Friday, 22 July 2011

Change is Opportunity NOW

I was on the phone to my new business partner Debbie yesterday and we were talking about ‘change’, for me ‘change is opportunity’. Why do I say this? Well as much as some of us might dread the thought of change, I absolutely love it and find it an exciting challenge. I don’t want to sit in my ‘comfort zone’ all my life, it is important for me to get out there, embrace new challenges and live life. If I fail, well I feel I have only learned some great lessons that will strengthen me as a person.

I was sent this wonderful quote last night by my friend Stephen, “if we never fail at anything we are not being adventurous enough” by Peter Huntley, MD of Go North East buses, what a truly wonderful quote that is. I would rather try and fail 1000 times than not try at all. Determination, persistence, passion and never giving up is the qualities that I feel will get me everywhere. We all know the famous saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ so I would also throw in some ‘patience’ to this amazing mix of ingredients.

What I would say however is that to make change happen you need to know exactly your answers to the following questions:

• Where you are going?

• What do you specifically want to achieve?

• What do you need to be, do and have to get there?

• What activities can you take action on NOW that will have the greatest impact on moving forward towards your change goal?

Change is a choice and once you make that full commitment to change anything in your life you must take ‘MASSIVE ACTION’ to initiate the process. When you start taking meaningful action towards your change goal you will get more and more motivated by the results you start to see – the fruits of your labour.

To change effectively and for the long term you must start at the core, with the root “the roots determine the fruits”. That means change the way you think, which will change the way you feel and ultimately this will change your behaviours and it is in what you do that will help you get real results.

So make that decision today, challenge yourself, be open, flexible and adaptable to change, welcome it with open arms and express who you really are because the only constant in life is change and if you stand still, I believe you are actually going backwards, as others makes changes to drive ahead they will most definitely overtake you – so don’t be left for dust, change is opportunity NOW!!

By Claire Murray
Director of Murray People


Monday, 10 January 2011

A Collection of Learning Quotes

By James McLuckie
Happy New Year everyone! I hope that you all had a great festive season and are raring to go in 2011. At the tail end of last year, I put out a few requests for people to reveal their favourite learning quotes. To help provide an inspirational start to 2011, I thought I'd collate the responses and share them with everyone.

Apart from being a motivating and encouraging collection of words, it's interesting to note the difference in styles of the quotes offered. Some are very to the point, others more poetic. There are some true gems and words of wisdom amongst them, and I thank everyone (listed below) who took the time to either provide a quote or helped to spread the word.

"Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner forever." - Anicent Chinese proverb

"Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will." - Vernon Howard

"It's time you moved out of your comfort zone. You're only restricting yourself by staying there." - Manager to employee

"Finding the answer is not learning. Learning happens when your question keeps evolving and changing." - Robert Henderson

"Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted." - Albert Einstein

"If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." - Abraham Maslow

"You can never really teach a person something, they have to learn it for themselves." - John Whitmore

"If your body don't move, your brain don't groove." - Anon

Piglet: "Rabbit, is that you?" Rabbit: "Let's pretend it isn't and see what happens." - A.A. Milne (in 'Winnie the Pooh')

"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink." - Contributor's father

"I think that much of the advice given to young people about saving money is wrong. I never saved a cent until I was forty years old. I invested in myself - in study, in mastering my tools, in preparation. Many a man who is putting a few dollars a week into the bank would do much better to put it into himself." - Henry Ford

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled." - Plutarch

"A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way." - Mark Twain

"The biggest obstacle to learning is a talking teacher." - Anon

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." - Mahatma Gandhi

"Work is learning, learning is work." - Harold Jarche

"Training gives people solutions to problems already solved. Collaboration solves new problems none have solved before." - Marcia Conner

"I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think." - Socrates

Alice: "Could you tell me please which way I ought to go?" Cat: "That all depends where you want to get to." Alice: "I don't really now." Cat: "Then it doesn't really matter which way you go." - Lewis Carroll (in 'Alice in Wonderland')

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do." - Leonardo da Vinci

"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." - John Wooden

"Change myself and the world changes with me." - Anon

"I can't make people learn I can only create an environment where learning can happen." - Anon

If you have some words of learning wisdom that have inspired you, please do share them using the comments box below.

Many thanks to Fiona Gifford, David Shindler, Jo Fielding, Mel Ashworth, Jane Honeybourne, Mo Harford, Tony Moorcroft, Gilmore Global, Mark Britz, Judith Christian-Carter, Claire Borer, Kate Rigby, David Smith, Devon Scheef and Michael Palko for their contributions to this list.

If you'd like to share some thoughts on this blog please complete the comments box below.
James McLuckie

What I Learned in 2010

James McLuckie
So, we have once again reached that time when we reflect up on the year that has passed and start to consider the twelve months to come.

I regularly take part in the #lrnchat (Learn Chat) Twitter discussions. These always start with the moderator asking "What have you learned today?", which is a question that I get a lot out of asking myself, yet don't do it enough. This simple reflective exercise is usually motivating and inspiring, sometimes a little disheartening, but it's always educational.

Similarly, I also enjoy hearing from others about their own learning experiences, and often take ideas and encouragement from them. And it is in this spirit that I offer some of the things that I have learned in 2010. It's very far from an exhaustive list, but it's an insight into some of things that have shaped my learning in 2010 and have had a lasting impact on me.

It was time to get sociable. Social learning and social media were not new concepts in 2010. But this was the year that I saw a noticeable shift in people's use of, and attitude towards, learning via tools such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs and wikis. A lot of the old arguments seemed to dissipate, and excellent books such as The New Social Learning and Social Media for Trainers put forward extremely persuasive cases for leaders and L&D departments to embrace these applications. As an experiment more than anything else, I committed to building a Personal Learning Network (PLN) using Twitter and LinkedIn, and have been overjoyed at the results. Now, whenever I have a question I would like answered, an idea to share or simply want to feel inspired, I dive into the various groups and networks that I subscribe to or follow. I am seldom left wanting.

Make time for friends old and new. Building this PLN has meant that I have come across some truly inspiring, engaging and motivating characters. I now wouldn't be without my regular exchanges of tweets, emails and messages with them. However, I also discovered a rich stream of learning was waiting for me via former acquaintances. Inspired by a Facebook friend invite from a school mate I had not spoken to for nearly twenty years (I know, I don't look old enough), I actively befriended other school and university friends. I have learned so much from these people - not just professionally (as some of them ended up in similar fields to myself) but through their attitudes to life and the way they have dealt with their own challenges and experiences. I am so pleased that I took the time to reconnect with them, and would urge others to do the same.

Share and share alike. During 2010 I posted a lot of articles that I had written, and shared advice (however meagre) and opinions (however unsolicited) on various blogs, groups and networks. The messages of thanks and feedback that I subsequently received were wonderful. It has been great to know that my input has been appreciated by someone or has made a difference. So, now whenever I read something, or come across someone, that excites me I always take the time to follow up with them. More than ever I appreciate that it is this cycle of sharing and communication that sustains learning.

Go with the flow. In our overly planned and thought out worlds, it can be a startling or scary thought to let go of the lists, schedulers and methodologies, and just make a start on something to see where it ends up. Despite the advice from everyone that I should be completely forensic about it, I had been procrastinating for so long on my Masters dissertation that a few months ago I just got on with it armed with nothing but a vague idea about looking at social media and learning communities. My research question and methodologies have probably morphed about twenty times but now I have arrived at a place where I think I will produce something genuinely interesting and worthwhile. (Check back in April to see how THAT turned out!) It was a great lesson to me that when you get these chances to just go wherever your processes take you, to embrace them.

Over to you now and a question following the statement at the top of this page: what have you learned in 2010?

Guest Blogger:  James McLuckie

Monday, 6 December 2010

10 Things To Do When You're Snowed In And Bored!!

1. Update your CV

When you have got some extra time on your hands, it is always a good time to update your CV and make it more current. You never know what it may lead to just now or in the future.

2. Read a Great Book

The famous Jim Rohn talks about increasing your value to the market place, one way to do this is to read a book that will help you learn more about a subject you are interested in or enhance your own personal development.

3. Set Yourself Some Goals

Don’t wait until 1 January 2011 to set yourself some life and career goals, while you have some time on your hands, do it just now. What do you want for yourself for the future, what have you always dreamed of doing or achieving? Write it down now.

4. Phone a Friend

Now is the time to take the perfect opportunity to phone a friend and have a good old natter. One of the best ways to spend your free time.

5. Write Your Christmas Cards
This a great time to get organised and write out all your Christmas cards. Then you can gladly tick this one off your ‘things to do’ list.

6. Watch an Old Movie
When it is cold and wintry outside there is nothing more enjoyable that sitting with a mug of hot chocolate watching an old classic black and white film. I would recommend the feel good film “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

7. Christmas Tree
Now is the time to put up your Christmas Tree, chill out and relax to some Christmas music to get you into the festive spirit.

8. Winter Clean
Use your time wisely to do all those odd jobs around the house that you’ve always been meaning to get to. De-clutter your cupboards and have a good winter clean around the house. Put the Christmas sparkle into your home sweet home.

9. Soak in a Bath
Now you have some extra time on your hands you can, light the candles, pour out a glass of some sparkly stuff and relax in a hot bath filled with your favourite soapy bubbles.

10. Write a Letter
Too often we use the convenience of email and social networks to communicate these days and often the good old snail mail is the most effective. Write a letter to a friend, they will be so amazed and delighted to receive it, you won’t regret the extra time that it took.

By Claire Murray

Monday, 22 November 2010

Powerful Co-active Coaching Questions


• What do you make of it?

• What do you think is best?

• How do you feel about it?


• What is the part that is not yet clear?

• How can you help me to understand more about it?

• What concerns you the most about it?


• What can you tell me about it?

• What other ideas/thoughts/feelings do you have about it?

• What else is happening?


• What is the opportunity here? What is the challenge?

• How does this fit with your plans?

• What is your assessment?


• What is an example?

• How do you demonstrate this?

• What have you done in the past?


• What do you want to explore further?

• What part of the situation have you not yet explored?

• What are your other options?


• What would you do differently in the future?

• What did you learn from this?

• What could you have done to have handled the situation better?


• What caused it?

• What led up to it?

• What have you tried so far?


• What is the action plan?

• What will you have to do to get the job done?

• What will you do?


• What will you take away from this?

• How can you make sure you remember what you have learned?

• How would you pull all this together?


• What is your desired outcome?

• What do you want?

• How will you know you have achieved it?


• What do you plan to do about it?

• What kind of plan do you need to create?

• What could you do to improve the situation?


• What seems to be the main obstacle?

• What seems to be the trouble?

• What is stopping you from moving forward?

Extract from Co-active Coaching, 2nd Edition

TALKING Technique for Assertiveness


TALKING describes a 7 step process for handling problems in an assertive way. These are:

T – Tell the person what your issue/concern is, from your perception, and what impact it has e.g. on the performance of the individual, team, organisation. Where appropriate, relate to job expectations, duties and
responsibilities OR Policies, Systems and Procedures.

A – Ask the person what their perception of the situation is e.g. what do you think about that? Find out what is the root of the problem, (usually the poor attitude/behaviour is a symptom of the root problem).

L – Listen (actively) to what the person has to say, and reflect on where they are coming from, how they see the situation, what are the specific barriers?

K – Know exactly what the facts of the problem/issues are, from both points of view, before moving forward.

I – Identify the best way forward, exploring options and what positive impact this will have on the situation.

N – Note when you had the meeting, date, informal, formal, what was agreed.

G – Go forward with the best possible solution for the long-term solution and to build effective working relationships.

By Claire Murray

Purpose of Evaluating Performance

 Monitor progress

 Highlight areas for development

 Address issues/concerns

 Meeting role expectations

 Meeting expected standards

 Achieving goals

 Identify systems/processes for improvement

 Acknowledge good performance

 Sets and reviews targets

By Claire Murray