How to Achieve Your Dreams in One Simple Step

Tree

I saw a life, branching out before me, like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonder future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and off beat professions, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of the tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant loosing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar

We live in an age where we have more information, technology and choice than any previous generation.

Want to book a flight overseas? No problem. Several apps will allow you to choose from hundreds of destinations.

Want to live in someone else’s house and reduce the cost of expensive hotels? Done. All from the comfort of your sofa.

Want to book an amazing restaurant in a hard to reach mountain range in Spain? Simple. Just a touchscreen away.

Whatever it is you want to do, you can pretty much get it done within 10 minutes.

So, why do we feel we are being left behind?

We compare ourselves to our friends and wonder if we could have the wonderful experiences they have had.
We look at Pinterest and imagine spending half the year living in a log cabin, or a penthouse, or a beach front property.

As a result we become swamped, wanting to achieve everything but ultimately achieving very little.

We read about the great times and experiences being had on Facebook and Twitter and wonder if we will ever get close to this sense of fulfillment.

The reason for feeling like this?

Inaction.

Everyone has goals and dreams, everyone.
Think about your own personal goals and dreams and jump back 10 years.
How many have you achieved?

Congratulations are in order if you have achieved some or all of them, you are the exception to the rule. Many, no doubt, will look back and wonder what happened to life. How did we get to this point? 2006 was only a few years ago, right?

Although we have the gift of technology and information and choice, inaction often rules. It is much easier to sit back and inhale a whole series on Netflix, right?

Inaction is often disguised as fear and procrastination – the latter being one of my most close friends.

We have goals and dreams and we create reasons why we can’t achieve them.
We actually reinforce failure and support it with, what we believe to be, genuine reasons.

A little exercise for you:

Think about your biggest goal and dream right now and imagine it failing miserably.
What would this mean to you and how would you overcome this setback?

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being catastrophic) rate where you would be if you attempted to achieve your dream and failed.

Most people would range between 3 and 6 – serious, perhaps, but low enough to recover and move on with life.

Now imagine a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being ecstatic) and rate where you would be if you achieved your dream.

Most people will be 8 and upwards.

Just compare those two results for a moment.

We are allowing inaction and a relatively low number in terms of failure (and the contributing fear) to control our desire to achieve our dream and feel fantastic about it.

How wonderful it would be if we made a true decision and ignore the nagging voices in our head.

The good news?

It is never too late.

Whether you are in your twenties and just finding your feet, in your thirties and worrying about what the next few years may bring or in your forties and thinking it might be too late, it is never too late.

You can start today, if you choose to do so.

There are many branches and there is much fruit to provide distraction.

Work out which branch your dream is hanging from and go get it.

Believe and (importantly) take action.

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How Rich Do You Want To Be Right Now?

Bridge

One of my all time favourite actors is Stanley Tucci.
Many, at this point, will be saying ‘Who?’ and I don’t blame you.

Although he is famous you may struggle to list the films he has been in.
Would it surprise you to know he has featured in ‘Hunger Games’, ‘The Terminal’, ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, ‘Transformers’, ‘The Muppets’ and the recently Oscar nominated ‘Spotlight.’

He rarely takes the lead role but his performances are always excellent, with Golden Globe and BAFTA wins illustrating his skill.

One film not on the above list is Margin Call, which follows an investment bank in New York just before the recent financial crisis kicks in.

In one scene Stanley’s character talks about what he did, before he moved into investment banking.

By the way, if you are of a nervous disposition do not click on the link.
The scene has a couple of F-Bombs – we can take it though, right?

 

 

I guess his speech can be translated in a number of ways and you would have to watch the film, to understand the true context of what he is saying.

What grabbed me more was the visual element of the bridge.
Something that was simple but so effective in making a huge difference to people’s lives.

They no longer had to take the long way round and the result was more time.

Time to do what?

Whatever they want to do.

Since I recently left a job of 15 years I have spent a lot of time thinking about what is important.

I also listen to my friends and family about what is important to them and also, on the flip side, what frustrates them.

Many will make the mistake of thinking a bigger and better salary is key to unlocking what they want.

Money is important, don’t get me wrong, but it should not be at the top of the list.

There is another currency that exists, that people forget about.
A currency often in short supply and high in demand – the currency is time.

I don’t know a single person who does not complain about a lack of time, whether this is down to a deadline at work, the end of great weekend or wanting to revisit a period in their earlier life.

As a race we are generally time poor, or at least we believe we are.

The person who earns £75,000 a year and works 80 hours a week, is not necessarily more rich than the person who earns £30,000 and works a standard 35 hour week.

Life should be about the experiences you want to create – you don’t always need money, or lots of it, to achieve this.

Your experience menu may be very simple.

Your menu may be about seeing your friends and family more frequently, nothing more and nothing less.

For others it may be about traveling the world and yes, you can travel the world for very little.

See here, for proof http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/the-ultimate-guide-to-traveling-when-you-have-no-money/

Ultimately it is about taking stock, understanding what is important to you and taking action.

What experiences do you want to create?

If you are stood on one side of the river, a river running so fast and deep it would be impossible to cross, what bridges are you building?

How are you going to become time rich?

Believe and take action.

How to Solve Depressed Fish Syndrome

2015_07_Life-of-Pix-free-stock-photos-fish-sea-life-juliacaesar

I took a trip to The Deep, in Hull, recently.

I highly recommend it, if you get the chance to go.
Great for adults and kids alike and my three year old Daughter loved it.

We had spent a couple of hours, wandering around, looking at all the different fish – they even had penguins.

I was impressed by how big the tanks were – incredible, vast, units holding thousands of gallons of water.

The venue mostly had low lighting, I guess to help the fish, which created a magical feel as the light reflected off the glass and around the rooms.

We were coming to the end of our time at The Deep and one of the last sections involves walking through a glass tunnel.

All around, including above me, fish darted around the huge tank.

It provided a really good opportunity to see the fish up close.

Fish at the best of times do not appear to be that happy (unless they are Clown Fish – Zinger!) and a strange thought popped into my head. ‘Do fish get depressed?’

They pretty much do the same thing all day, there is no variation in what they do and they are constantly stared at – not great for the self esteem I would imagine. Add in the fact they live in the same space and see the same fish all the time, their ability to encounter new experiences is pretty slim.

Then I started to wonder if we too are like fish.

Are we swimming around in the same tank, treading the same water and being observed by the same people?

What image are we projecting to the people observing us?

About 100ft from where I was standing, in the The Deep, was fish freedom. The building is situated on the River Humber and it would not take long for the fish to reach the North Sea.

Now, for the purposes of this article, let’s all assume the fish could cope in cold water – I’m sure they could..

I started to wonder how they would feel if they felt this freedom.

Excited? Overwhelmed? Scared?

They would certainly experience something new and feeling may be very liberating for some of the fish. For others (if my earlier scientific estimate is wrong – ahem) it could result in increased risk of predators and death.

Are we too comfortable in our own tanks, at work and at home?

Think about the last five years and what you have experienced.
What would you change? What would you do differently?

I’m not advocating regret here, simply reminding you about the opportunity to shape your future.

It was at this point I decided that we are not like fish, swimming around in the tank. The following reasons convinced me that we overcome this syndrome on a daily basis.

1) Unlike the fish, we have the ability to influence our environment.
Much of this is down to making a choice about how we choose to perceive the world and the people around us. Many people believe changing a mindset is difficult but it can happen for you, if you choose to do so.

2) Our brains are wonderful complex instruments.
We have an incredible capacity for curiosity and learning – the fish do not. Their basic thoughts are ‘Where can I source food?’ and ‘Will I be eaten today?’

3) We can build amazing relationships with people.
Every time you interact with someone, you have an opportunity to strengthen or weaken that relationship. Imagine having power like that, including the power to remove those relationships that harm you.

4) Our most vivid memories will be inextricably linked to experience.
Think about your top three experiences ever and describe what makes them the top three. I guarantee it will be the way these experiences made you feel.

5) We can create new experiences all the time.
We live in a world where connectivity is no longer a problem.
You can hop on a plane and be on the other side of the world, in less than 12 hours. You can create a new top three, all the time.

For anyone suddenly worried about the life they are leading right now, it is not about casting a question mark over this.

There should be no target for how happy you want to be, in fact I encourage you to sit down and reflect on what is making you happy right now.

If you would like to read more on this topic, then please click here.

You have amazing opportunity, a world with infinite possibility, make the most of it.

You are definitely not fish.

Believe and take action.

Knowing Why You Want to Live is Important

Broken Heart

Back in the early 2000’s I applied to be a Police Officer.

The assessment had several elements including tests on vision, hearing, decision making etc.

Each step of the assessment acted as a filter, weeding out those unsuitable.

I made it to the last day, the fitness test.

I considered myself reasonably fit, although I had not played any team sports for a few years.

Leading up to the final day I had been out running and improving my fitness, but not taking it completely seriously. I was relying way too much on a memory of how I remembered my fitness, back in High School and College.

I quickly found out, during the fitness test, my memory had tricked me. I failed the test and went home feeling incredibly angry with myself.

The most frustrating thing, to this day, was how relatively simple the fitness test was. Don’t get me wrong, it was no walk in the park but I should have passed it.

Had I passed the test and been accepted my life would have been completely different. It is unlikely I would have met my wife in the way I did (outside a toilet, in a nightclub, in Marbella – another blog post, perhaps?) nor would I have my amazing three year old Daughter. Every cloud and all that.

Jump forward to 2016 and the hazy memory of my fitness is a fog so thick, you could knit jumpers with it.

At 36 I have started to notice my body grumble and complain a lot more. In the last six months I have made more visits to the GP or Hospital than the last 35 combined. It has been nothing serious(thankfully) but enough to completely re-think my lifestyle.

Ultimately it is down to the issue of weight.
I love food, I love wine and when I get stressed I eat.
Although I average aroind twenty five miles of walking a week, this is not enough to offset my calorama.

In ‘Why You Suck at Making Resolutions and How to Stop Sucking‘ I explained why telling someone your New Year Resolution was a bad idea. I want to make it clear, this piece is not about resolution – more revolution!

I started to think about lifestyle goals and what I wanted to achieve, not over the next year but over the next five to ten.

I have a number of things written down and how I will set about achieving them. I then started to think about why the goals were important to me.

When setting a goal it is important to understand how you are going to achieve it, but more importantly you have to know why you want to achieve it.

If there is no motive or sense of purpose then the goal becomes confused.

My single biggest fear is triggered when I see a news story, a TV programme or a film where the child’s father has passed away unexpectedly. I get all choked up when I think about the possibility of my Daughter having a distant memory of me, struggling to remember what I was like, due to pizza.

The recent visits to the GP have confirmed I need to make changes to my lifestyle, otherwise the issues are likely to develop into something more serious and irreversible.

I have started an eating plan to kick start some of the weight loss and help revive a sluggish metabolism.

Whilst the rapid descent of my weight loss is not sustainable (it is only the first week) I have lost 10lbs. If you are interested in the plan I will host it in the pages section, here.

When you are setting a goal it is never enough to just think about the result, you have to match this up with why you want to achieve it.

Think about your people at work. If you have any form of line responsibility then coaching/guiding/providing feedback (whatever you are most comfortable calling it) will be part of your daily/weekly activity.

It is easy to provide direction and show/explain to someone how they need to do something.

Giving them a reason why they should achieve the goal and continue to achieve the goal, makes it come alive and in most cases, will personalise it – making it even more powerful.

You don’t need something as dramatic as your own funeral, you just need a hook that means the goal is sustainable and won’t fizzle out after the first few days/weeks/months.

If you are struggling to achieve a goal then sit down and ask yourself why this goal is important and what it will mean to you, if you fail. This will help unlock whether the goal is something you truly want to work on, or it could shift the boundaries and a new goal may be formed.

Now, where’s the Gaviscon…

Believe and take action.

Why You Suck at Making Resolutions and How to Stop Sucking

scrabble-resolutions

It’s that time of year, when we start to take stock of the previous 12 months. We reflect on personal achievements, failures, relationships and what the following 12 months may bring.

How many of you set New Years resolutions?

Most of us will form some type of commitment, something to enhance our lives, in the coming weeks.

January is a popular time for getting fit and losing weight, after the over indulgence of Christmas.

We will go back into the office and often tell people about our resolutions and how fabulous we will look on the breach, or how we are going to make more time for friends or how we are going to complete a 12 month reading list by the end of April.

There’s just one tiny little issue with broadcasting your resolutions..

You will rarely achieve your goal and the desire to achieve this goal is often dead and buried, before you have even started.

Why do so many gym memberships end up being discarded?
Why do so many books end up on the shelf?
Why do we get to the end of 2016 and wish we had connected more?

The mistake you are making, is telling everyone about it.

The brain is incredibly complex and by telling people about your resolution, you are tricking your brain into thinking it has achieved it (or at least part achieved it) already.

Think about conversations you’ve had in the past.

You tell someone about your goal/resolution and you get a lovely pat on the back from your friend or Colleague.

‘Ooh, well done. I don’t think I would have the discipline to read 12 books in a year – go, you!’

Kinda feels nice, huh? Like we’ve almost achieved something without even picking up a book.

Hey, this resolution game is easy!

As humans we crave praise, attention and validation.

When get the pat on the back the brain releases chemicals that make us feel good and all gooey about ourselves. You relax a little, basking in the glory of what you have achieved and…

Hang on a second, you’ve not even picked up the first book or read the blurb on the back!

This ‘pat on the back’ syndrome can be deadly when setting those resolutions in January.

The alternative is quite simple.

Make the resolution, set the goal and don’t tell anyone – not even your best friend.

Studies show you are far more likely to achieve what you want by keeping it a secret. I know this will be incredibly hard for many people, myself included, but you can make it happen – if you so chose.

I’ll give you a personal example.

Earlier this year we had a monthly focus at work and each month would represent a particular value.

The theme for my month was ‘positive’ and it was down to me what I did and how I chose to promote this particular value.

I had a schedule of activity, during the month, including visuals, sharing some of the older blog posts and a focus on colleagues thanking each other more frequently. I communicated all of this but kept something back, just for me, something I did not tell anyone else about.

I have mentioned it in previous articles – my goal was to have a positive frame of mind, every day, with every person or situation I dealt with.

For anyone that has ever tried this, you will know initially how exhausting this can be. We subconsciously make judgments, pre-determine outcomes and focus on the negative without even realising.

To flip this menatality is challenging, but incredibly rewarding, I actually felt better about myself, the impact I was having on others and going home feeling I had achieved more.

I told no one about it and if I had I think I would have experienced some of the ‘pat on the back’ syndrome. I may not have achieved as much as I did if I had shared and received the attention, the praise and validation we all crave.

If you are thinking about a resolution or goal for 2016 then tackling it differently is key to success.

Instead of sharing the goal, write it down, place it in an envelope and seal it.

Studies show that writing down what you want to achieve can be incredibly effective.

In effect you are making a contract with yourself and your brain. Your brain starts working out how it can achieve the goal.

It even does this when you are not thinking about the goal, deep in the recess of the subconscious.

Incredible to think the brain works in a completely different way, depending on whether you are telling someone about your goal, or if you are writing a letter to yourself.

Put the envelope somewhere safe and open it on a date of your choosing – depending on the goal set and the time frame you want to achieve this over.

If you want to take it a step further then ask a friend to look after the envelope for you, making it clear they are not to open it and you will not be telling them about the contents of the letter!

So there you have it.

The single most powerful way to achieve your resolution – keep it secret.

Happy 2016!

Believe and take action.

Breaking Good – Why You Should Embrace Failure

construction-work-carpenter-tools

 

My Daughter is now old enough to negotiate the stairs in the house and has for a while.

I still get nervous when she is at the top, starting to make her way down.

As a result we have probably kept the stair gates on for longer than absolutely necessary.

For anyone who has traversed baby gates you will know the initial awkwardness.

Very tricky to begin with, attempting to step over them and miss a step – it is even more challenging at 1am after a bottle of red!

After a while it becomes second nature – unless you are a guest.

My parents recently came round for Dinner and they have never quite got the hang of negotiating the gates.

My Mum finds it especially challenging.

In the past, instead of using the bannister, she uses the frame of the gate (putting all her weight on it), to help pull herself over the bottom part of the frame.

Now, the gate is not designed to take the weight of an adult – I’m not even sure it would take much effort from a toddler to dislodge it. The gate is kept in pace by a screw and a flat piece of plastic – this expands outwards and fits to the wall, or the banister depending on how your stairs are set up.

Telling your Mum not to do something is near on impossible, but I’ve encouraged her to use the banister and not the gate – warning the gate is likely to break away from the wall.

I hear a thump from the landing and a small voice, ‘Oh, no.’

On the landing I find my Mum trying to hold the gate up, both brackets had come away from the wall. She had used the gate as a leaning post again.

My Daughter found it incredibly funny and took great delight in telling my Dad about the accident!

We took the gate away and as much as I wanted to fix it there and then, worried about My Daughter playing near the steps, we decided to leave it and fix it later.

It has been several days since the gate came away from the wall and do you know what? We decided not to fit it back on the wall.

My Daughter has not thrown herself down the stairs and is aware of the danger of playing near the top of the steps.

It also makes the landing look a lot bigger and we don’t have to worry about tripping over the metal bar, especially after that bottle of red. Ultimately it makes going up and down the stairs easier.

When something breaks or a situation changes, we immediately think we have to fix it. Sometimes it is not always necessary and it can actually reveals a different solution – something that may actually be better.

I have been involved in a number of scenario’s at work where a process or system has failed. In doing so we had to get creative to fix it, or there was a realisation that in breaking it presented a new opportunity.

There are several famous examples of mistakes, of things not going to plan, that worked out for the better.

Guinness – Burnt the hops by accident and created the unique taste it has today.

Coke – Used as a cure for headaches initially. An assistant accidentally mixed with carbonated water

Corn flakes – Boiled wheat became stale, so it was put through rollers hoping for a dough to be used for cooking. Instead of dough and they got flakes which people loved.

Slinky – A naval engineer was trying to use a spring to stabilise a part of the ship. The spring fell off the shelf and it continued moving. They saw the potential and started selling it as a toy.

Play-Doh – It was initially an attempt to make a wall paper cleaner, which failed, resulting in a clay like mixture.

All of these products have gone on to sell millions, all because of mistakes or scenario’s initially classed as failure.

It is not always necessary to dive straight in, looking for a new and immediate fix.

Take a step back and gain some perspective – it’s never as bad as you think.

Some questions to consider, if it breaks:

Has the mistake or failure revealed anything new or interesting?
What new opportunity does it provide?
How does it change or challenge your thinking?
How can you share this with others?

If it’s broke, you don’t always need to fix it.

Believe and take action.

Eight Awesome and Unique Christmas Gift Ideas

Christmas Wreath

As the last frantic days of shopping approach I wanted to share 8 gift ideas. Some of the gifts will cost you no money at all and some of the gifts can be for people you have never met.

Here are 8 ideas that may reduce stress, add a personal touch and make the Christmas period very memorable.

Writing a Letter

The evolution of e-mail, text and social media means the art of letter writing is slowly dying. In fact I imagine many people have never written a letter, ever. Taking the time to write something, putting thought into it, will mean a lot the recipient. It could be a letter to a loved one (great if you sometimes struggle to verbalise how you feel) or someone who has had a big impact on your personal or working life. I guarantee this gift will be remembered for years to come.

Charity Donation

Christmas can seem very money orientated and there will be many people, on Christmas morning, who wake up with very little. Perhaps donating to a relevant charity could be a small way of making a difference. Many companies have links with local charities, specifically geared towards helping families and especially children at Christmas. For the price of a few cups of coffee, you could really put a smile on someone’s face and make it memorable for the right reasons. I have supported http://shop.savethechildren.org.uk/wishlist-landing/ in the past, but there are so many to choose from.

Apple or Amazon?

Whilst it may seem impersonal, gifting an Apple or Amazon gift card/e-card can make for a great present.
You don’t have the awkwardness of getting the gift wrong, they can choose exactly what they want and hopefully the gift they choose will remind you of them when they use it. If you want to take it a notch further, most Apple or Amazon music can be gifted directly to the individual, if you know their details. A great way of surprising someone.

Pay it Forward

Not as popular in the UK, as it is in the US, but it is definitely on the rise. Many companies will allow you to buy food or drink for the homeless – Starbucks and McDonalds for exampls. All you need to do is ask and if they operate the scheme, tell them what you want to pay for. When someone homeless comes into the venue, they will check to see if anything is available and if it is they will be given a free drink or meal. Simple and very powerful.

Reconnect

How many relationships have eroded over the course of the last year, perhaps even longer. It may seem schmaltzy but Christmas can be a great time of year to reconnect and get things back on track.
If you are struggling with how you might do this at work, see the next suggestion.

Help Someone

They could have a personal problem or they may just need help with a chore. Putting some time aside to help will make a huge difference. Sometimes just listening is enough, especially if the person is struggling with a solution. In most cases, when we deal with a problem, the answer is already within us – talking about it helps to tease out the solution and having someone listen can be very valuable.

Volunteer Work

Time is precious and we have more time than we think we do. It is how we choose to spend our time that can make it feel we either have lots or very little. Volunteer work can be a great use of that time and can have a powerful impact on individuals or a collective. There are many schemes out there, so think about what is important to you and your values – there will be something out there for everyone. https://do-it.org/ is one of the most popular organisations, linking volunteers to the right opportunity.

Subscriptions

You may know someone who is passionate about a particular topic or wants to learn more. Subscription services have become a great way of providing something unique and memorable. Some subscriptions can be done month by month, others require a longer commitment. Personally I love coffee and a great coffee subscription, to introduce me to different roasters and types of coffee, would be incredible (my Wife sometimes reads the blog and sometimes does not – hopefully this is one she picks up on!).

I would love to hear about your experiences and the positive impact the above gifts will have.

Believe and take action.

8 Simple Ways to Deal with a Trump

Trump

 

Donald Trump – block entry to the UK (558, 895 signatures)

UK Borders – Zero immigration until ISIS is defeated (453, 625 signatures)

Military Action – No action in Syria in response to the Paris attacks (226,332)

If you visit https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions?state=open you will see multiple petitions, all with varying topics. I have chosen three of the most popular and they concern banning or preventing something from happening.

The British Government require 10,000 signatures before it will respond.
If 100,000 signatures are collected it may debate the issue in Parliament.

As social media has grown, we feel we have a stronger voice – one that will be listened to.

Undoubtedly this has many benefits and you can quickly gain support from people you have never met, on the other side of the world, on any topic you care to mention.

I sigh when I see this medium used negatively to assert an opinion that things should be banned.

Take Donald Trump for example.

For anyone casting a cursory glance over the news, he has been hard to miss over the last few weeks.
He has led with several controversial statements and speeches, many of which have been used to disturb and unsettle the American public.

Over half a million people in the UK have signed a petition, against Trump, asking for a ban on any attempt to enter the UK.

Two other popular petitions are linked to banning all immigration until ISIS are defeated and a ban on any military action post Paris – Presumably the same people did not sign both petitions..

The desire to ban something or someone is based on an emotional response – often anger or fear.

When our gut instinct is to ban, we have to be incredibly careful about the environment we are creating.

If all we do is advocate banning something we dislike, eventually something you feel passionate about could be banned.

So, what are the alternatives to banning and how can we deal with something, or someone, we instantly take a dislike to?

1) Ignore it

If you passionately disagree with something, you have a choice – don’t listen. Sometimes we become so offended and upset that we want to instantly fight back. Often the most simple form of attack is to switch the volume off.

2) Allow it

In the example of Trump there are clearly people who will be persuaded by his rhetoric. If you believe someone’s statements are so ridiculous they border on parody then allow them to keep talking. A small group may support and agree but the general population will see it for what it is and laugh.

3) Unpick the argument not the person

It is very easy to exaggerate what is being said or to exaggerate the personality of the person in question. Don’t make the mistake of focusing on the person, focus on the argument. In focusing on the latter you minimise the risk of becoming distracted and missing the point.

4) Understand the motive

You may not agree with what is being said, but understanding the motive is important. If you understand what they are trying to achieve it reinforces the third point and makes the next point more effective.

5) Offer a counter

You disagree, which is great – conflict can be a positive emotion.
If you disagree, be ready with a counter and why their belief or statement is flawed.

6) It is not about winning

Your counter is not a right hook to floor your opponent.
Remove any idea you have about winning or losing the discussion.
If your motive is ‘to win’ you will keep hammering home the same points and the impact will be lost.

7) Opinion Vs Fact

Remember, opinion and fact are often confused as one and the same.
If facts are offered then check them out, or ask them to provide proof.
If you offer a counter, then remember – some of what you will be saying is opinion and not fact.

8) Accept you will both disagree

Debate means you open the issue out and analyse it, deconstruct it and tear it apart. You may find common ground, you may find yourself even further away. Either outcome can help shape a new view or cement your original thoughts and feelings.

Banning anything will not get rid of the issue.

It may change the way we deal with it legally, it may push the issue underground or new and more complex issues come about as a result but the reality is the issue will still exist.

By all means voice your opinion, state your case and why you disagree.
Fuel the fire and light the passions – make sure people know how you feel.
Just remember, they may not always agree with you.

That has to feel better than filling out a petition, right?

Believe and take action.

Talent – Hiding in Plain Sight

Spider Web

If I had to pick a favourite season Autumn would probably be that season.

From the vibrant colours in the leaves, to the crispness in the air, everything takes me back to being a kid. I can remember collecting conkers, in a place (lot of imagination used here) called Conker City.

I would spend ages throwing sticks up into the trees, or searching for the best conkers among the sludgy brown leaves on the floor. Even now the smell of damp grass and mud takes me back to coming home covered in dirt trying to execute the perfect slide tackle, playing football.

I went for a walk, recently, with dampness and moisture was hanging in the air. The type of weather where you can instantly see your breath.

I will often pass a wooden where plants and creepers will slink around it. For the last few days it had not caught my eye, but today it did.

In the corner of the gazebo, I could see multiple spider webs.
The webs had tens, if not hundreds, of little water droplets reflecting in the light and the damp weather revealed them all perfectly. I took a closer look at the webs, being careful and ensuring I was not cocooned and carried away by the Spider General.

I think everyone is aware of what a spiders web looks like, but if you get the chance I encourage you to take a closer look.

I’m always amazed by the structure, the intricacy and the design of a spider web. I could see the webs every single day (regardless of the weather conditions) if I chose to do so. In this case I only really noticed becaused something caught my attention.

It got me thinking about how we observe the world and the choices we make.

We constantly use filters, we are affected by bias and choose to see what we want to see.

The real shame about this is the talent we don’t see.

You will interact with many people who have incredible talent or, at the very least, the potential for incredible talent.

Our filters mean their talent will be missed and without the right level of support the talent could fizzle out.

Whether we are in a leadership role or not everyone has a responsibility to encourage others, to insist they showcase their talent and to make the most of it.

There are many ways in which you can achieve this, the first part is simple switching down the filters.

Doing this will increase your awareness of the talent out there.

If you want to help others there are many ways in which you can do this.

For me, the two most important and powerful techniques are listening and giving them a voice.

Spend some time with them, understand what they want to achieve or what support they require.

Give them a voice to express ideas and new ways of working.
Give them the responsibility of making this happen. Watch them go.

There is opportunity with every interaction you have – you just have to choose to see it.

Don’t wait for the obvious to present itself, go searching – you might be amazed at what you find.

Hopefully it won’t be the Spider General.

Believe and take action.

Sixteen Lessons From Fourteen Years

NoteapadI recently left the company I have worked for, since 2001.

A lot has changed since then, for example the first generation iPod had not even been released! Remember the fly wheel?

I wanted to dilute all my major learning and share this with you. If anyone is just starting out in a Leadership role, hopefully this will give you a jump start – or at least make you reflect.

1) Have a Strong Sense of Purpose

This should underpin everything you do in life – including work.
What are you passionate about, what excites you, what gives you a great sense of achievement? How does this showcase the very best of you? How can you share this passion and get other people excited about it?

2) Mistakes

Mistakes are vital in helping us to learn about ourselves and improve our performance. Of course you don’t want to make mistakes, but don’t allow them to swallow you whole.

3) Will it Matter in a Year’s Time?

Sometimes we do allow issues to swallow us whole, we become panicked and we can’t sleep at night. Sometimes it can be hard to take a step back and gain some perspective. One way of doing this is asking whether the issue will matter in a year’s time.
I guarantee that 99% of the issues will not matter in a year’s time – stop giving yourself such a hard time.

4) It Might Get Worse, Before it Gets Worse

The reality is you can be dealing with a really crappy situation and you think you have reached rock bottom. Then something else happens, to make it worse and then something else happens, to make it worse.
You are still here, you survived and you have great resillience – it will be OK.

5) Intent Vs Behaviour

When we talk about ourselves we often talk about our intent. When we talk about others we often talk about their behaviour. It is easy to mix the two up but behaviour wins, every time. Period. Be honest with yourself and others.

6) Opinion Vs Fact

Many people mistake opinion as fact – don’t accept everything at face value. Question it, ask them to prove what they are saying.
There have been many times I held back or did not contribute in a work setting was because of this. You may come across people that make a lot of noise. It does not mean the noise is of value.

7) Have a Sense of Urgency

If you are laid back it can be a great characteristic to have (keeps people calm) it can also set the wrong perception (does he not care?)
Everything you do can have a sense of urgency and you can achieve far more than you believe is possible. Be passionate about achieving a deadline or helping someone – don’t allow distractions to get in the way

8) Failure is Your Responsibility

If you mess up, take responsibility.
Don’t try and blame someone else or the situation.
Take it on the chin, keep the mistake small (see above) and move on.

9) The Small Details Matter

From being on time, to remembering someone’s name, to making a point of thanking someone personally – the small stuff matters.
The majority of people will not remember the things you said, or the work you delivered, but they will absolutely remember how you made them feel.

10) Positivity

In July of this year I set a personal goal to be positive with everything – no exceptions. I did not success 100% of the time and it could be exhausting having to switch my way of thinking.
However, I was surprised by how much better I felt and it changed the way I viewed certain situations/people for the better – you absolutely can change your mindset, if you choose to.

11) Don’t Allow Fear to be the Decision Maker.

I can’t tell you how many times I talked myself out of certain things, due to fear. I regret many of those decisions (or lack of action) and I wish I had swallowed the fear and done it anyway.
During the times I have ignored the nagging voice in my head it has always been a positive experience.

12) It’s Never to Late to Say Sorry

I can be incredibly stubborn.
Pride (fear in disguise) often creates anxiety and ultimately damages relationships if allowed to fester for too long. Saying sorry (if it is the right thing to do and you know it is!) can be very hard, but it is the right thing to do it – See above message about fear

13) If You Are Saying Yes, What Are You Saying No To?

Yes, work is incredibly important and there are times where you absolutely have to be flexible. However, if you are saying yes to every demand made of you, then you are ultimately saying no to something else. When we look back on our lives we will not wish we could have attended more meetings or replied to that e-mail, but to have spent more time with our friends and family and pursuing our passions.

14) Perception is Everything

It does not matter what image you think you are projecting, or want to project, it is your audience and the people around you that will make their own mind up. Check in with them from time to time and make sure their perception of you is something you are happy with.

15) Everything is Theatre

A dear friend and mentor once told me that ‘everything is theatre’ and we are ultimately putting on a show. This starts the moment you walk through the door and into the office. What type of performance do you want to put on? How do you want your audience to react? Will they want an encore?

16) Everything is a Choice

Very controversial for some people, but the reality is everything is a choice. There may be some small exceptions linked to environment but ultimately we are in charge of the choices we make.
If you make the wrong choice you have to be responsible for the failure (see above)

What has been your biggest learning in your career to date?

I would love to hear about your experiences.

Believe and take action.