Monthly Archives: February 2018

The Vast Amount of Untapped Talent that is Our Country

Now I like bright colours and variety, along with hope, optimism and great music. Not surprising really as the times that I lived through as a young man (the 1960’s) were chock full of all of these. Despite spending much of that time in the army, even then, I didn’t do drab. Hopefully, that’s a reflection of my personality. Well, living in central London, as I do, you see that colour in the rainbow nature of our early 21st century society. Certain areas, in fact, like Dalston and Brixton, more so than others, with their streets full of people representative of the myriad ethnic groups that make up the world’s population.  Somehow, they all seem to rub along together as people usually do.

Yet, when I look at the various seats of power in the country, I find that, even though we’re nearly a quarter of the way into the 21st century, the overwhelming majority are occupied by white, middle aged, men. Now, I’ve nothing against white, middle aged men per se, after all, apart from the fact that I’d be stretching it to include myself in the “middle aged” category any longer, I’m one of them. Furthermore, to work your way up the ladder probably means that you are unlikely to be in the first flush of youth when you get there. Yet, according to the Office of National Statistics, white British people make up about 80% of the population of England and Wales, with males representing 48% of these and middle aged males 21% of the latter. So, if my maths are correct, that means that white middle aged men comprise just under 13% of the total population. So, is this over representation at the top a problem?

Well, yes, I believe that it is; in two main ways. The first of these is that, from the outside, it can give the impression that they’re there because they have some natural, inbuilt talent that the rest of us lack and, secondly, because that situation tends to perpetuate itself. The reality is, however, that there is a vast amount of untapped talent in this country (Jesse Norman, MP). Talent that isn’t nurtured. Moreover that situation is not only not good for the individuals concerned, it is also not good for the country as a whole. At which point, I’d like to plug my book, “The Real Big Society and my part in it”. This continues this argument and is chock full of examples of such unrealised talent in action; notably schemes whereby people who were homeless and unemployed, both men and women, built their own sustainable homes. Food for thought indeed.

Don’t Let You Hold You Back

I don’t do New Year resolutions or similar statements of intent. Instead I replace these with getting on with things. I may prevaricate while I work out the details, then, as I’ve written before, I jump. I find such a process a much more effective means of getting done those things that I want to do such that they then become just part of my routine. In this way, the action seems to have a permanent effect. Crucially, it helps me to dismantle those barriers in my head that prevent me from doing what I want to do.

So this week’s blog is a small celebration of that process in a number of ways. The first of these is that, for the past few weeks, I’ve  been getting myself into the frame of mind to make good my promise to myself that I would further develop, what I think is called, my “on line presence”. In old language that means making better and more use of the internet to generate work. Yes, I have the tools for this with a website, on which I post my blogs with links to my Facebook and Linked In pages. So far so good. However, this in itself appears not to be enough these days and that is where my mental barriers raise themselves with questions in my head related to “how much more of this do I have to do to get noticed”. At which point, what I now recognize as, those old childhood patterns reassert themselves with their attendant thoughts that “no matter what I do, it won’t make any difference”.

Well, with some emotional effort, this week, these were pushed to one side and, after  that due consideration, I jumped. Which, in this case meant calling on my good friend, Mike Blissett. Among other things, Mike is a bit of a whizz in presenting to camera along with the requisite technological expertise in actually posting the (very professional) results in the appropriate places on line.

Now, I’m one of those people who, provided that I have a few prompt cards or other presentational material, can stand up and talk for hours, so doing that to camera was no problem; or was it?  Well, yes it was. Part of this was due, again, to some of that childhood baggage (which I dealt with) and some to just coming to terms with the fact that the camera itself has an effect (which Mike helped with). His being a former singer and actor, of course, was useful. The result is that I now have a short introductory video and know how to work the technology myself so that I can improve this through rehearsal.

So, this is a big thanks to the inestimable Mr B (check him out on and a great example of how to overcome your own inhibitions. I now plan to set up the camera next week for some rehearsal time on my own!

To See Ourselves as Others See Us

The past few months has been ones during which I’ve had to push myself harder just to keep standing still and, if the truth be told, I haven’t done this as much as I should have. It’s a feeling that I’m starting to recognise and do something about; this getting older while still wanting to continue to make some, admittedly small, difference in life. Among the things that have reinforced those feelings of ennui, has been a bad back; this hindering my efforts to be as fit as I can. So I haven’t run or been to the gym for two weeks. Well, the first of these was dealt with on Sunday morning, around the park and along the canal (one of the joys of living in Central London). The second was harder, so much so that, yesterday, I convinced myself that yet another day wouldn’t make much difference. Until, that is, that part of me that does the pushing did just that and I picked up my kit and off I went.

Well, it was as hard as I’d expected it to be although made easier by the comments of some of those I’ve got to know. These comments, registered with a smile, of, for example, “After you, young man”, when I patently am not, a nice sign of their appreciation. This morning I ache but feel much the better for it, knowing that I’m getting back to where I need to be. Which brings me to my point; which is that I need to live up to being the person that others see and not the one that I see myself to be. Hence my need to step up and see and believe in myself as much as I see and believe in others.  At which point, I skimmed through the first few chapters of my third book “Lessons from a Chequered Life” . These were “Getting Older” and “What the Passing of Time Provides”. Perhaps I should take my own advice more often and keep going!

Hold Your Nose and Jump!

It has always seemed to me that the bottom line is that life is for getting on with no, “ifs” or “buts”. So, when I have a problem to deal with, the best way to do that is to actually deal with it. Having made that decision, I may prevaricate to start with, while I work out the “hows” and “whys”, but, in the end I often hold my nose and jump. The preparation, however, is crucial.

Unfortunately, in certain situations, there may be little time for such preparation and that is when you find out just how good you are; something that, in my experience, has proven to be better than I ever dreamt of. Moreover, those situations really can open the door to a different future for you and, if I’m any example at all, it’s a considerably happier and more fulfilling one. Who, for example, would have thought that a divorce would be the first day of the rest of my life? Finally, the world of work today is a less forgiving one that it was in my younger days; one in which jobs are no longer for life being just one example. In which case, you might as well make those changes because, if you don’t, the likelihood is that they’ll be made for you.

So, why am I writing this now? Well, for a couple of reasons. The first is that my youngest daughter is now at that stage where she is looking for the type of work that she wants and the second is that I’m now branching out into a new area myself and the blog is my way of making sure that I do it.

PS I’ve also arranged for my first video blog next week with the, ever reliable, Mike Blissett.

Physician, Heal Thyself

Like most of us when we offer help and advice to others, I need to take similar action to that which I suggest that others might. At which point, perhaps an explanation might be helpful.

Well, among other foibles, I find rejection extremely difficult to deal with and I have problems with feeling that I’ll let people down. Oh, and, like many of my generation, I’m not as au fait with social media as I need to be. So, when you put the three of these together, I have to push myself harder than usual to get to my goal. That’s not to say that I won’t get there but that the process is beset with prevarication. That is, I can always find something else that needs doing instead, like the washing up, hanging out the washing, doing The Guardian crossword or just making a cup of tea. All, to me, necessary tasks but not ones conducive to getting to where I want to be. So, where is that?

The answer to that lies in overcoming my fear of rejection and going ahead anyway. So, I’m now trying to get a literary agent to take on one or other of my books; something that involves selling myself, another thing that I’m not good at. So, having put it off for weeks, two days ago I decided to have another try. And, like much else, once I got down to it, I found it to be quite enjoyable. The secret for me is to deal with it in the third person and write as if it was for someone else.

The other matter is in getting down to something else that I plan to do which is marketing my expertise in helping others in three main areas. These are managing change, whether that is in your career or your personal life and writing and self publishing. At which point, the support of my Mastermind group in the form of Mike Blissett and Pearl Jordan come into the picture. Mike is a coach who, among other things, is excellent in explaining how to do online training and webinars. And, yesterday, I had the benefit of his detailed advice. The result is that, next week, I plan post a video blog describing my services. At which point, a little bit of apprehension creeps in and I realise that I haven’t yet had my second cup of tea, although I have done the crossword. So, on the basis of the title of this blog, watch for the video next week.

The Benefits of a Good Breakfast

This is Children’s Mental Health Week with Place2Be, a leading children’s mental health charity, stating that many young people find it difficult to think positively about themselves. It goes on to say that low self-esteem affects more than 8 in 10 of the school pupils who use the organisation for support. Now, although you might expect a high proportion of those who turn to such a charity for support, there is still, in my view, real cause for concern.

In writing this, I’m very aware that the generation that brought me up went through the Second World War, which can hardly have been a bundle of laughs. Moreover, despite the optimism of the period that followed, the 1960’s, this included the Cold War with its threat of, what was euphemistically called Mutually Assured Destruction or MAD. What a wonderfully appropriate acronym.

Yet, I think these current times, without necessarily being so dramatic, are more difficult for young people. Indeed, my reading of the situation leads me to thinks that this generation is, indeed, growing up in a world that would give them cause for concern. This, at an age when you would hope that optimism and just that hope might be better for them and society as a whole. After all, surely any parent or relative would want that for their nearest and dearest. What we have now is far from that, a situation made worse by the global and instantaneous nature of modern communications and the tendency of the news media to concentrate on problems. Perfectly understandable but hardly conducive to the generation of optimism.

Now, like many others, I’ve had my share of mental health issues. This has included three bouts of depression and a breakdown; the latter of which I have described as the most effective diet plan ever. These, especially the latter, weren’t pleasant. Yet, with the support of my family, I survived them. Moreover, I went on to considerably better things and to have a life of some contentment. However, what I learnt in the process was the insidious nature of mental health problems. For myself, I’d always seen the bouts of depression, not as anything that I was prone to but, rather, a series of isolated events. I now realise that they weren’t. They were, in fact, created by the circumstances of an early childhood during which hope and optimism were, largely, absent.

So, is there a point to all this? Well, yes there is. It’s to try to start turning the tide; a process that begins with celebrating our young people and their achievements. One in which we don’t blame them for the state of the word but support them as the inheritors of problems created, often unwittingly, by previous generations. So (and this may embarrass your offspring) make sure you give them a hug and tell them how proud you are of them when they go off to school or work today. Much like a good breakfast, it will help them to get through the day and, if repeated, help create the foundation for a better future.