Improve understanding by irritating people


How common is it that miscommunication is often the cause of stress and conflict in our work and social lives above anything else? You can have 6 people around a table and the unintended outcome is 6 alternative views on one topic and a resolution at the end of an ever lengthening tunnel. If that wasn’t complicated enough, you then have 6 different ways those views are expressed and 6 contrasting reactions when each person is told their view is a load of old codswallop! The person who called the meeting ends up wishing they’d just gone ahead and done what they wanted in the first place and the rest of the team start writing their letters of resignation.

Ok, so that’s a slight exaggeration…

Getting on with people is hard. We often expect others to see life as we do but how could they? We see life through our own lens, shaped by our own experiences with a few innate methods of doing things thrown in for good measure. And anyway, those ‘others’ are probably thinking the same thing about us.

And so, for our own sanity and to simply make things work we have to try. The irony is that by doing so, we often form friendships and learn most from those whose views are contrary to our own. New ideas, pauses for thought, changes of direction, pulling back from the brink as well as love and laughter can all be unintended consequences of a more positive kind.

Carl Jung, whose model of personality type was the catalyst for the development of the MBTI assessment tool said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”

As much as it annoys me to write this, he has a point.


A shiny new skin


Ok, it is the blog that has undergone a bit of a reinvention rather than me. It was looking rather tired, unloved and badly in need of a clean and polish since its last outing on Jan 24th 2013. Why it has been left to gather dust for so long is the question. I don’t think it was because I ran out of things to say but more because I’d somehow lost the reason why I was saying them.

I’d also like to think that moving house, getting married and becoming a father since that last post has kept me a little busy!

So, I am back! Or rather My Minute Mentor is back brimming full of energy and with plenty of things to write about on the areas of career planning, transitions, transferable skills, personality types, profiling, interview preparation, observations from my work within professional sport as well as insights from people far more experienced and knowledgable than me.

I hope you enjoy the posts. My reason for returning is quite simple. I want to help. And if this can be achieved through a useful posting or two, inevitably interspersed with the odd howler, then MMM’s return will be worth it.

Please comment if you wish and any suggestions on topics you’d like to read about will be very welcome.

Thank you.

I’ve missed you.




Winning at all costs


The Lance Armstrong revelations, aptly referred to as the “seven deadly sins” in David Walsh’s book, has highlighted the fact that a goal to ‘win at all costs’ is not always desirable. Napoleon Hill, one of the great writers on success, defined success as being “the attainment of your definite chief aim without violating the rights of other people”.

In sport, both professional and amateur, winning is often seen as the ultimate aim. Although there is much merit in the phrase ‘it’s not the winning but the taking part’, competitive sports teams obviously do not enter a game situation with the intention of losing.

Arguably, the important question is what is a winning goal for you. This is a question that all of us would benefit from asking ourselves. Satisfaction comes with winning a race or with hitting a time target but in some situations this is not a practical or even an achievable goal. It can be very easy to deceive ourselves into believing that nothing else matters and this can lead to dissatisfaction. By doing this, we can often discount the experiences that matter the most – for example, making a commitment, putting in the hard work and savouring the experience of testing yourself often in the company of friends.

A recent experience illustrates what I mean. Last summer, nine of us drove to France to take on one of the most gruelling Alpine stages of the 2012 Tour de France, the Etape du Tour. This is a ‘race’ against the clock where riders can be ‘swept up’ by the Broom Wagon if they fall outside the time constraints. One of our party’s goals was to achieve a Silver Medal, a very tough aim, and it was clear that nothing else would do. When he was ‘swept up’, (as was I and 3 others in our group), this could have ruined his whole experience. Instead, he adapted his goal and three of us decided to keep riding until the organisers forced us to get off our bikes! A camaraderie was formed in that experience that went beyond the constraints of the race and I think the three of us look back on that afternoon in the sweltering heat with pride and immense satisfaction.

Two definitions of winning are ‘To achieve or attain by effort and to make (one’s way) with effort’. Sport is a tremendous outlet for finding out more about ourselves and others. So set the right goal, one that matters to you, make the commitment and immerse yourself in the experience.

The promise of tomorrow


This morning I received some extremely sobering news. Earlier this week, someone I know took their own life. My heart goes out to his family and closest friends. This tragic decision is made even more heart-wrenching by it being taken so close to Christmas – a time that is supposed to be about togetherness and celebration. The fact is that for this very reason, for many, this time of the year can also heighten feelings of loneliness and despair.

We live in a world of opposites. Where there is happiness there is also the possibility of sorrow. Thankfully, because the two are sides of the same coin we also know that the more positive emotion is always present if we seek it out.

No-one truly knows what another person is thinking and feeling and in the majority of cases we assume too much and understand too little. Therefore, if the news from earlier today can have a positive impact, let it cause all of us to be even more grateful for the relationships we have with our friends and family. Let it make us appreciate that all our lives, even the lives of people we have never even met, are connected. We do not live in isolation, even if at times it can seem that way. If we reach out we will find them.

And finally, let it cause us to value the blessing of being able to wake up to a new day. A day that brings new possibilities. A day that presents us with opportunities to shape another person’s experience. We might never know the impact of a kind word, a wave or a smile to a stranger.

Haul up the Anchor


Yesterday, I caught the end of an interview with a female playwright who had built a successful career from extremely humble beginnings. She said that as a child she always had this feeling of wanting to be ‘released’ into the world, that there was something she wanted to express but the conditions she was experiencing wouldn’t allow her to. She eventually found this through writing and her commitment to her craft resulted in success. What most upset her was seeing others with the same desire but not being able to find a way of expressing it.

Sometimes it is confusion that holds us back. Sometimes it is fear or a fusion of the two. What is true is that we rarely figure it out by spending hours thinking about it, clarity comes out of doing. For much of my life I have battled with the concept that something has to be ‘perfect’ before it can be shown. The irony is that the feedback from the people around us helps us to make something better. We need to know what the faults are before we can work on improvements.

When are you going to show your talents to the world?

Should people catch it or drop it?


Last night, on BBC Radio 5 Live, there was a discussion about ‘Pressure in Elite Sport’. The panel was talking about the psychological pressure that the Australian cricket side of the late 90s and early 2000s used to inflict on the opposition. Matthew Hayden, the former Australian left hander, said that much of that was possible because of the amazing team spirit and positive energy within the squad.

He then used a phrase, a mantra amongst the players, which immediately stuck in my mind.

“Is your attitude worth catching?”

Like many phrases from an Australian, it’s straight to the point!

So…is yours?

The common thought process…

  1. Start day dreaming and think of a great idea…
  2. Get lost in the idea and start to imagine the wonderful things that it will bring you…
  3. Suddenly start to feel foolish…
  4. Begin thinking of all the reasons why it won’t work and why you are not the right person to make it happen…
  5. Start thinking of more ‘sensible’ and ‘realistic’ idea…
  6. Dismiss the idea.
  7. The idea dies…

Does this sound familiar?

Give the idea a chance. Give it some life. Give it the opportunity to grow into an even bigger and better idea. Let others work with you on the idea to create something like-changing.

Please don’t kill it. Please don’t do that to the idea and please don’t do it to yourself.