A flea can jump up 7 inches (18 cm) and sideways 13 inches (33 cm) or about two hundred times the length of their own body! For you that would be about 200 times your height (900 feet)!

If you wanted to train a flea to perform in a flea circus, you find a short drinking glass. Find a bunch of healthy fleas (be creative!), put them in the container and cover the top. Don’t take the cover off for three days. When you do, you’ll see the flea only jumps as tall as the glass was and never again further! (This goes for their next generation of fleas too.)

Application for YOU – Do you have any unsuspected “flea training” in your life that whispers: “You can’t jump that high! Don’t even try!” Your history doesn’t create your future …(sometimes it can help), but sometimes it limits you in ways you’re blind to.

We all have choices in our lives – day to day choices, life choices, choices about our friends (we can’t choose our families – although we can choose how to behave/react with them!), choices about how we show up at work, our attitudes, our thoughts even our beliefs.  And the more coaching I do, the more I see how much we limit our choices to staying in the ‘safe’ zone (under that glass!).

Often times we become blind to the myriad of choices that are available to us as well as the range of options before us.

Why is that so?

The key element that defines our choices is our thinking.  Our thinking in turn is driven by the “personal” energy we have.

Our personal energy is affected by the sum of all of our life’s experiences. Our learning, beliefs, values, principles, emotional scars, and even our mother’s favourite sayings all aggregate together and help form the filters through which we view and live life.

For example, if your life’s experiences taught you to be overly cautious and fearful, then, when presented with a challenge, you will see that challenge through cautious and fearful eyes, and act accordingly.

Our personal energy is created by the interplay of catabolic and anabolic energy which drives our choices, our ability to change, and our ability to maximise our current strengths.

What do I mean by this?

Catabolic energy = destructive, contracting, resisting energy (cat = down, against)

Anabolic energy = constructive, expanding, fueling energy (ana = building, upward)

Both types of energies are valuable and applicable in certain areas of life.  Catabolic energy is necessary for immediate survival needs. If you were attacked by a lion, for instance, you’d want the burst of adrenaline and cortisol (catabolic hormones) to help you run as fast as you could.  As a short-term survival/coping mechanism, catabolic energy can work well.  Long term it is destructive and unsustainable.

Anabolic energy looks and feels different from catabolic energy. This energy is behind everything from creativity and intuition to compassion and caring. This type of energy fuels your body, your performance, your perceptions and choices, and your interactions.

The more anabolic, powerful energy you have, the more capacity, or potential, you have to achieve whatever it is you wish to do, and also, the more satisfaction you will experience in your life.

So is this the year that you will choose to take steps to create the life you want…and jump way before your height?

If you’re looking for a new direction, or to make those goals that seem so elusive become reality do this quick checklist. Yes, it’s simple, but take your time (reflect on where your thinking and judgments may be coming from) – maybe over your next cup of coffee.

Quick checklist to start the new financial year – list the three key items for each question:

  • What am I proud of accomplishing over the past year?
  • What didn’t I do that is still outstanding?
  • What am I most pleased with?
  • What am I most disappointed with? (don’t dwell on this – just note it down, it’s important to face your ‘failures’ and deal with them)
  • What would I like truly like to achieve this year in my:
    • Work life
    • Personal life
    • Health and Physical Goals

These aspects of your life are intertwined and will each impact on the other.

  • How will I make these become reality and am I ready to do this?

Taking the first step is the hardest but it is your choice whether you take that first step and the next one.

If you identify with the above, then I invite you as a valued reader, to chat to me over a coffee, in person, by phone or Skype and let’s see if you are ready to make your goals become reality THIS YEAR!

Any groundless or unrealistic beliefs will limit your energy and prevent you from achieving your goals – just like the lid on the flea training glass!

Working with a coach may help you leap even higher and in a coaching program, you can:

Consider your goals and aspirations

  1. Identify old assumptions holding you back
  2. Isolate and evaluate established, but unfounded and untested beliefs about your ability to achieve these goals
  3. Search for doubts about your worthiness to reach your goals
  4. Hunt for fears that may be lingering in your heart


My goal is to work with people for change – one person at a time.  What is yours?






Overcoming Fear

What Are You Afraid Of?

Are you pursing the goals that matter most to you?
Are you satisfied with your level of success?
Are you glad to be where you are in life?
Are you playing YOUR own game or are you playing someone else’s game?

Everything seems hard. We are all busy and we are all tired. We all don’t have enough money. We all know someone who says we can’t or that we would never make it. And then we are worried with what comes next. Are these excuses familiar to you?

What about these:

• Fear of change
• Fear of failure
• Fear of not being good enough
• Waiting for something to happen
• Perfectionism
• Being overwhelmed with all that you have to do
• Not know how

Well guess what – there is a battle going on….. and it is between your ears!!

Don’t surrender. While your fears may be real they are not good enough reasons for inaction. Your biggest work is in front of you and it has to do with how well you lead your life – how good are you at self-leadership?

Understanding Energy Leadership is in my opinion the missing link or secret ingredient to making all the methodologies you’ve tried and tossed aside about leadership, work — the petrol in the engine, the currency that fuels your success. Today let’s focus on energy itself. What is this mysterious quality? It’s not just movement or activity, sometimes it is stillness and reflection. Some call it a vitality or force. Energy gives us the capability to differentiate ourselves from another. Energy gives us the physical ability and drive to win the marathon — not in the first 25 miles — but in the last mile, when it is so easy to give up.

Energy can be conserved, stored, stockpiled, transformed, leaked and shared. In life we get energy from an amazing array of fuels. We can use this power to grow and develop, use our senses well, attract and repel other energy.

Now let’s look at leadership. Interestingly each of us leads by choice or default. The question is not whether you are a leader but how well you purpose to lead. To lead well takes awareness of your energy and a willingness to learn ways to use it better. Your body is a perfect example of an energy system. It’s self-contained, self-governed and thought-affected. Each thought you have contributes a specific energy pattern to the energy within and around you. There are no idle thoughts. Your energy encompasses every thought, feeling, and emotion you’ve had today, as well as, your recent actions. Because thoughts create energy in their own likeness – some can injure and others heal.

Energy Leadership Coaching is designed to reveal and develop your personally-effective style of leadership energy. This energy will positively influence and change not only you, but your family members, friends and everyone you work with and meet each day.

Albert Einstein is reputed to have said: “Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.”

Well, regardless of who said this, I know that energy is also the secret power of great leadership. Once you understand how you create your reality and attract the things you do in your life, you can create the life you really want. Where to start? Here are some tips about how to overcome fear, and any excuses you may have.

  1. Identify your goal and embrace it. Use this question as a start. What do you want the change to look like? How will that give your life meaning? Think about it – even go for a walk to reflect on it.
  2. Create the space – even a small space (or time) to make a change.
  3. Be accountable to someone while surrounding yourself with others making similar changes themselves.
  4. Take small steps that will move you forward. Movement begets movement. Now take another small step…… and change is created. It is time to decide what you intend to do next and what the next few years will mean to you.


Last month I shared with you six of the twelve thinking biases we are all subject to.
You can review these six here.

To recap, we are all subject to biases, those annoying glitches in our thinking that cause us to make questionable decisions and reach erroneous conclusions. A bias is a genuine deficiency or limitation in our thinking — a flaw in judgment that arises from errors of memory, social attribution, and miscalculations (such as statistical errors or a false sense of probability).

Leveraging the wonderful article by George Dvorsky on 12 of the most common and harmful biases that you need to know about, here are the remaining 6:

Status-Quo Bias
We, humans, tend to be apprehensive of change, which often leads us to make choices that guarantee that things remain the same or change as little as possible. Needless to say, this has ramifications in everything from politics to economics and to our personal lives. We like to stick to our routines, political parties, and our favourite meals at restaurants. Part of this bias is the unwarranted assumption that another choice will be inferior or make things worse. The status-quo bias can be summed with the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” — an adage that fuels our conservative tendencies.

Negativity Bias
People tend to pay more attention to bad news — and it’s not just because we’re morbid. Social scientists theorize that it’s on account of our selective attention and that, given the choice, we perceive negative news as being more important or profound. We also tend to give more credibility to bad news, perhaps because we’re suspicious (or bored) of proclamations to the contrary. More evolutionarily, heeding bad news may be more adaptive than ignoring good news (e.g. “sabre tooth tigers suck” vs. “this berry tastes good”). Today, we run the risk of dwelling on negativity at the expense of genuinely good news.

Bandwagon Effect
Though we’re often unconscious of it, we love to go with the flow of the crowd. When the masses start to pick a winner or a favourite, that’s when our individualized brains start to shut down and enter into a kind of “groupthink” mentality. But it doesn’t have to be a large crowd or the whims of an entire nation; it can include small groups, like a family or even a small group of office co-workers. The bandwagon effect is what often causes behaviours, social norms, and memes to propagate among groups of individuals — regardless of the evidence or motives in support. This is why opinion polls are often maligned, as they can steer the perspectives of individuals accordingly. Much of this bias has to do with our built-in desire to fit in and conform.

Projection Bias
As individuals trapped inside our own minds 24/7, it’s often difficult for us to project outside the bounds of our own consciousness and preferences. We tend to assume that most people think just like us — though there may be no justification for it. This thinking shortcoming often leads to a related effect known as the false consensus bias where we tend to believe that people not only think like us, but that they also agree with us. It’s a bias where we overestimate how typical and normal we are, and assume that a consensus exists on matters when there may be none. Moreover, it can also create the effect where the members of a radical or fringe group assume that more people on the outside agree with them than is the case. Or the exaggerated confidence one has when predicting the winner of an election or sports match.

The Current Moment Bias
We, humans, have a really hard time imagining ourselves in the future and altering our behaviours and expectations accordingly. Most of us would rather experience pleasure or reward in the current/present moment rather than waiting for a larger future reward. This is a trend of overvaluing immediate rewards while putting less worth in long-term consequences.  This is a bias that is of particular concern to economists (i.e. our unwillingness to not overspend and save money) and health practitioners. It has been found that when making food choices for the coming week, 74% of participants chose fruit. But when the food choice was for the current day, 70% chose chocolate.

Anchoring Effect
It’s called the anchoring effect because we tend to fixate on a value or number that in turn gets compared to everything else.  Anchors can be as simple as a comment from a colleague, a number, or a statistic from the morning’s paper. One of the most common types of anchor is a past event or trend. Anchors can establish the terms on which a decision will be made and are often used as a bargaining tactic.  It is also why, when given a choice, we tend to pick the middle option — not too expensive and not too cheap.

Do you recognise any of these in your decision making?   If so, what do you think you could do to limit the impact of your biases on your decision making?


We are all subject to biases, those annoying glitches in our thinking that cause us to make questionable decisions and reach erroneous conclusions. I have spoken and written about them many times as to how they hamper good decision-making, and on a recent podcast on biases, I recalled a wonderful article by George Dvorsky on 12 of the most common and harmful biases that you need to know about.  Thought I would share this list of 12 over this month and next month’s MindShifts® Matters.

To start with, what is a bias or, more specifically, a cognitive bias?  A cognitive bias is a genuine deficiency or limitation in our thinking — a flaw in judgment that arises from errors of memory, social attribution, and miscalculations (such as statistical errors or a false sense of probability).

So here are six of the twelve top biases. Do you recognise any of these in your decision-making? Which one do you identify with the most? Or do we all have a little of all of these?

Confirmation Bias

We love to agree with people who agree with us. It’s why we only visit websites that express our political opinions and why we mostly hang around people who hold similar views and tastes. We tend to be put off by individuals, groups, and news sources that make us feel uncomfortable or insecure about our views.  It is this preferential mode of behaviour that leads to confirmation bias — the often unconscious act of referencing only those perspectives that fuel our pre-existing views while at the same time ignoring or dismissing opinions — no matter how valid — that threaten our worldview.

Ingroup Bias

Somewhat similar to the confirmation bias is the ingroup bias, a manifestation of our innate tribalistic tendencies. And strangely, much of this effect may have to do with oxytocin — the so-called “love molecule.” This neurotransmitter, while helping us to forge tighter bonds with people in our ingroup, performs the exact opposite function for those on the outside — it makes us suspicious, fearful, and even disdainful of others. Ultimately, the ingroup bias causes us to overestimate the abilities and value of our immediate group at the expense of people we don’t really know.

Gambler’s Fallacy

It’s called a fallacy, but it’s more of a glitch in our thinking. We tend to put a tremendous amount of weight on previous events, believing that they’ll somehow influence future outcomes. The classic example is coin tossing. After flipping heads, say, five consecutive times, our inclination is to predict an increase in the likelihood that the next coin toss will be tails — that the odds must certainly be in the favour of heads. But in reality, the odds are still 50/50. As statisticians say, the outcomes in different tosses are statistically independent, and the probability of any outcome is still 50%.

Post-Purchase Rationalization

Remember that time you bought something totally unnecessary, faulty, or overly expensive, and then you rationalized the purchase to such an extent that you convinced yourself it was a great idea all along? Yeah, that’s post-purchase rationalization in action — a kind of built-in mechanism that makes us feel better after we make crappy decisions, especially at the cash register. Also known as Buyer’s Stockholm Syndrome, it’s a way of subconsciously justifying our purchases — especially expensive ones.

Neglecting Probability

Very few of us have a problem getting into a car and going for a drive, but many of us experience great trepidation about stepping inside an aeroplane and flying at 35,000 feet. Flying, quite obviously, is a wholly unnatural and seemingly hazardous activity. Yet virtually all of us know and acknowledge the fact that the probability of dying in an auto accident is significantly greater than getting killed in a plane crash — but our brains won’t release us from this crystal clear logic. It is the same phenomenon that makes us worry about getting killed in an act of terrorism as opposed to something far more probable, like falling down the stairs or accidental poisoning.

Observational Selection Bias

This is the effect of suddenly noticing things we didn’t notice that much before. A perfect example is what happens after we buy a new car and we inexplicably start to see the same car virtually everywhere. A similar effect happens to pregnant women who suddenly notice a lot of other pregnant women around them. Or it could be a unique number or song. It’s not that these things are appearing more frequently; it’s that we’ve (for whatever reason) selected the item in our mind and, in turn, are noticing it more often. The trouble is, most people don’t recognize this as an observational selection bias and actually believe these items or events are happening with increased frequency — which can be a very disconcerting feeling. It also contributes to the feeling that the appearance of certain things or events couldn’t possibly be a coincidence (even though it is).


The 7 Types Of Rest That Every Person Needs

Recently I read a fabulous article on the 7 types of rest we need and the difference between rest and sleep by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith.  It was such an awesome article that I posted it on LinkedIn and decided it was worthy of providing a summary here for you.

The main crux of the article is that sleep and rest are not the same thing.  Yes, we do tend to confuse both – well, I used to.  As the article states, “The result is a culture of high-achieving, high-producing, chronically tired and chronically burned-out individuals. We’re suffering from a rest deficit because we don’t understand the true power of rest.”

Do you feel burnt out?  Chronically tired?

According to Dr. Dalton-Smith, rest should equal restoration in seven key areas of our lives.

  1. Physical rest – now that could include activities such as naps, sleep, massage etc.
  2. Mental rest – do you struggle to turn off your brain at night, going over conversations, to-do lists etc from the day? Firstly keep a notepad by your bed to jot down any thoughts that keep coming up.  Secondly, you could schedule short breaks every couple of hours to remind you to slow down.
  3. Sensory rest – in today’s world, we are all suffering from sensory overload – emails, zoom meetings, background noise, information overload, social media, etc. We need to intentionally unplug ourselves from this over-stimulating world.  Take time out for a few moments, close your eyes and breathe.
  4. Creative rest – is about allowing yourself to enjoy something completely outside your normal day. It is about reawakening the wonder and awe inside of us. For example, a place of inspiration or enjoying the arts, or wandering among nature. It provides space for your subconscious to do its work and develop innovative ideas.  Think of a hobby you love: gardening, bushwalking, photography, etc.
  5. Emotional rest – This is having the time and space to freely express your feelings and cut back on behaviour that is unhealthy. Emotional rest requires the courage to be authentic and to acknowledge what you are feeling.  Look at the quote at the start of this newsletter.
  6. Social rest – As stated in the article, “This occurs when we fail to differentiate between those relationships that revive us from those relationships that exhaust us.” It is important to connect with people who are positive and supportive and limit the toxic relationships around us.
  7. Spiritual rest – Oh my, one of the areas many of us leave off which is the ability to connect beyond the physical and mental and feel a deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance and purpose. This can be achieved when we engage in something greater than ourselves, such as prayer, meditation, or community involvement.

So getting more sleep is not going to make your feel rested.  What do you personally need to do to make you feel more rested?  What level of rest are you missing out on?  What about someone you love – how are they getting enough rest?

Here is her amazing TEDx Talk from 2019 about why we are so tired and what to do about it.

The Power of Listening

Many years ago I learned an invaluable life tip. One of my teachers always stressed how we have one mouth and two ears; and that listening is far more valuable than just talking.

Have you ever asked someone to do something and they nod their heads and “yes, yes” you only to have them return with a result only remotely related to what you asked for?

There are a number of reasons for this:  they may be distracted, you may be distracted, they may not understand what you’ve said, and/or are afraid or “too cool” to ask for clarity, or you may not have explained it well – all of these have to do with weak listening skills.

What gets in the way of listening?

As a coach and consultant, listening is a critical ability.   It is one that I have found to be underutilised both by myself and often by others around me.  Listening is, without a doubt, one of the toughest skills to master as we need to uncover the deeper barriers within ourselves. Yet it is one of the most important skills we need to develop as we move to more demanding roles and relationships.

Judith E. Glasser, an organizational anthropologist and executive coach, has written a wonderful book called Conversational Intelligence – about the art of conversations and the critical element of listening.  There are four harmful listening habits*, which I wanted to share with you.

1.  Noise-in-the-attic listening. When we sit silently while others talk, we appear to be listening; inwardly, however, we are listening to the noise in the attic—disengaged from the speaker’s ideas and involved in our own mental processes. Such listening tends to develop when we are told as children: “Don’t talk while I’m speaking!” “Don’t interrupt me!” “Don’t ask so many questions!” Conditioned by these warnings, many of us become preoccupied with our own internalizations: “Who does she think she is?” Or, we resort to reverie—returning from time to time to listen to what is being said.

Tip: The talk in our head can take over our listening and become what we remember. Our self-talk becomes more prominent in our minds than what our ears hear. If the self-talk contains catalytic and emotional phrases like “Don’t interrupt me,” or if the words communicate judgment such as, “you stupid idiot,” our brains produce neuro-chemicals that activate our fear-networks in the primitive brain, closing down our executive brain, the prefrontal cortex. When the chemistry of fear turns this off, we forfeit empathy, trust, and good judgment. We lose our ability to handle complexity, and resort to old thoughts rather than process what is happening in the moment.

To prevent noise-in-the-attic listening, become aware when your brain is full of I-centric self-talk and turn it off. Instead, listen to connect to the other person and focus on we. By attending to the other person and removing the judgment, you create a neutral listening place in your brain to hear what others are saying without judgment. This mind shift also activates the mirror neurons, enabling you to experience the meaning others bring to their words, to connect, to build trust, and to make others feel safe to open up to you.

2.  Face-value listening. We think we are hearing facts, when we are hearing interpretations. In face-value listening, the listener isn’t mentally checking back to see whether the words explain what they purport to explain. This explains why people can differ dramatically in their perceptions. Many of us hear what’s in our heads, rather than listening to connect with what others are really saying. Good listening requires guided attention to the meanings others are bringing to life.

Tip 2: When we listen, we bring our own interpretations to the words we hear. We try to match what we think and know with what we are hearing. Our brains are designed with internal filing cabinets, which hold our personal history of experiences plus our own dictionary of what words mean. Too often, we listen with face-value listening, thinking that others share the same dictionary—when we don’t.

To prevent face-value listening, remember that your dictionary differs from that of others. Take the time to ask questions for which you have no answers. Rather than thinking you know what they mean, listen for distinctions—and ask questions that will bring out the meanings others have in mind and create new insights.

3. Positional listening. Such highly partial listening can lead to faulty assumptions and destroy team morale. For example, a leader might listen to her president’s annual report to determine whether her division will be growing. What she hears could affect her performance and her relationships with co-workers.

Tip 3: When we are fearful about our role, or when there is high uncertainty about the future, our mind seeks clues assuring we have a secure place in our tribe. Our fears about where we belong in the pack influence how we listen, feel, and engage with others.

To prevent positional listening, engage with others around shared success and how you can support each other’s success. This we-centric conversation shifts the attention from you and your fears to positively connecting with others. Once we know that they are friends, not foes, we bond and trust them.

4.  Navigational listening. Navigational listening—the art of listening to connect, to partner, and to perform better—is the most we-centric form of listening. Navigating with others leads to an expanded view of what is possible, often ending in a decision, strategy, change in behaviour, or point of view. This highest and most expansive form of listening engages you with others in a spirit of co-creation, elevates your conversational intelligence, and exponentially elevates your chances for mutual success.

Tip 4: When we shift from I-centric to WE-centric thinking, we enhance our partnership in co-creating the future. The prefrontal cortex, the executive brain, is where empathy, trust, good judgment, strategic thinking, emotional regulation and foresight into the future reside. When we listen to connect, we build bridges from my brain to yours, enabling the capacity to hold a broader view. Conflict gives way to co-creation, and the conversations shifts from the past to the future.

To enhance navigational listening, note when you fall into positional behaviours, defend your point of view, and be right at all cost. Become sensitive to how your need to be right might be creating resistance in others. If you can’t turn off this addiction in your mind, write down what your brain is saying—this acknowledges your thoughts and ideas and releases their grip on your mindset. Then, refocus your attention on the listening to connect.

By understanding what can shut down your listening, you can improve this important skill to enable you to align people, decisions and agendas.  So what gets in the way of your listening?

Take some time to reflect on this month’s Matters and how it might apply to you, and get in touch if we can help.

* These were sourced from her article “Navigational Listening – put conversational intelligence to work” posted at on February 28, 2014.

Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

Many of us these days are feeling overwhelmed.  Not only by the information we receive but also with the sense of choices and opportunities we now have.  As a result, we often feel uncomfortable that we may be missing out on something important. And this in turn just adds to our daily stress, our sense of overwhelm and a sense of nervous fear.

With all the technology, with all the information and contradictions we read and see, it is important, I believe, for us to become comfortable with the uncomfortable.

What do I mean by this?

Throughout our lives, we always revert to what is comfortable and this comfort zone becomes our habits.  We know that to change a habit we have to push ourselves to feel uncomfortable in a sense until we come to feel comfortable with the new habit.

For example, we know that if we want to be fit and healthy, we need to be doing something different than sitting down at a desk all day.  We need to regularly exercise, eat differently, let go of technology at night, sleep longer and so on.

Some of these new activities might at first feel uncomfortable however by diligently pursuing a new activity, over time we know it becomes commonplace and we can start to feel a sense of comfort in its repetition.

The sad thing is our dislike for change is underlined by a sense of fear – in fact as a coach I see this as our default place.  We allow the news, technology and social media to make fear the norm.  All we read, see and hear on the news is the negative.  Why because it validates our existing comfort zone and so we don’t seek change.  In the end, everything is reduced to its simplest message of fear and danger.

With the abundance of information and knowledge sharing, our sense of comfort is being tested.  There is so much information out there that we no longer know what to do nor who to believe.  Thus we enter our discomfort zone.

However, do we really have to accept the message of fear, when we have random acts of kindness popping up all over social media?

This impacts our ability to choose, to make the so called “right” decision.  We become lost in a world of choices, options and indecisions, and our daily stress levels keep going up.

If we know that the amount of information and knowledge is going to increase over the years to come, then does it not make sense that the options in our decisions are also going to increase?

If we accept this, then we have to work on becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable.  I believe this is what we have to accept going forward.

We have to explore this uncommon place – what I call our discomfort zone.

How can you do this?  Here are a couple of suggestions:

1.  Every month, try something new – just one new thing.  You only have to do it for a month.  When you start, acknowledge the sense of discomfort and how strange it feels.  Find the positive in this new activity.

2.  Explore your sense of discomfort whenever it comes up – what causes you to feel uncomfortable? Are you feeling some fear?  Where do you think it comes from?

3.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, understand clearly the decision you are making – be very precise in what you are deciding.  For example, don’t just say you are looking for a job. Say you are looking for a role as a Marketing Manager in an international fast-moving consumer company with x$ and a career path.  The clearer you are and the more focused you can be, the less overwhelmed you become with information.  I find that most people are not that clear on the decisions they are seeking to make.

What would be the possibilities in your life when you start to feel comfortable with the uncomfortable?

Ten Steps To Get You Moving Forward


What would it be like for you if you stop putting stuff off until tomorrow and started what you could today? How would you feel?

Stop the noise in your head that says – great idea, maybe later. Because, before you know it, later becomes tomorrow, tomorrow becomes next week and next week becomes never. When you put something off for ‘later’ – what you are really doing is depriving yourself of what may be possible – if you’d just taken that first step.
There’s no need for remorse for the delays of yesterday… just start today and take that first step forward!

And to get you going, here are some easy ‘first steps’ to get you moving forward
1. Read one page of a book
2. Put on comfortable shoes and go for a walk
3. Be grateful for the blessings you do have
4. Laugh
5. Phone or write to one friend you care about
6. Learn one new idea that will enhance your career
7. Spend 10 minutes carefully listening to a family member
8. Give your time or donate funds to a worthwhile cause
9. Meditate
10. Encourage rather than criticise yourself

You don’t have to do them all, just choose one, for today. Or, create your own wish or to-do list – and then just pick one and start!
And if you want some support, give me a call.


In November last year, you may recall I wrote a blog about creating positive energy with your words and provided some suggestions for saying things in a different, more positive way.  A good colleague of mine, Bob Seldon, then sent me his latest book “Don’t – Unlock the do in don’t…..How using the right words will change your life”.

Well, I read this wonderful book over the summer holidays and in summary, all I can say is this book is outstanding and a truly helpful guide with some great exercises, tips and examples.
The book is broken down as follows:
Part One – How words impact our behaviour
Part Two – Words to use, words to avoid and other influencing factors when communicating
Part Three – Difficult conversations and how to manage these.

Bob certainly takes you further than my little blog.  So if you are looking to bring more energy into your life, then you really need to read this book.

Turn Fear Into Fuel in 2023

Happy New Year and welcome back!!

Uncertainty. It’s a terrifying word. Like it or not, uncertainty is the new normal. We live in a time where the world is in a state of constant, long-term flux.

Uncertainty leads to unease, anxiety, fear and doubt on a level that snuffs out most genuinely meaningful and potentially revolutionary endeavours before they even see the light of day. Not because they wouldn’t have succeeded, but because you never equipped yourself to handle and even harness the emotional energy of the journey.

But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if there was a way to turn the fear, anxiety and self-doubt that ride along with acting in the face of uncertainty – the head-to-toe butterflies – into fuel for brilliance?

Turns out, there is. Here are 5 starter-strategies to help get you going:

1. Reframe

If you create a story that empowers action and innovation, that’s great news. Unfortunately, our brains have a strong bias toward negativity, leading most of us to create stories around circumstances that require action in the face of uncertainty that are more likely to paralyse and stunt creativity than fuel action.

Reframing is a process that asks you to suspend negative storylines, explore if the story you’re telling is the only one and, if not construct or frame a new storyline that empowers you.

For example, if your storyline is around the risk of failure, instead of just asking “what if I fail?” and creating a doomsday scenario, you ask yourself ”What would I attempt to do today if I knew I could not fail?”  Then build new stories around those questions.

 2. Practice Mindfulness

Reframing is an immensely powerful tool in the quest to lean into the unknown. But it also requires a certain detachment, the ability to pull back and see what’s really going on and re-centre.  A daily mindfulness practice goes a long way toward equipping you to do just that.

Mindfulness cultivates a sense of persistent grounding that makes living and acting in a world where there is no new normal far more enjoyable. And it trains you in the practice of dropping thoughts among those destructive, limiting beliefs.

3. Exercise Your Brain

We’ve all seen the research on exercise and health, weight loss and disease prevention. But did you know that certain approaches to exercise also have a profound effect on your brain?

Daily cardiovascular exercise, for example, especially with high-intensity bursts mixed in, can improve mood, executive function, decision-making, and decrease fear. It is also strongly correlated with decreases in anxiety and increases in mood, which are directly connected to improved creativity and problem-solving.

4. Single-task

Multitasking is out. Our brains don’t multitask; they just rapidly switch between tasks, sometimes fast enough for us to believe we’re doing many things at once. The problem is, every time we switch, there is a “ramping cost” in your brain, it takes anywhere from a few seconds to 15 minutes for your brain to fully re-engage. This makes you feel insanely busy but simultaneously inhibits productivity and creativity and increases feelings of anxiety and stress.

Multitasking also requires you to hold a lot of information in your working memory, which is controlled by a part of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex (PFC). But the PFC is also responsible for will power, and for keeping fear and anxiety in check. Multitasking increases the “cognitive load” on the PFC, overwhelming it and effectively killing its ability to keep fear, anxiety and the taunt of distraction at bay.

Simple solution – just say no. Do one thing at a time in intense, short bursts.

 5. Learning Opportunities

Explore the possibility of bringing a learning approach to your creative process. Create the simplest version of your idea possible, then bring a select group of those who potentially might enjoy it into the process earlier in the name of soliciting and integrating input into the next iteration. This not only minimizes waste, it changes the psychology of creation by adding more certainty earlier in the game and encouraging consistent, incremental action.

Source: Adapted from Jonathan Fields, “zen habits: 5 Ways to Turn Fear into Fuel”,

I hope these five simple suggestions will support you in creating a 2023 with less fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Want to chat further….. contact me:

Positive Energy

Creating Positive Energy With Your Words

One of the ways we generate energy is in the words we use.  Every word spoken or read creates an image and energy in our minds.

Did you know, we actually remember positive words better than negative words! Here’s an example: Don’t dump trash here! 

Sounds OK.  It communicates!  But in your mind, something amazing happens when you read this – amazing but not good.

Why not good?  Well, when you read an instruction that is worded negatively, you have to switch tracks from “I can’t dump trash here” to “where in the world AM I supposed to dump the trash!”

What is better and more effective to say is: “Dump trash here.”

Eliminating one word turns the negative order into a positive order that can be easily followed and avoids having to switch around in a thought dilemma, which wastes time and creates negative energy!

Here are a couple more to consider:

Negative Positive
No, we don’t have that one, we only have this one What we do have is this one and its features are…
I can’t have this ready until Friday I can have this ready for you on Friday
They cannot correct that problem until they redesign the motor When they redesign the motor, they’re going to correct that problem
Our managers don’t communicate with one another Our managers need to find better ways to communicate with one another
We can do this but it… We can do this and it..

Think about the word “problem”.  This word actually produces stress because we feel we must solve something and it is likely to be complicated and that we’ll be graded on how we solve the problem.

The word “challenge”, although a vast improvement over the word “problem”, still carries hidden emotional baggage.  It comes with feelings that maybe you’ll be “humiliated” if your performance isn’t equal to others or you’ll have to climb over a great obstacle or run a tiring race.

The words “problem” and “challenge” are emotive words, meaning there are feelings and emotions that accompany them.  Most of the time we’re unaware of these emotions as the words are so common.

When you see a challenge you naturally begin to see reasons you can’t achieve it…when you see a problem you see failure looming.  With both, you’re recognising a manifestation of a fear you have.  Once you’re victim to the fear of failure you can’t think in a healthy way.

The answer?  Change your perspective.

What if there was no such thing as problems or challenges?  What if there were only opportunities to test what you believed, no failures to keep you from trying, and only growth from your experiences?

What would you attempt to do today if you knew you could not fail?” 

There’s huge power in this kind of thinking! (Another good reason for having an objective coach in your life.)

Changing your perspective – just the way you use a word for example – helps you tap into an inner energy to accomplish your dreams.  Changing your perspective helps you identify and overcome internal obstacles and barriers so you can succeed.

So think carefully about the words you use and the positive energy they bring to you and to those around you.  For example, I changed the way I used the word “but”.  I try to avoid it completely where possible.  I did not realise that everything you say before you say “but” is in fact cancelled and the person only hears what comes after the “but”.  Try for a week not to use the word “but” and see what happens.  I would be most interested to hear how you go.

Strategy and Intelligence

I noticed this month that there are interestingly a number of intelligence events and conferences around the world  –  from the AIPIO conference in Melbourne to events at Mercyhurst University, USA, live streaming on intelligence studies. Cybersecurity while the flavour of the month if not the year is a part of the intelligence field!  So this month, I thought I would address the issue of strategy and competitive intelligence.

A decade ago, a colleague of mine introduced me to the “Topple Rate”. This is a measure developed by a McKinsey consultant that measures the rate at which companies lose their leadership position or switch ranks. The topple rate varies across industries however no industry is safe from this growing churn rate.

Today, competing effectively is not just about understanding existing competitors and the current business environment.  It is strategically about having a picture of what the future business environment will look like.  It is about addressing questions such as:

1. How will new technology affect you and your customers? 

2. What are you doing to protect your business performance when new and sometimes unusual competitors are now only a click away? 

Competitive Intelligence, or CI as it is commonly referred to, is concerned with the methods used to minimise risks in decision-making and takes into account industry risk, competition, and an organisation’s own competitive position and advantage. It relates to the techniques used to interpret and analyse external information and communicate it to the right people for timely and effective use.

The purpose of CI is not to predict the future, but to identify what is likely to happen and to assist leaders to make better decisions about an organisation’s future.

A key value of CI is that it underpins foresight and provides early awareness and early warning. This reality check enables board members and all executives to recognize and monitor the future as it unfolds, thereby reducing risk and minimizing mistakes. Costly mistakes by executives, let alone board members, is no longer an option.

The systems for identifying these warning signals are totally different from yesterday’s methodology. Google just won’t do it …….neither will a tip from a colleague over lunch! And don’t get me started on disinformation regularly published in the media.

Business respects and relies on statistics, facts, and concrete data. Sadly this information is retrospective and most useful for quantifying what has occurred. But it is increasingly unreliable and inaccurate for revealing the future in a rapidly changing environment.

The competitive Intelligence process is very specific in its intent and always outward looking, using both internal and external resources as mentioned above. Using CI can give an organisation advantage and protect it from a higher topple rate.

Forced change is always second prize. The secret lies in putting together a strategy for the future based on sound intelligence.

Are you doing CI?  If so, how well is it performing for you?


Aardvark had a problem, perhaps many problems. The market for widgets seemed to be changing, and revenue and premiums were under pressure in their key market segments. New market entrants and Aardvark’s main competitor were eroding market shares. New business models fueled by information and telco technology and movements in the exchange rate also seemed to be complicating the picture. What was going on, what was driving this turbulence? How would Aardvark respond? How could they improve their competitive advantage?

Working with Aardvark, internal sources of information, expertise and networks across the organisation were mined. At the same time, a targeted search for publicly available information was carried out. We also spoke to industry commentators and associations, suppliers, competitors and employees in search of information and knowledge.

The strategic drivers were now becoming clear, the market and competitive terrain had fundamentally shifted and Aardvark now appeared to be positioned in the wrong place to take optimal advantage of this powerful set of trends. On the basis of this analysis, MindShifts® suggested options and strategies that would move Aardvark to take advantage of the emerging opportunities.

Selecting their preferred approach, Aardvark was able to move quickly to modify its capability and move into emerging market segments through a new distribution channel with the right sort of product and service offer. Within 12 months Aardvark had reversed the erosion in market share and was also experiencing strong growth in the new market segments they had entered. Aardvark’s market entry was also before its major traditional competitor which was proving to be a significant advantage as they now tried to play catch up.


Last month I shared with you things you can control and things you can’t.  Today I would like to take a different approach and look at certain strategies you can implement to help you live with uncertainty.

Our brains perceive ambiguity as a threat so we will do whatever we can to create some sense of certainty.  We have all experienced this behaviour in some way during the pandemic.   So how would it be if we learnt instead to live with ambiguity?  Here are 7 strategies that might help

1. Don’t resist

Instead of resisting what would happen if you moved to practice acceptance?  Acceptance is about meeting life where it is and moving forward from there.  What that means is we surrender to the problem situation and to our emotions about the situation. This does not mean resigning to the way things are.  Instead, we accept things as they are while knowing we can always work to improve the situation or find ways of moving forward.

2. Invest in yourself

The best resource you will always have is YOU! If we feel depleted, if our spirit is low, or we have deferred self-maintenance – ie lack of sleep, not eating well, not having any down time – we will not be leading the best version of ourselves.  Self-care and personal growth are the most healthy things we can do for ourselves.

3. Find healthy ways to comfort yourself

Instead of turning to social media, junk food, alcohol, or spending to soothe our rattled nerves, we do better when we can comfort ourselves in healthy ways.  I reflect on gratitude – I really have so much to be grateful for.  Or maybe I might take a little siesta, or take time out and read the next chapter in a novel I am currently reading.  What do you do that is comforting for you?

4. Don’t believe everything you think

I have said this in numerous newsletters – we all have a tendency to believe thoughts that are limiting, that contain assumptions about how we see the world, and that are supportive of our inner voices.  Instead of buying into these stressful thoughts, we can actively imagine the best possible scenario, the silver lining so to speak of the negativity in our thinking.

5. Pay attention

Interesting the opposite of uncertainty is not certainty.  It is presence.  Be present with your emotions.  What are you feeling?  Bring curiosity and acceptance to what you are feeling.  We are not defined by any one moment, even though a single moment can be incredibly important.  Instead, it comes back to the idea of creating a space where we can show up to ourselves with compassion. It is an opportunity for correspondence with our own heart.

6. Stop looking for someone to rescue you

When we feel powerless, or trapped, we start to hope other people will save us from our misery.  The interesting point here is that rescuers tend to give us permission to avoid taking responsibility for our own lives.  Instead, we need to find emotionally supportive friends (or coaches) who help us focus on our strengths in solving our own problems.  When we take responsibility for our lives, we trade the false power of victimhood for the real power that comes from creating the life we want.

7. Find meaning in the chaos

Meaning in our lives is found around our purpose, value and impact. Meaning and purpose are wellsprings of hope.  When we feel the world is scary or uncertain, knowing what meaning we have for others and feeling a sense of purpose can ground us better than anything else.  Don’t be resigned to your misery while we wait for the situation to resolve itself. What outcome are you hoping for?  How can you create that life during times of uncertainty?

During my student years, my marketing professor – who I had for four marketing units – reminded every class, every day, that the only certain thing in life was change.  Change will always bring a degree of uncertainty as we cannot know the future however I hope the 7 strategies above will bring you a sense of comfort, acceptance and support.

Adapted from: “7 strategies to help you live with uncertainty”, by Christine Carter , October 21, 2020 –

Things you can control, and things you can’t!

With Covid hanging around, a number of my clients have been stressing about things that are really not in their control. Some things are simply uncontrollable and it is exhausting to obsess over them—not to mention disempowering since we can’t control what’s in our power when we’re fixated on things that aren’t.

Then, this week I received a wonderful email (from Lori Deschene who has a delightful blog called Tiny Buddha) around control.

I thought I would share with you a few of the items on her amazing list of fifteen things we can’t control, what we can control instead, and what, specifically, we can do to own our power.  You can access the full list and Letting Go of Control worksheet here.


You can control: Whether you participate in their behaviour or enable them.

Some specific things you can do: Trust other people to make their own decisions and accept that you’re not responsible for their choices or the consequences of their actions. Consider that their choices and outcomes are somehow necessary for their growth. Recognize that you can accept their behaviour without condoning it, participating in it, or enabling it. And set boundaries if their actions are hurtful to your physical, emotional, or mental health.


You can control: How you show up in your relationships and how you see yourself.

Some specific things you can do: Make a list of traits you’d like to embody in your relationships—kindness, honesty, or integrity, for example—and check in with yourself throughout the day to ensure you’re being the kind of person you want to be. Take a little time every night to reflect on everything you did that day that made you proud.


You can control: How you internalize and respond to their treatment.

Some specific things you can do: Recognize that their behaviour isn’t personal; it’s more about them and their own pain and limitations than you. Communicate how their behaviour affects you, set boundaries around what you will and will not accept, and plan what you’ll do to enforce those boundaries and what you’ll do if someone crosses them. If the other person regularly treats you with callousness or disrespect, create distance in a relationship or end it altogether.


You can control: How true you are to yourself.

Some specific things you can do: Remind yourself that no one is liked by everyone and that you don’t have to win anyone’s approval. You just need to be yourself so you can find like-minded people, people who accept and appreciate you just as you are. Also, list what it means to you to be true to yourself and check in with yourself regularly to see if you’re adhering to your list.


You can control: How you engage with your different opinions, feelings, and beliefs.

Some specific things you can do: Set boundaries around conversations (which topics you won’t discuss, or what you’ll do to stay calm when hot button issues come up). Remind yourself that it’s not your job to change people’s minds. Look for common ground—something you can both agree on, even if you think differently. And remember that you don’t need to see eye-to-eye on everything to have a strong relationship; you just need to respect each other.


You can control: Your intentions and how you respond when you unintentionally hurt someone.

Some specific things you can do: Communicate how you feel if you fear you’ve upset someone and clarify your intentions if you think there’s been a misunderstanding. Also, trust that other people will tell you if they’re upset, and recognize it’s not your job to read their minds if they don’t speak up.


You can control: Whether you attach to them, identify with them, or act on them.

Some specific things you can do: Accept that thoughts and feelings come and go, and they are never permanent. They also don’t mean anything about you as a person. Also, practice pausing before acting on a thought or feeling so you can respond from a place of calmness and clarity.

I do hope these help you focus better on what you can control.  You can never control others nor what’s coming however you can always control how you will react, whether you are strong enough to cope with a situation and even how to make the best of it.

Mixed Thoughts

On my recent trip to the USA, I caught up on some reading – 14 hours on a plane gives you plenty of time – and I thought I would share with you just three of my favourite thoughts/ideas that I came across.

1. 103 Bits of advice I wish I had known
Kevin Kelly turned 70 last week and for the past few years, he’s jotted down bits of unsolicited advice.  He shared these recently and some that appealed to me are:

  • Don’t ever work for someone you don’t want to become.
  • Your growth as a conscious being is measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations you are willing to have.
  • If you repeated what you did today 365 more times will you be where you want to be next year?
  • The biggest lie we tell ourselves is “I don’t need to write this down because I will remember it.”
  • To keep young kids behaving on a car road trip, have a bag of their favourite candy and throw a piece out the window each time they misbehave.
  • Don’t keep making the same mistakes; try to make new mistakes.😅

Want to read more?

2. The Most Eye Opening 10 Minutes Of Your Life by Brené Brown
Love, love, love the wisdom in this.

Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston. Brown has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy.

As a coach, I love working with my clients’ gremlins.  What is your gremlin saying to you?

3. Data, information and decisions
“Data is everywhere, but turning it into information isn’t free.

It takes focus, effort, consultation and time.

More information is only useful if it helps you make a decision. Knowing the temperature on Saturn isn’t useful. Knowing it to even more accuracy is less useful. That’s because we’re not making any decisions that involve the temperature on another planet.

We’re surrounded by data that our spreadsheets or networks or cohorts seem to want us to be aware of. How many people clicked yesterday, or what someone wrote in a comment, what a backlist book sold or the foot traffic in that store vs. this store.

But if you’re not going to use the data to make a decision, don’t spend the time exposing yourself to it. It’s resistance at work.

If you can’t do anything with the data, it’s never going to be information”.

Source: Seth Godin – May 14, 2022 Data, information and decisions 

As a specialist in competitive intelligence, I have seen this so often. Many business executives worry about data when in fact it is the insights (what does this mean for the business) they really need to understand in order to make better business decisions. And if you are unclear about your decision, then any data will do, right?

Are you focused on the data or are you after insights?

Something a little different…

In Australia we are now coming up to the end of the financial year, so instead of sharing another interesting article or writing a particular blog about starting afresh in a new financial year, I thought I would share five interesting short videos that over time I found to be quite insightful, and made me reflect on the way I see myself and those around me.The psychology of your future self“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.” Dan Gilbert shares recent research on a phenomenon he calls the “end of history illusion,” where we somehow imagine that the person we are right now is the person we’ll be for the rest of time. Hint: that’s not the case.  View hereEmpathy vs SympathyWhat is the best way to ease someone’s pain and suffering? In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own fragilities.View hereAre you human?Have you ever wondered: Am I a human being? Ze Frank suggests a series of simple questions that will determine this. Please relax and follow the prompts. Let’s begin…View hereGetting stuck in the negatives and how to get unstuckAlison Ledgerwood is interested in understanding how people think, and how they can think better. Her research investigates how certain ways of thinking about an issue tend to stick in people’s heads. Her classes on social psychology focus on understanding the way people think and behave in social situations, and how to harness that knowledge to potentially improve the social world in which we all live.View hereWhat makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happinessWhat keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it’s fame and money, you’re not alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you’re mistaken. As the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.View hereSo which one was most insightful for you?  Most interested to hear your thoughts!



You’re not alone!

Most of us at some point in time have to work or collaborate with someone we can’t stand.  A wonderful article by Peter Bregman was published in the Harvard Business Review on this very topic and I really liked the insights he provided to guide anyone on improving working relationships.

Accept that you are not going to like everyone.
It’s inevitable you will encounter difficult people who oppose what you think, believe and feel. Conflicts or disagreements are a result of differences in values. That person you don’t like is not intrinsically a bad human. The reason you don’t get along is because you have different values, and that difference creates judgment. Remember not everyone is like you. If you can accept that not everyone will like you, and you won’t like everyone, then this realisation can take a lot of the heavy emotion out of the situation.

Turn inwards and focus on yourself
It’s important that you learn how to handle your frustration when dealing with someone who annoys you. Instead of thinking about how irritating that person is, focus on why you are reacting the way you are. Sometimes what we don’t like in others is frequently what we can’t stand in ourselves. Recognise the triggers that might be complicating your feelings. You may then be able to anticipate, soften, or even alter your reaction. Remember: it’s easier to change your perceptions, attitude, and behaviour than to ask someone to be a different kind of person.

Check your own expectations
It’s not uncommon for people to have unrealistic expectations about others. We may expect others to act exactly as we would, or say the things that we might say in a certain situation. However, that’s not realistic. Expecting others to do as you would do is setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration. If a person causes you to feel exactly the same way every time, check your expectations and adjust appropriately.

Be compassionate with yourself
And remember: “Being compassionate with yourself is the key to being compassionate with others”

When you give yourself unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance, you’re then able to give that to others.

Want to read the full article? here.

Or you may prefer to see this short video on 10 ways to have a better conversation.
When your job hinges on how well you talk to people, you learn a lot about how to have good conversations. Celeste Headlee has worked as a radio host for decades, and she knows the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening. In this insightful talk, she shares 10 useful rules for having better conversations. “Go out, talk to people, listen to people,” she says. “And, most importantly, be prepared to be amazed.”

So this month, I hope you find a way to work with people you don’t like and still have wonderful conversations.


Here is a wonderful article I had to share with you from Marshall Goldsmith, giving advice on how to be more effective in influencing up. I have had a number of coaching clients facing this situation, so maybe there is an answer there for you too.

1. Accept the facts
Every decision that affects our lives will be made by the person who has the power to make that decision, not the “right” person or the “smartest” person or the “best” person. Make peace with this fact. Once we make peace with the fact that the people who have the power to make the decisions always make the decisions and we get over whining that “life isn’t fair,” we become more effective in influencing others and making a positive difference. We also become happier.

2. Realise You Must Sell Your Ideas
When presenting ideas to decision-makers, realize that it is your responsibility to sell, not their responsibility to buy. In many ways, influencing ultimate decision-makers is similar to selling products or services to external customers. They don’t have to buy–you have to sell. No one is impressed with salespeople who blame their customers for not buying their products. While the importance of taking responsibility may seem obvious in external sales, an amazing number of people in large corporations spend countless hours blaming management for not buying their ideas. A key part of the influence process involves the education of decision-makers. The effective influencer needs to be a good teacher.

3. Focus on contribution to the larger good – not just the achievement of your objectives
An effective salesperson would never say to a customer, “You need to buy this product because if you don’t, I won’t achieve my objectives.” Effective salespeople relate to the needs of the buyers, not to their own needs. In the same way, effective influencers relate to the larger needs of the organization, not just to the needs of their unit or team.

4. Strive to win the big battles
Don’t waste your energy and psychological capital on trivial points. Executives’ time is very limited. Do a thorough analysis of ideas before challenging the system. Focus on issues that will make a real difference. Be willing to lose on small points. Be especially sensitive to the need to win trivial non-business arguments on things like restaurants, sports teams, or cars. You are paid to do what makes a difference and to win on important issues. You are not paid to win arguments on the relative quality of athletic teams.

5. Present a realistic “cost-benefit” analysis of your ideas – don’t just sell benefits
Every organization has limited resources, time, and energy. The acceptance of your idea may well mean the rejection of another idea that someone else believes is wonderful. Be prepared to have a realistic discussion of the costs of your idea.

6. Challenge up on issues involving ethics or integrity – never remain silent on ethics violations.
The best corporations can be severely damaged by only one violation of corporate integrity. Refuse to compromise on company ethics. Take action immediately.

7. Realise that powerful people also make mistakes
Don’t say, “I am amazed that someone at this level…” It is realistic to expect decision-makers to be competent; it is unrealistic to expect them to be anything other than normal humans. Focus more on helping them than judging them.

8. Don’t be disrespectful
While it is important to avoid kissing up to decision-makers, it is just as important to avoid the opposite reaction.
Before speaking, it is generally good to ask one question from four perspectives. “Will this comment help 1) our company 2) our customers 3) the person I am talking to, and 4) the person I am talking about?” If the answers are no, no, no, and no, don’t say it!

9. Support the final decision
Treat decision-makers the same way that you would want to be treated. If you stab that person in the back in front of your direct reports, what are you teaching them to do when they disagree with you?

10. Make a positive difference–don’t just try to “win” or “be right”
We can easily become more focused on what others are doing wrong than on how we can make things better. An important guideline in influencing up is to always remember your goal: making a positive difference for the organization. Focus on making a difference. The more other people can be “right” or “win” with your idea, the more likely your idea is to be successfully executed.

11. Focus on the future – let go of the past
One of the most important behaviours to avoid is whining about the past. Have you ever managed someone who incessantly whined about how bad things are? Nobody wins. Successful people love getting ideas aimed at helping them achieve their goals for the future. By focusing on the future, you can concentrate on what can be achieved tomorrow, not what was not achieved yesterday.

In summary, think of the years that you have spent “perfecting your craft.” Think of all of the knowledge that you have accumulated. Think about how your knowledge can potentially benefit your organisation. How much energy have you invested in acquiring all of this knowledge? How much energy have you invested in learning to present this knowledge to decision-makers so that you can make a real difference? My hope is that by making a small investment in learning to influence decision-makers, you can make a large, positive difference for the future of your organization.

Source: The above article was written by Marshall Goldsmith, “11 Ways to Influence Key Decision makers”, April 30, 2015.


As many of you, who will have read my previous newsletters this year, will know I have been reading over the summer holidays and going through some old files. What memories!

Interestingly they also reminded me of how often the basics of business still remain unchanged. And one such area is in the way we make business decisions. Why is it that so many companies keep making costly mistakes?

The reasons business people make the wrong decisions, in fact, stems from a multiplicity of causes. A colleague of mine, Deborah Sawyer, a number of years ago identified seven deadly sins of business decision-making that alas are too familiar to us all.

Her list included:

1. We already have all the answers – the longer someone has worked in an industry the more inclined they are to believe they know all the answers about that industry. The same applies for someone who has worked with a particular company for a long time and is immersed in that particular company’s viewpoint.

Symptoms include –
a) familiarity breeds contempt;
b) arrogance in that we would never go outside for information (I guess these people don’t have customers, suppliers, have any needs for products or services, don’t participate in conferences, etc!);
c)“old boy’s knowledge”.

2. Asking the wrong question – my favourite – getting to the right decision means having the right information. And having the right information means asking the right questions. Here lies the kernel of another reason why many business people make the wrong decisions – they do not ask the right question.

3. Old Demon Ego – Decisions which companies should never take, and would never take if egos could be set aside, do get taken because decision-makers can’t give up their pet ideas. Whilst decision makers often know they should go and get some objective input to test their idea, they deliberately avoid doing so. That’s because they know an input of information will likely show up the flaws in the pet project. That would mean they would have to abandon the idea!

Symptoms include:
a) unwise acquisitions
b) diversification bites
c) failing overseas
d) entrepreneurial weakness

Have you hugged your pet idea today?

4. Flying by the Seat of your Pants Saves Money – Doesn’t It? – Executives often fall for this one! By not seeking out the information to support decision making, they “save” the company money.

Symptoms include:
a) winging it overseas
b) fools rush in
c) leaving it too late

It is important to remember here that most readily available information is generalised and intended to inform in a general way. Rarely is generalised information, which just about anyone can access, tailored enough to support business decision making, which has to occur in the context of a paritcular company’s situation.

5. If It Works for Them, It’ll Work for Us (All Aboard the Bandwagon) – Rather than

undertake soul searching to find the right choices, a company instead looks around at what others in its industry have done and simply mimics them. By imitating what others do, there is no need to take an idea and test it in the context of your own company to see if there is a fit.

Some symptoms include:
a) following the fashions
b) safety in numbers
c) why is no-one else doing this?

This sin is most usually made in mature industries where there are a limited number of players and everyone knows everyone else.

6. Hear No Evil – Another way companies avoid making the right decision is by making sure they never hear anything unpleasant. We all know this one and some of the symptoms include:

a) don’t tell me what I ask to hear!
b) shoot the messenger

Here is a recent example – “As Vladimir Putin has surrounded himself with hardliners who reinforce his worldview, the Russian president’s access to reliable — if inconvenient — information has diminished. The result is a dangerous feedback loop which encourages an increasingly belligerent stance, reflects Seva Gunitsky for Foreign Affairs.”

7. No Decision Can be the Same as a Bad Decision (Hurry Up and Wait) – Failure to make a decision does not just mean a lost opportunity. It can also take away the chance to take corrective action to an existing business situation.

Symptoms include:
a) decision drag (also known as procrastination)
b) head in the sand
c) eye off the future

Every company and every industry runs the risk of thinking that the status quo will continue indefinitely. Many decisions taken or not taken rest on this assumption.

One of my biggest weakness is No. 4. Which sin(s) do you feel you are committing today as you move forward?

Excerpts: Sawyer, D., (1999) “Getting it Right, Avoiding the High Cost of Wrong Decisions”, St. Lucie Press, USA.


As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I have read some fabulous articles over the holidays.  And in continuing the theme about complaining and being happier, I wanted to share this one about choices.

Practice doesn’t make perfect. But deep, deliberate practice, a form of training that involves concentration, effort, and a steady stream of critical feedback, can help improve any skill up to 10 times faster than conventional practice. 

Practice with that level of focus and your brain forms myelin, a microscopic neural substance that adds considerable speed and accuracy to thoughts and movement. Myelin is kind of like a muscle, except instead of strengthening your body, it strengthens neural pathways related to a particular skill.

That’s great, but then there’s this: Your body doesn’t make value judgments. Practising something that isn’t good for you will also alter your brain.

Basically, your body adapts, and that adaptation helps build patterns of thought and behaviour. 

The result is a virtuous cycle if you’re trying to learn a helpful new skill — and a vicious cycle if you regularly do something less positive.

Like complaining.

Think of it as a bizarre version of the Law of Attraction: Complaining will cause you to “attract” more experiences you can complain about (except this phenomenon is based on science, not philosophy).

Complain, and over time it’s easier to be negative than to be positive. Complain often enough and complaining can become a default behaviour. 

This is one reason some people seem to always be able to find something to complain about.  They might say they’re perfectionists. They might say they have extremely high standards.  But possibly they’ve just learned to complain.  And trained their neural pathways to be really good at complaining.

Venting Won’t Make You Feel Better.

I know what you’re thinking: When you’re mad, upset, frustrated, etc., releasing those negative feelings helps you feel better.

Nope: Science says whining about your problems actually makes you feel worse, not better.

According to one study, venting just makes you feel worse. In fact, the more participants vented, the worse they felt their day had gone. And those negative feelings last.

As the researchers wrote: [Participants] ‘not only reported lower momentary mood and less satisfaction and pride with the work they’d been doing that same day … but they also tended to experience lower mood the next morning … and lower pride in next-day accomplishments.’

And if that’s not enough, those feelings affect the people around you.

If, as Jim Rohn says, you are the average of the five people you hang out with, and one or two of those people tend to complain a lot, research shows that their bad mood affects yours. ……..Just as yours affects them.

So Instead of Complaining …

How you react — to anything — is a choice. 

If something bad happens, you get to choose how you’ll respond. If something goes wrong, you get to choose how you’ll respond.  If someone does something you don’t like, you get to choose how you’ll respond.

While you can never control everything that happens, you can always control how you respond.

The next time something goes wrong, don’t waste time complaining. Put that same effort into making the situation better: Talk about how you’ll make things better. Or what you’ll do next time. Or won’t do next time.  Even if you have that conversation only with yourself.

Practice responding that way and in time you’ll build up neural pathways that make responding that way even easier.

In effect, being positive will become a skill — one you built through deep, deliberate practice.

Would you agree with this premise? I would love to hear what you think!



New life blog post

You can’t change yourself by thinking it so!

I have been thinking a great deal recently (I have had plenty of time for that with Covid), on how my own biases and limiting beliefs prevent me from understanding where I get in my own way.

There is so much I still want to achieve; there is so much I still want to experience and feel. And yet as every year goes by, somehow, I find myself still chained to my desk (aka emails and specific projects), pushing that rock of biases and beliefs up the hill and not giving myself permission to do something different, learn something new (I would love to learn Ikebana), read a novel, have a siesta or even dare I say it – just daydream.
Does every year of your life seem like a repeat? Mine sure does.
The question for me was how do I change things?  
The opinion and thoughts we have of ourselves determines everything about us, and shapes what will happen to us in the future – from what kind of job we will have, to how successful we will be. Our thoughts define who we are and determine how happy we are.
If this premise is true – and the entire field of psychology, counselling and coaching is dedicated to this premise – how do we change our opinion of ourselves? How do we create a better me or a better you?
As a dear colleague recently said, “How do I wake up tomorrow with a new view of me?… How do we change the way we think about ourselves after a lifetime of assaults on our self-concept from parents, peers, professors, and preachers?”
My answer – you can’t change yourself by just thinking it so! Our biases and limiting beliefs will still be there, creeping into all our decisions. Each of us needs someone to reflect back to us what we are really saying about ourselves and therefore thinking.
So, late last year, after much reflection, I got myself a coach.  Yes, I know, I am a coach. But that is why I knew I needed one – to help me traverse the line between working 60+ hours a week to a more relaxed approach. It is taking time, and I know it won’t happen overnight. It took decades to develop my limiting beliefs, so they will not change just because I think so.
In 2022, what do you want to change, and how will you make it happen?  
What support will you get to make sure a change deep down really happens?

five important lessons

What is truly important in life?

I thought for something different for the end of the year and in preparation for 2022, I would share these five important stories that were recently shared with me. They made me reflect on what is important in life.  Read these wonderful stories at your leisure over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

1 – First Important Lesson – Cleaning Lady.

During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

Surely this was some kind of joke.  I had seen the cleaning woman several times.  She was tall, dark-haired, and in her 50’s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank.  Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count towards our quiz grade.

“Absolutely, ” said the professor.  “In your careers, you will meet many people.   All are significant.  They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say “hello.”

I’ve never forgotten that lesson.  I also learned her name.  It was Dorothy.

2 – Second Important Lesson – Pickup in the Rain.

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm.  Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride.  Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s.  The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance, and put her into a taxicab. She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him.  Seven days went by and a knock came on the man’s door. To his surprise, a giant console TV was delivered to his home.  A special note was attached.

It read:  “Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night.  The rain-drenched not only my clothes but also my spirits.  Then you came along.   Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband’s bedside just before he passed away.  God Bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.

Sincerely, Mrs Nat King Cole”.

3 – Third Important Lesson – Always remember those who serve.

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table.   A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

“How much is an ice cream sundae?” he asked.

“Fifty cents,” replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it. “Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient.

“Thirty-five cents,” she brusquely replied. The little boy again counted his coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table, and walked away.  The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier, and left.  When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table.  There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies.

You see, he couldn’t have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4 – Fourth Important Lesson. – The Obstacle in Our Path.

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway.  Then he hid and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock.  Some of the King’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it.  Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables.  Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road.  After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded.  After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been.  The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

The peasant learned what many of us never understand! Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

5 – Fifth Important Lesson – Giving When it Counts.

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare & serious disease.  Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.

The doctor explained the situation to her little brother and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes I’ll do it if it will save her.”

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the colour returning to her cheeks.  Then his face grew pale and his smile faded.

He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

Most importantly… 
Live with no regrets, Treat people the way you want to be treated, Work like you don’t need the money, Love like you’ve never been hurt, and Dance like you do when nobody’s watching.

Right Decisions

How to make the right decision

Think decision-making is about gut feel? Think again. It’s all in the mind.

Making decisions is the most important job of any executive. It’s also the toughest and the riskiest. Bad decisions can damage a business and a career, sometimes irreparably. So where do bad decisions come from? In many cases, they can be traced back to the way the decisions were made. But sometimes the fault lies not in the process but in the mind of the decision-maker. The way the human brain works can sabotage our decisions.

For executives, the psychological traps can undermine everything from new product development to acquisition and divestiture strategy and succession planning. While no-one can rid his or her mind of these ingrained flaws, anyone can learn to understand the traps and compensate for them. These include:

THE ANCHORING TRAP – When considering a decision, the mind gives disproportionate weight to the first information it receives. Initial impressions, estimates, or data anchor subsequent thoughts and judgements. Anchors can be as simple as a comment from a colleague, a number, or a statistic from the morning’s paper. One of the most common types of anchor is a past event or trend.

Because anchors can establish the terms on which a decision will be made, they are often used as a bargaining tactic by savvy negotiators. Their effect in decision-making has been documented in thousands of experiments. Anchors influence the decisions of managers, accountants and engineers, bankers and lawyers, consultants and stock analysts.

But aware managers can reduce their impact by using the following techniques:

  • View a problem from different perspectives.
  • Think about the problem before consulting others.
  • Seek out information from a variety of people.
  • Avoid anchoring those from whom you solicit information or counsel.
  • Be wary of anchors in negotiations.

THE STATUS QUO TRAP – Decision makers display a strong bias towards alternatives that perpetuate the status quo. The source of the status quo trap lies in the desire to protect our egos from damage. Breaking from the status quo means taking action, and when we take action we take responsibility, thus opening ourselves to criticism and to regret.

Once you become aware of the status quo trap, you can use the following techniques to lessen its pull:

  • Always remind yourself of your objectives and examine how they would be served by the status quo.
  • The status quo is not your only alternative. Identify other options and use them as counterbalances.
  • Ask yourself whether you would choose the status quo alternative if it weren’t the status quo.
  • Avoid exaggerating the effort or cost involved in switching from the status quo.
  • Remember that the desirability of the status quo will change over time. Evaluate alternatives in terms of the future as well as the present.
  • Don’t default to the status quo just because you’re having a hard time picking the best alternative. Force yourself to choose among the options.

THE SUNK COST TRAP – Another of the deep-seated biases is to make choices that justify past choices, even when those past choices no longer seem valid. Executives should recognise that, in an uncertain world where unforeseeable events are common, good decisions can sometimes lead to bad outcomes. By acknowledging that some good ideas will end in failure, executives will encourage people to cut their losses.

For all decisions with a history you will need to make a conscious effort to set aside any sunk costs:

  • Seek out views of people not involved with the earlier decisions and who are unlikely to be committed to them.
  • Examine why admitting to an earlier mistake distresses you. Remind yourself that even smart choices can have bad consequences, through no fault of the original decision-maker, and that even the best managers are not immune to errors in judgement.
  • Be on the lookout for the influence of sunk cost biases in the decisions your subordinates make.

THE EVIDENCE TRAP – This bias leads us to seek out information that supports our existing instinct while avoiding information that contradicts it.

The two psychological forces at work here are our tendency to subconsciously decide what we want to do before we figure out why we want to do it, and our inclination to be more engaged by things we like than by things we dislike. You need to put your choices to the test:

  • Check to see whether you are examining all the evidence with equal rigour.
  • Get someone you respect to play devil’s advocate. Better yet, build the counter-arguments yourself. What’s the strongest reason to do something else?
  • Be honest with yourself about your motives. Are you gathering information to help you make a smart choice, or are you looking for evidence confirming your view?
  • In seeking advice, do not ask leading questions. And if you find that an adviser always seems to support your point of view, find a new adviser.

THE FRAMING TRAP – The way a problem is framed can profoundly influence the choices you make. A poorly framed problem can undermine even the most considered decision. But the adverse effects of framing can be limited by taking precautions:

  • Don’t automatically accept the initial frame, whether it was formulated by you or by someone else.
  • Try posing problems in a neutral way that combines gains and losses or embraces different reference points.
  • Think about the framing of a problem. In the decision-making process, ask yourself how your thinking might change if the framing changed.
  • When others recommend decisions, examine their frames. Challenge them with different frames.

THE FORECASTING TRAPS – All of the traps discussed so far can influence the way we make decisions when confronted with uncertainty. But another subset of traps can have a particularly distorting effect in uncertain situations because they can cloud our ability to assess probabilities.

These include:

  • The overconfidence trap. Even though most of us are not very good at making estimates or forecasts, we actually tend to be overconfident about our accuracy. That can lead to errors in judgement and, in turn, to bad decisions. In making predictions most people set too narrow a range of possibilities. For example if managers underestimate the high end or overestimate the low end of a crucial variable, they may miss attractive opportunities or expose themselves to far greater risk than they realise.
  • The prudence trap. When faced with high-stakes decisions, we tend to adjust our estimates or forecasts “ just to be on the safe side”. Policymakers have gone so far as to codify over-cautiousness in formal decision-making procedures. For example using worst case analysis and incorporating the worst case into the decision.
  • The recallability trap. Even if we are neither overly confident nor unduly prudent, we can still fall into a trap when making estimates or forecasts. Because we so frequently base our predictions about future events on our memory of past events, we can be overly influenced by dramatic incidents that have left a strong impression on our memory. Anything that distorts your ability to recall events in a balanced way will distort your probability assessments.

Still think that decision-making is about gut feel?

If you’d like help to make the ‘right’ decision get in touch via our contact form.

Negative and positive Feedback

How to stop being a people pleaser: 7 powerful habits – PART 2

Last month I started this article around the sneaky and negative effects of being a people pleaser and you may recall that I mentioned there were 7 habits you could develop to help you with changing this habit.

To recap briefly; habits 1, 2 and 3 were:

1. Realize that with some people it isn’t about you and what you do (no matter what you do).
2. Learn how to say no.
3.  People don’t really care that much about what you say or do.

Now moving on:

4. Learn how to handle criticism and verbal lash outs (and the fear of that).
Sometimes its simply about the other person and his or her situation in life right now. It is not about what you did or did not do.  A few more things that help me to handle negative or critical messages are:

  • Wait before you reply. Take a couple of deep breaths in the conversation. By doing so you’ll reduce the risk of lashing out yourself or making a mistake. Calming yourself down a bit before replying is pretty much always a good idea.
  • Remember: you can let it go. You don’t have to reply to all the negative messages you may get via email, social media or in real life. As they say, you don’t have to attend every argument you are invited to.  You can just say nothing, let it go and move on. It is important to remember that you do have this option.
  • It’s OK to disagree. This took me time to really get. Because I wanted to get people to my side. To make someone see things the way I did. But it’s also OK to simply have different opinions about things. In fact, it may provide you with an opportunity to learn about different perspectives.

5. Set boundaries for yourself.
Can’t tell you how important this is and how many coaching clients I get to practice this.  If you set a few firm boundaries for yourself then it will, over time, become easier to do the same towards other people too. And these boundaries can also help you to focus better on what matters the most to you.

A few of the daily ones that have helped me with both of those things are:

  • A start-time and a stop-time for work. I don’t work before 8 in the morning and my work computer is shut off – at the latest – at 7 in the evening.
  • Work in a no-distraction zone. I keep email notifications and messaging programs off. And my smartphone is on silent mode when I am focused on a project, with a coaching client, or writing.
  • Only check email twice a day. Otherwise, it’s easy for me to lose focus and to have too many thoughts swirling around in my mind while working.

6. Strengthen your self-esteem.
As you value yourself, your time, and your energy more, it becomes more natural to say no when you need to.  And criticism and negative words will bounce off of you more easily and more often.  After a while, you’ll be less concerned about getting everyone else to like you all the time. As you like and respect yourself more, your dependency upon what others may think or say, drops drastically.

7. Keep your focus on what YOU want out of your life.
If you know what’s most important to you and you keep your focus on that each day then you’ll naturally start to say no and stop being so people-pleasing. Now your energy and time are focused on achieving your goals and aspirations.  You’re no longer drifting along without a clear focus.

So how could you stop being a people pleaser?  Which of these 7 habits resonated the most for you? What could you do differently moving forward?

It is not easy changing a lifetime habit – it takes time and practice.  So be kind to yourself as you learn to focus on what matters most for you and be able to let go of pleasing others all the time.



When you get stuck in the habit of trying to please other people most of the time, it can have a sneaky and negative effect on your life.  And not only on you but also on the people around you.

Because as you try to please:

  • You put on a mask and try to guess what to do while getting anxious and stressed.
  • Sometimes you feel taken advantage of by others who use your people pleasing habit.
  • Often you feel out of tune with what you yourself deep down want.
  • It can also have an unintended effect on other people as they may see through your mask, start to feel your inner discomfort and stress themselves and get confused or upset because they sense you are not being honest and straightforward with them.

So being a people pleaser may not create the outcomes you seek and often can be an even worse choice than one may at first think.

So how can you change this behaviour and break the habit?

This month I’d like to share 7 powerful insights and habits that have helped me with this issue.

1. Realize that with some people it isn’t about you and what you do (no matter what you do).

Some people just can’t be pleased. No matter what you do. Because it’s not about what you do or do not do. It’s about him or her.

By realizing this and how you in the end can’t get everyone to like you or can’t void conflict no matter what you do, you can start to let go of this damaging habit.

2. Learn how to say no.

It’s of course hard to say no.  But it is vital for you to own happiness, stress levels and for living the life you truly want.

Here are 5 things that have made it easier for me to say no more often:

  • Disarm and state your need. It’s easier for people to accept your no if you disarm them first. Do that by, for instance, saying that you’re flattered or that you appreciate the kind offer. Then add that you, for example, simply don’t have the time for doing what they want.  Now you are establishing a boundary for your sake.
  • If they’re pushy, add how you feel. Say that you don’t feel that this offer is a good fit for your life right now. Or that you feel overwhelmed and very busy and so you cannot do whatever they want. Telling someone how you honestly feel can help them to understand your side of the issue better. And it’s also a lot harder to argue with how you feel rather than what you think.
  • Help out a bit. If possible, finish your reply by recommending someone that you think could help out or would be a better fit for what they need. I do this quite often when I feel I lack the knowledge or experience that a reader or a friend is looking for.
  • Remind yourself why it is important to sometimes say no: You teach people by how you behave. They learn about you and your boundaries from your behaviour. So if you stand up for yourself and say no and are assertive about what you don’t want then people will start to pick up on that. And over time you’ll encounter fewer and fewer situations where someone tries to be pushy or steamroll you.
  • It’s OK to feel a bit guilty about saying no (but you don’t have to act on it). Just feel it and be with that feeling for a while. But at the same time know that it doesn’t mean that you have to act on it and say yes or do what they want you to do.
Interested in practical ways to say no? I’m happy to share with you my list of ’99 ways to say No’. Just email me.

3. People don’t really care that much about what you say or do.

The truth is that while you may be the main character in your own life and head, you’re not that in other people’s lives.  Because here’s the thing: people have their hands full with thinking and worrying about their own lives. They have their heads full of thoughts about their kids, career, pets, hobbies, dreams and worries or thoughts about what others may think of them.

This realization can make you feel less important. But it can also set you free.


Beliefs are thoughts in our heads that influence our emotions, behaviours, attitudes, and actions.  Some beliefs can be empowering, which can lead us to great success, or self-limiting which stops us from achieving our goals.

However, we need to understand that beliefs are only thoughts and that they are not real.  With our power of choice, we can change our thoughts whenever we want to. We have the power to choose what we want to believe and not believe.  Successful people have chosen to believe in thoughts that empower them.  What are you going to choose?

Here are some empowering beliefs that I have come across:

  1. I am not afraid, only excited for what is ahead
  2. I am responsible for the life I create – The choices I make are ultimately my own responsibility.
  3. Failure means nothing to me – I look for outcomes and if the outcomes are not what I expect, then I assess what I need to do to change those outcomes
  4. I embrace challenges because I will always find a way to overcome
  5. I am the person who has to decide. Whether I will do it or toss it aside; I am the person who makes up my mind.
  6. Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, joy, courage, creativity and empathy. Vulnerability gives me strength and fuels my belief in me.
  7. The past was who I was, the present is who I am and the future is who I may become.
  8. I am on a continuous journey of learning, which will never end.
  9. I accept that sometimes I can stuff up, make mistakes and that I am not perfect however I never stop trying to be the best person I can be.
  10. I always dream big. I strive for that which is out of my reach as the impossible is worth striving for.

One of my favourite quotes is from Lao Tzu –

Watch your thoughts, they become words

Watch your words, they become actions

Watch your actions, they become habits

Watch your habits, they become character

Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.


Do you want to change some of your thoughts?

The first step to changing how you think is to decide what the results are when you act on your current beliefs.  Don’t worry at this stage whether your beliefs are right or wrong. What are your key beliefs about yourself and your life now? What are the consequences of those beliefs in your life today?  How do these thoughts serve you?

Now for the next 10 days choose one empowering belief and repeat it three times a day – preferably looking at yourself in a mirror. Each day try to behave and act in a way that supports the thought that you have chosen. Then watch how you begin to feel different….. and begin to transform.

Once you commit to living your life as an empowered individual you will have no option but to experience a life full of success and fulfilment.  Why wouldn’t you?

Do You Have Work / Life Balance?

Recently I have been reflecting on my work/life balance.  To be honest, my life has been so unbalanced I could certainly provide a guide as to what NOT to do.  As I have grown older and hopefully wiser, I have come to realise that to live a good life there needs to be moderation in everything.  Something I am not good at.

Let me give you some background to help you understand where I am coming from.  From 1982 to 1992 I studied for my business degrees part-time while working full time and trying to make my way up the corporate ladder.  That was a Bachelors Degree in Business with majors in Marketing and Economics and then an MBA.

While working at least 40 hours per week for my employers, I was adding another 40 hours at least a week in studies.  This is not what anyone would call work/life balance.  In fact, I was spelling “fun” as “w-o-r-k”!!!  If I wasn’t studying, I was working and if I wasn’t working, I was studying.  My friends were my fellow students and if we got together for an evening it was either completing assignments or preparing for exams.  Definitely not a balanced life!

Today, for me, a work/life balance is where there is time and space for earning a living, enjoying the company of family and friends, having regular holidays, time to exercise and time to ruminate.  In other words, balance occurs where there is some sort of equitable distribution amongst all the aspects of one’s life.

Our lives are made up of many parts and I believe these include:

  • Contribution to society
  • Work/Career
  • Family/Relationships/Friends/Social
  • Fun and Enjoyment
  • Spiritual Development
  • Health
  • Financials

I definitely did not have equal distribution amongst these aspects of my life – often because I felt I had no control over my time.

When I was halfway through my MBA, I decided that I needed to go out there on my own and start my own business.  I needed more control over my life and a better balance, I thought.  Well let me tell you, there is nothing like starting your own business while studying!!

Instead of working 80 hours a week, I was now working and worrying 24 hours on 24 hours, 7 days a week.  Yep, I definitely got more balance!

Even when my studies come to an end and I only had to concentrate on my business, I thought, at last, I now have a chance for a better work/life balance.

Well, up until recently, I can say I have rarely had holidays longer than one week a year – if that some years.  I have attempted to balance all the parts of my life but with little success.  Work seems to have always gained the upper hand.

Not any more …..  Nowadays, I think I know why.

Balance in one’s life is based, I believe, on your personality drivers and personal values.  In case you have not guessed yet, I am a type-A personality – very achievement-oriented, a workaholic.  Everything I did in work needed to be as good as possible if not perfect…..  Exhausting isn’t it????

These drivers and values rarely let me rest – there was always something bigger or better to achieve.  As a result, there was little moderation in my life.

Over the past year, talking with my coaches (yes, I have more than one!) I have slowly changed some of my values.  Whether that is a result of conscious effort or age or both, I am not sure.  I now no longer work on weekends – big step there!  This coming financial year my goal is not to work on Fridays – well most Fridays/Friday afternoons??

I am no longer driven to prove myself as much – I guess because I have already achieved much, to be truthful, and for which I am grateful.  I try to take the time to read, to get together with family and friends and to even look after myself.  Please note that try is the operative word here.

I believe I have a choice whether I want to work hard or whether I want time to play.  It is MY values that will drive whether I really achieve balance or not in my life. The personal questions are how do I define balance? What is life/work balance for me?

Each one of us needs to find our own balance amongst all the different aspects of our lives.  But first I believe we need to understand the values and drivers we hold about our self-worth and those values we want to hold close.

It is our choice how we live our lives and whether we really want to change our lives to have a greater work/life balance – whatever that may mean for each of us.

PS:  To help you on your road, download the Wheel of Life to see which areas you need to work on to bring greater balance into your life.


Do you need to overcome negative thoughts?

Here we are at the end of another financial year – and you may be questioning where has the year gone and what is going on in the world.  So much change, so much to keep up with!

All this may be overwhelming, and it may start to drag you down.  You could start to feel sorry for yourself, or maybe you are worrying more, or questioning ‘what’s the point?’ On reflection, maybe you didn’t achieve what you wanted to so far and maybe the world news is just putting you in a funk!

Negative thoughts can be toxic, can build up and quickly make us feel depressed, sad, lost and sometimes hopeless.

Here are a number of suggestions to overcome negative thoughts, which might help you move to a more positive frame of mind:

  1. In every situation there is a silver lining – Ask yourself what is the one good thing you can identify in this negative situation?  What is the one thing you could learn from this? Or as I often suggest to clients, what is the gift in this negative situation?
  2. Replace the negativity in your life – What are the 3 top sources of negativity in your life right now?  What can you change about these 3 sources?  It is OK to take small steps when dealing with this.  Alternatively, you can keep reminding yourself of tip No 1.
  3. Talk to someone – keeping negative thoughts bottled up is not helpful.  Find someone you can share or vent with.  And then see if you can together find a more positive approach to relieving the negative thoughts to move forward.
  4. Are you making a mountain out of a molehill? – think through the negative thought.  Are you making the issue bigger than necessary?  Think would it matter in 3 or 5 years?  What about next year or even next month?  What would a friend or family member say?  When we focus on a problem or issue, it becomes all-encompassing and is no longer in perspective. Asking yourself whether the issue is really in perspective is an important way to manage negative thinking.
  5. Be grateful for what you do have – this is my favourite No. 1 negative squasher!  List what you have to be grateful for and remind yourself of these things every day. I get my clients to write them down at the end of every day.  You will be surprised what happens to your thinking.
  6. What about going for some exercise? – Endorphins are a wonderful recharger.  When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins, which interact with the receptors in your brain.  These trigger a positive feeling in the body and improved self-esteem, providing a more positive and energized outlook on life.
  7. Pay it forward – If you want to feel positive then bring positivity into someone else’s life. Do an act of kindness and/or generosity; give a compliment; help out, etc.  By adding positivity to someone else’s life, you too can start to feel better and more optimistic again.
  8. Start tomorrow with a positive tone – set yourself a reminder the night before of a positive action you are going to take the following day.  Make sure you can see it clearly the moment you wake up.  Repeat it to yourself a couple of times during the day if you want.  Savour it!

Each of these tips will help take those negative thoughts away.  Give it a go – what have you got to lose? Let me know which ones you think help you the most.  If you want to talk about it more, give me a call.

How well do you influence?

To influence is an art that has been lost in the volume of information that people are swamped with today. As we are all aware, information is readily available in overwhelming volumes – through the media, the internet and social media networking. One of the biggest hindrances to success is all about persuading the people you wish to influence. Even the best business proposal will not gain traction if you are unable to influence or persuade your target. The important thing is influence and not just inform. Following are five prongs of persuasion:
  • Words: Express yourself with positive, specific and precise words. Don’t use negative, vague words.
  • Rhetoric: Use rhetoric to get your message across, include powerful messaging and use memorable phrasing.
  • Emotion: Draw on emotions to get your message across. Create feelings such as pleasure, fear, safety, acceptance, and prestige. Decisions are based on emotions.
  • Logic: People need to justify their emotional decisions with reason. Help to interpret the facts, information and ideas that are available. Take a point of view. Lead others to draw  conclusions.
  • Trustworthiness: Demonstrate your integrity. People need to trust your personal values and genuineness before they’ll believe what you say.

Information floods the airwaves, the internet, and our in-boxes. And with that influx, influence has become rare. Yet channelled toward a goal, influence – not simply information – drives action and results.

If you would like to improve your effectiveness as a leader, or communicator within your business, family or life in general, contact us for a complimentary 45 minute discovery session.

Avoiding Bad Decisions

As you know, I have been working for over 25 years to help people make better decisions, whether through strategic and competitive intelligence or life, leadership, and business coaching. I even call myself The Decision-Making Maverick™.

Over the years, I have found four key areas that impact decision-making the most:

  • Heavy internal focus
  • Decision Fatigue
  • Shallow Brains
  • Learning how to do new things

So when a colleague – Shane Parrish from Farnam Street – recently posted about one aspect of decision-making that’s rarely talked about – how to avoid making bad decisions – I had to share it with you.

Here are his suggestions (including some additional comments based on my experience) for five of the biggest reasons we make bad decisions:

1. We’re unintentionally stupid

We like to think that we can rationally process information like a computer, but we can’t. Cognitive biases explain why we make bad decisions but rarely help us avoid them in the first place. It’s better to focus on these warning signs that signal something is about to go wrong.

Warning signs you’re about to do something stupid unintentionally:

  • You’re tired, emotional, in a rush, or distracted.
  • You’re operating in a group or working with an authority figure who thinks they know it all.

The rule: Never make important decisions when you’re tired, emotional, distracted, or in a rush.

2. We solve the wrong problem

How many times have we come across this? The first person to state the problem rarely has the best insight into the problem. Once a problem is thrown out on the table, however, our type-A problem-solving nature kicks in, and we forget first to ask if we’re solving the right problem.

Warning signs you’re solving the wrong problem:

  • You let someone else define the problem for you.
  • You’re far away from the problem.
  • You’re thinking about the problem at only one level or through a narrow lens.
  • You don’t have a clear enough question about the problem.

The rule: Never let anyone define the problem for you. And never proceed if you are not clear on which problem you are trying to solve. Go back to the decision you are trying to reach around the problem.

3. We use incorrect or insufficient information

We like to believe that what we read is correct and that people tell us the truth. We like to believe the people we talk to understand what they are talking about. We like to believe that we have all the information.

Warning signs you have incorrect or insufficient information:

  • You are not speaking to the right people.
  • You’re reading about it only in the news.
  • You are not looking at multiple sources to collect and verify the information you need.

The rule: Seek out information from numerous sources – don’t be lazy – a lot is riding on making a better decision.

4. We fail to learn

You know the person that sits beside you at work that has twenty years of experience but keeps making the same mistakes over and over? They don’t have twenty years of experience—they have one year of experience repeated twenty times. If you can’t learn, you can’t get better.

To truly learn from our experiences, we must reflect. Reflection has to be part of your process, not something you might do if you have time. Don’t use the excuse of being too busy or get too invested in protecting your ego. Only reflection allows us to distil experience into something we can learn from to make better decisions in the future.

Warning signs you’re not learning:

  • You’re too busy to reflect.
  • You don’t keep track of your decisions.
  • You can’t calibrate your decision-making.

The rule: Be less busy. Keep a learning journal. Reflect every day.

5. We focus on optics over outcomes

Our evolutionary programming conditions us to do what’s easy over what’s right. After all, it’s often easier to signal being virtuous than to actually be virtuous.

Warning signs you’re focused on optics:

  • You’re thinking about how you’ll defend your decision – and you don’t share what you already know.
  • You’re knowingly choosing what’s defendable over what’s right.
  • You’d make a different decision if you owned the company.
  • You catch yourself saying this is what your boss would want.

The rule: Act as you would want an employee to act if you owned the company.

As some of you would know from my many presentations, I have talked about these very issues. Avoiding bad decisions is just as important as making good ones.

Look at the warning signs, reflect, set some rules for your decision-making processes, and you will never need to rely on luck to get good outcomes.

Here is the link to Shane’s original article and many others –

I would love to hear how you have learnt to avoid making bad decisions.

At MindShifts® we offer a range of coaching programs, and competitive intelligence services to support individuals and businesses. If you’d like to get in touch, or would like to arrange a 45 minute complimentary ‘discovery session’ please contact us via our contact page.


Changing one little word

Five years ago, I came across a wonderful suggestion from my friend and colleague Leanne Buttrose.  I asked her at that time to write a little note about this which I shared.  Since then, I have been regularly practicing this suggestion.  I thought you would enjoy it as our Monthly Monday Motivation for May.

“How to change your energy and everyone around you by changing one little word!

In the year 2000, I was introduced to a simple and yet incredibly powerful change in my life.  I removed the word “BUT” from my vocabulary. At the time I learned this, I didn’t realise what this change would mean to me and the hundreds of people I have shared this concept with.

The greatest challenge was to not replace it with a “but” in disguise.  We know these words as – however, although, nonetheless – although there are many more!  “But” simply means; everything I said before this word is null and void. For example, the party was great, but the food could have been better.  So was the party great or not?

I found that I became very conscious of my sentences and that “but” was my way to buy time and think.  It was what I used instead of a pause or full stop in a conversation or when presenting.

The most profound discovery was in my written words.  I used “but” in emails, documents and papers, and it gave them a negative overtone when that was not my intention. I used it in sales pitches and PowerPoint presentations when trying to make a point. I was a “but-aholic”!

So how did I change this?  I replaced the word “but” with “and”. While at first, it felt grammatically incorrect, it forced me to stop and think about why I even wanted to say the word.

I found in conversations, I started to pause, think and then continue without using the word.  In written communication, it forced me to rethink the whole sentence because when you remove the use of ‘but’, you often have to phrase the entire sentence very differently.

Here’s an example: ” I’m sorry I didn’t finish the report, but I received your email too late.”

Instead, you might say: “I’m sorry I didn’t finish the report. I received your email too late, and I will do my best to finalise it by the end of this week.”

I have shared this with leaders who now write their messages to their customers and staff coming from the “Yes… and” perspective. They have found it easier to create more positive energy through their communications.

WOW! To think removing just three little letters from our vocabulary can hold that much incredible power.  And I have been practicing it ever since.  It really does make a difference.

A great way to make sure you’re following “Yes… and” is to exercise self-awareness.  Self-awareness is the secret weapon for lasting habit change. 

If you’d like some support or are interested in gaining more self-awareness, contact me for a complimentary 45 minute coaching discovery session via our contact page.

A Hidden Saboteur that Holds You Back

As you know by now, I love sharing great articles that I come across in journals, magazines, e-newsletter and so on with you. This one from Pat McDaniel of Wise Insights struck a chord with me. He introduced the concept of hidden saboteurs who undermine our efforts to get ahead and reach our goals and dreams.

In this article, he draws attention to an invisible saboteur that is easier to see in others than in ourselves.

“In 1967, researcher Martin Seligman conducted a series of experiments to see if someone could be unknowingly persuaded to believe something their own eyes were telling them wasn’t so.

In the first experiment, two groups of test subjects were individually placed in their own personally confined area where they could not easily escape. They then experienced a series of uncomfortable conditions that made them want to escape the confinement.

  • Test group A (control group) participants wasted little time in escaping their confinement once the discomfort got to be too much. As expected, none stayed until the end.
  • Test group B participants were each placed in their own, more rigorous enclosure and could not escape despite their efforts. They just had to endure the discomfort, even as it got worse.

In the second experiment, group B members were each moved to another personally confined area similar to the first but with an important difference: there WAS a way to escape if they looked for it.

Researchers witnessed that when group B participants were again subject to the same discomfort experienced in the first experiment, they just sat there and didn’t even try to escape, even though it would not have been difficult in the new area.

What was going on? 

This group had reached a point where they were conditioned to believe they were powerless to escape the misery, despite the evidence they could see that there was a way to escape (if they looked for it). They had gotten to the place of concluding, “why even try?” because they believed the outcome was fixed.

This research confirms the anecdotal stories of baby circus elephants who are tethered to a stake in the ground and are unable to pull it out (because they are small). Later, when they are fully grown, they don’t even try to pull up the stake (even though an adult elephant could easily do it) because they believe it is futile to try.

Researchers called this conditioning “learned helplessness.”

Learned helplessness can affect you and me in select areas where we have seen repeated failure (e.g. losing weight, getting a promotion, getting married, etc.).

Because we have been conditioned (learned) to believe we are powerless to change the situation, we either don’t even try or quickly give up.

If left unchallenged, this unseen force can ultimately influence multiple areas of life so that a single failure in one area draws the same conclusion (why even try again?) even if the reality is that another try would succeed.

Sooooo many are missing out on much greater success toward their goals and dreams because of this self-induced hopelessness.

What Can You Do?

There is a proven, 3-step process you can use to fight against learned helplessness (and many other self-limiting beliefs):

1. Awareness of the lies – you need to be tuned into the messages you tell yourself.

If your tendency in one or more areas of your life is not even to try (or quickly quit trying), you need to be on the lookout for your faulty conclusions. If you watch for these self-limiting thoughts, you will easily see them.

2. Challenge beliefs with the truth – you need to tell yourself the truth forcefully and persistently: You are not helpless. It is not hopeless. You can do much more than you think you can, especially if you persist.

From my experience, in the early stages, it is hard to convince yourself of the truth when the lie has seemed true for longer than the truth.

That is why you also need the next step (which many fail to use). 

3. Lean on external input – seek input from the outside (those not affected by your distorted perception and see more reality than you can for yourself).

It is important to seek input from those who “believe in you… and have been there”. They can help you feel hope for a different outcome. You can even derive strength from their confidence in/for you.

One other type of external input is particularly helpful: a group working together to overcome a challenge (particularly one guided by someone who has seen success).

For example, weight watchers type groups see great success because (a) you don’t feel alone, but instead are in it together, and (b) because you see others making progress. Combined with their encouragement, you can believe progress is possible.

Learned helplessness can be unlearned with persistence and outside encouragement.


The Rules of Life

Well that is the first quarter of 2021 gone – yes already you say!! With time, life and everything else speeding by, we – well I do more often than not – sometimes just need to remember what the Rules of Life really are:

1. If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You have another chance! “Every day above ground is a good day!”

2. Learn to pick your battles; ask yourself, “Will this matter one year from now? How about one month? One week? One day?”

3. The five most essential words for a healthy, vital relationship are “I apologize” and “you are right.”

4. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

5. You need only two tools: WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn’t move and it should, use WD-40. If it moves and shouldn’t, use the tape.

6. If he/she says that you are too good for him/her — believe them.

7. When you make a mistake, make amends immediately. It’s easier to eat crow while it’s still warm.

8. Living well really is the best revenge. Being miserable because of a bad or former relationship just might mean that the other person was right about you.

9. Work is good, but it’s not that important. Money is nice, but you can’t take it with you. Statistics show most people don’t live to spend all they saved; some die even before they retire. Anything we have isn’t really ours; it was given to us by God; She just let us borrow it while we’re here…. even our kids.

10. Be assured that most of your problems will disappear by themselves if you don’t get too attached to them.

11. Worry is a misuse of the imagination.

12. The wonderful thing about the game of life is that winning and losing are illusions. They are terms that humans created to help us play the game of life by the rules we also created.

I need to keep reminding myself of rules 1, 2, 11 and 12. Which ones resonate with you?

What is Energy Leadership

As some of you may know, I am one of only 2-3 Australians certified in the Energy Leadership Index – one of the top tools recommended by the Coaches Forum at Forbes Magazine.

Energy Leadership™ is the process that develops a personally effective style of leadership that positively influences and changes not only yourself, but also those with whom you work and interact.

As individuals, we view the world through filters (based on our experiences, values, assumptions, etc.). Those filters will either limit what we see or expand what we see. As a result, they impact how we perceive and what we think about our circumstances. Throughout our whole life, we’ve unconsciously developed filters, which may be holding us back from seeing the full potential of ourselves and what our life and career have to offer.


Leadership is how you interact with everyone, including yourself. Leaders are quite visible within small and large businesses. We tend to think of them as business owners, CEO’s and managers at all levels. Traditionally, leadership also extends into politics and other global affairs. However, parents, therapists and health care providers, solopreneurs, sports coaches, consultants, mentors, partners in relationship, teachers, authors, and others who interact with people on a regular basis are all leaders.

If we don’t think of yourself as a leader, then you are limited in your thinking. Leading is the way we help move people into action, including us. The question is not whether or not we are leaders, but how well we lead.


A relentlessly damaging stream is flowing through the world. This stream is not created by water, but by fear. It is the Stream of Unconsciousness.

Its constructive counterpart, the Stream of Consciousness, is fed by creative and positive thinking that produces questions like “What’s right,” “What’s the opportunity here,” and “How can we make this work?” In contrast, the Stream of Unconsciousness is based on only one question: “What’s wrong?” This stream is the one most of us have been trained to see, listen to, drink from, and bathe in since birth.

During any typical workday, most people spend a great deal of time focusing on what’s wrong — with their family, their jobs, their projects, their colleagues, their relationships, and their lives. At work, it’s not surprising that studies show that more than 50 per cent of the people would choose, if they could, to quit their jobs.

What will it take to shift the pressure and negativity that surrounds not only our careers but our personal lives and the state of our communities?  What will help employees to be productive, content, and have a positive view of both the organizations they work for and the people they work with?


More than a hundred years ago, Albert Einstein addressed the scientific community, passionately presenting the idea that everything we see, hear, taste, touch, and smell is not matter, but energy.  Everything that “matters” is energy.

On an energetic and cellular level, catabolism usually refers to a breakdown of complex molecules, while anabolism is the opposite.  When you hear about a person’s catabolic or anabolic energy, however, it’s a broader statement about destructive and constructive forces in an entire person, who is made up not only of individual cells but also of anabolic and catabolic thoughts and beliefs.

Anabolic and Catabolic energy are predominant in organizations as well as people.  Many organizations experience catabolic energy by constantly reacting to their circumstances with worry, fear, doubt, anger, and guilt.  And thoughts are indeed contagious.  When even a few people in an organization have negative feelings, it can spread like a virus. “Group think” sets in, and their thoughts become group “fact.”

Remember that “group think” begins with “leader think”. At its core, an organization strongly reflects how its leader thinks, feels, and acts.  Anabolic leaders have the ability to motivate and inspire themselves and others to do extraordinary things.

No matter how effective or ineffective you currently are in your role, you can transform yourself and others, as well as your organization, into a thriving, inspired, positive, productive, and successful entity. And, thus begins your journey to become the Ideal Leader.

The Energy Leadership Index (E.L.I.) is a unique assessment that enables participants to get a snapshot of their perceptions, attitudes, behaviours, and overall leadership capabilities. The Energy Leadership Index assessment reveals what specific filters you’ve developed and how those filters are influencing the results you’re achieving.

In a way, it’s a snapshot of you, and how you show up in the world. It shows the effects of stress on your performance and targets areas where you can shift your energy to be more successful.

If you would like to find out more about Energy Leadership get in touch via our Contact page.

God and Lawn Care image

God and Lawn Care

There is nothing like laughing at ourselves to get us in the right frame of mind to tackle the year ahead. So here is a little story with an interesting insight at the end:

You will chuckle as you read this …. Because as stupid as it may sound, this is exactly what we do!

Frank, You know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds, and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees, and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colours by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.

It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers’ weeds’ and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

Grass? But it’s so boring. It’s not colourful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It’s sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it, sometimes twice a week.

They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

Yes, Sir.

These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

You aren’t going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It’s a natural cycle of life.

You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

And where do they get this mulch?

They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

‘Dumb and Dumber’, Lord. It’s a story about…

Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis…

So while this story seems funny and crazy, it demonstrates a critical issue that I see all the time in coaching – the blind spots, biases, and limiting beliefs that we bring to our every-day life that just don’t make sense. These biases and beliefs stop us from achieving our goals and the outcomes we seek.

Often we can’t articulate our own biases or blindspots – it takes an outsider to hear them so that they can call them out. Remember that each of us wears our own rose coloured glasses which may not allow us to see the clearer picture.

If there’s anything I can do to help you on your journey, please send an email via the contact form. I will respond within 24 hours.

Essential questions for success in 2021

10 Essential Questions to Guarantee Success in 2021

Why do dumb things happen to smart companies? After 25 years of strategy consulting, I would like to suggest some of the following reasons:

  • Companies repeat mistakes
  • Work gets duplicated
  • Customer relations are strained
  • Good ideas don’t get shared
  • Competition is around price
  • Not keeping up with market leaders or innovators
  • Dependence on a few key individuals
  • Slow to innovate
  • Lack of good market knowledge

People don’t choose for good things to go bad, just as executives don’t choose strategies that fail.

Bottom line I think, is that people in organisations aren’t finding the insights they need, and this has real business consequences.

You may have your new year strategy already drafted, and now the focus is just on starting the new year afresh. However, doing this without first reviewing the past year could land you in some murky waters – with issues unresolved, staff dissatisfied, and without clearly understanding what may not have gone so well, and what could be done better next time.

So during February, schedule some time for yourself, or if you prefer as a team exercise, and use these questions to explore 2020, gain the insights necessary, and ensure you achieve higher goals in 2021:

  1. What was the most successful initiative of 2020?
  2. What was the most disappointing (honesty wins out over whitewashing)
  3. Do you feel you maximised opportunities? If not, why not?
  4. What could you change now that would have maximum impact on company performance?
  5. How could you make this change happen and continue in 2021?
  6. What will be your “theme” in 2021?
  7. What would be the ideal working environment you would like to have in 2021, and what steps are needed to make it a reality?
  8. What could you do to provide the tools to help you work smarter and better next year (eg mentoring, training, coaching)?
  9. What initiatives could you implement to help your staff work better and as a stronger team?
  10. What are the three actions you can take now to start the year off on the right foot?

These questions are a catalyst for looking at your business. Taking the time to honestly (and without any blame) review both what worked well, and what didn’t work, will strengthen the bonds within your team and ensure that you all start the year positively and motivated to making it a success for everyone.


Coaching in 2021:

If you have considered coaching and would like support in 2021 to achieve your career or personal goals get in touch via our contact form to arrange an initial discovery session.

A discovery session is a 45 minute complimentary session where you can experience the coaching process for 30 minutes and then ask any questions you may have for the remaining 15 minutes.  We will both know by the end of the session if we are a good fit.

Start 2021 on fresh footing – with clarity and purpose.

Simplicity Principle

The Simplicity Principle of Life

Like many of you during this Covid-19 crisis, I read a lot and have come across some great articles and ideas that I would like to share with you over the coming months.

There was one article in particular around simplicity that resonated strongly with me. If you are like me, the pandemic has made me realise how much I want to simplify things both in my business and in my life.

Confucius once said that life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

How true is that?

Today in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) World, the complexity of business decisions, automation, technology and AI, bears both financial and emotional consequences for us all. Then with the disruption of Covid-19 on top of all of this, we are experiencing significant stress levels.

As humans, our desire for simplicity is not new, especially during times when society undergoes upheaval. So while everyone is talking about robotics, machine learning, AI, we need to be reminded that we – as humans – need meaning and connection. We also need boundaries as much as we need to sleep.

Psychologists and neuroscientists understand that we can not go overloading people with systems and structures that are complex and anti-human. We have information overload, decision fatigue, and the “always-on” culture. So the craving for simplicity is not surprising.

The opposite for CAT – a work-life of complexity, anxiety and time poverty – is KISS.

Most of you would know the KISS principle – Keep it Simple Stupid! Living by KISS means making a commitment to pursuing clarity and a commitment to avoid decision fatigue in which too many choices limits and inhibits people. Steve Jobs always wore a black t-shirt and jeans, Barack Obama wore either a blue suit or a grey suit, and Apple remains a great example of a company committed to simple and functional design.

People who live by the KISS principle think and behave in a more agile way as they don’t feel so burdened.

So what are the elements of the simplicity principle?

Here are five areas that leaders following the simplicity principle observe – you may come up with more:

  1. They have boundaries. They know their limits, and they observe them. Did you know that it has been estimated that it takes literally 23 minutes and 15 seconds for the human brain to refocus after being online and task switching? A boundary may involve being clear about when you will be on digital devices – and when you will be focused in conversation.
  2. They know how to reset and rest. By trusting simplicity, you take time out to value nature and appreciate how calming it can be. As we all know, being always ‘on’ is bound to lead to failure.
  3. KISS leaders treat their schedules like their bodies. They control what goes in their schedule like they would control what they eat. They know when to stop and may choose to create daily time blocks to address important tasks.
  4. They balance technological speed and scale against reality. They address the human dimension and its impact on every worker and customer in an organisation. They place the human at the centre of work execution.
  5. They understand that there is collective talent, insight and wisdom among their network. People want to serve and share in a myriad of ways.

Turning the complex into the simple will always be a constant challenge. It is something we all need to consciously work on to improve the way we think and act. Steve Jobs said “Simple can be harder than complex; You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it is worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains”.

Accentuate Positive

Accentuate the Positive

This month for something different I thought I would share some short messages and videos which I’ve recently found – many of which have been quite useful!

Accentuate the Positive
I was watching some old movies and recalled a song called “Accentuate the Positive”. After a little research I learned the words were written by Johnny Mercer in 1944 – at a time when the “War to End All Wars” was still raging. The world longed for peace and hope and a way to look up. The songs wonderful lyrics are actually useful as a powerful success formula:

“Accentuate the positive,
Eliminate the negative,
Latch on to the affirmative,
Don’t mess with Mr In between!”

What we accentuate and dwell on, focus on and look for in each day makes all the difference. It’s just like looking at a glass and seeing it half full or half empty.

Words have power. I challenge you to eliminate the negative words as you recognise them. For me, I say the word “Cancel!” when I hear one come out of my mouth and immediately select a positive word to replace it. Try it for just a day. You’ll feel the results! Then make it part of your life routine.

Latch on to the affirmative. Remind yourself what you’ve achieved. Write out positive affirmations that assume the best and keep them in your pocket. Review them often. It’s truly powerful!

And when you’re not sure, just leave those neutral, puzzling areas alone. The questions you can’t answer should not vex you or stop your progress. Just don’t mess with them.

Finally, find a bouncy song that can become YOUR theme song and hum it to yourself now and again. It works for many.

And to add to the affirmative here are two videos that might also help:

Cultivating unconditional self-worth
When a person demands perfection of herself or himself, anything less can feel like failure. Adia Gooden knows this from experience. In addition to her work as a staff psychologist at the University of Chicago, she’s learned in her own life how to break negative thought patterns and live more freely. She shares those lessons in her talk.

What I learned from 100 days of rejection
Jia Jiang adventures boldly into a territory so many of us fear: rejection. By seeking out rejection for 100 days — from asking a stranger to borrow $100 to requesting a “burger refill” at a restaurant — Jiang desensitized himself to the pain and shame that rejection often brings and, in the process, discovered that simply asking for what you want can open up possibilities where you expect to find dead ends.

What about the choices you make?*
You always have a reason–and usually, a pretty good one– for doing what you are doing and choosing what you are choosing. Be careful not to convince yourself that you are doing something against your will. Such a thing is impossible.

Therefore, be honest with yourself as to why you are choosing to do a particular thing. Then, do it gladly, knowing that you are always getting to do what you want. The statement “I have no choice” is a lie. You can choose. You simply do not prefer the alternatives available to you, for whatever reason. So you select the outcome that you most prefer. Isn’t that power?

If you would like some help working through your choices, do get in touch.

*Source:  Neale Donald Walsch –


Competitor Information

How to learn more about your competitors

These days it is critical that executives understand the constantly changing competitive environment. The pandemic has changed supply chains, production processes, customer interactions, technology use, staff interactions, and so much more. So with all these changes going on around us, how can we each still make sound decisions?

90% of everything we need to know about our competitors is available online

Right now more than 90% of what we will ever need, in data or information to help with those decisions, is already in the public domain – that means it’s all available online. Maybe not in the form that will directly answer our specific questions about, for example, our competitors but the pieces of any jigsaw are always there.

Let’s take one example. What if a large Asian/European/US firm decided to enter the Australian market. We would estimate that they were planning on entering the market well before any actual launch, undertaking research to review existing players, identify market growth opportunities, government legislation, consumer requirements and so on.

Yet, as a player, how could we have detected their intentions before they actually entered the marketplace? And, what can we find out about their intentions?

Firstly, market expansions rarely occur without changes in personnel, particularly senior personnel. In the above example, this could also mean increased management, skilled and unskilled labour, equipment and floor space. Wouldn’t all of these considerations be part of our own business and marketing strategies if we were to consider the growth of this kind?

So why would a competitor be any different?

The pieces of the jigsaw are all there – each carrying a little message.

Now, as we know well, not all information is of equal value, worth or credibility. Information may arrive distorted, almost always incomplete and usually with bias either from its source or from the user….even if it has been published. Remember just because it is on your computer screen and in Google, does not mean it is true! Information needs to be verified.

There are four main sources of information, each able to validate the other in some way. These are:

  1. Human Sources: Oral information by way of business networks, seminars, friends and experts. At MindShifts®, our company’s greatest asset is our staff. After all, they attend industry webinars, research online, look at social media, just to name a few sources. To tap into this wealth of information we need to find out who knows what and develop a method for gathering and processing the information. We may also need to attend specific additional industry webinars or listen to expert podcasts, online product and service demonstrations, or connect with the local council and industry associations and join social networks.
  2. Economic & Financial Sources: This includes annual reports, trade publications, general media. What has been written about a company locally or in other countries? What publicity have they received in their industry press? What about the individual partners, board members, connections?
  3. Corporate Sources: This includes customers, suppliers, innovation hubs, Facebook pages, web sites, advertising etc. In this area, staff should be listening and gathering information about the competitive environment as part of their everyday activities. Simpler still put yourself on to some e-newsletter lists or join some Facebook and/or LinkedIn groups. Now, with a new perspective, we will have competitive information delivered to our desk.
  4. Technical Sources: This includes technical reports and journals, product manuals, IP/patents, even cases.

Don’t hesitate to use all four sources to build your competitive puzzle.

A question I often get asked is ‘How do I identify disruptors?One great way is to get on the newsletter listings from organisations such as Kickstarter, Springwise, Indiegogo, TrendHunters, and the Aussie Idea Spies- just to name a few. These all identify start-ups and the products and services seeking funding or being launched. These days nothing is really that far from you.

The important thing to remember is that understanding competitors – whether disrupters, medium or large players – can give a business advantage and provide us with the right information at the right time to perceive and avoid threats, and utilise opportunities for a profitable business in today’s constantly changing environment.

Learning about, and understanding, the business environment in which you compete is really your only competitive advantage.

Want to know more? Get in touch.

Energy to Succeed

Do you have the energy to succeed?

So let me start with a simple question – Do you have the energy to succeed?

You can’t hide lack of energy and motivation since it’s evident from how you carry yourself. Sit down somewhere and watch people walking by and you will quickly notice who has what it takes and who hasn’t.

So what do I mean by energy?

Think of energy as two streams of life – one based on negativity and fear thinking, that is “What’s wrong” and the other fed by creative and positive thinking that produces questions like “What’s right,” “What’s the opportunity here,” and “How can we make this work?”

During any typical workday, most people spend a great deal of time focusing on what’s wrong — with their family, their jobs, their projects, their colleagues, their relationships, and their lives.

What we accentuate and dwell on, focus on, and look for in each day makes all the difference.  It’s just like looking at a glass and seeing it half full or half empty.

Which stream do you think you currently swim in? 

What do you think it will take to shift the pressure and negativity that surrounds your life?  What will help you, your colleagues and co-workers to be productive, content, and have a positive view of both the businesses we all work for and the people we work with?

It will require a shift in thinking – as essentially what you think creates your reality.

Let me explain – our thinking is a result on our beliefs, the assumptions we have about the world and life, the interpretations we make about other people’s behaviours and the limitations we perceive in ourselves.  These four factors are the foundations of our thinking and as a result produce the energy we exhibit.

Here are seven suggestions to boost your energy and shift your thinking:

  1. Develop self-awareness

Learn about your default tendencies, that is the way you react generally to circumstances.  Understand how you personally filter information and your perceptions. Ask yourself – what are your thoughts and beliefs in a particular situation you face? How often do you focus on the negative or find yourself in a reactive mode?  How often do you focus on what’s right and are excited about the possibilities?

  1. Be aware of others

Observe your colleagues, co-workers, friends, etc and see how they engage and contribute.  Are they seeing the glass half empty or half full? It is all about “what’s wrong?” or “how can we make this happen?”  Where is their thinking coming from?

  1. Intentionally choose how you are going to show up

Decide how you want to lead and how your energy, values, etc are going to show up in conversations, relationships and decision-making.  Don’t ever forget you have the power to choose.

  1. Ask and listen

Become more aware, through probing and listening, so that you can address matters in a more positive manner. Go back to the video in our Monday Motivation of August 3 to learn more about listening.

  1. Be a coach

Coaching is all about drawing answers from deep within the “coachee”.  It is a positive, collaborative, thought-provoking process.

  1. Find a coach for yourself

Sometimes it is difficult to understand our own deeper feelings and values without someone helping us out.  We may only see our reflection rather than the amazing person in the mirror.

  1. Bring out greatness in yourself and others.

Recognise people for what they are capable of.  Acknowledge and point out their greatness.

Words have power.  I challenge you to eliminate the negative words as you recognise them.  For me I say the word “Cancel!” when I hear one come out of my mouth and immediately select a positive word to replace it.  Try it for just a day.  You’ll feel the results!  Then make it part of your life routine.

Latch on to the affirmative.  Remind yourself what you’ve achieved.  Write a gratitude journal or write out positive affirmations that assume the best and keep them in your pocket.  Review them often.  Both are truly powerful exercises.

How are you going to show up? Do you have the energy to succeed?

If you’d like to get in touch send an email via the Contact Page.

Business Anchors

Budget Anchors – Exalted Numbers

In business, some numbers take on special status.  The cost of capital.  The rate of inflation. The market average.  Last year’s results.  The industry benchmark.  Six sigma. These and other numbers are so exalted, we rarely question, let alone notice, their unintended consequences as mental anchors.

One number stands out in every organisation. 

 It is a number we fear and venerate.  It is a number that is fluid and then becomes a stone.  It is a number that defines the limits of what’s possible.  The number is, of course, the budget.  

Our colleagues at Advanced Competitive Strategies in the USA conducted a business war game for a major company.  They divided the company’s managers into teams to role-play their own business and their competitors. They were told that they had to allocate their marketing budget among various messages that they could deliver through multiple media. Their market share and gross margin numbers would result from how much they spent and how well they spent it, compared to how much their competitors spent and how well they spent it.

Advised what their budgets were, they were free to spend more or less than those budgets. There were no limits to how far their spending could diverge from their budgets.

Every team, in every year of the business war game, spent within a few percentage points of their budgets.

In most companies, the budget is rather like Goldilocks’ porridge scenarios.  Spend less than your budget, and your bowl shrinks next year.  Spend more than your budget, and you get burned.  Spend very close to your budget, and you are just right.

Unfortunately, the meet-your-budget imperative collides with the competitive challenge. If you are constrained by your budget when an unexpected threat or opportunity pops up, then you are restricted in your options to respond to the threat or exploit the opportunity.  

If your competitors work the same way (and they probably do), you might not suffer too much.  However, when new competitors (or newly aggressive existing competitors) charge in, your (real or unconscious) constraints can produce a debilitating competitive disadvantage.  

This competitive disadvantage can trigger a downward spiral that’s hard to wrest from a heavy budget anchor.  A competitor takes a share, so sales go down; as sales go down, budgets go down; as budgets go down, the ability to respond to the competitor goes down; as responses weaken, the competitor takes more share; and so on.  A strategist in a large company described this conundrum: We have enough money to buy bullets, but not enough to buy a scope for a rifle that will let us aim accurately.

The downward spiral isn’t the only way budget anchors can taint strategic thinking.  

In another business war game, a budget anchor led managers to assume their strategy would work.  They knew they could cut their costs, which would give them pricing flexibility; they figured that because their competitors couldn’t cut their costs, their budgets would force them to either cut spending or maintain a higher price.  They were wrong.  When their own managers put themselves into their competitors’ shoes – one of the main benefits of business war gaming – they figured that their competitors couldn’t afford not to match a price cut.  Of course, they couldn’t guarantee that their competitors would behave that way.  Nonetheless, the insight led them to a major change in their thinking, which led to a major shift in strategy and a major improvement in performance.

Why do upstarts beat incumbents?  

Remember articles in our previous issues of MindShifts® Matters?  Upstarts supposedly “think outside the box” or “break the rules.” What are the boxes, what are the rules, that bind the incumbents?  The budget anchor is one.  An upstart thinks investment; an incumbent thinks budgets.  The different word reflects the different boxes and rules.

What to do:

One of my wise colleagues refuses to talk about “budgets.” He talks about “spending plans.” It helps us think more expansively and more creatively.

Watch the thinking that goes on in your company’s strategy sessions.  Are there unstated assumptions about the inviolability of the budget?  Is there an important opportunity, or threat, that people are trying to fit inside the budget, rather than thinking about spending what’s necessary to deal with the challenge?

What you can do if you believe that the budget does not reflect the needs of an opportunity or threat is to show how a different level of spending would be of benefit.

Finally, note that anchors and other assumptions partly influence budgets themselves.  We should spend X% of sales, this year’s budget is last year’s plus an adjustment of Y%, we’ve got to keep spending to $Z to boost the stock price.  Other strategy-related issues have anchors of their own: a new-product launch costs $A, it takes B years to become profitable, the pricing sweet spot is $C.

A ship moves only after it raises its anchor.

For more information about how you can improve your competitive intelligence capabilities get in touch!

Source:  This article is adapted from Mark Chussil’s blog post, ‘Exalted Numbers: How Good Numbers Produce Bad Decisions’