a collection of mixed messaging from Bill. Sure, he needs to adapt as the pressures from his clients change. The challenge for Bill though is how? What strategies can he adopt to help operate with changing priorities and more importantly how can these changing priorities be shared with his staff?

I often think of changing priorities as sliders on a sound mixing desk. 

The sliders reflect the different conversations that are going on within the business. The balance between them is therefore determined on how you as manager, as leader feel happy. If one of the sound channels is too loud, then the sound balance is wrong and the messages appear in-congruent with other messages. 

Think of it as not being able to hear the flute above the tuba…

Sound Desk

Photo courtesy of Sam_Glover(CC No Derivatives)

In Bills case, the accuracy, productivity, cost, and motivation sliders are in play (in a simplistic world). What strategies and therefore messaging that Bill adopts are down to him but he needs to sensibly explore these. By using a sequence of questions concerning consequences about a chosen action or chosen behaviour, Bill can explore what he feels will happen, explore from his perspectives the outcomes, and understand the messaging he needs to adopt. The questions are simple – 

  1. What will happen if the chosen action is implemented?
  2. What will not happen if the chosen action is implemented?
  3. What will happen if the chosen action is not implemented?
  4. What will not happen if the chosen action is not implemented?

Now, it is likely that this could be something that Bill can do himself. He could perhaps really dig into the detail, but the challenge for him is to be relentless in his pursuit of deep exploring the consequences and subsequent actions that could materialise. If not, perhaps some external help can assist (let us know using contact us) – but that is not the point of this item.

At the start of this item, I introduced the concept that the words you use, the pictures and gestures you use are important. If Bill is 150% certain of the consequences, he will be congruent in his approach, he will be convincing in his understanding of the situations and really in touch with his staffs feelings and motivation. Undoubtedly a good place to be.


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What is strategy coaching?

Lets take an assumption that you really do understand your business – the nuances, the operational challenges, the market opportunity, the finances, your unique selling points (USPs) and your competitors. Lets take this assumption further that you really do understand the direction that you want your business to go. Congratulations!

One question – who have you talked this vision through with?

Strategy coaching is about allowing you as your business lead to be challenged in a safe and confidential space. To provide the space for thinking about those little ideas you have been nurturing, and to explore how some concepts and designs you have been wanting to do but did not know where to start could be materialised.

Strategy coaching is about providing you, the business lead, a space to have those conversations that you cannot have internally with your fellow leaders. It could just be that conversation that you need to have to explore perhaps a shift in product or service strategy that could revolutionise your business. 

Strategy Coaching - Getting your target the right size.

Photo courtesy of No Derivatives)

Strategy Coaching is about exploration of the unknown, being led by a trained and experienced coach using their skill as a coach to enable greater foresight into the decisions that you will take as an outcome.

Its about making your target big enough, and making sure that you adapt your business to cope with a bigger target, whatever that target turns out to be. Its about opening the eyes to the possibilities that your business might be able to deliver,

If this excites you, then make contact with us now using our contact form for an initial chat.


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