Reclaiming your voice

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It seems like one of those easy things, speaking up.

I mean, all you have to do is open your mouth and let the words flow out. Yet for some reason, this is an incredibly challenging task for many people.

Why?

Well, there is a whole plethora of reasons but speaking from personal experience, I was encouraged to be a “good girl” growing up. This often meant not speaking up, not disagreeing with what the people around me said and often it meant going with the flow even if I didn’t want to.

By the time I was 18 years old, I was heavily conditioned to be a people-pleaser. One of the greatest challenges of being a people-pleaser is to speak loudly and clearly. To use the word NO at will used to be particularly difficult for me.

I spent my 20’s and 30’s rewiring myself around this, finding my voice and really connecting with who I am and what I want. Learning to say no has been one of the greatest skills I have ever acquired!

As Oprah Winfrey says “No is a complete sentence”. I love that statement!

Working with my coaching clients and generally observing others, the five main reasons that I have identified about why people don’t speak up are because:

1.Your identity is very tied up with being the “go-to person”: if you are the solver of everyone else’s challenges, you take on things even when you don’t want to. It is who you are, so it becomes challenging to say no. Often what happens is this person eventually wakes up and says “why am doing all this stuff when I don’t really want to be?”

2. Saying YES is easier than saying NO: many of us have been conditioned to please other people. What that often means is you “go with the flow”, even if the flow isn’t where you want to go. Saying no can often prompt feelings of guilt, fear and even shame.

3.You want to avoid conflict: there are few people on the planet who relish conflict, then there are those who would do ANYTHING to avoid it! I mean, nice people don’t fight with others! Conflict can seem very scary and often is unpredictable. If we lack confidence or are not self-assured, then speaking up can seem too challenging if the possible result is conflict.

4. Your Inner Critic has a VERY loud voice: a person who has conditioned themselves not to speak up has got a very vocal inner critic on the inside.  This critic continually questions, judges and cautions you on speaking up and allowing your voice to be heard: “That will sound stupid, don’t speak up”, “Don’t say that, you might get in trouble or upset them”, “what happens if what I say is wrong?”.

5. Your belief is that your opinions don’t matter anyway: what is the point of speaking up anyway, no one will listen! When your self-worth has been crushed, you can feel worthless or you believe you have nothing of value to offer, it becomes incredibly challenging to speak up and share your voice.

You may have identified yourself in some or many of the list above. Yet what is most important is how do you move forward and truly start sharing your voice with the world around you?

Here are my five tips to develop the practice of authentically speaking up and sharing your voice:

1.Notice your inner critic and challenge it: what is the voice in your head actually saying to you? How truthful is what it is saying? So often we don’t even challenge the voice of the inner critic – we merely accept it as the truth. Our inner critic lives very closely to fear, it really just wants to keep us safe and small. Start to challenge it: “Is that really real?”, “will they really stop loving/caring for/wanting to be near me if I speak up?”, “how do I know what will happen if I share my thoughts?”, “what is the worst thing that can happen if I speak up?”.

2. Connect with your body: Our bodies NEVER lie!! That feeling in your stomach that is screaming at you to speak up right now is your intuition – your gut instinct. Every time we ignore our body’s signals we are betraying ourselves. The wisdom that our body holds is so much more connected than the story our mind is telling us. Your heart knows the truth and it longs to be heard. By speaking up, you are releasing that energy and this is the very best thing you can do for your overall health.

3. Treat this like a science experiment: Become the Mad Scientist in your world.  Observe yourself, try different things and see what happens. Learn from the experiments you conduct, draw conclusions, make changes and try again. Test different things! By framing speaking up as an experiment or a science project, the energy around it shifts. It no longer feels so life and death, it becomes freer and more fun. Trust me, no one is going to die by you speaking your truth. If they do, please let me know and I will amend this blog immediately.

4. Find a teacher/coach/mentor: If speaking up really is something that strikes fear in to your heart then actively seek someone out who is skilled in this area. They can help you learn new strategies around finding your voice, creating healthy boundaries, becoming friends with the word no and developing the courage to speak from your heart. The quickest way to learn a new skill is model someone who is already excelling in this area.

5. Have a love affair with yourself: The more self-love you have, the more confident you are in your own skin. The more confident you are in your own skin, the more comfortable you are to speak up and stand in your truth. The more you speak up and stand in your truth, the more it becomes second nature. Before you know it, it is no longer such a momentous task!

By speaking up – authentically and courageously – you will further deepen the relationship you have with yourself. Every time you do it, it is like giving yourself a beautiful and loving hug. All of sudden, you will notice that you aren’t seeking love from those external forces (for example, your partner, family or job) because you are filling your own tank up by honouring yourself through your voice.

Keep in mind, speaking your truth doesn’t have to be a bombshell or some life-changing words. It could be as simple as speaking up about which restaurant you would like to eat dinner at, or telling your friends that you are going home early because you are very tired from the week at work.

In fact, these sorts of small examples are where we build the muscle so that when it comes time to speak up on the big issues, we are already practised at saying what is in our heart.

Remember, your voice is always there within you. You know it longs to be heard, in fact you can feel it in your body when you deny its expression.

Speak up, speak loudly, be free.

 

 

Hard core withdrawals from the good stuff…

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I have just had nine glorious days of love, connection and a whole lot of hugging, and jeez man, that stuff is the business!

We all need to be hugging more!!

I have recently gotten home from a Tony Robbins event called Date with Destiny.  It’s a six day event and it really is a life-changing one, not only for the participants but for everyone who is involved in it. The energy of that environment, I believe, really does change people on a cellular level!

There were just under 1700 participants and about another 250 trainers, coaches, leaders and crew which actually makes for a relatively intimate environment – crazy I know!

This time I was there in the capacity of crew member. Being a crew member means that we help: we help move chairs, we help participants get registered, we usher people, greet people, we clean the main room, we run microphones, we dance a lot, but most importantly (I believe) we hug!

I’ve realised that it’s the hugging I love most of all! I am naturally very tactile but so often in life I am moving quickly or trying to get stuff done so I don’t stop and take the time to hug the person in front of me.

This is actually a great tragedy! Our world desperately needs more hugging.

Being back in that beautiful environment, I am reminded of the importance of hugging and just how good it makes me and the people around me feel.

Not only does it feel amazing, it is doing good in my body at the same time.

Just this week, The Evening Standard published an article about the health benefits of hugging.

The article explained that hugs are an amazing provider of oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone”.  Oxytoxin has been recognised as being of great benefit for several mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that acts on the brain’s emotional centre, promoting feelings of contentment, trust, intimacy and bonding. Now that’s the good stuff I am talking about!

Another huge bonus of our friend oxytocin is that it causes us to feel more relaxed, decreasing tension as well as levels of cortisol – the body’s stress hormone. Cortisol plays a key role in increasing blood pressure and heart disease so if we have less cortisol in our system, we are winning!

Not only are the hugs increasing our oxytocin but they give our serotonin levels a boost as well as dopamine. Both of these hormones play a key role in our emotions and how we feel. Again, the more the better!

Date with Destiny really is a marathon event! As crew, we are there for nine days. We spend three days preparing and then on our day four, the participants arrive and the games begin. A normal Date with Destiny day is somewhere between 14 to 18 hours, and normally towards that higher end of that scale. Based on that, it would be easy to expect a whole lot of illness from burning the candle at both ends. I am definitely a “nine hours sleep” a night sort of girl so this event is particularly gruelling in regards to sleep deprivation.

Interestingly enough though, I don’t get sick. Even though my body is exhausted and I feel like I am running on empty over the last few days, I keep going and I keep going with a smile on my face.

It’s because of the hugs!!

In a 2015 study involving 404 healthy adults, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University examined the effects of perceived social support and getting hugs on the participants’ susceptibility to developing the common cold after being exposed to the virus.

People who perceived greater social support were less likely to come down with a cold, and the researchers calculated that the stress-buffering effects of hugging explained 32 percent of that beneficial effect.

That is huge!

Interestingly, even those in the group who did get a cold had less severe symptoms. This was directly attributed to more frequent hugging and perceived social support that the hugging gave them.

If you want to feel better about life, if you want to be healthier and if you want more connection in your world, start hugging others. Do it frequently, with presence and enjoy it!

It appears to me that hugging is just another vehicle that our Creator/Universe/ God/Source Energy gave to us to live an even happier and healthier life.

Time to get using it!!

 

 

 

Let go of the look

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How much money do you spend because of the belief that if it costs more, it must be better?

It will look better, it will feel better, it will be more valuable.

This was an interesting conversation I had with a very dear friend of mine recently when I visited her in her new home.  I complimented her on a beautiful bunch of roses that were the centre piece of her dining table and she smiled at me with a glint in her eye.

Recently we have both attended a Wealth course (the same course at different times)  and as a byproduct of the course, we have both been seriously evaluating how we spend our money.  We had already had numerous conversations about spending plans, saving plans and wealth creation strategies.

I asked her why she was smiling, “Today I had an ah ha moment, and I am loving it!” she replied

“I walked into the shop because I wanted to buy some flowers.  I love flowers and I regularly buy them to have at home.  There was lots of different bunches, some for $15 right through to $40.  Normally I would of bought a more expensive bunch and as I stood there looking at these flowers, I asked myself why. Why do I always buy the more expensive ones?”

I thought that was a great question.  As someone who is obsessed with self exploration as well as growth, I was curious to hear the answer.

My friend replied ” Because I had the money to buy the more expensive ones so therefore I did.  It literally came down to that. I thought that they looked better. In fact, to be honest, I thought I looked better buying them”

“After standing in the shop today and really looking at the flowers, I realised that the cheaper bunch was just as beautiful, just a bit smaller”

“In that moment, I realised that I waste so much money thinking about the “look” of things.  I realised that if  I made these little day to day spending decisions with my wealth creation strategies  in mind, how different would my finances look in 20 years time?” She said

Wow! If she had the money, she would spend it.  It was about the look of the flowers as opposed to the enjoyment. The perceived extra value of them because they cost more, interesting!! Yet how was this eroding her long term wealth?

I swiftly examined if this shows up in my life, and it does!  I went on to ask numerous others over the course of the next few days and it became apparent that this belief was playing out in many people’s lives.

We are spending money because of how the thing looks, not because of the pleasure it will bring us, not because it’s what we need or even want and certainly not because it will support us in building our future wealth.

My Girlfriend went on to explain that she has been “crunching her numbers”.  If she spends just $100 less per week, a couple of less coffees, slightly cheaper flowers, buys more from the supermarket on special and in bulk, cancels one magazine subscription and takes her lunch to work one day a week, and invests the $100 instead, it becomes A LOT of money!

In five years, with a return of 10% it’s just under $35,000. In ten years, it about $91,000. In 20 years it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars!

If someone said to me, “Are you okay with spending over three hundred thousand dollars on looking good?” I would laugh in that persons face and say that I don’t care what other people think but in actual fact, what my girlfriend did, was shine the light on the fact that maybe I do, more than what I realise!  I care about the look of things.

This conversation, as simple as it was, really got me thinking! So many of us are unconscious in how we spend yet would love to have financial freedom. We miss it, because its $5 here and $10 there but that all adds up.

The “look” is costing us! And costing way too much in the long term.

Something to think about, I hear you say.

 

 

 

Companies that are good for the planet, and make me happy too!

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Understanding our values is a very important part of self awareness!

If we clearly know what we value then we are able to make choices, decisions and take aligned action and guess what, that makes us feel sensational!! People who consistently live within their values, experience a greater sense of congruence and inner peace than people who don’t.

The reason I share this is because within my top five values lives compassion, in fact it sits at number four.  Because I value compassion so highly, I am interested in supporting companies that have compassion within their value set.  That means no animal testing and behaving in a way that treats the Earth well.

Over the last few months I have had two new companies cross  my path and they are just too good to not share with you all.

The first company is called Ekoworx.

Ekoworx was introduced to me by my friend Juls from Sydney and she was completely singing its praises.  I was whinging that I couldn’t get the limescale off my shower screen and was thinking about buying a new one. The one challenge with wanting to use environmentally friendly cleaning products is that they sometimes aren’t very effective.

Juls swiftly got me in front of the computer and showed me Ekoworx. She told me I had to give this stuff a go, “it’s AHHHHmazing”!! I was still dubious. Juls swore that this Ekoworx stuff was going to change my life! Where do you go after a statement like that is made other than straight to the shopping cart:)

Like me, Juls is a very compassionate woman and her intial attraction to Ekoworx was because  it’s mission is to “help eliminate the use of toxic chemicals used in cleaning products”. Well, that’s a bloody good mission if I have ever seen one! On top of that, it was made by two dads from Bondi, Adam Lindsay and Justin Alexander in collaboration with Chief Scientist Dr Leigh Aldous. It is 100% Australian made and doesn’t animal test EVER! Okay, so at this point, its a win, win, win, but does it work?

Yep, it is the BOMB!

I am totally converted! Ekoworx has been such a God send in my house.  I spray it around as I say “You’re welcome” to the planet and I feel like an amazing good person for so many reasons.  Do yourself  favour and give it a shot!

The next company Ecosia, is just about as feel good as you could get.  My gorgeous nieces introduced me to this little ripper!! And its all about the trees…

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Ecosia is a social business meaning “we measure our success by the positive impact we can have on people and the environment”.  How cool is that!!

So what is it? It is a search engine, like Google but they invest 80% of their profits into reforestation in the places on the planet that need it most like Nicagarua, Brasil, Peru, Indonesia, Morocco, Madagascar, Tanzania and Burkina Faso in West Africa.  Their goal is to have planted a billion trees by 2020.  As I write this now, they are powering towards 28 million trees planted.

The company was started by a German man called Christian Kroll.  Christian went travelling around the planet in 2009 after completing his business studies.

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During his studies, he was disappointed to see that profit was positioned as the most important aspect of business. He felt inspired to take a year off and go get a different view of the world.  On his travels he saw how important trees are  for the survival of the planet so when he came home, he started Ecosia.

When you think about how much Googling people do, I mean “google it” has become a part of our language, imagine what would happen to the planet if we all started “ecosia-ing it”? The thought just makes my heart explode!

Do yourself, and the planet a favour, and pop this site on your phone and home computer to become your “go to” search engine from here on in.

Let me just finish by saying that in no way was I asked to endorse either of these products.  I am just a firm believer that the consumer dollar is what is going to change the world.  That belief makes me feel pretty powerful and very keen to share any product or service that aligns with my core value set.

 

E + R = O, and it’s not algebra!

 

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Well this is a bit of a flash back to year 10 mathematics and to be honest, algebra was never one of my favourite things. In case you feel similarly to me about algebra, I ask that you hang in there.

This equation, when applied well, can change your life!

Yep, dead-set change your life.

I was reminded of this simple equation in a book that I have been reading, The Success Principles, by Jack Canfield.

What it stands for is the EVENT + your RESPONSE will = the OUTCOME. Simple, elegant and oh so true!!

Let me give you an example. You arrive at the shopping centre and the car park is full. You spot someone pulling out of their car space and pop your indicator on, signalling that the space is yours. The person backs their car out and as they straighten their car up to drive away, another car ducks in behind them and grabs YOUR space. This is the Event.

So how do you respond?  You put the park brake on and jump out of your car – this is unacceptable! You march over to the parked vehicle and bang on the window. The driver, who is staring down at their phone, looks up with a start. She opens her window and you go to town: “What the hell are you thinking!! How could you not see that I was sitting there waiting!! You took my spot you idiot, I hope you have a crappy day!”. This is the Response.

You storm back to your car, get in, pacify the children in the back seat and when you look up, there is the other driver, looming over your bonnet. She starts to yell and scream at you “How dare you abuse me, you stupid woman! It’s people like you that make the world so screwed up. I didn’t see you and if you had just spoken to me, maybe I would have been willing to move but not now. I feel sorry for those poor kids in the backseat to have a mother like you, you crazy woman”. This is the Outcome.

So, your kids are now all shaken up having witnessed the whole thing, you have more adrenaline in your system than what is healthy for you, and there is a growing  rage inside you at the injustice of it all.

Here’s the question, if you had responded differently, how different would the outcome be?

E + R = O

Event + Response = Outcome

Sexy isn’t it!!

Let’s revisit the example. The driver steals your spot. You hurrmph, this is quite annoying. You sit there and wait until the driver gets out of her car three minutes later. You wind down your window and stick your head out.

“Excuse me, I was waiting for that spot, did you not see me?” you ask calmly.

“Oh no I didn’t see you, sorry about that. I would move for you but I am flat out and have to just run into the shops and grab some medicine from the pharmacy for my daughter. She is at home on her own waiting for me to get back and I am so stressed”.

“Look, no problem. I hope your daughter feels better soon”.

So, your kids witness a quality example of speaking up for yourself as well as a demonstration of empathy and kindness.

E + R = O

Event + Response = Outcome

We are continually at crossroads in life: do I go this way or that way? The only variable in this beautiful little equation is your response.

The event is what it is. Whether it is a positive or negative event doesn’t actually predict the outcome of the situation. I am sure many of you have had negative events happen yet because of how you have responded the outcome has been positive.

Your response on the other hand, is 100% up to you. Every minute of every day you get to decide how you show up, how you respond and therefore how pleasurable and happy your life is.

When we truly stand in full responsibility for our responses then the outcomes we achieve will reflect that.

And that equals a happier, calmer and more positive life.

 

 

The Tribe has spoken….

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Tribal Rule is alive and well.

I feel confident saying that you would have experienced it in some form or another over the course of the last day, week or month.

Tribes fascinate me and I am always curious to know what tribes people belong to.

“What?” I hear you say, “a tribe? I don’t belong to a tribe, are you kidding me?”.

No, I am not! And yes you are a fully-fledged, card-carrying member of many tribes – even if you don’t know it.

Tribes today come in many forms – families, friendship groups, sporting teams, corporate entities, sex, race, religious and spiritual groups, ethnic groups, professions and so on. Basically, a tribe is any group of people who are connected to each other and have a set of rules and beliefs in how things “should” be.

Without even knowing it, you have been participating in your tribes and adding value to them, as well as enforcing the rules of the group.

The thing about tribes that is particularly interesting is that there has to be some judgement: you’re either in or you are out. You are following the rules the tribe believe in and if you are not, then you are most probably living with some discomfort. The tribe will (eventually) evict you because you aren’t toe-ing the line, making a change or fitting in. If you don’t then it will make life uncomfortable so that you want to leave and find a new tribe anyway.

Here are some examples:

The Vegan Tribe says it’s wrong to eat animal products.

The Environmentalist Tribe say that if we don’t change, the planet will die.

The Catholic Tribe says no sex before marriage.

The Australian Tribe is not very welcoming of refugees.

The American Tribe says they have a right to carry guns regardless of the deaths they cause.

The Apple Tribe believes that their products are superior to any other brand.

The Police Tribe says you must follow the speed limit.

Don’t get me wrong: tribes have many advantages. In fact, the human spirit requires connection and to be a part of something bigger than itself. This is still hardwired into us from our caveman days – we long to belong.

Tribes create social order, promote connection and community, and most importantly, they are good for your health!

A Harvard University study examined the lives of almost 3,000 people and found that those who gather together to go out for dinner, play cards, go on day trips, holiday with friends, go to the movies, attend sporting events, go to church, or engage in other social activities outlive their reclusive and more disconnected peers by an average of two-and-a-half years. Being part of a tribe is not only fun but it can also extend your life.

Plus, how much easier is it to get things done working as a group rather than attempting to do it all alone? I think of the Amish Community building barns together, and the local church down the road from me who holds a yearly busy bee to tidy up the neighbourhood streets. What about Christmas time where each tribe member brings something to the table to share?

Like most things in life, there is a light component and a dark component. We all want to feel included, to belong, to be a part of something, and yes, our tribes give us that. It’s about being with like-minded people who understand you and your language and who support your ideas and beliefs.

Just beware, however, that the tribe will speak when you are not “toe-ing the tribal line”. My dad started a new relationship very quickly after my mum passed away and his friendship tribe was MOST put out! They had a set of rules around how grief should be done and clearly my dad was not doing it the right way.

I had to field a barrage of calls from his social circle, all expressing their unhappiness around his actions. In the end I told them to stop calling. I didn’t care what the Friendship Tribe thought (nor did my dad, mind you), I just cared about what was best for my father and his partner.

In one of my coaching sessions this week my client was telling me about how her new partner (whom she completely adores!) is from a different religious denomination and that her family is extremely unhappy with her. It started as a gentle rumble but has now escalated into a deep roar. They have asked her to make a choice: him or us.

The Tribe has spoken…

 

 

 

 

My Top Five Personal Development Books

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I am an addict!

Yep – a hardcore, long term addict, and my addiction is books. I am one of those people who experiences a dopamine hit when I get home and there is a package from the bookstore on my doorstep with my latest purchase.

I eagerly rip open the parcel and will often sit and scan the first few paragraphs before adding it to my (already large) pile of books to read. Sometimes I end up sitting there for two hours and consuming half the book before I even realise what I’ve done. Books just light me up!

I was asked the other day what my favourite personal development books are, and I must admit I found it to be a hard question. There are just so many!! And within that very broad topic there are so many sub-topics so to narrow it down to five is a very tall order!

Since then I have put some dedicated thought in to the question and have finally managed to cut down my list to five. Here they are:

Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy is the man!  He is one of the world’s leading authorities on success and personal achievement, addressing more than 100,000 men and women each year in both public and private seminars. Maximum Achievement is an easy read chocked full of ideas, concepts, and methods used by high-achieving people in every field.

Mr Tracy gives you a powerful and proven system – based on twenty-five years of research and practice – that you can apply immediately to get even better results in every area of your life.

This book is all about unlocking your individual potential for personal greatness.  If you choose to implement the learnings from this book, you will immediately become more positive, persuasive, and powerfully focused in everything you do. Who doesn’t want more of that?

The book lays out a step-by-step blueprint for creating success and achievement and includes proven principles based on psychology, religion, philosophy, business, economics, politics, history, and metaphysics.

I would have bought at least fifty copies of this book over the last few years to give to clients and friends, as well as advising countless others to read it.

If you haven’t read this book, do yourself a favour and get it!

Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani

I am a firm believer in the spiritual plane and I love books that explore that world. This one blew me away!

In this truly inspirational memoir, Anita Moorjani relates how, after fighting cancer for almost four years, her body – overwhelmed by the malignant cells spreading throughout her system – began shutting down. As her organs failed, she entered into an extraordinary near-death experience where she realised her true worth and why her body had created the illness in the first place.

Upon regaining consciousness, Anita found that her condition had improved so rapidly that she was able to be released from the hospital within weeks – without a trace of cancer in her body! This is what is called a Radical Remission, something that her doctors struggled with.

In the book, Anita shares her story and the journey that she has been on.  She was raised in a traditional Hindu family while growing up in Hong Kong, in a largely British and Chinese community, and therefore experienced a continual pushing and pulling of cultural and religious customs. She talks about the challenges of establishing her career and finding love and the continual pressure she felt while trying to meet everyone else expectations.

What I love about Anita’s story is there is something for everyone.  She shares all she has learned about illness, healing, fear, love and how each of us is truly magnificent.  As Wayne Dyer, one of the greatest spiritual teachers of the 21st century says, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience”. This book definitely supports that statement.

The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins

I have talked about the awesomeness of The Five Second Rule consistently since I read it about a year ago!

This book makes my list because Mel Robbins has come up with a tool that is so simple, so elegant and yet SO very effective that anyone can create change in their life by using it. I like that!!

So often in life, our fear stops us.  We find an excuse, we baulk at the critical moment or we simply talk ourselves out of taking the action required to help us achieve what we want.  The Five Second Rule is the tool that will help you have the courage and confidence to do the “thing”, whatever your “thing” is.

This tool is what will allow you to push yourself in that critical moment. I use it all the time and I know it works!

Using the science of habits, fascinating stories, and surprising facts from some of the most famous moments in history, art and business, Mel Robbins explains the power of a “push moment”. Then she gives you one simple tool you can use to become your greatest self.

In my experience simple things work best and it takes just five seconds to use this tool. Not only that, it is hugely versatile and can be used for everything from procrastination to managing anxiety.

Mel has spoken all over the world sharing The Five Second Rule with hundreds of thousands of people and more than 8 million people have watched her TEDx Talk. This lady is no nonsense so and she will kick your butt throughout the book!

The Success Principles by Jack Canfield

I love a good shortcut and this book is definitely that!

The Success Principles contains 67 timeless and tested principles that feels like a condensing of so many other books that I have read over the years.  Every page has sensational content and I love how the book is a journey, layering each new idea on the last one.

In The Success Principles, the co-creator of the phenomenal best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series Jack Canfield, guides the reader to get from where they are to where they want to be by teaching them how to increase their confidence, to tackle daily challenges, to live with passion and purpose, and to realise all of their ambitions.

Again, it’s incredibly simple to read and apply, if you are willing to take the action!

The book is full of inspiring stories from all walks of life, CEOs, world-class athletes, celebrities, and everyday people, which makes it interesting and relatable.

Taken together and practiced every day, these principles can help you change your life! At the very minimum, it is a refresher course on creating phenomenal success in your world.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

I LOVE The Five Love Languages!!

Any person who has ever been in any sort of relationship (yes, that’s all of you!!) and doesn’t understand The Five Love Languages is doing themselves and the people around them a huge disservice! This is the greatest book ever written on communicating love effectively.

Dr Chapman worked with couples for many decades and realised early on that there are five main ways that we communicate love to each other.  Like everything else in life, there is a pattern.

What he discovered is that couples who had challenging relationships often were communicating their love to each other in different “love languages”.  There was a miscommunication going on. What that meant was each party didn’t feel valued, cared for, understood or loved. This was the basis for their problems.

Whether your relationship is flourishing or failing, Dr Gary Chapman’s time tested approach to giving and receiving love will help you experience deeper and richer levels of intimacy and connection with your partner. Not only that, these principles can be applied to any relationship, with your children, your parents and your friends.

The Five Love Languages is as practical as it is insightful and I feel confident that you will get huge value from reading it.

If you have read an amazing books lately, I would love the recommendation!  Pop the book title in the comments and share it with all of us.

Happy reading Folks!

 

 

 

A Sense of Community

Fiji

I am in Fiji at the moment attending a Tony Robbins event called Life and Wealth Masterywhich is all about creating more health, vitality, wealth and abundance in your life.

Fiji is a beautiful country! Where we are is picture perfect: groves of coconut trees, the Pacific Ocean lapping at the surrounding reef, a zillion stars in the night sky and these super cute little mongooses running around. Admittedly, the first time one ran in front of me I did almost have a heart attack, though to be fair I think so did the mongoose!

We are having the best week and there have been so many magic moments, but one of best was on the first night when the local villagers came up to the conference centre to do a Meke for us. A Meke is a traditional style of Fijian dance and it was to welcome us to their island.

The conference centre is located between two villages, Naidi and Valali, and both villages take turns in welcoming each new conference group. The group that comes up is normally about 40 people and their ages range from very young right through to the 60s and 70s.  The Fijians wear a sulu which is a colourful piece of fabric (a bit like a sarong) that covers their bottom half and then a shirt or t-shirt to go with it.

The group entered the main room singing and clapping and the energy was beautiful. They all assembled in front of us and finished their song before sitting down in a circle to sing. In Fiji a common instrument is the voice, so the circle was set up to provide the music for the rest of the dancing.

The young men in the group stayed standing and then did a spectacular dance that I am guessing was about hunting based on the way they moved. I LOVED seeing these young men (aged 10 -16) dancing and sharing their traditions so proudly with us. There was no embarrassment or shyness, they just totally owned it. I could see that this was something that brought a sense of position and place to them. This was their dance and it was a demonstration of their masculinity and place in their community.

As I watched the Meke – which was about half an hour long – I had a couple of realisations.

Firstly, every age group was represented here – young children right through to grandparents and I realised that we don’t see a lot of that in Australia where I am from.

This was the perfect demonstration of a united and highly connected community.

It wasn’t just the kids dancing or the middle-aged people, it was everyone together. That means that they must practice together. That also means that the traditions are passed down with the love and respect that they deserve. Teenagers teach the little ones, the adults teach the teenagers and the grandparents teach the adults as each group moves into the next phase of their life. This is high quality, soul-drenching, heart-filling connection!

Something that so many people in my country are longing for.

My second realisation was that a community that sings and dances together experiences more happiness than one that doesn’t. The Fijians are happy people and I feel strongly that this custom along with others which promote community and connection plays a huge role in that. Everyone here belongs.

They say it takes a village to raise a child and seeing the Meke with the little kids surrounded by their friends, peers, parents and extended village family, I could really sense that.

The Meke culminated with the Fijians asking all of the participants to get up and join in. For a moment our Western awkwardness was palpable and I could see terror in several peoples’ eyes! However it only took a few minutes before everyone was up and the floor was full of people from all over the world dancing and laughing together.

Community. It is such a powerful medicine for the heart.

The Departure Gate

 

study-abroad-regrets.jpg

I love airports. They are the perfect cross-section of humanity.

Everyone is here. From the FIFO worker on his way home, right through to the family who is going on the much anticipated holiday. Work and pleasure, happiness and sadness, lone travellers and huge packs of them.

I am sitting here at Sydney International Airport about to board a flight to Nadi in Fiji and am taking in the people, the movement and the stories. I am continually intrigued about people; they genuinely fascinate me – and airports are a melting pot of stories, journeys and reasons. I love how so many different things have brought all of us here to this moment in time – where my path crosses other peoples’ paths and I get a glimpse into their world. A glimpse I might never see if I didn’t choose this chair, in this airport, on my way to that place.

The man sitting a few seats down from me in the coffee shop has been telling his neighbour that he is heading home to New Zealand to bury his Mum. He hadn’t spoken to her for several years after a family disagreement and I can hear the regret and pain in his voice.

“I had this feeling that something was wrong but I have been ignoring it for the last few months. Anyway, after much discussion, my wife convinced me to check in with everyone at home. I didn’t want to, but sometimes it’s just easier to let the missus win. So the feeling was right. My Mum had a brain tumour – an aggressive one – and it was killing her fast. Dad asked me to come back and see her – you know, fix things up before she dies. I honestly thought I had more time and I really believed I would make it home in time to hug her and say sorry. I have spent the last few weeks imagining the moment where I say sorry. I was such a prick to her the last time we spoke. I am gutted, just so gutted, that I didn’t get back in time”.

I thought I was going to start crying listening to this!

I wasn’t part of the conversation so it would have been incredibly inappropriate for me to start sobbing just a metre away from him but jeez..!

This is a gut-wrenching reason to be at the airport! Where has that family gone who was laughing about their trip to Disneyland??

It took all of my resolve to just listen and manage my own emotions. The pain emanating from this man was palpable – he oozed sadness and my heart just ached for him. Being the empathetic creature that I am, I had to get up and walk away. I couldn’t be so close to this man anymore because I was barely holding it together. I moved to the departure lounge from where my flight was soon leaving and started to write this. I am not even really sure what my point is other than don’t have regrets!

Life is too short to have regrets, yet life is also funnily enough too long to have regrets.

I love airports. They are the perfect cross-section of humanity.

 

 

Angry does not even come close!!

hungry sheep behind the cage in sheep farm.

It is 4.22 on Monday morning and I am awake. I have slept fitfully all night because of my disturbed mind and have officially given up trying to rest.

Whenever I work with a coaching client who is experiencing disturbed sleep one of the strategies I discuss with them is to write down what is going on and get it out of their head. This normally creates some space for their mind to relax more.

This morning I am taking my own advice.

Last night I was at my girlfriend’s place having dinner. 60 Minutes, an Australian current affair show, came on the television and there was a particular segment on the live trade export industry. It was about the horrific conditions on board the giant livestock carrier, Assawi Express, which is loaded in my fair city of Perth.

Australia has for many years been exporting live sheep to the Middle East. For some reason this has been the preferred way to sell the meat – maybe it’s how the buyers want it over there, maybe it’s about maintaining the quality of the meat instead of transporting it already butchered – I don’t know.

As I watched the 13 minute segment, I was overcome with rage and then a sadness so deep that all I could do was cry. As the tears rolled down my cheeks, I felt so embarrassed and ashamed to be a part of a species that condones the treatment of another sentient being this way.

How on earth is this possible from a country like ours? How on earth can people be okay knowing that these animals are suffering the worst possible death in such appalling conditions?

The footage last night was nothing short of horrific: animals packed into these ships of death without the ability to move freely. They are packed so tightly that some of them struggle to access the food and water that is provided. A week into the voyage, the sheep are standing in ankle deep excrement which is covering the cargo hold floor.

The regulation states that pregnant sheep are not to be loaded but this is ignored. Often the young lambs are crushed to death being so small and they are then just thrown overboard. Their chance of survival (and let’s be honest, death in these conditions is most probably a gift) is so low for these young little beings.

The look in these animals’ eyes says it all. It was the same look that was in the eyes of the prisoners in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany who were on their way to death. It’s a look of fear; it’s a look of panic; it’s a look that once I had seen it, I could not shake from my mind.

It is hopelessness in huge, stomach-wrenching quantities!

The most devastating thing about these ships is they are HOT. After several weeks of sailing the boat arrives in the sweltering conditions of the Persian Gulf where the cargo hold temperatures rise to life-threatening heights. The sheep are effectively boiling to death in the cargo holds of these ships!

On one voyage when the weather in the Gulf was particularly hot, the Assawi Express ship records confirmed more than 880 sheep died in one day from heat stress. That’s one death every two minutes. The next day, 517 more sheep died. This “death zone” heatwave continued for five days.

The footage of these poor beings panting for air and slowly boiling to death is the horrendous image that has kept me awake throughout the night and continues to trouble me.

In Australia, it is unlawful to leave your dog in a car in hot temperatures that could harm them. I have been in carparks and observed Rangers smashing windows to free pets that have carelessly been left in a vehicle. I have then heard people heckling the owner when they return about what a terrible, cruel person they are.

Now, I don’t necessarily think that they are terrible people: thoughtless – yes, and not very smart – yes, but I am sure they love their animal. Yet people are so very quick to stand up and judge.

Well, judge this! The live export industry needs to be judged! The Australian people in support of the Australian farming community need to step up and demand that our animals no longer get treated this way. I can only imagine how distressed our farmers are knowing that this is how their livestock are being treated.

The man who got the story out is a trainee navigator, Faisal Ullah. He was so disturbed at the conditions these animals were being transported in that he secretly filmed footage on his mobile to expose what is happening. He talked about his heartbreak at being a part of this horror, and knew that if people understood the conditions we allowed these animals to be transported in there would be public outcry.

The man at the top of this tree, Graham Daws (the boss of Perth-based Emanuel Exports which owns the Assawi Express) did not, of course, want to face the music about the cruel conditions he is profiting from. Instead he directed the reporter to Simon Westaway, who is the chief executive of the Australian Live Exporters Council.

Simon Westaway argued Australia has the best live export standards worldwide. Now I was officially ropable!! Angry!! Outraged!! Horrified!! And so deeply, deeply saddened that yet again profit is coming before humanity.

Are we really that shallow?

Have we truly not evolved from the days of slavery and vivisection?

If these are the best standards in the world, how are other animals being treated elsewhere??? More importantly: what can we do for them?

Until we realise that every sentient being is of equal value, companies will continue to harm and abuse animals. I believe that my worth as a human being is no more or less than that of my pet dog or a sheep on a cargo ship.

It is 2018 and even though the consciousness of the planet is definitely improving, we need it to do so with way more urgency. The way that happens is we take a stand, we no longer sit idly by and say “Oh that’s terrible, what a shame for those poor animals”.

We talk about it, we write about it and we use our consumer dollar to send a message to companies to treat their animals humanely or they will not be supported.

Enough is enough.

If you feel as deeply saddened as I do, please take some form of action around this.  Here is an RSPCA link if you would like to join the thousands of others petitioning our politicians to make change to this industry. Alternatively, Stop Live Exports regularly organises protests in support of stopping this practise and has tons of great information on their website.