Category Archives: Life!

Train Life

I set myself a couple of challenges with my New Years Resolutions this year: firstly, to reduce my carbon footprint and secondly to use my time more effectively.

So the first change to make on the way to achieving these goals was to switch the car for the train where possible. Admittedly I am lucky to live within a stone’s throw of the Tarka Line between North Devon and Exeter, but even so I have been surprised by the outcome.

First of all the train is cheaper than driving in to Exeter, especially when you add the cost of parking. And it achieved my primary objective of reducing my car’s carbon emissions.

In addition to this I can sit on the train working, reading, or writing (blog posts for example!). I try to spend my driving time listening to audiobooks and while this is mostly educational it always feels like using up dead time rather than being productive time.

So far so good, these are the changes I expected to see. But I have noticed other changes that I didn’t expect:

I have to be more organised – I think I’m pretty organised with my client work, but planning of my personal time is always far from being a priority. Now I am making more time for getting to and from events, so I am more relaxed and more likely to be on time!

I’m walking more, to and from the station, which I hadn’t realised would happen. And it’s through the centre of Exeter past all the lovely shops; because I’m walking I can I actually appreciate it, rather than just grabbing essentials at service stations.

Finally while I like to think that I am comfortable with new situations, I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve had to learn (read this as how many times I’ve had to ask people for more information!) and this has highlighted how stuck in my ways I’ve got.

I’ve learnt loads about the Tarka Line, needing time request that I stops at the right place, needing to find out which platform to be on (sometimes there’s just one, for both directions!), how long it takes to walk across Exeter, and how to solve the various problems that have already sprung up.

Plus I’ve learnt more tedious things like how my laptop bag isn’t as waterproof as I had thought and how I need to reconsider my handbag choices so that I can carry my insulated coffee cup around after its been emptied!

The bottom line is that I am loving the train travel, even without considering the money or carbon saved. So from next week I’ll be using the train for travel north into Barnstaple and I’m ready to consider the next change to make.

Sowing the seed of a solution

Sow the seed of an idea to your staff
Humans are funny creatures. You can present a person with all sorts of perfectly logical, suitable solutions to their problems but you can’t guarantee that they will buy into any of them.

Maybe they don’t understand the solution, maybe they don’t like the changes that you suggest or maybe it’s just that it’s your idea not theirs. But whatever the cause the cliche “you can take a horse to water, but not make it drink” is very true.

I have come across this problem more often in a work setting (although it definitely comes up a lot with children, or my children at least). I guess part of the resistance is due to lack of understanding, part a simple resistance to change and part vanity (the “its not my idea” part).

You can’t usually force people to take your advice, so how can you get around these barriers?

It’s important always to focus on what’s right for the business or people concerned. That means leaving your EGO out of it!

My preferred tactic is to try to “sow a seed” of my idea:- introduce the idea, but then stand back and wait for the idea to grow in the other person.

The idea needs the right conditions to grow – more information about why the problem occurs, what the effect is, reasons why the solution you have proposed is right.

It also needs time to germinate…

But in the end the plan is to work with the other person to help them recognise the value of the solution, and feel that they have an equal part in coming up with it so that the problem is solved one way or another.

Note to my clients: This is not inspired by any client past or present, it’s a musing from helping someone else solve an issue with their colleagues!