All posts by Phoenicia

Work in excellence!

I have been thinking about those who live a life of excellence. They do everything to the best of their ability, however menial the task may appear to others. Excellence is not only reserved for those in the public eye, in senior leadership or for those who want to aspire to more than what they are currently doing.  We should all work in excellence, with the intention of receiving great results.  Without excellence we can become complacent and sloppy.  Progress can rarely be made without working in excellence. 

When cleaning your home, I doubt one would get very far if they used a dirty cloth and ineffective cleaning products. If writing a dissertation, one would not fair well if they do not meet the word count or fail to spell and grammar check the content.

Cutting corners only brings disappointment.  It may well present as saving you time now but in the long run it will show you no favours. Your reputation will be at stake and you in turn lower your expectations.  Others can encourage, coach and mentor you but you need to make the decision to push forward and give your all.

Excellence to one person could be seen as average to another as perhaps they work smarter and are generally more competent in a particular area of work.  My daughter is a natural at drawing and anything remotely creative, she is constantly designing and building.  She has more creative skills as a child than I do as an adult. I still have the mindset that if you are not particularly gifted in an area of work it does not excuse you from delivering to the best of your ability.

I recall taking driving lessons 20/21 years ago and my driving instructor chastised me about changing gears. For some reason I would go into fourth gear instead of second and visa versa. He drummed it into me that this would hinder me from passing my test – no kidding! At the time I felt annoyed and irritated that I could not get this right. I made up my mind that I would focus on my gears as I had to pass my test first time.  The lessons were expensive as at the time I was a student and it cost almost £100 just to take your test. Suffice to say I got a grip on changing into the correct gear and passed first time.  Looking back, I would have continued until I passed as I was intent on being a driver- the fact I did not have a car did not matter one bit!

Do you veer towards working in excellence?
What have you sacrificed?

Present yourself well!

Although first impressions do not give you a complete overview of a person, we make judgement on what we physically see. It is an automatic reaction.

It is important that we give a good impression of ourselves, that we represent ourselves in the best way possible. Not only for the benefit of others but as a way of reaffirming that we matter. How others see us has some impact on our lives but how we see ourselves is what truly matters.  We have a duty to ensure we present well when leaving our home; clean body, clean and ironed clothes, polished shoes, groomed hair.

There is a well known saying;
“One should dress for the job they want, not for the job they have”.

This quote makes the assumption that everyone is striving to the next senior level in their organisation which is simply not the case. Some are happy in their roles and have no desire to move “up ranks” and some are already at senior leadership level.  Regardless of where one’s role sits, presentation is of importance.

On occasions I have taken this “appearing good at all times” lark a bit far such as applying foundation before visitors arrived to see me and my first born in hospital. I was in tremendous pain but still managed to reach over for my make-up bag much to the amusement of the midwife who gave me a “for goodness sake” look. I am sure I also saw some eyeball rolling!

I remember as a teen I rushed to my part-time job in a retail store and in a panic put on a pair of tights (hosiery) that had an unsuspected ladder at the back. I noticed after arriving in the back office and was mortified! I rushed to buy a packet of tights from the shop floor and changed. I learnt my lesson on that day, over 20 years ago that regardless of how much of a rush I am in, I must pay attention. I now allow a few minutes before leaving home to look in a full length mirror to ensure I am presentable.

I promised myself that whatever battle I faced,  I would not allow this to affect the way in which I looked.  I would put on a good front in order to face the outside world. As shallow as it may come across, it has helped my confidence. When you look good, you in turn feel better. I may, just may let the side down a little as I wear running shoes to and from the office. I walk as part of my commute and am much faster on my feet as a result. Also I walk heavily on my feet so my shoes would need reheeling far too often!

How much do you pay attention to your appearance?

How much do you judge others on their appearance, specifically in corporate environments?

Consistency brings results!

Recently I watched a short video of Mr Denzel Washington giving a short speech on consistency and commitment;

“Without commitment you will never start, but more importantly without consistency, you will never finish”.

It takes strength and perseverance to be consistent, more so when you do not see immediate results.  At times we do not want to wait months or years and if there is no passion so to speak, we can easily allow our ideas to fall off the wayside.

My first year into blogging, I was totally dissatisfied with my number of followers and comments left after each blog. I naively questioned whether blogging was truly for me as if it were, where were all these people swarming my blog?  On reflection I knew I had a passion for writing and made a decision to write once weekly regardless of how many people read my articles.  There are thousands of bloggers all over the world working to find their niche. Some are talented with a natural flair for writing and I have learnt from them. However, I will maintain the notion that among the thousands there is also a place for me. For this reason I will continue to use my voice.

The number of actors/actresses and business owners who have been on the scene for years; building up their profile by networking, attending auditions and business meetings only to be rejected for someone more talented and experienced.  You rarely hear of such people when they are on route to making it, only when they have made it.  This can give one the impression that their road to fulfilling their goal was straightforward; that everything fell into place for them. Not so!

I will admit that being consistent can be tedious and dull.  Some days you will not feel like working on your business plan/project/other but if we only did what we felt, how many of us would leave our house until noon? Nobody reaches their goal by doing what they feel. Famous authors, entrepreneurs, innovators did not make it by limiting the amount of time they spent pursuing their goal. They made the necessary sacrifices with their time and their finances.  They put in the hard work in order to reap the fruit. We must be willing to put in the work – there are no shortcuts. 

My three tips on remaining consistent;

1. Reflect on your “why”. Why do you want to fulfil this goal?

2. Schedule time slots in which to work on your business or project. Work around them as if they are non-negotiable. Inform friends and family you are not available at these times.

3. Go back to point 1!

How has consistency contributed to you fulfilling your goals?

What advice would you give for those who struggle in the area of consistency?


Reignite your passion!

Reignite your passion!

The other day I reflected on the activities I do and where my real passion lays.  I enjoy encouraging and lifting up others and listening to their life experiences. I have a strong passion for teaching and mentoring whether on a one to one basis or in a group setting.  I am stepping out and developing my “public speaking” skills by taking all opportunities that come my way in sharing my experience and knowledge depending on the setting. 

When I am in discussion and a topic is brought forward that I am passionate about, I work hard to contain my excitement.  I am aware I can be more focused on getting my point across than listening to the other person.  I am bursting to speak – not because I love the sound of my own voice but because the topic touches me personally and brings out various emotions. This runs in my family. My husband has commented on a number of occasions that when my sister and I are deep in discussion, it looks as though we are arguing.  Oh the shame!

Without passion, one will struggle to work in excellence and enthusiasm.  There must be a burning desire within you to make that change, to reach a certain group  of people. It may derive from personal experience (good or bad) or an area of interest you have developed over time. Either way it must exist as this is what will keep you committed and focused when you face challenges and self -doubt. 

It is of course possible for one to have a career they are not highly excited about. On a daily basis, I witness commuters on their way to work with glum faces and that “I would much rather be in my bed” look.  Perhaps they are frustrated with their day to day workload, long hours, long commute, working conditions or the increasing pressures of working.  Changing career may not be feasible for them at present.  It is highly unlikely one would choose a hobby or commit to voluntary work where they have little interest.   This is unpaid work so there would need to be an immediate incentive.

Do not be that person who lives half a life. Do not be that person who fails to discover what sets your heart alive, what gives you a purpose.  Instead discover and nurture your gifts and interests. If you are not in the job of your dreams, identify how you can shape the role you are in.  Shadow an officer who works in a field of interest, implement a new system, offer to assist on a project. Bring passion back into your life!

What is your passion?
Have your passions changed over the years? 
What has contributed to this?


Do you prefer to lead or be led?

Whether we have given this much thought or not, many of us are leaders; in our place of work, in ministry/voluntary work, in the home.  We make decisions; quick ones and those that require days or even months of deliberating.

The more confident of people are happy to take the lead when situations arise. They may not have the answer but they are willing to work towards finding a solution. We all know that one person who always rises to the challenge – perhaps it is you!  The less confident of people will stand back and allow others to make decisions or find solutions as it is means they are not required to do anything. This is likely to be a result of having a lack of confidence and/or being struck with a condition called laziness.

Throughout the day we are make decisions consciously and sub-consciously.  Deciding what to wear,to cook, what time to go into town.  Even choosing to do nothing is in fact a decision!

I often joke to my husband when we are planning family holidays that I have absolutely no interest in self-catering accommodation. I want to be fully catered for and why not? In my day-to-day life I am making decisions at work, church, running the home, rearing young children, cooking until it goes out of fashion.  Whilst on holiday I only want to think along the lines of;

“What am I going to eat?”
“What am I going to wear?”
“”What excursion are we going on today?”

Surely this is why people holiday – for a break!

Back to taking the lead, it comes naturally to some and others have to work hard at it. If you observe a group of young children playing or working on a project, you will without a doubt spot one or two that take the lead. When my daughter attended pre-school she had a good friend who was rather similar to her – strong headed. They were like two peas in a pod when they got along and spent the remainder of the time at loggerheads.  This was inevitable since they were both of strong character.

Unlike my daughter I was far more introverted as a child. I knew my own mind and always have done but was quiet with it. I have had to work on taking the lead, often deliberately stepping up in situations in order to develop my skills and offer my contribution. I take on opportunities which push me completely out of my “safe” zone and the results are usually positive. My confidence grows each time whilst self-doubt reduces.

To end, ownership means you resist “passing the buck”, it means accepting you have a part to play in finding a solution, it means you can be relied on when the challenges come.

Do you take the lead? Is it second nature to you or an area you have developed?

How would you encourage someone who struggles to take the lead?

What would you advise someone who takes on too much ownership, stepping on toes in the process?

Perception versus reality

Perception according to the Cambridge Dictionary is;

1.A belief or opinion, often held by many and based on how things seem

2.The quality of for being aware of things through the physical senses; especially sight

3.Someone’s ability to notice and understand things that are not obvious to other people

The majority of us live according to our perception, we react and make decisions through the way in which we see things. We look at how a situation or action affects us personally.  Our perception at times will most certainly be wrong and we will still act on this.  Be honest and think back to the number of times you have made wrong judgements based on what you chose to see and your prejudices.

See the example below;

David joined your organisation last week as a project officer.  Though generally pleasant to his peers, David is rather aloof and separates himself from them. A few officers have aired they feel David isolates himself and contributes very little in team meetings. As David’s supervisor you are planning to raise this issue with him, however your view is he suffers with anxiety and struggles to work closely with people.  Same situation – two very different perspectives.

It is all to easy to make an assumption on why someone acts the way they do. Once we have created an impression of who they are in our eyes, we go on to treat them accordingly. Often we do not have the full picture and no real desire to actually understand the “why”. We simply run with our idea as it makes perfect sense to us.

Newspapers and magazines exist to inform us while heavily influencing the way we look at politics, the economy, the government, the rich, the poor, fashion, beauty, ourselves and so on.  Most people base their views on the information they have been fed (which nine times out of ten times is misleading) rather than first hand. I ceased buying fashion magazines years ago as I felt it began to change the way
in which I viewed myself and others.

There is an old saying “our eyes cannot lie” but we can choose to see that which justifies and supports our beliefs. We can jump to conclusions without knowing all the facts because it is easier to do so than exploring that little bit more and thinking outside of the box.

How much do outside influences skew your views?

Do you work to keep an open mind – what practical steps do you take?

Do you see failure as the end or the beginning?

I am sure the majority of you have read about Michael Jordan’s plight to becoming a leading basketball player. What stood out for me is he did not give up on what he knew was the right path for him.

Failure is inevitable in this life unless of course we decide not to take any form of action or risk. How dull would our lives be if we only lived within the remit of what we could easily do?  Our comfort zone is not the place to be, though it feels cosy it brings nothing but the same of what you already have.  For the majority of us there is an element of excitement we derive from trying a new activity or starting a new venture. It is this which makes us feel alive.

Failure is not necessarily the end. If we do not try a new venture/join a course, how will we know it is in fact not for us? Some know exactly what they are good at from a young age and go on to excel in this.  Others will take various opportunities and find a particular course or career is not suitable for them. 

There are stages in life when we close the door on a business or career path and this too is fine if we are 100% certain we have to change course.  Perhaps we did not understand the sacrifice it would take; financially, emotionally and physically.  Perhaps we walked into it with the wrong motives.

Looking back to my school days, I looked forward to English, History and Geography class and had a strong dislike for mathematics.  I was and am able to understand basic mathematics but struggle with the likes of deep mathematics. It just did not click for me no matter how much I concentrated. I desperately wished to understand the formulas and refused to accept answers without knowing the “how”. I even retook GCSE mathematics and received the exact same grade – who does that?!!

I have shared this with very few people as for years (over two decades to be exact) I felt utterly ashamed and embarrassed that I could not master maths. This no longer has a hold over me so I can be vulnerable and share it. Thankfully I have passed all my assessments on applying for jobs – whether or not my strength in English influenced my results, I will never know and certainly am not complaining.

I shared my experience as it is often easier to relate when you know others have tried and failed and also tried and succeeded.  If you do not take a step forward you will never know. Why live a life of “what if?” when you can use the knowledge and expertise you have today?

I made a decision to push forward in order to reach my goal, if one road is blocked, I will try another. If I need to move on then I will with no guilt, shame or a need to justify myself to others.  Every experience I have had, both painful and pleasant, I have learned from even if it is how NOT to do a thing. 

What do you class as a failure?
How have you overcome failure in your life?