My Random Creativity and Dyslexia……..

In early May of this year, I attended a presentation on positive Psychology, one of the monthly meetings organised by the Brighton and Hove Psychology Networking group. During this interactive and highly engaging session we were asked to turn to our neighbour and discuss, ‘identify and talk about one of your strengths.’

Without hesitation, repetition or deviation, I turned to my neighbour and said, ‘random creativity.’ A phrase that has been rattling around in my head for a few months now. Something that I believe is a direct result of my Dyslexia and something that I am only just starting to take ownership of. It’s the way I can creatively put seemingly random ideas and approaches together. My best ideas emerge when I am daydreaming and allowing my mind to wander.

Careerresilience June 2019

I haven’t yet had myself formally assessed, but it seems highly probable that I’m Dyslexic, given my history at school and some of the things I continue to struggle with. It’s taken a surprisingly long time for the penny to drop 😉, given that our daughter was assessed as being Dyslexic three years ago. In my relief at having a definite diagnosis for our daughter and the report we could present to her school; I didn’t stop to think about the how and the why. I didn’t stop to think that Dyslexia is generally inherited, rather than acquired.

The realisation only fully hit when I joined a writing group in 2017 and noticed in our discussions that I’d simply not read as widely as most of the others in the group. My suspicions were further aroused by the feedback I was getting about my written work. After gaining three degrees, it’s the first time I’ve had my writing reviewed in this way.

So as an interim measure I paid a visit to the British Dyslexia Association website and took a few   online assessments, the results of which seem to indicate that I may well be Dyslexic. I won’t know for certain until I have myself fully assessed by a trained specialist. To access their site, please click here: https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/

But now as I look back I think I can see some of the ways Dyslexia has impacted my life over the years:

  • I know I had trouble with reading at junior school and was pulled out of all my other classes, so I could be taught individually by Miss Shaw. I don’t remember how long it took, but this approach worked for me.  I learnt to read and moved on.
  • I never fully learnt my times table at junior school, despite being made to stand up and recite them with the rest of the class. I could learn the rhythm and move my lips along in time with everyone else, so unless the teacher came up really close she would never have known.
  • Without a pen and paper in my hand, I can struggle with spelling and as for mental arithmetic, forget it.
  • I kind of know my alphabet.
  • Over the years I developed techniques for building in the extra time and space I needed to prepare and process information. Really needed this in the final year of my engineering degree, when it seemed we were being hit by a tsunami of assignments.
  • At the start of my working life, I’m sure it affected my performance on graduate assessment/screening programmes.  I generally did well at interview but could never quite get through the timed written tests.
  • It took me seven attempts to pass my driving test, each time getting a little better, but I needed that extra time.
  • I love writing, but I’m not a writer who can produce long flowing prose that fits seamlessly together. I write in chunks I write the scenes as I see and hear them in my head.
  • My creativity, what I would now refer to as ‘my random creativity’, my quirky way of putting things together, I’m sure stems from my Dyslexia. I may not always spot or notice what’s obvious to everyone else but pick up on the ridiculous and the oddly out of place.
  • I am easily distracted and put off by long, complex, over descriptive prose. Often I need to read over a piece of text more than once to get to the meaning. There are times when words just don’t make sense. Might well be why I often re-read books, once only doesn’t tend to work for me.
  • Today I can honestly say that reading is still not my favourite pastime, I find it tiring and a bit of a strain. Particularly when I’m having to read and make sense of things in a hurry. Large chunks of densely packed text are a real turn off and I can find myself skipping over it if it’s not grabbing my attention. In short, reading is and always will be quite hard work, luckily for me I love learning, and this is the payoff.
  • I can never compose an email in one take, though this is probably a blessing.
  • If I don’t make the effort to concentrate I can find myself ‘zoning out’ in busy and noisy environments. This can be problematic especially when I’m supposed to be networking and when linked with my ability to daydream at the drop of a hat.
  • Will, on occasion stumble over my words when speaking or having to read aloud.

My Dyslexia has been in the background all my life, quietly driving me on. I successfully studied for three degrees because I needed to prove to myself that I wasn’t stupid. Every time I embarked on any form of major study I followed the same pattern, started out ‘sh*t and got better’. Almost as though my brain needed a bit of time to warm up.

So, almost two years on, as I embrace my Dyslexia, I’m looking for the opportunities and the strengths I can draw from it. And the big one for me is most definitely my random creativity, though quite what I’ll do with it, remains to be seen.

My random creativity shows up I think more in my writing and perhaps in my coaching. If you want to find out more, look at:

Stories directly related to my work as a career coach:- careerresilience
Stories directly related to life and my random, take on it:- pittabread
Short stories directly related to whatever pops into my head:-shortstoriesblogger

So, there you have it, until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

Word count: 1078

Posted in creativity, Dyslexia, Uncategorized, Vulnerability, writing | Leave a comment

Choosing to thrive, despite how I feel………….

As I write this, I must admit that for a variety of reasons October and November are difficult months for me. It’s the same each year as I find that everything drops like a stone, my energy levels, confidence and motivation. These are the months when I’m most likely to feel like sh*t and can barely be arsed. Though to be fair this usually disappears once Christmas has passed and normally I am content to wait it out. But this year I am going to try something different, just to see what happens. Instead of hunkering down in survival mode, I am making the decision to thrive, despite how I feel.

So, this month’s post is all about what it means to thrive and I’m going to use this simple statement:

 I am choosing to thrive, despite how I feel.

Careerresilience Dec 1 2018

Which I suppose is all very well and good, but how far will that get me if I wake up each morning still feeling like sh*t?  Well, perhaps thriving doesn’t have to feel great every day, and maybe that’s the point. My feelings are not necessarily telling me the whole story.

So, what does it mean to thrive rather than just survive? A quick Google search threw up the following:

To survive as a verb is defined in the Oxford dictionary as, ‘to continue to live or exist, especially in spite of danger or hardship.’ This immediately conjures up for me an image of someone trudging, head down through a vat of treacle.  With little energy or inclination to lift their head, look around and seek out new opportunities. Everything is focused on getting through on a day by day, step by step basis.

On the other hand, thrive as a verb is defined as, ‘to grow or develop well or vigorously (generally used for humans, animals or plants). To prosper or flourish.’ Painting a completely different picture for me, one with light and movement. And there’s quite a bit of blue in there too.

But if the fact remains, that I still don’t feel like I am thriving, perhaps I need to look more closely at those feelings and where they are coming from. And to do this I probably need to get my head around my emotions too.

So, to remind myself it was back to Google:

‘Essentially emotions are physical and instinctive. They have been programmed into our genes over many, many years of evolution and are hard-wired. Feelings, on the other hand play out in our heads. They are mental associations and reactions to an emotion that are personal and acquired through experience. ‘

Source: https://www.laughteronlineuniversity.com/feelings-vs-emotions/

Feelings are mental experiences of body states which arise as the brain interprets emotions, themselves physical states arising from the body’s responses to external stimuli. (The order of such events is: I am threatened, experience fear, and feel horror.)

 Antonio D’Amasio quoted on the site: https://www.thebestbrainpossible.com/whats-the-difference-between-feelings-and-emotions/

Hence, our Feelings are in our minds and our emotions in our bodies, which might seem counterintuitive, always has done to me. But I know this to be the theoretical basis for CBT, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which is described as being:

‘… a type of talking treatment which focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems.’

Source: https://www.mind.org.uk/

So, this month’s post is more of a pep talk to me. A reminder that my feelings are not in sole charge, they are not necessarily the final arbiter of what I choose to do.

  • Motivation – I’ll do the work when I feel more motivated. Will you though?
  • Confidence – I don’t feel confident enough to go for that promotion. When then?
  • Thriving – I feel like ‘sh*t, how can I talk about thriving? Why not?
  • Happiness – I’ll only feel happy when I’ve achieved, XYZ. Is this true, really?

Do any of the above seem familiar to you? Perhaps I’m being a little tough, so here is how I think it might be possible to move forward with the statement:

Careerresilience June 2017

I am choosing to thrive, despite how I feel.

Be prepared to stay as open and curious about the possibilities and opportunities as you can. If this is your starting point, what needs to happen next? Face up to what is happening, without beating yourself up. I may not feel great, but there will be steps big or small that I can take now.

As far as possible, assemble around you your ‘A’ team, dream team, call them what you will. The people who can and are willing to help. No one that I can see is thriving in isolation. This is precisely what I will be doing, going forward into 2019. Making contact with the six or so people I believe can help me move forward both personally and professionally. Interestingly, I’ve only met three of them in person. The others I have been following for a while on different social media platforms.

Check in with yourself, do you need professional support? Do you need to be talking to a counsellor or therapist? I’ll be keeping a close eye on myself to make sure I don’t miss the obvious.

Remember this is the life you have now. Thriving isn’t about having a perfect life, it’s about using what you have now to the best of your ability. It’s about being grateful for the things you do have. Perhaps it’s also about accepting and moving on from those things that you cannot change and letting go of the things that no longer serve you.

Be mindful, not judgemental of the language you are using with yourself. I will need to be aware of my own language, curious even, but I don’t need to beat myself about the head with it.

Think that’s enough to be going on with.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

Word count 986

Posted in mindfulness, Personal Development, Resilience, thriving, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Driven, rather than motivated…

Looking back over my life and career so far, I have come to realise that I have been driven and that changes in my ‘drivers’ have coincided with key points in my life.

My ‘drivers’ haven’t felt like motivation in the normal sense to me. I’ve tended to experience them as more, in the gut, ‘fire in your belly’ sensations to quote the ubiquitous Lord Sugar 😉. Like, internal engines propelling me in different directions at different points in my life.

My first ‘driver‘, in my early twenties at the start of my career was all about the money and attaining some financial security. I left Polytechnic as it was then with a job to go to in East London as a graduate engineer.  Then spent six years bouncing around London, living in shared accommodation until I was able to buy my own place for the incredible sum of £25,000. You would just about get one beach hut in Brighton for this now. Glad I bothered to fact check this as my original guess was two ;).

Circus August 2017

In my thirties, it was all about time and flexibility.  A period of juggling between further study, starting my own business and towards the end of my thirties becoming a mother for the first time.

In my forties, it was all about my energy and making the most of it. Perhaps not entirely surprising given I’d become a mother at age thirty-eight. My attention was very much on conserving it, trying to be more in flow. I needed to find the right balance, whilst continuing with my business and our move as a family to Brighton.

Today as I approach my mid-fifties, I am aware that I’m being driven by thoughts of legacy. What will I leave behind that is of use?  What difference can I make with whatever time I have left? This ‘driver’ has a sense of urgency about it. It’s not my intention to be overly morbid about this but I am aware that in all likelihood I have more time behind me than in front of me. Life is simply too short to be buggering around with nonsense.

What I’m noticing with my current ‘driver’ is that it is consuming, directing my attention and attracting all resources and people related to it. I experience a surge of energy each time I read, see or think about it and find myself drawn to articles, talks, tweets, news items and books that are in any way related to it.

Blue Sky Making Change

So, what’s firing me up now?

The decline in social mobility as I see it and how a Universal Basic Income might, and I say might be able to reverse this. The opportunities to work your way out of poverty are in my opinion seriously depleted. I no longer believe I could do today what I did in the late eighties/early nineties as a single working-class woman. And that really frightens me.

It’s been my belief for a few years now that our current paradigm, approach to paid work is not sustainable going forward. It’s going to break, if it’s not breaking already. A discomforting realisation, I know given that I work as a career coach. But it is one where I could see the problem but not too many viable solutions.

That is until I heard Guy Standing’s Keynote speech at last year’s Brighton Summit, and he introduced to me at least the idea of Universal Basic Income. I was, to be honest surprised by his compassion and then impressed by his erudition in describing his experiences and research around Basic Income.

To hear his speech for yourself please Click here

 So, based on my current ‘driver’ and my values around freedom and choice for all, I want my business to support this issue and if there is a way I can help to move it forward, that’s what I will do. It’s time I think to stand up for something. This I think will be my legacy.

Careerresilience Oct 1 2018

There you have it until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

Word count: 661

 

Posted in Basic Income, Change, compassion, kindness, legacy, passion, social mobility, Uncategorized, values | Leave a comment

The power of journaling ……………….

For me there is something both powerful and wonderful about regularly and consistently putting your thoughts down on paper, rather than having them interminably rattling around inside your head.

I’m fairly, new to journaling, but I have been keeping a daily journal since December 2017 as I a result of starting with a weekly writing group. And, because I have been so very pleasantly surprised by the benefits I’m perceiving, from the process of writing daily I decided to share my thoughts here.

careerresilience 2 August 2018

So, at different times my journals are:

  • A useful resource of ideas for future posts and articles. This gives me a sense of building something that has value.
  • A brilliant place to dump worries, concerns and anxieties until I can review them properly.
  • A great place for to play about with ideas, different perspectives.
  • A place to reflect on the day’s experiences. The highs and the lows.
  • A way to look back and see how far I have travelled.
  • A place to order my thoughts, work things through and note down any plans.
  • A safe place to explore, rant, swear and fully express myself.
  • A wonderful place to store the things that just make me laugh
  • A place to say thank you and express gratitude

Over the seven months I’ve developed my own habits around keeping a journal.

Careerresilience 1 August 2018

I like to write by hand and it seems that there are some real benefits to writing this way, as outlined in Nancy Olson’s article:

Three ways that handwriting with a pen positively affects your brain.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nancyolson/2016/05/15/three-ways-that-writing-with-a-pen-positively-affects-your-brain/

There is for me a flow to writing by hand and seeing my words emerge from the tip of my pen.  Physically creating your words on your page. There is something meditative about this process which I’m sure is making a positive contribution to my well-being and health.

I also prefer to write within the confines of a hardback notebook, A4 size with unlined paper. Writing in between lines irritates me and somehow gets in the way of my flow as far as I am concerned. I like a blank page upon which I can put whatever I like. I don’t do lines, this might have something to do with school.

Additionally, late in the evening works best for me, I know others who write first thing in the morning. But I don’t think it matters when, so long as the timing you choose supports your writing.

Neither am I too prescriptive about what I write. In the early days I chose not to put myself under too much pressure to write in a certain way or about a certain topic. I was more interested in establishing a regular pattern that allowed my brain the time and space it needed to create and dream. Journaling I find is a great technique for getting out of your own way.

And more professionally I find that I can use my journaling to:

  • Reflect on current reading and embed the learning.
  • Set down quotes that lift and inspire.
  • Set down and explore ideas and future possibilities.
  • Track my learning and development. As a career coach I encourage clients to do precisely this.

I’ve also made my journals as searchable as I can. Having them A4 size makes it easier for me to quickly scan the pages and find what I need. Especially if I have circled or highlighted topic headings. The pages in my books are numbered and I date each entry. Post it notes make brilliant bookmarks, especially as you can write on them to denote which topic the bookmark refers to.

One final thing if you can and want to write by hand find a comfortable, smooth pen that fits you. I personally love the Uniball as it seems to glide across the paper and makes the physical act of writing both easy and a pleasure. That’s my preference but find what works for you.

And remember your journal is for you, your thoughts, your dreams, your reflections. Don’t allow anyone else to invade it or influence you, unduly.

If you decide to give this a go, enjoy.

Until next time

 

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

 

Word count: 685

Posted in Uncategorized, writing | Tagged ,

What problems are you solving?………

Today’s post has been inspired by a game called the Cortex Challenge, a Brain party game, given to us as a Christmas gift last year. A game that requires each player to compete in several different problem-solving tasks so that ultimately the winner is the first person to accumulate the four pieces needed to complete a brain.

But what intrigued me most about this card based game was the range and variety of problems and tasks that were a part of it. With each of the eight categories, listed below requiring the player to process and manipulate information in a different way. Either through touch, logical reasoning, pattern recognition or through the use of your short-term memory.

  • Finding the correct pathway between two items via a maze.
  • Being the first to identify a word written in its own colour.
  • Completing a physical coordination task
  • Identifying and then being the first to name the one item that is duplicated
  • Recognising which item is repeated most frequently from a jumble of items
  • Using logical reasoning to select the one shape that fits the ‘gap’
  • Using touch to identify an object
  • Memorising and then recalling all the objects shown on a card

Careerresilience April 2 2018

As we played the game for the first time over Christmas, it was our daughter who suggested we abandon the goal of collecting brain pieces. She thought it would be more interesting to compete as a family and work our way through all the tasks, so that we could see which one of us consistently won within a category and whether there was some sort of pattern to this.

So, some 80 to 100 tasks later it emerged that my husband was the clear winner on the short-term memory tasks, I was best with physical coordination and our daughter came out on top with the colour identification. She also tied with my husband for the top place on the frequency and logical reasoning problems.

Clearly, this was just a bit of family fun with a newly acquired game, but it did get me thinking:

  • How many of us are consistently addressing the problems we are uniquely, best placed to solve?
  • Are we really working to our ‘natural’ strengths and talents?
  • How many people are stuck in their careers trying to solve the wrong problems?

Of course, this was just one game, but I was struck by the way it provided our daughter with some real insight as to where her potential strengths and abilities might lie. Something that has not necessarily happened through school.

So, how do we find out, what we have the potential to excel at?

Careerresilience April 1 2018

My sense is, that those of us, lucky enough to do so, might have uncovered it more by happy chance and good fortune than anything else. A chance remark, from a colleague, an observation or piece of feedback may have helped some people on their path to excellence. Others yet, might have uncovered their ‘spark’ by being thrown in at the deep end and found they were in their element.

Maybe you’ve experienced being in the right place at the right time, as your catalyst or spark.

Even playing a family game might do it.

Perhaps the key to a truly successful career is to discover and identify the problems you work best at, the ones you are consistently able to solve and enjoy solving.

My point is that I think that there is still too much left to chance. I don’t see enough opportunities within our schools and our work places to identify people’s potential for excellence.  I suspect it is easier for people to find the problem solvers they need, than it is for the problem solvers to find their best problems.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

 

word count 622

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Engaged and loving your job?

What I learnt from our family trips to the zoo

Employee engagement and why it might be lacking in some workplaces has been of interest to me for some time and I have been asking myself; why is work so poor for some? Why are some people seemingly so disengaged, unhappy and unfulfilled in their roles?

Strangely enough, this topic puts me in mind of family trips to the Isle of Wight Zoo which happens to be one of my favourite places to visit on the Island as I always want to see the big cats.

We haven’t been for a few years now, but what I still remember from our past visits and was always strongly impressed by; were the deep levels of love, trust and conviction shown by all members of staff for the welfare of the animals. There was a sense of purpose, conviction and pride that emanated from all the staff, including those in the canteen, those in the shop as well as the keepers.

Working at the Isle of Wight Zoo for these people seemed to be far more than a job – they were clearly on a mission and it showed in their interactions with us as visitors as well as with their interactions with the animals in their charge.

Zena (1)

Recalling our visits got me thinking:

  • What is employee engagement?
  • How do you engage people?
  • What happens when it’s gone?

According to Wikipedia an engaged employee is defined as:

‘someone who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organisations reputation and interests.’

Certainly, picked this up over several visits to the Isle of Wight Zoo, I saw staff that were knowledgeable, enthusiastic and proud about the work they were doing.

According to the Institute of Employment studies, employee engagement is:

‘a positive attitude held by the employee towards the organisation and its values. An engaged employee is aware of business context and works with colleagues to improve performance within the job for the benefit of the organisation. The organisation must work to develop and nurture engagement, which requires a two-way relationship between employer and employee.’

This definition is interesting, because as a visitor I could see for myself what the staff were doing but can only assume that the management team were in some way, working to ‘nurture and develop, engagement.’

Zena (2)

The question is how? What might they be doing to nurture and develop, engagement in their members of staff?

Well without knowing precisely, I wonder if they have found a way to:

1) Develop decent and accessible managers, by this I mean managers who provide feedback that people can act on, encourage development and listen to their staff. Perhaps this is more likely to happen if the managers themselves are well supported with access to all the above too. It’s interesting to note that in many cases, people leave their managers rather than their jobs.

2) Identify and enable people to work to their strengths, skills and abilities and again more likely to happen is there is dialogue and ongoing development to unearth these.

3) Create flexibility in the workplace, so that in peak times it’s ‘all hands to the pumps’ but allow people greater flexibility when things are quieter or as their situation, changes.

4) Share their vision, share their ‘why’ so people can get on board and see where they are headed. They may well have ideas that will support the vision too.

5) Support the health and happiness of their employees, studies are beginning to show that happy, healthy employees are less stressed and more motivated.

6) Listen to their staff, clearly not everything can be acted on but genuine listening, with open ears and an open mind will go a long way.

7) Invest in ongoing training and development for the people they have.

The above list is by no means exhaustive and perhaps you think this is all ‘over the rainbow’ stuff, and perhaps you are right but, in my opinion it’s well worth striving for.

In terms of what happens when engagement is gone, I’m going to ponder this and come back to it in a future post.

So, until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

Posted in Career, Employee engagement, Leadership, Management, Uncategorized, values | Leave a comment

How was 2017 for you? ………..

The good, the bad and the indifferent?

Have to say that for a whole variety of reasons, 2017 has not been a stellar year and I for one am very glad to be leaving it behind. But all that aside, I can still list a few highlights, there is always something positive to be found if you look hard enough.

So, here are a few of my highlights from 2017:

1) Volunteering on a regular basis, with a local homeless charity and becoming part of an amazing team of people. This has opened my eyes to some of the realities of rough sleeping. It has also shown me some of the skills, attitudes, heart and dedication needed to work with this client group.

Feel inspired and reinvigorated by the Team I work alongside, both those employed and the other volunteers and pleased to be able to support the work they do. I am getting  more out of this than I am giving and it’s a real privilige to be able to serve.

Really important if you work from home, largely by yourself.

2) Making the decision to move forward with my writing and enrol on a two-year programme, where I am required to attend actual classes on a weekly basis. Having started and failed to complete online, distance learning writing courses I decided I really needed to be physically with people. I also wanted to set aside regular blocks of time to write and be with other writers.

This I’m sure, will take my writing to another level as I share and receive what’s been so far, constructive, honest and helpful feedback.

I’ve also committed to writing, 500 words per day for the rest of the course.

careerresilience 1 Jan 2018

3) Reviewing and pruning my networking activities both on and offline, some I have decided to leave behind and others I’m trying afresh. I am a huge fan of networking and building sustainable and beneficial relationships, but I realised towards the end of 2017, that some were no longer serving me well. I needed to be a bit more focused and careful about how I was spending my time.

In fact, some of the new events, perhaps because they are more in tune with what I offer, and my approach have already resulted in a couple of interesting conversations for me to follow up with in 2018.

Additionally, I also decided to engage more with my contacts on LinkedIn and Twitter rather than leave them, gathering dust. Making the decision in 2017 to follow up each new LinkedIn contact with a message of welcome. Can’t believe I never thought to do this before, but my instincts tell me that doing this consistently will yield results.

4) Receiving an unexpected, but very welcome email from a longstanding corporate client, which I have followed up and will be meeting with very soon. It has been almost two years since we’d last had any contact.

5) Having my coaching clients find me through my website and LinkedIn, I’ve had the privilege of working with individuals who are making plans to move away from traditional employment, so they can start running their own businesses. Exciting times and reminds me of how I optimistic I felt when I started my own business Blue Sky Career Consulting, almost eighteen years ago.

careerresilience 2 Jan 2018

6) On a completely different note, and this happened right at the end of 2017, being picked from the audience to play Reverend Janice and perform the wedding ceremony between Prince Charming and Cinderella at our local pantomime, Cinderella and the Beanstalk.

Just made me laugh so much and it was a great way to finish the year. So here’s to 2018, whatever it might bring.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment