The Departure Gate

 

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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 shortto have regrets, yet life is also funnily enough too longto 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.

 

 

 

 

Love your Inner child and your life will change

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There is a photo on my desk that I look at every single time I sit down to work. The photo is of me which most probably sounds pretty arrogant…….

“Jeez, why would she feel the need to look at a photo of herself?” I can hear you saying.

Well, let me clarify, it’s a photo of four year old me and I stole it from my Dad’s house. To be honest I doubt he has even noticed, I mean I didn’t notice the photo for years. Quite the metaphor really!

I wonder how many times I walked past it without even a sideways glance? It has been in a frame, in various positions across several houses for the last 37 years. My Mum was an avid photographer and my childhood was captured in no less than 46 albums, me aged 0 to 18. Looking at the photo I can see why my Mum chose this particular one to elevate to frame status.

This picture absolutely captures me as a happy, carefree child. I have a cheeky grin and I can clearly see my playful nature in my eyes and smile. I am dressed as a good child of the ’70s should be: red, blue and white striped tee shirt under blue overalls – completely fitting of the decade!

When I did finally notice it, it was only because I had started doing consistent and focused work with my Inner Child. As Tony Robbins says “Where focus goes, energy flows”. I was now noticing the little girl not only in myself, but in the environment around me.

Just like the photo, I had not been seeing her at all, and yet she was dying to be understood, nurtured and loved.

I stole this photo because when it finally made its way into my awareness it was the perfect visual I needed of my inner child. I realised that it was this little girl I had been talking with, nurturing and developing a relationship with. I love that I can now look into her eyes through this picture each and every day.

Inner Child work is a vital component of personal growth and development because it reconnects us with the distressed element of ourselves, the little child. This is really about the fact that the majority of what we are contending with in our adult lives comes from our childhood – or more specifically our young childhood below ten years of age.

When we reconnect with these wounded parts of ourselves, we can begin to discover the root of many of our beliefs, fears, insecurities and sabotaging behavioural patterns.

This is where the true healing happens! By giving your inner child the love and connection he or she so desperately wants, you will start to very quickly and powerfully resolve adult problems.

As Raul Lopez Jnr, author, speaker and founder of Live Again Co says: “Heal the boy and the man will appear”. Torn from and then abandoned by his father at age 7, Raul spent the next 17 years on a rollercoaster of drugs, gangs, imprisonment and much more until he decided enough was enough. Reflecting back, he realised that he had work to do with the little boy inside himself who was still struggling to understand why he wasn’t enough.

Raul made poor choice after poor choice in pursuit of healing the ache inside of himself, and nothing was working. After beginning his journey of self-exploration and discovery in his 20s he realised that for things to truly change, he had to heal the little boy inside himself.

We don’t even realise that we are dealing with a wounded little kid most of the time. Yet the more connected we are to our inner child, the more developed and mature we are as adults. There is a powerful and definite relationship between these two parts of ourselves. It can be very surprising what comes up through inner child work – stuff that we did not have conscious awareness of, beliefs that were formed completely out of context, and “gap filling” which is our little child mind making up the story because we don’t understand the bigger picture.

This work is not about dealing with symptoms and using band aids. This is about getting back to the very core of where your beliefs, fears and behavioural patterns started – your childhood.

This is true healing in every sense of the word!

As I sit at my desk each day, I now always take a moment to check in with that little four year old girl. I ask her how she is doing and is there anything that she needs. This is such a simple action but it has produced profound results for me.

If you have never done any inner child work there are tons of resources around. You can work with a coach like me, access tons of information through books and the web, or attend a workshop.

At the very minimum, find a photo of yourself and pop it up somewhere that you will see every day. This act alone will promote the development of one of the most important relationships in your life.

 

 

The Law of Reciprocity

 

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I was in the Sydney CBD a few weeks ago waiting for my friend. It was Friday afternoon and I was meeting him at the Town Hall so we could look at the shops for an hour before heading home.

The streets were busy with a kaleidoscope of humanity – people rushing here and there, students milling around smoking cigarettes, religious people handing out brochures trying to engage the passing crowd.

I sat down under a huge jacaranda tree with my book and watched the masses of people move through the final hours of the working week. Finally, I put my head down and started to read, letting the noise and energy fall away as my book sucked me back in.

After 10 minutes or so, I look up to meet the eye of a monk who was making his way towards me. He was walking with purpose and there was no mistake he was heading for me. He had a sweet face and a sort of solemn smile and I noticed that his robes were a bit dull and lifeless. He stopped right in front of me and reached for my hand.

I gave it to him.

Now this would freak some people out, but I am one of those easy targets who oozes trust and acceptance. On top of that, I have had some of my most powerful and life changing moments through just allowing a conversation or moment to take place with a random stranger, so I am always curious to see where it goes.

The monk placed a bracelet on my wrist, it was one of those beaded bracelets – cheap in nature – but I was moved anyway. I was genuinely touched that he had seen me in the crowd of people and had wanted to give me this gift. I am huge believer in random acts of kindness so I looked deep into his eyes, put my hand on my heart and thanked him for his generosity and thoughtfulness. I told him that he had made my day.

But then it happened.

The book got pulled out and snapped open. Written on the page were three entries. They included a name, an email address and an amount of money. This was not a gift, this was a transaction! What I was most impressed by was the amount of money that all three people had donated in return for the bracelet: $50 – Wow! Clearly Sydney is a very generous town.

So here I found myself at the crossroads of the Law of Reciprocity.

The Law of Reciprocity is a universal law, and it is a powerful one at that.

The Law of Reciprocity acknowledges that there is a universal tendency in human beings to repay or reciprocate when given a gift, whether that gift has come in the form of a material object, a generous act or a kind deed. There is a strong drive in people from all cultures to repay gifts or favours with a gift or favour of their own.

This impulse expresses itself in reciprocating invitations to parties, Christmas cards, presents, or acts of kindness. If you read last week’s blog, this also the law that the Takers so blatantly disregard.

It is a Universal Law that is commonly used by charitable associations. You receive a key-ring or a pack of Christmas cards (or a bracelet on your wrist) in the mail. In return you are asked to make a donation. Depending on how susceptible (or aware) you are to the Law of Reciprocity will depend on how often you run your unconscious programming and fill in the donation slip and send it off.

Learning to trust your judgment when it comes to distinguishing acts of true generosity from actions designed to trigger obligatory giving is a process. That process consists of situations where you give back happily as well as those where you give back begrudgingly.

Normally there are some instances where you are too trusting and end up feeling used because as much as you gave back, it felt like there was a lack of consent.

The serious monk watched me take the bracelet off and hand it back. He wasn’t happy and to be honest, neither was I. I felt silly for confusing a tried and tested donation system for a genuine act of kindness. Even after years of experience as well as an in-depth study of human nature, I am still sucked into the laws that govern us.

Robert Cialdini wrote an amazing book called Influence which discusses the six universal principles that form the basis of any great act of persuasion or influence. The Law of Reciprocity is the first principle that is discussed.

In Chapter 2, Cialdini shares that every culture on the planet subscribes to the Law of Reciprocity.  In fact it’s this “web of indebtedness” which has helped us evolve the way we have as human beings. Before much of the technology of the last century appeared, we had to help each other to simply survive.

Like many things in life, the Law of reciprocity is quite neutral, it is the energy that we bring to it that makes it a force for good or a force for manipulation.

You choose….

 

 

Givers need to know when to stop giving

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We all know that one person.

The person who happily rocks up to the party and doesn’t bring a thing EVER.

The person who will call and offload all their problems to you but is never available in your moment of need.

The person who always wants to be picked up (even expects it) but never does the picking up.

TAKERS!!

Or as I like to call them: The “One Way Street Human Being”.

In my experience, Takers come in three flavours:

The first flavour is that of the Scarcity Taker. The Scarcity Taker simply believes that there isn’t enough to go around. They feel the need to take and hoard whatever they can get their hands on because they believe there is a finite supply on the planet. They will let you buy lunch because then they get to save their money (even if you have bought lunch the last five times). They might need their money for something else so they are not going to offer it or spend it if they don’t have to.

The Scarcity Takers don’t ever view this as unfair or rude – they see it as sensible. They think there isn’t enough to go around so why spend when they don’t have to? You offered to buy the lunch, so they get to squirrel their cash away for another day. This is a win/win situation for them, but not for you.

The second type of Taker is the Entitled Taker. The Entitled Taker genuinely believes that they have the right to take more than others. They will happily go to the pub with a group of people and let everyone else buy the wine for the table. Of course their glass will never be empty! There is wine on the table and they are entitled to drink as much as they want. The Entitled Taker does not even consider that there is anything wrong with this – they are entitled for God sake!

The Entitled Taker often appears cocky and arrogant in their taking. There is no apology for their lack of contribution. They boldly grab at what they want (often without asking) and then will fire back strongly if anyone challenges them.

The third kind of Taker is the Selfish Taker. The Selfish Taker genuinely struggles to think of anyone else’s needs. It is all about them! The Selfish Taker normally has a highly inflated sense of importance (which stems from poor self esteem) and therefore their needs and desires trump everyone else’s. Selfish Takers tend to have the quickest turnover of people in their lives because their overt self-focus gets boring very quickly.

The Selfish Taker wants it their way every time. If it doesn’t go their way, they like to punish whoever was involved. They will fight back when challenged because they cannot see any other point of view and will normally be outraged at the suggestion that they are taking.

The fascinating thing about Takers is they attract Givers. Like night and day, man and woman, black and white, yin and yang – a taker needs a giver.

Givers needs takers too. The Giver gets to feel important and valuable because they are meeting their need for contribution (underneath that they are really meeting their need for love, connection and significance) so for a while this is a symbiotic relationship.

But there ALWAYS comes a point.

The Giver realises that they are being used and the Taker starts to morph into a parasitic being – sucking the Giver dry with an ever growing thirst for more and more.

This is normally where the story gets interesting!

The Giver becomes agitated! Yet often they don’t want to speak up because confrontation is the last thing they want. The Giver has collected hundreds of examples of where they gave and the other person took. They are genuinely baffled at why the Taker cannot see this. The Taker should KNOW what they are doing; they should realise just how much the Giver is giving – it’s obvious isn’t it??

NO, IT IS NOT! You are dealing with a Taker.

It’s time for you to put your big girl (or big boy) undies on and make some decisions! This doesn’t mean ending the friendship, although that is often what happens. It means drawing some lines in the sand, getting clear on your boundaries, and most of all it means finding a voice and speaking up.

Saying “No”.

Saying “It’s your turn”.

Saying “If you want to keep drinking the wine from the table, please go and buy some to add to it – otherwise stop drinking our wine”.

I can hear the collective intake of breath from all the Givers as they read that: “I can’t say that!! That is so rude!”. But so is bagging them to everyone who will listen because you don’t have the courage to speak up! So is not valuing yourself enough to speak your truth!

Every day we are teaching people how to treat us. The statements above are teaching the Taker that what they are doing is not okay. You have now made them accountable. By making them accountable they will think about their actions next time this situation occurs. You might have to call them on it five times, but you are speaking your truth and will feel SO much better for it in the long run.

One of my favourite sayings that beautifully sums this up goes:

“Givers need to know when to stop giving because takers don’t know when to stop taking”.

Never stop giving – it is definitely one of the most beautiful traits in human beings. Just make sure you are giving and not being used.

Get your Nude on

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When Was The Last Time You Were Naked In Public?

I imagine this question strikes fear into many of your hearts! So many of us aren’t even comfortable being naked in the privacy of our own homes – like in front of our loved ones or a full length mirror.

On Sunday I was in Sydney to take part in the 5th annual “Sydney Skinny”. The Sydney Skinny is a nude race (well more of a splash around than a race!) which is swum in Middle Harbour and raises money for the Charlie Teo Foundation, a brain cancer research charity.

This is the second year I have participated and I must say that there is a lot to be said for getting your kit off and swimming in one of the most beautiful harbours in the world.

It’s liberating.

It’s empowering.

But most profoundly, it’s equalising.

Last year when I swam I was a little daunted at the thought of being naked in front of so many people. I remember as we were walking down to the beach that my heart was beating a bit faster than normal, and I am pretty sure I had a mild “deer in the headlights” look going on!

Within minutes of being in the Harbour and feeling the water on my body (as well as seeing so many people laughing and having fun), all of my fears and concerns were quite literally washed away.

I just focused on how freeing and liberating it felt, and made sure that I took in the spectacular views. I had such a sense of gratitude with that first race – gratitude that I said yes to the opportunity, and that I could support Charlie Teo (he is such a lovely man!) in his life-changing work. Getting to make these wild memories with one of my best friends was also another huge bonus for me.

Back to equalising though. It became apparent very quickly on that first swim that we were all just a bunch of people of all different shapes, sizes, colours, backgrounds, religions, cultures and ages who are doing their best and having some fun.

All the fears I had about being naked in front of strangers stemmed from me comparing myself to what the “ideal” woman looks like and how I am not that woman. I have a bum and thighs and my boobs are on the small side. I have got stretch marks from my teenager growth spurt and the beginnings of bunions on my feet. The media has made it clear that the “ideal” woman has a very different body to the one I have, and as much I have grown through my body image issues there is nothing like the thought of getting naked with a thousand other people to be triggered!

My realisation was that all my discomfort, suffering and fear came from judgment – judgment that I am not the “ideal” shape and that I have blemishes on my body, for example. The fact is though, this vessel has carried me through 42 years of life…of course there are a few dings here and there!

On the beach with all the naked swimmers around me it became clear that there is no “ideal” man or woman. The media has done us such a great disservice and sold us such a terrible story. That story is that we are not enough and that perfection is the only beautiful thing. But what is perfection anyway?? The media’s story prevents us from celebrating the amazing bodies that we have been given, and it further heightens our need to compare.

We are all unique and most importantly – beautiful – in our own way. Instead of comparing ourselves, we should be celebrating ourselves. It is our differences that make us special, not our sameness.

As Osho, the Indian spiritual guru says:

“Whoever told you that the bamboo is more beautiful than the oak, or the oak more valuable than the bamboo?

Do you think the oak wishes it had a hollow trunk like this bamboo?

Does the bamboo feel jealous of the oak because it is bigger and its leaves change colour in the fall?

The very idea of the two trees comparing themselves to each other seems ridiculous, but we humans seem to find this habit very hard to break.”

Returning this year to the Sydney Skinny was even more enjoyable than the first time. This time around I didn’t judge myself and as a result I didn’t feel judged. I was just so excited about getting in the water again and it was the most beautiful day! My friends and I relaxed happily on the beach post-race and even got in to swim the course a second time.

The nudity wasn’t even an issue.

The whole event is really just a celebration of life, connection, humanity and everyone being uniquely themselves. As I lay in bed at the end of the day I thanked my body for all the amazing work she does day in and day out – she deserves so much praise for all that she does – and this weekend reminded me of that.

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We all have a story

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This morning I was at one of my favourite West Australian beaches, City Beach. This beach has crystal clear water and white sand and is very popular with the locals.

After my swim I parked myself up on the grass and spent the next hour watching the world go by. It was blissful! I was meant to be reviewing some notes that I had brought with me but as often happens I got sucked in to the study of humanity. I just can’t seem to help it!

People-watching has to be one of the greatest ways to appreciate human beings in all their shapes, sizes and colours. The greatest thing about it is that the subjects don’t know they are being studied and therefore behave in a natural and unfiltered way.

It was a long weekend here and there was definitely a holiday feeling in the air – families with little children, teenagers with arms slung around each others’ necks, and single people absorbed in their phones as their feet hit the sand.

The thing that really struck me today as I sat there and watched the comings and goings, was the appreciation that everyone has their story – their own unique (and most probably colourful) story.

Even though there were hundreds upon hundreds of us sharing the same stretch of beach, we all arrived at the beach with our own past experience, our own filters of the world, our own belief systems and value sets, and our very own story about life.

So often we forget that every person is doing the best they can with what they have.

There was a father who was extremely frustrated with his two small children. The kids clearly didn’t want to leave the beach and were putting up a very strong (yet unsuccessful) fight. Dad was not open to negotiation and the air around them was tense. The kids trailed behind him with tears and resistance, yet ultimately they knew they had to comply. They huffed and puffed and occasionally sat on the ground in complete defiance. This prompted their father to get even more stern with them until finally they felt compelled to get up and keep trudging on towards the car.

It made me curious about what they needed to get home to. Maybe there was a mountain of work that the dad had to do before tomorrow. Maybe it was time for the kids to go back to their mum’s for the week if the family was no longer together. Who knows?

What I do know is that the dad has his story, and so do the kids. My only job is to respect and appreciate that.

It would have been so easy for me to judge them because of the all the tension, but instead I made myself stay curious. I mean: I have no idea what their story is, yet I noticed that my mind wanted to go straight to judgment. Staying curious took some energy.

Left in the wake of this energetic storm, I noticed an older gentleman walking up the path with a boy I assumed to be his grandson. They were chatting happily and the older man kept touching the boy’s shoulders in such a loving and thoughtful way. They shared a joke, or something funny and as they came closer to me, I heard them cackling with laughter and slapping each other on the back. They seemed so genuinely taken with each other that the rest of the world paled into insignificance.

It was so beautiful to watch, and again, I started to hypothesise about their story. Maybe they hadn’t seen in other in a long time and were beyond excited to be together again? Maybe this is a weekly ritual? Maybe it is totally unimportant for me to know.

My only job is to appreciate them and respect that they – like you and me – have their story and are doing the best they can.

 

 

The Right Questions

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So here it is:

The QUALITY of the question you ask will dictate the QUALITY of the answer you get.

The answer you get will dictate the decision you make.

The decision you make will dictate the action you choose.

The action you choose will dictate the life you create.

The life you create will dictate how much happiness you experience.

It really is that simple.

If you ask yourself HIGH QUALITY questions you will end up with HIGH QUALITY answers. These are answers that contain truth, options, possibility and solutions.

Alternatively, if you ask yourself crappy questions then you are only going to get crappy answers.

Examples of crappy questions might be:

Why does nothing work out for me?

Why does no one love me? or

How come I always get treated so badly?

These crappy questions are LOW QUALITY questions. Can you feel the energy of them when you ask yourself these questions? It is very challenging to answer these type of questions in a way where you can grow, feel positive, or even be motivated to change. The nature of these crappy questions ensure that you must go further down the emotional scale to answer them.

The significant thing about the questions we ask ourselves is that they lead us in a particular direction. When we wake up one day and realise that we are desperately unhappy it is sometimes because of the questions we have been asking ourselves – not just yesterday, not just last week, but over the last month, year or possibly even decade.

We don’t often realise that the questions we ask ourselves today will dictate the future we will live in the coming years.

For example the terrible marriage didn’t happen overnight, the $50,000 debt wasn’t just one bad decision, and the extra 30 kilos didn’t really sneak up on us. These situations all came from bad choices, which were based on bad decisions which were often based on BAD QUESTIONS in the first place.

So: How do you learn to ask yourself better questions?

Like most things, it’s through training.

A phenomenal book to help us decipher the decisions we make is called The Right Questions by Debbie Ford. Ford is a New York Times bestselling author and is a very wise woman indeed. In this book, Debbie offers ten profound questions that will help you change the choices you make – ultimately empowering you to fulfil your life dreams.

In the first chapter of her book, Ford uses the analogy of our “internal flame”. This internal flame is the keeper of our life force and (depending on how well the flame is burning) will influence how good we feel in life.

If our flame is roaring like a fire then we are going to be feeling strong, confident and powerful. We will speak our truth and live courageously. We will ask for help when needed and take the necessary action to live our best life. A strong flame propels us to higher states of consciousness where self-love and emotional freedom reside.

When our flame is dim we are more vulnerable, frail and weak. We doubt ourselves and are more apprehensive. When our flame has not been cared for it means we hunger for things outside of ourselves to make ourselves feel better. We don’t communicate as clearly, we worry, and our immune system is more suppressed.

Ford’s book is all about bringing awareness to the decisions you make by asking yourself powerful, high quality questions. These ten questions allow you to get real about why you are choosing what you are choosing and to sit within the truth of it all.

Depending on the answers you get from asking these questions, you can now make an informed and empowered choice to either stick with your decision or make a new one.

Think about something that you have made a decision about recently – it can be big or small. Now run your answer through the following ten questions (some of the questions may not be applicable so just use the ones that suit).

Here they are:

  1. Will this choice propel me towards an inspiring future or will it keep me stuck in the past?
  2. Will this choice bring me long term fulfilment or will it bring me short term gratification?
  3. Am I standing in my power or am I trying to please another?
  4. Am I looking for what is right or am I looking for what is wrong?
  5. Will this choice add to my life force or will it rob me of my energy?
  6. Will I use this situation as a catalyst to grow and evolve or will I use it beat myself up?
  7. Does this choice empower me or does it disempower me?
  8. Is this an act of self-love or is it an act of self-sabotage?
  9. Is this an act of faith or an act of fear?
  10. Am I choosing from my divinity or am I choosing from my humanity?

It is amazing how illuminating these questions are. There is simply nowhere to hide and that is what makes them so powerful. The more connected to your truth that you are, the brighter your flame will burn and the happier your life will be.

Happy question asking J

 

 

Four things you want to know about yourself to create massive change

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So you want things to be different.

You have had enough of the status quo. You look back and realise that you have been living the same year over and over again: nothing seems to ever really change and you feel frustrated and disillusioned.

What if there were some key pieces of information that, once you have learned about yourself and put some focus into, would help you take steps in the direction your soul truly wants to go?

Sounds good huh?

Here are the four things you absolutely want to know and learn about yourself so you can create the change in your life that you are so desiring of:

  1. Know Your Outcome

If you want to create massive change in your life, you have to know what that massive change is!

What do you want? Get super clear on your outcome by creating a very clear picture of it in your mind. Visualise the details of it, add colours to it and make it bright in your mind’s eye. Alongside creating the clear picture, ask yourself what you would be hearing when you have achieved the outcome? What would you be saying to yourself? Lastly, feeling the feelings of what it would be like to have the outcome, turn those feelings up and connect with them. Is it feelings of joy? Peace? Success?

Now capture that, write it down, draw it out and put language to it.

So often, people don’t spend time getting the clarity on what they want. They get very clear on what they DON’T want (which serves a purpose to a point) but there needs to be a time when the focus shifts to what they DO want.

As simple as it sounds this is a step that is so often overlooked.

  1. Understand Your Core Values

Have you ever had an experience where the thing you were doing just felt wrong? For example working in insurance and declining claims even if they were worthy of being approved? Or being around children and feeling super frustrated at the mess and chaos?

More than likely you are experiencing a core values conflict.

For someone who deeply values integrity or honesty, declining insurance claims for no reason would hurt as it would be so out of alignment with their value set. The person who values order and neatness is going to struggle working in a classroom with 25 five-year-olds who are energetic, messy and totally free spirited.

Values are a part of us and they represent what we stand for. They represent our unique, individual essence and they are constantly operating whether we know it or not. They are how we measure the world and they provide us with a personal code of conduct which we measure ourselves and others by.

When we honour our personal core values consistently, we experience fulfilment.

When we do not, we feel incongruent and are more likely to escape into bad habits, regress into childish behaviour, or simply stop taking action around what we have committed to.

When our core values are clear to us, we have a greater sense of self and how we operate in the world. We are able to create an action plan that utilises them to their fullest, propelling us forward towards our outcome while experiencing a sense of fulfilment.

  1. Appreciate Your Unconscious Motivation Strategy

Every human being on the planet has a strategy for EVERYTHING they do. We just don’t realise it because we tend to operate unconsciously and it is not commonly discussed.

Let me give you an example: I want you think about brushing your teeth. Close your eyes and mentally take yourself through that activity. Do you always hold the toothbrush in your left hand and put the toothpaste on with your right hand, or visa versa? Do you always wet the toothpaste before you put the brush in your mouth? Do you always start in the same spot in your mouth?

When you pay attention to how you brush your teeth, you will notice that you have a specific strategy that you run over and over again. In fact, if you are “toothpaste wetter” and you didn’t wet the toothpaste for some reason, you would notice this. It would feel wrong to you because your strategy is being run out of its normal sequence.

There are certain strategies that we learn as we grow (such as brushing our teeth) and then there are other strategies we are born with. These other strategies are called “meta-programs”. I am going to let the IQ Matrix Team explain what meta-programs are:

“Meta-programs are like software applications for the brain where one software program controls the execution of a number of other programs. The software runs in the background and directs your thoughts, beliefs, values, memories, and responses. Meta-programs are therefore mental programs that run our lives at an unconscious level of awareness. These mental programs determine how information is processed by deciding what to delete, distort, and/or generalise from your experience.

How the brain processes information on a daily basis is based on the meta-programs that are currently running in the background. You use these meta-programs to sort and make sense of the world around you. Without them the world wouldn’t make much sense, however, with them you are able to form your own beliefs, opinions and perspectives about your world, your life, and your circumstances”.

A significant meta-program is how we are motivated. Are you motivated internally or externally? Would you do more for others or more for yourself?

I will give you an example: If you were intending to go running on the beach with your friend at 5.30am and you woke up to a cold and rainy morning, would you still go?

Some people would go, even when they really didn’t want to, because they had committed to their friend. They wouldn’t want to let their friend down so they get up and get on with it. If their friend was not meeting them down there though, they could quite happily roll over and go back to sleep.

This person is externally motivated. The force that moves them is outside of them.

The internally motivated person relies solely on what is driving them on the inside. Friend or no friend, the decision to get out of bed and run is what they want.

Utilising your motivation strategy is going to help you take more positive action and therefore help you achieve your outcome. If you are an externally motivated person, find people to commit to so that you are more propelled to take action. If you are an internally motivated person, identify with that and harness your own power.

  1. Find Leverage That Hurts

People will generally do more to avoid pain than get pleasure. That means, for example, if we link enough pain to not taking action in our life, we will take action. This is called leverage.

It is simple, yet VERY effective!

I remember a very good friend of mine deciding after numerous attempts to quit smoking that he absolutely had to do it and had to do it NOW. He had tried lots of different things: patches, hypnosis tapes and numerous other methods that were all ineffective for him. He could stick to it for a while but always slipped back into the habit when things got stressful.

So what was the thing that got him over the line?

His Children.

The family was in the car driving home from Ikea when his two daughters told him honestly and openly about their fear of him dying a slow and painful death because of his smoking. His youngest daughter was crying and begging him to stop. She had recently done a school project on smoking and was consumed by fear that her dad would die. His wife, who had often asked him to quit, sat quietly giving her daughters the space to speak. My friend heard his children and in that moment made the decision that enough was enough.

He now had leverage on himself.

Being a father is his greatest joy and being a powerful role model is extremely important to him. The pain he experienced listening to his children share their fears (and knowing he had the ability to alleviate them) propelled him to take swift action around his smoking. He simply had to stop or he was not being the dad he wanted to be.

What is it in your life that you want to be congruent with? What could you use as leverage to ensure that you take the necessary action on that thing?

As a coach I am always encouraging my clients to step into fear. This means that if I personally feel fearful around something, I have to step up and face it. If I don’t then who the hell am I to be telling people that they must step up! My leverage is remaining congruent with my identity. I feel fraudulent if I shy away from fear and that feeling is worse than the fear itself. This, my friends, is leverage!

 

Understanding, appreciating and applying these four pieces of knowledge about yourself is going to make a real difference in your ability to take action and get what you want. Take some time to explore yourself or find someone who can help you discover these things about yourself.

The moment is NOW. Do it!

 

 

 

 

Have you checked your blindspots lately?

Blindspot

Over the last weekend I was in Singapore with an amazing bunch of people “crewing” at a Tony Robbins event called Unleash the Power Within.

It was a four day marathon and very life-changing for most of the people in the room. In this particular room there were over 12,000 participants from 32 countries and I was part of the 450 crew. The whole thing was pretty mind blowing and watching this machine work is truly awe-inspiring.

I have been asked on numerous occasions why I go and crew, particularly because it is voluntary and normally at my own expense, but for me it is a no-brainer.

Growth!

I am always forced to grow. Yes, forced! Which is absolutely what I want. I know that the crew director can see far greater potential in me and very lovingly gives me roles that are outside of my comfort zone.

If I was left to choose what I wanted to do I would most probably pick a role where I already have certainty and some level of confidence with it. I want to do an outstanding job so a safe option is very attractive, however the safe option also has limited opportunity for growth.

I have learnt that I need to entrust myself to people who will push me much further than I would push myself. I am externally motivated. That means that I am more likely to perform better for a force outside of myself than just doing it for myself – so I have harnessed this.

One of the greatest gifts that comes from the crewing experience is the opportunity to identify and learn about my “blind spots”. This is growth on steroids!

According to the dictionary a “blind spot” is an area where a person’s view is obstructed. Blind spots can be very dangerous in life. On a road it is often the place where there are religious crosses marking the spot where people have died in a crash. In life it is an area that we cannot see clearly and we therefore behave with limited knowledge – sometimes to the detriment of ourselves or others.

The challenging thing is: we don’t even know that we can’t see what we can’t see!

What the…??

It’s like the boss who believes that they are direct and thorough in giving instructions to their team, yet the team’s experience of them is that they are rude, abrupt and unclear with their instructions. This is a blind spot for the boss.

It is the partner who continually corrects their other half’s language, yet uses words out of context and poor grammar themselves. This too, is a blind spot.

On the weekend, I was blessed to have two gorgeous men coach me in my role at the event in Singapore, and I was given the opportunity to identify a blind spot of my own. I would never have seen these things if I hadn’t been asked some great questions by my coaches, or if I hadn’t continuously asked them for feedback. Part of my role was to move crew into positions when we needed them in certain areas. It was about giving clear instructions and delivering them with a whole lot of certainty to the team. Considering there were so many participants at this event, communication was often already compromised due to the noise and amount of people in any one area.

I would receive an instruction about what needed to happen next and then I was off like a bull in a china shop! I was herding people and throwing out instructions before I had a clear plan and definitely not being certain in my verbal and non-verbal language!

Shaun, one of my coaches (an amazing hospitality coach who has 20+ years of experience in international hotels) stopped me on Day Three and said “Stop tap dancing Kato – you are jumping up and down with all this nervous energy; get yourself centred. Now tell me how you are going to execute this next instruction effectively?”.

“Umm, I am going to tell those people they need to go there, then I am going to go inside the venue and grab some others…I am not really sure” I replied.

“So stop!! Stop right now, ground yourself, have a minute to think this through and then tell me what you are going to do”.

So I stopped hopping around like a Mexican jumping bean and thought about it. How am I going to complete this task effectively and efficiently? It felt good to not let the pressure of the situation dictate my actions. It also felt good to slow right down and think about it.

Because I was doing a role that included aspects that I rarely use in my normal life, I was buying into the pressure. And because I was buying into the pressure I wanted to move quickly: I was reacting to my environment instead of responding to it.

Ahh, there is the blind spot!!

I had a blind spot around how I behave in high pressure situations with limited time. I become reactive (and therefore less effective) instead of being responsive and more influential. It really was one of those “Ah ha!” moments where everything became really clear and I could identify how ineffectual I had been at several other times during the event.

This example seems so small but it really isn’t!

I want to be the best leader I can be, therefore I need to constantly test myself in new environments to ensure that my leadership style is evolving. Fast forward into the future: if I had not realised how reactive I am when my stress levels are high and time is short, how could that have played out with other teams? How could that have held me back from realising my full potential as a leader?

I hear you ask “How do I find out what my blind spots are?”

YOU ASK FOR FEEDBACK!

Find someone who is further down the same path that you are on and ask them to observe you. Ask them to highlight any areas which you may have missed. Ask them to give honest and constructive feedback with the intention of highlighting your blind spots.

If this frightens you – good!! It should!

Growth is not about being comfortable. Growth is about expansion and your full potential being realised.

Get curious about your blind spots – they are the area of the most profound learning.