camelon, coach, community, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill

Slow down to go faster

From the many things we have learned or developed over this last year of restrictions, the gift of extra time is high up on many peoples list. A few friends of mine normally had a 60-90 commute to work each way – so they’ve gained up to 3 hours a day. What an amazing gift! The trick of course, is what to do with that time. Many have taken up a new skill or started a new exercise regime (whatever that is!). Others have been able to spend much more valuable time with their family. But come on, hands up who vowed a year ago to learn a new skill or start something new, but all they’ve developed is a working knowledge of NetFlix?!

So, as restrictions start to be lifted, that extra time may still be there so what are you going to do with it? How are you going to manage it? Or if you’re going to lose some of that time for reasons beyond your control, how can you still remain as productive and chilled as before but without moving towards burnout? The answer – slow down to go faster!

That may sound weird but stick with me.

Ever heard the phrase ‘slow and steady wins the race’? And any Top Gear fans will know that part of the trick of getting a top time on ‘the lap’ is often to take some of the corners slower and more controlled. It’s not about ‘pedal to the metal’ all the time. It’s about consciously slowing down. Let’s explore this a bit.

John Ortberg describes this idea as “cultivating patience by deliberately choosing to place ourselves in positions where we simply have to wait.”

So if you regularly say you haven’t got time, this quote seems to indicate that there’s a choice you can make to make that time and it usually comes by doing less but doing it better. Now before you lynch me – especially the parents reading this – I’m a parent too and I’m also good at taking extra stuff on. So I’m speaking as much to myself here! Lets learn and develop together!

John Mark Comer, in his book “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” lays out four practices for unhurrying your life, and one of those is the practice of Slowing. He explores ways of slowing down both mind and body. I get that. I’m pretty good at slowing my body down but my mind is constantly on the go and that can be just as tiring. So Comer lays out 20 ideas (stick with me – I’m just taking 12 of them) for slowing down your overall pace of life. Ironically, even though I’ve not taken all the ideas, I’m still going to race through them! I’ll give my thoughts around his headlines with a few quotes from him interspersed. The first few relate to something most of us do regularly – driving a car – but then we move on to life in general.

  • Drive the Speed Limit. Okay this is the law, but how many would say they might just see what they can get away with. Why do it? Forget the “instant gratification of a life of speed” and just slow down.
  • Get into the slow lane. (This will apply more from Friday when you’re allowed to go into other local authority areas!) Comer says “settle in. Feel the wheel, the road. Watch the scenery pass.” Use the time as a chance to practice slowing of your mind as well. It really works.
  • Come to a full stop at stop signs. Again, this is actually the law according to the Highway Code. But how hard is it to do this? You just keep on rolling a little until you can move on safely. There’s an in built desire to keep moving but even if you’re not driving, how about occasionally just coming to a complete stand still in whatever you’re doing. Intentionally.

So let’s move on from driving and take some other ideas:

  • Get in the longest checkout line at the supermarket. This will probably be an unpopular one and I know most supermarkets will open another till if the queue gets too long! It seems like wasting time on purpose doesn’t it. But this is why Comer does this: “It’s a way to slow down my life and deal with the hurry in my mind. It gives me a few minutes to come off the drug of speed. … And when I get up to the cashier … say hello, ask a few questions, and say thank you. (Rather than my default of paying for my items while texting with work, while podcasting via headphones, all the while treating the poor cashier like an ATM instead of a person.)” He suggests it’s wise to “regularly deny ourselves from getting what we want … that way when somebody else denies us from getting what we want, we don’t respond with anger”.
  • Turn your smartphone into a dumbphone. Now I can say I’ve done this. The simplest way to do it is to turn off all notifications except for calls and texts – even just allow texts from select people. You could go further and actually remove the apps from your phone if you want to go hardcore. But taking away the notifications stops you being a slave to your phone. You can choose when you’ll look at it. Choose when to go on social media. Choose when to respond to someone who doesn’t need an urgent response. Delete every app that you don’t need or doesn’t make your life a whole lot easier. Keep your home screen as free as possible. And here’s a powerful one: “Set your phone to grayscale mode. This does something neurobiologically that I’m not smart enough to explain, something to do with decreasing dopamine addiction. Google it!” Or better still, just get a basic phone – you know, the ones that just phone and text and might have the snake game on it. It’s about taking away things that could drain your time unnecessarily.
  • Parent your phone; put it to bed before you and make it sleep in. Comer and his wife put their phones ‘to bed’ at the same time as their kids: 8:30pm. He says “we literally set them to airplane mode and put them in a drawer in the kitchen. Otherwise we burn time and end up frying our brains with blue screens rather than winding down for bed.” But how will you discuss things on social media about the latest episode of Line of Duty? Here’s a thought – do it tomorrow! Maybe even just give someone a call to discuss it?
  • Keep your phone off until later in the morning. Comer says “The stats are ominous. 75% of people sleep next to their phones and 90% of us check our phones immediately upon waking. I can’t think of a worse way to start the day than a text from work, a glance at an email, a quick (sure…) scroll through social media and a news alert about that day’s outrage. That is a surefire recipe for anger, not love. Misery, not joy. And definitely not peace.”

We’ll take a pause here to point out that “none of this is legalistic. These ideas are simply self-imposed guardrails to keep the trajectory of my life between the lines and on the way to life”.

  • Set times for email. Pretty much every self-help writer, time management study, workplace efficiency expert etc all say the same thing. I struggle with this but am getting better. Listen, if something is that urgent the other person will phone you and you can answer calls. So don’t just glance at the emails when you get a free moment. Don’t answer randomly through the day. “Set a time to do email and stick to it”. The accountant for my previous job did exactly this and put it on her auto email response so you knew when you might expect a response from her. I know there have been times I’ll turn the emails off on the laptop so I can focus – especially when a deadline is looming! Most experts will recommend no more than twice a day for email. Comer points out “the more email you do, the more email you do“!
  • Set a time limit for social media. This is huge whether personally or professionally. How often have you opened the app and started scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. The next thing you know the programme you’d put on to watch has finished and you’re still scrolling. Comer says “it just eats up my time and with it, my joy”. Why not even set a daily allowance of social media time – there are apps to help you with that. If you can, why not even try coming off completely? If it wasn’t for a work need then I might consider that. Social media can be really helpful but it can also become a hotbed for negativity. It’s so easy to bang out a comment without really thinking and without facing much comeback on it. Things can grow arms and legs so quickly. For me, give me a proper conversation with someone – even if it is on Zoom – rather than just 280 characters in a tweet and then another one and another one.
  • Turn off your TV. “Even more than social media, TV consumes the lion share of our so-called free time. For the average person (note – this was written before lockdown!) that is up to 35 hours a week.” How much binge watching have you done on Netflix recently? It may not be something to be proud of when you look at what you could have been doing. Check this out: “when asked about the competition from Amazon Prime and other up-and-coming streaming services, Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, shrugged. He said their biggest competition is sleep”. Wow. That is what the world has become. Creating something that competes with sleep. And we wonder why we’re not as productive as we used to be.
  • Single-task. Now I’m a guy quoting from another guy. We all know the line that men can’t multi-task. I beg to differ having worked in catering for a while when I first moved to Scotland. But read this: “multi-tasking is just sleight of hand for switching back and forth between a lot of different tasks so I can do them all poorly instead of doing one well.” Or what about this: “multi-tasking is the drive to be more than we are, to control more than we do, to extend our power and our effectiveness. Such practice yields a divided self, with full attention given to nothing”. Ouch!
  • Walk slower. Unless you’re late for picking your kids up from school (go on – admit you were watching something on telly or you got lost in social media? See above….!) then just walk slower. You’ll still get to where you’re going. Now I’ve lived in London. I’ve worked in Edinburgh. You know the pace of people. I’ve even found myself clocking someone else going in the same direction and pretending I’m in a race with them to the next lamp post! Just me?! Comer says “One of the best ways to slow down your overall pace of life is to literally slow down your body. Force yourself to move through the world at a relaxed pace.”

As we’ve said, these are just some ideas. They might not all work for you. So why not come up with your own ideas as well. But don’t just come up with a list – actually put them into practice. To finish with a word from Comer “There’s more to life than an increase in speed. Life is right under our noses, waiting to be enjoyed.”

So if I don’t respond to you quickly. If I’m walking slowly. If I’m just that bit slower. Join me!

All quotes taken from John Mark Comer’s book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry published by Hodder and Stoughton.

camelon, coach, community, development, leadership, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill, training

What do you see?

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 8 April 2021

When you look at other people in the community – what do you see?

It may seem a strange question, but it’s an important part of community development especially when we take time to focus on the real assets around here – the people. We need to see past any initial reaction and purely focus on the person within. That can be hard especially when we look at the different types of people we might come across and the labels we may attach to them, even subconsciously. But it’s really important. Here’s some categories that came to my mind:

Life Labels

  • Youth; Criminal; Addict; Troublemaker; Helper; Retired; Active/Inactive; Unemployed; Student; Safe; Community Activist; Deaf/Blind.

Nationality Labels

  • Local (Kemlin); Incomer (New/Recent Resident); Refugee; Scottish; People of Colour; ‘Foreign’.

Language Labels

  • Local; National; International; BSL; Digital.

Do any of those ring true for you? You may have thought them but have you even said them? Or have they been said to or about you? Some may be said in jest but have you really meant any of them in a less than positive way? Don’t worry – I’m not asking for feedback here! These are all questions for you to think about yourself or to reflect on any things that may have been said to you.

Everyone of these labels that will have been applied to someone locally at one stage in their life can cause people to act and speak differently towards them. Whether positive or negative, they can create a stigma that usually is unhelpful. It can weigh that person down and not make them feel part of the community or alternatively, can create an elite kind of group. Either way it’s not great.

We all have a label that is much more positive to use – our name. It’s how we’ve been addressed since birth and is who we are. That’s not to say we are not any of the things listed above, but they do not define who we are. Every person – yes even you! – was born to change the world and deserves to be seen as the individual that they are. Every person has the right to achieve the potential they were put on this earth to achieve. Whether the time you’ve had up to this point has been positive or negative, it is never too late to achieve that potential – and to help others achieve theirs.

One further question for you. If you’re looking to support someone to move forward, to grow, to achieve their potential – how do you approach that? Essentially, do you see a person or a project? (Okay, sorry, that was actually two questions!) However positive you may have been about the labels we explored above, if you simply see them as a project you can ‘do’, then you might as well have been negative with those labels. Whoever they are – whatever the journey they need to go on – they are still a person. Our role in supporting them is to do just that – support them. Have a look at this quote from my friend Maff Potts, who heads up a fantastic organisation called Camerados.

This is a perfect summary of how I see my role. But to be honest – I do struggle with this because I’m a fixer! I love to sort things. But I have learned over the years – and especially over this last year – that this doesn’t really help – not in the situation we’re in just now. I came across the use of the word ‘alongsider’ last year and it’s perfect. I have worked in this way before and I do love it. It is perfect again for what I do and how I want to encourage you to do as well. Come alongside people – just as they are and as who they are. Step out among the people who you might not even naturally go towards. Hey, you might be pleasantly surprised. And next time you’re walking around the area, don’t just see things – observe. Truly look at what you see. Look beyond the labels and see the people that live here. Everyone has a part to play in the development of our community and I look forward to more opportunities to play my part.

Until next time….

Dan Rous, Community Coach, communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk, 07444 873151

camelon, coach, community, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill

Be the Fool

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 1 April 2021

So today is April Fools Day! But rather than actually do a joke blog post (I was really tempted!) I want to encourage you to be the fool! I don’t mean for you to mess about or cause trouble and neither am I being rude, but I want to encourage you to be the one who isn’t afraid to ask the stupid question that could actually help everyone else understand things better.

Let me ask you: Have you ever read something you didn’t really understand? Or been in a meeting when someone is saying something that is just noise to you? I’ll be honest and tell you that my hand is firmly up to both of those questions! Before I go on, and just for fun, have a look at this short video from the US SitCom ‘Friends’ where Joey experiences similar feelings….

Sound familiar?

Now whilst I am being truthful when I said my hand was up for the questions I posed earlier, I do know that occasionally I may write or say something that isn’t clearly understood. I try not to get too technical as, well let’s be honest, I don’t do technical! So I want to encourage you that if you read anything from any of us here at Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill that you don’t fully understand, please ask! You asking the question may not only help you get clarity, but could help countless others as well. We’re more than happy to post something again with better explanations.

I often use videos from Simon Sinek in these blogs as he has such a great, down to earth, encouraging style. I’ve been reading and listening to him for ages. I return to him again this week as I came across this video earlier in the week and just had to use it. He’s taken my blog title a step further by saying – be the idiot! Now we don’t allow that word in my house but I’ll allow it here for artisic purposes! But his point emphasises what I’ve been going on about today. Please don’t be afraid to be the one who speaks up and asks the question that maybe others were thinking. It’s the only way we’ll all grow and learn together. It’s the only way to be in life.

Until next time! Go on – be the fool! You don’t know how valuable that could be!

Dan Rous, Community Coach. communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk 07444 873151

camelon, coach, community, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill

What does ‘success’ mean to you?

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 25 March 2021

I saw this image on social media and thought it deserved a feature in this blog. Have a look at all of it and then we’ll discuss a bit further

So what does success look like for you? Or maybe I should ask what you’ve been told that success should be for you.

If this last year has taught us anything, it’s that there is more to life than just work. Many people have realised that they’ve neglected the most important things in life so that they can climb the career ladder and have suffered as a result. Now let me stress here that there is nothing wrong with climbing that career ladder. If that’s for you then you go for it (please remember us when you’re successful!) But even when doing that, it is important – I’d even say crucial – to make sure you look after yourself on that journey. And by “yourself”, as the chart above shows, I mean your physical AND mental health.

Before I carry on, have a watch of the short video below in which some people are asked how they would define success:

Surprised by some of the comments there? What was the standout? I can’t help be reminded of the guy who wanted the most likes on Instagram and wonder what kind of success that is! But really, the person who stood out was the man who said coming home from work to see the smiles on his families faces was his measure of success. I love love love that! He felt good about his work and even more happy when he was with his family. I’d say that’s a perfect balance – wouldn’t you?

So how do we get this for ourselves? Let’s go back to the image we started with, and to help, I’ve guestimated the percentages for each section:

  • 10% Job Title
  • 10% Salary
  • 15% Free Time
  • 20% Liking what you do
  • 20% Physical Health
  • 25% Mental Health

So whether you learn better from a picture or from numbers and words, this seems to make it clear doesn’t it? First and foremost, focus on your mental health. The salary and job title are the least important things. Within that mental health section will be having good support networks around you whether that be family or friends. Surround yourself – online as well as offline – with people who can bring genuine support and positivity. Keep yourself as active as possible within your own capabilities and obviously just now, within allowed limits. And notice this – liking what you do is as important as the job title and salary put together. Also, having free time is not far behind liking what you do. Down time. Switching off. These are so important to help both your mental and physical health.

Now let me say something here before those who know me well start having a go. This blog falls very much into the territory of ‘do as I say not as I do’! I’m really good at talking about the theory of things like this but not always so good at putting them into practice. If I’m honest, right now I’m doing well with the ‘liking what you do’ bit and I certainly don’t care too much about the salary. My mental health is mostly okay, and physically – well let’s move on!

So, shall we work on this together? As community, can we agree to help each other with this quest to redefine success. It’s not dumbing down success. It’s making it more real, more sustainable, more enjoyable, more successful!

As always, if you want to make any suggestions, or just chat anything through, give me a shout. communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk or 07444 873151.

Finally, remember to keep Monday 26 April, 6:30-8pm, free in your diaries. All will be revealed soon!

camelon, coach, community, development, leadership, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill, training

IRTDMN part 2

Hi – it’s Dan back again! Welcome to part 2 of our look at this strange word that actually stands for 6 different words which in turn help us in looking at Launching Leaders. In last week’s blog we identified the first three words: Identify, Recruit, Train. Have a look back at that blog to remind you of the detail behind those elements, but as an addition to what I wrote then, a key part across those three is the reasoning behind why you’re launching a new leader: never recruit from a need. What do I mean by that? Well it actually takes us back to an even earlier blog I wrote on the theme of “Start with Why“. If you’re just looking for someone to fill a gap, you might not get the person you actually need. You need a person who has a natural fit to your requirements and that is only discovered by asking why you need that role filled. What is the vision for your project/task/organisation/plan? Michael Gatlin says that “the currency of recruitment is vision” so go back to why you’re doing what you’re doing, then Identify, Recruit and Train someone from that point. ‘Selling’ the vision to someone will give them more of an idea of what’s ahead rather than just begging for them to get involved!

Okay, we’ve had our recap from last week, let’s get going with the next 3 words.

First up this week, the D is for Deploy.

This is important but is also tricky, because knowing when to deploy someone fully into a role on their own depends on the person! Michael Gatlin says this is “more of an art than a science” and won’t work every time. That may not sound very helpful in the grand scheme of things however he goes on to say that “the best time [to deploy them] is when they still have things to learn so that they are not unduly confident”. A key point here is that whoever you deploy will still need support. Deployment doesn’t pass the buck. Without interfering, you will still need to be around for them. Whether that’s providing an important insight, a key contact, or just a sounding board – it is all really important in the whole IRTDMN process and actually, leads us nicely onto the next letter.

So next up, the M is for Monitor.

This is not a kind of big brother type eaves dropping, but a managed evaluation and support of them. Look at it in terms of checking in with them to keep them healthy or if your want a soundbite, try this one: “you don’t get what you expect, you get what you inspect.”

The person you have identified, recruited, trained and deployed, will need some accountability because this will increase their personal resilience to whatever the role will throw at them, and also build their effectiveness in that role. So set clear parameters for them to work within and help them along the way. How exactly do you help them? Let’s check the next letter!

Our final section then brings us to N which is for Nurture.

You want this person to succeed – I mean, you wouldn’t have brought them through the whole IRTDM parts to now watch them fail at N! To truly help them grow as a leader, there needs to be an environment that fosters that feeling. A set up that only wants the best for them in the role.

It’s important to pick up on what leads them to really flourish in their tasks and also, what drains the very life from them! You won’t be able to shield them from those draining tasks – and neither should you – but you can maybe focus your nurturing support on those areas. Nurturing is so important. Because in order for you to be able to move on to whatever it is you’re moving on to, you need to know that the person you’ve IRTDMN’d is actually going to be able to carry on with the very thing you need to let go of.

Let me summarise. Through the I and R stages, you connect with the other person. Through the T and D stages you release them. Then through the M and N stages you stay connected but always pointing them towards the goal. Through it all, be genuine. Know your stuff. Share what you know. And never ever feel bad about asking someone to rearrange their lives to fulfil what they were put on this earth to do.

I love this process and in some way or another have been doing it for many years. I hope it is helpful to you in your setting. I’m also fully aware that if I’m talking with you now, you may be wondering what I’m Identifying and Recruiting you for! Well, guilty as charged!!

If you’d like to chat more about this, then don’t hesitate to give me (Dan) a shout on communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk or phone 07444 873151.

Credit to Michael Gatlin, Launching Leaders, Vineyard Training and subsequent webinar for the basis of this training.

camelon, coach, community, development, leadership, Our Place, Support, tamfourhill, training

IRTDMN

No I haven’t fallen asleep on the keyboard and neither am I making up words again! These letters each stand for a word that has come up in some other training I’m doing. The theme of the training was ‘Launching Leaders’ and it fits wonderfully with my task to uncover the next generation of leaders and community engagers right here in Camelon and Tamfourhill. It gave so much insight especially in respect of working with groups of people and how you help individuals grow. It also involves looking at leadership differently. It is thought that leadership is not a gift for an individual, but a gift for the community/organisation through the individual. This then becomes about identifying leaders within a community, for a community.

So, to this IRTDMN thing. There’s a lot to unpack in these 6 letters/words so I’ll take 2 weeks to cover this to save having a really lengthy blog post.

First up, the I is for Identify.

This is the point where we start to build relationships by getting to know people. That is the best way to start because only with a working relationship with them can you start to identify what they can have the potential to get involved in. Crucially, as the inner potential becomes clear, it is not my role to tell people what to do, but to help them discover it for themselves and walk alongside them as they make that journey.

It is said that a true leader is not one who passes decrees, but who lives and walks with others. This makes so much sense but involves dropping the idea of a true leader as being like the traditional view of a Chief Exec of a big corporate business (no offence to any corporate CEO’s!). Leadership is about naturally influencing others so that they can become the person they are meant to be. Identifying the potential within only comes with that process and by walking alongside them for as long as needed.

Next, the R is for Recruit

Once the specific needs are known and the potential within individuals is identified, we move to the recruiting stage. This is not recruitment in the usual sense of putting an advert out for a role, receiving applications, interviewing and appointing someone. This is not even about recruiting to fill a gap. Following on from the Identifying stage, this is about bringing people into a role that they have been made to do, through a gentle nurturing/coaching process, so what actually happens is that the potential within them does the recruiting!

People will move at different speeds through this process and that is okay. Some will need more time with someone walking alongside them as they build their own self belief. Others will be able to be released quicker. It’s important to get this speed right and that is only known by properly setting the foundations through the Identify stage and building a good understanding relationship. Moving someone into a role too soon – even if it is what they were designed to do – could cause more harm than good. The last thing I want to do is set someone up to fail.

Finally for this week, the T is for Train

This is a very key stage as, in the same way that putting someone into a role too soon can do untold harm, not training people properly for the role can do equal damage. There’s a process to follow here:

  1. Do it yourself – this is the stage many projects will be in because it seems easier that way.
  2. Invite others to watch – this links to the Identify and Recruit stages and is where you allow yourself to be as open as possible with those who are looking in.
  3. Do it together – this is where you really allow others to walk alongside you so you can encourage and teach them. This can take time and it may be tempting to move back to point 1 and just get on with it. However, it is said that if you can find someone who can do things 70% as well as you, then step back and let them get on with it. You will not find a clone of you!
  4. Be intentionally absent. Give the other person the chance to get on and do things because an appointment has ‘just come up’ or you’re not feeling 100%. But make sure you check in with them afterwards. This is a step that needs to be managed very carefully otherwise you could damage the whole process of bringing the other person into their fullest potential and giving yourself some breathing space.
  5. Release them into the role. Give them the permission to do the role in the way they have been designed to do. But be prepared for them to maybe do things differently and, as long as it works and brings the desired results in the community, that is okay.
  6. Allow them to train others. You’ve made them a leader so allow them now to fulfil that role to the full by training others. They’ve been through this process so are well equipped to do it with someone else now.

This is such a rewarding process. Yes, it takes time. How long? Well, as long as needed for each individual. But it is worth every moment in order to widen the spread of people achieving their own goals and becoming the people they were designed to be. How amazing would that community look? I don’t know about you, but I love it!

So there we have it. The first three letters explained of this IRTDMN thing. Come back next week to find out what the D, M, and N relate to.

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions or just want a chat, drop me a line at communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk or call 07444 873151. Whether you’re the person wanting to find out what you’re meant to be doing, or the person who could do with having someone to share the load with, I’d love to hear from you.

Credit to Michael Gatlin, Launching Leaders, Vineyard Training for the basis of this training.

camelon, coach, community, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill

What is on your mind?

I’m sure if I met you for a chat and asked what you were worrying about, you could string a whole long list of things together. Some would be based on the reality of how you see your current situation, but the majority would come from a perception of what you think might happen.

The image below was shared on social media last week by a few friends and it got me thinking a lot about this. Have a look – does it ring true for you?

We all do it don’t we? And those daily worries are all too good at taking over. Then the more we worry about them, the more we get stuck in an ever downward spiral that can be hard to move out of. I’m also aware that on top of normal things people worry about, the current pandemic has added a whole other layer. So how can we move out of this cycle of worry?

Conquering the cause of worry or anxiety takes time, especially while the symptoms persist. When panic strikes, try these simple tricks to refocus and calm down:

  1. Reset your mind by focusing on another sensation, like the feel of the ground under your feet.
  2. Ask yourself if your negative thoughts are rational.
  3. Breathe deeply, starting at the bottom of your stomach.
  4. Find a quiet space and talk to yourself, using calming and encouraging words.

You can also try this very simple mindset shift as highlighted in the short video below from Simon Sinek.

So here’s your challenge: Change your mindset. Turn the negative into a positive. Turn the worry into excitement. Turn your fear into hope.

As well as following at least some of what has been shared here, coaching can also help you. It won’t give you the answers. But it will help you to ask yourself the right questions that will lead to the answers. It’s about being helped to be the author of your own future. Sounds good right? Why not jump on the waiting list for our free coaching programme right here. What are you waiting for?

Get in touch with me (Dan) at communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk or 07444 873151

camelon, coach, collaboration, community, development, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill

Easy as ABCD

Last week, I was lucky to share a powerful couple of hours on zoom with over 120 other people across the UK who are working with their communities to bring positive change. It was called the Asset Based Community Development Jamboree – hence the ABCD heading to this blog. Don’t get put off with fancy words there – what this really means is strengthening communities with what exists already – i.e. the people. To put it another way, as it says in our mission statement, empowering local people & organisations to bring about positive, lasting change. What this boils down to is a community revolution! It’s the time for communities to build on their own skills and be the authors of their own futures.

I was incredibly fired up from the morning in this session, as I was joined by others who are banging the same drum as I have throughout my time in this role and for years before that: stop doing stuff to communities – work with them. I could write forever on this subject but to save boring you (who said “too late”?!), I will just put this over a series of blogs in the coming weeks and months as the mood takes me and as circumstances dictate.

The above image is the graphic notes from the morning, captured by Visual Practitioner Anna Geyer. She has really caught the mood and you can see for yourself that there is so much in there which is why I need a series to bring some of this to a local level. In her twitter summary, this quote really stood out for me:

In every meeting I’ve been in over the last 10 months – especially the current Community Conversations that the Council are leading – I have pressed the point that the whole community needs to be spoken to. Anything dressed up as a conversation cannot fall short and become a place simply for providing information. The people of Camelon and Tamfourhill have some powerful opinions that can really help shape the future of our community. It’s time these opinions were taken seriously and my pledge to you is that I will do what I can to make this happen. But you need to work with me on this.

Back to the ABCD session, below are just some of the comments shared by participants that I managed to capture and feel are relevant to us here. The first 5 quotes come from Fatima El Guenuni, a family therapist in the Grenfell area of London who had family members in the tower that burned down (thankfully they survived). Her talk certainly set the tone for the day:

  • Communities have never been hard to reach, but they have been easy to ignore.
  • Voice is important at the centre of communities but action is more important.
  • Work alongside people and be brave enough to make decisions that benefit the community and not the system.
  • It’s the system that marginalises communities, not communities that make themselves hard to reach.
  • We need to be willing to step outside roles & be there for communities with love and support – a hug of compassion and humanity.
  • Be the “human bridge” between people and the community and the system.
  • It is time to stop the politicisation of community development.
  • This citizen centred movement is gathering massive momentum. I hope councils learn, recognise it & work generously with communities to share power & space.
  • We are hearing of rooted acts of kindness, and the tremendous steely courage of communities, to flourish forward fairly, whatever the challenges may be.
  • Stories are so important and then stimulating them with the right questions.
  • Inequalities have driven the change. Our aim was to listen. Serve the people. Unlock skills and talents. Change power.
  • We need jargon free community development. It’s about people. Local people. Leading local change.

There are so many more that I’ll save for another blog. But can you pick up the themes here? Are you excited by it? Everyone was completely on board with this revolution. This last year has actually been a defining moment for communities across the land, as many have really stepped up to meet their own needs. The challenge now is to build on that, with appropriate support and empowerment, to make this change in power permanent.

I’ll finish this week where I started, with the letters ABCD, standing for Asset Based Community Development. For a bit of fun following a challenge by a Community Builder from the Denny area, I extended this for the whole alphabet, so our A to Z of Community Development is now: Asset Based Community Driven Efforts For Growing Hope, Increasing Joy, Keeping Lives Motivated, Nurturing Others, Persevering, Quickly Reaffirming, Strengthening Talents, Unleashing Volunteers With eXtra Youthful Zest.

So who’s up for joining in on this community revolution? Let’s hear your voices – your comments, concerns, suggestions, hopes, plans. What do you need to help take you forward? Is it other people? Money? Training? Property? Equipment? Other resources? Let us know and we can then work with you to try to make it happen.

Dan Rous, Community Coach, 07444 873151, communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk

camelon, coach, community, development, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill

What’s your story?

We all have a story to tell don’t we? The difference is what kind of story it is. Does it tell of a life where everything has gone fine for you with no issues? Does it tell of a battle against everything that life has thrown at you over the years? Or is it somewhere in the middle?

Wherever your story lands in that range, it is equally important because it’s about who you are, where you’ve been and hopefully what you’ve learned along the way. All of that can help you understand more about yourself and help you move forwards, but it’s also important to capture these stories as part of the ongoing history of our area. When people hear or read them, they may not be surprised at some parts but the joy is when you can surprise them with tales of positivity in spite of everything that has been thrown at you.

The image below was shared on twitter recently. It is an image of notes captured from a talk given at a conference a few years back by Cormac Russell, who is a leading force in the world of Community Development especially when it is focussed on building upon the assets (the people etc) within those communities. I am learning loads from his writings as he speaks so much sense about not over complicating our work with communities. (You can follow him on Twitter here). The key word in that last sentence – as I’ve emphasised from the start of my work here – is ‘with’. We at OPCT are not here to do things to you or without you as has happened in many cases in the past. We are here to work alongside you and with you and as part of that, we love hearing and learning from your stories. Have a look at the image and see what jumps out for you:

So what did you spot in there? Feel free to message me with any key points especially if you want more information or even to push a particular line for something we should be doing better. For me, the following stood out.

  • Studies or Stories. This was the headline from the talk and is worth highlighting and clarifying. In one sense, both are important. I’ve already said how much we love stories and there is so much to be learned from them. However, each story is one person’s viewpoint and it is highly likely that there will be another story that will give a completely different view of a similar situation. So with that in mind, studies also have an importance because that gives us an overview of all points of view in a coordinated way. This is why we have already carried out a few surveys – not just to gather more data for the sake of it, but to help us understand what people want, what can be done to move things forward and to use it to make changes and access funding. We are determined to not let any of the consultations sit idly on a shelf with no action. Neither are we going to use them simply to point out what is wrong in the area. All findings from the studies will be used to ensure the stories we tell in the future will be ones of action and positive steps forward. How great would it be for someone in years to come to tell a story of how they made a comment in a study that led to a positive change right here? That’s our wish so please stick with us when we do a survey and feel free to remind us that there needs to be action in the end.
  • Focus on what’s strong not on what’s wrong. This is so important. I’ve mentioned this in previous blogs and have been accused by some people of ignoring the problems around us by only looking at the good stuff. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes there are issues and yes they need sorting. No one is denying that. But we are not going to be weighed down by them or avoid any opportunity to grow because they exist. We solve them best by building up what is good – what is strong – what is positive – so that in part, we can tackle what is wrong head on because we have the chance to show people a better way.
  • No hierarchies but networks. This is about bringing everyone along on the journey (forgive my use of that word!). It’s not about building up committees but communities. Yes, there will be people that need to step up to lead and coordinate things, but the clue in the meaning of the word ‘lead’ is that they bring others along with them – networks of people with a good mix of skills relevant to each project or activity. This is not about raising up just a few people, but everyone who wants to come along for the ride. And within that, we will work with everyone at their individual level to help them gain the skills they need to strengthen their part in the network.
  • Power of communities to solve problems. You might have missed this one as it’s quite small on the image but I don’t think this represents the strength of the statement. Camelon and Tamfourhill is an amazing community made up of smaller communities that are full of people who have a passion to grow the community they live in. That combined positive passion is where the power comes from. And it’s a power that should never be underestimated by others as it is built on real experiences and real understanding of what makes this community really tick. And as I mentioned earlier on in this blog, that power can and will solve the problems that we face.

I could go on but I won’t bore you any further – for now! Just know that this is really important to me as your Community Coach – as a local resident – and even just as a fellow human being! I believe that everyone has the right to achieve their potential and want to do all I can to help in that goal.

We will no doubt return to this matter again but I want to just focus on the aspect of story telling as I finish off for this week. You have a unique opportunity to tell your story in a written format, and if you want, to have that shared as part of a book that will celebrate this area. That comes via our Creative Writing Introduction Course with the help of Kev McPhee, Susan Marshall and Camelon Arts. We’ve had a great response to this so far but there is still room for a few more to sign up. Join us and be part of something special. All information at www.opcamelontamfourhill.co.uk/creativewriting.

Until next week, keep making and sharing stories and building local power.

camelon, community, development, funding, Our Place, Support, tamfourhill

Want some free money?!

Well if that headline hasn’t grabbed your attention I don’t know what will!

When I’ve put up blogs about funding before, they’ve been mainly directed at organisations and admittedly not relevant to everyone, but this one is different and is worth reading on – I promise!

Falkirk Council have released over £3m of funding that is available for local communities to apply for to bring about the changes that can make a difference in their community. There are different allocations for each local authority ward and ultimately, you, the council tax paying public, will get to vote on which projects get the money. It is released under the banner of “Community Choices” and all the information is on the council website but I’ll summarise the main points for you here.

Before I get into the funding specifics, let me remind you about how the Council Wards are structured. Our work actually covers two Wards, with the Forth and Clyde canal essentially being the dividing line: Camelon is in Ward 6 (Falkirk North) that also includes Langlees, Bainsford, Bankside, Middlefield, Merchiston, West Mains and Grahamston. Tamfourhill is in Ward 7 (Falkirk South) that also includes Bantaskine, Summerford, Arnothill, Woodlands, Callendar Park, Glen Village, Lionthorn and Hallglen. I list all these areas to let you know what you’re up against as every area will feel it deserves its fair share of the funding and will undoubtedly have worthy projects to put forward.

So, do you have an idea that will improve the quality of life in our community? Do you have a proposal that will make a positive and lasting difference to our area? I know of quite a few options and this fund could be the way to make it happen. Essentially, here at OPCT, we will support you as much as possible to help make your application as strong and relevant as it can be. You don’t have to come through us but if you do need assistance, we can help with application wording, background information, or anything else you need. Importantly, we may also know of a project that is similar to what you are thinking about and so could provide relevant advice and, if appropriate, we could link you up to double the strength of your application.

So, who can apply?

Clubs, organisations, community groups and even individuals can apply for funding to make these changes happen. Applicants do not need to have a formal constitution but if you’re an individual or group of friends/residents considering putting a bid in for something, the Community Choices team will aim to link you up with a recognised organisation that could hold the funds for the project.

What can you apply for?

Firstly, let me say that this funding will not solve everything we’d want to do locally and is unlikely to help with large projects – but it’s a start. The public vote system will at least bring visibility to what you want to do which might even attract others to join in with you.

There are two separate funds on offer. The first is a small grants programme with a maximum of £1,500 per proposal. There is around £10,000 for each Council Ward in year 1. The second fund is a Capital programme where £3m is available over two years. Proposals for this fund must be for a minimum of £5,000, and can be used for building something new, improving an asset, and purchasing equipment. Remember that £3m is across all 9 Wards so even though there is no upper limit on application, large projects are unlikely to be successful. However, the Community Choices team will also aim to provide additional support including signposting to other suitable funding if possible.

What do we need to do?

At this stage, the council just require an Expression of Interest form to be completed. This is not a full application and needs a couple of hundred words to explain what the project is, who it would benefit and who would be involved in making it happen. It does not require full financial information but a broad indication of costs would be helpful. The form is on the website.

The important thing to note is that Expressions of Interest are due by Friday 5 March with final applications due by 9 April. This is a very tight timeline but that’s what we have to work with and, with the right support, the right applications can be submitted. The final stage is a public vote that will take place between 26 April and 14 May. We will keep you posted as we hear how that vote will operate.

So, over to you?

What do you think could be applied for? Can I help you get that application in? Get in touch with me (Dan) in the usual way via email to communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk, call on 07444 873151, or message via social media. Let’s make this happen!