Opportunity is all around you, an email received from Christine Comaford

Opportunity is all around you, an email received from Christine Comaford

Hi there An,
it’s Christine Comaford with your weekly Mighty Minute. While you build your career and shape your life, start envisioning your dream…building it until it’s real and vivid and something you can depend on when the going gets rough. Sometimes we fall short of what we expect of ourselves. But as long as you keep moving, you’ll make it.Did you know that Mother Teresa was a great social entrepreneur?

In a poem called “Do It Anyway”, Mother Teresa said:

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful you will win some false friends and true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, some could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

When you’ve got that dream where you want it, start laying out the steps that will get you there. Goal-setting is a powerful tool for this. Knowing where you’re going also helps keep your eye on the prize.Remember, An, there are opportunities all around you – all you need to do is take advantage of them. They may be opportunities to make money, and that may be what you need to do it right now. But there may also be opportunities to meet new people, to learn new things, to help relieve someone’s pain. In the end those are the things that you’ll put in the bank.

Until next time, may all your ventures be MIGHTY!


The story of the butterfly

The story of the butterfly

I came across this beautiful story on my travels online and just wanted to share it with you.

The Story of the Butterfly

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly.
One day a small opening appeared.
He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours
as it struggled to squeeze its body through the tiny hole.
Then it stopped, as if it couldn’t go further.So the man decided to help the butterfly.
He took a pair of scissors and
snipped off the remaining bits of cocoon.
The butterfly emerged easily but
it had a swollen body and shriveled wings.The man continued to watch it,
expecting that any minute the wings would enlarge
and expand enough to support the body,
Neither happened!
In fact the butterfly spent the rest of its life
crawling around.
It was never able to fly.What the man in his kindness
and haste did not understand:
The restricting cocoon and the struggle
required by the butterfly to get through the opening
was a way of forcing the fluid from the body
into the wings so that it would be ready
for flight once that was achieved.

Sometimes struggles are exactly

What we need in our lives.

Going through life with no obstacles would cripple us.
We will not be as strong as we could have been
and we would never fly.

Training from the soul

Training from the soul

This blog post I have been debating on for a while whether to share or not, because some of the information is quite personal in nature and means a lot to me and I wondered whether it would have any value to other people beyond me, but decided to go ahead anyway.

This week my role as a corporate trainer took me to Vilnius in Lithuania and if you haven’t been there yet, i would highly recommend it. The city has a really cosy feel to it and yet a lot of beauty in architecture as well as contrast and people that are friendly in a quiet non-intrusive kind of way. The course this week was for managers and developing their leadership skills. One of the topics is learning about giving feedback in a constructive manner and we started discussing that positive feedback was just as essential as the constructive variety.

Actually studies on human relationships have told us that for each negative comment we need to re-balance it with minimum 5 positives comments. The group discussion turned to the fact that in their country it had not been seen to be a good thing if you were praising people, on the contrary in order to prove yourself as a manager you had to be tough, demanding and critical and praise was nearly considered a sign of weakness. I thought about the group exercise i had planned and decided on the spur of the moment to change it to having each manager give positive feedback to each and every individual in the room. Once the exercise got underway i decided to take part as well, which as a trainer I rarely do. I am usually the orchestrator and facilitator of exercises.

The experience of this exercise was amazing, if you ever doubt whether you make any difference at all in a corporate setting then I have to say this exercise is worth doing and participating in. One comment struck a chord to such an extent with me that I was close to tears of gratitude on the spot, namely that the person so enjoyed my training because it came from the soul. She believed and trusted that my advice for them was coming from a caring and heartfelt place.

You know in all the 10 or more years that I deliver training, consulting and coaching for corporate environments, this is the first time ever a participants touched me with a compliment so deeply. The truth is I do my best to always come from a caring place and aim to give them skills and perspectives on how to deal with their challenges. My intention is always to help them reach their next level of potential, whatever that is.

The comment is still resonating soo much with me… it truly is what I always intend for but I personally wasn’t sure I delvered this at all and often the corporate systems and interaction cloud any kind of truthful judgement about your effect on people.

As an internal trainer this meant a lot and it shows to me how in corporate environments we often forget to say the essentials, so people actually realise they are an important cog in the bigger wheel. No matter how small the contribution or change influence you may have, it may just mean the world to that one person. To give has always been easy for me, to receive I am still improving on and i have to say this group brought it home to me to accept the heartfelt praise and store it where it belongs in my heart, because sometimes the trainer needs topping up too. For a long time, I have intended to train, coach and advise from the soul… thank you so much for acknowledging and noticing.

The atmosphere in the room after we closed the exercise was amazing, a gentle and positive energy had entered replacing the neutral business like one from half an hour before. When we discussed what had happened one of the guys compared it to being at a funeral where only nice things are said about a dead person but he also agreed whilst it felt a bit odd, it was all good all the same.

All of us including me realised that we obviously hadn’t been praised in this kind of way in a long time, so why not set ourselves the challenge of 1 positive praise for someone every day for the remainder of the month of April. Then one of the participants asked but what do we do then in May, to which I replied well if it feels good just keep doing it….

Thank you to all the participants in Vilnius because that experience was special and for all of you reading this I have to encourage you to join us in our challenge… 1 person per day with heartfelt positive feedback…

Are you in?

Freedom & positive attitude in the land of the beautiful people

Freedom & positive attitude in the land of the beautiful people

A good few years ago in Ireland we used to go to parties and comment on the divide between the ‘op’s and the ‘bp’s as in the ordinary people and the beautiful people. It’s funny that now, this all comes back when I am living in the land of the beautiful people….In our often drink infused conversations we used to imagine that it would probably have to take a lot of effort in order to be so perfectly beautiful and then other days or a few drinks later we would comment that maybe you just had to live in a beautiful bubble and know no better. Living here in Sweden, I have to say it often feels like the latter prevails even with completely sober thought processes behind it.

I often feel as if I am traversing an alien universe when having conversations with colleagues where everything is blissful and super. What happened to a little natural cynicism, a good rant, some polarised opinion differences or the odd whinge? Is this only reserved for everywhere else but here and maybe that is just it. Maybe these things are only reserved for the anglo-saxon world where the muppets in the balcony and a lot of other great satire or societal commentary was invented.

It is extremely tiring and difficult to have to narrow down your personality to a one sided reflection in order to fit into the perfect bubble. The risk if you don’t is standing out from the crowd, which is considered decidedly uncool. Somehow in my world this seems very limiting and stiffling, what happened to freedom of speech and freedom of expression. I am wondering what it will take to actually get it right some time…. and more so whether I will ever be able to do what it takes to fit into this society as one of the ‘same same’ believers. For now I am a total non-believer in that concept, I reject average as a rule and aim for excellence and the best even if that means standing out from the crowd and upsets the status quo of cosy comfortable sameness.

I am starting to wonder also if there is a cultural difference in the definition of positive attitude. I always was challenged by the happy clappy brigade and earlier blog posts will have probably expressed exactly that, so I wonder is there degrees of positive?

I don’t have the answers and wouldn’t even now where to start. I guess the best is to do some self-reflection and decide how many steps on the positive stakes one choses to take. Silence and modesty can often be misunderstood for negativity also or so I am learning, criticism on how something doesn’t work is equally classed as dangerously un-positive. So what can you say or do, without becoming a fake actor version of your own self. To me that approach would be a definite recipe for self-loathing…

I wonder if it is only in the arts and press that one can have strong opinions and be respected for them and followed for them even if they are outright negative? I also wonder whether being part of the enterpreneurial few is an escape into freedom of expression?

The question I am toying with is whether it is possible to create a society where difference is considered a positive or even an organisation based on differences?

So far I haven’t got the answers nor do I know if they already exist…

In any case living in the land of the beautiful happy people reminds me of a comment a German friend of mine made when I told him I was moving here, which still comforts me namely ‘Be ready to be brainwashed that everything is better and greater in Sweden and that perfect society only exists there’. I often have to admit that his observation seems to be part of the perfect icy bubble.

Lead and stand out for what you believe in

Lead and stand out for what you believe in

It’s amazing when you are questioning and in pursuit of better all the time, what nuggets come your way at the right time. When I left Ireland I questioned leadership especially the political leadership of a country, which had been thriving albeit not always on real economic levers, but artificially hyped ones. In some ways it was the very lack of leadership and vision that made me lose interest and faith to remain in a country where the economy and policies only seemed to go in natural free-fall. I had been asked on more than one occassion to enter the political arena and even with the minor glitch of my actual nationality, I questioned my own leadership ability and vision in this setting.

It is amazing though that some of these questions still follow you around, no matter where you go and what is equally fascinating is that the answers usually pop up in the least expected moments. A few weeks back I was randomly¬† tv-channel hopping and stopped at a movie, where the main moral of the story was something along the lines of ‘You were born to stand out’. It was one of those interesting bolts that to me meant ‘I am born to stand out, so stop trying to fit in’. Truly I never felt I fitted in anywhere, but I have been afraid to stand out and played a smaller game, which I always regretted after.

Then a short time after another gem of knowledge came my way in a typical ‘when the student is ready, the teacher will appear’ kind of fashion. The lesson here being, that leaders stand for what they believe in. That I have often found hard to do, although I have always had very strong and equally outspoken ideas, hence I wouldn’t have a blog or wouldn’t have occassionally put my foot in a thorny issue by expressing what everyone thought but nobody was courageous enough to speak out loud.

Well here is my stance, I believe in the pursuit of excellence and making a mark in this lifetime. We only have one, so why waste an opportunity. In my work I have always and continue to strive to be the best at what I do and along the way I make mistakes that will utlimately make me better and more informed for the future, but it may temporarily slow me down, but it will not stop me. It also means that under no circumstances will I settle for mediocre and that goes from mediocre politicians, to mediocre living, etc. Hence I have always had a full schedule with things I enjoyed from sports, to writing and to charity or volunteering. Now I am just a little more selective and living in a new city still finding out the routes to this fullness. But I guess the search for my apartment was definitely a clear sign mediocre wasn’t going to be acceptable and 600 applications later I live somewhere beautiful.

So the question to you is, what do you believe in and are willing to take a public stand for?

In a way all I am suggesting is that you do what the big leaders in our lifetimes have done, such as  Martin Luther who had his dream.., or business leaders like Branson, Jobs, Gates or Buffett who all have something they clearly stand for and publicly vouch for. In this economy more than any other time do we so need leaders to step it up a notch.

In my leadership quest I will continue to strive for excellence and demand it from people all around me and when they don’t feel this is appropriate then the choice is pretty easy step out of the way or get with the programme. Either you have a track record of achievement and excellence or you savour the realms of mediocrity and to be honest I think that is exactly what has been wrong with recent economic policy makers too much fear of change and not enough forward thinking to keep challenging the status quo especially when that meant making unpopular decisions or challenging the majority when their choice was blatantly wrong.

I am glad that we always have the opportunity to start again and revise our stance, when our first option may have been wrong or an approach failed. The worst would be to ignore the signs and keep going regardless. Whatever you do, if you like me have a leadership bug that keeps wanting to show up, stop trying to fit in and stand out….stand out for what you believe in…

Looking forward to hearing from your leadership stances…

In the mean time I will get back in pursuit of excellence and lead with my belief that I aim to make a difference in everything I do. How about you, you know you want to…I dare you!