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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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…

 

 

 

 

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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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.

 

 

 

“But I will look like a plonker!!”

I deeply believe that feedback is the “breakfast of champions”.

So often, people shy away from giving genuine feedback because they are worried about offending someone or not being liked. I get it. I still fall into that trap too sometimes. When I was younger, I very rarely gave feedback if I thought it could be offensive to someone. The well-developed people-pleaser in me couldn’t think of anything worse than hurting someone’s feelings!

The thing about feedback, though, is it gives us the space to grow and expand in a very effective and resourceful way. If we don’t know that we are doing something, or we are unable to identify how we could do something better – would we like to know? I know I would (not that I would have answered that way 10 years ago!).

When I started my coaching journey six years ago, I didn’t appreciate the value of feedback. I also didn’t appreciate the value of stuffing up, getting it wrong, and sometimes looking like a complete dick. That sort of stuff was to be avoided at all costs!

I was so scared of being vulnerable!

I was so scared of getting it wrong!

My school years had conditioned me to not want to try something if I didn’t have the certainty that I could do it. In Years 2 and 3 I had started to fall behind in class. I didn’t learn the way my teachers taught me and I struggled with the pace at which the class moved. At the end of Year 3 my parents thought that I should repeat the year but the school said no, and I carried on into Year 4 with my classmates.

In Year 4 I was put in the special program – the only child in the class to be on the program – and was rewarded in front of the class when I completed each section of the program.

This was horrific for me!

My personality is all about connection, sameness, the tribe, fitting in, and I felt like such an outcast because of this. I started to make decisions about myself, about what I could and couldn’t do: getting it wrong was now associated with great pain.

One day later on in that year, I had come home and was telling Mum about a new activity that was being offered to the Year 4s. She asked me if I was going to join in and I said “No, I won’t be able to do it, I am not good enough”. It was after that experience that my parents made the decision to move me to another school.

I moved to a beautiful little local school and by mid-Year 5, I was completely back up to speed and on my way. The thing is, though, I had already made unconscious decisions about myself and my abilities and I had an real fear of getting things wrong. Feedback was a very scary thing for me – I didn’t view it as a growth opportunity but instead saw it as me not being good enough.

Just the other day I was with my very dear friend Songy Knox and we were talking about my blog. Songy is a woman with a huge amount of talent and I explicitly trust her wisdom, knowledge and opinions. Because of this, I asked her for some feedback on my blog.

Songy praised me for my consistency in writing each week and said that there is a lot of great information in my blogs. Then she asked me if she could be honest.

“Of course, I want to know how I can improve and do things better”.

“Your blogs are bland. I can’t see you in them. You drop a small line about yourself then dash on to talk about the next point. I want to know who you are!” Songy said.

“But if I talk about myself I will look like a plonker!” I replied.

“No you won’t, you’re just playing it safe. That’s what I mean by bland. I know you have strong opinions and some of them may cause offence but who cares?! Isn’t it better to be authentic and let people see who you are (and maybe offend some people) than to play it safe and miss the ones you want to reach?”.

Boom! There it was!

I didn’t want to get in to trouble. I didn’t want to offend someone and I certainly didn’t want to get it wrong.

This feedback was so POWERFUL for me for several reasons.

Firstly, I didn’t even realise that my old pattern was playing out here in this blog. I have done tonnes of work on myself over the course of my life and I didn’t even identify that the old pattern had popped up here. This is actually not surprising as this is a new venture for me: I don’t yet understand the lay of the blogging land, and I am still operating with limited knowledge.

Secondly, I am writing this blog every week because I am building a coaching business and I want people to experience me, yet I am so busy “playing it safe” that the true me has not yet shone bright. Duh!!!

Thirdly, I know how much Songy loves and cares for me to speak honestly and frankly with my very best interests at heart. I am beyond blessed to have her in my life and on my team.

So: Feedback – Go get some! I entreat you!

Pick an area of your life where you want to experience more success or growth and then go and ask someone some great questions. Ask your boss, your friends, or your partner and ask them to be honest. It’s easy to give “nice” feedback, but that’s not where growth and excellence reside.

Remember, feedback is the breakfast of champions!