Life Coaching On The Move - Launch of my free, weekly, motivational podcast.

I am so pleased to be able to announce the release of my free, weekly podcast packed full with tips, techniques and strategies that you can use in your everyday life to grow your inner confidence and self belief.

Full of stories and examples from 1000’s of coaching clients on similar journeys, I aim to bring all my topics to life, make them easy to understand, inspiring and motivational. The podcast will encourage and support your development so you can become the person you want to be, feel the way you want to feel and achieve everything you have only previously hoped to achieve.

If you like, please rate and review it if you get a second. It will help others to find it and benefit in the same way as you. Or, if you feel it appropriate, please ‘Share’ the link on your social media so your friends can have a listen and benefit. I have included the link below.

I really hope you like it. Let me know if there are any topics you would especially like covered.

Thank you so much!

https://anchor.fm/dawn-fiske

An incredible human feat - prepare to be impressed!

I have today been listening to an interview with an incredible woman. Jasmin Paris, a record breaking ultra marathon champion was chatting to Simon Mundie on the “Don’t Tell Me The Score” podcast about endurance, time management, and achieving your goals. Why? Well, when you hear her story, you will understand why she is perfectly qualified to discuss these topics.

Earlier this year, Jasmin took part in the 268 mile Spine race across the Penine Way National Trail, widely regarded as one of the toughest endurance races in the world. Jasmin, became not only the first woman to win the race outright, she also smashed the men’s course record by a staggering 12 hours.

As if this wasn’t incredible enough, Jasmin was also expressing milk for her 14 month old daughter along the route. In addition, whilst training for The Spine, she was not only juggling the demands of being a Mum to a young baby during the day, she was up in the night feeding her baby, then getting up at 5am to complete a long training run, and all this on top of working as a vet.

I was desperate to find out how she managed to fit it all in, particularly from a time management point of view. Jasmin stressed that we first need to love what we do and when we find that it gives us purpose and drive. She described that her goals keep her focussed and they help her to decide where to focus her attention and what to spend her time on. She doesn’t watch TV! She occasionally watches the odd film and only looks at social media approximately 3 times a week. Jasmin explained she is able to juggle everything by spending time on 'worthwhile tasks' only - tasks that underpin and support her goals. She uses her time well, not losing hours on YouTube, Social Media, or TV. Jasmin's trick to time management is to carry out valuable tasks only, each with a real purpose and each connected to helping her achieve her goals, or for her family, or her career. A tip I for one am going to draw on a lot more to see the results for myself. How could this help your time management, too?

Could your life be one long experiment?

Imagine for a moment that your philosophical belief wholeheartedly was that “life is a series of experiments.” What would your life be like with this approach? How would it be different and how would you react to events that came your way with this steadfast mindset?

Would it be better? I think so. I feel I would be more adventurous and much more willing to try new things. I suspect I would react differently when things didn’t turn out so well, too. Surely, for any of us adopting this mindset, we would dip our toe and try far more things, whether it is activities, foods, sports, experiences, sexual activity, reading material, places to visit - and the list goes on…

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and have come to the conclusion that if I try approaching everything that comes my way as ‘an experiment', then if it goes well, it’s a success, fun, tasty, or rewarding, then I have discovered something positive and new and will therefore embrace and repeat it. If, on the other hand, it is not such a positive outcome, then I won’t beat myself up or regret it, but merely see it as the result of my experimental approach to life, accepting that it wasn’t great, learn from it, and just move on. I won’t hang on to the negativity and dwell on it, nor would I turn the opportunity down in the first place.

So I’m going to try it…. How about you?

Worrying about what others think of us is as wasteful as trying to catch the wind.

A topic that often crops up when I’m working with clients is how much they worry about what others think of them.

As an executive coach, clients in the corporate world often worry about what their colleagues, clients or managers think of how they presented in front of an audience, what they thought about the comments or contributions they made during a meeting, or what their colleagues think when they can hear them on the phone having a difficult conversation with a customer. Some worry so much that they will do their best to avoid the situation. Waiting until the office is almost un-manned before making a call, not speaking up in a meeting at all if they can avoid it, getting out of making a presentation and missing the chance to impress.

Teenagers that I work with often assume friends or classmates are talking about them, judging them negatively, even laughing about them behind their backs.

1:1 clients mention many different scenarios that fill them with angst and worry, whether it is about their friends, family members, or colleagues judging them when they do something. They even worry about what total strangers will think of them.

This angst is exhausting, damaging, confidence draining and more often than not, misplaced.

The reality is we are really not that important. People have far more important things of their own to focus on - why do we think we are that interesting? Others are often just too busy to give us a great deal of thought. Perhaps a minute or two, if that, before moving on to more important things in their own lives.

And when they do think about us at all, it is often, in reality, not at all the sorts of thoughts we fear they are thinking. We are far more judgmental and harder on ourselves than other people are about us.

But more importantly, we cannot change what others do or don't think about us. None of us are going to be liked by everyone. Even the nicest people in the world annoy some - and that's absolutely OK.

We need to feel comfortable with not being accepted by everyone, by not being liked by all. When I first started running workshops, or presenting to large audiences and more recently, posting blogs - I too felt scared about some people not liking what I said, how I presented, who I was, what I wrote about, or how. It is frightening and we can feel very vulnerable. But it feels so much better when we feel comfortable being uncomfortable, when we stop trying to please and instead just do our best, be honest and authentic, and know that that is all we can do. Those that respond well to us are exactly the people we would like to be around, and those that don't will respond better to others. That too is OK.

There is room for us all out there, we just need to stop trying too hard and cut ourselves some slack. In fact the harshest critic we are ever going to meet is our self - but this one we can influence and change.

Fear - What's Yours?

I recently listened with awe to an interview with free solo climber, Alex Honnold, on overcoming fear - and he should know what he’s talking about!

You may have watched the recent documentary showing Alex’s stunning scramble up the 3,000 foot tall sheer granite cliff face of El Capitan, in Yosemeti Valley, California, in what has been described as the greatest feat of pure rock climbing in the history of the sport.

Alex talked openly about his achievement, how he prepared, the power of visualisation, and how he mentally coped with something that is much better suited to physical preparation. But what I found staggering was his admission that he wasn’t at all scared during the climb. He explained that you can’t allow fear to creep in and get a hold, you have to stay in control of it and your mind and keep fear well and truly out, or it will be your downfall - quite literally.

But more interestingly, he shared that he finds talking to people far scarier than hanging off a sheer cliff face at 3,000 feet, without any safety equipment. During three years at University, he didn’t have a single friend - he spoke to no one other than his lecturers or tutors, and only when he had to. Socialising for him was terrifying. Going into a pub and ordering a drink was overwhelming and for a long time, impossible. And the thought of one day speaking on camera during the filming of a documentary, or sharing in a podcast interview, would have absolutely petrified him.

He explained in detail exactly how he overcame his fears. First, of course, it is making the decision that this cannot continue and things have to change. Thereafter, he made tiny, incremental improvements. Bit by tiny bit, he worked on it. He gives the example that first he would just make himself go into a Pub/Bar and then leave. Once this became less scary, he would make himself just stay inside for a few minutes longer, and then leave. Shortly after that, he extended the time, and very soon he built up to being able to order a drink and sit for slightly longer. Eventually, and most terrifying for him, it was to build up the courage and confidence to just say a one line comment to another customer each time he went into a bar. Having a full blown conversation with a stranger was his ultimate goal with this exercise, and by building very slowly with small goals and tiny progress, he got there. Now he has progressed to having proper friendships in the “climbing world',’ a long term girlfriend, was fairly comfortable on camera, and chatted freely on the podcast interview. He concluded by saying how each and every one of us experiences fear and that our triggers are all very personal to each of us. For some it is public speaking, for others it’s heights, for others it is water, spiders, being alone, dying. What’s yours?

But he stressed that we CAN all overcome our fears. Each of us can decide we no longer want to live at the mercy of our fear and either get help to overcome it, or do what Alex did, and slowly but surely, work daily, building on the tiny steps and small successes, until you get the calm and peace that you are aiming for - never giving up but pushing just a little bit more each time.

If you want to listen to the interview go to Simon Mundie’s “Don’t Tell Me The Score” Podcast, or watch the National Geographic Documentary on Catch Up.

Have you ever wondered what you are REALLY capable of?

Have you ever thought to yourself, "where is the limit to my achievements"? Or, "What is the most I could possibly achieve?"

As a 16 year old, I thought my exams were so tough, surely I could achieve no more than this? Then I sat my A levels and was shocked at how much harder they were, but I stretched my perceived boundary and did ok. First year Degree exams felt I had hit my limit and I couldn't possibly sit any harder exams, but of course that too was another false perception and unbeknown to me, I still hadn't hit my limit. Three year's later I survived my end of year Degree exams. Isn't this the truth for us all in so many ways?

It was the same when I started running. The first very gentle jog/walk I attempted felt like torture. I suffered with a horrible stitch, sweating, struggling to breath, my legs felt like jelly - it was hell - and I'd only gone about half a mile! Yet, slowly but surely I built it up, pushed a little bit further, a little bit harder, and kept going, and it wasn't long before I felt I was doing OK, I wasn't going to keel over, and that it might actually one day be fun...

So, if you ever wonder what you are truly capable of then set yourself bigger and bigger goals. Stretch yourself and build on each and every success, adding another layer to your achievements, and then stretching it a tiny bit more. Slow, incremental improvement. Small stretches in your goals, steadily pushing those boundaries up to the next level. I don't think we ever truly discover our threshold or limit, and I am certain you and I have not reached our full potential yet, by far. As an ultra marathoner told me once, "there is more in you yet!" We just have to keep stretching ourselves and enjoying every second of it.

Become your own coach

A question for you…..

How do you know when you’ve done a really good job? Or, how do you know when you look really good in a new outfit?

Some of you will say it’s because your boss or customer has told you so and you’ve received really good feedback. Or that your husband, friend or parent told you. These people are “external validators” - they rely on external validation to confirm how well they look or how well they are doing.

Others will reply with something along the lines of, “I just know, I know I have checked the work through thoroughly, that I’ve put in lots of hard work and effort, I’ve taken my time and I just know it is good” or, “I just feel really comfortable in the outfit and look in the mirror and if I love what I see, then that’s good enough for me".” They are internal validators - relying much more on their own internal measures of how well they are doing in life.

There is no right or wrong, but the downside to needing largely external validation comes when you are in a relationship with someone that just doesn’t naturally give compliments, or work for a boss that doesn’t see the need to give constant feedback/praise, or doesn’t know how. In these instances, we feel unsure of how we are doing, we can feel lost, uncomfortable, vulnerable, uncertain, very unhappy, and starved.

So when working with clients who feel this way because they rely heavily on external validation and just aren't receiving it, then we work towards them strengthening their “internal validator,” or internal coach or friend. The client learns to self coaching each time they have completed an important task by asking themselves the following questions:

1. What did I do well?

2) What, if I could turn the clock back, would I do differently?”

3) What will I do more of in the future?

At first this feels difficult and uncomfortable, but with time it becomes easier and incredibly helpful. By building and strengthening their "internal coach muscle" they are far less dependent on others and much better equipped with increased confidence and self acceptance. Don't get me wrong, most of us enjoy receiving the odd compliment, appreciation or praise, but once we have learnt to do that genuinely for ourselves, then we can take that internal coach with us wherever we go and use it with whatever we are facing and that has to be a good thing.

A simple way to move on

Often it is not the event itself that causes us such angst, anger, and upset, but rather how we respond to it; how we keep hold of it, re-live it, blow it out of proportion, and re-live it again….., and again. The mental space and energy we give to things is often completely disproportionate to the event itself and it is that which causes the huge emotional response. Let's imagine the amount of mental energy we gave was instead money - would you be spending excessive amounts of cash on those events? Is that where you would want to invest your finances, or would you rather spend on something pleasurable, fun, important, helpful and possibly life improving?

The way I, and now many of my clients, handle these events is to ‘LIMO’ them. Taken and adapted from the book, SUMO, I encourage people to just shrug their shoulders and simply “Leave It, Move On.” In other words, refuse to hang on to these things, not give them mental time and space, refuse to dwell on them and allow them to hook in, and instead just let them go. LIMO!

If you haven’t already read SUMO by Paul McGee, I would definitely recommend it. It’s full of techniques to help you move on in life, build your confidence, and feel stronger in your mind.

So, if you need a very simple approach in your life to help you let go of those annoying or upsetting events that can have a disproportionate impact on your day(s), then adopt the LIMO approach - shrug, leave it, and move on. Simple but very powerful.

Nurturing the garden in your mind.

All of my patio tubs and planters are now all planted up with new, young plants, and we have reached that time of year where I find myself out there every evening, giving them all a good soaking of water, making sure they are in the right spot to get plenty of sunshine, cutting off any dead leaves and generally giving them all the care and attention they need to grow into an impressive picture of colour. Generally, we know that if we give our plants the right care, attention and nurturing that they need; good soil, plenty of water, and lots of sunshine, they will not only thrive, they will grow into an impressive version of themselves.

The same applies to our thoughts! If a negative thought creeps into our mind, and we nurture it by giving it fresh, new, healthy soil, plenty of regular water, and put it on the front step in glorious sunshine, then it will grow into a much larger version of the original, fleeting thought.

On the other hand, if that same negative thought crept into our mind and we do not give it any attention, refused to nurture it and starved it of healthy soil and water, and shoved it into the dark, under stairs cupboard, then it will not grow into anything. The seed will dry up and fail to develop.

We all get occasional negative thoughts that just pop, uninvited, into our mind. The trick is to refuse to give it the space, environment and nurturing that it requires in order to grow into an all absorbing, overwhelming, dark worry, fear or concern. Don't feed those negative thoughts. Starve them and they will be unable to grow. When a negative thought pops up, don't give it any attention at all. Think of other subjects, concentrate on different things, override it and ignore it. Refuse to let it take you over. Only water and nurture your good, healthy, optimistic and helpful thoughts and enjoy the results.

Are you measuring yourself fairly?

Here’s a question for you..…

Why do you love those in your life that you love? Why are you best friends with your best friends? What is it about those people that you especially like? Is it what they have achieved, what material items they have, how successful they are in their career? Or is it more about ‘who’ they are; their qualities, their values, their sense of humour, their kindness, their energy, their view of the world? I am guessing it is the latter?

Now I ask you about yourself. How do you decide whether you are a worthy person? Do you appraise yourself for who you are; your qualities and strengths, your kindness, your sense of humour, your caring nature, or is your self worth based more on what you have achieved, your career success (or possibly lack), the car you drive, your house, and so on. It is the latter?

I often see in clients, particularly those struggling with low self worth, that they choose their friendships and relationships on the basis of the person's values, personality traits, and character strengths. Yet, when they talk about themselves and explore their self worth, they are much more likely to base it on what they've achieved in life, or what they have, rather than who they are. Clients struggling with low self worth often hold the belief or have assessed that they've “failed in their role,” and are not very successful, they feel they are not very bright, haven’t managed to get a nice enough house, or drive an impressive enough car. Their self worth and confidence are based much more on those measures, than on the criteria they use for their friendships and relationships.

Why is that? It is a far harsher measure and actually, when we strip it down, those things are far less important - but this is so common. Many people focus on their perceived weaknesses instead of their character strengths, and conversely on their friends and loved ones’ strengths, but are blind to their weaknesses (thankfully!) - or at least are much more forgiving of them than of their own weaknesses.

But if we only focus on our failings then we will only see our weaknesses, and then that low self-esteem seeps into everything we do. But when we focus on our strengths, our inner qualities and on ‘who’ we are, rather than what we have achieved, life improves significantly on both personal and professional levels.

This is why the most successful people in the world focus on their strengths. They know (and have sometimes learned the hard way) that focusing on their weaknesses will only stop them from reaching their goals.

What do you focus on? Do you need to change the focus and re-evaluate how you appraise and measure yourself for greater success and for increased self worth?

Get out of your own way

What's stopping you? Many of us plan to make changes, start something new, do something, achieve something or take a risk, but then closely follow it with an excuse about why we can't do it now. We tell ourselves that we are waiting for the right time or the right circumstances - but there never is a "perfect" time. Perhaps it is really just avoidance, fear, or an excuse? Don't wait for the perfect time - it will never come. Don't tell yourself reasons why not - look for the reasons why you should/must do it - right now! Take just one action step to start the momentum, don't over think it - just do it, without any more fears, doubts and excuses. The truth is the only thing that stops us doing something is us! Don't get in your own way.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing

Last night I shared a lovely evening out with three of my girlfriends. Let me give you some background to the group. Three of us are 50+ years of age, whilst the other is at least 10 years younger.

We had a great time catching up on each others’ lives, with much laughter and a lot of deep discussion. It was during the deeper conversation that three of us discovered we have all been experiencing and struggling with the same difficulty for the few past months - the youngest of us hasn’t!

“Bad nights” is how we described the problem initially. Each of us older ones easily described examples of many nights recently spent wide awake for hours at a time. One had only the previous night been awake from shortly after 1am until 6.30am - her alarm went off at 6.50am!

But it’s not just the sheer exhaustion and frustration that it brings - it’s much deeper than that. All 3 had also experienced very real and frightening physical symptoms, too, during these “bad nights” - and I am not entirely sure what comes first. We could all relate to episodes of our heart racing, palpitations and the absolute terror that we are having a heart attack. Similarly terrible breathing difficulties, struggling to fill our lungs and the blood chilling fear that we are going to die in our beds at any moment while the rest of our family sleeps soundly around us. On top of that, each of us had encountered times when we had managed to drift off to sleep only to wake gasping for breath and terrified by a horrible kind of ‘choking’ or ‘drowning/gasping sensation’ through lack of air - trust me, if you have never had it, it's really hard to describe.

How similar our symptoms and experiences were when we started to open up about it - and for me it felt a revelation and incredibly comforting just knowing that I am not alone. We concluded that hormones have an awful lot to answer to but with that in mind, it will slowly improve and we will come out the other side at some point in the future.

The other revelation from last night was how many other parallels we have running in our lives, each of which I also feel are major contributing factors to our insomnia, stress and anxiety.

For example, the three of us are all currently struggling with teenage children who themselves are experiencing major hormonal surges and imbalances, not to mention the stress that they are currently feeling (and us!) about their GCSEs, A levels or first year degree exams. On reflection, perhaps Mother Nature had it completely right when she designed the female body to be more fertile much earlier than the time we each decided to have our families. My first born arrived when I was 36 - the result being that just as he is going through a massive hormonal change, so too am I - and that is not a great mix under one roof!

Another shared contributing factor to our stress and anxiety levels is that each of us has either recently, or are currently, caring for elderly parents and in-laws, or coming to terms with the loss of them. This is not only a deeply emotional time, but it causes us to consider our own mortality, bringing up thoughts and fears around our own health, and pending death. I absolutely know this has worsened my “dark thoughts” and panic/anxiety attacks at night.

So my takeaway from last night’s open and honest exchange was that perhaps there is little wonder I, and they, have so many of these “bad night” episodes. Going through any of these major life events is hard enough at any time in life, but put them all in the mix at once and you have a great recipe for high stress, maximum anxiety, ongoing insomnia and frightening panic attacks.

In contrast, in previous generations (and for our fourth member of the group), our children arrived in our early 20’s. We were therefore much better able to help and support our children through their hormonal struggles long before ours hit - by which time they would have flown the nest and we could concentrate on taking care of our own changing physicality. It was also much more likely that we would have come out the other side of this difficult hormonal time before our ageing parents and in-laws needed a lot more care and attention, and we would ultimately be able to grieve their loss without having to cope with so many other major challenges all at once.

When we are experiencing a “bad night” and an attack of anxiety in the middle of it, hang on to the knowledge that we are not the only one struggling, that these are normal symptoms, and that we can stay strong and firm in our mind. We are not dying or having a heart attack - it is anxiety and panic and we will be OK. I have found that I am able to concentrate on my breathing and slow it down by taking a slow breath in through the nose over four seconds, holding it for up to approximately 12 seconds, and releasing slowly for 8 seconds. If I repeat that pattern several times, it not only stops my mind focussing on the worries and dark thoughts that triggered the stress in the first place, it also dramatically calms the breathing and heart rate down.

Using firm and strong internal self talk definitely also helps. I tell myself it is just anxiety and that I am NOT dying of a heart attack, and by distracting or replacing my thoughts with much calmer subjects (in fact, I often put the TV on, whereas one of my girlfriends says she puts a little torch light on and reads, and another listens to podcasts through headphones from her phone), it stops feeding my mind all the scary and anxiety provoking thoughts.

I have been using these strategies for the last few months and am already seeing great results. I now refuse to let my mind take me to those horrible places and I quickly make myself physically calm down when I wake gasping for breath or my heart starts racing. Whilst I still do have “bad nights,” I feel much more in control now and successfully managing to prevent them from spiralling into a horrible panic attack.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but we can’t turn back the clock. All we can do now is hang on in there, keep going through this time, try using some coping strategies, look out for each other, share our experiences, symptoms and struggles and maybe even laugh a little (or a lot!), the way we did together last night. It was such a tonic.

When you're in two minds about something...

Have you ever experienced a real dilemma where part of you wants to do something, and another part of you doesn’t? Where you are in two minds about something or feel the angel sat on one shoulder is encouraging and supporting you, whereas the devil on the other is holding you back, and warning you against it.

Who wins? Which way do you go? What do you do?

When I work with clients who are facing exactly this situation we work on each part separately. We explore every single benefit that taking the step, making the decision, embracing the opportunity, would bring them. And I mean every single benefit, by repeating questions such as, “and what would that give you?” and, “what would be the benefit of that?” and “what does that bring you?” - over and over again, until we get to the absolute root of why they are considering it in the first place, what it would ultimately bring them and what is at the core of it all.

We then look at why part of them doesn’t want to go for it, make that change, embrace the opportunity. What that part fears, dreads, worries about, etc., through exactly the same process. I repeat the questions, drilling down to the very core root, the absolute need that this part of them has and what avoiding or staying safe brings them - the benefits to not making the change, to staying as they are, remaining safe.

And guess what we ALWAYS FIND OUT? …….. that both ‘parts’ want EXACTLY THE SAME thing!! Whether it is ultimately that each ‘part’ wants them to be happy, or secure, or fulfilled, or loved or healthy, the devil and the angel want exactly the same. This will be true for you, too- deep down, those separate parts or different ‘minds’ want exactly the same thing for you - they are not working against each other at all - you just feel they are.

In reality, the only difference between them is the route by which each part thinks you can achieve that one thing. One side believes it is by taking a risk, making a decision, making a change, moving forward and embracing something new. The other believes it is better to stay safe, embrace the familiar, stick with what you know.

So, drill down and ask yourself exactly the same questions of your ‘two minds.’ Find out what the root desire/need, aim that each part has, see the similarity, get them to work together and decide on the best possible route for you to achieve what they both want for you. It works, I promise you. Once we know they are on the same side they can work together. It is merely a question of strategy, approach, and route to take in order to get what the whole of you wants. It is not “if” but instead, “how" - and that is far easier to untangle and sort out…..

Don't stay stuck in the mud

What is inner resilience? Why is it that some people cope with difficult times and life struggles better than others. What's the difference, and how do they do it?

The answer is that 'resilient people' don't stay stuck in the swamp of the problem. They don't focus on the "why is this happening?" or "why me?"

Instead, resilient people focus on the "how am I going to get out of this?" or, "what can I do to solve this/improve this?"

They go into solution mode and problem solving, they look ahead to when and how things can improve. They take action, make decisions, have goals and look forward rather than dwell on the present problem exclusively.

Sometimes we all need to wallow a little, but there comes a time when we need to get out of the mud and start to move forward. The question is, how soon do we want to do that?

Live with the end in mind

Sadly yesterday I attended the funeral of, and said goodbye to, a truly lovely 86 year old family friend. He had become something of a Grandfather figure to our boys, and a father figure to me following the loss of my own Dad four years ago.

But he’d lived a great life and up until just recently had been very active, healthy, full of fun, laughter and projects! As I sat listening to his eulogy and reflected on what I am going to miss most about him I wondered what people might say at my funeral when the time comes.

The advantage of foresight is that we can steer that ship now in the direction we want it to go in. What do we want people to read out when our time comes? What kind of character do we want to be remembered as?

I would love them to say that I was always smiling, upbeat and optimistic in life. That I was full of energy and a go getter. That it didn’t matter what you asked of me, I would always try and help. That I cared deeply about my family and friends and would always put them first - and because I know that is how I want to be remembered, I need to remind myself of that now and absolutely ensure that is how I live my life.

What would I like them to regale about what I did, where I went, how I spent my life? Again, I know I would like them to read interesting words, tell funny stories, remember great places or things I had accomplished. What I am saying is I would love for them to be able to read about a well and full lived life with lots of variety and interesting times - and again, I need to remind myself of that now……. just as I am settling down on the sofa every night to watch rubbish TV and waste evening after evening!!

Yesterday’s funeral was a celebration of a life well lived by a man who had a deeply warm heart, a huge sense of humour, was interesting, funny, full of life, a passion for travelling the world and was a true gentleman. I hope he was proud of his achievements, of how he lived his life, and who he was as a person and I hope when my time comes I will be equally as proud because if we all live now with the end in mind we can benefit from the power of foresight and be the people we want to be remembered as, and live the life we want retold to the generations we leave behind.

A candle is not there to illuminate itself

The problem with social media is that it has encouraged us to become very self absorbed and focussed on me, me, me. Look at me….. look at where I am, look at what I am doing…. look at what I'‘m eating….

We are now far more likely to feel good as a result of how many likes our posts receive than perhaps any face to face contact and interaction we have had that day. But it is short lived and fairly shallow. Old fashioned, proper human contact is far more powerful and long lasting - receiving genuine thanks and appreciation for something we have done for a person, positive feedback for a job well done, or just a genuine compliment about who we are, what we are wearing, etc., makes our day (and possibly longer). It lifts our spirits, makes us smiles and definitely encourages to do more of XYZ, putting us in a great frame of mind and boosting our self worth. What a gift.

So, my question is how often do you give genuine compliments, heartfelt thanks, positive feedback - unprompted, spontaneous and to anyone who deserves it, including strangers? Could you do more? YES! It could be for great service in a shop where they’ve gone the extra mile to help you, real care from a doctor or nurse, excellent guidance from your child’s teacher, great public service in an airport, a hotel, a restaurant or even in the petrol station. There are three petrol stations that I could easily use around me - but I go to one in particular because the guy working there is always so cheerful, helpful, and positive, it makes such a difference but does he know it? It’s not always easy to say, “You are a ray of sunshine and always brighten up my day” but how powerful would that be for him to hear - and so well deserved!

So here’s the challenge. A candle is not there to illuminate itself, so perhaps we could spend less time promoting what we’ve been doing and what we have, and instead maybe we could make ourselves, every day, at least once (if not more), say something positive to a friend or acquaintance, unprompted, to make their day happier? Furthermore, on top of that, at least once a day say a proper thank you backed up with a reason, or an unprompted compliment to a stranger and make their day. It would be a gift to them and make you feel good, too - a win, win. Try it, every day this week to someone you know, and to a stranger. Make their day so much better. Just imagine if everyone did this on a daily basis, what a better world it would be for all of us. Enjoy the challenge.

Don't break the promises you make to yourself.

I love working with my clients - they are all an inspiration to me in one way or the other.

However, it never ceases to trouble me on the occasions when I am discussing a client’s values and they share that their values include dependability, reliability, and commitment. They go on to explain that if they have made plans or arrangements with someone, for example, then they will rarely ever let them down and only if they have no other choice. A recent client said to me “you shouldn’t let people down, once you’ve said you will do something, then you should do it.”

I agree - who doesn’t find it annoying when a friend cancels them for something better?

But what I find most troubling as a Coach is that sometimes, if I dig a little deeper with the client and ask whether they keep commitments, plans and ‘promises’ they have made to themselves in the same determined way, all too often the answer is “no.”

WHY? When clients commit and promise themselves something good, why is it so easy to break that promise to themselves. I see this too often. Recent examples have included the following promises: to allow themselves some de-stressing ‘me time’, to adopt more productive time management practices that we focussed on for an hour that they know would help them feel much more in control of their time, to eating a much better diet and doing some exercise in order to improve how they feel about themselves, to update their CV, change their job search strategy and practise their interview techniques in the week ahead - and then they break these promises either to do things for other people, or just not doing things for themselves to improve their situation.

Why do we not value ourselves enough to keep our promises to ourselves? Why is it so easy to “let ourselves down?” Why aren’t we on the list of important people that need us, and deserve our dependability, reliability and commitment?

We are sometimes so mean within. We say critical things about ourselves in our head. We break positive and helpful promises we make to ourselves. We judge ourselves sometimes too harshly and set very high expectations of ourselves. But would we do any of those things to our friends and loved ones?

We need to be kinder to ourselves, become our own friend, value ourselves enough to keep those helpful and positive promises we have made, and cut ourselves some slack from time to time. Wouldn’t our heads then be a much nicer place to be?

Don't Tell Me the Score

A shorter post today. I really just wanted to share an excellent Podcast I have been listening to lately. It is by Simon Mundie, entitled “Don’t Tell Me the Score” and is free via the BBC’s Radio 4 page.

It’s definitely worth a listen to and you truly do NOT have to be sporty to gain loads of insights, tips and thought provoking facts learnt through sport that can help us all in everyday life. I have learnt facts to help with leadership, performance management, motivation, overcoming fear, sleep and rest, how vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness , how managing your mind is crucial to happiness and success, and information around the nutrition that will help us get the most out of our day, amongst many other things - and there are many more episodes to come yet apparently. So give it a go, even my 16 year old son has inadvertently learnt lessons from it when I have left it playing on our car journeys, and you can’t teach teenagers anything!

What's in your 'bank?'

Watching the thousands of amazing people take part in today’s London Marathon inspired me so much. What true grit they all had, such determination, mental strength, and phenomenal spirit.

Anyone that has ever completed a marathon will remember their first (and possibly last!) time. It isn’t just about the actual day of the run, it’s the months’ of work beforehand that equally deserve admiration. The terror when you hear yourself agreeing to sign up and then all the work that follows; finding a training plan and importing that into your calendar, seeing all the runs mapped out in black and white in the looming weeks and months ahead, seeing the distance and speed increasing on that plan, and then the reality of actually following it. The painful limbs, the blistered feet, the black toe nails, the sleepless nights dreading the next morning’s scheduled ‘long run’ as you push the distance up and venture into unchartered waters, and the sober evenings out when you have to hold back from the booze because of the looming miles you’ve got to put in the next day.

Then there is the psychological battle; the self doubt of “what if I can’t do it?” The dread of “how much is it going to hurt?” - and it will hurt!! The tears throughout the training, the doubt, the fear of the unknown and the doubting of your ability to rise to the challenge. Oh, and then there is the fund raising for the charity that is so close to your heart, and the pressure of not letting them down.

For all those reasons I applaud every single person that entered the London Marathon - not forgetting those who were due to, but couldn’t take part today because of injuries and illness encountered as a result of the training, and who watched with the mixed emotions of real sadness, envy and perhaps even a little relief.

They can all feel so incredibly proud of themselves. They took it on, worked hard, made physical and psychological sacrifices, pushed themselves, got out of their comfort zones, battled in mind and body and found what they were capable of. Well done to each and every one of them.

But we don’t have to enter a Marathon to do all of that. We can find our own challenge and make ourselves get out of our comfort zones by doing many other things, pushing and challenging ourselves, showing real commitment, overcoming self doubt, and finding out what we are capable of, too. By doing so, we find out what we are made of, feel unbelievably proud of ourselves, come alive and energised and, more than anything, can draw on the accomplishment in the future whenever we have a moment of doubt or fear.

For example, only a couple of weeks ago I was coaching a teenager who had just returned from 5 days in Wales completing her D of E Gold Medal and she proudly told me with a massive grin across her face that “When I first put my huge back pack on I struggled to even walk across the car park and genuinely doubted that I would ever be able to carry it for five days over miles and miles of Wales - but I did, and I am SO impressed with myself.” Quite right, too - she has every reason to be.

It really can be anything - but pushing what we think are our boundaries and limits and finding that in fact they weren’t is such a powerful tool and can help us in the future in so many ways. We can ‘bank’ those accomplishments as credits and draw on them anytime in our future when we have a little (or large) wobble, a moment of self belief, or find ourselves truly out of our comfort zone. It is those times when we can tell ourselves with real conviction, “come on, I can do this - I managed to do XYZ, so I know I can do this….” and it really works. This is probably over-sharing, but I even got through childbirth this way by me drawing on the fact that I had managed to complete a huge bicycle challenge a few years previously, in aid of MENCAP, over 500km in China - so I know this strategy works.

What’s in your ‘bank of accomplishments’ and how many more credits can you work towards investing in the future by stepping out of your comfort zone, challenging yourself in some way, facing your fears and pushing your limits? It is so worth it, both at the time but also for future use.

Good luck and enjoy the challenges.

What friendships need.....

Having recently spent time researching the subject of happiness - I came upon lots of evidence that reveals a very real and genuine human need for "reciprocity" within relationships and friendships. We feel happier when we feel we are getting out of a friendship or relationship as much as we are putting in, and that the other party is giving and taking a fair and equal amount in return.

On the other hand, we feel real unhappiness if there is an imbalance - if we feel we are the one always making contact, doing all the organising of social events, including them in things, making all the thoughtful gestures or showing kindness - and that the other person is not doing these things as often, or at all!

Apparently the need for reciprocity is a natural and normal need. So feel comforted if you ever find yourself feeling annoyed, frustrated or even hurt by a "friend" or loved one - you are normal.

And if you don't and rarely have ever felt these negative feelings towards someone close and important to you, then perhaps you are that person who doesn't make the contact, organise things or take the initiative in the relationship!!!!!

So we always need to keep in mind give and take, balance, a two-way street and therefore reciprocity if we want maximum happiness within a friendship or relationship.

Please Share - so those of your friends may see this and do some self reflection, too….