Prune

Image result for pruned tree

Not the dried plum, the act of cutting back.  To prune.

to cut or lop off (twigs, branches, or roots)
to cut or lop superfluous or undesired twigs, branches, or roots from; trim
to rid or clear of (anything superfluous or undesirable)
to remove (anything considered superfluous or undesirable)

1400–50; late Middle English prouynen < Middle French proognier to prune (vines), variant of provigner, derivative of provain scion (< Latin propāgin-, stem of propāgō; see propagate)

This is the time of year to prune.  Prune your fruit trees.  Cut back on your finances.  Economise.  Review your insurance, your direct debits, your outgoings.  Choke off the losses.  Lose weight.  Focus on the framework, the fundamentals, review your career.  Springclean your home, clear out the built up dross.

In Chinese Feng Shui the rule is clear, if your career is stalled clear out your attic.

Slash your friends list on social media.  Kill off the lampreys.  This is the time to prune.  Slim down for the year ahead.

Do it.

Do it.

Do it now.

 

Mirror in February ; by Thomas Kinsella

The day dawns, with scent of must and rain,
of opened soil, dark trees, dry bedroom air.
Under the fading lamp, half dressed – my brain
idling on some compulsive fantasy –
I towel my shaven jaw and stop, and stare,
riveted by a dark exhausted eye,
a dry downturning mouth.

It seems again that it is time to learn,
in this untiring, crumbling place of growth
to which, for the time being, I return.
Now plainly in the mirror of my soul
I read that I have looked my last on youth
and little more; for they are not made whole
that reach the age of Christ.

Below my window the wakening trees,
hacked clean for better bearing, stand defaced
suffering their brute necessities;
and how should the flesh not quail, that span for span
is mutilated more? In slow distaste
I fold my towel with what grace I can,
not young, and not renewable, but man.

Who Knows?

nose

We’ve all been there.  You can feel that THING growing in your nose.  You feel your nose swell up.  It is hot.  The skin is tight, stretched and painful.  When you rub your finger over it you can feel the thing, turgid, massive, disfiguring.  It must be on the point of exploding!  You can feel everyone looking at you.  The disgust in their faces.  You must look like Quasimodo at this stage….

Then you get to a mirror and……. where is it?  You can’t see anything.  Oh, well if you look really close it’s obvious, but just nothing like as big and disfiguring as it feels.  This has been impacting on you all morning.  You are full sure everyone was staring at your face.  But now you know it was all in your imagination.

Some things are like that.  Some physical attributes or character traits can dominate your life.  You are full sure that everyone can spot them and that they are judging you for those traits.  But often you are wrong.  Nobody even notices the things that cause you so much angst.  Those are not your real problem.

The real problems are the character traits and bad habits that you carry which are not on your radar, but are impacting on your life.  There are things we do without noticing that can severely impact on how others behave around us, and the opportunities opened to us.

I have seen people eat their meals with mouth wide open and half chewed food on display for all to see, with small flecks of their meal spraying freely across the table onto everybody else, on their clothes, on their food.  These are people who come from a family of open mouth eaters who are unaware of the impact it has on others.  They wonder why the boss did not bring them to dinner with an important client and why Dave, the junior analyst who chews with his lips together was tapped for the best contract of the year.

Personal habits are things we need to be aware of.  We need to be very aware of them in business situations.  Personal hygiene and grooming.  Clean and ironed clothes.  Down to polished shoes.

Habits that can drive others insane.  Noises such as constant tapping on tables, kicking chairs, sniffing, coughing and sneezing relentlessly.  Talking loudly on the phone, talking loudly on the mobile phone while walking up and down the office.

Selfish or inconsiderate usage of common facilities.  Leaving toilets in a disgraceful state.  Cooking smoked fish in the office microwave.  Leaving dirty dishes on your desk.  Stealing (borrowing) other peoples food. Regularly asking to borrow money.

Personal traits are a big issue.  You may come from a family that settles disputes by shouting at each other.  You can’t bring that to the office.  Nor can you ghost your boss and give colleagues the silent treatment.  Aggressive or over assertive behaviours were accepted back in the 1970’s or 80’s but not any more.  Passive-aggressive behaviours have endured, but do you no favours.

The big problem with all of these traits and habits is that normal polite people are reluctant to take you aside and tell you that you have a problem.  They will try to ignore it, or drop vague hints that fly totally over your head.  Your career stagnates, or goes into reverse, and you have no clue why.

I once attended a week long residential Executive Communications Workshop (Grid Management Training) where the week concluded with everyone being rated objectively by their peers.  It was a fantastic opportunity to hold a mirror up to myself and see how I was perceived by a room of strangers.

From “An Essay on Man: Epistle II” by Alexander Pope

I.
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of mankind is man.
Plac’d on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise, and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the stoic’s pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a god, or beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reas’ning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little, or too much:
Chaos of thought and passion, all confus’d;
Still by himself abus’d, or disabus’d;
Created half to rise, and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl’d:
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!

10 Steps to Happiness

These 10 simple steps are proven to be effective and will change your life forever.

They are courtesy of Professor Richard Wiseman and his excellent book “:59 seconds; Think a little Change a lot”.

  1.  Every week you should rate your week and write down 3 things that went well.  This will improve your happiness and your health for the next month.  I hope it is a cumulative effect.
  2. Carry a cute baby photo in your wallet (read the book to know why)
  3. Hang a mirror in your kitchen.  When you can see yourself eating, you eat better food and you eat less.
  4. Put a pot plant in your office.  It boosts creativity and reduces stress.
  5. Touch people on the upper arm when you ask them to do something and they are more likely to do it.  But read the book because you can get this one very wrong!  Think “Sexual Harassment” suit!
  6. Write about your relationship and you will make it stronger.  If you write your thoughts about your relationship on paper, the positive language will leak through when you speak with your partner.
  7. If you think someone is lying, shut your eyes and ask them to send it in an email.
  8. Praise effort, not ability.  Instead of saying “aren’t you a clever boy to get first place” say “you really worked hard to get that first place”.
  9. If you want to reach your goals don’t visualise the goal, visualise the steps to get there.  If you are in a sand trap, don’t visualise the golf ball going into the cup, visualise your stroke lifting the ball out of the sand and on to the green.
  10. Write your obituary.  When your friends speak at your funeral, what will they say you did?  If you are not happy with the material, now is the time to change it.  This is how Alfred Nobel moved from making Dynamite to giving prizes for Science and Peace.

The time Before Death; by Kabir

Friend, hope for the Guest while you are alive.

Jump into experience while you are alive!

Think… and think… while you are alive.

What you call “salvation” belongs to the time before death

If you don’t break your ropes while you’re alive,

do you think ghosts will do it after?

The idea that the soul will rejoin with the ecstatic

just because the body is rotten–that is all fantasy.

What is found now is found then.

If you find nothing now,

you will simply end up with an apartment in the City of Death.

if you make love with the divine now, in the next

life you will have the face of satisfied desire.

So plunge into the truth, find out who the Teacher is,

Believe in the Great Sound!

Kabir says this: When the Guest is being searched for,

it is the intensity of the longing for the Guest that

does all the work.

Look at me, and you will see a slave of that intensity.

Moving on

Chateau Magnol - gift box
Left John Player yesterday. Moving on to MCCP.
Had a really nice send-off. The GM Andy Meagher gave a very complimentary speech and the staff presented me with a lovely case of pretty good wine. Sampled one last night, and it is very pleasant. Chateau Magnol 2007 from B&G.
The last big thing we did was to launch JPS Black in the Irish Market. I will be keeping an eye on that one, because I think it has the potential to do great things, albeit in the limited context of one of the most tightly regulated markets in the world.
It will be a relief to get back to bright markets, where I am permitted to communicate with customers. My specialisation is understanding how consumers use products and services to express their own self identity. Having that understanding gives you little, if any advantage, in a dark market.
In recent months I came to realise that my role was becoming more and more focused on sales metrics rather than consumer insight. The time was right to move on. Understanding sales dynamics is well and good, but I don’t want to work long term in sales support.
This morning there was a hard frost. The grass should have stopped growing and the leaves are falling from the trees. It is time to sharpen the secateurs and begin pruning the apple trees. Changing job is the career equivalent to winter pruning for the fruit trees. There is an opportunity to reshape the tree, taking out dead or inefficient branches and making room for the high yield shoots.
So, in the coming weeks I will be examining my own career tree to see what branches need some work, and which ones can be pruned back. I wonder what the new me will look like. I also hope we get some apples next year.

A Song On the End of the World; by Czeslaw Milosz
translated by Anthony Milosz
On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.

On the day the world ends
Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas,
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.

And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels’ trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and the moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.

Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet
Yet is not a prophet, for he’s much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
No other end of the world will there be,
No other end of the world will there be.