Old Fisherman’s Trail Run

This last Saturday was the annual Fisherman’s Trail Run. This year it was the downhill route from Hout Bay through to Fish Hoek. It’s downhill because we spend more time running down than up but considering we start on Hout Bay beach and end on Fish Hoek beach with the small matter of a mountain range in between – downhill was perhaps not the best description.

We were blessed with fantastic weather. It’s always good to have a gentle breeze pushing us up  the mountain paths which was the case up Blackburn Ravine. I haven’t done that route before so it was quite mentally tough as it kept going and I wasn’t sure where the top was. I linked up with Kobus a friend from our CRAG running group and we made our way up the winding path.

It was a relief to get to the top and start the decline down to Silvermine. We unfortunately missed a turn at the dam and ended up doing an extra kilometer as we ran back to the checkpoint to get our passport checked. From there we crossed Ou Kaapse Weg and then made our way up Klein Tuinkop above Kalk Bay before dropping down into Echo Valle, Boyes Drive and around the corner to Fish Hoek.

As I left Fish Hoek the cold front that had been lurking came in and we hit rain as we made our way back to Hout Bay to pick up our cars. I’ve included the Google Earth file and an aerial picture of the route.

Learning from Africa

Alex Lindsay was in town a couple of weeks ago and I got to do my tourist thing taking him around the Peninsula. I was really impressed with his vision for Pixel Corps and the project he is busy with in Zimbabwe. You can follow his journey at http://alexlindsay.vox.com/.

One of the most interesting things was his view that the people who do all those amazing Zimbabwean rock sculptures are so skilled that they can sit down in front of a computer and be modeling 3D images in a couple of days. It really struck me as such useful connection between 1st and 3rd world.

It also challenged me to think about other ways in which we can learn from African traditions. One of the most obvious is of course in the executive coaching field. I remember years ago sitting one evening with a local tribe in Namibia. We all sat in a circle drinking Mohango Beer as each person told their stories of the day, their trials and tribulations and a conversation was held to support the person.

In our world we sit down one to one and do the same thing only we call it coaching and we do it for money. The commoditising of the process is a good reflection of the world we live in – not good or bad – just that things of value need to be represented by money and packeged in a way to fit our fast moving world – ‘confirming our next session, 8h30 on the 13th’ has replaced a timeless conversation at the end of the day with the African sun setting in the distance.

The world changes and it stays the same.

Playing to your strengths

One of the things I have really enjoyed learning about in my executive coaching has been positive psychology and in particular Gallup’s Strengthsfinder. I recently wrote an article on the Performance Zone site which looks at focusing on strengths for business and sports people.

The most amazing thing for me was a 1925 study which inspired Gallup’s initial research. The study was conducted by Elizabeth Hurlock and was published in the journal of Education Psychology. In a very controlled study she found that students who were praised for their good work in a maths class improved performance by 71%, in comparison to to only 19% improvement in the group that was criticized.

Based on that research, Gallup came up with the hypothesis:

Both individuals and organisations have more potential for growth in areas of strength than in areas of weakness.

My experience both with executive clients and with my young children and family members is that this is true. What is challenging is that it so often feels easier to find fault than to find all the positives. But then finding the positives is a lot more fun. I’m fortunate in that my coach and mentor, Richard Oxtoby, is such a powerful model of this.

If you’re interested in more information about Strengthsfinder and how to take the test to see what your top strengths are then you can find more details about the book and the test at Amazon.