Persistence wins out!

Sometimes, when things are not going as well as we should like, we are wise to examine whether we should be doing something differently. However it may be persistence, not change, that is needed, as Calvin Coolidge noted.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” 
Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) 30th President of the U.S.A.

Persist: to continue steadfastly or obstinately in spite of opposition or warning; to last, to endure.

From the Internet: Background on Coolidge and this quotation;
More impressive quotations from Coolidge – here and here.

(I find these links helpful, but take no responsibility for them.)

And to finish off, here's a related quote I also like by John Quincy Adams (1825-29) 6th President of the U.S.A. “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”

Life isn't all about new information. I know, in my life and in my coaching work with business leaders, that at times what is needed is help in discerning what to persist with and what to stop doing – and encouragement to continue the journey. If you would find such support helpful, get in touch.

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Does the Internet help or hinder you in making wise decisions?

I've just read a fascinating article by Tim Weber, BBC News Editor, reporting from the 2011 World Economic Forum in Davos as he chats to business leaders in a sea of laptops and other mobile devices.

He reflects on how we are now “hyperconnected” with mobile devices now outnumbering both laptops and toothbrushes. Is all this information which is changing the way that we relate and shop, that is “the abundant distractions of the internet” a help or a hindrance? If the size of my inbox is anything to go by, I suspect it is a hindrance!

In this age where people's brands or reputations can be destroyed in seconds, advice to leaders is “treat your employees with respect and stick to your values” and make sure you find time to think and to reflect. This sounds like a good summary for success in the 21st Century information age.

Full article here: the photo brings the message home!

Impressed by new MP

I was pleased to attend a networking breakfast in Chippenham this morning, organised by Monahans Accountants, where Duncan Hames had been invited to speak about his experience of his first few months of being an MP. He is the Lib Dem MP for our constituency and he is new to the job. As he said, building empathy well with his audience, becoming an MP is in many ways similar to starting a business (for example because a new staff team has to be built).

It was good to meet him again, to chat about the importance of continuing with those parts of government support for business that are going well and to hear his commitment to ongoing support for business, and to hear his talk. I was impressed that he spoke for some while without notes. He did so in an interesting and cogent way which put across well his understanding of key issues for our country, and the perspectives that need to drive current strategy for the economy.

I was interested in his comment along the lines that the government do not create jobs through employment in the public sector, because the money to pay for those jobs is always financed by the public sector. Therefore job creation has to be done by private sector businesses (his audience this morning) and government have to foster that. There were entertaining stories too of his first few months in office.

I'm in the business of helping people to find work in which they will thrive, and to thrive in the work that they do. So I was pleased and moved to see our new MP getting to grips with his new role and relating so well to his audience of constituents. It's never easy starting a new job, particularly a high-profile public one (do MP's have coaches?!) so all the best to him.

Build your own Rainbow

Lately I've been meeting people whose jobs are coming to an end prematurely through redundancy or retirement. They are looking for new work, and are wanting to work through what their skills and interests are and what work they might do instead of just looking for “more of the same.”

I'd like to recommend the one workbook that I've found to be most helpful. It guides the reader through analysis of their interests, skills, values, and the kind of work they enjoy; helps them to map these to possible job choices; and provides support for problems along the way. It is also great for young people starting work for the first time.

Some people are happy working through such a process on their own, other people prefer accompaniment on the journey. As a coach I can provide that.

Now in its 4th edition (2009), it is Build Your Own Rainbow – a workbook for career and life management – by Barrie Hopson and Mike Scally and published by Lifeskills international. There are other books out there too: this is my favourite. You are welcome to add your suggestions as comments to this blog! You may want to support your local bookshop, however here's the Amazon link. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Build-Your-Own-Rainbow-Management/dp/1852525878/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1285249402&sr=8-1

Troubled by the demise of Business Link

Last night I attended a meeting at Bowood. Wiltshire Council had gathered together about one hundred local business leaders to gather opinions as to how the council might improve support for businesses in Wiltshire. Many of the people there had been invited because they are members of local Chambers of Commerce (I am Vice President for Corsham).

The trigger for the event was the government's announcement that it will scrap Regional Development Authorities, Business Link, and Train to Gain. Although their plans are far from clear, it looks as if support for business will have to be provided increasingly by local councils or groups of councils (“Local Enterprise Partnerships”). The meeting was well organised, with discussion in small groups about concerns and priorities, and speeches from Council officers Steve Stone (Chairman of Wiltshire Strategic Economic Partnership Ltd), Andrew Kerr (CEO), and Leader of the council Jane Scott OBE.

Recent news items have highlighted that seventy graduates are chasing each graduate job at the moment, and that 10% of last years' graduates are still unemployed. Those who fail in a search for employment will either end up with less-than-satisfying jobs for which they are over qualified, become long-term unemployed, or choose to set up their own business. Young people, whether graduates or not, can no longer rely on stable long-term employment with a large employer as they could a few decades ago, nor is a degree or college qualification a ticket to a job, so increasingly starting a business is an important option. This means that young people need to develop a range of skills for work-readiness to equip them for a career which may include starting a business.

Therefore government support for business start-ups needs to be extended not abandoned, and organised nationally where appropriate. It troubles me that support for business start-ups may be reduced just at a time when it is needed more. (Business Link training is motivating and informative and, as well as covering marketing and strategic and financial planning, briefs people on all the national legislation they need to obey. National legislation seems to me to need nationally organised training.)

Other topics discussed included the need to balance education at different levels, develop apprenticeships, publicise Wiltshire's business good news stories, encourage Wiltshire people who go to university elsewhere to return to Wiltshire to work, develop careers information in schools so that young people think career rather than college, improve transport, and more. Such consultations have not happened before, so it is difficult to know what the outcome will be.

You and I will watch with interest. If Business Link's services do not continue in some way, then those starting up businesses, or seeking to develop them, will have to rely more on the private sector for training and coaching, such as your own Finding True North.