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?

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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!

 

 

Your Greatest Strength

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We are all born with a set of strengths.

These strengths sometimes come to us so naturally that we don’t recognise them as strengths, or perhaps we don’t credit them as strengths.

Some people are naturally good at communicating – they have no particular education or training around communication yet they have a real talent when speaking and influencing others. Some people are naturally good at being assertive, speaking up, and creating change. Some people are naturally gifted at resolving or minimising conflict.

These strengths often become the cornerstone of our lives. We choose careers where we are able to utilise them fully and they become defining characteristics of who we are. What is so fascinating, though, is that our greatest strength can become our greatest weakness when it is overused.

Imagine every personality trait or strength is a volume knob on a radio. When the knob is in that sweet spot, the noise coming out of the radio is perfect. You are able to hear the music clearly, it’s loud enough and it’s pleasant to be around.

When that control knob gets turned up to the higher end, it becomes very loud. The music is unpleasant because it hurts your ears, the sound quality is distorted and tinny, and ultimately you want to move away from the radio.

On the other hand, when the control knob gets turned too far down the other way, the music becomes so soft you can’t hear it. You might catch a note or two but you can’t figure out the lyrics and you know that you are missing the majority of the song.

Our natural strengths are like this. When we are utilising them in healthy and resourceful ways we get great results and we feel good. When we turn them down, they stop being visible in our life and become very hard to see and hear and they are no longer of service. And sometimes when we are stressed or are out of our comfort zone, our strengths get turned up. They get bigger and louder and start to impact us in a negative way. They have now become a weakness.

One of the most easily identifiable examples of this is with assertiveness. Assertiveness is an amazing strength to have. There are many people on the planet who would love to feel more assertive than what they are and they often look admiringly at the assertive people around them.

The problem is that when assertiveness is overdone it becomes bullying. The assertive person has gone from the strength of clear direction and the ability to get things done, to pushing and shoving in a forceful way.

Another example is the strength of being able to minimise conflict. When done well, everyone has the opportunity to speak and be heard and the conversation is led in a way where the outcome is successfully and peacefully reached.

When overdone, though, the strength of minimising conflict becomes a weakness when the conflict is avoided but the parties involved have not spoken up and been heard effectively. Often in this situation the participants leave feeling frustrated or diminished in some way.

For me, one of my greatest strengths is my adaptability. As a coach I have worked with 13 year olds and 65 year olds, men and women, and people from many different cultural backgrounds. My adaptability has allowed me to meet each of my clients where they are and connect to them from that place. Where my adaptability has become a weakness, though, is in intimate relationships – where I have adapted too far away from myself in pursuit of sustaining a relationship.

It would be easy for me to say “Well, adaptability isn’t a good thing for me; it has created problems in my life so I am going to turn the volume of it right down”. This would be a tragedy because it is one of my greatest strengths! I just have it turned up too loudly in this particular area of my life and it has therefore become unresourceful.

The skill is learning to regularly examine each area of your life and working out exactly where the volume knob (the strength) needs to be set to get the greatest results and to utilise that strength to its very fullest potential. Again, like most things it comes down to some robust self-examination, all the while being kind and loving to oneself.

 

Are you ready for an exceptional year?

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Unbelievably, here we are at the start of another year!

It felt like the year moved at lightening pace and compared to 2016, it was a much happier and brighter year for many people.

I always like the new year because it’s the perfect time for reflection and contemplation. How was the year that passed and how do I want the coming year to be?  It’s a time to take stock, appreciate the amazing things that happened, learn from the moments that weren’t so great and get clear on how we are going to show up for the next 12 months.

It’s a great time to create a list so you are able to track your progress, not only through the year but over the years to come. I love to read other people’s blogs and I came across a particularly awesome one during the year by Robin Sharma. It’s a list that he has created and I wanted to share it with you.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Robin Sharma, he is considered to be one of the top 5 leadership experts in the world. He is a best selling author, speaker, coach and mentor and his work is embraced by rock stars, royalty, billionaires and many celebrity CEOs.

This particular blog is made up of 60 different tips to include in your life so that you “craft an exceptional life”

Robin Sharma says ” Ultimately, life goes by in a blink. And too many people live the same year 80 times. To avoid getting to the end and feeling flooded regret over a life half-lived, read and then apply these tips”

Here they are:

  1. Exercise daily.
  2. Get serious about gratitude.
  3. See your work as a craft.
  4. Expect the best and prepare for the worst.
  5. Keep a journal.
  6. Read “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin”.
  7. Plan a schedule for your week.
  8. Know the 5 highest priorities of your life.
  9. Say no to distractions.
  10. Drink a lot of water.
  11. Improve your work every single day.
  12. Get a mentor.
  13. Hire a coach.
  14. Get up at 5 am each day.
  15. Eat less food.
  16. Find more heroes.
  17. Be a hero to someone.
  18. Smile at strangers.
  19. Be the most ethical person you know.
  20. Don’t settle for anything less than excellence.
  21. Savor life’s simplest pleasures.
  22. Save 10% of your income each month.
  23. Spend time at art galleries.
  24. Walk in the woods.
  25. Write thank you letters to those who’ve helped you.
  26. Forgive those who’ve wronged you.
  27. Remember that leadership is about influence and impact, not title and accolades.
  28. Create unforgettable moments with those you love.
  29. Have 5 great friends.
  30. Become stunningly polite.
  31. Unplug your TV.
  32. Sell your TV.
  33. Read daily.
  34. Avoid the news.
  35. Be content with what you have.
  36. Pursue your dreams.
  37. Be authentic.
  38. Be passionate.
  39. Say sorry when you know you should.
  40. Never miss a moment to celebrate another.
  41. Have a vision for your life.
  42. Know your strengths.
  43. Focus your mind on the good versus the lack.
  44. Be patient.
  45. Don’t give up.
  46. Clean up your messes.
  47. Use impeccable words.
  48. Travel more.
  49. Read “As You Think”.
  50. Honor your parents.
  51. Tip taxi drivers well.
  52. Be a great teammate.
  53. Give no energy to critics.
  54. Spend time in the mountains.
  55. Know your top 5 values.
  56. Shift from being busy to achieving results.
  57. Innovate and iterate.
  58. Speak less. Listen more.
  59. Be the best person you know.
  60. Make your life matter.

I just LOVED this list, there is so much gold in it!

So as you moved forward into the new year, take a handful of these beautiful tips and add them to your life.

If you truly are committed to living an exceptional life, take and apply them all.

Happy new year and may your 2018 be your best year yet.

 

Five Strategies for making friends with FEAR

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In last week’s blog I talked about fear and how it can really cripple us if we don’t learn how to have a healthy relationship with it. Fear is a part of life – we cannot avoid it – so the best way forward is to make friends with it and utilise it as a force for good.

The sort of fear that I am referring to is not the “walking in a dark alley at night” sort of fear but more the “I don’t think I can do it” fear, or the “If I speak up, I might get laughed at” fear. This type of fear is what keeps us small, not ever reaching our full potential, and ultimately changes the direction of our lives.

Some people spend their lives trying to avoid fear, in fact they are so fearful of fear that they live in a continuous and constant state of fear! Ironic really. Facing off with fear can be a truly liberating experience. It gives us the chance to create powerful evidence that we can act in spite of fear or worry, that yes, we can do it!

People who are successful in life, no matter what area that is, have come up with ways to engage with their fear and use it as vehicle to create change, innovate, be courageous or just make amazing things happen.

Like anything in life, having a plan or strategy of what you can do to help you move through an emotion is always extremely useful, particularly with fear. Because of the physiological response to fear, it can easily paralyse us if there is no plan in place.

Here are my top five personal strategies for facing off with my fear when it comes up:

  1. The Five Second Rule – The Five Second rule is the work of Mel Robbins and it is a truly powerful tool! It is a very simple technique where we are harnessing the fact that our brain will start talking us out of doing something within five seconds and if we don’t act within that time, more than likely the moment is lost. Robbins discovered this tool over ten years ago when she was in a highly unmotivated and fearful place. Everything was going wrong in her world and she literally couldn’t get herself to take action on the matters that were most important to her such as her family, her health, her finances, her career and her happiness.

The reason I love this rule is because it is SO simple! The way it works is like this: an idea pops into your head (for example putting your hand up in a meeting with your peers to share an idea; a new business idea to further expand your business; or getting out of bed and not hitting the snooze button) and you literally count down from five to one and then take action on it.

By counting down in this way, it activates your prefrontal cortex. Your prefrontal cortex is the part of your brain that makes decisions, plans and works toward goals. When you count backwards, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – you take control of your prefrontal cortex instead of letting it control you.

That simple act of consciously taking control of your decision-making process creates “activation energy”. The energy it takes to get something started is much greater than the amount of energy it takes to keep something going. It’s that first step that’s the doozy. That’s where the Five Second Rule comes in to help you retrain your responses. Replace that initial “negative” or “unproductive” instinct with a positive one and you’ll develop new neural pathways that result in lasting behaviour change. You’ll become a doer, instead of a thinker, and when fear is involved that is crucial!

  1.  Appreciation  and Gratitude – In his book, What Happy People Know, Dan Baker explains that it is impossible for us to experience fear or anxiety and appreciation simultaneously. This is a great little brain trick to help us manage fear in the moment and move out of it so we are able to take action.

“During active appreciation,” Baker writes, “the threatening messages from your amygdala (the fear centre of the brain) and the anxious instincts of your brainstem are cut off, suddenly and surely, from access to your brain’s neocortex, where they can fester, replicate themselves, and turn your stream of thoughts into a cold river of dread. It is a fact of neurology that the brain cannot be in a state of appreciation and a state of fear at the same time. The two states may alternate, but are mutually exclusive.”.

What this means is that when we experience fear or anxiety and we are able to consciously move ourselves to a state of appreciation and gratitude, the fear must diminish. Pretty exciting hey! I love this strategy as it is again super simple and also conditions us to become even more appreciative of our lives.

  1. Future Pacing – Future pacing is a Neuro-Linguistic Programmingtechnique that utilises the fact that the mind cannot tell the difference between imagination and current reality. By imagining something so fully and deeply as if it were real, the mind then acts as if the change has already taken place. It accepts the imagined situation and then goes forward to create it.

In practice, future pacing techniques include having a person first imagine a new and improved change further out in time. By using your modalities – visual, auditory and kinaesthetic – you simply imagine what you would see, what you would hear as well as feeling the feelings that would occur if the event was successful. By turning these up and really connecting with them, we create a strong image in our minds which our unconscious mind accepts.

Future pacing is a great strategy to use when we have an event coming up that we feel nervous or fearful about. We can literally practice the event in our minds eye and train our unconscious mind to create that event for us.

  1. There is no failure, only feedback – Create a list of success principles that support you taking action in the face of fear. One of my most favourite success principles is –

There is no failure, only feedback

This reframes our fear of getting it wrong or stuffing it up into a learning opportunity. If it doesn’t go how you want it to or it fails, then you have received feedback, powerful feedback because you can now do it differently. This is where innovation lives – the innovators are the ones that live by this rule.

Thomas Edison, the inventor of the incandescent light bulb, said “I have not failed, I just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work”. He absolutely had the philosophy that there is no failure, only feedback. There are so many successful people that live by this principle including Michael Jordon, Oprah Winfrey, J K Rowling, John Grisham and Eminem.

  1. Challenge it – So often we accept what our mind tells us. Whatever the little voice of fear is saying, it’s most probably not true. Yet we don’t naturally challenge these thoughts. We buy into them and then let them dictate our behaviour.

The fearful part of us is irrational and overprotective. Its intention is pure but it doesn’t see us in all of our greatness, it just wants to keep us safe.

It might be saying you are likely to fall flat on your face if you take a risk, or that no one will like your ideas, it’s far better to stay quiet. It might be saying that moving to a new city could hurt your children and you don’t want to screw them up! Or what about leaving your safe and secure, yet horribly boring job? Imagine all the bad things that would happen if the new job is worse?

Unless we challenge these thoughts, we will accept them and behave in alignment with them. Sure, we may stay safe but, gee, we also stay pretty small!

This strategy is around questioning and examining those fear-based thoughts. Ask yourself, “Is what this voice is saying true?”, “What could be another alternative to the one I am currently thinking about?”.

Byron Katie, the author of Loving What Is and the creator of The Work, uses this question “Can I be absolutely sure that this thought is true?” as her primary question and it is a really powerful one! So often, once we have challenged these thoughts, the answer to these questions, especially the latter one, is most often “no.”

 

I trust that one or more of these strategies are useful for you in growing your relationship with fear. Remember that fear has a great intention – it is just trying to keep us safe. So often though, safety and greatness live in different places.

 

Are you willing to make friends with FEAR?

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There are not many people who really enjoy the emotional state of fear, but I do believe that there are many people who have learnt to harness it and use it as a force for good. People across history and time have achieved amazing things in spite of being totally shit-scared in the process! And huge kudos to them, there is nothing more admirable then raw courage!!

Thinking back to some of the early explorers on the planet, they must have been really focused on the outcome rather than all the things that could have possibly gone wrong. When you are on a boat and you think the world is flat but you are courageous enough to risk sailing right of the edge, well, yep, you have definitely got a handle on how you allow fear to show up in your world!

In contrast, there are also many people who are so paralysed by fear that they live locked in their homes, locked in their lives solely focused on minimising and reducing situations where fear may show up. This is a tough gig because if what you focus on expands (and it does), and you add to that what quantum physics says about placing your attention on something specific, then those people are up the creek without a paddle!

Their fear only has one possibility – it’s going to expand and therefore create even more of what they are desperately trying to avoid.

The thing about fear is that we can’t get away from it. It’s hardwired into our brain and is a part of our genetic makeup. If it wasn’t we would all be dead by now so it really is something to be grateful for!

The part of our brain that deals with fear is called the reptilian brain. It is the oldest part of our brain (as in millions of years old) and its primary job is to keep us alive. It takes care of many of our unconscious activities too, like breathing and processing food.

So if we can’t avoid fear altogether (and yet we seem more scared than ever) how do we move forward?

We develop strategies….

A strategy is a plan of action designed to move us towards our outcome. Strategies help us act in the face of uncertainty. They also keep us on track as we move towards a goal, whether it be a big one or a small one. Having some simple strategies up our sleeve can really help us take action in spite of fear or worry.

Plus, when we utilise our strategies and they are successful, we create references that we can do it: we now have evidence of our ability to act in the face of strong emotions so we feel more courageous about acting next time. Now, we are starting to condition ourselves.

Conditioning is defined as bringing something into the desired state for use. Like you would condition your muscles if you are a runner, you can condition your mind to act in spite of fear or worry.

This process is all VERY simple, though not necessarily easy. The physiological response we have to fear can really knock us for a six, our heart rate increases, our breathing becomes more shallow, our palms get sweaty so remaining focused does take a little more energy. That’s why having some strategies to move through this feeling as well as manage it with elegance are so important.

I will share my top five fear-managing-strategies with you next week. In the meantime, start to notice how and when fear is showing up in your life because, like everything, it all starts with self-awareness.