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

Why not?

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 22 July 2021

Last week in this blog, I asked the question “why bother“. Many of you read it and some took the time to comment positively about it which is nice, but now I want to encourage a bit more action. So, in direct answer to last week’s question, I give you answer “why not“!

Okay, I accept that’s a question not an answer but I think it’s acceptable in this case.

The communities within Camelon and Tamfourhill need more people who will stand up and say “why not”. People who are not willing to look for excuses not to get involved. People who, when they see something that needs doing or where helpers are needed, say “yeah okay, why not. I’ll do that.”

We do have many people like this who have stepped up, said “why not” and used their time, talent and resources to make a difference. Some have been doing it for many (many) years and others are new to it. Here at Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill, we want to celebrate those people, many of whom don’t even want thanks, praise or recognition for doing what they do. The unsung heroes. Obviously there are the big things like running Community Centres or Sports Clubs where we find many amazing “why not” people at the helm. But then there’s the smaller things which are arguably, just as (or maybe more) important. The person who picks up the litter in their street. The person who regularly does their elderly neighbours shopping. The person who checks in on someone to make sure they’re okay. The person who helps out with a club or activity. The person who checks the accounts for a small community group. The person who reports issues to the relevant authorities so they can be dealt with. The person who organises a get together of people in their close. I could go on…..

The thing is, many of these people have done these things for a long time and could do with some help. Many local organising committees are short on numbers. Many things need to get started but it needs local people to step up to make it happen. As I said last week, times have changed from when you could rely on statutory bodies to provide every service or activity you need. So do we sit back and moan? Do we rant on social media? Do we complain? Or do we say, yeah, why not, I’ll help out, tell me what I can do.

Now that’s all very well if you have the relevant skills to do something. But I know some of you will be concerned that you won’t know what to do or have the necessary skills or qualifications for it. Guess what – we can sort that. If you are not confident in your own abilities then we can sort that too. Here are just some options for sorting these and other things:

  • I can provide 1 to 1 development coaching for you to understand what you might need, what you could do, and to help you find the ways to move towards your potential.
  • We have partnered with NHS Forth Valley to bring the THRIVE to Keep Well programme to the area for the first time, as a pilot for women but hopefully for the whole community if this works – click that link for all information and contact details as there is still time to sign up for the August start of this programme.
  • We are partnering with the Employment and Training Unit and a new charity called 4 The Benefit of All, to bring various personal and skills based training to the community for free – watch this space for more on that soon.
  • I have access and links to various information, support, guidance etc to give you all you need to get involved in whatever it might be. All you have to do is ask.

So what will you say “why not” to? What do you see in the area that you think you could do something about or get involved in. What don’t you see happening that you think should be?

I am currently working with a couple of groups of local residents who have an idea, have seen a need, and have said “why not”. My job here is to support exactly that kind of thing. Whether its setting the group up and getting funding, or just making connections, finding premises and volunteers, and dealing with authorities, I’m here and at your service.

So why not bite the bullet and voice that idea that’s been hanging around your head for a while? Why not speak to someone you know who might be a good help with whatever it is you’re doing? Why not take that step towards finding your potential by finding out what training you could do or how you could get back into work?

If you’re in any doubt, just say “why not”!

Until next time

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

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

Why bother?

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 15 July 2021

For someone who is usually pretty positive, that may sound like a strange title for a blog. But this isn’t a rant or a whinge – it’s a rallying call to get involved.

Be honest though. How many times have you said something along the lines of “why bother” or “why should I do that ‘insert nice thing’ when it’s just going to become undone” or “why should I help them”. Maybe you’ve even said of others “why are they bothering doing that” or “what’s the point in them helping those ‘insert description here‘ people.” Or even “how is that getting sorted over there but not here”.

Doing good can by tiring when faced with constant negativity. Doing good can really grate when you see your good work undone or put down by others.

So why bother? Why? Because it’s the right thing to do and because it may well be the only way to bring positive change to our local area. So when John and I or any other group in this area gives an opportunity to get involved in something in the local area that will work towards that positive change, let’s jump forward together and not just leave it to the usual people. If we don’t, we will continue to hear, as has been said many times, that this is the land that time forgot.

I completely understand that getting involved in community enhancing activities is hard work and can be extremely draining both mentally and physically. There is an expectation that others (especially the council) should be doing things but times have changed (maybe not for the better but we are where we are). I completely understand that it’s very easy to get drawn into a discussion on social media about problems in the area and it is right that those problems are highlighted. But while a discussion on social media may feel good and give a good platform to rant, it is not the way to get things sorted. I completely understand though that when you stand up to try to make a positive change, you are also putting yourself up on the firing line and sometimes that can feel a lonely place.

So why bother? Andy March said “If you’re kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you’re successful, you’ll win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway”. What a great message that essentially says forget what anyone else will say or think. If you think this is the right way forward and will bring positive change to the community then go for it.

Why shouldn’t we bother? Why shouldn’t we do kind things because it’s the right thing to do? Why shouldn’t we become successful in our area? And if we’re not physically able to get involved, why shouldn’t we cheer on those who are having a go?

This is a good point in this blog to actually say thank you to those who are bothering. Those who see an opportunity and grasp it, rather than sitting back and waiting for someone else to get involved. Those who are not afraid to get their hands dirty. Those who are willing to take on extra training to be able to be involved in something. Those who will ask questions to get positive action. Those who truly believe that the only way to make a difference is to actually make a difference.

Carl Beech said “It seems to me that far too often, rather than cheer each other on we seem to provoke each other more to angst and stimulate rows rather than love and good stuff. … I think it’s more than what we say but what we do as well. On one of the marathons I ran (plodded around) I put my name on the front of my tee. All the way round total strangers were yelling out “Come on Beechy!!! Go on son!!!” It was amazing. I’m sure they put an extra 5 miles in the tank just by cheering me on. Similarly, when I see people being gracious, generous in words and actions – it provokes me to want to do the same and lifts my head and heart up to something higher. When people are sarcastic, mocking or argumentative – in the same way it can lower your head and drag you down.”

So what can we do about it? Beechy asks the following questions which I think are good for all of us, including me, to consider: “What do I/you provoke more? The good or the bad? When did I/you last cheer someone on? Do I/we bump my/our gums moaning all the time or does what comes out of my/our mouth encourage people with generous words? Does my/your actions provoke people to good stuff or not?

Challenging questions there but they are well worth considering if we’re serious about making this community an even better place. I am well known for banging on about the good things happening in the area. I am well known for championing our area for the people, organisations and activities that are going on – often under the radar. People from other areas are beginning to sit up and take note. People from outwith our community are beginning to see what can happen when people come together for positive change. Have we sorted all the issues out yet? No, far from it. There is a lot of work to do. But if we keep looking to the problems as problems, that will be all we see. Maybe if you are looking only at the problems, how about considering how you could get involved to try to help turn things around for those involved in those issues. Maybe they just need a chance to be involved themselves?

To use Beechy’s analogy from earlier on, “Let’s keep running the marathon and cheer each other on along the way.” I’m going to bother – what about you?

Until next time…

Dan Rous, Community Coach

07444 873151 communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk

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

Don’t just speak – say something

Community Coach blog, Dan Rous, 17 June 2021

I was relaxing the other evening watching “Later… with Jools Holland” when he introduced a song from UK jazz musician Emma-Jean Thackray. She’s quite a talent, being listed as a composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, singer, bandleader and DJ! The style of music hooked me in and I was really taken by the use of a sousaphone by one of the musicians – not something you see every day! But it was the title that really got me thinking and became the seed for this week’s blog (not what you really want at 1030 on a Friday evening but that’s my commitment to you!).

Just think about the song title for a second – Don’t just speak … say something.

I wonder what thoughts that has brought to your mind. Feel free to share either in the comments or by messaging me directly. But for me, its about making sure that whatever comes out of my mouth is worthwhile, helpful, and not just said for the sake of it – that the language I use is to build up not to knock down. I could also apply that to this blog, where I try to put out useful material that will be of interest to you. I’m really grateful for the positive feedback I’ve received from readers which is helpful in knowing this blog is not just reaching people but is having the desired results. I accept that the subject each week will not be for everyone, and the same can be said for some of the things we generally want to say in life. Is this really something that everyone around you needs to hear or is this us just voicing a thought in our head that we really just need to work through ourselves or in a specific conversation directly with someone?

So, let’s look at this in relation to our daily lives. What are we speaking or saying generally? As we’re chatting to people at the school gate, in the shops, on the bus? What about when we’re ‘chatting’ to people on line or making a social media status update? Are we just speaking for the sake of it or are we actually saying something?

While we ponder all that, here’s the lyrics from Emma-Jean Thackray’s song:

Open your eyes before you open your mouth.
Stick out your tongue and let me look inside.
I want to find what’s down your throat.
Open your heart to open up your mind.

Those pearly whites do they really shine?
Are they even real? They look too bright.
I want to find what’s deep inside.
If you must speak, show us your mind.

Don’t just speak…
Say something.

Blogger Reno Omokri says “Don’t speak because you want to say something. Speak because you have something to say. The more you talk just to say something, the more your listeners lose respect for you. The more you talk because you have something to say, the more they gain respect for you. And when listening to people, don’t focus only on their words, or you may miss out on what they‘re really communicating. Pay attention to their demeanour, their eye contact, or lack of it, etc. People lie with their spoken language, but hardly with their body language.”

I’d say that really sums it up, so you’ll be pleased to know I don’t have a lot more to add!! But I think the timing of this is really important as we’re beginning to move back to higher levels of activity and therefore more interaction with people. For those who haven’t necessarily had much direct human interaction over the last year, conversations may have been extremely limited, so this is a good time to remember even how to interact with others.

And the other side of this is actually looking at the person you’re talking to. As Emma-Jean says in the opening line of her song “open your eyes before you open your mouth”. What can you tell about the other person before you speak? Are they actually in the right frame of mind to hear what you feel you want to say?

It’s also important to understand that this doesn’t just refer to the general statements you say, but also the questions you ask. By that I mean asking the right kind of questions that will help you get the answers you need – and bear in mind they might not be the answers you’d like! Business advisor Belinda Lui says “The problem is, most of us ask terrible questions. We talk too much and accept bad answers (or worse, no answers). We’re too embarrassed to be direct, or we’re afraid of revealing our ignorance, so we throw softballs and miss out on opportunities to grow.”

This is a key part of our impaCT coaching programme during which our coaches will actually help you to ask the right questions of yourself and then to work towards finding and understanding the answers for yourself. It will help you to move towards your potential which includes how to interact better with others. There’s more information on all of this on our coaching page.

So as I close for this week, let’s all just think more about what we say, how we say it, and why we are saying it – both in person and online. And let’s give as much value to listening as we do to speaking. These are huge parts of community life that will further build on our community spirit as we regain the art of truly meaningful conversation.

Until next time, if you want, here’s Emma-Jean’s song for you to listen to!

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

camelon, coach, community, Our Place, tamfourhill

What is your motivation?

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 6 May 2021

Earlier this week, I saw this tweet from a force for good in Community Development – Cormac Russell, MD of Nuture Development:

Truth is, *the needed* need *the needy* more than *the needy* need *the needed*

Cormac Russell

Take a moment to read that again, just to really take in what he is saying here. He also went on to say that “Society perpetuates the opposite story; because there’s an entire segment of the economy tied up in commodifying human needs”.

Okay, let’s break this down a bit. What this basically boils down to is looking at why people help others or provide services to meet local needs. There are those who believe the help has to come from ‘outside’ the community whether that is from the local authority or some other support agency. There is a real danger here that a support system solely running on this basis can lead to (and arguably has already) the long term damage of individuals and communities, who lose the belief that they can make a difference themselves. They become so reliant on external help that they cannot see any other options. So often they become seen as those who just look for the next handout and sadly, there are those who will turn on them for being like that. However, if it’s all you’ve known then it’s difficult to break free from that without someone genuinely walking with you to help you.

On the other side of things, those providing the support from external organisations believe they are genuinely making a difference by providing what is usually just short term sticking plaster support, and also get some kind of goodwill power trip from doing so. Okay, I’m generalising a bit here and there are some amazing people who genuinely do make a difference within these external groups. They are appreciated but are often in the minority as the others just do what they’re told to do, clock off at the end of the day and switch off.

Essentially, we’re talking here about the difference between sympathy (I’m sorry you’re in this position but here’s some help) and empathy (I know what you’re going through – I’ve been there – I understand – what do you need – how can I walk with you).

If we’ve learned nothing else over the last 12 months of living through Covid-19, so often the help we need is right under our noses and exists in amazing levels within our own community. We have seen fantastic support services grow up within communities that are led by people in our communities based on the real local need. Okay, some have jumped on the bandwagon for different reasons but the ones that have really stood the test of time are the ones who truly understand the needs of the people around them and truly engage with and involve those people. They will meet the immediate need but then look to really understand where each person is at and what they really need to move forwards.

This also comes back to something I bang on about a lot – stop doing stuff to people and start working with them. The word ‘alongsider’ has come to the fore so much lately. This is about really listening to local people and working with them to achieve whatever needs achieving. I’ve even heard Council staff saying they’ve had to learn how to listen to local people over the last year. That may sound like a sad statement to hear and in a way it is, as it took a worldwide pandemic to make them do this. But I’m going to take the positive from it and hope that we will begin to see a real change in how support and community benefit is enacted. Here at OPCT we will continue to work to ensure that any transfer of activities or even transfer of power is meaningful for you the local people and not just something that seems to be the right thing to do but is essentially a way of saving budgets elsewhere.

So, back to where I started with this blog: what is your motivation for doing what you do? What is your driving force? Are you in a position right now that you’re happy with? Are you doing what you really enjoy? What, if anything, needs to change for you? What support do you need? Our impaCT 1 to 1 Coaching Programme can help you to truly understand yourself and your motivation. It will help you to take time to look at where you’re at, what obstacles might be in your way, and how you can move forward in a supported way. If this would be of help to you, check out the information on our coaching page then give me a shout. I’d love to walk with you in this and before you ask, I can genuinely say that I’m doing this because I have seen the benefits of it and have always wanted to help people reach the potential that is within them. I don’t have to do this – I want to.

Until next time……

Dan Rous communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk 07444 873151

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

Coaching 1 to 1

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 29 April 2021

At our First Anniversary Celebration event on Monday, I officially launched a 1 to 1 coaching programme that is FREE for you, the lovely people of Camelon and Tamfourhill. This is not sports coaching, but personal development coaching to help you, the coachee, to fully live out your potential – whether that is personal or professional. The goal of coaching is for the coachee to discover insights about themselves, and to take action in reshaping their life.

The video below is my talk from the event where I explain what Coaching is and crucially, what coaching isn’t. This can really make a difference in your life and help you move into the potential that is within you – no matter what stage you’re at.

If you don’t fancy watching the video, then you can read things for yourself below that. Once you’ve watched or read, if you want to book in for a series of coaching sessions with me, or to find out more for yourself or someone you’d like to refer, then please email me at communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk and we’ll have a conversation. There’s also more information over at our dedicated 1 to 1 Coaching page.

What is 1 to 1 Coaching?

Coaching is an ongoing conversation that empowers a person to fully live out their potential – both personal and professional. The goal of coaching is for the coachee to discover insights about themselves, and to take action in reshaping their life.

The coaching relationship is expected to encourage insights, to facilitate greater personal awareness, to change behaviours, to initiate actions and, ultimately, to produce outcomes that satisfy the coachee.  Much is expected of them: it is their responsibility to imagine, reason, identify, plan, decide, and implement their goals.

What Coaching Is

Coaching is about the coachee – their goals, their learning, and their growth. Together, coach and coachee will discover the potential within them.

Coaching is about learning – rather than teaching. The coachee is the expert on their life. A coach uses coaching techniques such as deep listening, open questions, encouragement, feedback, and always remaining supportive.  The focus is on assisting the coachee in discovering insights and taking next steps in pursuing their calling.

Coaching is about action – the coachees action. Each session the coachee will determine 1-3 actions steps to take before the next session. It may be surprising how quickly the coachee will progress toward their goals.

Coaching is about all of the coachee – not just work or personal life.  We all know that altering old habits and thought patterns is difficult. A coach recognises these patterns and will support the coachee as they change and grow.

What Coaching Isn’t

It is not therapy.  Although many of the communication techniques are the same, like active listening, reflecting, use of questions, limited advice giving, etc., therapy focuses on the past to bring healing and unblock a person so they might move ahead. Coaching is future and action-oriented – for people who are basically free of debilitating psychological or emotional issues.

It is not mentoring. Mentors are experts in a particular field who seek to pass on their expertise to a person. Mentors provide knowledge, advice, guidance, correction, and encouragement to people who are newer and junior—by experience if not by position or age. Mentors usually play the roles of advisor and teacher to guide and impart knowledge and wisdom.

It is not training. In training, the trainer sets the agenda. Changes are imposed from outside the participant, via the trainer. In coaching, the coachee sets the agenda. Coaches use adult learning principles of self-discovery to motivate change from within their coachee.

It is not authoritarian. Did you have a tough sports coach who used to yell at you and make you do a million push-ups if you made a mistake? That’s not coaching. A coach will push a coachee beyond what they might think they can do, but will always be supportive. The coachee is in control. The desire and responsibility to choose and act belongs to the coachee – and them alone.

Why Does Coaching Work?

Coaching works because it brings out the best in the coachee; a coach believes that coachees can create their own best answers and is trained to support them in that process. During coaching sessions, a coach will:

  • Listen. The coachees story is central. A coach is fully engaged in what they are saying, encouraging them to discover what their potential is.
  • Ask questions. A coach uses questions to stimulate the coachees thinking and creativity. Questions are about possibilities and the future.
  • Encourage. Everyone needs encouragements, and usually we don’t get enough. A coach will hold and honour their coachees vision, progress, and efforts.
  • Facilitate while letting you lead. A coach facilitates learning and problem solving.

A coach is not in charge, nor do they set the agenda.  A coach is simply here to help the coachee to engineer their future.

Why Use a Coach?

The reasons people want coaching are endless, and as unique as the person. Here are a few examples that motivate people to use a coach.

  • To make significant life changes
  • To make better decisions
  • To set better goals and reach them faster
  • To address changes in location or employment
  • To reduce stress, isolation, or uncertainty
  • To progress personally
  • To improve your relationships
  • To make a bigger impact on the world
  • To be a better leader
  • To better understand who you are
  • To simplify or prioritize your life
  • To evaluate your pace of life

Our Coaching approach

  1. Leverages Strengths
  2. Provides Clarity and Focus
  3. Instils Confidence
  4. Catapults Learning
  5. Fosters Intentional Progress
  6. Rubs Off on Others
  7. Encourages achievable Goals/Dreams

You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching. It is impossible. You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without outside input you will never be as good as you could be.

Andy Stanley, The Next Generation Leader

So, does this sound like it could be of help to you or someone you know/work with? Then get in touch and let’s get started! Drop me an email at communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk to start the process.

Until next time…

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

Friday Feature – Let’s Celebrate

This is a reminder that on Monday next week (26th) we will be gathering on zoom at 6:30pm to celebrate the First Anniversary of Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill.

Despite not being the first year any of us would have planned, our team have still managed to achieve great things with you in the community and are well set for so much more in year 2 and beyond.

We’re just sorry that restrictions don’t allow us to do this in person – hopefully next year! So for now, head over to Eventbrite (link below) to register your free place so you get the link, then on Monday evening, bring your own cake and join in the celebrations.

As well as reviewing what has happened so far, John will be speaking about the Community Safety Strategy and Dan will be speaking about our Development Coaching programme. Plus we’ll hear from local author Kev McPhee and others about some great opportunities for you in Camelon and Tamfourhill including how you can get involved and shape the way forward.

So please join us if you can. The link to register is https://opctgathering2021.eventbrite.co.uk

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

Keep the main thing the main thing

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 22 April 2021

As we begin to move towards more things opening up and less restrictions, this is a good time to take a look at why you do what you do. Whether you’re doing something in the community, or have been in a job for years, or are just starting out with something – knowing why you do it is crucial to your success and, more importantly, your inner happiness.

Way back in July of last year I wrote a blog entitled Why, How, What, that referred to the order you should plan anything. Always start with why you want to do something and only consider how you’ll go about it and even what you will do once the main purpose – the why – is set in your mind.

It’s a revolutionary mindset that isn’t really rocket science, but is something that Simon Sinek pioneered back in 2006 after a period of not just dissatisfaction in his work but an inability to even do what he was meant to be doing. He’d lost sight of his ‘why’. Once he found it, his life turned around completely. His passion was restored. His productivity increased. He was a happier person. Have a quick watch of this video in which Sinek explains more about this as part of the 10th anniversary of ‘Start with Why’.

So what about you? How are you feeling about whatever it is you are doing? If you’re responsible for something that is only just about to reopen after lockdown, do you still believe in why you’re doing it? Can you even remember what the ‘why’ is? I was recently chatting to a friend who has just left the corporate world and managed to enjoy the Easter break with her family before starting out in a new community focused role afterwards. She is enjoying her life again because she’s fulfilling her ‘why’.

Now, let me be very clear that this blog is not an instruction to just go and change what you’re doing! You may be living and working right at the heart of what you were put on this earth to do. You are living the ‘why’. If that’s you – allow me to celebrate with you. But if you feel a niggle inside you. If you struggle to get going with whatever it is you are doing. If you just feel there’s something else you’re meant to be doing, my advice is to look into that more. Don’t make any rash decisions. Think this through properly. Research things. Speak to your family and your close friends – those people who really know you. Really dig into the thing that makes your heart skip a beat.

If it will help, I can offer you some coaching sessions that will guide you to be able to come up with the answers within you. If that would be of interest, then please give me a shout at communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk or 07444 873151.

Finding your ‘why’ and living it out is the most liberating thing you can do in your life. I look forward to hearing your stories about this in the future.

Until next time……

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