Dear Reader

Are you using your time wisely? Rest assured this is not going to be about time management in the day to day sense, but about exploring how you manage and live your life.

See right hand column for:

  • More positive news…
    • Congratulations to Norbar Torque Tools for receiving ‘The Queen's Award for Enterprise: International Trade' for 2008
    • With so much negative press about religions here is a wonderful example of inter-faith support.
  • Managing Challenging Interactions workshop on Wednesday 17th June. Early booking 20% discount for bookings made before Friday 15th May.
  • CIPD talk on Master Your Inner Critic Wednesday 13th May at Warwick University. Five free places are available to readers of this newsletter.
  • Successful New Zealand Book Launch - Where you can get hold of my book in the South Island.

Best wishes

Melanie Greene

Are you using your time wisely?

Think about how you spend your time and your life – Having had the luxury of seven weeks away in New Zealand launching my book over there and taking a holiday, it has given me time to ponder life and, in particular, how we live our lives in the UK. Coming back I have resisted the urge to slip back into the old ways and instead have been thinking about how I want to be spending my time and my life.

Speaking to someone today about how so many people have such manic lives I thought that the topic might be of interest to others.

Like many people there are many different aspects of my life where I want to, and do, spend my time but sometimes these can get out of kilter. I can end up saying yes to things my wise self would have politely declined. To avoid this I am making sure that I stay in touch with my vision for my life, what I really want to be doing, and then translating that into actions.

What vision do you have for your own life? Do you know what vision, dreams or goals your colleagues or family have? Are you acting in accordance with this vision?

Are you living a graceful or manic life? – In New Zealand I bought and read (twice) a wonderful, slim book called ‘Gift From The Sea' by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. It was first published in the US in 1955, but is so relevant to us today. The book came about from Anne's musings when she took two weeks out from her family of five, her writing career and other responsibilities to spend time in a basic cottage on an island somewhere in Florida. It chronicles her thoughts on modern life in 1950s America. However, it resonates with many modern day difficulties, especially as the complexity of the 1950s ‘modern life' has increased perhaps a 100 fold in the 21st Century. One particular quote struck a chord:

‘This is not the life of simplicity but the life of multiplicity that the wise men warned us of. It leads not to unification but to fragmentation. It does not bring grace; it destroys the soul.'

I see and hear from so many people who feel fragmented and pulled in different directions. Instead, I like the idea of having a graceful life, moving through life in a graceful manner, rather than rushing manically from one activity to another, even if they are enjoyable ones of my choice. I think most of us would agree that our lives are far from simple and we can all relate to the idea of fragmentation.

What would a graceful life be like for you? Do you have moments of grace? What creates grace in your life?

What are you missing out on when you are so busy? I read the following quote a few days ago from Jack Kornfield:

‘To see the preciousness of all things, we must bring our full attention to life.'

This made me think about my time in New Zealand. Having time out to enjoy nature, time to stop and watch waves crash against the shore and explore the wonderful array of shells upon the beach, observe the sea lions, watch the clouds racing across the sky, gaze up at the amazing milky way. As well as listen to the birds, bees and cicadas, and savour delicious food. I was also able to bring my full attention to myself, and those around me, whether they were strangers I came across in the course of my day, friends I was visiting or phone calls home to support my family through a difficult time.

I had the space, time and inclination to pay full attention to all aspects of life – and to fully relish and enjoy them.

So how do we do this back home in our day to day life? How can we pay full attention to our whole life, those things and people around us, nature or whatever else appeals to you?

Have you noticed how verdant this spring has been, heard the changes in the bird song, spent time playing with your children, or listening and really being with friends and family?

What drives our behaviour and our lives? Perhaps we would all like to have a slightly quieter, less manic life, but often this is not achieved. So what gets in our way? From my own and my clients' experiences it is often the ‘shoulds' and ‘oughts' that drive our behaviour linked to the old inner critic and also our Fearful Child (for more information about this see pages 61-72 in my book - see right hand column for more information).

Some of my inner dialogue this last week has gone along the lines of:

‘You've had 7 weeks off, you should be raring to go/you should be ready to help out those who did not have 7 weeks off' (courtesy of the inner critic)'

‘There is a worldwide recession, what if my clients cancel projects, what if it all goes pear shaped, I should be doing more' (fearful child)'

So I've taken extra care to tap into my wise self so that I take wise action that will create value and outcomes that are in line with my vision for my life. By tapping into my wise self I am able to choose when to offer support and volunteer for things rather than feel I ‘should' do.

What is your inner critic or Fearful Child saying that is influencing your behaviour?

Release your inner wisdom, live more wisely – there are many things you can do to make sure that you are using your wisdom to manage yourself, your time and your life:

  • Listen to your inner dialogue – I would say it is almost impossible to tap into your inner wisdom if you are not aware of your inner dialogue. Pay attention to what you say to yourself. If you keep a journal write down what the different parts of yourself are saying (see pages 61 - 72 of my book for an exercise to assist with this – see right hand column for book details).
  • Listen to a wise mentor – talking to someone today I realised how much I miss talking to my dad who died a year ago. He had run a very successful consultancy and had survived many recessions – and, of course, my wise self reminds me that I set up my business in 1991 during a recession and have survived many ups and downs. A year before he died he told me about a time (probably in the 70s) when his business went 9 months without any work. He and his partner hung on, wrote educational pamphlets they sent to clients and eventually the work came in. I would love to get his views on the current world situation. Who can you turn to who will give you some wise insights or advice into the challenges that you are facing in your life?
  • Step into virtual mentors' shoes – if you don't have a real life person to act as a mentor, then there is a wonderful exercise to tap into the wisdom of virtual mentors. Again, this exercise is in my book on pages 47 – 49, or email me for a handout of the exercise.

Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed they create our courage and our wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually.' M Scott Peck


Grovelands Associates provides consultancy advice, training and coaching in the following areas:

  • Coaching and performance management
  • Stress management and working well under pressure
  • Effective team working
  • Communication (assertiveness, presentation skills, etc.)
  • Developing people's learning skills
  • Understanding and working with different personality types

For more information or to discuss anything in confidence please call Melanie on 01865 377334 or click here to email. For more information about Grovelands visit our website by clicking here.

Positive news

Positive news to counter the doom and gloom - let's look out for positive stories to celebrate and pass on to each other…

Congratulations to Norbar Torque Tools in Banbury – They are a long standing client of mine and have just won ‘The Queen's Award for Enterprise: International Trade' for 2008. They first won this award in 1998 when it was called the ‘Queen's Award for Export'.

To win the award they have to show at least six years of sustainable export growth coupled with a high level of corporate social responsibility.

As an organisation (click here to visit their website) they are truly committed to developing the skills and abilities of all their staff. Here is an example of one of their most recent initiatives. Their Human Resources Manager, Wanda Stewart-Lee explained, ‘A number of education opportunities were identified in our six-monthly review process. One of those was that people wanted to understand the business better – so we have organised a programme that uses presenters from all around the company, educating others in the way their department fits into the output of the company as a whole. We feel that investments we are making will help us to make improvements to the bottom line.'

Going one step further in inter-faith relations – I read in the Guardian this weekend a piece by David Bryant, a retired Anglican vicar titled: ‘Tolerance of other faiths is not enough – we must strive for true acceptance'. He talks about a devout follower of Islam offering to pay for the new carpeting of David's church. He said, ‘It wasn't the financial implications of the offer that astounded me, for he was a wealthy man. It was his spiritual generosity that left me moved.'

When what we usually read about in the newspapers is religious intolerance and extremism, it was good to read about a simple act of inter-faith support.

Of course there are many great examples of inter-faith interactions, discussions and projects happening every week throughout the country, but we just don't hear about them. So if you know of any or hear about anything unusual do let me know.


Training & development opportunities….

Managing Challenging Interactions workshop Wednesday 17th June, Kidlington, Oxon. Early booking 20% discount for bookings made before Friday 15th May

This interactive one day workshop provides practical ideas and techniques to help you to manage these interactions. You will receive two personalised coaching emails following the workshop to encourage you to put the ideas into practice. The usual price is: £100 plus VAT but the early booking 20% discount for bookings made before Friday 15th May is £92 inc. VAT. Click here to email for details and a booking form.

See April's Inspire for more information about this workshop and feedback from past participants.


CIPD talk on Master Your Inner Critic, Release Your Inner WisdomWednesday 13th May 6.00 – 8.30pm. Scarman Centre, University of Warwick, Gibbet Hill Road, Coventry, CV4 7AL. Click here for link to map.

The event starts with a buffet and networking. I will then be running a 90 minute interactive session based on my book. There are five free places available for readers of this newsletter, but you need to book them before Friday 8th May. Please contact Emma Steward by clicking here to book your place on the event.


Do you want more practical exercises to help you in your work and life? The exercises mentioned in this edition of Inspire and many other practical ideas and exercises can be found in my book Master Your Inner Critic, Release Your Inner Wisdom, click here to email me for an order form. £8.99 plus £1.00 UK P&P.


New Zealand Book Launch – part of my trip to NZ was to launch my book Master Your Inner Critic, Release Your Inner Wisdom in Christchurch. I also ran a workshop at the Body, Mind, Spirit festival in Christchurch. As I travelled around the South Island the books kind of sold themselves and I donated copies to various libraries. Currently you can purchase the book at Madras Books, Scorpio Books and the University Bookshop in Christchurch, as well as in Peace & Plenty Bookshop in Motueka. Library copies are in the following locations: Oamaru, Balclutha, Wanaka, Hokitika and Takaka libraries.

2010 workshops in New Zealand – the plan is to run workshops based on the book, so watch this space. If you are interested in attending a NZ workshop, hosting one or helping to organise one then email me here.


‘Be happy. It's one way of being wise.' Colette


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