Quiet, please

Quiet, please

There is one good thing about January.

It’s quiet.

Less noise, fewer frenetic drivers, and even email spammers seem to take a break.

It’s a time to regroup, to catch up.

I love silence. Probably like many musicians.

This may seem strange.

But it’s not.

Failure. It can make you happy!

Failure. It can make you happy!

failure / creativity

Creativity used to live in the realm of stuff that’s pink and fluffy.

It was what artists did.

Or kids, when they were making all that cute stuff.

Or folks who were doing those colourful activities in workshops or therapy sessions.

Then suddenly, creativity became a business buzzword.

It got gravitas. It became mainstream and desirable, was studied and scrutinised. The word was sprinkled on everything, liberally.

And now? Well, maybe there’s more creativity around.

But there’s certainly a lot of lip service about creativity.

In reality, creativity is treated with suspicion. And for understandable reasons. Creativity involves experimentation and risk. It comes arm-in-arm with failure.

And you don’t get applause or rewards for failure.

As adults, we don’t get a lot of encouragement to be creative. We don’t get any encouragement to fail. Not from the systems we’re educated in, the organisations we work in, or the society we live in.

Yet creativity is essential, particularly in times of rapid change. It gives us the tools to be flexible, adaptive, and innovative – skills that are key to success and well-being amid turmoil and uncertainty.

So if you want to be happy, keep flexing your creative muscles, keep nudging yourself out of habitual behaviour, and keep on failing.


Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

There are certain things that mess us up, even if everything else in our life is going swimmingly!

And one of those is sleep.

Here’s an infographic for you to peruse, to see if you’re getting enough zzzzzs…

What to do about it if you’re not, and how to create the best environments – at home and at work – to help others sleep better too.

Happy snoozing!

How Sleep (and Lack of it) Affects performance on the Job
Want to know the secret to freelance success?

Want to know the secret to freelance success?

The number of freelancers is on the rise. Maybe you’re one of the ‘newbies’? Or do you know someone who is?

There are many great things about being freelance.

But one of the tricky things about it – especially if you’ve previously worked within an organisation – is this…

You have to make every single decision yourself!

You have to decide each move you make during your working day,

While being your own HR, PR, and IT department.

You’re the gofer, gaffer, director, and star of your show.

You have to get yourself up off the floor when you’ve been knocked down,

And pat your own back when you’ve done a good job.

To do all that, you need a lot of arms – and hats!

But that’s not all

You’ve also got to keep a clear vision of your bigger picture.

You have to make sure that today’s busyness is serving your vision of tomorrow.

You have to be your own leader.

It’s tough to have the necessary perspective to do this effectively all by yourself.

So who can help?

Many people in leadership positions have realised that the best solution is to have a personal coach.

They know that a good coach will be objective, honest, and supportive, get to know them and their work inside out, listen well and ask powerful questions, and keep them motivated and focused.

Ideally, this is what every freelancer needs.

But there’s one problem. Most freelancers can’t afford to have a coach.

So what can you do when you recognise how much value to your business that kind of support would bring?

Fortunately, there is a solution.

Get a business buddy.

A business buddy is another freelancer. You meet regularly. You split your time together equally, taking turns to discuss your business.

A like-minded business buddy gives you a vital, valuable sounding board. They ask the questions others might avoid, make objective observations and bold suggestions, remind you of your vision, and hold you to your commitments.

Here are some tips for having a successful business buddy relationship:

Okay, so getting a personal coach is ideal.

But if that’s not an option, or you’re not quite ready for it, then getting a business buddy is an excellent next best thing.

I predict that this arrangement will become more and more commonplace. Because when you’re on that exciting but often lonely freelance path, having a business buddy can be the very thing to keep you heading in the right direction.

It’s the simple secret to freelance success.

Re-thinking education for equality

Re-thinking education for equality

Barrier Breakers Foundation believes we must re-think our education system for equality to become a reality. We need to move away from the mechanistic ‘teaching to the test’ approach and towards an education system where soft skills are embedded in every learning experience.

Soft skills are the traits and abilities of attitude and behaviour rather than knowledge or technical aptitude.

Soft skills – such as communication, leadership, confidence, motivation, self-awareness, creativity, and teamwork – are increasingly recognised as key to enterprise, entrepreneurship, and leadership.

‘Soft skills are an asset that neither employers nor employees can ignore.’ James Caan CBE

Soft skills are becoming critical determinants of survival in the face of current challenges.  They are the skills we need to adapt successfully to a globalised, rapidly changing, unpredictable environment.

However, there’s a massive soft skills gap, particularly affecting young people.

While soft skills are essential to workplace success and personal wellbeing, their value extends even further.

Do we want an education system that develops the individual, encourages questioning, reflection, and a curious mind, creating a lust for lifelong learning and bringing about social mobility and equality? If so, then education policy needs to recognise and prioritise soft skills fully.

Soft skills open our eyes to reality. They give us the strength to change things for the better, and they provide us with the resilience that making change demands.

There is evidence that this new kind of education would have dramatic benefits, not only for the young people concerned but also for society.

Graham Allen’s report, Early Intervention: The Next Steps, detailed “the immense penalties to society and to the individual of failing to provide a strong foundation of social and emotional capabilities early in life.”

If we care about equality, we must support all young people by putting soft skills at the heart of education.