Unlucky for some…

I play bingo – no lie.

bingo

Nearly every Friday for the last six month I go down to the local working men’s club and play four rounds of bingo.  I haven’t won that cash prize once.

Logically I struggle to understand why some regulars win it more than others.  They are there pretty much every week – but then so am I.  If I went by mathematically probability I would have won by now.

But then you get the non-regulars who turn up once every so often and get a winner.

Maths should have the answer to everything, but not with bingo – it is purely down to luck – yet we all know that luck is for losers and that only those who try really hard should get all the spoils.

Yet it doesn’t work like that.

Every success in my life has been down to hard work, there is arguably luck in certain aspects – usually involving  right place, right time situations.

My mum has the habit of saying “I really need to win the lottery.”  But I always have to remind her – she never plays it and with the element of being lucky – you have to be in it to win it.

I have been at bingo so long and never once experienced a win – I know that if I keep going I will win because of, well the law of maths.  In this example I am willing to try, try and try again no matter how many times I lose.

The first time I went I didn’t win and I thought I might not bother going again – but by not trying I would never win!

And that is a lesson to learn with what has happened and what will happen with the rest of my life –

  • I only become a good runner by running regularly.
  • I only got stronger by going to the gym on a consistent basis.
  • I only got into a long term relationship by talking to women.
  • I only got a degree by working hard and studying.
  • I will only get better jobs by always being open and looking for the next opportunity.
  • I will only win if I  compete.
  • I will only get what I want if I make the effort.

Along the way I have experienced lots of failure with these experiences.  Then the day you win, someone turns round and says how lucky you are.

You make your own luck by doing things more and participating.

I never thought when I first went to bingo that it would bring an Epiphany on luck.

Anyway – eyes down!  I think tonight may be my night for bingo…

James

 

It appears I am not the only one making efforts to work out bingo wins by probability

 

Back to the gym (take 2)

backtothegym2

I really tried to make the gym I joined in  April work.  But it just never  right and I never developed a steady routine.  It was always difficult getting to it after work and it was always a problem getting stuck in rush hour work traffic if I went in the morning.

My life has changed a lot – the time I used to spend at the gym has suddenly got more scarce.  So I have had to work smarter to develop a routine.

The council run gym was 4 miles from where I lived and in the old days when I had lots of time I would have been getting up early on Saturday to run the four miles, then do a two hour gym session followed by running the four miles back!

The best I managed was a 3/4 time a week routine for a month, but it did not last.  The gym was okay at best, but quiet expensive for what you got as it had a big swimming pool which I never used to maintain.

I decided it was not worth the money and so I began looking elsewhere.

As I have started stepping up my running for the Spartan Beast I have been running from the outskirts of the city centre into work – twice a day.  During this journey I have ran past a 24 hour gym about half mile from where I work.

This was not the 24 hour gym I refer to in my other post, but another one (apparently 24 hour gyms are quiet normal in a city centre?)

When I was at my fitness peak I benefited fro having a gym on the doorstop where I worked – that meant I could go before, during or after work – it all depended how I felt that day.  It is a lot easier walking to a gym down the road than having to fight your way through rush hour traffic after a tough day at work.

The council gym didn’t open till 7am, so it was always a rush getting into work and it always suffered from the early morning crowd all eager to have a quick session before work.  A big appeal was having the flexibility of when I could go training.

After having a meeting in the same building the 24 hour gym was located I walked in and made a purchase of a 1 year gym membership!  The membership was £10 cheaper as there was no big expensive pool to maintain.

1st Day back training

This morning I had my first workout – not the best idea as I had been to a wedding the night before but thought I should start as I mean to go on.  So I parked on the outskirts of Leeds and ran to the gym.

The benefit of the gym is that it had some of my old favourites such as battle ropes.  The downside was that the medicine balls weren’t heavy enough!  Never mind its good enough.

I don’t know if it was from running to the gym or having a late night but it was really hard – my frustration is always going to be that I am not as good as I used to be.  But the only way to beat that is to maintain a constant training schedule.

Another benefit was the space of the free weights area – there was plenty of space and not too many people training (I imagine being open 24 hours means that the insane 5/6am weight training crowd can get in!)

This membership is for a year, so this time I have no choice but to make the best of it..  I am determined to get back in my old ‘Spartan’ shape.

All the best – James

Money vs Happiness

Money

One of the key elements of my ‘Money’ system is to move up the career ladder

Recently I have had the opportunity to fill in for a senior member of staff who has been on long term sick.  As I was covering a large part of their duties, I viewed this as an opportunity to prove myself and felt that by the time they returned I would have been ready for promotion.

I have carried out a number of more responsible tasks, liaised with the top execs in my organisation and gained knowledge in new areas.

But if I am honest – I hate their job.

I love my job – I may not be as important as them and my duties are only of minor importance and could be done by anyone with half a brain.  But their job is seriously  boring.

My job has its tedious tasks and duties, which are well below my abilities.  But it also gives me the opportunity to be creative where I want.  I learnt new software such as SharePoint and this gave me the confidence to build a website used by a wide range of people within the organisation.

I really want opportunities to develop, but I don’t want a promotion for the sake of achieving promotion – sure the extra money is nice, but I would rather stay happy.

For now, I will be patient, develop my skills in the areas that interest me  and gain promotion working with those things, rather than keep doing tasks that I hate.

Doing this job in the short term has been positive, it has given me confidence in what I can do, but I have no interest in there job.

I can’t say that I have achieved promotion just yet, but sometimes not getting instant results is not always a bad thing.

For the short term I would have had a growth in money, but a decline in happiness.

If I had really wanted to I could have been promoted, but that would have led to more sucking up to executives every needs and taking minutes.  At best this would lead me to becoming a senior PA – I have nothing against people who choose this path, but well – that just is not me.

I see myself in the next two to five years becoming a Project Analyst.  With my academic background, experiences and my skills that is my best route.  By waiting I will improve my financial situation, without taking that hit on happiness.

I still think I will be promoted by the end of the year – people see how good I am, its just a case of picking the right opportunity to lead me to my Analyst objective.

 

Till next time, I will be keeping the photocopier stacked with paper – James

Making Hand Made Cards 2015

Although I have not made hand made cards with the same intensity as I did around Christmas.  I have made a few cards for various occasions.

hb

frankie

 

I have really upped my game since I started Card making.  Although I enjoyed the work I did at Christmas I did feel that they were amateurish.

I also had a limited budget which meant I was creating dozens of cards from limited stock.

They say practice makes perfect and with time, effort, persistence and opportunity to increase my stock of craft making materials I feel I am producing some high quality cards.

Card making became my creative pursuit because all my hobbies involved exercise, which was no good when I was tired and wanted to relax.

Everyday is a learning process as I learn new techniques.  Sometimes I have no idea what I am going to design and am inspired only by colours or particular craft items.

I also keep a supply of recycled materials and buy cheap cards to cut up for my work.

The only problem now is my small box is increasingly becoming bigger and I need to sort out all my materials.

Till next time “I think I am the only man that makes his own cards” James

 

Good Mentor/Bad Mentor

As I try to make my way up the career ladder I have found the support of others essential.  I really do miss having a good mentor to coach me and call me out on any bullshit though.

I have a number of experiences of ‘mentors’  – one was good, one was bad.

Good Mentor

I was fortunate to have a mentor when I did a graduate placement.  I was doing a course in Leadership skills and one of the requirements was to be assigned a mentor who would coach you as you progressed.

Sue had volunteered their time for my development and by a stroke of luck she was very experienced in coaching people as her full time profession was a life coach.

The short four month period I worked with her made the biggest impact on my life.  It changed my perspective how I saw myself and others.  In many ways some of the things I have written about is probably second hand wisdom I received from Sue.

She addressed one of my negative attributes in the the most subtle fashion that I never took it as an insult:

I had been complaining about one of my colleagues.  He was very confident and I lacked humility.  He also happened to be very succesful.

When we were at meetings he seemed to be the centre of attention and the success I had been delivering seemed small in comparison to all the results he bragged about.

I couldn’t hold my annoyance at him anymore and mentioned him during a chat.  She simply said:

“Why does it matter, concentrate on your own results”.

This floored me and stuck with me, it made me realise that I had become a bitter person – I hated people who were more successful than me, confident and liked.  It also made me wonder if I could have been more successful if I had focused on my projects rather than on other people.

From that day I change how I carried myself, I would not feel negative about people but look on the positive side of life.  She was a great mentor and got me on the path of doing better.

Bad mentor

On the first day of a real Project Management job I had an encounter with another new starter.  She was only just above me on the career ladder and for the day I had to endure her talking about herself.  Like my experience with the gentlemen on the graduate placement she lacked humility – the difference was that she had not actually achieved anything yet.

She was good at one thing – talking about herself – whether it was past jobs, her family, her degree.  Randomly she said to me:

“You don’t want to do that job all your life, I am on my way up, surely you want more?”

I was shocked and insulted that she would say such a thing.  She quickly followed up by saying:

“I don’t know what you want in life….”  and I couldn’t help but think – of course you don’t know what I want because you have not made a single effort to listen to me.

“If you want I can be your mentor” she said – I did not feel that warranted a response, she had shown no interest in me and had made me feel pretty shitty on my first day.

I never did accept an offer of mentorship, but I am making the assumption that she would have been poor at the job as I got the impression that she was not developing me – but herself.  She was quiet keen to get into management and I think she wanted something to look good on a CV (Incidentally my reputation has thrived while Bad Mentor quietly left after a number of errors and disagreements with management)

 

How to be a good mentor

  • Listen
  • Make helpful suggestions
  • Boost Confidence
  • Do the role for the benefit of others
  • May not refer to themself as a mentor
  • Experience of guiding others a plus!

How to be a bad mentor:

  • Don’t listen
  • Make harmful suggestions or undermine abilities
  • Put person down
  • Do the role for the benefit of yourself
  • Will refer to themself as a mentor – even if they have never mentored anyone in their life

 

So if you fall into the good mentor criteria welcome aboard, if you want to be a mentor because of your own selfish, narcissist ambitions then please just move on – but I suspect as a sociopath this won’t stop you.

 

Till next time, I’ll stick with being a protégé.

James

 

 

365 Days

When I returned back to work on 31st July 2014 after two weeks off from stress, I swore that I would make it do next year about not taking a single sick day.

I wanted to do this because I’d already had a few sicks days, so with taking two weeks off for stress they were adding up.  Because I was determined to fight through my problems, I did not want my sick leave to look any worse than it already was for when I got my next job.

I also wanted to do it for myself.  I have been so easy to go back bad to bed because of a cold – I wanted to see if I could fight through these and do a days work.

And what happened in the end?… who am I kidding I wouldn’t have posted this if I had failed at it – I made a full year – a full 365 days!

Changing jobs made it easier – I didn’t have a bitch boss and my commutes were shorter.

By some coincidence today I confided my stress secret to a colleague – only because they opened up about a loved one suffering the same problem first.  It was good to get it off my chest with someone who I knew would not judge me.

I guess I can get through anything when I really put my mind in it.

Till next time, I am working on 366 days – James

How not to prepare for a 10k race

Prior to my well organised Spartan double, last month I did the Pudsey 10k.

This was quiet a significant race as:

  • This was the first time that I had done a 10k race since July last year
  • It marked the first time that I have run such a distance since September last year.
  • Not only was I unprepared race fitness wise – I also managed to do everything wrong in my preparations

As a result I achieved a personal worse of 58 minutes.  This is 15 minutes off my personal best – how did I fall so badly?

Strap yourself in, here is  How not to prepare for a 10k…

Weeks of prior Training:

For my pre race training I actually only ran up to 4k.  This was due to various injuries and sickness.  This created a lack of confidence in my ability.

I could have spent more time in the gym on low impact machines such as the cross trainer or the rower to protect my foot.  But my visits were sporadic and when I did go I mostly focused on weights.

Although my strength has always been helpful to power me through races – dedicating time to cardio workout would have made the distance much easier.

 

 

1 Week Prior to the race:

Want to know what I did in the week leading up to the race?

beach barcrawl

Not much because I was in Albufeira, Portugal.  My training consisted of sitting rounding the pool, walks on the beach, eating crap all inclusive food and drinking every evening.  Although my fitness was not the best, doing a race a day after I came from holiday was not the best idea!

A sensible person would have decided to leave the race for another time, but I am not a sensible person.

The lifestyle had taken its toll and during the middle of the holiday I had a spell of sickness and the shits.

There was some serious patching up work to be done to make sure I could finish the race.  So I drank a lot of water as soon as I got off the plane.

Man drinking water from huge water bottle

Man drinking water from huge water bottle

Night Before Preparation

I arrived home at midnight.  I have continued to drink a lot of water and knock back another pint before bed.

My adrenaline is still going from the holiday – I don’t settle till 2.  An hour later I have to get up to pee out all the water.

It takes time to settle and when I do I have dreams full of the rae ending in disaster.

I wake up tired and feeling mentally unprepared – I feel I am going to fail.

Setting off

I have two more pints of water, a green tea, porridge and an apple – probably the healthiest I have eaten all week.

I have never driven to Pudsey before, so I rely on the Sat Nav.  I start up the car and put in the race details I quickly printed off.  To make matter worse I am slightly late as I got caught up making a call to my mobile phone company about a discrepancy on my bill.  Right now I just want to pack everything up and go back inside.  But I don’t quit.

I am not even 100 metres down the road when my car pings to me that it needs petrol – I vaguely remember that I noticed it was low before I went on holiday but decided to worry about that when I got back.

Due to lack of time I decide to risk going straight to the race venue and then fill up afterwards.

At the race

I under estimate the popularity of the race.  The car park I set my Sat Nav to is full.  So I drive round looking for an alternative.  I find a pay and display, open my wallet and realise I only have holiday currency.  I don’t want to keep driving round using up my petrol so I park down a random side street.

I am a mile from registration.  I jog gently, quickly I am out of breath.  All I am carrying now is my car keys, a small bottle of water and an energy gel.

I am not even dressed appropriately – I am wearing a vest and have on some baggy holiday shorts.

I register and am told that the start of the race is by the memorial statue in the town centre.  I have no idea where it is, so decide to follow some other runners.  It turned out they didn’t know where they were going either.

We stumble about and eventually find it.  The race starts in 5 minutes so I swallow the energy gel and wash it down with water.  It is only after doing this I realise the gel is 6 months out of date!

The race

The race was hard – this was partly due to my lack of preparation and the number of hills.  This made it the longest 10k I had ever done, the 5k mark felt like it should have been nearer the end, but I realised this was because I was running slower than last year.

But I didn’t die – my finishing time was disappointing, but it felt like a miracle I even managed to finish.  I  saw the positive – I had hit rock bottom, so the only way was up.

Post Race – because it isn’t over yet!

I left the finishing area tired and cold.  I headed back to my car and realised how similar all the roads looked.

I walked about a mile down one road before realising that none of the key landmarks looked familiar – so I figured it must be another road.

I came to a dead end, so I started to panic – I had forgotten where I parked my car!  Just like the guy who lost his car at the Manchester Half Marathon – I had done the same!

I decided to retrace my steps and went down another road – I walked past one of the race marshals who looked familiar, he smiled – I couldn’t decide if I had seen him when I parked up or when I ran round the course.  I continued to walk down the road.

I soon realised it was not right because I could see the flats on the boarders of Leeds City Centre.

My plan was to talk to the friendly marshal and explain my problem.  But I had spent so much time looking for my car, that everyone had packed up and gone home!  I had no phone, no money, no jumper or even my house keys – I had to find my car!

I was really panicking now.  I decided to put on my race finisher shirt to help keep warm as I continued to look around.

I followed the final stretch towards the finish line and I caught sight of my car – I was so relived that I kissed it.  I started the engine and the hum of the engine sounded light.  I thought that the next tragedy would be my car running out of petrol, but fortunately that was not the case.

I estimate that I must have ran/jogged/walked another 6km.  I didn’t feel too bad either  – I realised I was much fitter than I thought.

So learn from my mistakes and prepare properly for your race!

Till next time – James

Everyone could potentially be a leader

I was reading a book on leadership, when someone remarked “Aspiring to be a manager are we…”

There still seems to be a wide confusion between being a leader and being in charge.

So to put it clearer – you may call yourself a manager or the boss – but that doesn’t mean you are a leader.

One of the best examples of a natural born leader was in one of my admin jobs.  She was an administrator and had never been a manager.  She certainly hadn’t done any management courses.

Even though I had been there one week it was clear who was leading the department.

She hadn’t been there the longest.

She didn’t know the most.

Yet she was always the first one to turn to for advice.

Everyone looked up to her and whenever there was a problem she would take charge and set the direction of how to get out of the mess.

She certainly wasn’t the manager – she had taken to hiding from all the problems in a private office and never coming out.

Whenever we were in the deepest world of shit, while others panicked and had melt downs, she always seemed logical and calm.

You could confide in her for advice or any issues.  She was happy to teach, coach and develop others and never saw the improvement as others as a threat to her own career.  She viewed the improvement of others as a way of everyone being better off.

That was the true leader in the office and everyone knew it.

So remember – although we can’t all be a manager, everyone can potentially be a leader

Until next time

“Aspiring Leader not boss” James

The First (and only) ‘Best Planner Signer’… 1997

It was the final year with Mrs Sutton as the teacher for form 9S.

We had been with her since 5S (so four years).  And as each year went by we gradually molded into one of the better class groups in the school.

Next we would be in Year 10 and so we would be getting a teacher that specialised in the ‘older’ children.

What started as the ‘most ignorant class’ she had ever had the misfortune of teaching, proved to be a sad day.

As an adult now – I really hate the education system, in reflection I felt like it  did nothing to helping the aspirations of the next generation, in many ways it felt like a state required baby sitting service.

But credit to Mrs Sutton she took a very nervous, neurotic, shy child and turned him into a not so nervous, but still shy child.  It doesn’t seem much but it was enough to get me through to the next level and for that I am eternally grateful.

However one error on her part was from the last form class.  She gave each child some unique ‘novelty’ award certificate.

They ranged from esteem boosting ‘Most likely to be a professional sports person’ which went to the sporty kid.

To joke awards such as ‘Romance of the year’ for a relatively nice, normal girl who had got into a relationship with the school bad-boy, arsehole (Authors note: it should really have clicked then that girls/young women don’t like nice boys).

It was fun listening to all the awards and as she worked her way down to my surname I had been daydreaming what certificate I would get.

“Best planner signer…” she announced and as I walked up to the front of the class to some very unenthusiastic applause I couldn’t help but think “Is that the only thing you could think about me?”

PD3 SPREAD 11-12

Planner signing BTW was a system used by my school, where a signature was required from a parent every week to see record  of any homework, detention and other things

I went home and my mum saw my certificate – because my award was so average and boring, the fun nature of the awards ceremony had been lost on her and she told me to keep it safe as it would look good on my CV if I applied to go to college.

I could not get over how uninteresting my award was.  Was I really that dull?

I was pretty average at school – average grades, average sportsman, average looks, average popularity, average behaviour.  But there had to be something more interesting to say about me?

As an adult if I got a similiar sort of award I would probably do something to be more interesting, but as I was a kid I didn’t learn anything from the experience and went home and played video games.

It was only about six years later when I was stuck in an average dead end job that I realised the importance of having extra curricular interests and the importance of self-improvement.

I also think that little incidents like this have built up in me, making me competitive, wanting to strive for the best, or even worse… for perfection.

Now I am grown up, I still find things like this bother me.  And that is why I will never be average again.

Until next time

James

Fighting the Forces of Negativity

This week has been my most testing time in my new job.

I have been optimistic and upbeat since starting, but this is the first week where I seem to have been fighting the forces of negativity from all sides.

With people leaving, going on holiday or being off sick, things look light on the ground. Continue reading