Tuesday, 18 December 2018

H., H. H-5s….version 2 - Day 19

Wednesday 19th December 2018

19 is the number of guards (known as Zabaniyya) who support the angel Maalik in Hellaccording to the Qur'an (it is the angel's duty to administer "Hellfire" and he never smiles). 
As well as juggling work, I have to have a difficult family discussion today. I wish life wasn't quite so challenging at the moment. On the plus side, all being well, I am hoping to meet up with some wonderful people whom I have got to know via social media. I hope you have something fun to look forward to today.

This blog has had a very unusual gestation and just reading the title makes me smile. As you can see this blog is version 2 - Garry Turner had told me a while ago that he wanted to participate in the Advent Blogs series but I was remiss in that I failed to explain that the blogs need to be novel, as, being an Advent calendar, each day should be a new surprise for the readers and not a post that has been regurgitated from elsewhere. Garry was very enthusiastic when he saw the theme, had a bit of spare time while sitting in the airport at Mumbai ,and wrote a splendid post on the topic of Heartaches, Hopes and High Fives on his own blog. It is a wonderful, uplifting read full of gratitude. However, he then contacted me to ask if it could be included in the series and I had to explain that, as it was already published, it was with regret that I had to decline it. Garry has been amazing (and very patient) - he has written a fresh post (hence the version 2) and it is below.

Garry is values driven and, increasingly over the past few years he has become comfortable with who he is and how he feels. He is brave, caring and alert to the requirements of others. I have also discovered that he is patent and forgiving when someone else has been an idiot. He is the founder of The Listening Organisation, which works to help organisations and the people within them to help them to be the best they can be. I have learned from him. You can connect with him on Twitter, his handle is @GarryTurner0


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Heartache, hope & high fives ….version 2

Today, on my flight between Mumbai and New Delhi for an exhibition tomorrow, I was re-looking at some of the chapters of one of my reads of the year, indeed of my life; “Everybody Matters” by Bob Chapman of Barry Wehmiller & Raj Sisodia and I started to well up.

Not just once, but multiple times.

I have read this book before and it has moved me, but something different impacted me today.  Was I suffering heartache?  Was it a deep sense of hope?  Was it the realisation that Barry Wehmiller have embedded a high five culture in so many aspect of their business, it just blew me away?


I think honestly, a combination of all three, but I would like to unpick the heartache part further.

Personal purpose & development (to avoid further heartache)

When I looked to change career back in 2013 because I was fed up intrinsically, despite having the nice car, nice house & nice life, everything that the outside world classes as success, but all of it had little meaning; my work heart was aching.

In love with my fiancé who I will marry next year, my personal life was great, but my work live was soulless.  Literally soulless.

My then line manager who is very entrepreneurial saw an opportunity for me to start-up in essence a L&D strategy & function, from a blank sheet.

This was a great opportunity and fuelled my desire to #learneveryday, my personal hashtag, but after 3 years of success, I was advised by a senior leader (not the one that opened the door originally) that “I let you play at the L&D stuff.” 


Out of the blue, I was suddenly ‘playing’ at L&D despite saving the company c£100k over 2 years and engaging a wide cross section of colleagues in the ideation, design and delivery - all from zero.  I was ‘playing.’

This was like a knife through butter in terms of how it a) made me feel after 3 years of hard work and b) it impacted my self-worth.  This was the same leader that would defend workplace bullying of another senior leader as “he has something going on at home, so just leave it.”


At this same time I lost it at work – I went bang, leaving the business for 3 days and needing to call the employee assistance line as there was no one I trusted or could turn to.  My heart, and head, was aching.


Perry Timms, who I was only starring to know back in 2016 suggested I attend a WorldBlu Power Question event at Happy Ltd and that lit the touch paper of what would be a frenetic learning journey which includes, but not exclusively, the following:


  • Obtaining chartered membership of the CIPD
  • Attended Corporate Rebels event at Happy Ltd
  • Led the transformation of my work team culture over a 3-year period such that without any M&A or extra headcount, we are now > 40% higher turnover and > 40% gross margin vs pre-cultural change
  • Attended two of the WorldBlu summits in San Diego in 2017 and 2018
  •  Attended the Zone event in Arizona in 2018
  • Taking over 100 proactive action steps per quarter between 2nd half 2017 and today (Q4 2018 will just creep over 200 proactive action steps) which involves attending events, meeting new people (a mix of virtually & face to face), peer to peer coach sessions, regularly attending Helen Amery’s Learn Connect Do events, etc etc
  • Set up a new company called The Listening Organisation to use my own personal journey of self-discovery, humanity & vulnerability to try and serve individuals, teams and organisations to the best versions of themselves 

All of the above has been actioned whilst holding down a full-time job as an International Product Manager.


I do not share this to show off.

One of the reasons that I had tears in my eyes re-reading Everybody Matters on the plane today is that no-one, ever, in a workplace has ever told me that I matter.

You are good with people – thanks.  You are a great salesman – thanks. You can work from home by the coast – massive thanks.

But never you matter in over 20 years of work.

How many of us have ever been told we matter over and above hitting the numbers/targets?



A mending heart

One of my more recent learning experiences that has led to me being able to start to heal that heartache was attending a Quality of Mind 3 day retreat in July 2018.

This retreat was led by a great chap called Piers Thurston who teaches the 3 principles – the principles of mind, consciousness and thought.

Some of the shifts that have led me to be more present, calmer and less impulsive – which many people see in me – has been realising that my mental health challenge was all my own thinking.  I over-thought my way into that challenge, although I believed, wrongly, that it was in a major part that ex line manager.

I used to blame him, that previous line manager.  I used to think he was my problem, but in the end,  it was all my own thinking.  Yes, he did say some terrible things, but it was always up to me how I took it/reacted.



I forgive him and I forgive myself.  That removes a lot of the heartache – be kind to yourself.

He has his, as we all have our own issues/pressures/challenges of life, but knowing that we are only one dropped thought away from shifting everything, is such a free way to live life.


Going forward

I now know that my frenetic learning journey, only today on that flight between Mumbai and New Delhi, has been in part, to put a sticky plaster over that previous heartache.

That heartache that is actually my thinking.

That heartache has fuelled an incredible drive to serve others to the best possible version of themselves, resulting in The Listening Organisation being formed.
No-one wants to live with heartache long term however, thus as you read this blog, I am deeply reflective, yet present, about what all of this learning, The Listening Org and my current job role all means (outside of paying the bills)
I am OK though – really, I am - my heart is definitely not aching like it was and I remain hopeful and grateful for all for those high 5 influences in my life and that humanity is on the mend.

I have so much to be grateful for and I just hope there are more organisations soon, that embody their own version of Barry Wehmiller’s & Raj Sisodia’s humanity.

We all have a part to play in ensuring that the world stops it’s combined heartache.

What steps are you going to take?









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