Tuesday, 28 June 2011


As a parent, you help your children understand the boundaries and social norms that you believe are appropriate.  Family & friends help reinforce these views.  Our children will inevitably be exposed to behaviours which we don’t favour but it is all part of the learning process.

To have a boundary you need to know what is on either side.

So what do you do when your 6 year old comes home from school with swear words that your 10 year old doesn’t even know yet?  We’re dealing with this right now.... 

Whose fault is it?  Not the children’s.  The teachers of course don’t ever permit swearing.  Each family has their own boundaries and acceptable behaviours.  TV & radio shows broadcast language I find inappropriate for children before the accepted watershed.  Blaming society is largely pointless.  At some stage they will inevitably learn a multitude of swear words and their application!

I can’t fully prevent them being exposed to bad language or behaviour.  In fact, perhaps they need to be aware of some bad language or behaviour so they can develop their own personal boundaries and ethics.  My role is to help them learn how to form and develop appropriate boundaries and ethics.
Who helps us form and develop appropriate boundaries and ethics in the workplace?
As adults, we largely assume that we have well developed personal boundaries and ethics.  We assume that these unspoken boundaries & ethics that we bring with us to work are fit for the job.

Unfortunately, experience shows that this is not the case... just look at those cases of insider trading, discrimination, harassment.  Yet most discussions with staff focus on performance of task rather than the most appropriate boundaries and ethics for their workplace.

What do you think?  Is there a place for more discussion at work regarding boundaries and ethics?  Would love to hear your thoughts, views and experiences.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Foretelling

28 years ago today, The Black Adder sprung onto our UK TV screens in the first episode “The Foretelling”.  This perfectly set the tone for the loveable but awful anti-hero known as Edmund Blackadder through the different incarnations of the series.

This first story describes how the useless son of Richard of York, Edmund, late for the Battle of Bosworth, having slept in, kills his own King Richard III then proceeds to cover up the whole sorry episode whilst hiding the enemy Henry Tudor!  Of course in all of this he ably supported by the more hapless Lord Percy and also by his turnip obsessed servant Baldrick.

Anti-establishment; ironic but witty; the humour of Blackadder probably appealed most to those who we would now characterise as “Generation X”.  I find it particularly interesting that typically Generation X are seen as challenging, rule-breaking, and sceptical – not dissimilar to the Blackadder stories.

So on this anniversary of “The Foretelling” I have two questions for you :
  1. What are your best moments or memories from Blackadder?
  2. What are your views or even foretellings on generational differences and the comedy that is informing the teenagers and twenty-somethings of today?

For those of you who missed it or would like to reminisce then you can see this first episode and how Edmund took the name "The Black Adder here" on YouTube.  Although I think the humour is as described above others may find it offensive at times - you've been warned!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Florence Thompson – A story in a story

I recently bought a second hand copy of “The Arabian Nights” which is full of magical stories.  I remember reading it as a child and I wanted to both re-read and share its magic with my two sons.  The copy I bought is a 1923 hardback with fantastic illustrations scattered throughout.  In the front cover is the following sticker:

Florence Thompson in Class I was awarded this prize at Xmas time in what seems to be the end of her first term at Walsingham Grammar School, in North Norfolk.  The more I’ve thought about this, the more I’ve been interested in the story of Florence.

Florences Story
From doing a bit of research I know she was 9 years old at the time – she was born 10th May 1914 just before the Great War.

What had she done to have received such a valuable prize at the end of her first term at Grammar School?  I assume she must have done very well and shown a lot of promise.  Perhaps this isn’t surprising given the survival and resilience required of those remarkable times.  Many men from her part of the world would have gone to war and not returned or even succumbed to the Spanish Flu outbreak.  This killed 5 times as many people as the war itself.

What happened after she left school?  After school it appears she married Frank Martin in 1938, after the depression just before the Second World War.  Her husband is quite possibly the Frank Martin from the Royal Norfolk Regiment who died in 1943 as a Prisoner of War in Kanchanaburi – the death camp for the infamous Burma Railway.

Without much further research it’s hard to tell the rest of her life other than the fact that she died in Norfolk in 1991.  I hope she had a full & happy life and I hope her husband wasn’t the Frank Martin mentioned above.

Remarkable times seem to create remarkable people and their effect, no matter how subtle, can last forever.

The book must have brought that 9 year old girl lots of joy in Xmas 1923.  I’m proud to be its custodian and to share its joy.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

I want to live in Wales

Actually, what I’m really saying is that I want to live in Gower, in South Wales.  I wasn’t born there or even near the sea for that matter.  Where I live we do sometimes make the 45 min drive to the beach with the boys but it’s not the same.

You see we’ve just spent a fantastic week on the Gower Peninsula with the family – the first time we’d all been there together.  I know it’s easy to think we can see our everyday lives through the rosy coloured lens of our short holidays.  To imagine that we could magically transport ourselves and move to a different place, a different life even.  The trouble is we could do it – easily.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love where I live.  It’s not our dream home but it is a great home and the boys are settled.  Actually they are so settled that any thought of a change of home is quite disturbing to them.  They love new things & experiences but the fundaments of their lives are something they naturally don’t want to change.

But there’s something in the Gower landscape that we all connected with.  Perhaps it’s just the exploration & adventure of the holiday.  If we lived there maybe we’d not appreciate it in the same way.  Daily life would get in the way.

So what will we do.  Nothing.  We’re happy and content even though we miss each other now that we’re not on holiday.  We love where we live.  It could be better but we are fortunate and sometimes when you see something better you need to admire it from a far.

We’re back into our routines now.  We’re not walking & exploring so much but we’ll correct that at the weekend when the boys aren’t at school.  I’ll have stopped pining by then and Daddy won’t be in London.

Todays post was from Basil (Andsal Chico) the German Shorthaired Pointer.  Naturally teaching his master David to be a better leader, teacher, trainer and person.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

A Question of Ethics

What do you think is ethical?  Big question but social norms probably influence all of us to the extent that generally our personal ethics are not that dissimilar.

So what are your professional ethics?  Have you written them down anywhere?  Do you share them with your clients, colleagues or even your manager?

For the Coaching & Mentoring work that I do, I believe that it’s critical to share with clients the code of ethics that I abide by.  This happens to be the European Mentoring & Coaching Councils Code of Ethics.  This includes :
  • Assuring Competence
  • Understanding the Context
  • Understand & Manage Boundaries
  • Act with Integrity respecting confidentiality
  • Act with Professionalism

What I find compelling about this code is that not only do I believe in it but I’m also very glad to be held accountable to it.  It is congruent with how I practice and along with Supervision it helps guide me through the ethical dilemmas we sometimes face in coaching & mentoring.

What Code of Ethics or Professional Standards do you hold yourself accountable to?

How could Supervision (in the coaching & mentoring sense) support you with ethical dilemmas?

I'd love to hear from all professionals!