Relational Gardening

Tonight I was thinking about friendships, mainly dwelling on the relationships in life that I’m really thankful for, hopefully we’ve all got some – you know the ones that its just good to be with, lots of laughter, always good to get a text from with yet such a deep sense of, if I really needed them, they would be there.

Friendships can be a bit like plants really.

The friendship I described above is like a plant flowering on full bloom – it’s in its summer season, we hope its summer lasts forever really – its great, joy giving, heart warming, crisis handling. We want these in our lives. Some people in life only need one or two of these, some have a dozen or so – each to there own. Its that, speak once a day or speak once a fortnight, it all means the same.

There are other flowers in life, that you plant up in the spring, they don’t look all that much, but they do look healthy and there is an expectation that they will become something great. We have new relationships in our lives that are like this, the sense of ‘I don’t know you very well’ but there’s an excited anticipation that something good is growing – in a sense our heart shouts ‘come on summer’ over these growing plants. There’s a confidence in us, that good things are developing.

Going ever further down the soil – there are some relationships in life that you don’t even know exist. They are seeds planted and not yet formed, its an even earlier stage that the one I described above. These are the relationships that might start to appear tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. How exciting – we’re hungry to see these watered. You know the friend you have, that you didn’t even know a year ago – its that kind of feeling of it appearing from nowhere.

And then there are relationships that it felt like the frost caught one night. You know that plant that was doing really well and then one night a sharp frost killed it. We look at it now and there’s nothing. There is a sense of disappointment, like the plant you’ve been tending was just caught in a moment and gone. We’re needing something supernatural almost to happen to something naturally gone. There’s something in us that isn’t satisfied it just died.

So as I was driving home tonight, I was pondering these four analogies – I think we all have these four types of plants in our lives, in a relational sense.

I’d like to see them all watered, I want the best of the best! – maybe more so though – what sort of plant am I being to someone tonight, am I a joy bringer? am I in a friendship just starting out?

We weren’t designed to be lone rangers – we were MADE for relationships.

So let it rain. Relationships must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep them flourishing and growing.

One person caring about another represents life’s greatest value.

plants!

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Better Together

Firstly, I assure you this isn’t a blog about how we should ‘remain’ in Europe – those days are done – I think! That’s a whole blog by itself, which I dare not tackle.

Today I signed up for the Colchester Half Marathon 2018, hurrah! I  was very excited to sign up, although I’ve been meaning to do it for ages. Before I write anything else, I need to add that I am not an athletics expert or a picture of fitness. I managed to convince my legs to run a half marathon last year, somehow and did it all in a reasonably decent time.

I loved running it last year, the truth was for days running up to it, I was struggling with injury which just got worse with running. For the days leading up to it, I contemplated having to pull out. The week before I went running with a friend with the aim of doing 10 miles, but I did about 2 and stopped injured. Somehow, I pushed on with it and I’m so pleased I did. I found running the half marathon much easier than I thought – and I know why. Every time I went for a run by myself, I rarely hit the distance I aimed for, yet with the streets lined with supporters and other runners around you, things are different. Its because doing things together is so much easier than doing things alone. The pain of running a few miles alone, the physical exertion, the motivation – I struggled with, yet when it came to it, the physical pain was put to the back of my mind, the motivation was high, the result was great.

Isn’t this just a small example of how important it is to do ‘life’ together? Trying not to run the race alone but instead with other people. Even though sometimes it may not seem it, the streets are (hypothetically) lined with people cheering us on. Perhaps in reading this blog tonight, you can take a moment to be thankful for people in your life who ‘line your street’. Sometimes we can whizz by them on the journey, but we recognise we heard them cheer just loud enough to keep our motivation strong. And what about our role? Whose ‘street’ are we lining? Who are we cheering on?

I’m looking forward to running in 2018, I might be doing a few practice runs alone, but I know when it comes to it, I can do a great job – because I’m not alone, the streets are lined with supporters, some I haven’t even met. Who’s life can you cheer on tomorrow in the course of your day? What an exciting thought- we can help people make it in life.

 

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Going for Gold

So I’m writing tonights blog, whilst watching Mo Farah running the 10,000 metre final at the World Athletic Championships. Its not difficult to watch and listen to the noise of the crowd and get inspired. I hope I’m watching another Gold medal going his way – what a legend.

Tuning in earlier, I watched the 100 metre men’s heats. One false move (or in this case, too quick reaction) and its deemed a false start and the athlete is disqualified. I understand the rule, but it seems incredibly harsh. Can you imagine training all your career for major championships like this only to be sent home without completing a race? I can’t possibly imagine what the athlete must be feeling. These competitors are flying into to London from all around the world, only to be removed because of a badly judged reaction, with no race being completed (or even barely started!)

false start

Have you ever pursued something in life only for it not to work out? Of course, who hasn’t? Have we ever had a ‘false start’ with our dreams and hopes for life? Maybe we’ve started to think our dreams aren’t really achievable and we are having a ‘reality check’. Who holds the key to ‘reality’? Who determines what ‘reality’ even is? Without dreams, vision and hopes, life is fairly empty.

False starts happen in life and it can happen in leadership, the work place, hobbies, relationships and many others. False starts may happen in leadership when you arrive with enthusiastic vision for your new role or after being in the same role for 20 years. Sure, maybe you’ve had a false start and it does require you to stop and look at the reason for a false start. Get alongside with some friends and respected people who can be honest about why you had a false start – an objective opinion. Maybe you feel like you put your dreams down because you had a false start – maybe its time to get re-envisioned, get back on the track and win that race.

So, you had a false start.

  • Stop
  • Get objective opinion
  • Get re-envisioned
  • Win that race

And back to the TV – that was amazing. Mo won Gold.

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Summer sun, something’s begun…

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Sitting at home tonight, looking out of the window – it’s grey, it’s raining. I quite like it, I’d like it to rain really hard so I can enjoy the sound of rain on the roof! On the other hand – what happened to summer? It seems like a distant memory and there seems to be no evidence it will return (yet).

Isn’t it amazing that there are four seasons in the year – what if the year just consisted of one long season? Whilst I love the summer, that would be no good – the land, nature, even we depend on four seasons for varying reasons.

We can reach seasons of summer in life when things seems warm and relaxed. A level of maturity or plateau has been reached for a time and although our lives may seem somewhat stable, there may come extremely periods of summer afternoon thunderstorms, hail and torrential flooding! Both heat and storms can bring strength though. Just as in the storms or fires of life the turbulent weather not only strengthens us, but it can also make us appreciate the calm weather that much more. Remember in all the seasons, storms are most frequent in the summer. How about that feeling of when the sun reappears after a storm, the rainbow hits the sky and the land is watered and replenished? That is a good thing….

No matter what season it feels like we’re in, there is good taking place. On those dreary, overcast days, it is important we remember that even though we can’t see the sun it is there!

My guess is that the summer isn’t over, it will return, though I’m no meteorologist. I reckon summer is just taking some time out, do we need to take a ‘take out’ even just for a moment to look how far we’ve come, recognise summer is still upon us and then press in to every good thing, every dream, every unfulfilled vision and live out the second half of 2017 with great vigour, rejoicing and passion.

Summer definitely isn’t over.

Game, Set then Match.

 

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Sitting down on a warm Friday night writing a blog which I haven’t done for a few weeks – I’m excited, lets hope for some decent content.

Everyone in life at some stage wants to be someone they see, maybe it’s someone in their actual ‘real life’ or maybe its a sports star or a celebrity – whoever. We’re in Wimbledon season and who else is there greater than Roger Federer to ever grace Centre Court? (I’ll let you debate that privately). I love Wimbledon and in mind I am a world class tennis player, in practice I’m horrific, I’m still serving underarm. If I could transport myself to be Mr Federer I probably wouldn’t mind, but we want to bypass the years of practice it took him to get there. He took up tennis at the age of 8, we don’t want the hard work, we just want to get somewhere now. This is why comparison doesn’t work. You can’t look at what someone’s final destination is and think ‘if we do the same thing we’ll be able to get there as well’. You can’t just replicate what they are doing and expect it will work the same for you. It’s like we want to win the ‘Match’ without having to go through the ‘Game, Set…..’ –

 

 

Have you ever tried to recreate something? I don’t think I can ever think of something amazing, that I then tried to recreate and got the same results.

 

Here’s the crunch point – put to the back of your mind strategies and outcomes, we’re all different in life. Don’t get busy mimicking strategies or trying to take the ‘direct’ route to other peoples outcomes, instead prioritise values and culture. Our values will make the change to society, our values will be the start of our outcomes, our values will shape those strategies. Our culture sets a great atmosphere for change.

So maybe as we head into this summer, we can think of values and culture and let them shape our strategies which will result in great outcomes.

 

 

Make do? Make don’t!

Having dreams and vision in life is great – things to reach for, I guess part of having vision and dreams is that its really ambitious, almost out of reach but not quite out of reach to make it attainable. It’s no vision to say ‘my vision for Monday is to just get through it’, its extremely attainable and more so just lacking any ambition at all.

So my blog tonight for those that encourage me by reading is – don’t settle. Don’t settle or make do in life. Don’t settle for ‘well that’s the best its going to be’, when actually you’re being asked to make do with mediocrity. Think of the best for the situations you might be facing and aim for the top – don’t make do, don’t stop in a halfway house place, don’t let people tell you to make do. You don’t climb a mountain, reach halfway and decide you’ve made it.

I get frustrated by situations in life which aren’t living in fullness. I get frustrated that I can be encouraged to make do. If you have a dream, don’t stop dreaming, if you have vision, aim high. If you want to bring about change, bring about the best change you can – ‘settle’ for nothing until you reach the top, ‘make do’ for nothing that isn’t the best.

One of my hobbies is photography as you might know – I wouldn’t like to put a lid or a cap on where this hobby may take me in life. I hold down a full time job and try to juggle this in my spare time – I wouldn’t like to rule out where my photography initiative will be in 5 years time, my brain is full of ideas with possibilities – sure sometimes in life the odds are stacked against us, yet that fact itself should rather motivate us to smash the odds.

So, to conclude – if you are at war, don’t settle until there is peace, if you aren’t in the job you hope for, keep working for it, if you aren’t living where you want to be, keep the map open – there are lots of analogies I could carry on with, but you’ve got the message, don’t settle and don’t make do. Oh, and what if your vision is reached? – untie the tent pegs of your vision and stretch out further – go on, keep reaching.

 

 

 

Fight for it

I was reading tonight that approximately 2000 people are to march through Colchester on Saturday protesting against cuts to the NHS ending their march outside Firstsite. My immediate reaction was – do I expect a queue of 2000 people afterwards waiting for me to make them a Flat White? My second reaction was that it’s good that people are passionate about a subject to take to the streets. My third reaction was that we are so blessed to live in a democracy where people can take to the streets without fear to demonstrate.

It lead me to think ‘ what am I passionate about?’ – ‘what will I fight for?’, sorry I mean ‘what will I REALLY FIGHT for?’

I think change in society or in our personal lives involves a measure of fighting. We don’t know how long the fight lasts – we can all think of situations where we feel like we’ve been fighting for years. Maybe some things require a small fight, but world changers are fighters. We may not agree with those that protest or canvas for your vote this coming Election, but at least they have the passion to try and make ‘their’ difference. Can we fight for injustice in the world? How bothered am I that whilst walking through Colchester at 5pm the other night, I was asked by four different people for money by people struggling on the streets. Maybe our fight is for other people in life?

So whatever your passion or dream, fight for it – take courage and fight and don’t give up. If you want to change something in life, fight for it, if you want something to change in the society – fight for it and go down as a world changer. Lets not live in the age of ‘giving up’, or mediocrity or with the people that ‘couldn’t be bothered’. Lets not just say we’re passionate about something, let our lives be a demonstration of that passion.

I’d rather be known as someone that fought for things all my life, even if I bought about little change, rather than someone that saw the need and fought for nothing.

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