Archive | February, 2012

Liverpool Rocks

29 Feb

Metropolitan Cathedral

I have just returned from the UK after spending a few days talking with some social entrepreneurs in Liverpool. I like the way that the UK has embraced social enterprises.

I was lucky enough to have met with Bridgid Dineen from Great Stories who helps organizations promote themselves through film,podcasts or other forms of media by simply telling their story. We all have a story Brigid simply helps you to tell yours. Brilliant.

I also met with Carolyn Edwards who runs Genieinthegutter a non profit organization that helps people who have fallen on hard times through Alcohol, narcotics or homelessness to start the road to recovery through the use of artistic creativity.

Special thanks to Professor Alan Gillies from the Hope Street centre for being a great host. Hope Street centre do a great job in working not only with social enterprises but they also promote the health and social care sector in North west England.

We all know how friendly the people of Liverpool are but I could not get over the wonderful architecture around Hope Street and the two Cathedrals in Liverpool. Posted a picture above here of a wonderful view of Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral at night.

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Happiness facts

23 Feb

I am on a visit to Liverpool in the UK next week to meet some social entrepreneurs who are interested in helping bring about societal change through well-being. As you know Happiness and positive mental health are the two areas where Wake Up! are most passionate about. I thought I would introduce you to some happiness facts that you might or might not be ware of. They are from the Family health guide.co.uk but ring true for all of us no matter where we are from.

Happy Days

1) Although genes and upbringing influence about 50% of the variation in our personal happiness, our circumstances (income and environment) affect only about 10 percent. The remaining 40% is accounted for by our outlook and activities, including our relationships, friendships and jobs, our engagement in the community and our involvement in sports and hobbies.

2) A good mood has a distinct smell. Scientists have found that people can judge whether someone is in a positive mood from their body odour alone. In one experiment men and women were shown scary films while their armpit odour was collected on gauze pads. A week later researchers asked strangers to decide which pads came from people in a good mood and which came from frightened people. They were able to do this with surprising accuracy.

3) Older people are more satisfied with there lives than younger people: a recent survey by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention found that people aged 20-24 are sad for an average of 3.4 days per month as opposed to just 2.3 days for people aged 65-74

4) If you do 20 minutes of exercise, three days per week for six months, your general feeling of happiness will improve by 10-20%.

5) People who rate in the upper reaches of happiness on psychological tests develop about 50% more antibodies than average in response to flu vaccines.

6) According to researchers at The World Database of Happiness at Erasmus University in Holland, Denmark is officially the happiest nation in the world, followed closely by Malta, Switzerland, Iceland, Ireland and Canada.

7) In the USA clinical depression is 3-10 times more common today than two generations ago.

8) Immigrants tend to acquire the happiness characteristics of the nation to which they move, not the nation from which they were born.

9) Richer workers tend to be happier than poorer colleagues, but research suggests that happy people tend to have greater potential to become rich, so it’s a chicken or egg scenario

10) People who suffer strokes or other debilitating diseases suffer tremendously in the short term but after a while their happiness is only slightly below the average of the population.

11) When people get married their happiness peaks, but after a while their happiness returns to the level it was before they got married.

12) Women tend to experience their all-time lowest life satisfaction at age 37, whereas men typically experience this at 42

13) Having 100-200 belly laughs a day is the equivalent of a high impact workout, burning off up to 500 calories.

14) Gold doesn’t guarantee happiness. Studies of Olympic athletes found that bronze medal winners are happier than silver medal winners and sometimes happier than gold medallists. According to the Australian teams psychologist , Graham Winters, it feels better to come third when you are not expecting it than to be pipped for first.

15) The late pioneering social psychologist Professor Michael Argyle, who conducted many happiness studies, showed that among the things that made people happy are sport, music and – most of all dancing. Encouraging sports facilities everywhere would greatly increase a nations happiness. Group dancing which, which combines, exercise, music, community, touch and rules, also drastically increases happiness.

16) Several studies have shown that a pet can reduce blood pressure and stress, promoting health and happiness.

17) After basic needs are met, extra material wealth has little or no effect on life satisfaction or happiness (broadly speaking you would need to receive a windfall of more than £1 million to transform you from an unhappy person to a happy person and even then the effect is often temporary).

18) People in steady relationships are generally happier than singles.

19) In nations with high levels of income equality, such as the Scandinavian countries, happiness tends to be higher than in nations with unequal wealth distribution, such as the USA. People tend to prefer more local autonomy and more direct democracy to increased income.

20) According to a new look at a 40 year old study on child rearing practices conducted at Harvard University, those children who were hugged and cuddled more grew up to be the happiest.

Why shareholders should always come last

20 Feb

I came across this article Wells Fargo always puts the shareholder last. It is right on a couple of levels. It places your staffs importance above the financial wants of investors. It stands to reason that any organization with strong  community based values  will attract the right investor in the long run.Once again we are discovering that our staff are the most important element of our organization. Leaders of countries like Ireland would have done well to follow this line of thinking rather than paying billions of euros to unsecured bond holders rather than finding ways to positively enhance the interests and well-being of its struggling population.

Political and organizational leaders need to step up to the mark and start designing cultures within their framework that enhance the lives of its members.  It’s time that governments and organizations Wake Up! to who really matters…… their people.

Blue Buttons(embracing change at work)

13 Feb

The dreaded blue button

In my previous life I worked in manufacturing, a heavily unionised company at that. Unions are fine but sometimes they get suspicious when change is brought in. Especially if the relationship between company and unions is a little fractious. To simplify what I wanted to say, Picture a machine operator in this bloople factory. They operate the machine which produces the blooples for the bloople market. It is the operators job to ensure that the blooples are the correct size, weight and appearance to meet the standards set for sale. The bloople machine is automated but the operator has to keep a constant eye on weights,measurements and consistency to ensure the product is the standard required. The bloople operator has worked this machine for 10 years. They come in each morning and turn on the bloople machine wait for it to warm up and then press the green start button. Off the machine goes, producing blooples all day, at the end of the day the operator simply presses the red stop button and then turns off the machine goes home and doesn’t want to see another bloople until tomorrow. The operator has performed the same routine day in day out for the past 10 years. Not much is said to them. They think they are quite profficient at producing standard blooples. But they can’t be sure because they don’t ask many questions and after ten years of bloople production they don’t really care. They come in press the green button in the morning and in the evening press the red button and go home. Simple!

One day a young fresh faced engineer who has just joined the company turns up with the bloople operators supervisor to the machine. He announces that he has closely looked at the machine and believes he can improve the quality of blooples. The operator thinks, “what can he mean, I come in every morning turn on the bloople machine press the green button and at the end of the shift I press the red button. No one has complained about my blooples” “Oh yes” says the fresh faced engineer ” we have come up with a solution to variances in quality of blooples throughout the day”. ” The machine will now have a blue button that you will need to press halfway through your shift” he says to the bloople operator. “But what is wrong with the way I have produced blooples,for ten years I have pressed the green button in the morning and the red button at the end of the day and now you want me to press a blue button half way through my shift. Hang on a second there.” The bloople operator is not happy with the change in work practices and contacts his Union steward who explains to the bloople supervisor that there will be no blooples manufactured on that machine if there is a blue button placed on it. A stand off begins and negotiation between the Unions and management is called for. A pay rise, compensation and training are requested for a change of work practice by the operator. The management explain that the blue button will make the bloople operators job easier. The Unions argue that there was nothing wrong with the bloople operators work in the first place and this blue button is a change in work practices and workload on the operator. Arguments fly back and forth. Bloople production is hit and negotiations are ongoing. Until one day an agreement is met and the bloople machine with the blue button installed starts up again.

Six months later the operator is asked how they are finding the new version of their machine. They reply ” that they don’t know how they managed without the blue button for all those years” it has improved the quality of blooples he produces and given him less stress in maintaining bloople production standards on the machine. All are happy.

Where is this going. When we are stuck with thinking that does not want or have the will to change, we end up with an inability to progress forward. We spend a large amount of money drilling for oil, a product that is messy,dangerous and expensive to transport. Yet we have spent very little time trying to look for alternatives. The first electric car was produced in 1963 but since then we have heard very little about them. The great thing about electric cars is that they require very little maintenance, servicing is usually a windscreen wiper water change and they are more economical. But our thinking 100 years after the car has been invented has only began to seriously look at it now. Simply because the lack of oil requires it.

We park a car on the side of the street by the process of driving past the space and then reversing diagonally into the space. With all our engineering abilities you would think we would have come up with a wheel design that allows all wheels to turn into that space and then line up. Yet we haven’t. Our cars work off the same premise that they did 100 years ago(with some modifications) but it’s generally the same basics. The motor industry and many others are very like the bloople operator they will continue to plod along in a very self centered way. Without realizing that by looking at the problem from a different angle might provide a better solution for all.

Thinking differently allows you to accept change more readily. A closed thought process only builds frustration and frustration with the most constant thing in your life – Change – will prevent you and your ideas from growing. Love that blue button.

Wake The F@*k Up!

3 Feb

I have talked on this topic extensively. I see that it has resurfaced in the Guardian newspaper yesterday The top five regrets of the dying

The premise for it is still the same. How many of us simply glide through life without being aware of all the wonders we have around us our friends our families and the things we really love in life. We have all experienced that half hour of motorway driving were we can’t remember the past 20 miles of our journey.

Well for some people a lot of life is like that. We get to certain stages in our lives realising that our children have grown up and are on there way to university and we didn’t get a chance to pay too much attention to what was going on in their lives because we where too busy working or caught up in our own self interest.
Or that even though our hearts kept telling us that all we ever wanted to do was play music, create art or fly planes, we never followed that calling because our teachers or guardians told us constantly to stop dreaming and join the real world.
We never spoke out when we saw wrong or felt hard done by because we preferred the easy life.
We constantly worked at trying to amass more than we ever needed without realising we had all that we could want if we just found the wonder in what we already have. I have just read an article on Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney felt that he was not as successful as Donald Trump even though he had a personal wealth over over $250 million himself. When does the need for more end? For some it ends when they are lying on their death bed with the realization that making money never was the at the root of our happiness and regret takes hold.
It is time to Wake Up!. grasp your life by the bullhorns and start to take control of your future. Do a detox, start finding what it is that makes your heart sing and do more of it. Turn of the TV and start living a life of your own rather than the experiences of the latest soap stars. Start to exercise, fall in love with your partner all over again and get in touch with your kids on an emotional level for a change. Meditate, watch the sun rise or set on a cold spring day. Listen to music, create some if you can!! Spend more time connecting with nature. Spend more time connecting with life and have an appreciation for everything else that shares the planet with us, every action has a consequence make it a good one. From today yes today! decide that it is time for you to………………. Wake the F@*k Up!

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