Embracing Excellence: British Quality Foundation (BQF) 2025 UK Excellence Awards Now Open!

My journey with the British Quality Foundation (BQF) over the past 18 months has been a wonderful meeting of minds, a true testament to the power of collaboration and continuous improvement. Established in 1993, BQF has been instrumental in recognising and fostering excellence in British business, evolving into a vibrant community of excellence professionals and organisations large and small, all dedicated to driving positive change across industries. BQF, a not-for-profit organisation, is truly the home of UK Excellence, it really doesn’t get any bigger than this! At the core of BQF’s ethos lies inclusivity and collaboration, providing members like myself with invaluable opportunities to connect, learn and grow. From thought-provoking seminars to engaging conferences, BQF has created a platform for us to share best practices and inspire one another in our pursuit of excellence. At the heart of BQF’s endeavours is its Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, who lends her support to the organisation’s mission of excellence. Furthermore, my personal journey with BQF reached an unimagined milestone at the 2025 awards launch on April 17th 2024, held at Mazars Old Baily offices, London, where I was honoured with the accolade of Excellenteer. This recognition underscores BQF’s commitment to acknowledging individuals who advocate for excellence and contribute to the community’s growth. I was totally shocked, and still as I write this cannot believe that this really happened! Central to BQF’s mission is the prestigious UK Excellence Awards programme. The awards are held every 18 months. Why 18 months? Well, this is to allow winners to enjoy being winners of these prestigious awards for as long as possible. The 2023 awards, held at the Hilton London Bankside last October, saw a sold-out event with 500 attendees, highlighting the growing recognition of excellence in UK organisations. Looking ahead, the 2025 awards will be hosted at the home of UK excellence, Wembley Stadium on Thursday, 27th March 2025, and promise to elevate the celebration of excellence to new heights yet again! Entries for the 2025 awards are now open, and are open to all (members and non-members), reflecting BQF’s commitment to inclusivity. Organisations and individuals are invited to showcase their outstanding achievements across a diverse range of categories: Transformation Excellence: Recognizing organisations driving significant operational changes for the benefit of customers and employees. Excellence in Continuous Improvement Culture: Celebrating organisations fostering a culture of ongoing improvement at all levels. Excellence in Collaboration: Highlighting successful collaborations between organisations to achieve remarkable outcomes. Excellence in Customer Experience: Honouring organisations dedicated to enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty. Excellence in Innovation: Acknowledging organisations pushing the boundaries of innovation and fostering a culture of experimentation. Excellence in Environmental Sustainability: Rewarding organisations committed to creating a sustainable future for the planet. Excellence in Lean Six Sigma: Recognising outstanding projects demonstrating excellence through the Six Sigma methodology. Excellence in Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion: Celebrating organisations promoting a culture of equality and inclusion. Excellence in People Engagement and Development: Recognising organisations investing in their people’s growth, development, and well-being. Project Delivery: Commending excellent project management practices and successful outcomes. Being Excellent: Recognising individuals and teams that demonstrate exceptional performance and contribution. Patron’s Award: A special award recognising individuals and organisations making a significant impact on society. Participation in the UK Excellence Awards is open to all, regardless of membership status. BQF’s dedication to inclusivity ensures that every organisation and individual has the opportunity to showcase their achievements and contribute to the community’s collective pursuit of excellence. As BQF continues to champion excellence and drive positive change, I am honoured to be part of a community dedicated to nurturing excellence and shaping the future of UK business. With the 2025 awards on the horizon, anticipation is high for another inspiring celebration of achievement and innovation. If you would like to learn more about the BQF, the UK Excellence Awards and how to enter, visit www.BQF.org.uk To hear more of my ramblings, follow me on LinkedIn – Matt Sims, or check out my Blogs at Blog – Ever-So-Lean (eversolean.com)

Finding Yourself: A Personal Narrative of Self Confidence

Life is a journey, and each of us is running our own race—a race filled with triumphs, challenges and self-discovery. Yet, as we navigate along our individual winding and weaving paths, it’s not uncommon to look around and perceive that everyone else seems to be miles ahead, exuding an unwavering confidence that we ourselves might find elusive. Thinking about myself, I recall so many times, looking at people who I had self-proclaimed to be “successful”, and long to be “like” them, “if only I could look like them, sound like them or have what they’ve got”, rather than embracing who I am and the unique tapestry of strengths and vulnerabilities that make us who we are. Research from the National Confidence Index’s 2023 survey reveal a fascinating trend in confidence levels across age groups. The data illustrates that individuals in their teens and early twenties reported a confidence level of 45%, whereas those in their thirties and beyond exhibited a substantial increase, boasting a confidence level of 68%+. Interesting eh!? These statistics underline the dynamic nature of confidence, with age playing a pivotal role in shaping one’s self-assurance. If I overlay this to my life, this data aligns 100% to my own personal confidence. I often say that as I have aged, I have grown into myself, becoming happy and confident in who I am and belief in my choices and decisions. The aging process really does allow for self-discovery and a deeper understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses. Life experiences, both positive and negative, contribute to the development of resilience and a more robust sense of self. As we age, we become less swayed by the opinions of others and more focused on embracing our authenticity. We tend to be less concerned about fitting in or being liked, and more occupied with getting to bed before 10pm and getting a good lie-in in the morning, or whether to go for the Brooklyn matt emulsion or the Melville silk for the lounge. No longer am I going to places that I do not want to go to, just because everyone else goes there. I’m not drinking a drink that I don’t like because everyone else does. In fact, in the nicest possible way, I don’t care if you like me or not, I’m me and right now I’m cool with that. As someone who has personally battled with confidence issues, I understand the impact of feeling marginalised. Being a victim of bullying, dismissed by teachers, desperate to fit in, be liked and facing the limitations both society and I placed on myself for a long time have left lasting scars. These experiences made me believe that I had no future and that being myself was a hindrance rather than an asset. Being me just wasn’t good enough. It was almost like by putting on an act and being more like “others”, I had a safety net. Meaning that if I wasn’t liked or didn’t connect with someone whilst I was wearing this mask, I’d tell myself it didn’t matter as that wasn’t really me. Or at least looking back now that’s how I would best describe it. It seems silly now, but at the time it was my way of masking who I was and that got me by. It feels somewhat ironic that at a time in our lives when we are making arguably some big decisions about our futures, we are at our lowest in terms of self-confidence. On one hand we are encouraged to forge our own path, decide what’s next, go get em’ and the world is your oyster! Yet internally we doubt ourselves and look for acceptance from others to feel valued and respected. But what do the experts say? Renowned psychologist and author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dr. Carol Dweck talks of the importance of adopting a growth mindset to cultivate self-belief over time. “Embrace the power of ‘yet.’ The mindset that success is a journey, not a destination, allows for the development of self-belief over time.” Researcher, storyteller and author of “The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown encourages us to embrace vulnerability as a source of strength, fostering genuine self-belief. “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. That fosters real self-belief.” Entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, Tony Robbins advocates for a solutions-focused mindset, urging individuals to concentrate on what they can control to build self-belief. “Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions. Building self-belief involves focusing on what you can control and taking positive action.” Quotes like these make such sense now, but would they have done thirty years ago? I’m not sure, I doubt I’d even have picked up a book in the first place! So, before I tell you what advice I would give my younger self, I must tell you that moments like these bring to mind the dulcet tones of Kat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) in 1970, or more my era, the 1995 cover by Ronan Keating and Boyzone singing the hit “Father & Son”. The song is like a musical heart-to-heart about a father and his son (hence the name). The dad’s saying, “Hey, learn from my blunders, and life will treat you better.” But the son’s all about doing things his own way, finding himself and living life on his own terms. For me, it’s lyrics capture the real feels of growing up, family dynamics and figuring out who you are. I think it’s a timeless story that hits you right in the guts, and would not at all be surprised if parents in one hundred years are thinking the same.  Anyway, back to my tips for cultivating self-belief! Acknowledge Your Strengths: Make a list of your achievements, skills and positive qualities. Reflect on them regularly to reinforce a positive self-image. Set Realistic Goals: Break down your long-term goals into smaller, achievable steps