Responsibility - It's All About Me

Responsibility - It's All About Me

Well the CEO CookOff date is getting closer with terrifying speed and more and more I think about the positive impact this initiative could have on young people, their overall health plus the real help it could give to individuals who are going through excessively challenging times.

Yesterday I completed a day three of my Personal Leadership Programme and, as always, I am truly blown away by what a group of ten senior leaders have achieved in three weeks and how many lives they have positively impacted.

I believe that what Ronni Khan and now Jamie Oliver are achieving is, in really simple terms, leadership at every level.  For me, leadership is fundamentally about three things:

  • How we choose to think
  • Understanding responsibility at a profoundly deeper level
  • Communication

Surely this is what needs to happen with this initiative.  There can be the best planning and re-education in the world about the importance of great nutrition for health and well-being but, if each and every individual does not take full responsibility and ownership for the choices they now make then I would suggest that this education will achieve limited results.

If a young person has the belief that making these new choices is going to be difficult because of various reasons – the school doesn’t support the project, no one at home eats this way, it is more expensive etc. etc. – then whether that belief is useful or not, that individual will look for evidence to support that belief.  No matter how much we then do our best to tell them how important this is, we are in effect, telling them that they are not capable of thinking for themselves, we have to do it for them! I am utterly convinced that it really isn’t possible to change another person’s belief, you can only change your behaviour and hope that this may influence them to change it for themselves.  Communicating differently and asking questions to enable them to challenge their own thinking allows them to think afresh and take ownership for their choices.  With over 45,000 people having been through this programme, so pretty well researched, there is no doubt in my mind that for this initiative to really have the amazing impact that it could, leadership will be key.  To say again:

  • How we think
  • Responsibility
  • Communication

So... the closer we get to March 21st the more curious I am as to how the next steps will be played out.  Getting it right will mean that the impact on our young people and on the health of our country will be amazing.  I cannot remember the exact quote (senior moment!) and it is along the lines of ‘catch them a fish and feed them for a meal, teach them how to fish and feed them for a lifetime.’  Let’s teach them how to fish!

If you would like to support our goal of raising £2 million, you can donate here.

       Penny cooks with Jamie Oliver!    On 21 March 2017, Penny will be donning an apron for an epic night of cooking and fundraising. She is taking part in the first ever UK   CEO CookOff     – which will see 100 senior business leaders join forces with 30 top chefs, in one enormous kitchen! The aim is to raise £2 million to tackle food waste, obesity and malnutrition, through the work of the     Jamie Oliver Food Foundation     and   UKHarvest.     They’ll be serving a banquet to hundreds of everyday heroes from our schools and hospitals as a thank you for their amazing work with children and patients.     There are 13 million kids in this country, and one third of them are obese. The funds raised from the CEO CookOff will go towards food education schemes in schools, via the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, and will also be used to save surplus food from going to landfill (and redistribute it to those in need), through the work of charity UKHarvest.     It’s a fantastic and ambitious event, which could make a real difference to the lives of millions of people. Penny has pledged to raise     £10,000     and we'd love your support to help her smash that target!     To donate, simply go to Penny's fundraising page at   www.ceocookoff.co.uk     and click ‘donate’.     Whether it’s £5 or £500, any amount you can donate is appreciated and will go a long way to help raise money for better food education, reducing food waste and feeding people who need it. 

Penny cooks with Jamie Oliver!

On 21 March 2017, Penny will be donning an apron for an epic night of cooking and fundraising. She is taking part in the first ever UK CEO CookOff – which will see 100 senior business leaders join forces with 30 top chefs, in one enormous kitchen! The aim is to raise £2 million to tackle food waste, obesity and malnutrition, through the work of the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and UKHarvest.

They’ll be serving a banquet to hundreds of everyday heroes from our schools and hospitals as a thank you for their amazing work with children and patients.

There are 13 million kids in this country, and one third of them are obese. The funds raised from the CEO CookOff will go towards food education schemes in schools, via the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, and will also be used to save surplus food from going to landfill (and redistribute it to those in need), through the work of charity UKHarvest.

It’s a fantastic and ambitious event, which could make a real difference to the lives of millions of people. Penny has pledged to raise £10,000 and we'd love your support to help her smash that target!

To donate, simply go to Penny's fundraising page at www.ceocookoff.co.uk and click ‘donate’.

Whether it’s £5 or £500, any amount you can donate is appreciated and will go a long way to help raise money for better food education, reducing food waste and feeding people who need it. 

A fabulous testimonial about Penny's words

A fabulous testimonial about Penny's words

“Penny Ferguson, founder of 'The Living Leader' recently addressed our Women@SIMI event. Many of our members were inspired listening to Penny’s own story.  Her openness regarding her personal experiences trials and tribulations was emotional and how she realised that she could only be responsible for the changes in her own life was refreshing to hear, as too often we avoid looking to ourselves for answers. Penny is the living example that you can change your mind set and in turn change your life.  

Penny outlined the three key factors to being a real leader the way you think positively or negatively, our understanding of taking responsibility in work and in personal life and the third communication the way we listen to people encouraging them to do things for themselves. Penny’s talk was straight forward and common sense which can be a rare thing to find these days, as too often we are swept up in jargon and catch phrases that we lose real sight of the important role we play in our own decision making process and how we can be our own leaders.” 

Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI)

'Independence Day' by Penny Ferguson

'Independence Day' by Penny Ferguson

June 23rd is a day that I will remember for ever.  Not only because on June 23rd1964 my first child made his entry into this world but now because it has become what is likely to be remembered as Independence Day.  A day of truly mixed emotions – euphoria, excitement, energy, worry, panic, fear and depression.  From the highest to the lowest extreme.

 

Leadership has never been more important.  Not just thinking of leadership in the corporate sense but at every level, in every situation and in every environment.  With the absolute belief that leadership at its most basic level comes down to three things – how you choose to think, understanding responsibility at a profoundly deeper level, our communication and the impact of that communication.  I am now really going to see if I can live what I teach!

 

There has been so much rhetoric over the past weeks about why we should remain or leave the EU, and even more about why we shouldn’t that I imagine an awful lot of us have been deeply confused and fluctuated from ‘in’ to ‘out’ on an almost an hourly basis – that, to an extent, was true for me as I listened to all the arguments (largely negative sadly).  Now that is past and the decision has been made – an unexpected result that certainly left me reeling as it was not expected and the uncertainty of how that might impact us all is concerning. I voted to remain because, with limited knowledge and a certain amount of confusion, felt this was best for Great Britain.  I now have a choice about how I choose to deal with a very different reality.

 

I am fully aware that I can absolutely choose my response – am I going to constantly bemoan the decision giving reasons why it is not going to work, how bad it is all now going to be, talk about it and create negative feelings wherever and whenever I get a chance, however tempting that might be at times.  Or – am I going to recognise that this adds no value at all, to myself and others to whom I speak.  I want to remind myself that what I put my attention on expands and what I take my attention away from withers and dies.  A situation has occurred and I have the option of choosing my response.  Perhaps I can begin to think about how I can make it work, where I might find the benefits, what pluses there are if I just look for them and what I can give to the situation that surrounds my life and business.

 

This may sound a bit crazy but believe me when I say that I absolutely know this is a more useful response – I feel better, I create a belief that it will ultimately be better for individuals at all levels and, critically, it will allow me to think better.  I do not think well when I am cross, upset, or worried and none of those are useful ways to feel.  Whatever belief I hold, whether useful or not, I will invariably look for evidence to support that belief.   I did vote to stay in, and yet leave is the outcome that the majority wished for.  I will take 100% responsibility for how I deal with this new situation and I will talk the majority of the time about the opportunities that can be created.  I will not spend my time bemoaning how awful it all is as it will achieve nothing whatsoever other than my upset and stress!

 

I will choose my thoughts, take 100% responsibility for how I choose to think and critically, how I choose to communicate.  I will do my best to demonstrate what I passionately believe in - great leadership.

The Hidden Language of Language by Fritha Hookway

I’m a firm believer in the power of language. However, it’s something we take for granted because it’s such a regular part of our every day.

A few weeks ago I talked about the subconscious use of language that drives sexism. I’ve also discussed why saying “follow your passion” has lost its meaning. And a few months ago I wrote one of the most challenging subjects I’ve taken on so far, the trivialisation of the word ‘rape’ in corporate environments.

The theme that underpinned all of these posts was that how we choose to use certain words, and at what frequency, bears a huge weight on what we consider to be normal. And subsequently what behaviours we act out.

Today one of the workshop sessions I was in discussed a concept I’d not heard of before called ‘smog’.

‘Smog’ stands for: should/shouldn’t, must/mustn’t, ought/ought not and got. Unsurprisingly, these are all ‘stress words’.

But just like all the words we overuse, we don’t make the connection to them triggering stress because we say them so often.

I can’t imagine the number of times I’ve said “I really should go for a run” or “I’ve got to check my emails”.

What this language creates is an obligation to the task, as opposed to ownership of it.

Today, what was proposed as the alternative was “I choose” or “I choose not to”. And, just like every other logical thing on the planet, my response to this was “oh yeah, of course. That makes a ton of sense”.

“I’m choosing to go for a run in the morning”.

“I’m choosing to check my emails”.

Immediately, the context shifts. There is accountability, responsibility and an ownership of what we are doing. And ultimately, these three things need to be at the core of the actions we choose to take.

Have you ever stuck a post it to your computer screen only to ignore it for so long that you barely see it anymore? Language is the same thing. We can be so habitual with the words we use we don’t always hear what we are really saying.

‘Smog’ is just one way of considering this topic but it’s such a good example of a small change that can have a big impact. And ya know, acronyms are catchy.

Thank you Fritha for your fabulous piece. https://twitter.com/FrithFrith

A Trip to Dublin

Penny, Emma and Lucy were invited to a fabulous lunch event where Penny was one of the guest speakers. We met up with Maurice Whelan of Unleash Potential, who is our Irish Associate.