Jacky Leonard's blog

Archive entries for: Aug-2011

Thought for the day

Categories:  Life Balance and Wellbeing

Those that judge us don't matter

Those that matter don't judge us

I was sent this today and thought what a fabulous statement it is because of it's simplicity and truth.  I'm fortunate to be blessed with exceptional friends and a wonderful family.  I'd like to thank them all for supporting me to do the things I love, make my own mistakes along the way and not judging me, even when I screw up!

Smile! You're on Stage

Categories:  Life Balance and Wellbeing, Delivering Authentic Customer Experiences

"Everyone Smiles In the Same Language"

I came across this quote the other day and thought what a powerful action a smile can be.  I’m not talking about the “have a nice day” type, but the genuine, sincere, joyous one that you can see in the eyes not just on the mouth.  So I asked myself…

What’s the potential power of a smile?

The Oxford Dictionary defines a smile as a “facial expression indicating pleasure, or amusement, with lips stretched and their ends upturned.”  Even the definition makes you want to do it!

It is a universal sign of happiness and has the capacity to transcend the boundaries of race, culture, social status and religion.  It can truly light up a person’s face and make them seem more approachable, friendly and attractive.  It apparently even takes fewer muscles to achieve than a frown.  All damn good reasons to do more of it if you ask me!

I travel to London on business occasionally and am still amazed to observe so many apparently miserable people on their commute into the City.  Being in that sort of environment can really sap your energy.  It makes me grateful I don’t have to do it every day because I can see how easy it would be to follow suit if you are subjected to it day in day out.

The amount of activities people find to distract them from having to make eye contact or, god forbid, talk to anyone is quite inventive.  Ipods, Kindles, newspapers, books, big headphones, Ipads, PCs, mobile phones, even reading the ads on the wall – you name it and its being used in one form or another as a barrier, shielding the person from any potentially undesirable encounter with a madman or woman.  There seems to be some unwritten rule that smiling and eye contact with your fellow passengers is strictly forbidden.  You smile on a train or tube and people will either think your weird, barking mad or have criminal intent!

So what happens to these people when they get into work?  Do they step out of tube trauma, into a working wonderland?  I guess that depends on a number of factors.  One notable consideration is, if you spend the best part of your life at work you should really be doing something you LOVE.  Brian Mayne refers to it as “do the thing that makes your heart sing.”  Lovely sentiment isn’t it? 

So are you?

If you aren’t, chances are, work will excite you as much as your tube or train journey and the people who work with you, or around you will not be having much fun either.  Frankly life is too short to wake up dreading the thought of getting out of bed to go to a job you can’t stand.

If you work in a customer oriented industry you really need to be passionate about people.  Like anyone who is great at what they do; people who like people make customer interactions seem effortless. 

If you’re responsible for recruitment, employ people who have a great attitude; who smile naturally, love people and who are genuinely interested in making a difference.

If you are an owner, director or manager within your organisation you really need to walk your talk.  People respond to what they see you do, rather than what you ask them to do.  You are their role model and are on show the whole time.

Research shows that people who understand their roles and feel a sense of belonging to a team are happier in their work, more committed to their colleagues and less likely to take time off.  A friend of mine categorises people as radiators or drains; the former exudes warmth and are a pleasure to be around, the latter draws the life out of you!  Whether you’re a manager or not you still have a responsibility to support your team.   After all wouldn’t you prefer to work around life’s radiators? 

Your customers also want to feel they belong; to be somewhere they fit in, with people they like and can trust.  To achieve this, your team needs to authentically reflect your values and sincerely convey these to your customers.  People don’t leave people, so if you genuinely portray a professional, helpful, friendly environment you are more likely to attract this sort of customer.  I know I’d much rather be surrounded by positive people than greeted with a snarl, or by someone with a face like a slapped backside!

It’s easy to fall into the trap of taking yourself too seriously.  I have certainly been guilty of this in the past.  Thankfully my perspective has changed over the years and as a consequence I’m a much more relaxed individual who tries to see the humour in most things.  I’d have probably gone quite mad years ago if I didn’t!  The important thing here of course is you have the ability to choose what you think and how you feel.  You can be a “drain” or a “radiator” – entirely your choice.

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” - Thich Nhat Hanh

So if you’re still not convinced her are a few reasons why you should, in the words of Monty Python, “Always look on the bright side of life.”  Or as Ian Drury once sang here are some “Reasons to be cheerful…”

  • A smile and a sense of humour costs nothing
  • When you’re happy, your brain releases endorphins, serotonin and dopamine into the body affecting your sense of well-being and increasing pain tolerance
  • It’s infectious, so you’ll encourage others to follow your lead, just check this out and see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKnY8tBLG3g
  • People will generally respond more positively to you
  • Research shows laughing reduces stress related conditions, like high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, social phobia, heart disease and headaches
  • Happy people sleep better and feel healthier
  • Laughter boosts the immune system, lifts your spirits and makes you feel better which means less sickness absenteeism
  • A good laugh is excellent exercise as it increases your oxygen levels and works the muscles involved in breathing
  • Having fun makes your day more enjoyable and will enhance your customers experience of your service
  • A happier environment will improve customer retention – people are less likely to leave people they like
  • It’s something you can do quite naturally – just try it!

And remember "Seven days without laughter makes one weak" - Mort Walker

So, it really is up to you.  Go on, SMILE! (The genuine, sincere type) You’re on Stage!    

Thought for the day

Categories:  Being on purpose

There are 5 things in life you cannot recover:

A stone after its thrown.

A word after it’s said.

An occasion after it’s missed.

The time after it's gone.

A person after they die.

Life is short. Break the rules. Forgive quickly. Kiss slowly. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably. And never regret anything that made you smile.

Don’t look back in anger…

Categories:  Being on purpose

What’s wrong with the world?

There appears to be so many dissatisfied, unhappy, desperate people around who feel the need to demonstrate their anger and frustration in a violent manner.  Have people stopped caring?  In a recent article, psychologist Peter Honey suggests “When people are caught up in crowds, they do things they would not normally do…and don’t concern themselves with consequences.”

The line between right and wrong isn’t always as clear cut as you might think.  What’s deemed acceptable in some circles, cultures and societies can be taboo in others, however I believe most ‘normally wired’ people know the ‘rules’.  I was taught that stealing is wrong, which means you won’t see me looting shops; however, I have been known to take home the odd piece of stationary from work!  Is that less of a crime?  How far would you go?  And…what circumstances would make you break the law or fail to do the right thing?  What makes you abide by societal ‘norms’ and when would you choose to blatantly disregard them?

Honey also maintains that “External situations have a massive impact on human behaviour. Any of us, caught up in a lawless situation where anything goes, is capable of appalling acts of selfishness.”

Perhaps it’s a case of self preservation!  It strikes me that the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ has widened.  There is tremendous pressure to ‘succeed’.   Now success can mean very different things to each of us, however there seems to be increased pressure to measure our ‘worth’ by the things you accumulate rather than the person you are.  Personally, I don’t believe what you’re worth can be measured in ‘stuff’; it has to start with self!  Who are you?  What do you believe in?  What and who is really important to you? 

It’s not easy to understand the motives of others when your reality contrasts so widely with theirs.  Since being involved in the hiring and firing of young adults on a future jobs funded project over the last year, I have been exposed to a wider variety of realities.  It’s been fascinating to observe how the same opportunity has been embraced fully by some and dismissed by others.  Their lives contrast massively from mine and that of the people they’ve worked with, so understanding their behaviour has been challenging.  Many of the issues that have arisen during the project have been addressed with one simple skill…ATTITUDE.  And it all starts with a healthy, honest, respectful personal relationship…the one you have with yourself.  How can you possibly develop a great relationship with others if you have little, or no self respect?

A friend of mine informed me that when her son was little he would introduce himself to new people and ask the following question…What are you for?  Great questions isn’t it?  Think about it…in four simple words he asked you to consider your purpose, the reason for your existence, your values.  When I first heard the story I reflected on how I would answer and realised what a tough question it is if you really want to do it justice.  Perhaps if more people really thought about this there’d be more tolerance, kindness and compassion.

I’ve been reviewing my own set of values over the past few weeks and it occurred to me that many people may not even consider theirs unless they become challenged in some way.  Do you stop to consider why something someone has said or done has offended you?  Which of your values has it challenged, or trampled on?  How you respond to their action or inaction will say more about you than them!

I’ve no answers to the questions surrounding the current social unrest…I’ll leave that to the politicians.  I do however think that the right attitude, a willingness to communicate openly and honestly and a healthy self respect go a long way to creating a better environment.

I’ll leave the last words to the Dalai Lama “If asked my religion I would say it was kindness.”