Let’s Just Get On With It !

“Let’s do it” were the last words of convicted murderer Gary Gilmore as he stood in front of a firing squad in Utah in 1977. Appeals had failed and it was time to get on with the grisly task of execution. People spend too much time these days thinking about what to do and how to do it instead of just getting on with the job.

The prevalence of prevarication and self doubt creates opportunities for life and business coaches. They make your fears and self-criticism seem more credible and then step in (expensively) to “help you understand yourself”.

I go rigid reading the lavish promises made by coaches who offer to help you “gain empowerment to find all solutions to life’s problems within yourself”.

It would be absolutely marvellous to discover I have all the solutions to all life’s problems within myself but I don’t, none of us does.

Personal coaching is a business riddled with the worst kind of jargon and when I see language like that then warning bells ring.

I sense a parasite seeking to live off other people’s natural insecurities. As a lawyer I object to the fact that these vague promises lack any measurable quality.

The makers of Coleman’s Mustard boasted that they made millions from what people left on the edge of their plate. I consider coaching a mustard business, and I think a proper cost- benefit analysis would lead most people to that conclusion.

Coaching seems a field ripe for anyone who wants to set themselves up. Yes, there will be some good individuals but judging by some of the people who claim to be coaches , I wouldn’t ask them for directions to the toilet.

I feel the same about personal coaches as I do about personal trainers. A high powered athlete needs one, the rest of the country just needs to get off the sofa. Me included. A personal trainer is not about being fit, it’s an ego trip.

If my staff asked our firm to pay for coaching I’d share my doubts and try to harness their interest in making changes in a different way.

I believe in personal development but on a less self aware basis. I see approachability as the key essence of good teamwork .I believe we can best help our people  not through coaching but by being available and caring.

There will be some good coaches out there but I believe that they would be equally good if they were running your sales team or in charge of customer care. Business is about good people, full stop.

I never thought I’d side with the sentiments of a murderer but my last words are pretty close to Gary Gilmore’s  forget the coaching- let’s just do it.

By George !

We at Mitchells Roberton having our offices in George House, beside George Square are mightily pleased that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have named their son George.

The announcement that the royal baby is to be called George prompted me to look into some things George.

For example where does the expression “By George” come from? Well, it seems the phrase is actually a mild oath dating back to the early 1600s, the word “George” being a substitute for the word “God”. According to the Oxford English Dictionary the remark began life as “for George” and “before George” utterances published in Ben Jonson’s 1598 play “Every Man in his Humour” and John Dryden’s 1680 comedy “The Kind Keeper”.  The expression latter became “By George”.

Indeed what does the name George mean? It means farmer or earth worker. But although the name has a humble meaning the name George has a rich royal heritage. There have been six Kings George..

George I was the first Hanoverian King of Great Britain taking the throne in 1714.  

George II was born and raised in Germany becoming King in 1727. He was the last King to lead an army into battle.

George III reigned for 60 years, longer than any other previous British monarch. He suffered mental ill health in later years. George Square which our office  is right beside is named after George III.

George IV served as Prince Regent during his father’s mental illness and was known for living an extravagant lifestyle.

George V was the grandson of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and was King throughout the First World War .He was the first monarch of the House of Windsor which he renamed due to anti German feeling at the time.

King George VI was the Queen’s much loved father who reigned for 16 years. His first name was actually Albert or Bertie for short but he chose George, his fourth name to use as Sovereign.

Now we have baby George Alexander Louis, third in the line of succession.

Lastly I did a quick survey in the office and to a last we have all bought George clothes in Asda!!!

Few Fathers Take Extra Paternity Leave

A recent study by the TUC for 2011/12 revealed that only 1,650 out of 285,000 partners took advantage of entitlement to additional paternity leave of up to 26 weeks, paid at the statutory rate of £136.78 per week.  This amounts to less than 1% of fathers.

The system allowing the father, husband or partner of a child’s mother to take additional paternity leave was only introduced in April 2011.  Prior to that, fathers, husbands and partners were entitled only to either one or two weeks paid ordinary paternity leave.  However, the TUC study shows that these two weeks of paternity leave are normally taken up by 90% of fathers.  This is principally due to the fact that employers in the first two weeks of paternity leave more often than not top up the employee’s pay to the equivalent of full pay.

In contrast, taking additional paternity leave is not frequently done due to the fact that most families with new born babies are just unable to afford to live on the basic rate of paternity pay which is not supplemented by employers.

There is little doubt that the system of paternity leave in this country is outdated and rigid.  The Department of Business has stated that a new system of shared parental leave should be in place from 2015.  This will allow fathers to take more leave if they want to in the early days of a child’s life.  As the General Secretary of the TUC, Frances O’Grady, says “Extending paternity pay from two to six weeks and paying a better statutory rate would make a massive difference as has been shown in other countries.”  He goes on to say “ Men will be more able to get better involved with the caring of their children from the earliest stages and evidence shows this sort of involvement has significant benefits for children’s educational development in later life.”

To find out full details of paternity leave rights, pay and how to apply please visithttps://www.gov.uk/paternity-pay-leave/overview

Book Review – And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Our managing Partner, Morag Inglis, had chosen History of the World in Ten and a Half Chapters by Julian Barnes as our latest Book Club book. However, with the summer holidays being in full swing we haven’t been able to fix a date for a discussion of that particular work.

So, in the meantime, being an enormous fan of both the Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, I was delighted when one of my friends gave me the latest novel by Khaled Hosseini  And The Mountains Echoed. When you have enjoyed an author’s previous works so much, you always hope that you will not be disappointed by their latest publication. Not only was I not disappointed, I was enthralled. I loved it. I started reading on a Tuesday evening around 6.00pm and read all night, finishing at 8.13 am the next morning. I could not put the book down.

“You want a story and I will tell you one” Hosseini begins. It is 1952 in Afghanistan and a father permanently exhausted by the business of survival tells a bedtime tale to his two children, Abdullah and Pari. It is a narrative about a demon that draws a father into making a terrible pact. The father can gift to his favourite son a better life but only by giving the child away and never seeing him again.

Indeed, this is what Saboor, the poor Afghan father telling the story, is about to do himself. He gives his three year old daughter Pari, who has an unusually strong bond with her brother Abdullah, to a wealthy man in Kabul. This act, like a pebble thrown into a pool of water, creates ripples; not just one, but countless ripples. The reader could be forgiven at the outset for expecting a tale of a brother and sister who were forced to separate and how they ultimately were reunited by a unified sense of loss and yearning for each other, but the novel is much more multi-layered than that.

In fact the reader is taken on a journey which paints a subtle, complex and conflicted picture of Afghanistan. The themes of Afghanistan’s relationship with the wider world, the traumas suffered by those who remain living there and what happens to those who leave and then come back to rediscover their country are explored. There is nostalgia for the old Afghanistan which has become hardened by its clashes with Western freedoms and shattered by modern wars.

For me though it is the characters that held me spellbound. The story of Abdullah and Pari is a perfect spring board for tales about people surrounding the siblings. At first you may think the other characters are assumed merely as foils but they become gripping and captivating as the reader follows their own destinations. An uncle’s suggestion and father’s decision produce a storyline that spans generations of families, history and continents creating a complex novel about bonds and the making of difficult and incorrect choices and their long lasting consequences.

The writing flows beautifully and I was beguiled from start to finish.  And the Mountains Echoed is larger in scope than either of Hosseini’s previous novels, dealing with many more intricate issues. I enjoyed the journey of the novel. As Hosseini said, “A story is like a moving train no matter where you hop onboard you are bound to reach your destination sooner or later.” Very true, but from the start of the narrative I had no idea of the route being taken to reach the end and I did not know my heart would soar and break so many times along the way.