If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.

Sitting in my office as I look out at a snowy scene, we’re variously trudging, finding a way through or grinding to a halt as we cope with the ‘Beast from the East’ as it has been dubbed. Resilient as the UK is, we’re not so good in extremes of weather.

The joy of snow is however unmistakable, whatever the practical implications. Leaving fresh tracks in the snow is magical and a powerful analogy for life.  Whether a new role, product, process or something that is utterly uncharted in your business or indeed the world, making new tracks is as special as it is sometimes scary. Forging a new path or following your passion can be challenging and hard, but it can also be uplifting and satisfying,  as we invariably discover hidden depths to our being.

Earlier this month, I was privileged to interview Billy Ward, global motorcycle adventurer and journalist.  The conversation was about how he forged his own path, how travel and adventure broadens and widens our perspective, and that the tricky obstacles often turn out to be the greatest catalysts to change and growth.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAUJy_nsgMA

I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.

And if you need some help or inspiration with finding your new path, you know where we are.

As Ralph Marston said ‘There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path. Don’t allow yourself to become one of them.’

My warmest wishes,

Kate

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The power of a new story.

The power of a new story.

Recently I had the joy of meeting Kresse Wesling MBE, the inspirational founder of Elvis & Kresse. Elvis & Kresse produce beautiful luxury goods from waste material. One of those materials is decommissioned firehose, to which many of us wouldn’t give a second glance on it’s way to the rubbish tip.
Firehose is decommissioned after 25 years, Elvis and Kresse extend  the story of this extraordinary material and in so doing many thousands of tonnes of this incredible life-saving material don’t go into the landfill. They also give 50% of their profits to the Firefighters Charity.

Watch the film:

with Kresse

It is a truly awesome story about;
  • Making your own luck
  • Finding your inspiration
  • The strength and support of other people
  • Overcoming obstacles
  • Making a difference
Many of us sometimes metaphorically try to put our own stories in the landfill. The stories that make us who we are, the wonderful parts and the bits we’re less proud of. After all the cracks in our story are where the light gets in.

In order to change, pursue a dream or create something new, we often have to be bold and create a new story or purpose, much like the glorious bags made of decommissioned firehose.

The film is full of passion, determination and inspiration to make a huge difference.  I hope that you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.

If you need an Executive Coach to help re-write your own or your company’s story, you know where I am.

My warmest wishes,

Kate

Kate Tojeiro is an Executive Coach to executives and leaders across the world in both large corporations and small cutting edge businesses, and author of The Art of Possible.

On the run….

Is there something of a feeling of being constantly on the run…..? Leading, tweeting, speaking, emailing, reading, exercising, building, posting (new age not postman styley), inspiring, eating, drinking, socializing, friends, family, travelling, ticks off the list, YOLO of course and then there’s sleeping…. Unless we physically turn stuff (technical term) off, it will happily buzz, bleat & chirrup news, info and more stuff ad infinitum….

ontherun

We’ve heard recently about people attending ‘digital detox’ programs, however is this perhaps missing the point. For all the distractions and disadvantages to our time from the digital world, the advantages and new ways of living, communicating, helping others and running businesses are extraordinary. Is it perhaps as it ever was, just different?

Carving out time to just ‘be’ has perhaps always been tricky in a busy life.

Not for nothing did WH Davies write the poem Leisure…..’What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare’……..in 1911.

I’m working in collaboration with a neuroscientist and I discussed with her that there appeared to be greater need for people to stop and pause even if just for a few moments. With a wry smile, she looked at me and said, no, for the brain to truly reinvigorate not a pause or a stop, after all our brains don’t stop or pause, unless of course something wholly terrible has occurred, just observe, take time to just look, observe and notice. It clarifies thinking and gives the brain a ‘rest’ – layman’s (my) term.

So, with permission from the pinnacle of current neuroscience to be nosy, I mean curious, perhaps we could all do with a little ‘time to stand and stare’.

stare

After all, a key component of the vast majority of successful businesses is watching, listening and learning about customer, employee and client activity and then doing something about it. Hard to do if we don’t know what ‘it’ is.

Have a wonderful summer.

My warmest wishes,

Kate

And if you have time for the whole poem, here it is….

Leisure by W.H. Davies:-

 

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

 

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

 

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

 

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

 

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

 

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

 

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

A little bit scared……

‘Do one thing everyday that scares you’ Eleanor Roosevelt famously quoted.
Easily said and quoted, a little less easy to do. Of course when we do something that scares us slightly  (or a lot) we learn, grow and develop even if we don’t feel that way at the time.

It is oft noted that people perform rather well when scared too.

This week I’ve been very fortunate to meet three incredibly inspiring individuals who have each done things that many of us would consider a little bit, if not downright scary; Toby Younger who finished one of the toughest races on the planet, The Dakar, on a motorbike earlier this year, his first attempt.
Rene Carayol, an inspiring leader who regularly speaks out and asks the difficult and challenging questions irrespective of who may or may not like it.  He is formidable in his beliefs and wonderfully provocative.
And Paul Gurney, an adventurer who in a twelve month period is tackling both the 5 week extreme race to the magnetic North Pole and the Marathon des Sables.
Watch this space…..
Fear is a curious emotion, that I’ve yet to completely comprehend. However, what I do know from the course of my work and general observation is that the majority of us spend our lives not only living in fear, but allowing it to dictate the terms of what we call life.
Whilst fear for sure has the potential to hold us back, being scared isn’t always quite as bad as it first appears.  Being scared generally means opportunities for growth and a step towards what’s outside that comfort zone and as those of you who know me will know, I’m all for that.
If we face our fears rather than run from them, our perspective on what we can and can’t deal with, will change (and usually for the better).
And of course, when we look back over the years, those things that we were fearful or scared of, don’t phase us anymore.
Obviously, we all wish to be safe and tend to design the world around us to be just that, though deep down many of us a crave a little bit more ‘scary’ in our lives.
Not all ‘scary’ is created equal.  Fear and feeling scared is universal, though some see fear and use it as fuel to create the life they desire.
I happen to think a little bit of scared is a good thing, so long as it doesn’t stop you in your tracks?
What will you do today that scares you?
(PS. I’ve signed up for a challenge next year  – not immediately scary from where I’m sitting, tea in hand, but thinking about it surprisingly so).

Gold-plated bulldogs.

Split in one tyre (that would be the unavoidable pot-hole due to oncoming traffic a few weeks back), a hole all the way through another and the third tyre was just on the legal limit of mms of rubber required.  The fourth was fine! I’d only popped in to the tyre shop to get my tracking checked, which not surprisingly was off.
My vehicular traumas however are not the topic of this blog. Rather, it was just where I wrote it, two and half hours for above said work to be done, wifi, coffee, unexpectedly became a perfect environment for my morning’s business activities.
The service I received was exceptional, I was shown the damage, not just told about it and taken through the tracking checks. Kept up to date all the way, treated like an individual and regularly refuelled with coffee.  Pretty standard practice I hear you say, but is it? Really?  Always?
Whilst pondering an imminent meeting, I suddenly became aware of the television in the corner of the room, it had obviously been in the reception area and on all morning however I hadn’t noticed it.  Denny Slagle, the CEO of Mack   was speaking about teamwork, people and what makes Macks special. He was also talking about being part of something that is bigger than yourself, what’s important and making a difference. 
Mack’s are American trucks (although now owned by Volvo), just as you might imagine an American truck, big, very big, brash, fabulous engines with lots of torque and horsepower and with a formidable sort of presence about them.  What captured my attention though was the sheer passion and enthusiasm of the Mack employees to get these vehicles out on the road in superb condition, efficiently and effectively.  And if something was looking unusual or irregular questioning it. Moreover, the individuality with which all the employees were treated was something else, an exemplary leadership standard if ever I saw one. 
 

Some of the employees were experiencing tough times for one reason or another but for sure there was a fantastic support network in the company.  People didn’t appear to ‘just’ go to work at Mack trucks, there was a greater importance attached to people’s lives and their communities and delivering excellence through a combination of skill, determination and hard work. 
Branding is talked about constantly however the branding that shines forth beyond the Mack truck and indeed STS in Letchworth goes way beyond the corporate colours. It’s about integrity, resilience, happiness   – perhaps qualities that can’t be put on a badge however the strength of feeling and commitment associated with them is immense. I’m not really in the market to buy a big American truck (funny that) but on the strength of the passion, dedication and enthusiasm I spied this morning, I’m tempted!
I was very honoured to be at a school last week where the headmistress gave a talk which I was quite taken by. Not once did she talk of academic prowess which she could very easily have done, grades or league tables but of the importance in our schools to teach children about thosethings that aren’t on the curriculum namely resilience, happiness and the ability to ask questions.  How fantastic, after all, these are the qualities that will mean the difference between moving ahead or not when life’s challenges appear, be it a difficulty on a production line, corporate challenge or something intensely personal.
On a final note, the gold-plated bulldog.  If a Mack truck has entirely Mack parts the badge is gold-plated, if other manufacturers have parts in the vehicle the badges are merely chrome!  
Is what you stand for gold-plated?