A very special mother

A very special Mother

There when you need her, always taken as read.

Appreciated? Not really. Just need clothes and then fed.

Told off many times, “Get up you’re late!”

That voice again! Is this my life’s fate?

The housework, the food never known to fast

Mum’s a Trojan for work and had to be fast.

Grew up, grew wiser now Mum knows a lot less.

Now educated, now cleverer, think I am the best.

But Mum’s birthday today makes me take stock.

Smarter than I thought, does come as a shock!

Kindly and generous, always giving, always there.

Never selfish, never judging, just there to care.

Love is a word we can be reluctant to say.

But to my mother I should shout it every blessed day!

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Psychological Research on human behaviours

Psychological Research on human behaviours

Much of empirical psychological research measuring human behaviours is flawed as it starts from a biased premise. It chooses a proposition and then creates a questionnaire with an inherent suppositional focus and structure. This tendency to ringfence means the results can only have a very qualified interpretation.

Questionnaires do not and cannot factor in allowances for personality typing, mood and a whole gambit of influencing factors. Certain personality types will answer questionnaires objectively and scientifically. Others will be influenced by the potentially personal outcome it portrays. They will choose the answer which positively reflects their personality. Other factors such as mood, gender, culture, education, experience will influence the candidate’s interpretation and decision process.

Does this mean that all empirical psychological research to determine human behaviours is meaningless and serves no practical purpose in terms of better understanding human behaviours? I am purporting that we move away from the crowdminding approach whereby we treat people on masse. Our focus must only be on the individual.

I have identified 4 distinct and very individual personality types and I maintain that any empirical research project must embrace this empirical methodology to capture at first hand  individuality and diversity to be meaningful. In fact the more candidates I have conducted over 25,000 interviews to date I realise how much more there is to know in terms of people. I feel incapable of making a prognosis which can authoritatively identify a common behavioural thread. My message then is that we must only focus on individuals. The people collective approach has no meaning. Many articles we read fall into the trap of ‘crowdminding’. View people as a crowd rather than making allowances for the individual factor.

A forceful endorsement of this point is Lawrence Kohlberg, the moral psychologist and his development theory of stages. Kohlberg conducted a large research programme with the help of PhD students to identify the various development stages from childhood to adulthood. The Kohlberg definition of the progressive levels were highly regarded as authoritative and he nominated them as preconventional, conventional and post-conventional.

Carol Gilligan, an eminent psychologist and ethicist, challenged Kohlberg’s research as being too dogmatic. It failed to embrace intuition as a personality trait. In her publication, “In a Different Voice” Gilligan challenges many of Kohlberg’s assumptions in their approach to moral values.

I purport then that empirical research which focuses on the determination of human behaviours cannot look for a credible outcome as there are too many permutations and variables which cannot be qualified within the questionnaire. I have formulated these observations from my own first-hand experience.

The identification of my 4 personality types are the culmination of one-to-one meetings whereby I could empirically observe and evaluate the candidate in terms of age, experience, gender, culture, mood, articulation, education, work experience, performance, aspirations, reliability and achievements.

My experience has taught me that human behaviour is too individual to be measured in crowd form and that an empirical research approach must incorporate all the personality traits and experiences to be credible.

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The importance of Time and Timing

It is interesting to reflect on the significant role time and timing play in our lives. Something which we take for granted and yet it permeates and influences everything we do.

The time between meals will determine our hunger. Age will determine our lifespan. And our attitude to time can determine our personality.

When I am coaching candidates on career planning their outlook at 25 years of age, 45or 55 is disparate. Their motivation, aspirations and outlook are vastly different.

The 55 year old is risk averse whilst the 25 year old is focused on the now. If the job excites then they will take it. The older candidate may have more financial commitments such as mortgage or car HP and therefore has less choice in terms of levels of income and travel.

Timing is very much related to property and shares. Sell a property today or in two years and the fluctuation can be in the region 5% – 25% gain or loss. Shareholding can be equally volatile and timing of purchase or disposal will dictate the expediency of a decision.

There are many maxims about the efficacy of time: do not put off until tomorrow what can be done today; you are late; you are early; they are never on time; they are always early; I missed the train. Some cultures are obsessed with timekeeping whilst others do not embrace it as a central focus. Relax, chill out normally refers to time or its obsessional adherence.

So is there a message in all of this? If we are a philosopher, we might say it is in essence meaningless. But in a relational capacity it is very important. Dates facilitate markers and demonstrate happenings in terms of sequence and context: the timing of World War 1 in relation to WW2, for example; the dates of the Old Testament and their relationship with the New Testament.

This prompts me to think of eternity which is a no time concept. As a child the thought of eternity always concerned me as a concept. The on and on and on…with no ending did not appeal even though it was hopefully to be experienced in heavenly bliss and having a great time. I remember thinking I would ask Jesus if I might occasionally pop down to earth to be in the environment I knew well to meet with relatives and friends and do a lot of internet stuff.

A good maxim is then to ensure that we manage time rather than time managing us. When stressed we can become obsessed with time. But it is a very subjective concept. Some people will always get up at the last minute and spend all their time rushing all the morning chores. They will arrive at work just on time or after just time. If the train was late then it is the train’s problem and they will make sure we all know the reason ‘ leaves on the line, signal problems, train broke down.  Others will get up with good time tolerance and arrive early for work. If the train was late then no problem as they had that time tolerance factor in.

My American aunt would arrive at the airport 7 hours ahead of her flight. I was never sure of her motivation or how she wielded away the spare 5 hours.

Time, friend or foe is central to and permeates all our lives.

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Career planning in today’s market

Planning / Career Personal Development 

As a Career Coach it is interesting I have now reordered my emphasis. Previously you could set a candidate on a career ladder and they would exponentially grow into their specialism of law / oil/ accounting /medicine / IT. etc

Today’s career ladder has many rungs missing and there are no longer transparent and predictable work pathways. The primary focus must now be on personal development to skill the candidate with the emphasis on soft skills, incorporating an adaptable attitude, being a competent communicator, capable of multi-tasking and successfully managing stressful situations with truculent colleagues. The ability to integrate with new technology as it continuously develops is important.

If you can develop this suite of personal skills and make it your dominant focus then you will be well prepared to enter today’s dynamic workplace and enjoy it’s inherent diversity and constant change mode.

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No deal means alternative deal

My Brexit Update 

Image I open this commentary with reviewing the advantages of a no deal Brexit the reader might interpret my intro as considering the advantages of a no deal as contradictory. No deal means bad deal. There can be no advantages and to date I have not heard the media considering this seemingly farcical proposition. 

No deal appears to mean disaster for all: economy into recession, large investment projects cut, new coalition on a dodgy majority. The M20 and M2 now closed to house all the lorries as Dover is shut. Ryan Air has relocated all its kit to Beauvais in France and no British airline can leave UK airspace. 

The German car manufacturers are canvassing merchants to sort out the new export arrangements as they are running out of storage space for all the 1000s of cars they normally sell to the UK market. 

The Spanish are also annoyed as their fresh veg exports to the UK are going off and their farmers are getting restless. 

Soup kitchens are running out of soup and the pound is becoming worthless.Everyone is buying dollars and euros. 

The media has lost the plot and is scoring own goals as their usual negative polemical coverage is not dire enough to fairly represent this new Armageddon. Most of the main reporters have gone into counselling. 

There are rumours that a few large corporations have struck massive new deals with China and the US using the WTO template. And the City has never had it so good and the pound has bounced back and is on a vertical upward lift.

But still only rumours, as positive news is still just that step too far for the media – more counselling and a large dose of Valium please. 

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Brexit and the media

Political reporting needs a grip not vacuous hype

Brexit just endorses the fact that our reporting climate focuses only on the problem which is often fabricated. Airlines will be grounded, medicines will be unavailable, foods may run out and the 5th largest and economically strongest nation will be brought to its knees.

And will the reporting climate finally embrace a balanced perspective say in three years when the UK economy in or out is playing a stormer or will the’ Ah but ‘ polemical mentality continue to pervade. Remember the 2007/2008 scenario when we went from boom to bust? Before the outset of the disaster and the halcyon years preceding I did not hear the media informing me that we were in a boom situation. Rather, I was informed that finances were dodgy.

It’s interesting that ten years on we have left the bust far behind and have record numbers in employment and dividends never higher, apparently, we are still in a state of austerity and saddled with the legacy.

If commercial organisations adopted the same frivolous, emotive and unbalanced criteria to operate their businesses they would be insolvent within the year.

Brexit is currently in a state of negotiating where each party adopts posturing and tries to gain the high ground. Most of the provocative commentary from both sides is for the journalist’s ears in the hope that they will publicise it and enhance the author’s bargaining profile.

In business, negotiating is a journey not a destination. When the contracts are signed and the deal is done it is only then that we can know the outcome.

The process, format and tone of negotiation will take us on many tactical turns and misleading journeys. To quote these antics and tactics verbatim as decisive opinion promotes confusion and is a funamental misunderstanding of the dynamics of persuasion.

Let’s hear it then from the media which informs us with the premise that issues, discussions and debate have a dual perspective. On the one hand ….. and on the other hand …. I shall then look and listen to be surprised, informed and perhaps even educated.

Remember, if we remain in the EU we shall be the 5th largest economy in Europe and if we leave the EU we shall be the 5th largest economy in Europe.

So let’s avoid the all the hyperbole and wait for the signatures when we can make informed commentary.

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Expectation can improve or damage your health

It is extraordinary how expectation is such a fundamental part of our DNA. How we manage it can affect our mood, our happiness and our stress levels.

When our expectations are balanced and realistic then the outcome of events will positively influence our quality of life at work or at recreation.

When our expectations are exaggerated and unrealistic then the inevitable outcome is disappointment and stress. Stress compounds negativity and worry and we become trapped in this spiral of expecting the worst. Potentially positive outcomes are recalibrated into ‘yes, but what if?’ scenarios. Colleagues and friends are classified as being too optimistic and not fully aware of the risks of events or situations.

The more stressed you become the more distorted your expectations. Stress promotes insularism and reclusiveness at a time when you need the help of others to keep your balance. This can be an albatross as you anticipate harmful outcomes though they are most unlikely to occur and your wellbeing can be psychosomatically influenced.

To rectify this negativity it is important you perform a mental log out.

Stand back from life. Get into a zone-free thinking space and review your anticipation mode. This will encourage a more balanced perspective. Reflect on your worries within their contextual environment. Will it happen? Is it real or just perceived? Is it important? Can I discuss it with a colleague? Can I really influence the outcome? What are the good things I should look forward to? Talk to positive, happy friends and slowly your anticipations will meet your real expectations.

The standing back, mentally logging out or stepping off the continuous treadmill or whatever we want to call it will always have a beneficial effect. You will enjoy life with a more contented outlook. It is rather like your friends and colleagues who will write long lists of the things they must do. It does not mean that things get done. In fact the lists may get longer but the action itself of listing can be very reassuring and affirmative psychologically.

Learn to recognise the signs when you start to worry about insignificant issues and engage less with colleagues and friends. And most importantly feel you can manage your stress rather than it controlling you. Read my article ‘How to manage stress at work ‘ This is insightful as it takes a more relational approach which is always personality dependent. Recognising your personality type and your vulnerabilities will help you put expectations in the realistic box and the creation of predicted outcomes.

John Lowe

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