Wednesday, 22 July 2020

#26: TEDx - Thinking Differently about Dementia - Neil Mapes

A few months ago I had the pleasure, whilst CEO of Dementia Adventure, of delivering a TEDx talk called Thinking Differently about Dementia.  It is a simple idea which I hope you will support me to spread. Dementia Adventure, an organisation I am extremely proud to have founded with Lucy Harding needs all of our ongoing support to enable more people with dementia to have both small and big experiences safely outdoors.  If you know someone with dementia in your friend or family network please share this TEDx talk with them, it is my personal and heartfelt explanation of how to think and act differently drawing on nature and the outdoors.

Please consider watching and sharing my TEDx talk here

Please consider supporting and sharing the work of Dementia Adventure.

Thank you for your support, stay safe and well :)

Monday, 6 July 2020

#25: Struggling to remain optimistic yet being positive

“I have found myself struggling to remain optimistic recently.”

“Me too, part of me has a long term sense of impending doom.”

“But I am positive about what we are doing just now to cope and adapt.”

This was the gist of the exchange between two social sector leaders today on a support call.  Both of them had made recent financial investments to expand their organisations in the next year.  Optimism and positivity have some important differences.  One can choose to act positively as a leader in the midst of various challenges.  Positive thinking or a positive mindset can enable us to remain solutions-focused and help our team of people take action with the belief that we can weather this storm and get through this.  

On the other hand, optimism and pessimism are often traits associated with our make up as human beings.  My friend and I are at opposite ends of this spectrum, where I would often describe myself as relentlessly optimistic, my friend is very much on the pessimistic side, often struggling to see how it could possibly work out in the long run.  “How will this all end”, he might say.  Or “I can see no future for us”.  But whilst organisations tend to favour and gravitate towards optimistic leaders they can be just as damaging, or successful, as pessimistic ones.  He is a great leader - and he will often fight harder to take positive action in order to make sure his pessimism doesn’t come true. 

So I am trying to embrace the unfamiliar waves of pessimism where I am struggling to remain optimistic - I am not sure it will be alright in the end.  I remain very much focused on thinking positively and taking positive action each day.  With that in mind, I am off running!  

Stay positive folks! 

Nairn beach in the sun

Monday, 22 June 2020

#24: Streaking ahead: thoughts on daily repetition

Is there something that you do every day, without fail?  Every day?

A good friend of mine has had the same breakfast, day after day, for many years.  Steve Jobs was famous for wearing the same clothes and for daily repetition, particularly focused on removing unnecessary decisions - i.e. one less thing to worry about.  The prolific blogger Seth Godin publishes something every day and writes powerfully on the rationale and need for daily blogging and writing.  Looking back at my life it appears that I am a bit of a butterfly, attracted by the next flower.  Very rarely have I done the same thing day in day out, favouring instead the pursuit of variety and novelty.  But in recent weeks repetition of daily and weekly practices are slowly becoming the norm in my life.  Importantly, much to my surprise, I am noticing some significant benefits.

I started re-reading The Lydiard Way again about a month ago.  It is possibly one of the best running books ever written from one of the best running coaches.  The first time I read the book, about ten years ago when I got to the training schedules pages which recommended a 7 day a week running plan, even for beginners, I quietly shelved the book and carried on plodding around the fields three days a week. 

Front Cover of Run the Lydiard Way book

But with more time on my hands and having read the book again, I have started going out every day for a run.  I am only on day #22 of what runners describe as a ‘Streak’ - a term to describe running every day without fail, normally for one mile or more.  The most famous streak belongs to Ron Hill whose streak went on for pretty much a lifetime at 19,032 days!  But even at 22 days, I am already finding that my fitness has improved and mentally I am more robust as I know that each day, whatever happens, I will be able to get out and run.  I have had to make some adaptations like increasing yoga sessions, and stretching and massaging my legs in front of the TV, which can look a bit weird.  I have found that the cold water therapy associated with getting in the sea each week in North East Scotland is a perfect ice bath for reducing swollen muscles and joints from lots of mileage.  Rather than struggling to keep up the daily practice, which I previously felt would put too much pressure on myself to run, I now look forward to my run each day. You can follow me on Strava to see the gains I have made in the last three weeks.

It has got me thinking not only about our personal lives, sports and hobbies but the work we do.  Are there things in our work which are like the daily run?  Those tasks which are essentially good for us and good for our organisations but for whatever reason we procrastinate over or delay - possibly in favour of the shiny and bright new idea or novel way of working.  Big goals at work have to be broken down into smaller steps to make them more realistic and manageable.  What better way of achieving them than doing something small every day (a work equivalent to the daily mile) which moves you down the road towards your end goal?  

What could you do every day, that if you continued it day in day out, without fail would make you healthier and happier?  Maybe it is a daily walk or even just sitting outside for ten minutes before starting work.  Not only does daily repetition bring performance benefits, but it also takes away one more decision you need to make and keeps you on track towards living the life you really want.  I have been running 20 years now on and off and am really glad that I have started my running streak but wonder why I never did this before.

How can you streak ahead in life by doing the same thing every day?

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

#23: Time and Tide

I am in the extremely fortunate position of living near Nairn beach, arguably one of the best in Scotland.  During lockdown I have been making a point of taking a daily stroll down to the sea, just to watch the water.  Since moving to the coast I have become increasingly aware of and fascinated by the tide and its effect on my local beach - and its effect on me.  

Nairn beach and waves looking across the firth

Tides are part of our island narrative with perhaps the most well-known proverb being “time and tide wait for no man (or woman)” - meaning that when a favourable opportunity presents itself you would be wise to take it, in case you don’t get such a good chance again.  Looking back at your life - were there opportunities you wished you had jumped at?  Were there opportunities when the tide was high, the sun was shining and a light breeze blowing but for whatever reason, you decided to stay on the shore?  Maybe you were waiting for the conditions to be too perfect or were simply not feeling able or ready to confront the risks associated with the new opportunity.  When the time and tide are right it is important to take your opportunity.  Whilst there are many problems and challenges ahead of us all just now, there will also be opportunities and it is important that when they come we grab them with both hands.

The tides are also one of the few things in modern life which can not be reduced to ones and zeros.  The Natural Navigator, Tristan Gooley, has written widely about tides and tells us that “there is not a machine in the world that can accurately predict tides at a new location without the assistance of human observation.” In observing the tides at Nairn, there are very high tides where seaweed is washed up onto the golf course and very low tides where the sea disappears beyond the pier and lighthouse.  The beach can be full of sand one week and full of stones the next.  Seeing it every day, with a slower pace to life recently, I am finding great comfort in the regular nature of the tide.  Change happens every day.  The height of the tide and its direction of flow are determined by the Earth, moon, sun and time, fundamental forces in our universe.  As the sun starts setting ever northwards and the days continue to get longer at this latitude, I find great reassurance from feeling like a tiny pebble on the beach, waiting for the high tide to take me off on my next adventure.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

#22: Green Hive receives Queen’s Award

I became the manager of Green Hive just a few weeks ago and am over the moon to share the news that our volunteers have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.  What a way to celebrate my first few weeks in the post! Regular readers of this blog will recall my previous blog post #13 which explained more about Green Hive in relation to #futureframeworks.

Green Hive receives the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. 

Photo of the Green Hive team outside their workshop in Nairn

Green Hive is a local community hub supporting people to turn their ideas for Nairnshire’s community and environment into reality through a wide range of activities, delivering products and services which benefit the people and places of Nairnshire.

Green Hive is one of 21 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups in Scotland to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them. 

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse. They include volunteer groups from across the UK, including a community shop in Cornwall, an environmental group in Swansea, a group working with refugees and vulnerable people in Stirling and a thriving community arts centre in County Down. 

Representatives of Green Hive will receive the award from George Asher, Lord Lieutenant of Nairnshire later this summer. Furthermore, two volunteers from Green Hive will attend a garden party at Holyroodhouse in July 2021, along with other Scottish recipients of this year’s Award. 

Simon Noble, Green Hive’s Chair of trustees, says: “On behalf of all of our wonderful and committed volunteers I want to share our delight and pride that our hard work has been recognised with this prestigious award.  I believe in the power of volunteering to create positive and lasting change and pay tribute to every single volunteer who has supported Green Hive and those volunteers yet to join us as we strive to do more.”  

Since starting at Green Hive I have been supporting our staff and volunteer team to develop:

Do please show your support for our Green Hive Volunteers by checking out any of the links, liking and sharing this post.  Thank you!