Archive for August, 2007

Duathlons – my latest goal

Bike and tree

I added a new goal to my list today. Actually, to be more accurate I revised an old goal that had slipped for a while. 

18Months ago I entered my first ever MultiSport race. A duathlon. I do a lot of cross country mountain biking and a friend of mine invited me, along with a bunch of others, asked whether I was interested and I decided to give it a go.  There were 6 of us who signed up to that first one, some of whom had competed in triathlons and similar events before. This one was a fairly simple 2/10/2. That is – 2 miles running, 10 miles cycling, 2 miles running. ALL offroad, so significantly harder than you might think at first glance, although obviously not quite an Iron Man event 🙂

We had 3 Months warning for that event, and I hadn’t actually jogged further than a few hundred yards in almost 5 years. My cycling kept me fit, but jogging even 2 miles was a challenge initially, and I remember my first training run hurting for a week!  I did keep going though, and I did enter. On my own, as it turned out, as the other 5 all fell by the wayside with various excuses.

I finished it. 102nd out of 153 finishers and a half dozen who didn’t make it to the end of the cycle section. I was actually at about 80th after the bike ride and dropped a LOT on the second run. (Straightening up after a 10 mile cross country ride and trying to run again is not easy! I must’ve looked a little like an extra from ‘Planet of the Apes’ for a while.)

Top 70% – I was OK with that as a first event, but I KNEW I could do better.  So I planned for the next one, but got overtaken by other events – now I’m going back 🙂

This time I’m aiming for top 40%, and the one following this I’m looking for top 30%. 

So I’m training again. Jogging a couple of times during the week. Cycling more at the weekends, I have a training plan mapped out to get me there. I KNOW I can do it, its just a case of sticking to the plan.

The first one is mid November, and the next is early Feb.

Wish me luck 🙂


Stormin Norman’s Ten (+1) Commandments for Leaders

These are General H. “Stormin’ ” Norman Schwarzkopf’s eleven commandments for leaders, from the book Sharpening the Sword: A Calling to Strong and Courageoous Leadership, by Stephen D. Hower

I particularly like no’s 9 and 11, but they are all very good advice.

1.  You must have clear goals. You must be able to articulate them clearly to others.

2.  Give Yourself a clear agenda. Every morning, write the five most important things to accomplish that day, and get those five done.

3.  Let people know where they stand.

4.  What’s broken, fix now. Don’t put it off. Problems that aren’t dealt with only lead to more problems.

5.  No repainting the flagpole. Make sure all the work your people are doing is essential to the organisation.

6.  Set high standards. People won’t generally perform above your expectations, so its important to expect a lot.

7.  Lay the concept out, but let your people execute it. Tell them in the clearest terms what you want done, but let them suggest the best way to do it.

8.  People come to work to succeed. So don’t operate on the principle that if they aren’t watched and supervised, they’ll bungle the job.

9.  Never lie. Ever.

10.  When in charge, take command. Some leaders who feel they don’t have adequate information put off deciding to do anything at all. The best policy is to decide, monitor the results, and change course when necessary.

11.  Do what’s right. The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.

Top 8 Ways to beat stress and keep well.

Stress – the killer of workplace productivity and the scourge of happy family lives.

Believe it or not, all of us suffer from stress to a greater or lesser degree, and we all have varying levels of tolerance. Things that would stress one person to artery popping, red faced, headless chicken state might be dealt with as a minor annoyance to another person, who might be stressed out by something completely different that stressed eric above finds a total breeze to deal with.    It even varies within individuals, with some days (often a Monday, or a day off when the kids are running around in manic fashion) being lots more stressful than others.

Chill Out, maaaan.  We need to deal with it – relax and get on with our lives.  As a person who is regularly (although not always) described as “so laid back he’s almost horizontal”, here are my top 8 tips for chilling out and dealing with stress. They sort of help with general fitness in a lot of ways as well, which can only be good, can’t it?

1 – Organise

       Take time to figure out what you need to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. KNOWING is a lot simpler and less stressful than constantly remembering all the bits you haven’t got round to. If the list gets too long, pick the bits NOT to do!

2 – Take a break

       By this I mean REALLY take a break. Stop what you’re doing and chill for a moment, a minute or 5 minutes. Take a walk around and let your mind wander. When you look back at what you are doing you may see things you hadn’t considered before.

3 – Eat and drink well

      8 Glasses of water a day really isn’t THAT much. Pretty much ALL the water in our bodies needs to be replaced every 6 weeks or so, so you need to replace it and flush out the nasties that build up inside. Fruit and veg are good. Chocolate less so – no cheating here, chocolate covered nuts really don’t cut it as a healthy snack.

4 – Start each day as a new day

       take a new look and make sure you still need to do the things that were left over. If you do, schedule the time and get them done. If you don’t, drop them. You KNOW taht the inevitable new tasks will take over at some point. Make sure they’re valuable to YOU and not just makework.

5 – Plan Weekends as well

       They are a part of your life you know. If you want to spend the whole weekend chilling out on the sofa, do it. Just make sure you put it in your diary I’m pretty sure it won’t go in too often as it’s just too depressing after a while. Don’t cheat and just do it without scheduling it – think about all the stuff you COULD be doing instead and schedule that in.

6 – Make time for yourself

       A half hour every day of ‘me’ time is hugely refreshing. Whether it’s getting out cycling (my personal favorite), playing XBox, reading a book or counting your money, ‘me’ time is time to reflect and remember the good stuff that you’ve achieved.

7 – Take less drugs!

       I know, you don’t take drugs right?  Weell – how about the caffeine, the alcohol and the nicotine. It might feel like it’s getting you through, but overrall they’re really not good for a healthy, stress free life. Think about the money you’ll save for a start!  It’s gotta be stress relieving to know that you’re not going to be smoking your way through £1000 a year or more.

8 – Decide to do something

       Procrastination is the biggest time waster of all, and lack of time is one of the most stresful elements of modern life. make a decision – decide to decide. A decision made is one less thing to waste time on, and one more piece of paper dealt with, done, delegated, diaried or dumped.

But….You KNOW all this. I’m no genius, and unless you’ve been living in a fishtank your whole life you must have read a dozen things that are similar. If you’ve found better tips, use them instead. Life isn’t one size fits all and there may well be other stuff out ther that fits you better.  Just don’t let yourself write it off and ‘get around to it’. If it’s worth doing its worth doing now. DO what you KNOW.


Believe and make it happen.

Belief is a funny thing.

Have you ever noticed that when you REALLY believe that you going to achieve something, it tends to happen?  Or that trying something when you’re pretty sure it isn’t going to work is almost guaranteed to fail?

Ever walked into a sales pitch knowing absolutely 100% that you’re going to walk out with a deal (or at least closure on the next steps), and then seen it happen. Everything went exactly the way you thought it would. You had the responses to any objections at your fingertips, all the figures you needed to hand, and even that obscure bit of paperwork that you’d never needed before seemed to be there just when you needed it.  

 I LOVE moments like these. It used to be that they were pretty rare occurences. Sometimes I’d walk into a meeting and just feel it ‘flow’. I was in the groove, everything was going my way. The client could see the benefits I was proposing and agreed with them, sometimes even outlining greater benefits that they had spotted that hadn’t even occurred to me. I’d smile to myself all the way through the meeting, keeping rapport friendly and informal (the way I like it), and I had absolute conviction – I believed – that the meeting was going to go my way. I was going to get the outcome that I knew would benefit both of us.

But it didn’t happen often enough. There were other times, more regular times, when that feeling just wasn’t there. I was saying the right things, illustrating obvious benefits for clients. They’d nod and agree with me, but it just didn’t feel the same way. Deep down, something wasn’t right. Something was going to pop up. A question would be raised that I didn’t know the answer for, something was going to change and put everything on hold, someone new was going to be introduced as a decision maker, something, something, something…………

Does this sound familar to you? Have you been in circumstances like these?  If you’re in sales or anyting close to it I’m certain that you can equate this to y our own experiences.

The difference between really good meetings and really bad meetings is minimal. Tiny changes that make big differences. Often a change just in ‘attitude’. How you feel going into the meeting. Possibly, just possibly, ‘belief’?

 I believe that belief makes all the difference. 

Picture two meetings at exactly the same place, with exactly the same people, with exactly the same requirements and exactly the same solutions. Only 1 chnage in fact – You. In one meeting you believe you will get the outcome you want, in the other you’re not certain. That 100% unshakeable belief isn’t inside you.   Which meeting do you think is more likely to go the way you want it?

Belief makes a world of difference. Can you imagine a situation where you’d come out better without a positive belief?

 I’ve managed to switch the ratios on this now. For a good long time now, I’ve been able to have good meetings far more often than bad ones, and the major change which I’ve made myself make is in my attitude.  Before I go to any meeting, I work on myself to find the absolute best outcome that I can expect from the meeting.

Then I write it down and look at it again. If it doesn’t seem real after I write it down I rethink it and write it down again.  By the time I’ve been through this process and have an outcome eritten in my diary that I know I can achieve, I have the magic ingredient – BELIEF.

 It works with almost anything. How I want Christmas with the family to work out, how I want the sales pitch to go, how I want the holiday travel arrangements to go. Once you have a rock solid belief in how things are going to work out, you have the clarity, desire and knowledge taht you need to get to that result.

Give it a  go – see for yourself. If you’ve read this and nodded. If you think it’s worth a try, DO WHAT YOU KNOW!

About me.

A professional speaker focused on helping people get more out of their day; for themselves and their companies.
I help people get things done by helping them realise that all the knowledge in the world will do absolutely NOTHING for them - if they don’t use it.
I want to change the world, and getting the right people in the right place is only the start. In todays world it is so, so easy to get pulled into doing all the wrong things. I help people figure out what the right and wrong things are and make sure their energies are focused in the right place.
Feel free to comment, or you can contact me by emailing markbell AT mbsprogress DOT com