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Jez's Notebook | Thinking Differently Archive

It’s Okay for It To Not Be Okay

When the sparrow was deftly plucked from the bird feeder at great speed and then eaten by the sparrow hawk, I was stunned. I stood and watched the whole thing unfold and as I looked on, filled with an equal sense of awe and fascination and sadness and disgust, contemplating whether I was in the right place at the right time or the wrong place at the wrong time.

Can you spot the pesky woodpecker eating nuts, not bees.

When we first moved to the farm we didn’t really see many birds, nor hear them either. There was the punctual barn owl that takes its hunting flight at seven o’clock each evening and the occasional blackbird, robin or sparrow flitting about in the hedges. After we installed

Reflecting on Depression, Sticks and Stones, and Purpose

You’re not supposed to talk about things that make you look less successful, or less happy in my industry: it’s all success, strategy, positivity and, frankly, a lot of rubbish.

So, today, I’m going to tell you – honestly – that I’ve felt my depression creeping up on me again for a while; trying to suppress it’s grip.

There will, I hope, by many reading this who because of their chosen profession, or through peer pressure, or through self-pressure, feel the need to put a mask on. When that mask begins to eat at your face it can be especially challenging because despite the general positively growing trend towards understanding and supporting mental health, the reality is that we’re still scared of it. We still don’t know what to say and we’re still running away from it.

We’re not supposed to pull away the iron curtain and expose that we’re human. The impact of centuries of locking people away, turning a blind eye and thinning out society of those who show signs of struggle still runs deep. We seem to like the idea of being mental health aware and sympathetic and conscious – we talk the talk – but it’s not supposed to happen to us. I’ve written about my depression in Flip the Switch but largely it’s a very private battle. Until now.

Is It Too Obvious? The Sentient Solution

The start of the vegetable season can’t come soon enough for me – an opportunity to get outside and plant, in this case, peas. Even if it means wrapping up in loads of layers but on a dry day that’s balanced by the natural daylight, fresh air and contact with nature.

Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of the BBC show Gardener’s World – in fact, it’s the only reason we maintain a TV licence and every year when the licence renewal is up, I consider not renewing as Mrs Jez and I hardly watch any television, unless friends or colleagues are on. Every year I’m reminded of that Victoria Wood gag where she explains that the television license inspector came knocking on her door: “we’ve reason to believe you’re watching television without a licence and are fined £100”, to which Wood explains that she’s only watching Gardener’s World, to which the inspector replies: “oh, ok, call it fifty”.

Last year I remember watching our friend Adam Frost visit some community projects that were using gardening as a mechanism to bring communities together and to offer what was essentially distraction therapy for those who had suffered all sorts of different life traumas. Refugees who had been forced out of their country, witnessing (and in one case personally subjected to) rape, famine and destruction in the process. Children with learning difficulties and special educational needs who felt that they didn’t quite fit in; the recipients of bullying behaviour and feeling confused. Different nationalities; religions; social backgrounds and here they all were, together – gardening. Growing vegetables, flowers, herbs, fruit – together. No prejudice and in some cases not even a common language among them, however, despite the social, economic, psychological and behavioural extremes, Frost began to unpick their stories, revealing to us, the emotionally overwhelmed viewers, that here was nature, healing.

Some of these individuals had been to the most darkest places in their minds and souls: they had witnessed and been subjected to some of the most horrific examples of behaviour our species can exhibit. But with their hands in soil; preparing and nurturing new life in the form of plants and in turn enjoying the culinary benefits of their labour, there was solace.

If nature can help to heal and provide efficacious restorative opportunities for human health, wellbeing and behaviour when we are at our lowest and despite the most extreme of circumstances – just imagine what contact with nature could do for those of us fortunate enough to not be in those positions?

Gardening activities are, for me, the most obvious

Making Our Mark – the forgotten premise of leaving a legacy

In the worlds of architecture, grand garden design and world peace, the likes of Antonio Gaudi, Capability Brown and Mahatma Ghandi all acted with the intention of leaving a legacy: something of value for others to benefit from. Across many areas of society, there are historical examples of acts with the intention to promote the greater good and leave something of benefit for others – to leave the world a better place for having been here.

From

The Culture Claptrap – why is culture not more important?

Ask any CEO, anyone with the title “Head of”, a Brand Manager or anyone in human resources and they’ll all tell you – no matter what industry or organisations type they’re from – that culture is key.

And why wouldn’t they? They’re hardly going to say: “we don’t really care what working environments are like; we’re far too busy for that investing in product and margins – people should put up, shut up and bloody well get on with it”, are they? Yet organisations don’t need to verbalise that as actions speak louder than words: what we do – or don’t do – often has a greater impact that words.

The dreary impact of a lack of focus on environment.

I’m still hearing

How To Make Them Remember

I set out to write this blog post this morning, as part of my bid to share with you some of my top tips on speaking and presenting every day this week – I’ve been doing so all week on social media, however, I quickly was distracted when I heard about the passing of my good friend and mentor, Eugene Burger. A name, I know, will mean nothing to almost all reading this – but that’s okay because Eugene is going to remembered here and I’m going to share my top tips simultaneously as without Eugene, I wouldn’t have learnt the real meaning and power of today’s tip.

Eugene was a story teller; a magician; a performer; a humble and mightily learned man: selfless and verily dedicated to the art of creating and maintaining mystery.

I perhaps pay too much attention to those no longer living but I can’t help it: it reminds me every day just how lucky I am to wake up; to be. Eugene shared that same philosophy: life is

Supercharging Your CSR

TOP 10 TIPS FOR SUPERCHARGING YOUR CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Simple, thoughtful planting benefits your local environment, employee wellbeing and brand awareness, too.

Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is al the rage. It has been for a while but for too many organisations it’s simply lip service. That’s not necessarily a big problem but it is a really wasted opportunity to make your brand stand out, enliven your organisational culture and benefit from strong altruistic action. Just last week I was asked to share my top tips for CSR, so here are my Top 10 Tips to Supercharge your Corporate Social Responsibility whilst helping make the world a better place, too…

1. Aim to engage

Jez on the Punks and Suits Podcast

Blaire Palmer hosts the business podcast ‘Punks in Suits’

The crazy lady with the dog is Blaire Palmer and she’s as lovely as she is crazy. I can’t help but be innately suspicious of people who don’t like dogs, so when I met Blaire at a business roadshow event we were both working at, we hit it off right away because she loves gardening, grows her own, wants to buy a smallholding and keep alpacas (that bit was a bit weird) and she has dogs.

Blaire interviewed me for her business podcast series, Punks in Suits, which is available to listen free on iTunes here and also free here on Podomatic for people who hate Mac.

I did once have a mohawk but I’ve never been a punk so I’m not sure why I was asked onto her show but I was flattered and also very pleased to be interviewed by Blaire. We talk about the research project I launched, The Good Life Project; one of our new courses ‘Chicken Training for Managers’; dogs (of course); the problem with leadership and management and why so many managers are ineffective; solutions for truly effective leadership and a spooky coincidence, too.

Take a listen, I think you’ll enjoy it.

How to Train a Chicken (the real secrets of leadership, management and team building)

You learn so much about people, teams and leadership by training chickens.

Our new chickens, which we’ve named Chasseur, Casserole, Cajun and Stuart are bright, friendly and highly trainable. I’m talking distinguishing between different shapes, coming to you when called, playing the xylophone and even riding a skateboard – and perhaps more useful in your role at work, they can help you to create super switched on management teams, too.

Are they souper chickens? We like to think so!

I have repeated the phrase: “people shouldn’t be allowed children until they have first learned to train a chicken” many times. The reason is that chickens are pretty unforgiving; if they’re bored or you fail to clearly guide them, they’ll just walk off. There are plenty of better things for chickens to do than wait around for you to get your act together and work out what you’re trying to get them to do: pecking the ground, eating grain, preening, taking a dust bath, scratching my rose beds, chasing the dog, having a little bask in the sun – they don’t need you. If you’re in a leadership or management role, that might sound like a familiar situation.

If you want to train them to do the simplest of tasks, like

Going Organic! – Soil and the Organic Leadership System (I made that up)

Behaviourist and broadcaster, Jez Rose, blogs about the process of achieving Soil Association Organic Certification for his Cambridgeshire farm and home to The Good Life Project.

Every day something changes – the peas were not there yesterday but here they are today!

Our peas have broken through the soil, my garlic and shallots are sprouting strong and my potatoes (yes, the ones I planted upside down) are shooting! But something interesting happened while I was planting some more herbs up for our kitchen herb garden.

I’d been chatting with my good friend and fellow soil-lover, Blaire Palmer, about leadership. She’s looking to buy a farm to keep alpaca but don’t hold that against her; she’s actually really lovely. When Blaire left, I headed out to