Personal Resilience – Mind Rescue Kit

Stressed and overwhelmed? This simple course will help you to take back control of your life.

mind_rescue_kit

Mind Rescue Kit is exactly what it sounds like – a practical course that will take you from stressed and overwhelmed to calm, focused and resourceful.

It combines ideas and exercises from Psychology, NLP and Coaching to increase your mental resilience, creating a positive effect for you in your life.

You learn everything you need to know through a series of practical exercises, so you can make a positive difference in your life while you’re still trying it out.

Specifically, you’ll learn:

  • How to take control of your state of mind (and why that’s so important)
  • How to master your internal dialogue (a master-skill)
  • How to make goals like the world’s most successful people do
  • How to recapture your drive and stay motivated
  • What feedback really is – and why you need to get it right

In short, you’ll understand yourself a bit better, so you can get yourself into a more resourceful mindset and have a workable plan for your future.

If that’s what you need, sign up below.

£75 £15 while places last.

Go here to book now

“I don’t need a coach”

“I’m doing well at what I do. No one can just come in and tell me how to do it better – they don’t know my business.”

That could well be true – and that isn’t what a coach does anyway.

Before considering what a coach does, consider this:

  • Usain Bolt has a coach
  • Barack Obama has a coach
  • Madonna has a coach

These are people at the very pinnacle of their profession – and they all benefit from the services of a coach.

How?

To answer that, you need to know what a coach actually does that adds such tremendous value for even these high performers.

Coaching isn’t for wimps – it can involve looking into areas that you would rather ignore, or are sensitive about. This is usually where the greatest benefit of change may be found. It takes courage and a high degree of personal honesty to explore these areas – and grow as a result.

What is valuable about coaching?

  1. The coach acts as a sounding board for your ideas and outcomes.
    The important things in life often need some consideration. What if you could have someone really listen and help you to clarify your thoughts while you think out loud?
  2. The coach pinpoints any blind spots in your thinking.
    We all, at times, miss something important that is going on in our lives because we don’t know to look for it. It’s good to have a second pair of eyes looking out for new opportunities and things that are sabotaging your success.
  3. The coach helps you to create breakthroughs in vital areas of your life
    Sometimes, we get stuck and can’t see a solution or sometimes your performance plateaus. The insight of a person who thinks differently from you is vital at this point.

To find out how valuable this is to you, ask yourself this question:

“What impact would each of these three benefits have on your work life, your personal effectiveness or your happiness?”

Really think about it – and now is the time for some of that personal honesty – keep going until you have a list of at least ten items.

Now look at your list – how important is it to you to achieve those?

If you want to take this further, contact me. I can help you to do this.

Changing behaviour – Leveraging Values

In NLP, we talk a lot about ‘values’ – those ideas and concepts that hold importance for each of us.

It’s widely believed that knowing your values in a specific area of life, or for a specific outcome is a positive thing.

However, ‘leveraging’ values has received a lot of bad press, often described as manipulative and therefore given negative connotations (e.g. the usual approach to making a new law more palatable to the population is to tie it back into values – “putting your fingerprints on your passport is about security”. You’ve probably heard someone say “I don’t like it… but security is really important to me”.)

I like to give examples of how these tools can be used positively to create useful changes in behaviour, so I’ve included the video below which leverages ‘fun’ :

Embracing change

It’s Spring at last – a time for beginnings and new growth. What new ventures are you considering at the moment?

Previously, I talked about the importance of change. I’m actually going to go so far as to say that change is inevitable.

Not eventually.

Not dramatically.

Not at some carefully considered point in the future.

It’s happening right now.

We don’t pay attention to everything all the time – and we rarely pay attention to small changes. However, those small changes can really add up. Quickly.

Change is inevitable, so if you don’t decide what changes you want, you may be subject to unplanned (and likely unfavourable) events in your life.

You’ve probably noticed that the amount of new information is accelerating – and change is accelerating with it.

It’s not time for doom and gloom though. It’s time to be proactive and to begin designing your future.

Not all designs work out as planned, so I’ve provided some guidelines that successful people use implicitly and which you can begin to use explicitly.

These are:

While following these guidelines doesn’t guarantee success, they will give you a better idea of what is workable and give you ways to get started on your hopes and dreams instead of waiting and hoping.

That’s all for now because I don’t want to dilute the message. Be proactive – do something and do it today…

About Planning – An Update

It’s no secret that most of us spend too much time thinking before we move into action. When most of us think or talk about doing something, we call that activity ‘planning’.

I’ve written a lot about the virtues of planning correctly, so let’s look at the liabilities with certain types of plan.

  1. Your plan must not be set in stone
    An inflexible plan is blind to feedback. That’s a bit like driving at the speed limit on the motorway, despite the upcoming traffic jam. Disaster.
  2. Your plan must be more about your outcome than the means of achieving it
    Again, this is a statement of flexibility. If you’re thoroughly sold on a particular route, it can blind you to other – easier – ways of getting there.
  3. Your plan must embrace the possibility of failure and redesign
    Sometimes things just don’t work out the way we planned them. If your plan is outcome-based and principle-based, it’s easy to redesign into a working plan as you go along. Then you don’t need to stop for downtime and analysis – and this avoids the discouragement that often comes with stopping.

In short, the key is flexibility, flexbility, flexibility.

The principle to keep in mind is this – your plan must be adaptable to guarantee you will succeed.

So there’s really no need for so much thinking.

Set your outcome, gather relevant principles and start to evolve courses of action. Then start doing something and let the principles guide you as you keep your eyes on the outcome.

Act, adapt, achieve, succeed.

Dare to take that step now

Right now, I see a lot of people who are so nearly ‘there’ – they really could be where they want to be if they just dared to keep going and take that last – seemingly risky – step.

This isn’t new, of course.

“Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison

Those who reach this point don’t often realise it, but it’s the final fork in the road between success and failure. This could be your moment, if you dare to succeed.

So please, take that step right now.

When Less Can Be Better Than More

I’ve just been re-reading Tim Gallwey’s “The Inner Game of Work” and it has been interesting to note how well my ideas about learning dovetail with Gallwey’s principles.

For those of you unfamiliar with his work, Gallwey spawned a revolution in the field of coaching, starting back in the 1970s.

Gallwey’s passion was for tennis, so he became curious about how some people got good at the game and others never rose beyond a certain level of ability. Curiously, this difference in skill was not just down to effort and Gallwey, like me, was no believer in ‘natural ability’.

He theorised that we often behave as though we have two conflicting viewpoints, which he called ‘Self 1’ and ‘Self 2’. In Gallwey’s model, Self 2 is the ‘authentic’ self – the person we truly can be when we are at our natural best. By contrast, Self 1 is an agent of unintentional conflict or interference. Self 1 interferes with our natural flow by distracting us with instructions, critical inner dialogue and the need to consciously micro-manage our actions.

By this philosophy, being mindful of detailed instructions can actually get in the way of our natural ability. Gallwey found that normal learning methods actually encourage the types of behaviour that get in the way of excellence!

Independently, I discovered this to be true for activities like public speaking. If you browse the internet or look in most books on public speaking, they give you a long laundry list of things you must do and things you mustn’t do.

For example, think about eye contact for a moment. Back when I started learning to be a trainer, I remember being told that I must give everyone ‘good eye contact’ when speaking. I asked for clarification – how much eye contact, or how often is good? I was told that two seconds was the norm. The entire learning group tried it out for a period of time – in presentations, conversations and everyday life. We all privately agreed that this felt awkward, forced and weird. And that the people we spoke with found it uncomfortable too.

Years later, I realised that it was the forced nature of the activity that made that type of training so unsuccessful. A simple – normally unconscious – activity had been made too conscious, too obvious. This was Gallwey’s ‘Self 1’ trying to call the shots instead of allowing Self 2’s natural, authentic eye contact.

So if traditional methods of instruction don’t really work very well, how can we learn to be excellent at what we do? Gallwey’s solution was simple, incredibly elegant and revolutionary. Anything we focus on can become part of our natural learning experience. So the instructor’s job was to focus the student’s awareness on where the learning was – in a non-judgemental way. Gallwey stopped telling people how to stand and move and started asking them to do things like watch the seam of the tennis ball as it approached.

By giving the student less to do, they had more faculties of attention – of focus – available for the true task at hand.

This was my aim when I wrote Presenting Power – to give people less to do and focus their awareness where it is most useful for their learning. Ten years of experience have taught me that this approach works better that the more traditional ones – and in some crucial ways.

Only last night, I saw an excellent example on the TV show ‘Dragon’s Den‘. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it involves entrepreneurs pitching for investment to a panel of five wealthy businesspeople. In last night’s show, I saw the worst pitch ever and it was painful to watch. I sat and squirmed as one woman completely froze about half-way through her well-rehearsed pitch.

Her mind went blank and she just couldn’t pick up the thread of her presentation. As I see it, this happened for several reasons.

  •  we have best recall when we are in the same state of mind in which we learned the information

This premise is well supported by psychological research – she learned her pitch in a relaxed frame of mind and tried to recall it while under considerable stress. Consequently, the information just wasn’t there when she needed it.

  • she learned the pitch in a linear way, by rote.

Think of it like a (now old-fashioned) vinyl record. The record follows a single, steadily spiralling groove, all the way to the centre. Now picture someone bumping the turntable. The record skips – and doesn’t always find its groove again. This is what the speaker sounded like when she lost her cool – a broken record. She tried to start again and again. In the end, she just couldn’t pick up the thread of her pitch and had to stop right there.

Really, it wasn’t her fault. The method itself let her down by creating too much interference.

In public speaking, the voice of Self 1 – the voice of interference – is that of stress. This is the voice of ‘what should I be doing?’ or ‘what are they thinking?’ or ‘am I doing this right?’ This is the ‘what if?’ voice.

I’ve seen so many people struggle with a memorised pitch – I used to struggle with it myself. Fortunately, I found a better way to do things. I’ve had experienced speakers ask me how I remember everything when I give a 9-day seminar without using any notes. They usually think I’ve got some some sort of special memory technique, or that I’ve used my skill at hypnosis to memorise everything in a trance-like state 🙂

I reality, all I need to do is remain in the right state of mind and remember only two simple things per segment. Those are the only elements that are really crucial to being an engaging and informative speaker. And a segment, for me, is about 45 minutes. So that’s only 16 simple things to remember per day as a trainer. And only two at a time. The detail of how to do this is described in ‘Presenting Power‘.

Gallwey’s ‘Inner Game’ and my own methods for public speaking make one thing clear: You can really do more with less. And in some cases – with the right knowledge and awareness – less can be better than more.

Terms Which I Question – Metaphors part 1

While words themselves can’t hurt us, we must be careful of the metaphors we use because they often have hidden implications. The danger here is that we may unconsciously be directed or limited by those implications.

What is so important about the metaphors we use and what makes them different from other pieces of language? Metaphors are interpreters of context, so often correlate with high level change. We write the stories of our lives through our use of concepts within the limitations of our contexts, so where better to look for change than in our metaphors?

The implications of some ‘popular’ metaphors are less than useful, so it’s worth examining them here:

  • work/life balance
    The implications here are many. Firstly that ‘work’ and ‘life’ need to be in equal balance, i.e. that work should be given as much time and energy as everything else put together. Secondly that work and life are the only two areas of focus to have a harmonious life. Thirdly, that work and life do not overlap and are exclusive concepts.

    If you think that last one is a stretch, let me tell you a story that underlines the point. A while ago, I was at a friend’s barbecue and was introduced to an acquaintance of his. He was struggling with his workload and was near burnout. Part way through the conversationI noticed that he was treating work and life like opposites, rather than overlapping concepts.

    So I asked him what the opposite of work was. “Life”. And then what the opposite of life was. At this point he went a little pale. He realised that throughout our conversation he had been telling me that he was only ‘living’ when he was not working! Understanding this, he was able to begin finding ways to see work in a more positive light.

  • Leadership of self
    The key implication here is that we have an ‘internal leader’ – and an internal ‘follower’ too. Leading and following is a two-role process, so ‘leadership of self’ indicates some sort of internal division or conflict, in my opinion. I’d use a different metaphor which implies internal integration and cooperation.

A better metaphor
My purpose here is not to create “word fear” or the sort of internal censorship that came with “political correctness”. I’d prefer you examine the implications of the metaphors you use in everyday life, especially in areas that you consider less than optimum. And through such consideration, choose to live through more empowering contexts and narratives.

The courage to follow your heart

How much do you love what you do? If you were to take a moment and give it a grade out of 10, how would it score?

It probably won’t surprise you too much to hear that most people I’ve asked that question score below 7 out of 10.

Now, 10 out of 10 doesn’t indicate perfection – we all have our difficult moments. As a rule-of-thumb, I’d say that someone near the top of that scale would still do what they do, even if they didn’t get paid for it.

Knowing that, if most people score themselves below 7, then where is the love? Where is the passion we all have deep within ourselves?

In NLP, we talk about values – the motivations behind the things you enjoy doing that make them valuable to you as an individual. If your values are satisfied within an area of your life, you will be happy within that context.

That’s why values are so important within coaching – they can act as an indicator of where you should be looking if you want to be happy, successful and fulfilled.

What is it really like to love what you do? Take some time to watch the video below and you may get some ideas. Steve Jobs (Founder of Apple and Pixar) draws on three pivotal moments in his life to inspire Stanford graduates to pursue their dreams.

This video is inspirational to me, not just because of the stories he tells, but because it is tempered by a deep personal honesty:

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition – they somehow already know what you want to become”

When you know your values, you have a compass that always points towards success. All you need to do is follow it.

Reverse-Engineering Your Future

There are many ways of creating new methods and strategies for doing things well. One form of innovation is to take a powerful strategy from one area and apply it usefully in a completely different one. In that spirit, I have borrowed a concept from the field of engineering and will present you with several ways in which it can be used to plan and create a better future.

That concept is ‘reverse engineering’. Normally when a person engineers something, they start with a purpose, a need or a problem and create something which embodies that purpose, satisfies that need or solves the problem.

Reverse engineering is essentially the opposite process. You start out with the finished product and go backwards, retracing the creative method to find out how it works.

This is what happens when a company like Sony produces a new gadget. A competitor buys one and takes a screwdriver to it, taking it apart in order to find out the principles behind how it works. Then they can produce their own version built on similar principles.

Suppose you were to apply this process to one of your current goals. Assume the goal is complete at some point in the future and reverse engineer the pathway to that successful accomplishment. Here are three ways of doing the ‘reverse engineering’ process.

1) The Magic Pill Scenario

I’m not sure where this method originates, though I often use it with coaching clients to get past a problem.

It involves a simple question and some imagination.

The question is this:

“If I were to give you a magic pill that meant you would wake up tomorrow with the problem completely solved, what would have changed?”

This enables them to start thinking about the problem as solvable. This also presupposes that there is a solution and that it’s possible for them to get past their current obstacle.

They are then free to discover for themselves what changes they need to make. All we have to do after that is agree on how to make those changes, set up resources and a timeframe.

Then they are completely free to move into action, knowing they are going in the right direction in an acceptable timeframe.

2) Timeline method

Imagine that your future is stretched out in front of you on a line, where days, weeks, months and years are arranged in order. One day follows another. This is a representation of your timeline – your inner sense of time. Your mind uses your timeline to plan and schedule. It’s a bit like a ‘mental diary’ or planner.

First, assume that at some point in time, you will reach your goal.

Then move forward along that timeline until you get to a point in your future where the goal is accomplished.

At this point, check that it happens in a way that you’re happy with. If it’s not okay, change it until you’re completely happy with it.

Now turn around and look back along the timeline, noticing all of the events that took place before your goal – those actions which allowed you to accomplish your goal.

Be aware of what you did each step of the way. Your mind will fill in the details as you go.

Now you know how you will get there and have a complete plan.

To make this even better, look at your new plan. Are there any distractions or unnecessary steps involved? Use your awareness of this to streamline the plan further until it is at its best.

Write down the plan and move in to action!

(For more about this method, refer to my NLP Primer on timelines)

3) The Chunkwise Method

Henry Ford once said: “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs”. He went on to prove his statement by working out all of the jobs involved in building a car and putting that knowledge to practical use. The result was the world’s first mass-produced car.

You can apply this process by breaking your goal down into a number of pieces, then subdividing those into smaller tasks. Then all you need to do to make that knowledge into a plan is to apply the three ‘power questions’.

I’ve detailed the full process below, using “creating a new ebook” as an example.

1 – Identify your goal
Example: creating a new ebook

2 – What are the major pieces needed or stages involved? (3-5 pieces)
Example: Research, Design, Writing the detailed text.

3 – what are the major pieces of each of those?
Example: Research – (Market research, Topic research)

4 – Apply three power questions to each piece :
Example: Topic research segment

A – How do you accomplish this piece?
Search internet, read relevant books, conduct studies in real world

B – How long will it take?
3 months

C – What order does this come in the bigger scheme?
After market research and before the design phase

Of course, you would go through all of the steps for each piece of every stage until you had a complete and comprehensive plan. Then you can decide if the time and effort involved are worth it. If not, you can work at ways of minimising the time taken in certain steps or do other steps in a more enjoyable or appealing way.

As a consequence of using the metaphor of reverse engineering, several strengths are revealed.

The process presupposes that the aim is possible and achievable, so we instantly bypass any doubts that could have stalled creative thoughts about a solution. If it’s really not possible, you’ll find out in the process.

You get to decide whether it’s worth it, which you can only assess fully if you know the full process involved in getting there. After all, it’s important to enjoy the journey as much as the final outcome.

You need to envision the outcome fully before you start, so you can adjust it and decide if you really want it that way. Needless to say, this saves a lot of time and effort.

Also bear in mind that none of these processes need to take very long – it’s all about finding a clear and acceptable path to your goal.

I hope these strategies are helpful in allowing you to decide on the great things you want in your future – and making them happen!