A fortnightly blog

For those who have a keen eye and like a routine, you might have noticed that I didn’t write a post to my blog last week and it was the first time in almost 6 months that I hadn’t.  But I made the decision that I would start to post once every fortnight, for two main reasons.  Firstly, I am getting incredibly busy.  I wanted to make myself busier.  To set new goals and challenges and to make a positive difference to those who suffer from cancer.  I think I am doing that.  But with it I have made myself incredibly busy and almost everyday I am off there is something scheduled.  I am definitely not complaining about that because in a way that is what I really wanted.  But finding the time to write a blog post the last few weeks has been hard.  Secondly I don’t want this blog to become boring or repetitive.  It is an opportunity for me to convey to you the things that I am doing, the experiences I am having and how I view the world.  I want to keep it positive and current and I want it to be something that people take something from.  So I made the decision last week to turn to a post once every fortnight and I hope that will help me out with the two things I have just mentioned.

As I said, I am unbelievably busy.  Climbing my munros has taken a total backseat at the minute as my focus on running is becoming absolute.  The Stirling Marathon is next month and I know it is going to be one of the hardest physical things I have ever done in my life.  Getting the final few weeks prep done right is becoming more and more evident to me.  So for the next few weeks I will be doing a lot of running with a few easy bike rides in between just to spin the legs.

I am at the same time very conscious that the North Coast 500 will be upon me extremely quickly and that is probably going to top the marathon as the hardest physical thing I have ever done!  Most of the planning and booking for that is done now with a few more overnight stays needing to be finalised but that should be done this week.  We are looking into the possibility of getting a cycling kit made up with logos in order to bring attention to the challenge as we are doing it.  It will mean that I can help promote it as I am out on my bike prior to and following the event.  hopefully that helps raise awareness and get some more people on board with what I am trying to achieve.

This past week I have been looking along with a colleague of mine Steve, at getting some cycling kit made up for wearing whilst training and whilst taking on the NC500.  Hopefully it will help draw some attention to the challenge and spread the word a little further.  The email has been sent to the company and we have got a quote back for getting the kit made.  So once their graphic designer have transferred the designs and its all confirmed we should have some nice shiny kit coming our way!

A challenge in its self that in a way I never really quantified was all of the different challenges I have taken on and the different disciplines that are involved.   I can’t just prepare for the marathons and not do any cycling because my legs wouldn’t be able to pedal right on the bike.  Balancing the training I am doing whilst still preparing properly for each event is super difficult.  It would be much easier if I was just running or just cycling.  But I like a challenge and I guess I gave myself another one without realising.

Another injection was needed this week to make sure my vaccinations are all up to date for work.  That meant another dreaded trip to Aberdeen to get jabbed in the arm with a needle.  Aberdeen is a great city, but getting jabbed with a needle is pretty much my least favourite thing to do in the world!  But hey, I now need it for work and it means that I am good vaccine wise to travel anywhere in the world which is a good thing to know.  Work have a contract with ‘Charles Michies’ so we go to their travel clinic to be kept up to date.  It was a day out to Aberdeen so I guess there is a positive in there somewhere.  I’m getting better at the whole needle business though that’s for sure. A top tip: If you don’t like something, do it a lot!

IMG_1224.JPG

May is shaping up to be possibly the busiest month of the year for me so far.  I am flying on the 1st to Bristol to visit family who live in Swindon which is something I have been wanting to do for a while now and I am really looking forward to it.  I will be down there from the Monday to Friday flying back to Edinburgh on the 5th.  I will be home for the weekend and then on the 8th I will be travelling down to Hampshire for an exercise with the UKISAR team.  The exercise will last 3 days before we travel back up the road on the 12th.  I’ll then get a couple days break before I will be back in to work.

I have meetings with a couple different schools about the possibility of going to speak with their senior pupils about my challenge and all of the things that I am getting up to.  I really like sharing my experiences with people and allowing people to understand why I end up doing the things that I do.  I think it’s important to share knowledge and experience and essential that is passed onto the next generation of you adults who will so leave school in to the big bad world where they will have to find their feet.  I like to think that I take opportunities when they are given to me and that I work hard to make sure that I achieve them.  Too many people don’t take opportunities when they are given them and their lives could be incredibly different if they took a little more risk and really went for things.  At least that is my opinion and I think I might have said it before.

The next few weeks are certainly going to be busy.  But I am looking forward to the challenge.

“I’m not afraid of dying, I’m afraid of not cramming as much into my life as I should’ve done” – Stephen Sutton

 I hope you all have a great easter!

J.

Advertisements

I ran the Inverness Half Marathon!

img_0984.jpgWe are finally underway.  On Saturday I travelled to Inverness with two of my colleagues ahead of the half marathon on Sunday.  I am very happy to say that I made it to the end and managed to receive a medal to prove it! The journey up was nice and easy with no problems.  There is still definitely a number of people who take crazy risks on the A9 though despite the average speed cameras being in operation.  There was some unbelievable overtaking manoeuvres which I really couldn’t believe I was seeing.  But apart from some numpties on the road it was an uneventful journey up.  Massive thanks must go to Davie and Richard – two of my colleagues who ran the event with me and were a great support! Cheers guys!

Before the event began we had to register at the Inverness sports centre.  Registration couldn’t have been any easier and all credit must go to the organisers because everything really did run extremely smoothly. We had a while to wait between registering and the event beginning at 12.30 but that was certainly no ones fault.  I know for a fact that I set off far too quick and I really paid for that towards the end.  But it’s easy done at the start I think.  Everyone is desperate to get going and in all honesty, the vast amount of people taking part were club runners who were out to set the absolute best times possible.  For me, my time wasn’t the biggest deal in the world.  I don’t think it will be for many, if not all of the events that I take part in.  I am doing them to try and raise money for a fantastic charity and I want to enjoy myself as I do them.  Given how many events I have on the calendar currently and the likelihood that I will add more to them I think it is important that I do my best to enjoy them.  One thing I know for sure however, the Stirling Marathon is going to be a big test – as much mentally as it will be physically.

There was a great atmosphere around Inverness during the event and I think in some ways it helped me round the course.  There is always times where you have to dig deep and the fact there were so many out cheering the runners on was great to see.  My training runs are going to have to now get into some serious distances in the build up to the Stirling marathon.  Hopefully there is an event before then which I would be able to take part in.  If there is, I really want to get involved with it.

Following on from Inverness I was back in to work on Tuesday.  My body was without a doubt sore and a little stiff but it recovered fairly quickly.  Work was fairly standard this week with no real dramas.  We are now into the last month at work of our current shift system and it means that in around 4 weeks time a good portion of my shift will be moving on to a variety of different watches.  It will be a strange time for so many people to be moving about but I guess we have to embrace the change.  If you don’t you just get left behind.

On Saturday I am back through in Edinburgh for the final Scotland match of the RBS 6 nations and hopefully Scotland can make it 3 home wins from 3!  If I am being honest I would be pretty disappointed if they lost to Italy.  Italy are in the grand scheme of things a good international team, but Scotland really are the better side just now and should win the game in my opinion.

Everything seems to be happening at a million miles per hour just now and the days and weeks seem to be absolutely flying by.  Things are catching up with me super quick and I am having to really manage the time that I have to get everything done.  Its not impossible however and if I am smart about the way I manage things I am able to get everything done.

I had a meeting with Sarah, the local fundraising manager for Cancer Research UK and we spoke about the things I have been up to, the events I have committed to and how we are going to keep moving forward.  The meeting was really positive and Sarah is mega helpful with ideas and advice.    It helps having someone who is permanently involved in raising money who has he experience and understanding to make the most of events and opportunities to raise some cash.  Every charity needs a Sarah!  One thing that Sarah told me which I was unaware of previously is that Cancer Research UK only fund the very best research to ensure that every penny is being spent on research that will make a difference to the lives of people who suffer from cancer.

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties” – Erich Seligmann Fromm

On reflection one of the most positive events that I have taken part in in the past few weeks was speaking to the senior pupils at Brechin High School.  The reaction from the talk has been very positive and reaching out to other schools is something I would like to focus on in the coming weeks.  I feel that Angus is a good place to begin and should the reaction be positive there then I will look further afield to Dundee and Perth and Kinross.  The more we speak and engage with people then the better chance we have of raising more money for this fantastic charity.  Plus I generally really like speaking to groups of people and I always maintain that you should do the things that you enjoy.

I will be sure to keep you up to date as we head towards the Stirling Marathon.  I think I am getting better with social media but I know that there is still room for improvement so I am going to keep trying to get better at it.

Thank you as always for all of the support especially in response to the Inverness Half Marathon.  We are finally truly underway and I am immensely happy about that.

J.

Not what I need…

IMG_1272.pngThis week I was back to work after 12 days of annual leave.  The leave was welcome and my trip to Madrid really was great.  At the minute my next trip abroad will be to Kilimanjaro in September and that really does feel like a long way away.  But I am sure that it will come about a lot quicker in reality.  I swear that the days, weeks, months and years just seem to pass you by quicker and quicker as you get older and I don’t feel particularly old.  I am still on call with the ISAR team for a further 3 months and a trip away could come up anytime.  Albeit that sort of trip will not be for relaxation or leisure and would have very real and most likely quite drastic implications for the people of an effected country.

It is a strange position to be.  We train regularly for the worst case scenarios.  But to put our training into practice, someone, somewhere will be suffering.  As much as I like helping people you would not wish those kind of events on anyone.  There may be a lot of us humans here on this earth, but ultimately mother nature has the ability to be destructive beyond comprehension.  But I guess that is why there are international teams such as UKISAR to help pick up the pieces when it all goes south.

I am lucky that I have been in the profession that I aimed for since the age of 18.  I am thankful that things worked out the way they did and that I have the job and life that I do.  There are definitely a  lot of people out there who haven’t been anywhere near as lucky as I have been and we must all remember that when we are moaning about the most trivial things.  Life could be very different for every single one of us.

“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries” – James Michener

At this minute in time I do not feel particularly great.  What started out as a tickly cough seems to have gotten a bit worse over the past few days.  My back is now extremely sore and moving about is hurting a bit.  It feels a bit like a chest infection but I haven’t been to a doctor so I don’t know that for sure.  Not what I need with just over one week to the Inverness Half Marathon.  I am really hoping that I shift this before then.  I will be completing the half marathon one way or another.  I just really hope I don’t have what ever this is then.  That would be less than ideal.

It is really frustrating me.  I have been building up to this first event and the beginning of my challenges for what feels like ages now and this really wasn’t in the plan.  I am going to take a couple days of good rest and hopefully that sorts me out.  But what I am trying to remember, is that those who are fighting cancer have unexpected hurdles to cross all along the way.  Their journey towards being cancer free is never easy and I guess this is helping put that back in perspective for me.  In a month or two (I can’t remember the exact day) it will be a year since mum was diagnosed for the second time.  I can’t really believe that a year has passed already and so much has happened since then.

As always I still really need your help.  If I am to hit this target we really need to spread this message of positivity, of overcoming adversity and the ability to tackle massive challenges together.  I know for a fact that if we are able to get enough people on board then raising £1 million is quite simple really.  But getting the people on board is difficult and I would ask that you keep sharing the things I get up to.  I know that it may seem a bit repetitive and you may tire of hearing from me a bit.  But I can assure you that every time you help out on social media or mention what I am trying to do to people you are helping beat cancer.  The more awareness and discussion there is about this disease will only help towards putting an end to it once and for all.  £1 is all it takes to make a difference and I am extremely thankful to every single one of you who have made a donation towards the things that I am doing.

It is my intention over the coming weeks to look at other possible running events for this year.  When I first made the decision to try and raise this money, a lot of the running events for this year had not opened for registration and I signed up for those that I could.  It is my intention to try and get ones that work around my shifts and hopefully that shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.  Google is mighty handy when it comes to trying to find different things to take part in.  The ‘Scottish running guide’ is a particularly handy website.  It lists all of the various events and the associated details which makes finding suitable events much easier.   I definitely want to get some other events in my diary though so this is going to become a priority.

This coming week I am going to be at Brechin High School giving a talk to the senior pupils about my fundraising and my motivation for doing it.  Hopefully it will give some of them the encouragement to help charities like Cancer Research UK out by fundraising for them.  I am sure I said right back at the start that this journey was as much about raising lots of money as well as spreading a positive message and this is hopefully the start of being able to take that to a wider audience.  If it goes well hopefully it’ll be the start of a series of sorts where I will be able to talk to larger groups about the things that I am getting up to.

“Everyone goes through adversity in life, but what matters is how you learn from it” – Lou Holtz

Thank you as always.

J.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JED-SMITH1

Family is always most important

IMG_0342.pngIt has been another productive week!  I must admit I am enjoying the challenge of constantly having things to do and people to go and see.  To put it in context, this time a year ago, when I wasn’t working I wasn’t doing anything really.  It wasn’t good for me in any way and by setting this goal of trying to raise £1 million for Cancer Research UK I have found a renewed purpose in a lot of ways.  It sounds strange but I had gotten to the point of work being the highlight of the week because it gave me something to do.  Whilst I still enjoy work on the whole, I now have other things to do out with it and it has meant I have a far better work/life balance in my mind.

As this post goes live I will have just arrived in Madrid to visit my sister for the week who is studying there as part of her degree.  It’ll hopefully be a fairly cheap trip away with the only real expense being the travel there and if I want to do things.  But at the end of the day family is always the most important thing to me.  It is something that I have come to realise in these last few years as mum and others have fought through less than perfect situations.  When you have watched them struggle through these times and come out the other side fighting and remaining positive it  really does give you a whole new perspective on life.  Far too often, we fail appreciate what we have and how easy it can be lost.  Your family are precious and I’d ask you to never forget that.

With the job that I have, I am privy to the fact that the lives of ordinary people can be thrown into turmoil at anytime of any day of the week.  I hold a position where I see people in their darkest hours fighting some of the most difficult sets of circumstances that anyone can face.  But ultimately it is family and a belief that things will get better which sees them through.  I like to find a positive in every situation, regardless of how small it may be.  At the end of the day, a positive is a positive and that allows me to have hope.  Positivity and hope will help you through any bad situation; I can guarantee that.

So, as much as I am getting a cheap holiday to Madrid, ultimately it is really to visit my sister who I haven’t seen for around a month.  I am not entirely sure when I will see her next after I come home to be honest.  She has become a bid of a nomad in recent years and is always on the move.  If I could speak different languages and spend lots of my time abroad in the sun then I probably would as well!  It will be a good week in Madrid I am sure, despite the fact that it looks likely that the weather won’t be all that great whilst I am there.  Although that will mean that I can go running without a guarantee of being tortured by the sun.  We can’t have everything in life though I suppose.

The ‘Evening Telegraph’ ran the story that we did with Cancer Research UK this week and it seems to have had a pretty positive response which me and mum are both extremely thankful for.  If you are new to my page, this blog and what I am trying to achieve – welcome!  It is good to know that  the publicity has helped to bring people on board and we can share our story a little bit further.  My thinking is that if a million people can donate £1 then raising £1 million is actually quite easy!  At least that is how I like to think about it!

I’m feeling good about how my running is progressing.  I am by no mean the fastest runner out there, but I am building up the distance and for me that is a really positive step.  For me, exercise is 20% about what your body feels like it is capable of and 80% about how mentally tough you are.  If your mind stays strong you can achieve far more than you maybe feel like you can.  Over the last year in a lot of ways I let my fitness slip and its something that has genuinely frustrated me.  My fitness certainly wasn’t where it once was.  But, taking on all of these challenges is helping me get back to where I was and hopefully go well beyond that.  That is certainly a goal of mine.  I want to finish this year significantly fitter than how I started it.  But I think that is more than achievable if I stick to all of the various challenges I have organised for this year.  They are forcing me to get out and do exercise where in recent times I would have maybe avoided a training session and become somewhat lazy.  But I have identified a problem and I am working to fix it.  Improving your fitness takes time however and I have to be patient.  If I keep plugging away then I am sure I will get back to where I was!

I had a really positive meeting this week about the possibility of getting to speak to some school assemblies about what I am doing and the mindset that I have for achieving my goals.  I think it is a really good opportunity to spread the word and help get more people on board with this fundraising.  The more people we speak to and spread this message of positivity, the greater our chances of hitting the target are.  I still don’t doubt for one minute however that we will not hit the mark.  I know we will.  Lots of little actions can combine to effect real change in this world.  Donating £1, clicking that like and share button. It’s all it takes to make a difference.

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny” – C.S Lewis

Thank you all as always.

J.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JED-SMITH1

It’s Christmas!

img_0686
Christmas is almost upon us and hopefully you are all enjoying some time with family and friends!  My sister is now home from France, the first time I’ve seen her for about four months now.  Unfortunately this year I am working right through Christmas but that’s just the way it is at my work, sometimes you land lucky with shifts and get it all off, other times you work a bit of it and then there’s other times when you seem to work right through.  So when you’re tucking into your Christmas dinner and opening your presents from Santa please spare a thought for all the people who are at their work and not with their families.  I’ll get my Christmas dinner when I get in from work sometime after six o’clock.  Hopefully it’s a quiet shift and everyone has a quiet, safe Christmas.

For me this year Christmas will probably end up just being another day but it means I’ll be able to try and keep my training on track, I’ll maybe ease off a little and give myself a small break though.  It’s at this time of the year that I realise more than ever just how thankful I am to still have so many of my family and friends still around because of the research that has gone into cancer.  I do sometimes feel like I repeat myself on this subject or harp on about it, but the more I think about it and the more I look into the subject the more I am understanding about how true it is.  Around 40 years ago if you were given a cancer diagnosis it often meant only one thing.  There was only a 1 in 4 chance that you would survive.  Now though, survival rates have been doubled and that is down to research.  With Cancer Research UKs vision to improve them by half again we are edging closer and closer to the day when all cancers will be beatable and I really hope that I am around to see that day.

With two members of my family still battling with cancer my thoughts will definitely be with them through the holidays as they continue to fight with the disease.  I know I keep saying that my family has had ‘a number’ of battles with cancer through the years but to put a number to it is 8.  8 times that my family has fought with cancer.  For me it is 8 times too many.  But there is only one way that we will be able to put a stop to it and that is through research.  It wasn’t until my mum was diagnosed for the second time this year that we realised just how many times cancer had appeared in the family.  Up until then I never had a true appreciation of how widespread it had been.

For me personally, 2016 was going to be a fresh start and a year of opportunity and experience.  I have had that I think however once again cancer came back into my life and gave the year a slight negative undertone.  I have travelled a fair amount in 2016 and had one of the most brilliant weeks in Spain with friends.  I made the decision to start up this fundraising and to re-evaluate my goals and ambitions.  It has been a year of reflection for me and I am excited about what this next year will bring – hopefully no cancer!  But what I am sure of is that I am planning possibly one of the busiest years of my life and it will be like no other year I have ever had.  I am hoping to do a tonne of travelling for my fundraising and will be able to achieve lots of my ambitions along the way.  I think I’ve said it before, but raising money for charity is totally underrated!  It gives you so many opportunities and in my case is forcing me to go out and organise and and complete things when I’m not working.  It has done me the world of good already and there is still such a long way to go!

One thing that I have noticed recently is that my photo archive is pretty poor.  I seem to take hardly any pictures when I am doing things and I need to change that for documenting this entire challenge.  That has got to be a new years resolution for me – take more photos and document my experiences better.  I’ll see how I get on!  I’m off to Madrid for a week in February so hopefully I’ll manage to get some good photos while I’m there.

Hopefully 2016 has been a good year for you all and I hope that you enjoy the holiday season and enjoy the time with your family and friends.  We’ve got to remember how lucky we are to have them around us, supporting us and sharing our lives with.  I know more than ever right now how lucky I have been and I know that things this year could have taken a very different path and I could have lost more of my family.  We didn’t though so I am considering 2016 to be a somewhat small success.

I keep getting asked when I am aiming to hit my target of raising £1 million for Cancer Research UK.  To be honest it is a bit of an open ended schedule just now.  I am planning many things for 2017 but if I need more time I will look at that as the year goes on.  I’d love to get to the end of next year knowing that I had hit my target and raised the money.  A lot of people have told me that raising it all next year will be virtually impossible.  It won’t be easy, I completely agree with that, but what I keep trying to tell people is that nothing is impossible.  I just need to captivate the imagination of the public, to get them on board and gain their support.  There are some 60 million people in the UK, so I only need one sixtieth of the population to donate £1 and we will get there.  I think that is very much possible.  If I don’t manage to hit the £1 million mark next year then it won’t be a failure because I am sure we will have come a long way towards achieving this goal.

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible” – Tony Robbins

Thank you all again for your support and I hope you have a great Christmas with your family and friends.

J.

 

My ambitions. My ideas.

In order to raise £1 million I am going to have to diversify my activities.  Running one half marathon won’t get me there I don’t think.  Nor will running a couple.  I need to take on every possible opportunity that I get and learn how to promote them successfully.  That means giving myself more work, but I kind of accepted that when I started this whole thing anyway.

I’ve had so many ideas of different events to take part in and to run.  One of them which is quite high up on my list of which will require a lot of organising is a charity ceilidh/auction night.  Ultimately it has to make sense financially, I don’t see any point pouring vast amounts of time into organising an event like this unless it is going to raise a significant amount of money for charity.  It will only raise a fraction of the total amount however every little helps!  I think it would be good way of bringing people together who have been affected by cancer, to celebrate what they have achieved and have a good old laugh.  For anyone who isn’t Scottish, a ‘Ceilidh’ is a traditional gathering where people join together in song and dance in order to have fun and make a fool out of themselves, at least that is how it was described to me!  If it happens you should come, they are always great fun and everyone usually has a great time!  I’ll keep you posted!

Another idea of mine that I am working towards is starting to make videos that document this journey.  I know that I have started this blog, but I understand that not everyone enjoys reading.  I also believe that a picture paints a thousand words and using video will allow me to physically show you all what I have been up to.  Over the past year I have begun watching YouTube more and more, to the point where I often watch YouTube over regular TV.  There are some amazing creators on YouTube who produce work that is as good, if not better than TV.  I am by no means saying that my videos will be able to compare to some of these creators, but I hope to bring you all along and help share this whole experience more.

I am finding that this whole blog and charity work pretty fun so far!  It has been a lot of work, trying to get things started, to speak to people about what I’m trying to do and why.  I’ve come to realise that when you tell someone that you are trying to raise £1 million for charity they will be slightly surprised.  I suppose it’s not the average target to set.  Although if everyone was the same the world would be a pretty boring place I think!  People often take a bit of convincing, but I think I am being fairly successful at encouraging people we will get there.  We are still quite small at the minute and there is a huge amount of work still to do, but I have faith and there is plenty positivity in me still!

Christmas will soon be upon us and the New Year hotly on its heels.  I think that once the 1st of January arrives that I will feel that we are on our way.  I’ve been working on this for a couple of months now and I think it looks like we haven’t made much progress.  What I am trying to remind people however is that I could never expect to raise this money overnight, it’s a long-term goal and one that will take time to achieve.  Stick with me and we’ll smash the target, I’m sure of it!

My sister is home in a couple of weeks for the first time since August which I am quite looking forward to.  She is studying for a Masters in Interpreting and Translation in French and Spanish and has spent this semester in Lyon, France.  I haven’t had the opportunity to go out and visit Lyon unfortunately which is something that I did want to do.  Maybe in the future, it’s another place to add to my long list of places that I would like to visit.  She’ll be home a few days before Christmas and will be home until mid January I think before she moves to Madrid, Spain for her second semester.  The life of a university student!  I definitely want to visit Madrid though and I have a block of annual leave in February so hopefully I will get some free digs for a week.

Unfortunately, my annual leave for April onwards won’t be released until January at the earliest and at the minute I haven’t booked my Kilimanjaro trip or put my John O’Groats to Lands End cycle firmly in the diary (these being the two biggest undertakings).  There is a trip to Kilimanjaro that I have my eyes on and I am tempted to book it and take a gamble.  Worst case scenario is that I have to try and move my annual leave or swap my shifts with colleagues which can be done, it’s just an extra thing to think about!  I think I am going to have to make a decision soon however, places are limited and I want to ensure that I definitely get to go and climb this mountain.  In terms of travel vaccines I am lucky that through my work with the International Search and Rescue team I am vaccinated to travel pretty much anywhere in the world.  Although I am due a couple of boosters which I will have to get sorted out soon!  Needles are my arch nemesis, but sometimes you’ve got to do things you hate in order to have the experiences that you want most.

I will let you know as soon as the dates are firm and the trips are organised!

“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favour” – Elon Musk

If you haven’t already, please donate today.  Just follow the link:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JED-SMITH1

J.

What drives me?

I have spoken regularly in my previous blogs about having dreams, about not taking life for granted and about why I am doing this whole thing in the first place.

So in this piece I have decided to discuss what drives me.  What makes me tick?

A huge part of the motivation that I have had to do things and achieve stems purely from being successful and wanting to give something back.  Being told that you have done something well or winning a competition is an addictive feeling, at least it definitely is for me.  I have said before that I am an extremely competitive person, that is something which I will openly admit.  But I think being competitive is an important attribute to develop.  It gives you a determination to learn and hone skills and it encourages a will to succeed.  For me competition brings excitement as well as making me slightly nervous.  Why nervous?  I simply hate losing.  I think I am a good loser, but I still hate it.

I used to play the tuba in a number of successful different bands.  One of the most successful bands I played in was the Carnoustie and District Youth Brass Band or CDYBB.  CDYBB was made up of brass and percussion players from Carnoustie and the surrounding area.  From its formation the band was highly successful and won 1st place in the Scottish Youth Championships in its first outing.  The band went from strength to strength and quickly became regarded as one of the finest youth brass bands in Scotland.  We regularly gained first place in competitions and winning almost became the norm.  We were extremely well drilled and the attention to detail was very high.  I remember we travelled to Manchester to compete for the first time in the British Youth Brass Band Championships which were held at the Royal Northern College of Music.  The band went to Manchester undefeated from its inception and optimism was high for a good result.  In the end we placed fourth in our first British Championships.  Immediately after the result I was gutted.  We had only placed fourth!  It wasn’t until someone put it in perspective that I realised it really was a fantastic result.  It was our first ever time competing against the best bands in the UK and placing fourth out of a large field was actually far better than we should have ever expected.  We returned to Manchester year on year and in 2010 won the most prestigious section the ‘premier section’ and became the best youth brass band in the UK.  For me there is no greater feeling at the end of months of long, tedious and stressful practices than to pull of a near perfect performance and come away with a win.

I reckon I tasted success with the band more than in any other area of my life, but then again, it probably occupied the largest amount of my time!  Honestly, it proved that practice makes perfect!

But what drives me now?  Well for one I have a job that I enjoy, that gives me satisfaction and earns me some money.  Some people find it hard to comprehend but I genuinely enjoy going into work and seeing what the day will bring.  We all know each other pretty well and probably better than the average colleagues do.  But that’s part of why I like it and why I enjoy going into work.  It gives me the opportunity to travel and to enjoy so many amazing experiences.  It does not make me rich however and if that is what you want from life, firefighting is probably not for you.  You’ve got to love what you do and for me it makes being motivated easy.

I set goals.  Goal setting allows me to focus more and ensure that I keep working towards something.  If it’s just a thought I am far more likely to put it off or not do it at all.  The beauty of goal setting is that it takes no time at all and a pen and a piece of paper is pretty much all the equipment that you need.  Think of what you want to achieve, write it down, estimate how long it will take you, write that down and you are done.  But for me the most important part of goal setting is reviewing it.  Realising that you have achieved something is powerful and if you never look back at your goals you may never appreciate your own success.  Always review.  In fact make your list of goals so obvious to you every day that you can’t miss them.  Please don’t ever think it will be a quick process however, you have to have a determination to persevere until you succeed, I have found that out a number of times!  So many people with dreams and the potential to achieve them don’t, simply because they never stick with them.  So as ‘Dory’ always said “just keep swimming”.

“When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and you’re life is just to live your life inside the world.  Try not to bash into the walls too much.  Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money.  That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.” – Steve Jobs

Your ideas matter, your contribution matters.  You could change the world, just do it.

J.

Positivity, Promotion and Perseverance

I have set myself an almighty challenge of raising £1 Million for Cancer Research UK.  In my last  blog post I discussed how, well an element of the how.

I am not particularly good at making ad hoc, unplanned decisions (especially with a project as large as this) and so I have done my best to try and set a plan or strategy that details how I aim to achieve my goal.  I mean I can make a quick decision about going to the pub or how I am going to make my cup of tea, but this project/challenge requires a vast amount of planning.

Goal setting is my thing, it gives purpose and drive to life.  When an objective is set, we can work towards it, adjusting our actions along the way in order to ensure final success.  I can’t function properly without objective setting.  It’s something I have done for a very long time without realising.

I am extremely fortunate that I was successful in lots of different things throughout my childhood and it moulded me into someone who is extremely competitive, who hates losing and doesn’t take failing well.  If I am on the losing side of my shifts Christmas quiz it frustrates me.  I will never profess to being great at everything, I know for a fact that there are lots of things I am terrible at.  But, the things which I am not good at are the things which I never planned out.

“Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance” – British Army

As time goes by I think I am beginning to understand the enormity of what we are trying to do.  But I am not deterred and, having read so many fantastically positive comments I am more motivated than ever to make sure this dream of helping Cancer Research UK becomes a reality.

I tried writing a number of possible plans, but none of them answered the significant question of ‘how’ definitively.  In doing this, I did notice that I seemed to reiterate the same three words over and over again.

Positivity, Promotion and Perseverance.

These three words summarise just what we need to do I think.  We must always remain positive that we will achieve the target.  There are amazing people who are dealing with Cancer who never let the disease affect their spirits.  So we should follow their incredible example.  If they can battle cancer with a positive can do attitude, we can raise all this money.

As for promotion – if no one knows about this campaign and all the various challenges that are going to be taking place how can we expect to achieve the target.  Where a positive opportunity for promotion exists we have to take it.  I want to get out and talk to people, talk about the disease and how it has affected myself and my family and I want to talk to people about why research is so important.

Finally perseverance.  Raising £1 Million will never happen overnight, unless your some sort of rich person with the moral conscience to donate it to such a cause.  Maintaining a dedication to positivity and promotion is the most critical part, I can never allow myself to get into a rut and give up on the target.  There is zero point in doing all of this otherwise.  I’ve got to raise this million pounds.

I have heard people say that we will never beat Cancer.  But I can’t agree with them.  It is only when we solely adopt this negative approach that we will never beat it.  We are beating Cancer, as every minute, hour and day go by, research is helping us get closer.  I do not know when that day may be.  But it will come, of that I am positive.

On the 4th of November I had a very positive and helpful meeting with my Station Manager.  We discussed a number of things about this challenge and just what I am trying to achieve.  But I think we can now begin promoting this challenge and engaging with more people.  I have spent months agonising over all the different aspects of this challenge and to finally get the green light from my work feels like a very significant step in the right direction.

Letters and emails need to be compiled and my strategy finalised.  But we are now in the position to start making some real progress.  We can start the true fundraising and spreading the positive message to those who are suffering from the disease.

I am learning a lot as I do this and I am finding that raising money for charity does so many things for you as an individual.  It has to be one of the most underrated things in this world.

If you want to develop yourself, raise some money for charity.

J.