Alice: How long is forever? White Rabbit: Sometimes it’s just one second.

Lewis Carroll – Alice in Wonderland
How Giving Up Time can Change your Life for the Better

How Giving Up Time can Change your Life for the Better

Posted by martin.parnell |

As its New Year’s Day, I wasn’t planning on posting a blog but an item on a recent radio program put a thought into my head and I’d like to share it with you. Radio listeners were invited to call in and say what they aim to give up, for their New Year’s Resolutions. 

Usually, when people think of giving things up,  at this time of year, they talk about those things that are generally regarded as bad for them e.g. too much alcohol, smoking, sweet or fatty foods etc. 

I was thinking, what if we tried to give up something that is very precious to most of us? I’m talking about time. I’m sure if you take a look at yourself, your friends, family and colleagues you’ll find most of them lead busy lives. Juggling things like work, housework, childcare, shopping, social activities, exercise, visiting friends and family................ The list goes on and it all takes time. 

But, what if we made a real effort to give up just a few minutes a day to ourselves? To escape into the pages of a good book, to enjoy a soak in the bath or take a short nap. There are so many things that just take a few minutes but can be of benefit to our well-being. We could also try and use some time as a chance to benefit someone else. 

You could call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, make sure you have time to read that bedtime story to your child or make the time to listen to what your partner has to say about their day. I’m sure you could come up with your own ideas as to how you could spend those precious minutes. But, just like giving up anything, it can be challenging. 

However, it’s something that can prove to be positive and if it becomes a habit, nobody’s going to complain about that. It’s funny how, once you make the effort to find time to do the little things, it can grow into finding more time for bigger things in your life. 

You may find you have an hour or two you could spare. This can be great for doing those extra things with family and friends, but also do think about volunteering. That’s something you could perhaps do together and is invaluable to those seeking support.

 However many spare minutes you may find in your busy day, I hope you’ll look back on them as time well spent. 

Happy New Year to one and all.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.

Bill Gates
Why Asking for Feedback in the Right Way is of Most Value

Why Asking for Feedback in the Right Way is of Most Value

Posted by martin.parnell |

Last Thursday, I attended the monthly meeting of the Cochrane Public Library Book Club. The members had read my latest book, The Secret Marathon and I was invited to go and speak to them about the book, the upcoming movie of the same name and to answer their questions. 

For me it was an enlightening experience. Usually, I meet people at book signings and other events where I am selling my books and the purchasers have not yet had a chance to read them. 

At the book club, I was hearing what people thought of the book, its contents, the layout and how the chapters from different contributors enhanced the story. I also heard about what things might have been added e.g. a map of the area in which the story occurs. I heard about which aspects of the book resonated most with people and which ones gave them most food for thought. I listened to suggestions and comments which will be of great value if the publisher should choose to opt for an updated version. 

I was delighted to hear that some people had been affected, emotionally, some had been inspired to take action and others had learned things they had not previously been aware of. 

All of the comments and observations were invaluable to me. They gave me an insight into how a diverse group of people perceived my work. It made me realize how important it is to ask for feedback. 

However, for some people that may be a little intimidating. If you ask for feedback, you would hope to get some constructive criticism, i.e. valid and well-reasoned opinions about your work, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one. 

In the workplace, it is important to find out how others evaluate your work and services, whether they be employees, colleagues, bosses or clients. The important thing is the way you go about asking for feedback and ensuring it is going to be valuable and help you improve. 

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

In an article in the Harvard Business Review, December 2014, entitled How To Ask ForFeedback That Will Actually Help You, Peter Bregnam recommends you take these steps, in order to help others provide the sort of feedback that would be of most value: 

Be clear that you want honest feedback. Let people know they’re doing you a favor by being truthful. “Don’t be nice,” you can tell them. “Be helpful”. Explain that you want to get the most out of the conversation, and it won’t work if they hold back. 

Focus on the future. Ask what you can do better going forward as opposed to what you did wrong in the past. When you ask people what you can do to be more effective in the future, they tend to be more honest. 

Probe more deeply. Don’t just ask once. Give people multiple opportunities to give you real feedback, to increase the chances they’ll feel comfortable doing so. It can be helpful to ask about specific situations — for example, what could you have done better in a particular meeting? 

Listen without judgment. Try not to judge any feedback you receive, whether it’s positive or negative. Thank people for being honest with you and let them know that you find their observations and opinions helpful. If they think that you really want the truth and you won’t react poorly to negative feedback, they’ll be more willing to be completely honest. If you get defensive about anything, they’ll stop and be polite. 

Write down what they say. This tactic accomplishes two things. A little silence communicates that you’re taking feedback seriously and it gives those offering it time to think about what else they might say. Often they’ll volunteer a second — and very important — thought while waiting for you to finish writing. 

I was most grateful to the members of the book club for their honesty and insight. I learned a lot about what really resonated with a group who are avid readers and are happy to share their opinions. 

If you are an author, I would suggest you seek out your local book clubs and offer to go and speak about your work, if they were to put your latest book on their reading list. Not only is it a unique way to get feedback, but it gives the members a chance to meet the author and put questions to them in person. For me, it turned out to be a most enjoyable and worthwhile experience.

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Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

How to Look After Yourself and Look After One Another

How to Look After Yourself and Look After One Another

Posted by martin.parnell |

I was looking through some documents and came across a series of notes I’d made for a presentation I was to give to Cochrane Town Council, during their Health and Safety week. The title of my talk was “Look After Yourself, Look After One Another.”

I was aiming to convey the importance of taking care of your own  health, both mind and body as well  the well-being of those around you, whether those people be at home or in the workplace.

Reading them through, I realised that the messages I was sending are still as relevant today as they was then. For that reason, I thought I would use the headings as a basis for this week’s blog:

Look After Yourself

H - Healthy minds are as important as healthy bodies.

E- Eat a well-balanced diet, everything in moderation.

A- Achieve your goals, one step at a time.

L- Listen to your body.

T- Take time for yourself and learn to relax.

H- Help yourself and you’ll be helping those you love.

Look After One Another

S- Set an example in the workplace, by following guidelines.

A- Actions by you will affect others, so think of your co-workers.

F- Follow your instincts and use your initiative.

E- Experience counts, pass on your knowledge.

T- Teach your family safe practices, both in and outside of the home.

Y- You can make a difference!

All are important aspects to consider, but I’d like to concentrate on two specific areas.

The first is mental health. Fortunately, people are becoming increasingly aware of how mental wellness is as important as physical wellness and I’d like to share some suggestions from the UK’S Mental Health Foundation as to how to improve mental well-being:

1) Talk about your feelings

Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled.

2) Keep active

Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and look and feel better. Exercise keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy, and is also a significant benefit towards improving your mental health.

3) Eat well

Your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health. 

4) Drink sensibly

We often drink alcohol to change our mood. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary. When the drink wears off, you feel worse because of the way the alcohol has affected your brain and the rest of your body. Drinking is not a good way to manage difficult feelings.
Drink in moderation.

5) Keep in touch

There’s nothing better than catching up with someone face to face, but that’s not always possible. You can also give them a call, drop them a note, or chat to them online instead. Keep the lines of communication open: it’s good for you!

6) Ask for help

None of us are superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan. If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. Your family or friends may be able to offer practical help or a listening ear. Local services are also there to help you.

7) Take a break

A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. It could be a five-minute pause from cleaning your kitchen, a half-hour lunch break at work, or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Give yourself some ‘me time’.

8) Do something you’re good at

What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past? Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem

9) Accept who you are

We’re all different. It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence to learn new skills, visit new places and make new friends. Good self-esteem helps you cope when life takes a difficult turn.

10) Care for others

‘Friends are really important… We help each other whenever we can, so it’s a two-way street, and supporting them uplifts me.’ Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. It can even bring you closer together.

As this is, primarily a blog aimed at the field of business, my other area of emphasis is on the workplace.

In 2017 Julie Copeland CEO of Arbil, recognised that “The foundation of any successful workplace safety effort is one that encourages employees to identify unsafe behaviors and opportunities for improvement while also making well-informed safety decisions during daily routine tasks” and went on to post, on their website, “Top 10 workplace safety tips every employee should know.”

1) Be aware of your surroundings

This step requires knowing the particular hazards of your job or workplace. Once you’ve learned these risks, you are able to keep clear of potential hazardous areas, and potential hazardous situations. Also, always be alert of machinery.

2) Keep correct posture to protect your back

If you work at a desk, keep your shoulders in line with your hips to avoid back problems. If you’re picking things up, use correct form so your back doesn’t get hurt. Avoid stooping and twisting. If possible, always use ergonomic designed furniture and safety eqiupment so everything you need is within easy reach.

3) Take regular breaks

So many work-related injuries and illnesses occur because a worker is tired, burned out and not alert to their surroundings. Taking regular breaks helps you stay fresh on the job. One trick to staying alert is to schedule the most difficult tasks when your concentration is best, like first thing in the morning.

4) Use tools and machines properly

Take the proper precautions when using tools, and never take shortcuts. Taking shortcuts is one of the leading causes of workplace injury. It’s a huge safety risk to use scaffolding as a ladder or one tool in place of another for a specific job. Using tools the right way greatly reduces the chance of workplace injury.

5) Keep emergency exits easily accessible         

In case of an emergency, you’ll need quick, easy access to the exits. It’s also recommended to keep clear access to equipment shutoffs in case you need to quickly stop them from functioning.

6) Report unsafe conditions to your supervisor

Your supervisor needs to be informed about any workplace safety hazards or risks. They are legally obligated to ensure their employees have a safe working environment and will take care of the unsafe conditions and make them safe for you and your coworkers. 

7) Use mechanical aids whenever possible

Instead of attempting to carry or lift something that’s really heavy in an attempt to save a sliver of time during your workday, take the extra minute to use a wheelbarrow, conveyor belt, crank or forklift. Too many injury risks are involved with trying to lift something that weighs too much.

8) Stay sober

Around three percent of workplace fatalities occur due to alcohol and drugs. When a worker’s ability to exercise judgment, coordination, motor control, concentration or alertness is compromised, this leads to any number of risks for workplace injury and fatalities.

9) Reduce workplace stress

Stress can lead to depression and concentration problems. Common causes of workplace stress include long hours, heavy workload, job insecurity and conflicts with coworkers or managers. Take your concerns about workplace stress to your supervisor to see how they might help you address them.

10) Wear the correct safety equipment

If you’re not wearing the correct safety equipment for a task, you may get injured. Depending on the job, equipment like earplugs, earmuffs, hard hats, safety goggles or a full-face mask greatly reduce the risk of workplace injury.

Keeping safe and well is important because if we don’t it can have an impact on not only ourselves but those around us, both at home and at work. Some illnesses and accidents may be unavoidable, but if we try to be vigilant and actively work to take care of ourselves and others, at least we know we’ve given it our best shot.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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