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It’s Christmas Day, it’s 10 past midnight, I’ve just heard Santa’s reindeers on the roof and I’m still at work blogging! They work us hard here at MH Towers. Can I have another piece of coal Mr. Broadbent please?

Just joking, of course! I’ve been on holiday for the last few days and this is the first chance I’ve had to write a Christmas message to all our readers out there, which is all very timely now as it is officially Christmas.

So Merry Christmas one and all. We hope to see you here again in the new year.

The other day I was talking to an interviewee from one of our film shoots and the topic of the conversation was threefold;  Why do we worry about things? Where do answers for daily problems come from? And why can we sometimes not sleep at night because of our thoughts?

This got me thinking.  I’m a worrier, I churn things around in my head over and over again.  This can be things I  need to do, things I need to say, things that I may have said.  I don’t lose sleep over it but it’s a regular thought process for me.

These thoughts often make things seem a lot worse than they really are.

Talking to John made us both realise we are the same, not just John and I but quite possibly everybody.  Perhaps not to extremes but certainly to a varying level.  John ranks high in my list of wise people I have met, yet still he loses sleep at night because he stresses about sometimes the simplest of problems.

The biggest problem is we still look for answers when we already know them but deep down we don’t want to take action for whatever reason.

Of course there are many external factors to take into account when it comes to stress, but the bottom line is we often make ourselves feel a heck of a lot worse about it by delaying a course of action.

One possible remedy for this is to limit the amount of options you have for a solution to maybe 3 possible answers.  When you have 3 then think sensibly about what the outcome of each one could be.  Then dig a little deeper, you probably already know which answer is best.  At this point stop and take action.  Don’t wait for somebody to tell you what to do, after all nobody know you better than you know yourself.

I reckon more often that not you’ll produce the right answer without even trying too hard.

I’ll give it a try and if I fall over into a quivering wreck you’ll know why.

Remember, the answer often comes from within.

1.  Create a clear and compelling vision
A compelling vision acts as a beacon of light that keeps your people focused on where you want to go.  Napoleon Bonaparte achieved great victories on the battlefield.  Part of his success was due to his decisiveness and the decisiveness of his field marshals in making decisions.  Napoleon made sure his field marshals knew what to do when they didn’t know what to do.  His standing order was: “In the absence of orders, march to the sounds of the guns.”

2.  Focus on the future; leave the past behind
A young monk and an old monk come to a river. There’s a beautiful lady standing there who needs to get across.  The old monk scoops the lady up in his arms and carries her across the river.  The lady kisses the old monk on the cheek and thanks him for his kindness.  The young monk raises an accusing eyebrow at the behaviour he has just witnesses; for the Order he and the old monk belong to, forbids any physical contact with women.  He decides not say anything. The two monks continue on their journey.  After a few miles, the young monk stops to confront the old monk.  “How can you live with yourself having broken our most sacred vow of never touching a woman?” The old monk shakes his head and says: “Brother, I left that woman by the river an hour ago.  It is you who are still carrying her around in your mind.”

3.  Be open and visible
Never mind email, get belly to belly with your people; let them see and feel your presence. Good leaders lead from the front and set the example for others to follow.  When I reported in to my first combat infantry battalion, my company commander showed me around the company area.  He eventually showed me to my new office:  “And here’s your office, but you’ll never see it, because if you’re doing your job properly as a leader, you’ll never be in it. Your place of duty is in front of your troops.”

4.  Listen with no agenda
Your people like to be heard and they like to know you’re listening.  Listen actively with no agenda other than to listen and understand.  Steven Covey tells us, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”  In order to do that, you have to listen.  And it doesn’t to every now and then let your folks have a “moan” session.  They’ll feel better for it.  I once remarked to my Platoon Sergeant that our soldiers complained to much.  My Platoon Sergeant looked at me with a big old grin and said: “Sir, if they ain’t complaining; they ain’t training.”

5.  Accept mistakes as your own; take the praise for nothing
As the leader everything is your fault, no exceptions! You are responsible for everything your people do or fail to do.  If they fail to meet their targets, it’s because you failed to provide the proper guidance and support.  You can delegate tasks and authority, but you can never delegate responsibility.  If your team exceeds its targets, make sure it’s your people who get all the credit, and be sure to praise them openly and honestly.

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