Before you go on holiday, be sure to read this.
We have had two perfect weather months here in the UK, and as August begins, it is another perfect day!
Being in the office can seem like a real chore in this beautiful weather, especially when many of your colleagues are on holiday. Here is an article on some strategies for avoiding work or ‘slacking off’ as we say in the UK.
I’m going to try being scary and see if that works!
We all know that reading or watching the News can be a depressing thing. There is such an obvious focus on the horrific, unlawful, catastrophic and sad that reporting anything more positive seems to trivialise the awful.
On the BBC News page today, there are stories on Gaza, Ebola virus, the tragedy that was M17 and the ongoing hostilities in Ukraine. Then, tucked away down the side are reports of sporting triumphs from the Commonwealth Games, the announcement that a popular Cookery Challenge is about to start on BBC TV and what it’s like to eat out alone.
This vast range of information and the consequent feelings it arouses in each of us must take its toll. How are we supposed to react to this page of News? Switch effortlessly from deep concern, sadness, outrage and fear, to happiness and excitement and thoughtful pondering? Surely experiencing such a range of emotions in such a short space of time only has one result – we feel less and less. Our capacity for empathy is flattened and we become less involved with the world and what is happening to our fellow man.
Perhaps it is time to turn our attention closer to home and focus on what is happening to our friends, colleagues, neighbours and family. Look after them, help them, rejoice with them and empathise with them. It seems to me of far more value than agonising remotely about things over which we have no say.
As the weekend comes around again, we all hope the weather stays warm and sunny so that we can get out into some of those warm golden rays. So much has been said and written about the danger of too much sun exposure, but that doesn’t mean we need to avoid it altogether. In fact sun is essential for good health and well-being. Just 20 minutes in the sun every day can make all the difference to how you feel. We breathe more deeply when we are in the sun; we slow down; we stretch and we SMILE! All these actions relieve stress almost instantly.
Imagine if you were robbed of your voice?
Imagine if overnight everyone started speaking a language you didn’t understand?
Imagine – if you can – how isolated and excluded you’d feel.
Now think of the last time you engaged with someone who isn’t a native speaker. Did you shout? Did you roll your eyes? Did you speak as if to a rather slow, distracted child?
There is nothing more isolating or humiliating than to be scorned, mocked or ignored because of your lack of the vernacular.
My English student has come through 6 months of this and her experience is both heart-breaking and, unfortunately, not uncommon. She was sent from her company in Spain on a placement to the UK. Besides the myriad difficulties of getting to grips with a strange country on her own, she has been systematically ignored by her colleagues because she doesn’t speak enough English to feel she can break the ice. Although she can speak English and does so with me, she is perceived as “Foreign – ergo, a challenge to speak to.” Many a day went by when she wasn’t even greeted. How she has managed to stick to her guns and work out her placement, I do not know.
Yesterday, as her contract comes to an end, she said to me, “But they don’t even know me. Six months and they know nothing about me.” I try to tell her that is their loss, but it doesn’t even come close to making her feel validated. She cannot wait to go home.
Look around your office. Is there a non-native English speaker somewhere there? Don’t let them leave without at least trying to make them feel that you care enough to find out a bit about them.
As Wimbledon lights up our screens under a beautiful summer sky, we are treated to the very best in tennis and the very best in the top players. They bear witness to the dedicated hours of hard work, the relentless practising, refining, tweaking and maximising their strengths to mask their weaknesses.
But it isn’t just hard work – if it was only hard work that put us at the top, plenty of anonymous people would suddenly surge to the fore.
So what is it then? A mindset? A drive? Resilience? Determination? And how do you feed those things? What is it that makes those qualities stronger in some? A coach? I think not. Coaches are important, but they don’t do it for you. What a coach brings is empathy. “I’ve been there. I’ve lost and come back. I’ve played the best and felt enriched by their power and strength. I’ve won and felt humbled by the experience. I know how you feel.”
Empathy – the one thing that makes us all feel like champions and the one thing we can all learn to share.
Summer, tennis, great weather and almost the weekend. On the Happiness Scale it appears the British are somewhat happier than the French, but not as happy as the Swedes.
We know that happiness is a choice we can all make. Here’s Pharrell Williams to help you make that choice, even just for a few minutes.
Bob Dylan says, “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.”
Maya Angelou says much the same. “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
How do you measure success? Money? Things? Achievements? Awards? Legacy? A life lived well? Is it a big thing or a small thing or a lot of things?
Take some time today to think of your successes and don’t forget the ones you’re bound to forget!
Some interesting figures from the Office of National statistics:
This article from BBC News looks at the benefits for both the individual and the economy in general when people take the plunge and start working for themselves.