On Riding a Bicycle

April 13, 2016

Bicycle leaning against a wall

Twenty years or so ago I realised that I was not getting enough exercise. In my early 40s, I was suffering some stress at work and weight was creeping on.

I determined that it was time to dust off my bike. And dust there was aplenty. The trusty stead had followed me for several years. Anyway, it seemed best to just start cycling to work a couple of times a week. 16km didn’t seem to be too much – after all I was fit.

I still remember that first attempt. It took me far longer than I had planned and I wobbled my way along the roads into the city centre. After a week or so my speed picked up and the wobbles gradually subsided.

Despite my initial struggles I discovered that there is truth in the adage ‘you can’t forget how to ride a bike.’

This week I returned to a project that has been on my agenda for sometime. However, I kept putting off the day when I would start writing again. I was, secretly, anxious about putting putting pen-to-paper (well actually fingers to the keyboard). But I discovered that writing is a little like riding a bicycle. My skills may need dusting off. I may have a few wobbles and it may take me longer now. But using those skills becomes familiar the more that they are pressed into action.

Skills are old friends. When you meet up you are often chatting along as if you have never been apart.

I wonder what else I need to dust down? For now, it is that time of year when the fair-weather cyclist pumps up the tyres. I’m watching the forecast to see when the first journey to office for 2016 will take place.


Easter Rising

March 27, 2016

proclamation text

This weekend Irish friends and neighbours across the Irish Sea are marking the 100th anniversary of the 1916 East Rising.

I’m delighted to see such a vibrant nation alongside the United Kingdom, wistful for the role my own nation played and relieved that it was before my birth and that I have no personal knowledge of the events in 1916 or subsequently that led to the birth of the Irish Republic.

But I hope that my celtic neighbours won’t be too offended if I say that whilst I wish them well, I’ll be celebrating the original East Rising this Easter Sunday.

Hallelujah Christ is Risen!

who moved the stone?


TP or a Pot Scourer

March 8, 2016

I’ve been travelling again. There are always new things to learn. At my age the first things to do on arrival are check how to connect to the Internet and confirm that everything needed in the bathroom is available.

A quick check sent me in search of toilet paper. After all you never know when you might need it. A short exploration led me to a supply and I gathered a couple of rolls to have handy when needed. As I set off to my room with my newly collected contraband I was chased by one of my local contacts who had seen me collect the TP. He was insistent that I also take a pot scourer.

TP and Pot Scouref

Now, I don’t know about you but the last thing I need when I’m looking for toilet paper is a pot-scourer. It just wouldn’t do the job.

There are lots of tools that I use as a learning developer. It is not that unusual to discover that the tool that seemed most useful proves, ultimately, to be the equivalent of a pot-scourer when TP would be better.

This week I’ve uncovered a small supply of pot-scourers as I have redelivered training for aspiring journalists. Time to search for the TP.


Ten Secret Ways of Delivering Top-Notch Training

March 3, 2016

Don’t you just hate those click-bait headlines designed to persuade potential readers to visit the blog to discover the secrets.

Well, let me be straightforward and clear. I don’t know any secret ways of delivering top-notch training. I’m pretty confident that I can say that there aren’t any miracles waiting to help you or me to do a better job.

The truth is the most of the things we need to do are common sense to anyone with some experience.

But to let you depart without feeling completely cheated let me suggest some ideas to remember.

  1. Meet the learners needs – that demands that we do the hard work of researching the needs which the individuals may not always be able to articulate.
  2. Meet the learners expectations – these may be different to their needs.
  3. Impact the organisations objectives – after all if the learner has been sent by an organisation then its owners will expect a return on the investment represented by improved performance.

These steps all demand some work in advance of a training event but if we make the effort it is possible that the training will be a success for all those involved.


When it snows… or anything else goes wrong

January 28, 2016


Back at the beginning of the month I was set to travel via Istanbul to Addis Ababa. I was all booked out on New Years day.  It seemed a good idea at the time – fares were down presumably because it is a less popular day to travel.

Of course, it is also at the start of the winter months. So it wasn’t a surprise to discover long lines at the ticket counter with anyone scheduled to transfer in Istanbul required to re-book. Istanbul was, apparently, closed due to snow.

I was among the fortunate ones. A wait in line and I was re-routed missing all the snowy weather.

My friend, David, wasn’t so fortunate.  He was on a different trip and reached Istanbul late missing his connection. His estimate was that there were some 15,000 passengers trying to rearrange missed flights. We managed to connect via SMS/text messages and his saga of nearly 13 hours in a line was depressing. David was clearly lost in a solitary world with nobody able to help or advise.

Having experienced missed flights at Istanbul I was able to reassure David of the process and encourage him to find a hotel room and get some rest. He later reported that my advice had been the reassurance he needed and that it meant that he did not feel abandoned.

Later that same week I found myself gripped by a panic attack brought on by a combination of factors including a deep sense of being alone.

We can be in the biggest crowds but still feel isolated. We can equally be at ease with our own company and yet find ourselves desperately lonely.

Trainers often have to travel alone. David and my experiences reminded me that we need to develop coping mechanisms for when these moments catch up on us.