A new venture to start a new week: Im on the 07.20 train out of Crewe
for London Euston, only its already running 10 minutes late, which does
not bode well (especially remembering last Fridays homeward 18.33 which
arrived one and a half hours late at Crewe). I dont commute as such,
but living in rural south Cheshire with a client base spread far and wide,
I do a lot of travelling. I prefer the train as I can work, and I believe
firmly in the essential value of an efficient public transport system. In
theory, it uses my time to good effect, but since last October
The trip to London today is to attend an induction day for new non-executive
Board appointees to a range of government Agencies: Im a new girl. It
would be a tube strike day! I fear I may need to walk from Euston to Victoria
and back again after. Anyway, I can use the train journey to read the briefing
papers for the day having already digested the 1998 White Paper on
Integrated Transport on last weeks train journeys.
Well, the train did all right - only a few minutes late arriving. And in
contrast to the tales of woe from other appointees once we all arrived at
the DETR, I just stepped onto a tube train and was at Victoria almost an hour
early. Life is full of surprises. I used the time to make some useful calls
from the mobile phone, something of a necessity for such a mobile life-style.
The days business was fascinating and I perceive a real learning curve
to climb to come up to speed and make a real contribution to my new Board
for the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA). Now Im homeward bound; the
Victoria Line served me equally well in returning to Euston, and I just made
the 16.33 train home, amazingly earlier than Id anticipated. Ive
concluded some notes about the day, and then honed an article Ive written
about one aspect of my work for a local newspapers business pages. I
have a briefcase full of paperwork, including development of the first draft
of a CV for a client, but I feel suddenly very sleepy: must be the hectic
weekend looking after house-guests catching up with me. Think Ill just
Tuesday: its 08.30 and Ive just hung out the weeks washing.
Now Im in my office ready to work. As a self-employed consultant focusing
on personal and professional development for my clients, my base is a small,
bright and rather tidy office which opens out from a north-facing conservatory
at the back of my home. The large window looks down the garden and across
open fields, and today the sun is sparkling (get thee behind me Satan, tempting
me to go out and play!). I try to be office-based on alternative weeks, but
am not always able to stick to that, and I seem to be travelling more and
more these days. Hmm, I must practise what I preach and make sure I keep a
healthy balance in my lifestyle.
I have been conducting two surveys for one of my clients. They hope to build
up a view over time of course provision from the engineering academic community,
and there are two areas of course provision to examine. I have done the data
crunching and structured the documents, and this is the week that Ive
set aside to write both reports, with a deadline to post them by close of
play on Thursday. Yesterdays jaunt into London has eaten into the time
allocated. Crack on and see what happens.
Well, so far so good. Just had a sandwich lunch, but must now concentrate
for some hours on moving forward a project for another client. This is an
initiative, funded by the Gatsby Charitable Trust, to provide bursaries to
engineers who need a programme of technical and leadership development to
qualify for registration as Incorporated Engineers. I am the Project Co-ordinator.
We are currently in the process of assessing applications and Im planning
the short-listing meeting. A date is set for two weeks time, and at
the moment I have additional information arriving from individuals in support
of their applications. If I dont put in some time on this now the paperwork
will get out of hand.
Its 17.30 and Im settling in to do a couple more hours on the
reports before my partner arrives home from a day out with one of his clients
(yes, he is also a self-employed consultant, specialising in business development).
Then we need to eat - or should we go to the gym?
Wednesday 08.15. No, we didnt get to the gym; partner was later home
than expected; trouble on the M6. We were both jaded, so we just ate and talked
about the days business and forward plans, and he proof-read my first
draft of the first report. I now have to acknowledge to myself that both reports
are not going to be complete by tomorrow evenings last post. Press on
now and talk with the client as soon as his office opens.
The time is 18.45. The client beat me to it this morning, calling to talk
about progress. He agreed to a compromise: complete one report today to post
first thing tomorrow and the second by the end of the day on Friday. That
would suit his needs and I can achieve it realistically. What a relief! Now
Ive finished report number one, the final version is printed and the
copies bound and enveloped with a covering letter. So tonight we are off to
the gym, partner to work-out, me for a long swim. Im stiff and mind-dead
from all the computer work, my lap-top is not too good for this sort of work
although ideal for when Im travelling about. In January we agreed a
new computer policy for 2001, but Ive been too busy to research new
hardware and put the plan into action. Now where have I heard that before?
Thursday. Up early and Im already in the office, going through small
but urgent tasks so that my mind can then concentrate on the second report.
It includes sending a get-well card to a client who had to cancel a recent
coaching meeting due to illness. I make a note to call her once she is back
to work to arrange to meet. And now on with the report. I must go to the post
office when it opens and send the package for guaranteed next day delivery.
Its 14.00. Im eating a sandwich, and writing this whilst watching
two young men carry sections of the new garden shed down the length of the
garden and out of sight behind the shrubbery. We ordered an 8 x 10 foot shed
to be made by a small local firm, and they are erecting it on the base which
my partner and I laid a couple of weekends ago. Weve only been in the
house since last summer, and since then the garage has been full the usual
paraphernalia. We now need the space to bring the classic car home (currently
wintering in Mums garage, along with LOTS of second hand spares). Its
my partners beloved Old Lady, a 1957 Sunbeam Talbot . We enjoy taking
her out on sedate summer rallies, and I exercise my navigation skills. A technical
background (I started my working life as a mechanical engineer) always comes
in handy. All this is to explain the need for a larger than average garden
shed to store the garage contents. Ill just give the young men a cup
of tea and press on with the report, trying not to be distracted by the growth
of the shed.
Ive just stopped for the day early: at 5 pm. We are going to the RSA
at Dean Clough, Halifax, for an evening lecture and dinner. The evening is
entitled "Spanning the Millennium Years", which intrigued me. Now
Im thinking that I havent the time to go, but partner says it
will do me good to lift my head for a while and get things into perspective,
and I know he is right.
Friday 08.00. What an inspiring evening it was! The two speakers were Sir
Stuart Hampson and Sir Ernest Hall. Sir Stuart spoke about the organisational
ethos of the John Lewis Partnership, where the "employees" are the
owners or partners of the business. People come first partners and
customers. It is a pity that more organisations arent such positive
places to work and grow in.
Sir Ernest took as his thesis the importance of giving individuals the confidence
to be able to achieve anything they want in life. He believes that most of
us at an early age erect tightly constraining barriers which prevent us reaching
our full potential, from being told that we "cant do" this,
that or the other. He feels that throughout their lives, people must be encouraged
and supported, told that they are doing well, not slapped down and told they
are stupid or discouraged from trying new things.
I sat there feeling really positive, knowing that much of my work involves
supporting individuals to strive towards their full potential. I feel as if
I am in the right place at the right time. The dinner afterwards was a good
opportunity to network and learn from new acquaintances. And the downside
of the evening? Ah, yes
bed at 01.15, after a moonlit drive home over
the Pennines from Halifax.
But now Im keen to complete the home stretch on the final report! 18.20 and Ive hardly stopped all day; sandwich lunch after a brisk walk up to the post box, just to get my circulation going, to post cheque for neglected gas bill.
One glitch early afternoon: had a phone call from a colleague on the Gatsby
project to say that he cannot now make the scheduled short-list meeting. We
need a full complement of four, so back to the diaries. It cant wait
till Monday, so I quickly sent e-mails to the panellists giving a range of
possible new dates and asking for urgent replies. I then phoned the Royal
Mail and they confirmed that my report package was delivered safely this morning.
And back to the report. Ive finished. My partner arrived back from
a client meeting middle of the day, just in time to proof-read the draft document.
So I made final changes and printed the report and all its annexes, and now
the bound copies are with a letter parcelled up ready to take to the post
office first thing in the morning. Ive just time to check that there
are no time-bombs left over from the week before going for a relaxing swim
to wind down for the weekend.
My partner tells me that he stopped off briefly to visit our neighbour from
the previous home, a wonderful lady now in her 80s, and he told her all about
our RSA evening. It struck a chord with her, and she related to him that one
of her teachers all those years ago had a routine way of dealing with any
child who said "cant" to a challenge. Teachers maxim
was "Take the "T" off it. Make it "CAN"". Doesnt
that just say it all, Sir Ernest?
We are planning a lazy weekend. Im away on business for much of the
next week, so we have designated Sunday as our Valentines Day and are
going to Liverpool to explore the Tate Gallery at the Albert Docks as a treat.
Help, Ive found the time-bomb: that uncompleted CV for the client. The swim will have to wait for another hour!
© Diane Davy 2001