‘Here I am’ said Smedley the shy chameleon…


I’m half way through Brene Brown’s ‘The Gift of Imperfection’ which is an amazing if not emotional read which looks at how we can work towards allowing ourselves to have more courage, more compassion and more connection in our lives. It’s about having the courage to accept ourselves for who we are (warts and all!), being strong enough to admit when we’re struggling and we need help, to be brave enough to stop worrying about what other people think. This is not easy stuff to change when pretty much we are bombarded to be the perfect this and that by the media and in the most part by the high expectations we put on ourselves.

Brene then goes on to talk about our need for belonging being different from fitting in. We often change who we are to ‘fit in’ and we only get a true sense of belonging if we allow our authentic, imperfect selves to show. If I think about this from my own perspective, I do try and be myself most of the time but when my own self-doubt seeps and sometimes floods through the cracks, I know for a fact that I start going into myself and have to put on a face to carry on (sticking tongue out!).

I then got to thinking about a book that I read to my 5 year old recently which was frankly brilliant and it had ‘Smedley’ in the title too…random to say the least! In a way, it’s like a self-help book for 5 year olds and approaching 40 year old mothers who worry too much!!!

Smedley the shy chameleon blends in so well that nobody notices him. But bold Sally Skinky sees Smedley’s true talent for standing out.

Here I am

Sally Skinky sees something in the little chameleon and encourages him to make small changes to step out of his comfort zone (she’s supporting him all the way) so that eventually he says ‘der der’, big drum roll, this is wholehearted, courageous and wonderful me!! The book is full of ‘woohoo’s’ and every small step is noticed, celebrated and appreciated along the way (see the tenuous link to recognition here!!!).

If grown-up books sometimes overwhelm us, sometimes its good to keep things simple, go back to basics and look at how simple messages can make a difference. Recognising the little things can make a huge difference to how courageous you choose to be, how creative you let yourself be and how much happier you can feel when you set yourself free to be the imperfect and wonderful you!

PS Both books are equally good no matter what age you are…although a 5 year old may struggle with Brene Brown!!!



Re-frame long-service awards…make 2014 all about ‘celebrating careers’!


Yesterday we ran a great session at an organization to challenge their current thinking about long-service awards. I loved it because the group were so participative and open to ideas. Before the session, we asked the group to come up with 3 words to describe long-service awards and it was lovely to see such positive words used…


In lots of companies, people have lost sight of why they are doing it. Programmes are inherited and there is no real understanding of why it was created in the first place. Yesterday, we hope we got the thinking back on track. We hope we got everyone thinking about the objectives of ‘celebrating careers’ and brought it back to the simple truth that career celebrations give us a unique one-of-a-kind opportunity to focus on an individual and their entire history of contributions rather than any one single event.

When we listen to someone being appreciated, we internalize it. We want some of that for ourselves. Sharing stories from the workplace gives us all something to aim for, something that is easy for us to understand. It turns career achievers into role models. Last week I listened to my lovely colleague James reach his 5 year milestone and it still makes me smile now. People were invited to speak from across the business and it was lovely to see how proud James felt. It was funny, it was real and it was genuine. I want some of that too!

This is not the golden nugget to talent retention or anything else, however, as part of your overall recognition and communication strategy, it reflects the value you as an organization place on your people and the contributions they have made over the years. It reminds people that they work in a great team, that they love their company (hopefully!) and that what they do gets noticed.

Have a think about what you do for long-service and why? It may be time to challenge the legacy and re-define your own objectives…bring it back to your people and how much you value them! Get some people together from across the business today and I guarantee you will find some inspiring stories of amazing recognition moments that are happening across your business as we speak…think about how you can create more through the simple re-framing of long-service awards and the image of a carriage clock to the powerful message that ‘we celebrate you’!