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Tag: water

All at sea…

This morning I went for a walk with our beagle Cosmo. My husband does most of the morning walks during the week, but on Sunday’s he gets a lie-in and I get up early instead to walk with the dog.

We’re in that hazy time of year in the UK when summer has started to fade and autumn is getting into her stride – a wonderful mixture of warm sunny days, alongside the hint of crisp leaves and glowing colours, as the trees begin their slow hibernation process. (We also get days of deep, grey skies and sudden torrential downpours – usually just in time for the school run at about 3:15pm, but today was a good day!)

As it was nearly high tide, I decided to walk down by Whale Island, also known as HMS Excellent. The island is man-made resulting from historic dredging in the Solent, to make room for ever-larger Naval vessels. In-between Whale Island and Portsea Island is a narrow tidal inlet,  which I tend to think of as the remains of Stamshaw Bay. This small strip of water eventually links round to the Solent, further up the coast. There are a small cluster of fishing boats which appear and disappear depending on the tide and the type of fishing they do.

As my dog and I ambled along the path, I noticed a small, yellow fishing boat right up close to the shore line. I remembered that my husband had commented that he’d seen a fishing boat which had drifted up to the beach, so I went to have a look.

The little boat looked to be in good shape; the usual collection of barnacles and seaweed along its hull, but the bow was clean and clear and the mast and sails tidy and straight. Through the water I could clearly see the keel resting on the pebbles underneath and then I realised…

The boat wasn’t drifting. It was grounded.

The little boat was in good condition. It was perfectly able to sail. But for some reason, it had ended up on the beach, and now the water wasn’t deep enough to float it. Everything about it spoke about its purpose – it ought to have been sailing, gliding effortlessly on that smooth expanse of water. But instead it was motionless, grounded on a shallow bank of pebbles and rocks, which although small, had somehow trapped this vessel and made escape seem impossible. And that got me thinking:

How many of us are living seaworthy lives? 

How many of us are like that boat: fully equipped and able to sail, yet somehow grounded in our situations and circumstances, not because we can’t set sail but because we don’t believe we can.

In this photo, the tide hadn’t yet risen to its highest point. Another half a metre might be all it would need to get this little boat off the beach and back out to sea. How many of us are stuck in a place where we think we need an entire ocean to change things, when in reality it’s just half a metres worth?

Our perceptions affect our reality.

What we believe can have such a powerful effect on the choices we make. Those beliefs can stop us from applying for that job we really want, or standing up to that demanding boss. They can make us feel trapped and frustrated, when actually all we really need to change our circumstances, is a bit of a push to get us off the beach. Not an entire ocean. Just a bit of hard work.

The things is, for the sailor on the boat, it’s hard to see what the obstruction is, because it’s underneath the hull. That’s why we need friends and family to come alongside us.

Friends and family might have a different perspective. They can see through the water surrounding us and help identify what the problem is.

So what is it that keeps you beached at the moment? Are you so convinced that your situation can’t change that you can’t hear the voices of your friends and family? You’re a seaworthy vessel – what’s really stopping you from exploring your potential and heading out to sea?


How is an iceberg like a cake?

I’m on my way to a meeting – the first of many this week, about Somerstown Stories. It’s another one of those ‘behind-the-scenes’ meetings. Important – necessary in fact, if we want the project to run smoothly and be a success, although it can sometimes feel like I’m spending more time ‘meeting’ than ‘doing’.

It occurred to me that project management is rather like an iceberg: 75% of the work is below the surface, unseen. And yet projects are so often rated or valued on the 25% that’s visible above the water, which is a shame, because the work that goes into making something a success is very often disproportionate to the event itself.

‘But how is an iceberg like a cake, and what’s that got to do with project management?’ I hear you ask.
Well, in my mind sometimes the best bit of the project is the ‘people’ bit. The time spent with real people in real communities, sharing stories and experiences, trying and learning new things together. That’s the ‘visible’ bit. The 25% above the water. Or, if you prefer, the icing on the cake.

Now, you need the cake: you need the substance, the infrastructure, the planning and resources to enable the project to come together…and some of the greatest achievements of you and the people you’re working with will happen during that ‘cake’ period…and probably only a few people will realise or appreciate just how much work has been done and what’s been accomplished.

But I’m still inclined to think that the icing bit is best because that’s the part where we get to see if all our hard work has paid off, and that’s the place where our dreams become reality.

Working with real people in real communities isn’t easy. But it is very valuable, and cake without icing would be a bit dull – don’t you think?

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