Reflecting forward

12 months ago today started like a normal Monday morning.

My wife and I were running around getting the kids ready for school.

Due to the extreme levels of anxiety that one of our kids has, it was a stressful, difficult morning getting him out the door and into the car. Once they had gone I left the house to rush for train.

Being January it was cold and a little icy, but I had a train to catch.

So I rushed down the lane in our village and then boom, just like that, I slipped on a patch of ice, a snap and sharp pain later, I broke my leg and ankle.

Well, that changed my whole outlook for the year.

I ended up having to have 3 months away from work.

During that time there was significant changes to my team and the leadership team around me. My challenge of making the most of some changes to our leadership team went out the window.

But I didn’t dwell on the negative – I focused on improving me.

I set up my own company to follow my passion of helping people and organisations transform.

I shared more of my photography.

I created a personal improvement plan to be a better me.

And I created an improvement plan for my team with their direct input (collated virtually via my tools).


During the last 12 months I have made progress on implementing all of these parts.

  • Burning Leaf Creatives has successfully helped more than 8 companies to grow and develop, including 5 new companies set up by an inspirational founder.
  • My photography has gone down well – and I published a book of photos from my village.
  • I feel that I have become a better me – although that’s a harder one to judge myself!

But the team development plan hasn’t really developed.

We had three members of the team leave during the last 12 months for personal reasons. This has made it difficult to implement the changes that I, and the team, identified.

However, today that all changed.

A new beginning

On the anniversary of the break, I have spent most of today onboarding two new members of the team.

And I have been able to recruit them myself – only the third time I have been able to do that.

I have also been solely in charge of their onboarding process, which I have done in my own style.

Onboarding, Michael-style

Both started this morning at 9am.

Both were then taken straight to get their ID badges and security passes.

Both were then shown to their desks which had been cleaned and checked to make sure they work.

Welcome pack cover

And then both were given personalised welcome packs.

The packs, which had a cover similar to this, contained the following essential information:

  • Briefing about who we are and what we do
  • An introduction to the team
  • Structure charts
  • Map of the building
  • ‘You are allowed’ poster
  • Passwords and login details for their accounts
  • Initial priorities and tasks

All of which was customised to them.

Understanding them

About me template

I also enclosed an ‘About me’ sheet to capture details about them to populate our new design manual, which I have recently developed.

Following an hour or two of allowing them to log in to the system, read through their packs and the design manual, I then met with each of them individually to:

  • Get to know them better
  • Talk through their priorities
  • Talk about our culture and working style

And then I asked them to identify their Superpower using the SYPartners tool, which, amazingly, is now available as an app for free via the App Store and Google Play!

I use this information to identify the key strength that they bring into the team so that:

  1. I can ensure that they can use this strength in their day-to-day work so that they feel valued
  2. I can ensure that the team benefits from this strength

Amazingly I was able to guess one of their superpowers and the other one I was very close to guessing. More evidence that I had appointed the right people.

Moving forward

In the afternoon we finished with a new team briefing where we completed our teamsteps tool to help us keep the team aligned, informed and help us measure our progress.

I’ve also re-committed to my leadership intention for 2017 which was to –

“Inspire the soul of each individual in my team”

In 2018 I will.png

Here’s to progress.

unsplash-logoDavid Werbrouck
Continue reading “Reflecting forward”

A review 2017

As we say goodbye to 2017 and usher in 2018, I might not make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do like to reflect – so, I am going to join those who are reflecting on their year.

By reflecting, which for me is an ongoing activity, I am able to analyse a previous experience and learn about how I can improve my approach and myself – a key element of my WHY.

So, here is a reflection of  my 2017.

My top posts

I’ll start with a review of the performance of this website, after you, you are reading this blog post on my website. 

I set this website up in 2015 as a way of inspiring others by telling my story, my thoughts and sharing things that inspire me.

This year I have had more visitors and views on this site than in previous years. Thank you. Every click, read and visit inspires me and keeps the fire inside of me alight.

My top five most viewed posts and pages were:

  1. Find your superpower
  2. Finding my WHY, the start of my journey of self-discovery
  3. The fire in the sky
  4. A transformation agenda – refocusing who we are
  5. Finding my why, understanding who I am

The majority of views have come via a search engine followed by reader and then social media links.

Through my writing I have helped people find out about the awesome and inspiring work of SYPartners and Simon Sinek’s Start With Why movement.

My non-digital life

Away from this website, 2017 has been quite an eventful year for me.

I’ve blogged previously about some of these challenges, changes and developments, but here’s a summary:

Around all of this has been many moments of joy and happiness, trips to the hospital and care services, sadness and stresses, and memories that will last a life time – for me and those who’s lives I am part of.

The impact of the world on me

2017 has also been an eventful year across the globe.

In the UK we’ve had the terrible events at Glenfell and the terror attacks in London and Manchester. My thoughts are always with those affected. I can’t imagine what they have been through and are going through everyday. The moments will live with those affected for ever and, I hope, will be moments which change our country for the better. No longer should cheaper, less safe materials be used in social housing to save money. Those who cannot afford to purchase or rent a private home should never be put at risk because of money. I hope that Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester response can inspire others in how we as a country, and the whole of mankind, respond to those who target us and want to spread hate.

Talking of those spreading hate.

In the States, the 45th President was inaugurated – and wow, what a year that’s been! As a local government officer I have to be politically neutral so this comment is not a political comment. Its about the President himself. His approach goes against everything I believe in. He’s hateful, divisive and just not a presidential figure. I don’t even know what his policies are because I can’t get past him. Bring back Obama, a proper presidential figure.

Talking of hate…there is North Korea, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Myanmar and numerous attacks by the so called Islamic State across the globe.

In the US there has been more gun crime, but still no new laws on gun control.

Climate change has continued to hit the world hard.

We have seen the deaths of some entertainment greats, no more so, than Sir Bruce Forsyth. May he always sparkle in the stars.

On the plus side, 2018 has brought some positive, awesome moments.

Across the globe human and civil rights have been gaining momentum. Through social media, humankind have been able to come together to continue the #BlackLivesMatter movement, with #TakeAKnee and #BoycottNFL joining the movement.

#MeToo has helped shed a light on the disgusting behaviour of men who have abused their position of trust and/or power.

A 22 year old UK blogger halted spread of global ransomware cyber-attack by accidentally identifying “kill switch”.

The Australian Senate passed a same-sex marriage bill, finally.

There’s news that scientists have been able to rebreed sections of the Great Barrier Reef, and the new Amazon headquarters will include space to shelter 200 homeless people.

AIDS is no longer leading cause of death in Africa.

Sir David Attenborough returned to our screens with Blue Planet II.

And back in the UK, the tragedies of Glenfell and the terror attacks in London and Manchester have shown how communities can come together to spread love, positivity and stand up to those who challenge us and our way of lives.

I hope that as we continue to commemorate the First World War Centenary during 2018 we will learn from our past to shape a better future for all.  

Looking forward, my goals for 2018

Yesterday I wrote about my personal goal for 2018 – to learn how to build an app.

I’m also going to continue to grow my own company whilst supporting the new leadership team in my main employment to transform our services for the benefit of the residents who we serve.

I’m also going to continue my journey of self-discovery to find and articulate my WHY.

Finding My Why, an admission

I made a commitment in September to do this openly and honestly through this blog.

I’m well aware that I haven’t stuck to this commitment.

When it came to actually writing the first part – the stories – it was actually harder than I thought.

I’ve spent time thinking about the stories, how I tell them, and the order that I tell them in.

But its been harder than I imagined. That’s why there has been such a delay between sharing my commitment and actually posting the stories.

Writing the stories to help you understand my emotions just with words rather than seeing the spark in my eye, a shift in my body language or an emotional response in my face is difficult.

However, what I actually found harder than I expected though, was publicly sharing these stories. When you do this with a trusted individual as David and Peter suggest, or part of your work tribe, the information shared is only available to those who hear it. And as you’ve picked someone you trust to help you, they are unlikely to share it any wider. However, putting it out via this blog means that everybody can read it – my friends and family, people who may not like me, future employers, the whole world. Honestly, this has scared me a little.

But if I am to live what I think is my WHY, I am going to follow through with my commitment to you all, and to me.

That’s my third goal for 2018.

Here’s to progress.