I’ve been a business mentor for many years.

Shaun invited me to add some of my thoughts to the Thompson Balch website and I am delighted to do so and meet you all.  So who is this woman with the funny name and what is her take on the world? I trade as Elizabeth Toogood Insightful Business Mentor but what does that mean?

I am a businesswoman of mature years – well old really! I have been working for over 50 years having started at 12 with my mother in her wine shop. My career proper began in road transport and has spanned retail, motor retailing and consulting in both big limited companies, privately owned businesses and my own businesses. If you want to know more then get in touch and I will tell you some of the stories of crises, chutzpah, strikes and serendipitous events. I am now a business mentor helping people develop their enterprises effectively to deliver whatever outcomes they aim for.

My shorthand is this “ Helping you and your business grow. Together we find your focus and craft the plan to build your success. Together we’ll create your legend, we’ll make it a reality”.

Of course, this is different depending on the circumstances but let’s unpick this.

01234 273644 / 07968 822275

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The Unexpected

It is November.
Children are back at school after half term and starting to think about Christmas. Let’s hope Father Christmas has good supply chains and can meet all those aspirations for presents. Mums and Dads are hoping their supply chains for turkey and wine will hold together but maybe no one is too worried if Brussel sprouts are scarce.
The trees are beautiful colours and all the fallen leaves seem to be in my garden either blowing about or getting stuck to the car’s windshield. And it is the time of year when some of us leave home for work in the dark and come home in the dark. The world is going to sleep to re-awake in the spring.

All sorts of unusual things have been happening to me this month and it has made me think very seriously about living in the moment.
Like most mentors, management consultants and coaches I spend much of my time encouraging people to plan ahead and make contingency plans for possible curved balls. I live by these rules myself and so my diary is the key tool in achieving what I want in the next year. Everything is in it. I doubt if I would know my name without my Filofax – yes, really I still use paper.

The woman is a Luddite you are thinking. Not so. I have had electronic diaries and found they do not meet my needs. They are great if you want people to have access to a booking system but not if you want to keep control in your own hands. Worse still in some internal diary systems people can see who else you are meeting and I hate the disrespect this shows for confidentiality. OK there are all sorts of ways around it but I like paper for another reason. It allows me to plan thinking time, the proper amount of preparation time and time to follow up on what happened in the meeting. To use a familiar example for us all there is no point appearing at a networking meeting just as everyone is sitting down or disappearing before the end without allowing for those wonderful, serendipitous meetings that so often lead to business. There is also no point going at all if you don’t make the connections or do the proper follow up afterwards.
So I like paper. I also know that writing – yes, real writing not typing uses a different part of the brain and initiates thinking.
However this month all this was taken away from me.
I have to go into the hospital for a procedure that is fairly straightforward and not life-threatening. However, because of the nature of the wound, it requires one week of bed rest and then two weeks not doing anything energetic including sitting too long in one position or driving. I have done this twice before and it is easy it just requires careful planning of work, charity stuff and my social life. This time I even decided it was a great opportunity to have the hall of my bungalow tiled and decorated.
There is a saying People plan and God laughs. I do believe God has a sense of humour but She is not cruel. So when the first date for the procedure in September was changed for medical reasons I grovelled to all those in my life who were affected and reorganised everything for October. The day came. I packed and waited for my transport only to receive a phone call saying that the hospital had no bed for me (Covid pressure). Now I do not know what you do when it feels like your life has fallen apart. There was no one to blame which was probably just as well. I screamed and shouted and then went out and drove, too fast with Bruce Springsteen booming out. A couple of wonderful friends listened to me moan about the vicissitudes of life – ranting once was not enough you understand.

So why am I sharing all this?
Firstly to suggest we all need a way to get rid of this type of anger. Life can bowl unexpected balls at us. The resultant rage does no good to anyone least of all yourself. All that cortisol coursing through your veins is massively destructive. I am not suggesting my way is the best way it just works for me. What works for you?
Secondly to say replanning is not a disaster. Some things work out better as a result. Serendipity can be a wonderful thing and the universe opens up unthought-of opportunities because some other element in life’s jigsaw changes. There is space for something new. People are wondering if you explain that for the second time you have to ask them to change their plans, they will. The level of goodwill and sympathy is heart-warming.

Thirdly and most importantly to say that to have some time which is not committed is a great gift. To go out in the fresh air, to look at the sunshine glittering on the water of the lake, to talk with people in an unhurried way and to think idly about the future is wonderful. Not to be hurried but to savour the moment is actually very relaxing and restorative. We hear so much about mindfulness but to have time to practice it properly is a phenomenal experience. I am not sure how I will take this forward but I am going to because it makes a difference.
When I get my new admission date and can plan again for those three weeks of enforced idleness I intend to look at it differently, as the gift it is. I also look forward to finally getting my hall tiled and decorated!

If as you read this and it resonates with you then please take time to live in the moment; if you like my ideas and values; if you want to develop your business or yourself; then please give me a call. I love speaking with people, off the meter, to help them explore possibilities and whether/how to take them forward. If you want an objective view of how things are in your business pick up the phone now and let’s have a chat.

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