Tag: Learning

What’s your approach to delivering feedback?

Is it the straight up right between the eyes approach? Or do you go with the ‘feedback sandwich’ with the constructive/bad news stuck in the middle either side of some positives? Or maybe it’s something different?

Studies show that a team’s excellence and individuals performance rests very much its ability to give and receive very high-quality feedback, constantly. But so very often, the feedback fails to have an impact or provide actionable steps to move forward. Why is this the case?

It all comes down to the mindset of the person giving the feedback.

In most cases, the person giving the feedback feels like they have to solve a problem that the receiver has. They have gathered information from a few sources and are now relaying this in an effort to provide a solution. This is one of the major flaws with feedback. In truth, you only have half the story.

The human brain has an enormous capacity not only to not see the whole picture but also to not notice that it hasn’t seen the whole picture. Daniel Kahneman, the famous psychologist, calls this the “what you see is all there is” phenomenon. Where we all race into problem solving mode with only the data on front of you. Sound familiar?

This is just one example of many on feedback. The feedback givers mindset, for whatever reason, typically is one of telling and solving. How to make this better? Bring a learning mindset to feedback.

If you’re holding half the story, why not ask the receiver to share their knowledge. Give them the opportunity to talk about the situations raised in an open non-judgemental way. This is the first step to getting to the real truth. You’re opening up a learning environment.

Next, practice listening to what they have to say (using active and/or empathic approaches – see post day 19 here). People enjoy being listened to and it builds trust.

Finally, make this feedback session a conversation. A two-way street. So that the receiver really feels like they’ve added their inputs to the session and their voice is valued. By doing so and giving them the opportunity to create their own actions & next steps, the chances of improvement increase exponentially.

To reference Daniel Kahneman again, our brains are predominately lazy. In an effort to save energy, we look for the easy way out most of the time. This can be very true when giving feedback. You accept the information you gathered as truth instead of using it as half the reality. If even that much!

While giving powerful feedback takes effort, the good news is that it’s a skill and it can be developed. It’s something you can work on with practice. And with end of year performance reviews coming up for many organizations, what better opportunity to put this into practice than now! 

Remember though, feedback should not be just for Christmas/End of Year Reviews! It’s an all year-round activity. The gift that keeps on giving!

Till tomorrow,

Rob


PS – thanks to those of you kind enough to connect in and provide feedback to me on the blogging over the last few weeks and the podcast work. I love getting it and always try to learn from it.


Rob is a qualified Executive Coach (ICF) and has been Mentoring and Coaching over the last decade in various roles held during his career. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob currently is a director of Project Management and Leadership Coaching at Dell in Cork, Ireland. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, leadership, goal setting, meditation, and other topics, like this one!

Connect in with Rob on the socials or via email on the links below:

Email   Twitter  Facebook  Website

Subscribe to the Rob of the Green Newsletter Here

The Irish Sports awards were on TV last night, honouring the best individuals and teams from the country. Another year where Irish sports people punched above their weight (pun completely intended there for Katie Taylor) on a global scale. Nobody could deny Shane Lowry the main award. What an honest, humble and ‘open’ (pun intended again) guy he comes across as.

 

As I watched it, one interesting pattern emerged from many of the interviews. The giant role past failures played in a future success in the individuals’ careers. Most notably with Lowry talking about the lessons he learned from falling off the pace at a previous major a few years earlier. By consciously taking the time to reflect on and improve from this previous collapse made him much more prepared and in control for the win at Royal Portrush.

 

Similarly, in the world of project management, keeping an ongoing lesson learned log can be invaluable as you work through issues, and challenges during the life of a project. All too often however, this simple artefact gets deprioritized in the busyness of getting things done, and only comes into focus at the end of a project (if at all). By then, with so much water under the bridge, it’s difficult to recall all the useful insights that could be used to speed up delivery on the next initiative. If the practice isn’t implemented in real-time and documented, it will likely get lost, and with it the lesson.

 

Lessons learned logs aren’t just for elite sports people or busy project managers. They can be very useful in your own personal and work life. In 1-1 coaching, almost without fail, clients are overly keen to move onto the next goal, project, or task. They see taking some time out to reflect on what’s just been completed, thinking and feeling into it a little bit more, and seeing what could have been done differently or what the lesson learned was, as time wasted. When the complete opposite is true.

 

The ROI you gain from a personal lesson learned journal is significant. Just from creating a simple journal, spreadsheet, trello board, or even voice memo on your phone, and spending 5 minutes daily, to capture what you learned today that could be useful tomorrow or at some time in the future, is powerful and simple.

 

If you do, over time, you’ll see patterns emerge highlighting bad habits, procrastination, inefficiencies, and more.

 

Some of the best and most transformative coaching tips and tools are the simplest. I’ve found this to be the case with personal lessons learned logs. But like most of coaching approaches, they are only powerful if you apply some discipline, take action, and just get started.

 

Till tomorrow,

Rob


Check out the full list of Daily Blog December posts on www.robofthegreen.ie/blog

Sign up to the 1% Better Slack Community and take on a January 2020 challenge HERE!


Rob is a qualified Executive Coach (ICF) and has been Mentoring and Coaching over the last decade in various roles held during his career. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob currently is a director of Project Management and Leadership Coaching at Dell in Cork, Ireland. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, leadership, goal setting, meditation, and other topics, like this one!

Connect in with Rob on the socials or via email on the links below:

Email   Twitter  Facebook  Website

Subscribe to the Rob of the Green Newsletter Here

Self-Improvement Year Zero – Post by Michael Hanafin

Self-Improvement Year Zero

One person’s journey into the world of self-development through podcasts, reading and most of all doing.

My journey began 12 months ago so this seems an auspicious time to reflect.   I hope something here will resonate if you are starting on this path or already well on the way.

A change of job prompted me to begin. Before then, I allowed my employer’s training catalogue plus opportunities to learn from global colleagues cater to my self-improvement needs. Moving to a much smaller company (where opportunities to both add value and learn from others were more limited than I expected),  I took ownership of my own personal and professional development.  

You don’t need to wait for a life change like a new job or a calendar milestone – you are free to decide that today will be the day I make one small step.

The Process

To start I adopted one habit then built on that a step at a time. That habit and the follow-ons are described later but first I outline the framework I used.

I decided I needed 3 things:

  1. Structure
  2. Schedule
  3. Direction

Structure

I narrowed it down to 4 themes or ‘Pillars’ to focus on and planned possible activities and tasks for each:

  • Self
  • Health
  • Other (i.e. Family/Relationships)
  • Work

This allowed me to aim for balance in allocating time to each. By putting them in list format, I had a simple visual indicator of whether I was tending more towards some areas rather than others (which is not a bad thing – not all may need equal attention).  In the cases where something mapped to more than one pillar, I picked the pillar it felt more at home in.

Activities and tasks could be either tangible (exercise, cook something, do something at work or outside, journal keeping), online (research, blogs, podcasts) or reading books.

I found a “trialling” mindset to be valuable at this stage.  If I adopted a new habit I tested it for 4 to 6 weeks after which I would either jettison it, modify it or keep it.

I did try a further categorisation of each item into “Read” “Test” “Review” “Do” (inspired by Deming’s Plan Do Check Act cycle) but quickly felt this was too much, I was overthinking and over-complicating (nothing new there!).

Schedule

I time-boxed 3 hours every 2nd Sunday and for the first 3 months while planning, researching and shaping what I was going to do and how to do it, I did these sessions in my local coffee shop. As I got into the thick of it and out of the initial planning mode, I retired instead to my spare room but the name I first gave this quality time has stuck for me – even now I often refer to this time as a “Starbucks Session”.

Direction

To determine my direction, I first needed to define my values.  As a complement to my values list, I also developed a personal mission statement.  Finally, to guide how I implement my decisions and choices, I figured a set of principles would be useful.

I derived my values by narrowing down from two sets of lists found online.  The 1% Better blog post on this topic was helpful.  I ended up with 5 and in their current incarnation, they are:

  • Making a Difference
  • Mindset
  • Credibility
  • Inner Harmony
  • Vision

My mission statement is currently:

  • Maintain a conscious balance of Family, Health, Work
  • Keep Faith and broader spirituality an intrinsic part of life
  • Add real value and make a difference in my day job
  • As much as possible, operate in a mindful flow state with clarity
  • Be in control of finances, providing for present and future needs

My principles remain in draft format at the time of writing. I will write these to enable me to fulfil my mission statement and adhere to my values.

My notes on what that list might look like are as follows:

  • Practice Meditation
  • Balance self, family, work and health
  • Always ask What matters most?
  • What would <name of inspirational role model> do?
  • Engage with what I do with attention, compassion and non-judgment
  • Practice gratitude
  • Continue spiritual path
  • Don’t force it – take purposeful pauses as required, embrace ambiguity and unknowing, non-attachment to results
  • See the opportunity that is my life in 10 years (think of this from Seth Godin)
  • Respond, not react
  • Act like the person I would like to have reporting to me, be married to, have as a father

You will notice that values, mission statement and principles become more verbose and descriptive.  There should be some natural overlap between them also.

 A word here on goals. We are often encouraged to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound).  I also discovered value in having longer-term goals that are not entirely SMART.  This type of goal may be impossible to completely define at this stage and may demand some blue-sky thinking.  At a minimum, your goals should be ART (trusting the SM to come in time) and remember that for visionary goals you need to be open-minded on what is Achievable.  Don’t be afraid to have a stretch target that you cannot quite see how to reach yet. 

 The Starting Point

I had failed to establish a meditation practice on two previous occasions.  The first was before the advent of apps, the latter following a recommendation on a course I did at work.

Now, I looked again at meditation and saw that it could be the launching pad for everything I was trying to achieve (even though I did not know precisely what this was yet!).  The promise of having the mental space to better consider the impact of what I choose to do, how I think and how I make decisions was very appealing. 

I reasoned that the worst that could happen was that I would gain some valuable “me time” every day.  What I discovered was that, contrary to my expectations, my daily practice began to bear fruit after only a couple of weeks. It was the tip of the tip of the iceberg but rewarding enough to persevere with a guided meditation practice.

The Next Steps

Adopting one positive habit has a domino effect – you will find yourself wanting to add another once you establish that first one.

I saw the seeds of my next habit in the improvement opportunity of my first.  A lot of the self-improvement texts talk about the merits of a morning routine.  I saw that this would ensure I do my meditation at an optimal time plus give me a window to add something else.

Over time I started to rise earlier and earlier, setting the alarm for 6 a.m. and eventually getting it back to 5 a.m. (well, 5.05 to be accurate).  The next addition was diet-related, dusting off the blender to make a healthy early morning smoothie. I stuck with the same recipe daily, finding that doing the same over and over again helped break down any mental resistance – I did not need to think about what to buy or how to make it, just do it.

It’s at this stage that a significant step change occurred. I had a meditation practice and a morning routine.  I had also started journaling – using the Bullet Journal method – allowing me to reflect, to plan future activities and to record any inspirational quotes or writings I noticed.    Exercise was missing.   I found the “Couch to 5k” protocol and started following that 3 times/week.  I found it well-paced and being time-based rather than distance-based meant I could slow down if necessary. Like meditation, running had failed to stick on previous attempts but now became ingrained.

Conclusion

I struggle to say which activity has had the most impact – meditation or exercise.  There are mental health benefits to exercise along with the feeling of reward when running towards a glowing sunset on a Friday evening at the start of a weekend.  I endorse the use of positive language here – exercise is something you get to do (i.e. a reward or benefit), not something you have to do.

Meditation has given me a toolkit to manage life’s opportunities and issues, a toolkit that will grow over time. I see it as a foundational practice for me now.

Throughout all this (meditation, morning routine, exercise, Sunday morning reading/reflection sessions) I found the encouragement and learnings from podcasts invaluable. I built up a stable of regulars to which I return, including of course 1% Better.  Joining a community like the ROTG Slack community with its monthly challenges and supportive membership has also been a great help to maintain a “What else can I do?” mindset.

Progress has not been perfect – meditation has not been daily, I replaced the smoothie with overnight oats (which did not stick, no pun intended) and family life means my bi-weekly time blocking does not always happen.  On the plus side, I now know I have a mindset that is fixed on this course, flexible to adapt to circumstances and recognising of the rewards it can bring. 

When progress is slow, I remind myself of what I have done and  that it is an ongoing way of life with natural ebbs and flows (and not a short-term project). 

Here’s to the next 12 months.


About The Author

Mike Hanafin works as a technology project manager, with grey hair gathered in both the software and life sciences industries.  When not asking checking questions like “What value am I bringing to my role?”, Mike is finding joy in his ongoing self-improvement  mission (whose ultimate goal is to maintain a healthy work-life balance by dissolving the work-life distinction) and inching out of his introvert comfort zone (which has mood lighting and a copious supply of fiction and jazz).   Always wanting to write but never getting to it, Mike is making an early/late New Year’s Resolution to share more of what he has learned (and has yet to learn).

Photos by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash and Hello I’m Nik 🇬🇧 on Unsplash


If you’re interested in having being a guest post on the blog page or submitting some learnings for a community focused podcast episode, get in touch directly with me – [email protected] or sign up to the growing 1% Better community on Slack – Link to this here


 

How Do You (To) Do?

How Do You (To) Do?

The humble to-do list – On the merits of keeping it simple

Like them or tolerate them, we all need to consider what task tracking system works best for us – from the classic paper-based “To Do” list right up to using the latest collaborative technology (Trello anyone?) or structured methodologies (Dave Allen’s GTD system is a long-standing servant for many).

As a coder and carefree youth who has evolved into a project manager and a, well, more responsibility-laden adult, I have experimented with multiple variations on the classic to-do list – varying frequency of look ahead & update (daily/weekly) , prioritising tasks (or not), time boxing tasks (or not), paper-based or electronic, online or offline and so on – I have found most variations and levels of complexity served their purpose to some degree at some point in time.

Although not seeking perfection, I have never settled on one that I could say I was truly happy with. Until now.

The following simple system (I hope you agree)  has been working very well for me for some time now.  Do let me know if there is something of value for you here too.

Its’ virtues are ease of use, flexibility and clarity.

Figure 1 – Example To Do List @ Start of Day (Monday)

 Features

1 – Paper-Based. One A5 sheet (A4 folded in half does the trick). In my case, this is a loose sheet which I slip into my work notebook but it could be a page in the notebook itself or a dedicated book.

2 – Time Span of 2 days – today and tomorrow (or next working day).  Day goes on the horizontal axis on top. Categories go on the left-hand vertical axis.

In this example, categories are specific work projects (CUST1 and CUST2), Self-development and Admin.  The categories are repeated line by line because I find it a good visual indicator of the number of tasks per category (for me, the specific quantity matters less than a sense of their proportionality).

3 – Comprehensive – You will see there is a mix of the personal and professional, I find that this helps plan my day better by foreseeing all upcoming activities and actions and gives me a feeling (illusion?) of control of the personal on very busy professional days (and vice versa). If I have a 10-minute personal task I am more likely to carve out time to do it on a very busy day at work if it is on the list.

4 – Simple Notation – tasks that get done are crossed out, tasks that are partially done get a dot ⚫ after them and tasks that do not get done today get a > after them, get crossed out and are moved to the next working day (by writing them again in that column).

This notation is based on Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal method and I find the use of the > is a key differentiator from the traditional list.  You won’t feel the same sense of failure you may feel if a task on a classic to-do list is not done  by crossing out and adding a > as this is just rescheduling for tomorrow – it’s still on your radar and still on your plan and hence still in your control – you simply did not get to it today.

5 – Prioritization – Tasks are prioritized when they are a ‘Must’ or a ‘Should’ today. I use a different colour here for clarity and I will often prioritise for the day twice – first thing and again after lunch.

6 – The Tomorrow Column – for me, this is often empty or almost empty until the next day. If I have a task that I strongly suspect I will not get to today I will still put it in today’s column. If I get to it it’s a win, if not I simply re-schedule (see above). Only if I know a task cannot possibly start until tomorrow do I put it in tomorrow’s list today. 

Note that I put all future tasks in the Tomorrow column and just re-schedule each day. If it is really in the future (e.g. next month) I will just put it in my Calendar instead.  While not particularly efficient (compared to e.g. a 3rd column for ‘Future’), the benefit is that it tells me something about the task – if it is too much trouble to write it out every day or if I find myself constantly rescheduling then it may not be worth doing or can be relegated to my calendar for future consideration.

7 – Review – I ensure today’s column is reviewed (or close to) last thing daily with all entries crossed out because they are either (a) complete (b) rescheduled to tomorrow or (c) no longer relevant.

I update the task list in tomorrow’s column either last thing today or first thing tomorrow or both.

Figure 2 To Do List – End of Day (Monday)

That’s all there is to it. With any system it needs to be simple enough to not be daunting to use and it needs to become a habit so I have tried to ensure it lives up to the acronym K.I.S.S.

Evolution

There are inefficiencies here (like the one mentioned in point 6 above) that I believe are features. Even the very act of using a pen and paper as we enter the 3rd decade of the 21st century has merits – I would add my voice to that of the dedicated journallers who extol the merits of writing versus typing to aid memory and meaning.  Having said that, this method has evolved over time and may by no means done evolving. I refuse to believe it’s as good as can be.

I would love your ideas to refine and improve this along with any other feedback or thoughts you have on the method. 

My most recent refinement was the addition of  personal ‘to dos’ to what had previously been a work-only system.

Thanks for reading and happy crossing-off ! 

 

Next Time

One person’s story of trying to get 1%+ Better – the growing pains of the first 12 months of conscious self-development, avoiding overwhelm, finding time, listening to podcasts while still getting stuff done.


About The Author

Mike Hanafin works as a technology project manager, with grey hair gathered in both the software and life sciences industries.  When not asking checking questions like “What value am I bringing to my role?”, Mike is finding joy in his ongoing self-improvement  mission (whose ultimate goal is to maintain a healthy work-life balance by dissolving the work-life distinction) and inching out of his introvert comfort zone (which has mood lighting and a copious supply of fiction and jazz).   Always wanting to write but never getting to it, Mike is making an early/late New Year’s Resolution to share more of what he has learned (and has yet to learn).

Featured image – Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash


If you’re interested in having being a guest post on the blog page or submitting some learnings for a community focused podcast episode, get in touch directly with me – [email protected] or sign up to the growing 1% Better community on Slack – Link to this here


 

On 16th November 2017, I celebrated by 40th Birthday. In the weeks and months leading up to this, I experienced some dread! Not what you might expect though. I actually didn’t mind too much about the age thing. Something that many people make out as a move into middle age. In many ways, I was looking forward to the milestone age. I was in the best place I had ever been. Mentally, Emotionally, and not too far off physically.

What was my greatest cause for anxiety was the potential blow-out it would bring. The two nights (at least) on the booze. Even though I was fully responsible to keep the partying under control, I knew that it was going to be difficult to just have a few and take it easy.

Looking at back at other big milestone birthday’s I’ve had, they’ve always been big sessions. My 18thin Dublin was a total blow out. My 21st, I seem to remember lasted a few days. My 25th, something similar. And my 30thwas all set to be another big session, but with the passing of my grandmother on the weekend of it, that was shelved, or postponed for a few weeks at least. It’s safe to say, birthday’s and booze were synonymous in my past.

I didn’t want the occasion to pass without a gathering, and it was a good excuse to persuade some of the close friends and family from home to come to Cork to celebrate with friends I’ve made in the previous 9 years. That was my overriding reason to go ahead with it. I kept telling myself, I’d take it relatively easy, but knew deep down that would be hard. The internal battle had started.

The Birthday weekend started off on the Thursday (the actual day of my birthday) where my Aunt, Uncle-in-law and I met up in Dublin to go to the Killers concert. While this started off very civilized, with a nice meal and some wine, it quickly escalated to JD & Coke and whatever else we could drink during the concert. The excitement was too much for me and the bouncers in the gig agreed. After a few attempts to calm me down, they asked me to leave. I obliged of course but the separation from the family resulted in a messy end to the night. Both of us arriving back to the hotel separately. A great start to the weekend, eh!

The next day, I woke feeling ‘ok’ but a strong sense of gloom lingered for the day. I knew I had a long day ahead too so that didn’t help. Oh, and with Saturday and Sunday also to come, I was feeling a bit edgy. ‘I should be enjoying this’ I thought. Something had to give. But when & how!

Having successfully navigated the drive home, via Longford to meet the rest of the Family, I was pretty wrecked come bed time that night. Honestly, all I wanted to do was chill out for the rest of the weekend. But plans were made, and I couldn’t let everyone else done.

One of my best friends from home (Longford), who was now living in Wales, flew over for the weekend. It was Michael’s Birthday the following week (7 days later exactly) and we had arranged to have a 40thcelebration in both Cork and Cardiff. So, with Mike in Cork on Saturday, we met up early to have some ‘brunch’. Now, you might guess that brunch was code for a sambo and some pints. I remember walking into town that morning. Feeling ok and looking forward to the day ahead. Catching up and having a laugh. While that was my plan, my inner chatterbox was having none of it. That voice was pushing for more than just a few!  We had a few beers in town then got some to bring back to my house where we could relax for a few hours. As others arrived down from Home, the atmosphere built up over the course of the day. Naturally, I was delighted to see so many good friends come down and was in flying form as the evening rolled around. At this point, all was going well.

When we did make our way into the venue where the party was held, I was feeling good but knew I had to keep myself together. As a type 1 diabetic, diagnosed in mid30’s, I always had to keep myself in check from a blood sugar perspective. The diabetes was a big wake up call and turning point for me when I got diagnosed in 2012. It definitely came at a time when I was beginning to figure out myself more. It actually helped accelerate that. Anyway, this night, while I did my best to keep things in check, there is no doubt that I was acting like a normal person for the evening. With Champagne popping, and the drink flowing, I was beginning to let loose.

As the Party moved from the pub to the nightclub, the levels of excitement increased. Anyone that knows me, down the years, are aware of my unique ability to convince myself that I was (and am) a cross between John Travolta in Saturday night fever, a Russian Army Cossack Dancer and A Professional break-dancer when I had a large amount of alcohol consumed and with some classic 80s music blaring. This was the case again the night. And after numerous attempts from the bouncers in the club to persuade me to refrain from spinning around in perfect (or so they felt) 360s in the middle of the floor, one spin too many was had. So, they politely asked me to leave AKA escorted me outside. Another night that ended not how I had hoped.

I woke up Sunday morning with a fogginess. Another familiar sense of gloom and anxiety. But this time, a little bit different. I had got through the night. In one piece. And while I didn’t exactly do myself proud, I had a sense of relief that it was over. No question at the time, anyone looking in, would have said I was really enjoying it. And they’d be right. However, inside, I wasn’t dancing. That extrovert me that emerged, as I’ve said in a previous post, was more the chatter box letting lose. The real me was the one that was left to pick up the pieces the next day. For years, I real me had to take that onboard and get through it. That had to stop. And while Alcohol was in the picture, it wouldn’t. It couldn’t. The party had one night left. But one that I didn’t expect to be such a defining moment in my future year, and life.

6 of the group that came down from Longford, two best friends, their partners and my Aunt and Uncle-in-law stayed down for the final fling. They were right to make a proper weekend out of it and I was glad to have them down. We decided to take a more relaxed approach to the day. When we met up around 4pm, we decided to go on a mini-pub crawl of Cork. It was also the evening where the Cork Christmas Lights were officially switched on. Adding something different into the mix. And keeping us out of the pub for a bit.

As we wandered from pub to pub, casually taking on a drink here and there, and including some food, the conversation inevitably turned to just how bad we would feel the next day. How we were all dreading it so much. Talk of the 3+ hour drive back to Longford the next day was already causing anxiety to rise. For me, I was already expecting to wake up every 5 minutes during the night not only seeing, but having full blown conversations with dead people. As you can suspect this was not the first time we had these chats. Anyone listening in would think we were either joking or that we were on a day release from a mental institute. Neither were the case!

Then we got to the classic conversation about ‘giving up the drink!’ How great it would be. But equally how difficult. I had completed Dry January that year. It was tough but very rewarding. Richie then said he heard a guy on the radio a week or so before talking about his 2+ year journey of being ‘drink free’. How difficult it was initially but, after some tough nights, and near misses, he started to enjoy himself on nights out. He had to ‘relearn’ how to enjoy himself. Bit by bit, it got better. He started to find himself. To know himself a bit more. It could be done. The reconditioning was possible.

That’s when it happened.

“Let’s do a year off the drink?” I suggested (or Richie did..that part is foggy too).

We started to tease it out. Firstly, we put an incentive on it. A €500 wager. If one of us broke it, the €500 would go to a charity of our choice. Then it became more real. Others in the group were laughing. Eyes were rolling! It was the drink talking seemed to be the general impression. But I felt something different this time. It felt real. I had said it a thousand times in the past 20+ years, ‘never again’…..and then proceed to drink again within the hour or day. Never again, followed by a laugh. But in this moment, it felt different. Not sure why but, like many other events that happen along your journey, it can be a question of timing.

As we continued on with the night, Richie and I started to formulate the terms a little bit more. When to start? From tomorrow? No…..how about from 1stJanuary? Do it for the full 365 days of 2018? That seemed to fit better. For the rest of the night, with that bet in focus, I felt clearer. Focused. Certain. Committed. This time I was going to do it.

As I write this, it’s 365 days from that discussion. A year on from the handshake and nearly a year on from the complete alcohol cull! I’ve been sharing what I’ve been learning on the journey so far in these posts. So many new perspectives. So much less embarrassment. A lot more self-worth. Improved confidence. Impending Fatherhood. Getting Engaged. Zero escorting from nightclubs. Zero conversations with dead people. Zero attempts at breakdancing. Zero lost jackets.

It’s funny though. When I was more frequently out at the weekend and suffering from a bad Monday or moody Tuesday, I would blame it all on the booze. Not just that. Anyone that knows me, is aware that, on occasion, I can sneeze literally hundreds of times a day when my allergies are on fire. In the past, I would always blame that on my excessive night out at the weekend before. It was the obvious thing to do. Which would result in me giving myself a harder time and feeling worse. Now, I’m happy (not sure that’s the right word) to say I still get the allergies without the beer. I also still get anxious. Feel uncomfortable. Question myself and other insecurities emerge. But I know that’s normal. It’s just part of life. And I can’t now blame it on the beer. Which makes it more acceptable.

I don’t gamble often but this is one bet that I’m glad I wagered. One that I’ve won on every day since. It maybe is the epitome of gambling responsibly. The fun, for the most part had stopped with drinking. And when the fun stops, stop.


Rob is a qualified Executive Coach and has been Mentoring and Coaching over the last decade in various roles held during his career. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob currently is a director of Project Management and Leadership Coaching at Dell in Cork, Ireland. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, goal setting, meditation, and other topics. 

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