Egos

Egos – where to start. I guess with saying that in my opinion  I am not an egotistical person. In my own head I like to think that I am a fairly even, balanced person, that I only give input when necessary, and that actually I personally place little value on most of my input, even when others tell me otherwise.

However, I write a blog, so I have decided that my opinion matters and should be heard. Alongside that I tweet prolifically. Again me deciding my thoughts need to be shared. So I must have a slight ego there.

Or do I simply feel I am shouting into the abyss and I’m not overly bothered if anyone listens? Thats a whole other blog post right there.

So why the post on Ego?

In the last few weeks I have attended a lot of meetings. Worthwhile, but numerous. When looking through my diary at the volume of them, I decided to approach them with a different focus.

Initially, my thoughts were that I would start to track, post meeting, who it is that actually does any of the work and who just produces a lot of noise and bluster. We often cover a lot of ground in our discussions, many routes are explored, promises made and actions taken.

This means that I spent a lot of time observing the people. Their interactions, motives,  and egos. It has been very enlightening to see different styles and who the ego driven people are, especially when linking that to achievements. A lot of the surprise has come from the people displaying the egos.

Maybe it is worth saying, at this point, clearly I have maintained focus on my objectives and getting what I need from, and inputting fully to meetings.

There has been one particular type of ego that is the one I have noticed most. I will also clarify that this isn’t the one I have seen the most, or that which is most prolific. It is the one that surprised me most, because of those displaying it.

Context

Most of my meetings are on strategy, planning, rescue, rationalisation. But some I am invited to where my expertise is required to assist others. This means that often I am ‘consulting’ on projects and programmes other than my own.

Therefore, I don’t have a great deal of knowledge or history of the outcomes, and the roadmap that has got them to where they are. My role is to listen, provide input and direction, offer up suggestions and make connections between people and teams. That’s how I see it anyway.

The expert and the rescuer.

There have however been many instances recently where I have seen others attend these meetings, under a similar guise, with startlingly different results. In my view, they are the ones who’s egos take them from expert to rescuer.

In many ways this is not a bad thing, they are after all experts in their field, which is why they were invited. The difference for me is in how that advice is given. There have been some occasions where advice has been given, and ended with the speaker closing down further discussion and moving us on.

Alternatively, I have seen advice given in the form of a lecture, with a lengthy delivery of almost an essay, options given, with a one person dialogue as to which is best and why. Often this has been backed up with a link back to the speaker and their justification of why this is right.

Sometimes past successes, sometimes theory, and often just an ‘in my opinion this would be the best way’ with a defensive response if further clarification sought on why that is their opinion.

This now takes me to one of my points of bewilderment. These people are mostly known to me. As colleagues I have worked alongside some, or have seen their progress from the sidelines. Which means I have seen their involvement in their successful deliveries. Or more so, the successes that they are claiming as their own.

What did I take away?

Which leads me back to what I had planned as my original focus for these sessions. Who offers advice and backs that with action and who speaks loudly to an audience never to be seen again until the next ‘rescue opportunity’.

The majority of the people who attended, gave advice, options and offers of help or connections to people or teams that could help followed through. Connections made, actions delivered and projects moving forward.

The majority of those who loudly gave forth their expert opinions, did not follow through. A number of emails may have occurred, in some cases follow on conversations. But very little action, and no movement in the projects positions.

Conclusion

I am not going to concentrate on ego types etc, I have some posts in draft that will cover Ego state, and personas. Instead I am going to ask two questions.

  1. Take some time in meetings over the next few days and observe the people you are seeing and interacting with in my head I have characterised them as:
    Those who say they will and do
    Those how say they can, but don’t
    Those who say they can, have in the past and are experts but don’t, until there is attention focussed and they can ‘save the day
  2. Are you conscious of whether you have an ego or not?
    An ego isn’t a bad thing, but would your self assessment match that of those around you?

I will leave you with the dictionary definition of Ego:

ego

noun
a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.

PSYCHOANALYSIS
the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.

All the fun of the (Steam) fair

Ever since I have been a child I have loved the fair. As a youngster growing up on the North East coast we had a lot of static fairgrounds at the seaside resorts. But visited a number of travelling fairs also.

Fast forward to today and I still love the fair. The sights, sounds and smells bring back such wonderful childhood memories.

Reading has lots of visiting fairs in the course of a year, those at events like Pride etc, some travelling ones. But, always the best for me is Carters Steam Fair

History

So not only is carters a wonderful fair, but they have a wonderful history too. I won’t go into it too much, but it is well worth reading the about page on their website (History).

Basically a family owned fair which started with the Steam Gallopers, before adding the Chair O Plane and the Steam Yachts. All restored from a dilapidated state.

The family uses vintage vehicles to move the fair (well worth checking out the sign writing if you see them – it looks great and has some jokes also), and live in vintage caravans. The ice cram van is well worth looking out.

Following the sad passing of their father John, the fair is still run by his children, who you will encounter if you visit.

The Fair.

I visited the fair twice during the week. Once on Monday evening when it was quieter so I could wander around and experience the fair. My second visit was on Saturday evening, as it was getting dark so I could see the fair lit up and see the fireworks.

The Monday evening visit was wonderful, the fair was quiet enough to easily walk around and short queues for the rides, but busy enough to have atmosphere. The sound of the steam powered organs on the ride playing familiar tunes, laughter (and screams) from some of the rides. The operators on the loudspeakers for their rides as well as the music.

From some rides just the noise and the smell of the steam were so evocative of childhood memories. As it got darker the atmosphere grew. The lights on the ride picking out some of the ornate detail, gold paint and some of the handpainted finishing touches.

The fair closes earlier during the week, and so by eight o’clock all was done and our ride time was over.

But as this was the Easter Bank Holiday weekend we returned on Saturday evening for more fun. We arrived about 730pm and the fair was buzzing. A lot of families and groups of friends were attending. It was great to see how many families were enjoying the rides together and excitedly running (or being dragged by kids) from one ride to another.

Rides

I’m not a great one for rides, I don’t have a great head for heights, and I am not good on twirly spinny things. So usually low to the ground rides are my favourites. Sadly I have been a bit injury prone recently so have a bad back and a pulled shoulder. Which ruled out the dodgems at least.

So what did I ride?
Ghost Train
Jets
Steam Yachts

I can honestly say I came off all of them laughing and happy for different reasons. Jets were just great fun, Ghost Train is a ghost train – only Scooby Doo being chased by a ghost could not enjoy a Ghost Train.

Biggest smile of the evenings though was the Steam Yachts. Totally wild. Loved the experience, the two operators were amazing, and all of the riders got off with massive smiles.

Fireworks

We were lucky that Easter Saturday had a fireworks display in addition to the fair. I am a big kid, so grabbed a bag of Candy Floss (a lot sweeter than I ever remember, I may finally be slightly turning adult) and headed to the display area.

It is only fair for me to say at this point, I LOVE FIREWORKS. So I had been looking forward to this. I was not disappointed. What it lacked in length it more than made up for with drama. Some amazing whooshes, whizzes and some very impressive cracks, fizzles and bangs. The sky lit up and so did faces around the area. I have included photographs, but they are from my phone. The actual fireworks were far more impressive than they show.

To sum up

How much of this post is brought by nostalgia and how much objectivity?
50:50 I would say. The fair offers so much. The memories (music, lights, the smell of the steam even), but also the happy faces of people I saw showed me it wasn’t just my (distant) memories influencing how I felt.

Carters is a great experience, so many people I spoke to in the week all said how much they love Carters and the rides. Partly this is because they are so beautifully restored and maintained, but also the fun, and taking a new generation to fall in love with fairs.

Carters travel a lot, they also attend events such as Carfest. If you ever get chance to go and see them, please do. Their current schedule is here Diary
When and where will you be visiting them?

My future – my career, my choice

This week I did something new. For what I think is the first time I made an active choice about my career.

In the past I have made active choices to leave jobs, organisations and managers. Also I have had choices made for me through redundancies.

Though, as I suspect is the case with all of us, these changes have just led to me choosing the least worst option from roles I see at that time. Continue reading

The buzz after stepping out of your comfort zone

There is the road well travelled, a pair of comfy shoes, our spot on the sofa, a favourite jumper. Our comfort zones, so well named. What good happens in them?

Security. Peace of mind. Normality.
But what happens when we push ourselves out of our comfort zone?
When we take a chance and do something that challenges us? Continue reading

Cruising on the Thames

I often walk or run down the side of the Thames in Reading. From my house I can run 5km with a great portion of it by the river. Often I will go for a walk on a weekend morning, usually around by the river.

As a result I am very familiar with Thameside Promenade. The houses, fields, river and nature. In the winter seeing the snow, the early morning mist rising off the water. Sunrise over the fields, and the sound of rowing clubs practising on the Thames.

As a result I have never been on one of the cruises run by Thames Rivercruise although I know lots of people who have. One year I almost attended a Christmas Party cruise, but I couldn’t make it. Among the options are a number of different cruises around the area, some with food, afternoon tea or live music. Mapledurham, Goring and Abbey Ruins are amongst the destinations

Continue reading

Where are our (senior) role models?

There has been something niggling away at the back of my brain for a while now. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. Until this week. Something happened which finally freed the thought and brought realisation.

It was something that I used to take for granted, but which seems to have disappeared. My role models are no longer at a senior level, some are but not many. Continue reading

Imposter Syndrome – When will I be found out?

I’m starting this blog by doing the thing you aren’t supposed to do – going off topic. Slightly.

If you speak to people who know me professionally, they will tell you I am confident, opinionated, passionate, tenacious and fight my corner to achieve and be the best I can (I hope). That’s my work persona, Professional Pete. Continue reading