Downpatrick Head and Dún Briste on a February Saturday

Sometimes you stumble upon a place and it surprises and delights and takes your breath away.

Last week myself and she who must be obeyed were in Ballina, Mayo for the weekend. A Christmas gift from the kids.

On Saturday we decided we would go for a drive prior to retiring to the hotel bar and watching the Ireland v Scotland rugby match.

I have always been impressed and fascinated and frightened by the power and majesty of the Atlantic Ocean waves smashing the west coast so we headed north to the North Atlantic.

Up through Killala and towards Ballycastle, as I thought Ballycastle was right on the coast.

En route to Ballycastle and perhaps the Céide fields I took a turn down a small, narrow side road and ended up at Downpatrick Head and this was the surprise.

This is a stunning place that I never heard of and on this February Saturday there was only one other couple in the small car park.

It is right on the coast and there is a piece of rock or sea stack called “Dún Briste” which is located about 50 metres off the coast, having broken off in a storm from the island of Ireland in 1393.

The top of Dún Briste (Irish for ‘broken fort’) is flat and measures about 50 metres by 13 metres and contains evidence of people and buildings having lived there when the land broke away from Ireland.

When you come across a place like this, one you have never heard of before, and you see the power of nature, feel the strength of the wind, look down the face of the cliffs and see the gulls sitting there immobile, peer into the blowhole you are made to feel insignificant.

In the last few years I have visited the Acropolis in Athens, the colosseum in Rome, the Berlin Wall and these places are tremendously well known and widely photographed. All fantastic experiences.

Stumbling across Downpatrick Head and Dún Briste on a brisk February Saturday morning preparatory to sinking pints in a hotel bar was a different experience but equally memorable, in my book.

Growing Old

It’s my birthday this week and I have been thinking about growing old, and what it means.

I think I have come to the conclusion that growing old is when you do not want to learn new things.

Growing old is when you do not want to make YouTube videos.

Growing old is when you are not enthused about finishing reading a book because, now, you get to pick a new one again.

Growing old is when you grow more sedentary and put on weight.

Growing old is not losing 3 stone since August.

Growing old is not hustling and grinding as if you were still 23.

It’s probably certain and self evident and an ineluctable fact that I am growing old.

But it doesn’t really feel like it.

The Level of Folly Attained

The Law Society sends out, by email, a newsletter containing summaries of “Recent Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Court reserved written judgments”.

I always try to scan through the decisions which cover a wide range of topics ranging from disputes about wills to personal injury claims to prisoners claiming infringement of human rights in jail, and so forth.

I do so because it is useful to try to stay on top of the various legal principles which are confirmed or changed in some of these cases. But another reason is to read the actual decision from an English language perspective.

I am a lover of writing, language, words and sometimes a Judge will use a particular turn of phrase which ranges from amusing to sublime.

Last week, I came across an amusing one in the personal injury case where the plaintiff suffered a ‘degloving’ injury when attempting to access the eastern platform of a Dart station through an unauthorised route. He sued the operators of the DART light rail system.

The injury he suffered was a serious one, no doubt about that, as he had to endure the amputation of the injured finger and a disfiguring and debilitating permanent injury to his left hand.

But he needed to establish liability on the part of the defendants, Transdev Dublin Light Rail Ltd and Transport Infrastructure Ireland.

Justice Hanna dismissed his claim on the basis that “the level of folly attained by the plaintiff” was to such a degree as virtually to extinguish any potential fault on the part of the defendants.

The next time one of your kids misbehaves and you want to explain why he is being deprived of some treat you can refer him to the “level of folly” his conduct has recently exhibited as the root cause.
You can read the full decision here.

Brown Bread

I received a gift of a new Neven Maguire book at Christmas, “Neven Maguire’s Home Economics for Life: The 50 Recipes You Need to Learn” and took it as a hint that I was to finally get my act together in the kitchen.

And so with prodigious enthusiasm, not to mention a tremendous and violent casting about of ingredients such as strong white flour, coarse wholemeal flour, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, golden syrup, some type of black sugar whose name escapes me, buttermilk, sunflower seeds and a teaspoon of salt, I baked my first loaf of brown bread.

And, even if I say so myself, it is most agreeable. It has received a solid thumbs up from she who must be obeyed and all the successors to my overdraft.

I now look forward, at least once a week, to making the bread in the kitchen on a Saturday morning.

It is such a change from the activities I am normally engaged in-things like law business, marketing, making videos, writing blog posts, reading, watching sport-that it has become a form of therapy.

The odour of freshly baked brown bread that wafts from the oven when I open the oven door after 40 minutes or thereabouts causes an explosion of the saliva ducts and gives a great sense of accomplishment and anticipation of what is to come when I let it cool just a little and then slice it and dress it with some real butter.

It may look like a regular loaf of bread to the casual observer, but it is a great deal more than that to me.

Now, onwards to making the dinner…

How to Succeed Every Time

how to succeed every time

“Succeeding every time” may strike you as an ambitious, unrealistic aim but I can assure you it’s not if you choose how you measure success.

Let me explain.

If you measure success by the outcome or goal you cannot succeed every time.

If you measure success, however, by how well you attend to the process you can succeed every time that you try and do your best.

Because your measure of success will not be measured by the outcome but by your application to the process/procedure.

And this will generally involve three things:

  1. How well you focus your attention to the process
  2. How hard you try
  3. How well you prepare

Let’s face it, you can never determine the outcome because this will depend on what has gone on prior. For example, if you are in the WRC or Labour Court or Court the outcome will be decided by the adjudicator or the Labour Court or the judge.

All you can do is prepare well and let the cards fall where they may.

You will often have heard footballers and rugby players and hurlers talking about “sticking to our processes” after a match. This is because they know if they stick to their process the outcome will take care of itself.

Shane Lowry, Dean Rock, Joe Canning, Johnnie Sexton all face high stakes outcomes when they stand over a putt or a free or a penalty. Dean Rock, for example, had a difficult free a few years ago to win the All Ireland against Mayo.

But Rock was not thinking about the outcome of scoring or failing to score; he was thinking about his routine, his process because this was all he could control. And he slotted it by sticking to his routine, one that he had honed in Ballymun.

Sexton, Joe Canning, Shane Lowry all have tried and trusted and well practiced pre-shot routines. This is because they know they cannot control the outcome, there are too many variables.

They attend to the process and forget about the outcome because all they can control is their approach to the next shot,t he next putt, the next free.

This routine is a little like a child’s comfort blanket, something they can rely on and familiarise themselves with in the comfort of their own training pitch or course.

You can succeed in your next endeavour, therefore, if you measure success by how well you prepare and provided you do your best. And you can do this every time.

Or you can worry and fret about the outcome and the consequences.

It’s your choice.

“Employment Law in Ireland”-Kindle Countdown Price Promotion Starts Today

employment law book sale

I have a Kindle countdown deal price promotion starting this morning at 8 am. Every 6 months Amazon will allow you to do a “countdown deal” to promote your book(s) on Amazon.

This countdown deal is a time limited price promotion.

My deal starts this morning on my book, “Employment Law in Ireland: The Essentials for Employers, Employees, and HR Managers” which normally sells for £9.99.

Starting at 8 am today you can buy this book for £0.99. Yes, less than £1.

This last for 2 or 3 days, then the price goes to £3.99, then after a few more days will go to £6.99.

And then it will revert to its usual price of £9.99 next Sunday evening.

I spent a bit of time over the Christmas updating this book which has always sold well and garnered good reviews.

If you are interested you can take a look here.

Content Marketing-a Simple, Effective Strategy

Every weekend I try, and generally succeed, in creating at least 2 new pieces of content.

This weekend, for example, I published a video on YouTube, “Reading Between the Lines at an Employment Hearing” and published a blog post “Part Time Bus Driver Wins Reinstatement and Full Salary Retrospection”.

Content marketing

This is the central plank of my content marketing strategy, something I have been doing since I published my first piece of content in September, 2009.

This is a strategy which I have pursued consistently since then and I have written a book about it, “The Art of Marketing Your Services Business Online: How to Get New Clients With a Proven, Inexpensive 5 Part Digital Marketing Strategy”.

This book is only 122 pages long and was first published in January, 2016 and even though many things have changed since the strategy outlined in that book is the one that I still pursue as I write this blog post.

It’s simple: content marketing is publishing useful and/or interesting content for the market you seek to serve.

The content can be written, for example blog posts, can be video (YouTube channel), can be audio (Podcast), or even a combination of all three. But the bottom line is the content must have utility, must help.

That’s all there is to it. It means I don’t have to spend money on traditional advertising, or distribute leaflets, or engage in the tactics that might have worked 20 years ago.

If you create 2 pieces of content every weekend, and you do this 52 weeks of the year, and you do it for 10 years you find that you have a significant body of work out there working away for you in the search engines, on YouTube, on social media sites, and so on.

P.S. Matheson have a great podcast which deals with employment law.

How to Reduce Stress and Anxiety Every Day

I meet people every day of the week who claim to be, or are, suffering from stress and anxiety. Much, but not all, of the stress arises from their workplace.

I have a philosophy which helps me deal with stress and worry and anxiety and it involves the acceptance of what I believe are 3 fundamental truths; if you accept these truths life will go easier on you.

If you don’t accept them you will, almost certainly, suffer from a great deal of avoidable stress.

The 3 truths, as I see them, are:

  1. Life isn’t fair
  2. The goalposts move
  3. There are no guarantees

If you accept these observations as inalterable principles of life you will not be disappointed. In fact, you may be pleasantly surprised.

But you will reduce your stress and anxiety levels.

I have always try to maintain this general stoic view of life but recently read a book which articulates this philosophy more articulately than I am capable of and explains the scientific and psychological underpinning for this view.

It is a book that I recommend very highly as it is written by a psychiatrist and gives you a framework for reducing stress and managing your mind on a daily basis.

The book is called “The Chimp Paradox” by Prof. Steve Peters.


I’m Not for Everyone

If you are the man who rang four times in an hour to speak to me for “10 minutes” about whether you have a case or not, having been told you need to arrange a consultation, I’m not for you.

If you are the woman who “is nervous about paying for legal advice unless I have a case”, I’m probably not for you either.

If you have ambitions to start your own business and need advice and guidance but things are “too tight” to pay for advice, I’m not for you.

If you are the woman who rang from Idaho or Ohio with a dispute in relation to your driving licence  in your home State, I’m not for you either.

If you are the man who wants to take action about “deformation of character” as a consequence of an allegation against you in your workplace, and you are much occupied with your good name and reputation, and you want to embark on legal proceedings to restore your good name but disappear like snow off a hedge when you are advised there is a consultation fee, I’m not for you either.

I’m not for everyone.

If you are running a business, or thinking about starting one, it’s almost certain that you should not be for everyone either.

Free Books

If you want to improve your English, while away hours of distraction free entertainment with engaging stories peopled with colorful, unforgettable characters who you will love or hate with a passion, learn about everyday life in the 19th century, understand the class system, observe how society has evolved and changed, learn about human nature and character and personality (and note how little it has changed in hundreds of years), and not have to spend a cent here’s what you do.

Firstly, go to Amazon.co.uk and download the Kindle app for the device of your choice (PC, Kindle, smartphone, Ipad etc.)

Then, go to the books of Charles Dickens and you will find that a great deal of them, and other classics, can be downloaded for free. For example here is the Kindle version of Charles Dickens: the Complete Novels-completely free.

Here’s one of the best books ever written about the legal system in the England: Bleak House.

Many other classics are free, too, as these books are in the public domain.

All you have to do is a little searching around on Amazon.co.uk because some will have a small price, depending no the publisher, and some will be completely gratis.

What’s keeping you?