The London Eye – March 2024

Let the games begin!

In December, I was privileged to attend the Unity Games in Dubai. Launched in 2005 with the idea of bringing together families and friends from many nations, it welcomed, in its inaugural year, only a few hundred participants across a handful of sports. It has now evolved into a remarkable event with nearly 2,000 participants and various sporting contests, including football, cricket, volleyball, badminton, table tennis, tennis, and swimming. Like a mini Olympics!

The games take place every four years, and I always try to attend as, for me, they’re the epitome of achievement, mentoring and networking. The organisers describe it as ‘an unforgettable celebration of unity, camaraderie, and pure positivity’, and it is. Even if you’re not a sports fan, you can’t help but get caught up in the event’s spirit. This year, I had torn a hamstring in an earlier football match (honestly!), so I spent more time cheering everyone on, but I still felt the enjoyment of it all.

But as the organisers planned from the start, these games are ultimately about networking. That’s so important. In today’s digital age, where we’re more connected than ever, we’re still very disconnected because of the lack of real-time human interaction. If we don’t address the issue, future generations are in danger of losing the ability to connect on a personal level.

So, at these events, I encourage the youngsters from our local community to set a goal of having conversations with at least five people they don’t already know. That way, if they find themselves in a different county or country, they can be confident that if they head to the local community centre, there will be somebody they’ve met before.

It’s similar for us as adults. You may have experienced how attending a conference full of people you’ve never met can be long and daunting. But if you try to speak to at least five people you’ve never met, I guarantee there will be a familiar face the next time you go, which can make all the difference.

Through events like Unity Games and making an effort to network effectively at conferences, I know that were I to find myself in an unfamiliar location, I could reconnect with at least one person, making the world feel like a friendlier place.

So, I challenge you to set a goal to connect with five people at your next event! It makes the world a smaller, friendlier place to be.

Achieving goals and building relationships

Each January, HBD is clear on how we want the year to evolve. From specific business goals to what equipment we’d like to purchase and from team training requirements to conferences we want to attend. It gives us focus, and the year won’t hold too many surprises. I’ll bet you do the same.

But too often forgotten is the need to adapt. So, I’m not embarrassed to say that we’ve already made a few changes to this year’s goals based on evolving situations and a couple of ‘unexpected’ curveballs.

A business has to be fluid because ‘things’ will happen regardless of how much you plan. Therefore, the goal should be the destination – how you get there can be as flexible as is necessary. It took time and experience for me to appreciate that.

Be ready to reset the SatNav!

We can choose our business’s path, but just as it’s true of a physical journey, we must allow for roadworks and diversions along the way. It doesn’t mean you won’t get there.

And never ignore those eureka moments. We can’t have all our good ideas in one goal-setting session; it’s impossible. Don’t be scared to adapt and tweak based on current situations and new insights.

Something else I’ve learned (more recently) is to take the time to get to know your team. I don’t mean weekly staff meetings where, when you put the kettle on (as a good boss should!), you know that one of your team likes black coffee, and one likes white.

Over the last few months, I’ve been taking positive steps to improve my time management and delegation skills, and it’s had a welcome side effect. It’s freed up my time to spend more quality time with– and listen to– the team. Really listen to them … without feeling I need to rush off to do something else. One of the many reasons I can see this is important is because colleagues can help each other achieve personal goals. Yes, our parents and friends can be relied on to help keep us accountable outside of work, but we spend A LOT of time at work. So, doesn’t it make sense that we support colleagues with their personal goals, too?

For example, a recent conversation in our office was about saving money. A solution was to bring food from home rather than buy a deli lunch, and a few team members are now taking turns bringing lunch to share. Working towards a common goal brings us together as a team and will make us happier outside work and in.

Overnight contact lenses that can alleviate myopia

Last year, one of our goals was to invest in state-of-the-art equipment that helps patients suffering from myopia (shortsightedness) and low levels of astigmatism.

I’m delighted to say that at the end of last year, that goal became a reality, and we purchased a keratometer.

We use the keratometer to take eye measurements to produce specialised contact lenses, which are then custom-made using mapping technology to ensure optimal comfort. These lenses are to be worn overnight, allowing you to go through the day without having to wear contact lenses. The changes to the corneal shape aren’t permanent, so if patients eventually opt to start wearing their glasses more, they can stop using the lenses, and the cornea will naturally revert to its original shape and original power of the eyes. The aim of these lenses is to reduce the progression of myopia during our teenage years and early 20s when myopia is known to change quite rapidly.

EYE DIDN’T KNOW THAT

  • Seeing takes up more than 50% of the brain’s functionality.
  • After the brain, your eyes are your body’s second most complex organ.
  • Our eyes perceive things upside down, so when our brain interprets the image, it has to turn it back the right way up so we see the world correctly.
  • We all have a ‘blind spot’.
  • Ommatophobia is the fear of eyes.
  • 80% of all vision impairment can be prevented or cured

Supporting The Needy With Hand On Heart

We’re supporting a fantastic charity called Hand On Heart, which, along with 14 charitable organisations, is providing 1,300 Winter Warmer Essential Packs kits to distribute to vulnerable groups. Each pack will include ten essential items such as joggers, thermals tops/bottoms, socks, gloves, woolly hats, underwear, deodorant, and oral hygiene. Hot water bottles, wet wipes, blankets, and sleeping bags will be distributed when requested during Outreach Drives.

The packs will be assembled by volunteers, including families, schools, residential care homes, and corporate companies, for team-building purposes.

We’re also delighted to contribute to a food baskets initiative. Each food basket consists of rice, wheat flour, maise flour, sugar, beans, cooking oil, tea, dates, salt, porridge, and flour and will feed a family of 5 for 30 days in Kenya!

You can discover more Hand On Heart initiatives at https://www.handonhearttrust.com/

Find strength in numbers 

I recently had the privilege of speaking to a group of fellow opticians to share my experiences growing a successful practice, which has gone from strength to strength.

We discussed things like marketing, best business practices, how to ensure you get and keep a great team, and how to spend your profits wisely in terms of, for example, the right equipment for your specific practice and demographic.

I firmly believe peer mentoring in any business is essential. It’s too easy to stumble through blindly, especially when just starting. I’m very motivated to continue making our practice successful, so I do a lot of self-learning through courses and books. I was also incredibly fortunate that my dad mentored me, but many new business owners don’t have that privilege. So, I consider it an honour to share what I’ve learned with my peers. (To be fair, I also learned a lot from them that day!) I plan to continue mentoring fellow optical business owners and already have a handful on my new 1:1 coaching programme.

Whatever business we’re in, we should always learn, evolve, grow and share. If we don’t, we have no business being in business!

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