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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Davies

Back In The Saddle

School didn't start back until Tuesday this week for Harper, so I decided to extend my Christmas holidays until then to enjoy the extra time with her. She's still at an age where she seems to enjoy hanging out with her dad, so I'm clinging onto that with my fingernails for as long as I can! We had a cinema date, went up north to spend a few days with my parents and did some of her other favourite things, before she got her schoolbag packed and I dug out my notebook ready to get stuck into 2024!

Reading has always been a big thing for me, but one of the things I've noticed over the last couple of years has been that I've developed a habit of starting a book and then getting distracted by the new shiny book that I see on a shelf or have recommended to me, and so rather than stopping a book because I'm not enjoying it, I jump onto the next one because its topical or exciting. That's left me with a trail of books which I've started and not finished and there's something of a mental drag that I find is created when I leave anything unfinished, whether it be a task or a book. Thankfully, since I was gifted a Kindle by my wife for my birthday in 2014, I have kept a spreadsheet of every book I've read which has a section for those 'in progress' so I've begun the year by diligently working my way through that, without opening any new ones, and it's quite a gratifying feeling, getting back into some great books and seeing that list shrink!

Highlights so far have been Nancy Klein's More Time to Think (an excellent book if you're a coach or leader or just someone looking to develop your ability to create a thinking environment for the people around you) and The Thriving Child by Dr William Stixrud and Ned Johnson (a really interesting book on parenting which is giving me lots to think about in terms of how we support Harper now and in the future) and, of course, there's a little bit of fiction in there, so a shout out goes to Arthur Conan Doyles The Hound of the Baskervilles! For a man who shoots up cocaine at his desk, Sherlock Holmes certainly solves a lot of crimes! Those stories are always worth a read!

Lots more to get through so I'll be sure to keep sharing the best of them as I tick them off the list. I've always set myself a target of 52 books a year, however I'm yet to reach that. 39 last year but 2024 has started well so this could be the one!

Getting set up for the year is an interesting time that holds a lot of promise. I spent plenty of the holiday reflecting on where 2023 had gone well and where I'd like to see things go differently this year, so it's now all about putting the necessary habits and routines into place and building processes to make sure that happens. One thing I thought about a lot is that while my blogs are well read and I feel they give a good sense of who I am, they probably don't give much of a sense of exactly the type of work I do, what that looks like and the problems that I can help people solve, so the plan is to do a bit more of that in 2024. It came sharply to mind when I was sitting around the kitchen table in my parent's home last week and my sister-in-law was asking about what I actually do. "Are you, like, a motivational speaker?" Well, I do like to motivate those I work with, certainly, and I've done a bit of that in my time, but it's not a core offering - but if my own family aren't clear on what I do, there's probably some work to do in that area!!

I've been incredibly fortunate that the bulk of the opportunities I've had in the first two and a half years of running my own business have come from existing contacts and via word of mouth, either from people I know (sometimes from my previous corporate life and sometimes from outside of work) or from having done a piece of work for someone and their taking the opportunity to tell someone else about it. I'm incredibly grateful for that and in order to help it continue, I'll share some of the examples over the year of ways in which I've helped clients. That should let you, as my readers, identify challenges that you or people you know are facing, to give you an idea of whether I can help!

One of the first pieces of work this year sees me on the road visiting a client I've worked with now for about 15 months. They approached me having identified a lack of consistency in terms of how effectively people across their business communicated with one another, how they overcame conflict and how they negotiated and influenced. A lot of these things start with good listening and asking great questions which are important core skills for all of us. I designed them a really practical, interactive one-day workshop which I've delivered now twelve times with lots more in the diary, and the feedback has been excellent. If you know of a team or a business who struggle with that kind of thing, be sure to give me a shout!

Anyway, all that remains to do here is to wish you all a Happy New Year (I think it's still early enough to say that!) and say that I hope it brings you all the joy and love and success that you're hoping for. Thanks for reading, as always, and I'll see you in the next one!

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