Saturday, 10 December 2011

Stories

As my personal fitness trainer used to say "everyone has a story". This is his response to any whining or moaning that i decide to pitch to him before our session has even began. And he is right. It's odd that I think telling him that I am tired or stressed or pressured will help me train better. It wont. Or that he will treat the session any differently and take it easy on me. He wont. He's a smart cookie. I have written before about you think, you talk, you act and these self limiting stories have no place in a high performance mentality.


However stories can be your ally. They can be uplifting, inspiring and incredibly powerful. I long ago changed my story when training to "I feel fantastic, let's go have it" and if I do slip I now catch myself before my trainer does. Go listen to the stories of any top sportsman or highly successful business person and you will hear the same thing: positivity, excitement, passion, focus, bravery.......


Everyone has a story. What's your going to be?

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Principles vs Tactics

So what's the difference between a principle and a tactic. Well firstly let me describe each and then we can make the link.

Principles are absolute. They exist in their own right and are external to personal representation systems. Trust, integrity, courage, humility and honour are all examples of principles that are the bedrock to a character ethic. As individuals we develop and choose to own these as values - or not as the case may be. However they remain constant irrespective of our perceptions.

This is where tactics come in. So what is a tactic?

When you decide to act for gain by flexing the use of a principle then you are using tactics.
I have talked about doing the right thing before (no matter what) and it's along the same lines. You are either principled in an area or you are not. External factors should not affect your principles, if they do you are using tactics.

So embrace the principles you believe in and let them show you the way to authenticity and consistency.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Your Inner Voice

How often are you aware of the voice inside your head? Mine is currently helping me to write this blog and encouraging me to finish it today as I haven't written for a while. What does yours say to you? What is it saying now? Do you like what you hear?

I ran a great group session on this topic recently with the fantastic Laura Hussein where lots of people worked hard to examine their own inner voices and many were surprised with what they heard. This is not unusual as it's easy to let this internal dialogue just have it's say. But be wary - this voice is a powerful tool and a great ally if understood and used in a positive way. It can be critical, judgemental and assumptive. Or supportive, motivational and open minded. And remember it is your voice for you to control so take notice of it's pitch and tone. Check if it wants to help or hinder and ultimately if it is empowering or destructive.

So ignore the negative and encourage the positive and soon enough you will have your own personal inner performance coach to drive you to brilliance.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Perception Deception

There is no reality. All we have is our perception. Hence the expression that "Perception is Reality" Each of these perceptions is unique to us as individuals and have been formed by our genes, our experiences, our environment and most importantly by how we choose to think. And they can change over time or even in an instant as the above influences shape our view of the world. But you probably knew this already? And were aware of how it affects your emotions? And regularly make allowances for the deception it can cause?

You see the issue is that we have an incomplete and often warped sense of what is going on around us. And sometimes what's going on within us. Therefore our capacity to misjudge or overreact or misunderstand is huge. It's so huge that unless you consciously challenge yourself and disassociate from your own perception you will get caught out and get led astray. Don't expect a perfect vista by applying this process but you can welcome a rationale, reasoned and well balanced picture of events.

So be aware of perception deception. And try some different viewing angles.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

High Standards

Never apologise for high standards.

Some people will want you to. Some people will not match your expectations. Many will use their energy not to reach up and achieve. No matter. We must continue to push ourselves and pull others if we strive to get the best from us all. There will be distractions, detractors and destructive influences to overcome. Get used to them, embrace them and turn them if you can. The more that join you on your journey the higher your standards will become.

But don't do it by talking and telling and preaching. How you act and how you behave are the keys to success. So drive forwards, upwards and onwards and welcome people aboard as they ask to walk your path.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Try, Hope and Luck

I often go on about how important words are. They differentiate us.  They proceed and set up our actions. And when used wisely are the most powerful tool you have to encourage, motivate and drive yourself and others forward. Politicians are made (and damned) by them, therapists heal with them and leaders inspire with them. Is it any coincidence that professional speech writers are employed by many people across business and sports? We even talk in movie terms about great scripts and admire people who "have a way with words"

So where am I going with this? Well, there are three particular words that I would suggest you delete from your vocabulary. Permanently. They have no value and will hold you back every time they pass your lips. They are energy sappers, ambition thieves and goal terrorists. So what are these heinous words - try, luck and hope. Here's why:

In the words of Master Yoda "Do or not do - there is no try"

Benjamin Franklin wrote "He that lives upon hope will die fasting"

Gary Player said "The harder I practice the luckier I get"

So eradicate them and don't let them underpin your excuses. Replace hope for trust and you'll be amazed at the difference.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Who's drama is this?

I've had an interesting few weeks with lots of activities, travel, expectations and pressures to get things done. Now this situation and environment is nothing new to me and I actually enjoy having so much going on to the point where I positively encourage myself to create such a hubris. However I had a blip. I got wrapped into joining the problems and spent a few days scratching my head wondering how it had happened. After a little soul searching it was clear I had not practised what I continually preach in my work, blogs and tweets - no need to dwell on in, just recognise it, process it, learn from it and move forwards. Simple.

Now this blog is not about what I did as it was fairly unspectacular but I would like to tell you the story of a response I got from an innocuous tweet I sent just making a statement of my situation. Just at the point I was getting myself back together I got a tweet reply from a valued colleague saying "note to self - who's drama is this?" It hit me so hard I nearly fell over - I kid you not. The reason that this short, uncomplicated statement had such a profound impact is it cut to the core of my issue in a heartbeat. I had allowed myself to get embroiled in other people's "dramas" which added to the problem not the solution.

Now the positives don't end there. I have paid this forward several times in the last few weeks and what seems like a throw away comment has helped numerous people both in my work team and home life. It's as good as it gets. I asked for nothing and gained everything. Yet again an example of what you focus on just happens to appear in your view.

So I would like to thank the incredible @lynnpickford. Your choice words at the perfect time were a tonic for the soul.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Ridicule is Rocket Fuel.

It never ceases to amaze me how much time, energy and even creativity people put into ridiculing others. Whenever somebody does something different, unusual or out of the ordinary there is always a queue of cynics and pessimists ready to pounce. Whether it's blatant, subtle or humourous, this commentary is a sure fire sign that you are on the right track to fulfilment. Since the dawn of time our greatest achievers have been locked up, chased away and even murdered. Luckily for us there is little chance of suffering such attrocities in our (civilised?) world. All we have to contend with is small minded people who would rather focus their energies on us rather than doing something for themselves. So suck it up, use ridicule as rocket fuel and go create stuff.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Think Yourself Brilliant

I've just come back from a great golfing holiday with some good friends where we played a Ryder Cup style team event. I decided  to take the opportunity to observe and listen carefully throughout the games and also during the none golfing times to see what people said and also watch how they performed. Being a little competitive, ok a very competitive person myself, I consciously talk confidently and positively about my own intentions. Even during games whilst playing below my best my internal and external dialogue remains upbeat. However I was staggered when I realised just how much people actually talk their games down both before, during and after the match. Most of this was probably unintentional and I only noticed it so much because I was focused on listening for it. But what value does it have? Is there any reason to barrack yourself so much?  Be careful what you wish for as acts, follow words, follow thoughts. Think brilliance, say brilliant things, play brilliantly.

I was 2 down with 3 to play against the best player on tour on the final day. I had stayed up rather late the night before and had a little too much to drink. I wasn't exactly fresh. All day I had challenges with my game and was clinging on, barely! Giving my self a hard time really wasn't going to cut it. I used all the positive mental techniques at my disposal, and even with my sore head and dehydrated body I won the last hole with a sandy par to half the match. I was physically and mentally spent. And ecstatic.

So next time all you have are harsh words for yourself just reflect on how it makes you feel and what it will achieve. And say something else. The subconscious mind just does as it's told. And your in control.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Make yourself Dispensible to become Indispensible.

Sounds like a contradiction in terms however let me explain what I mean. The idea of developing talent is all about creating an environment to help people flourish and empowering them to make their own decisions. As we know this can be a slow process with many challenges and it is certainly not a quick fix solution. When you look at any process that involves change and growth there is always a struggle, maybe pain and sometimes even suffering. Think of the development of a child, the training of a champion or any scientific breakthrough. All covered in blood, sweat and tears but wearing proud smiles and standing tall at the end of the achievement.

So once you get your team or group to these heady heights then what next? Surely you have made yourself dispensable by definition. Well it's exactly the opposite. What companies need now more than ever is talent agents, change catalysts and improvement facilitators.

Once you harness the powers of empowering you will be on a perpetual roller coaster of breeding success and the world is your proverbial oyster.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Ask not what they can do for you...

How many times do we expect people to behave or act in a certain way and then get disappointed. Even when we have told them a gazillion times what you want them to do they still let you down. Some even think its better to actually ask them to do things and this is certainly a slightly better strategy. However there is a better way which requires us to be a little more collaborative and engaging. 

Perhaps we could ask people what they expect from us first? 


Friday, 6 May 2011

Brilliance Everywhere

Todays blog is going to be an indulgent reflection on a Sales Conference I have just returned from which was simply brilliant. From spectacular prizes, challenging sessions and amazing guest speakers - it was entertaining, thought provoking, life affirming and inspiring. My simple words do not do it justice.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank two amazing people who attended the event, namely Manj and Damien Hughes.

Although a brief session, Manj spent a few minutes confirming the powerful nature of visualisation and I have had the pleasure of seeing him previously present on creating high performance teams. If you have the slightest interest in the subject I implore you to find out more here.

Now to Damien. What can I say. Creative, relevant, realistic, authentic, enthusiastic and funny. He framed most of the sessions for the day and offered extraordinary insights into human potential. There was too much great stuff to mention here so go and find out for yourself here.

I would like to personally thank them for the time they gifted me on the day and wish them the very best for the future. I've found another two heroes to add to my list.

I will leave you with two very different ways to greet people.

"I'm on the crest of a slump" - Anon

"Im fantastic, but I'll get better" - the legend that is Zig Ziglar

Remember you Think, Speak, Act. Say the wrong one often enough and guess what you'll get?


Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Yes if........not no because

Give this a go for a day. Or maybe an hour. Do a week and really see the difference.

Every time you are faced with a request to do something, either from yourself or from someone else, think and respond with "Yes if...."

Shall I go to the gym today - yes if i make time in my diary now.
Can you finish that report early - yes if you help me prioritise my work.
Will you close that big deal this week - yes if we get the commercials signed off

Yes because has options, puts you in control and frames responsibility.

No beacause has no future. It's a dead stop.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Paying It Forward

I've had a few people ask me about what I meant by "Paying it forward" in my first blog so I thought I'd write a few words to explain what I meant. I wish I could take the credit for such a great idea however the concept has been around since ancient Greek times. It became famous in 2000 when the novel "Pay it Forward" by Catherine Ryan Hyde was released and it was popularised by the film of the same name starring Haley Joel Osment and Kevin Spacey. And you can find out more at

So what is it?

Most people will be familiar with the saying "Paying someone back" where a good deed or act of kindness (although sadly sometimes bad) is returned to the person who originally made the gesture. Although this is undoubtably a fantastic thing to do, "Paying it forward" takes philanthropy to another level. In this process, when you are the recipient of an act of generosity, you are asked to pass on this act to a different person therefore creating a perpetual path of goodness passing from person to person. With no end. And many unknown possibilities.

The skeptics will doubt it's effectiveness, the pessimists will think it is pointless and the critics will say it will never work.

I paid it forward today. I remember the moment and feel great. If the person talks about it even better. If they then act upon it how fantastic is that? I don't need to know what happens afterwards to reap the benefits. And neither do you.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

The Art of Doing the Right Thing

How often do you know what the right thing to do is but decide to follow a different path? It may be slightly out of kilter or it could be the absolute opposite. I'm not talking about realisation after the event where you have had chance to reflect but the occasions where your inner self taps you on the shoulder and you choose to ignore it. Understanding why you do this will help your decision making process and also improve your self awareness. Sometimes we do it out of fear. Or to avoid issues. There are many, many reasons.

So next time this is about to happen, pause, think, and unless you are aware why you are about to take a second class option don't do anything. Once you understand your reasons then go ahead with your choice. At least now you can truly accept responsibility for the actions you are about to take. And also the results you will get...

But beware. Doing the right thing will be become a way of life and not just a choice you make when things are easy.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Consciously Incompetent - A great way to be.

What do I mean by this? How can being incompetent be a good thing? Let me first explain the various levels in relation to driving a car:

Unconsciously incompetent - this is the point before you have any lessons and you haven't the foggiest idea where to start.

Consciously incompetent - this is when you become aware of what you need to do however haven't yet acquired the skills to drive. Even changing a gear is a mystery although you know you need to do it at some point.

Consciously competent - this is the point where you can actually drive but have to consciously think about the process such as apply clutch, changing gears, check mirrors. This is where you are at when you pass your test.

Unconsciously competent - at this level you just get in the car and everything comes naturally. This is achieved via practice and experience.

So lets get back to conscious incompetence and explore why this is such a great place to be.

It's quite simple.

This is the point where real learning starts and the potential for positive changes arise.

However you do have a choice to make.

You can choose the easy path and remain incompetent and this is your call to make. Or you can do the right thing (and there will be more about this in a later blog). So take up the challenge, change, and drive yourself forward to conscious competence. When you get there, enjoy the view, hone your skills, flex your worth and look for the next challenge.

This is a never ending journey and you may decide to take these skills to the next level of unconscious competence. But let's not get complacent. To get to this level takes perseverance. To stay at this level takes dedication. And don't be surprised if you drop back a little every now and again. It's all part of the fantastic process we call learning.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Rory McIlroy - An Amazing Performance

Hot topic today - and for those of you that are not golf fans please keep reading as I think there is a lesson for us all in what happened at the Masters. A lot has been said and written since Rorys final round on Sunday including "He lost focus", "He choked", "What a disaster" etc etc.

So lets take a couple of these in isolation.

Firstly "He lost focus" - we don't actually lose focus - however we may focus on the wrong things. Whatever Rory was focussing on for the first three rounds worked incredibly well and Im sure he will be working with his performance coach to find out what changed.

Secondly "He Choked" - I would have to disagree. He had a level par front nine. No bad thing at Augusta in my mind. Yes, he did have a couple of not so successful holes on the back nine and most of his problems were caused by two poor shots. Yet he composed himself and finished off steadily. I think he rallied.

Finally "What a disaster" - Really? Shot three rounds under 70 including a 65. Led the Masters for 3 days straight. And at the grand old age of 21.

If people can so easily view Rorys performance in such a negative way, is it any wonder that we miss the positives in our own great performances?

There is a BIG difference in learning from your mistakes rather than beating yourself up - the key is recognising the difference and changing for the better.



Tuesday, 12 April 2011

It's not what you know....

......it's who you know. A well coined and often misunderstood phrase that I feel needs a little attention. Well to a certain extent I'd agree with the ethos however I'd finish it off with

"and it's how much you help them that counts".

Don't get me wrong I'm not saying that knowledge is not useful. But knowing where this knowledge resides can be just as powerful. And knowing people who are indeed in the know can be a very useful thing too. However I would wager that the best way to optimise this situation is really develop the relationships you have with unequivocal assistance at every opportunity.

What have you got to lose? Nothing.

What have you got to gain? Friendships, alliances, stakeholders, supporters, comrades and companions.

So let's polish this statement up a little with "It's what you know and who you know and how you selflessly apply both to empower people." And even if it doesn't work you'll at least feel good about yourself.

Monday, 11 April 2011

A Brave New World

Here we go, my inaugural blog that I have been threatening to write and publicise to the wider world for a long time.  These will be my views, opinions, reflections, observations and rants and raves about coaching, psychology, enlightenment and all things brilliant. I trust you enjoy them, challenge them and ultimately make your own positive changes if they empower you. Even if they don't then feel free to let me know - especially if you can figure out why.
And if they do empower you?

Well pay it forward to all that will listen. I'm not expecting a tidal wave of change and at the moment I'm really talking to myself on an empty blog. But who knows, maybe we can change the world for the better and let's not apologise for giving it a go. Like Martin Luther King once said:

"You don't need to see the whole staircase to take the first step"

He was a wise man. I've taken my first step. The question is....what will your first step be?