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How to Embrace New Opportunities Without Fear

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Jump Into The New Year
Any new opportunity will come with fear attached.

It’s like the care label inside a new top or that new car smell when your shiny new ride shows up.

It’s just there.

Difference is, a care label won’t prevent you slipping into your new purchase and looking damn fine, nor will that amazing new car smell stop you from jumping into the drivers seat and hitting the road.

A care label or a new car won’t strip you of your confidence.

But a job opening that needs you to step up and deliver at a whole new level will have you trembling in your shoes. Entering into a romance after your heart’s been broken will bring out that fear and make you wanna run. And quitting work and starting your own business is likely to have you shitting your pants about what you’re doing.

So, here are 3 ideas to help you confidently embrace new opportunities without runny-hidey, shoe-trembly, pant-shitty fear.

Does it look like fun?

Put the fear aside for a second, and look at this new thing.

Could it be fun? Could it give you an experience you’ll love? Is it possible that you could have a great time?

If your answer is “yeah”—or maybe even a big, fat, juicy YES—then focus on that instead.

The point at which your energy around doing this thing—whether it’s a new creative pursuit, a physical challenge, a relocation, a career change, leaving a relationship behind or leaning into a new one—is greater than your fear around it, then you have it nailed.

The trick then, is to look for the gold in the opportunity and the richness, texture and joy in the experience, and anchor your energy behind that.

Ask yourself, “What kind of experience am I choosing?”, then make a decision that honours your answer.

Are you just making shit up?

If you’re feeling fear, the chances are that you’re just making shit up.

Fear is something of a drama queen, and will spin you stories about the stuff that could go wrong and how you’ll end up losing out or looking silly in front of everybody.

But fear doesn’t know what’s going to happen any more than you, me or that idiot pundit who tells you that he knows the way it’s going to go.

The stories in your head aren’t real. That includes the one about how Ryan Gosling would totally love you if you guys got to hang out, the one about winning the lottery, buying a huge house up on the hill where you’d hold huge parties filled with beautiful people once you were done eating all the wonderful food and getting pampered to within an inch of your life at that luxury spa in Tuscany, and it definitely includes the ones that fill you with fear and try to tell you that you’ll only fuck it up.

Notice the stories that don’t serve you (the ones that fuel a lack a confidence), remind yourself that you’re better than they would have you believe and ask yourself, “What old stories would I love to let go of?

Will it kill you?

Unless your new opportunity centres around a mission to Mars in a home-made space podual or a radical new approach to deep sea diving that involves holding your breath for a really long time and then counting on the Law of Attraction to manifest you some lovely oxygen, any new opportunity you face is unlikely to kill you.

You might lose out. That remains a possibility. You might get egg on your face. That could happen too. But unless this thing will actually end your life, the rest can be taken care of.

Whatever happens, there’s always a way through. Fear will try to persuade you otherwise, so try responding to it with the question “What kind of person do I want to be?” and see what happens.

Over to you. What helps you to embrace new opportunities without that runny-hidey, shoe-trembly, pant-shitty fear?

Confidence. Let’s Get Some.

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Be Confident

I firmly believe that natural confidence is the antidote to many of life’s ills.

I wouldn’t be here otherwise.

But I know just as well how nipple-bleedingly tough it can be to navigate “stuff”, and I’m entirely aware that a thing called “natural confidence” doesn’t seem at all what you need when all you want is:

a. a frickin’ break
b. a decent idea of what the answer is, or maybe someone who knows how shit works to just come along and tell you what you should do
c. life to ease up so you can get back to how you used to feel

Relate?

So, what I want to do is show you 5 scenarios—5 things that life requires of all of us if we’re to live beautifully—and demonstrate how a little more natural confidence can be transformative.

…On Facing Up

My continuing hair loss is an inevitable crawl toward a shiny-headed retirement. I could try Regaine For Men, a tasty little toupee or even start wearing hats, but I think it’s a much more graceful thing to just accept it and go with it.

It’s a dumb example, but I see it a lot. I talk with people who always struggle because they’re fighting what is. I get emails from people who tell me how much they love their partner but that they’re damaged by the way they’re consistently belittled in the relationship. And I have people asking me how to change their fortunes when they won’t acknowledge their resistance to change.

It’s much easier to push away what you don’t want to see than it is to face it; wholly, non-judgementally and responsibly.

So how does natural confidence help you to face up to what’s true, and why the hell would you want to?

Denial is bliss, they joke, but that’s only true if you’re content to life half a life. Denying what is or suppressing or ignoring a truth about yourself will only ever create conflict and put obstacle after obstacle in your way. It’s like trying to run a marathon in bare feet and saying “It’s fine, everyone runs marathons without sneakers these days. Blood? What blood?

Facing up to a truth requires that you soften into what is rather than harden your resolve toward the way you might prefer things to be.

And that’s scary stuff.

Natural confidence is a partner in that process. It’s the voice that tells you, “It’s okay, this is okay, you’re going to be okay“, and it’s a friend who you can talk to openly who will never feel let down.

Hopes, fears, circumstances, finances, sexuality, relationships, health—these are all areas where we resist the way things are and instead remain in a fantasy of how we’d prefer things to be, even if that fantasy hurts us.

Natural confidence makes it okay to open to truth rather than keeping that door bolted.

…On Letting Go

I was a good kid at school, kept my head down, was liked broadly and was never picked on. Apart from that one time when Adam poked fun at me in front of everyone by calling me every ugly, unpleasant thing he could think of, and everyone turned and laughed at me.

I felt horrible, and angry, and for a long time I hated him for that.

For years that memory would pop up—more because of how I shrank into shame rather than what he actually said—and I’d dream up ways to tear him down or picture what would have happened if I’d punched him square in his smug little face instead of crawling inside myself.

It was much later that I was finally able to let go and not have that memory bring up those same feelings, and I wonder how much time and energy I spent keeping it close.

Have you ever had someone say something bad about you, perhaps at work or in a relationship or friendship? Maybe they criticized how you did something. Maybe they made fun of you. Or maybe they rejected you.

Ever got angry at the way someone treated you or how they treated someone you love? Ever felt let down by a colleague, friend or family member who you expected better things from? Or ever been betrayed in a relationship and rolled around in the hurt?

Or have you sometimes found yourself wrapped in the stress and drama of a situation, content to keep on whining about how it is?

No two ways about it, life is filled with emotive, explosive or evocative situations that pull you into their gravity.

And once you’re in orbit, it’s hella tough to break free.

But it’s not just negative situations that draw us in; we’re equally compelled by comfort and safety. An easy job that doesn’t push you. A familiar relationship that doesn’t require change. A straighforward lifestyle that doesn’t challenge.

We hold things close that might not serve us well for a variety of reasons:

  1. It validates what happened or how you were wronged.
  2. It feeds a narrative that supports something you believe about yourself or the world (you’re not good enough, the world doesn’t care, you don’t have what it takes, etc).
  3. It’s a signpost your brain uses to help you navigate through the world to avoid similar situations.
  4. It keeps you small, and there’s safety in that.
  5. It makes you right, and there’s comfort in that.

When you think about it, it’s crazy how we cling to things that don’t serve us well, things that limit our chances for a sweet and beautiful life and things that even damage us. But we do it all the time, simply because those things known to us.

After a while it gets hard to know where your skin ends and all the stuff you keep close begins, but moving forward meaningfully, integrating learning and growing into what’s next requires a certain freedom of movement.

Quite a good life philosophy too

It’s scary and exposing to let go of something you’ve held close for so long. It’s turning towards uncertainty rather than clinging to the certainty of what’s been and what is.

But damn, it feels so good when you’re on the other side.

Of course, letting go is uncomfortable and challenging, but it’s a process made easier when you can trust you’ll be okay whatever happens next.

It’s easier when you know that you don’t have to define your self or your worth by what’s happened or by those old stories.

Confidence in your self, not in what you’ve surrounded yourself with.

So, if there’s something you think you want to let go of, look and see what there is that continues to drain you or that seeps like an old wound. Look openly, honestly and frankly at how it’s really serving you and the role it’s been playing in your life, then trust, just for a moment, that you could have a different kind of experience. A better experience. A richer experience. A more loving experience. Just explore that; swim around in it; try it on like a new jacket.

And trust that you’ll be okay.

…On Taking Action

Let’s say there’s something you want to do. Maybe it’s switching careers. Maybe it’s getting back into the dating pool. Maybe it’s starting up your own thing or maybe it’s taking a stand in a relationship.

Whenever there’s the prospect of a fresh step or a bold action, there’s also the opposite.

For every desire to quit your job and do something more meaningful, there’s the thought that it won’t work out. For every time you want make a fresh start in a vibrant place, you also wonder whether you’ll just carry all your problems with you and screw it all up. And for every impulse you have to start that project that might just change your life, you worry that actually, you’re not good enough to make it happen.

Bold action is stymied by fear; safe action is encouraged by it.

So how do you leverage natural confidence when you want to take bold action?

Two ways.

1. Bubble-up courage.
Picture yourself about to give a keynote speech to 10,000 people. Or maybe you’re sitting in the doorway of a plane, legs dangling in the sky, about to jump. Or perhaps you’re looking at your wonderful, beautiful, funny and damn sexy friend, moments away from telling them how you feel.

So with your heart racing and thoughts spinning, you dig deep and find that little something you need to take a leap of faith.

That’s the thing with courage; it’s hopeful and optimistic, not concerned with what could go wrong but only looking to create something wonderful, something that matters.

Courage is an expansion, a rising into how you would love to be.

It requires blind faith, not reason.

2. Anchor into self.
When I have a decision to make—do I go down that road or not?—I always find that it helps hugely if I anchor that whole thing into something that’s relevant. Otherwise, making a decision to take action is something that just floats out there, untethered.

I picked confidence coaching because I saw how important it was in clients and it gave me goose-bumps. I’m working to finish my novel because to not do so doesn’t fit with who I am. And I went on a national TV dating show because I’m a firm believer in possibility.

Bold action works best when it’s congruent with who you are. Not only does that congruence of self and behaviour make it easier to act in the first place (because the action will feel more natural and intuitive), but it allows you to put your trust in your ability to act rather than what might happen as a result of that action. Which is huge. And is what confidence is.

Whether you bubble up courage or anchor self and behaviour, I’d argue that bold action is impossible without natural confidence.

…On Being Vulnerable

Being naked is, clearly, exposing.

It can feel awkward. It can feel like everyone’s whispering about you, or worse, laughing. It can feel cold as the air hits your bare skin. And it can feel like you could get hurt any second now.

These are just some of the reasons I wear trousers in public (not to mention the subsequent increase in terror alert levels should I forget), but fortunately for all of us vulnerability does not require the absence of clothing.

The gorgeous Brené Brown defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure, and it’s these things that we’re hard-wired to pull back from out of self-protection.

Walking into a new job on day one into a building full of strangers. Going on a first date after a spell out of the dating game. Starting a difficult conversation with someone who might not be expecting it. Meeting a friend for coffee when you want to share a painful, challenging or even joyful experience (yes, easing into and expressing joy requires vulnerability too). Initiating sex with a new partner or wanting to try something new with an old partner.

Life is filled to the very brim with situations that are uncertain, risky or require emotional exposure. But just imagine how cold, hard and small life would be without them.

In fact, whatever “surface” reason clients may think they’re coming to me, 8 times out of 10 the underlying reason is that they’ve developed deep habits to avoid uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure and have been suffering as their life has shrunk as a result.

They tell me they want to feel how they used to feel. They tell me how confident they used to be and that they don’t know what happened. And they tell me how much more they want for themselves.

Vulnerability and natural confidence are perfect together.

Perfect.

Confidence is the capacity to soften into uncertainty.

You get to apply confidence right at the point of choice or change without needing to have all the answers and without your worth being dependent on what happens next.

It might not make it comfortable, but confidence will make your approach into uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure okay. Necessary, even.

You could think of confidence as a natural balm for the discomfort that’s inherent in vulnerability, making it possible to take off your armour even when your craving for comfort and safety is urging you to keep it on.

Note to Self: "Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live." ~ Goethe

That’s easy for me to say and easier for you to read, but that struggle between wanting to move towards uncertainty and wanting to be safe is a bit like trying to paint a smiley face on an angry bear.

Here are a couple of thoughts to help.

You’re not going to die
The urge to pull back from vulnerability is one driven by that scared part of you, so reassure it. You’ve come this far and you’re still standing, and the overwhelming evidence is that you’ll be okay, so develop dialogue and narrative to support that (e.g. I’m not going to die), while talking softly to the scared part of you, letting it know it’s been heard and then whispering it to sleep.

What’s the alternative, really?
Looking at the flip side can be a useful motivator sometimes, so if you don’t act—if you don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable—what kind of person does that turn you into? Sometimes in life we diminish through creeping fences—a compromise here or a safe choice there—and the next thing we know, we’re not the person we thought we would be. I’m not interested in pointing fingers or assigning blame, but think about the kind of person you want to be, hoped to be or strive to be, and then make an appropriate choice.

Vulnerability has to be part of your future, otherwise you’re not really living.

Which leads me to…

…On Showing Up

Back in 2011, at my very first World Domination Summit, I received a hand-written card reading, “Step into your greatness. It’s time.”

Step into your greatness
I loved it, and still love it, because it reminds me continually to show up.

See, we’re hardwired to fit in and, to a certain degree, fly under the radar. That’s how our brains believe we stand the best chance to stay safe and free from attack, but it’s a mechanism that clearly has a downside.

I did it when I started out coaching back in 2002; I pretended to be a “good coach”, acted all coachy and made sure I said and did all the right things. Of course, most of it was vacuous horseshit, but I wanted to fit in with my coaching peers and mentors and didn’t want them—or my clients—to think that I didn’t belong.

I acted professionally in a previous career where I was damn successful, apart from how I squeezed myself into a box that was never going to fit and slipped into a major breakdown that took 18 months to recover from.

And for a long time I assumed I had to be 100% heterosexual rather than admitting that a part of me was attracted to guys as well as girls.

So you might say that I’m something of an expert in not showing up. And this, friends, is what I’ve learned.

Showing up is a radical act of love.

It’s not kidding around.

It starts with knowing yourself, moves into accepting yourself and then flows into being that way.

And it’s here that natural confidence helps, right at the point where you meet the world.

It’s confidence that accepts some people won’t get you or like you and that seeking universal approval is no way to live. It’s confidence that makes it okay for you to step into who you are and everything that means, without knowing what happens next. And it’s confidence that allows you to look into those corners of yourself you’d rather not see, and to find love for what you find there instead of judgement.

Confidence is a vehicle for showing up in the world as you already are, and here’s a quick 1-2-3 to help that along.

  1. First step is to see how you might be pulling back, hiding or cutting yourself off. What story have you been telling yourself about how you need to behave or act? How have you been fitting in with how you think people expect you to be?
  2. How would it be if you didn’t need to fit in, meet expectations, play a role or hide a part of you? Let’s say that you could show up as you really are, what difference would that make to you? What difference would it make in your life?
  3. What’s a fresh, new story you could tell yourself, that supports you towards showing up as you really are? What belief or narrative can you create that enables you to show up? Maybe I don’t have to prove myself to anyone, or something like I’m already worthy of love and belonging (thanks Brené).

This takes practice. It’ not a one-time deal. I’m talking consistent, deliberate practice.

But it’s never wasted effort.

In showing up, in being vulnerable, in letting go, in facing up and in taking action, I hope I’ve shown that a core of natural confidence is priceless.

And I’d love to hear your thoughts – what is there in here that jumps out at you? What do you think your take-away is?

The 10 Best Self-Improvement Tips for a Better Life in 2016

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today is the best day of your life

Whether you look at a new year as a blank slate or an oozing flesh wound, there’s one thing that’s inescapable.

Anything can happen.

Well, perhaps not anything. I’m unlikely to become King of the Pandas, your trimmed toenails are unlikely to become heavily traded commodities on Wall St, and Trump ain’t getting into the White House.

But given a handful of exceptions, none of us know what’s going to happen.

What matters I think, is having some pointers, some guideposts, some navigation guides. Things you can carry with you all year long to help you adapt, help you learn and help you grow.

Here then, are the best self-improvement tips for a better life in 2016.

1. Grow, Despite How Uncomfortable it Makes You

Comfort is compelling.

It’s like a warm blanket in a cold world; a way of making sure you’re safe in a world that doesn’t seem to give a rats-ass what happens to you.

But comfort is also what leads people to hate their lives and hate themselves.

Think about it for a moment. You wanna do stuff in life; make a difference, create something remarkable, dent the universe.

I know that much about you, and it’s all very admirable, but right along with those desires is the fear of the unknown, which is when your brains’ operating principle of minimise risk, maximise reward kicks right in and pulls all kinds of dirty tricks to get you to stay exactly where you are because it’s too damn dangerous out there.

We’re hard-wired not to change, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that we need to.

Your brain will tell you:

  1. That you don’t need to change. Things aren’t so bad right now, and pretty soon it’s possible that it could turn around. And hey, other people have it a lot worse.
  2. That you’re too special to change. I have something nobody else does, it’s just that the world hasn’t seen it yet. I can’t compromise what I have on the inside by changing what I do or changing who I am.
  3. That nobody understands. Those messages and articles I read about change and doing stuff that matters? That’s all well and good, but the writers of those things just don’t understand who I am and how tough my situation is. I can’t apply the same thinking because my situation is unique.
  4. That everyone else had something you don’t. I bet I could change things if I had an amazing mentor like [insert name here] does. I know if I had their talent and bank balance things would be a lot simpler. And just how far would they have got if they didn’t have all those people helping them? Yeah, they have all the help in the world and I have zip.
  5. That you don’t deserve it. I’m so worried that I haven’t done enough to deserve it. I’m not the kind of person who stuff like this happens to, and other people are more worthy of it than me.
  6. That you’re not good enough to get it. Who am I kidding, I don’t stand a chance out there. I don’t have what it takes; maybe I’m just not cut out for this stuff.
  7. That you can’t trust people. That guy’s such a jerk trying to tell me how I should play things. He’s just in it to make a quick buck. And I hate the way that woman talks, like she’s so great and has all the answers. Everyone’s just in it for themselves.
  8. That it should be easier. If I was supposed to do this then why the fuck is it so hard all the time? Surely that’s a sign that I’m not ready or the time’s wrong?

Seriously, it’s a miracle that any of us get anything done at all.

But people do get things done. People do make a difference. People do create remarkable things. And people do dent the universe.

All it takes is an acknowledgement of 2 things:

  1. There is no staying still in life—that it’s by staying still that your muscles atrophy, your bones ossify and your life shrinks down to nothing
  2. Growth happens by leaning into the unknown—it’s through that stretch and your brain’s wonderful plasticity that you get to learn new stuff, try new things and develop new skills.

Expecting growth to happen without discomfort is like expecting an apple orchard to appear on the moon or the Koch brothers to donate their wealth to charity.

Choosing growth is the only choice you have; it just needs you to soften into a different way of thinking.

2. Create Value, Despite What People Think

How do you create value in a world that pretty much just wants you to fit in and go through life not being noticed?

That’s easy, you can’t.

Creating value can be any one of a gazillion different things. Helping a friend when they really need it. Guiding a team towards a great solution. Giving back to a community in a way that has a positive impact. Creating a course that helps people achieve something. Leaving a room better than when you entered it. Offering compassion when there’s an urge toward cynicism. Doing something for a charity or cause that matters to you. Using a strength or talent to help others create value.

The list is as long as you need it to be in order to fit with your world view, and creating value will always attract opinions from others.

Some will applaud your efforts. Others will want to tear it down.

There will always be an asshole ready to tear chunks out of you for what you’re doing, just as there will be an angel who tells you what wonderful work you’re doing. But you’re not responsible for any of that.

I had people tell me I was being incredibly reckless and thoughtless when I raised money for an M.E. charity, and I get people who say that The Code is “terrible” and “lame”.

If I listened to those folks I’d never get out from under the duvet in the morning. Instead, I continue to look for ways I can add value in whatever measure I can and look for ways I can improve what I’m doing in order to reach more people who might be receptive to the value I want to create.

Haters gonna hate (hate hate hate hate), but you can’t let that stop you from creating the value that, a. you can start making today and b. that the world desperately needs.

3. Hear Yourself

Your brain makes thoughts all day long; helpful and unhelpful, insightful and ignorant, enabling and disabling.

It’s a bit like a long-time recording artist in that regard, churning out record after record with some stone-cold hits as well as some complete ass-mongery.

That thought soup your brain produces is in constant motion, and all the time you let it wash over you it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to get out from under it long enough to do anything that amounts to a hill o’ beans.

So it’s essential that you hear yourself.

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET

Essential, so that you’re able to to:

  • spot the bullshit; those stories your brain makes up to keep you safe but are nothing more than fiction
  • choose a way of thinking; picking out a thought or train of thought that best represents you and what’s important to you, rather than having who you are and what matters to you get swept away by a random thought stream about otters or sunsets or whatever else might be spinning around in that noggin of yours.
  • choose a better experience; rather than having circumstances determine your experience, you can develop a sense of mindfulness that means your circumstances don’t need to dictate your experience

Hearing yourself takes practice, but it not only allows you to be aware of where your thoughts are but offers a way of creating enabling thinking that you get to act on.

So come on, start practising.

4. Stop Setting Goals

3 quick facts about me.

I have never watched The Godfather. I was in a Moroccan TV commercial for a yoghurt drink. I’m pretty passionately against goal-setting and the cult that’s built up around it.

See, goals come with a whole heap of trouble…

  1. They create a gap or a dissonance between where you are and where your goal says you need to be. If you’re not very careful, that can lead your brain to conclude that you’re not good enough or lacking something, otherwise you’d already be on the other side of the gap and would already have nailed it.
  2. One word: should. Goals are often based on what you think you should have or should want. Setting a goal based on a should is like trying to win a cuddly bear at the fairground, only the rings you’re throwing are way too small to fit over the bottles and are tethered to lengths of string that won’t even reach. Oh, and the bottles are behind a frosted glass screen anyway. And the guy running the stall has been fibbing about the bottles all along; all he has there is a slowly curling bologna sandwich for his lunch. Point is, shoulds aren’t worth a prize.
  3. Goals always force you to plant your eyes at some fictional point on the horizon, never at what you’ve got right now. Show me a serial goal-setter and I’ll show you someone who’s afraid to ease into the moment they’re already in for fear of what they might see. It’s all too easy to get sucked into dreaming and planning for what might be rather than noticing or facing what is.
  4. There’s no link between reaching a goal and happiness. Those studies don’t exist, and in fact it’s been proven that people who achieve a goal are no happier than those who don’t set goals or who don’t reach them.
  5. The focus of value is all wrong with goals. I spent my first couple of years as a coach working exclusively helping clients with setting goals and then pursuing them. Always—and I mean every single time—we found things on the way that rendered the goal obsolete, out-dated, insignificant or redundant. The value is in the path you take, not where it ends up.
  6. Goals often lack genuine meaning and have little to no tolerance for resistance or obstacles. The motivation behind a goal is enough to get you started, but when things get tougher and resistance sets in, it turns to vapour and escapes.
  7. Goals are a great way to maintain the illusion that you’re in control. There are some things you can control in life, sure there are (where you keep your socks, whether you go for that run and how friendly you are with your barista among others), but life is nothing if not filled with uncertainty. So, if you can feel better by planning and “controlling” things via a goal then your brain will gravitate towards that, regardless of whether it achieves anything useful or not. Bottom line is that living a life where you strive for certainty and control will invite struggle at every step. It’s a recipe for misery.

So, please, stop setting goals. You’re better than that.

What’s that? What’s the alternative? Read on my friend, read on…

5. Start Playing

Having ranted about how much of a shitty strategy goal-setting is, it seems only appropriate that I offer something of an alternative, right?

Here it is…

Play.

Ta-da.

Stay with me, because the alternative is a system that offers the following:

  • a way of focusing on the good stuff you find on the way, no matter where you’re going
  • a mechanism that doesn’t place any judgements of worth or belonging or success on you for not having nailed that goal already
  • a system that automagically strips away all the bullshit shoulds, oughts and half-hearted wants
  • an understanding that your happiness, value or self-worth is not dependent on getting what you want
  • a simple way to plug into the stuff that genuinely matters, and to remind yourself of that good stuff every step of the way
  • a way of seeing things so that how you show up in this very moment is what matters
  • a sense of motion that incorporates obstacles and difficulty without the need to struggle or suffer

Whether it’s baseball, football, Monopoly or Call of Duty, the entire, entire point of playing a game is that you get into the game, play it to the best of your ability and enjoy it, right?

That’s the nub of playing a game versus setting a goal—goals are things you work towards in the hope they’ll happen at some point in the future, whereas games are things you live in this very moment using all you already have (and are).

A goal is something you do
A game is something you live

It requires a choice to engage with something that matters to you, a choice fuelled by 3 simple reasons:

  1. Because it matters to you. It comes from the inside—a need, a will, even a compulsion to engage with what’s important because it’s part of you. Not playing just doesn’t feel right. You gotta get involved.
  2. Because it’s fun. There’s a pull or an energy or a sense that it’s gonna be one hell of a ride. Fuck it, it’s gonna be fun. You gotta get involved.
  3. Because you get better at it. When you decide to play a game that matters to the best of your ability there’s a real, tangible and measurable chance of winning. But even without that, you get to enjoy the very act of playing, learn more about the game and become a better player with everything you do and every choice you make. You gotta get involved.

Start playing, people. Start playing.

6. Be Generous

The world’s a challenging place right now, and amid all the fear, noise and hubbub it’s natural to draw your arms a little tighter around your own world to protect it and keep it—and you—safe.

But those same walls you erect and to keep you safe also serve to keep what’s out there, out there. Protection and safety come at a cost.

It costs you your creativity. It costs you joy. It costs you connection.

Losing those things isn’t just a bit sad, it’s the catalyst for a bitterness that’s malignant and tragic.

But more than what it costs you personally, there’s a wider impact on the people around you. Your friends, family, peers, colleagues, clients and lovers. The more you keep back, the more you’re keeping yourself hidden and disconnecting yourself.

I’d suggest that it’s your responsibility to be generous with what you have.

Gift

Your talents. Your compassion. Your strengths. Your thoughts. Your love. Your time. Your empathy.

Picture a world in 2016 where people steadily become more generous with who they already are.

Doesn’t that sound like a pretty spectacular place to live?

7. Run Experiments

I remember Chemistry class at school, getting my beakers and bunsen burner all set up and taking notes ready to write up later. Pretty much all I wanted to do was tip random shit into random vessels, but there’s something to be said for the scientific method.

Same goes for when you’re trying to make a complex decision or decide on a challenging course of action. The level of doubt, fear and uncertainty can be enough to make you back away entirely.

But you don’t have to invest your whole future in your next decision. You could always run an experiment to see what happens.

Change one or two variables and see what happens. Try something for 5 days and see what there is to learn. Challenge a premise or idea by trying it on for a short time to see how it works.

See, your next choice doesn’t have to be a big dramatic thing that commits you irrevocably (because you’re more likely not bother when it is). You’re allowed to try something, to run an experiment, and then make a choice that’s appropriate to what you’ve learned.

8. Enough with the Masochism

I know for a fact that you’re hard on yourself.

Too hard.

You’re not attractive enough. You should be a better Mum (or Dad, or son, or daughter, or husband, or wife, or manager, etc). You’re not as successful as you wanted to be by now. You don’t have what it takes. You’re a crappy friend. Your face is showing your age. Everyone else seems to be so damn talented.

And that’s just the tip of a flippin’ humungous iceberg.

Your brain runs comparisons—you against everyone you encounter—to see how you stack up in the pecking order. These comparisons are based on 3 factors:

  1. How you feel in the moment. Maybe you’re having a crappy day, maybe something’s just gone wrong or maybe it’s a bad hair day.
  2. How you perceive everyone else. From the outside, it’s easy to perceive that everyone else is doing better than you.
  3. Your darkest fears. In a dark corner of your brain live fears that you’ll never be good enough. You’ll never be attractive enough or smart enough. You’ll never have that spark of something special. You’ll get found out sooner or later.

Any comparison based on those elements is only going to make you feel crappier than a Victorian sewer during an outbreak of salmonella.

It’s comparing your insides with others’ outsides, and not only is it irrelevant nonsense, it’s irresponsible and damaging.

You’re already good enough to live fully in the world.

Being a work in progress isn’t a fatal flaw, it’s a reality that everyone shares.

Stop beating yourself up.

9. Banish the Phantoms

Your brain is one hell of a piece of work.

Especially when it comes to driving you towards certain courses of action that it tells you will be fucking awesome. But there are false motivations that your brain will latch onto, motivations that I call phantom wants, because that’s all they are. Phantoms.

There are 3 of them.

  1. Status. Your brain loves to know where it sits in the social pecking order so it can maintain its position and exert some control over the social environment. Gaining and establishing status is about where you sit in a hierarchy against others—when you lose status your brain will tell you in no uncertain terms that you’ve screwed up, that you’re no good or that others are better than you, whereas when you gain status your brain rewards you by giving you an addictive, feel-good hit of warm and fuzzy neurotransmitters.
  2. Validation. Being validated gives you a sense of being okay, just as you are. It tells you that you’re an okay person, perhaps even a good one, and that you’re on the right track. On the flip side, not receiving validation makes room for speculation that you’re not an okay person; it creates space for a belief that you are in fact, not okay.
  3. Recognition. Receiving recognition is about having your actions and achievements recognised as being of value. It confirms that what you do is good, and that other people appreciate those deeds. Without recognition, doubt can grow that what you’re doing matters or that people value it.

These 3 phantom wants are bio-chemically woven in your brain, which is why they each feel so damn good when they happen. but the drive toward that feel-good high can drive you into behavior that doesn’t fit who you are or even worse, turns you into an asshole.

They’re insipid. Get a taste of them and you want more. See one of them drop and you feel so bad that you’re motivated to get it back by almost any means.

They have you dancing to their tune, even if the dance is one you’re rubbish at.

But with nothing to prove, no validation to be received and no recognition to be gained, there’s only one reason to do anything.

Because you want to.

Remove status, validation and recognition from the equation and the phantom wants disappear, leaving you with a level of want I call a source want.

Your source wants are your unfettered, undiluted, unashamed wants. They’re graceful, powerful and simple. They’re there simply because you wouldn’t be you without them.

They’re freeing, and they’re all you need.

10. Don’t Be a Bastard

This should really go without saying, but given my penchant for the remarkably obvious, please don’t be a bastard.

There are a lot of bastards out there. People who don’t give a rats ass about anyone else. People who go about their days thinking they’re the most important person in the room. People who force their sense of being right on everyone else.

So be one of the good ones. Practice empathy. Try compassion.

As Annie Lennox once said, put a little love in your heart.

New Year Coaching Session Give-Away

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Happy New Year
Happy New Year friends!

A whole new year opens up, and I hope your 2016 is gonna be beautiful.

Sweet, delicious and beautiful.

To help that along, I’m giving away 10 coaching sessions in January at zero cost.

Yep, 10 free sessions up for grabs to help you kickstart your 2016.

Think of it as a donation – I’m donating these to people who need them.

Maybe you could use a little boost of confidence to help start things right. Maybe some clarity around a decision is what you need. Or maybe you need a giant kick up the butt to get moving.

Whatevere you want to work on, there are 3 different ways to grab your spot:

1. Leave a comment right here on this post to say “I’m in”
2. Leave a comment on the Facebook post here to say “I’m in”
3. Reply to this Tweet to say “I’m in”

Do any of those things and I’ll get right back to you so you can pick a slot from the diary.

It’s first come, first served so don’t dally!

(Oh, and do forward this to a friend or loved one if you think it’s what they need to start 2016 with a bang.)

Hey gang, that’s it – through comments here, on Twitter and Facebook all 10 slots have gone!

Can’t wait to chat with the lucky 10, but if you just missed out here’s what I’ll do.

I’ll slash the price of a 1 hour coaching session to just $150, that’s a full $100 off. This is good for January only – grab it while you can!

Kickstart 2016 Coaching Offer

1 Hour Coaching Session
$150

Why I Believe In Santa Claus

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Me & Santa
That’s a picture of me and Santa hanging out in Selfridges (during my year of beard, a couple of years back). We shook hands. He put his arm around me for a picture. Then he hugged me.

Excited doesn’t cover it.

See, I still believe in Santa.

Not that he’s a big fat man who dresses eccentrically and lives with a few dozen little people up at the North Pole (although kids, if you’re reading, that’s totally what it is).

But rather, what he represents.

Gratitude and Joy.

On Generosity…

For me, Santa embodies the notion of giving without expectation of receiving.

It’s giving not because it validates you, because you want people to be grateful or even because it feels good, it’s giving because you’re able to. It’s giving because doing so makes a difference. It’s giving because doing otherwise makes the world a little less…colorful.

Generosity of spirit. Generosity of time. Generosity of thought. Generosity of deed. Generosity of love.

Every ounce of it is remarkable.

On Joy…

Joy is the ultimate in letting go.

It’s throwing your arms open and diving into the moment you’re in, bouncing along right with it.

Joy demands that you get out of your own head and your own sense of what you can or can’t do or who you are or aren’t, and slip into the moment, just as it is.

You don’t second-guess what’ll happen. You don’t doubt its value. And you don’t judge it for what it is or isn’t.

Every piece of it is delicious.

On Generosity and Joy…

It’s impossible to experience generosity or joy without accepting uncertainty and allowing yourself to be vulnerable.

They’re among the simplest and most compelling experiences life has to offer, perfectly embodied by Santa Claus, but just imagine how hard it would be to experience them if you didn’t believe in yourself—constantly worried about what people thought, not confident enough to open up honestly and not feeling as though you were deserving of such qualities.

Natural confidence is an enabler for these things, and it’s why I love working in this space and learning so much about the true nature of confidence.

And this is perhaps what I love about Santa most of all.

His innate ability to recognise the good in the people—to see their hearts as whole and to see their eyes aglow with possibility.

As role models go, I think he’s pretty damn awesome…

What to Do When You Don’t Know What The Fucking Hell to Do

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Untitled
One morning, many years ago in a galaxy very, very close (okay, it’s our galaxy), I stood before my kitchen cupboard at breakfast time and tried to decide which cereal to go for out of the 5 available to me.

I stood there for 10 minutes, trying to figure out if it was more of a granola morning or a Corn Flakes morning. A Weetabix morning or an Oat Crunch morning.

Then I closed the cupboard and went without breakfast, because dammit, it was just too hard.

This is a silly (but true) example of how life can present you with choices that leave you wondering which way you should go.

Which is the right choice?
What’s the right move?
What if I get it wrong?

Your confidence seems to abandon you, just when you need it to help you make a decision, and so you ponder, second-guess and wonder what the right move might be.

Potentially until the cows come home.

So here, and this is the science part, is what you need to do when you don’t know what the fuck to do.

Something.

Do. Something.

Yeah, you heard me.

Do something

Stop thinking that everything hinges on this decision, and just do something already.

A couple of quick thoughts on that…

  1. Forget about finding the “right” choice. Simplify. All you gotta do is make a choice that honours your values, demonstrates what matters to you or serves you well.
  2. Stop telling yourself made-up stories about what might happen or how you might fuck it all up. You can make a choice without knowing what’s going to happen; it just takes a heroic heart.
  3. The die doesn’t have to be cast and your future isn’t set, so feel free to run an experiment for a week or two and see what happens.
  4. You don’t have to be ready and you don’t have to feel confident enough. What if you were in the perfect place to make your next decision?

Getting stuck in second-guessing and self-doubt-land is fun like an oozing wound. The antidote is simple.

Do something.

Capiche?

5 Reasons it Pays to Be The Underdog

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Racin' Snails 2
Underdog’s are renowned for getting oh-so-close.

For falling just a little bit short of the winning post.

They’re the ones who get splashed as life drives through a massive puddle a little too fast.

Bastard life. I just washed these.

It happens all the time. In business. In relationships. In creative pursuits. Anywhere there’s a goal, or aim or target, there’s an underdog (or seven).

But you know something? Believe it or not, and even though it might be hella frustrating sometimes, there are 5 big reasons that it pays to be the underdog.

1. Because it makes you reach

The underdog is the one who needs to try extra-hard. They’re the ones who don’t know if they can do it or how far they can go.

They’re the reachers

Reachers are my kind of people. They kind of people who reach for something just because it means the world to them.

Things might not come easy, but they still reach.

That’s the stuff that great stories are made from, and I think it’s what great people—those with heroic hearts—are made from too.

2. Because you learn to apply ease

When things are tough, one of three things happens.

You either fold like a damp sock, struggle like an amorous panda, or you learn how to make things easier.

The latter option is where you figure out the difference between facing struggle and hardship with strength, and embracing your circumstances with love, or grace or joy.

It’s throwing the covers off on a hot, humid night and
letting the air kiss your skin, because you’re tired of sweating

Learning how to apply ease is really kind of a miracle.

3. Because it teaches you the value of support

People get further ahead because of the people around them. Whether it’s a support team who have your back, a group of peers who push you or friends who act as a sounding board, surrounding yourself with the right support makes a world of difference.

But as the underdog there’s the tendency to believe that you have to do it all yourself, that it’s all on your shoulders.

Maybe there’s something about looking foolish in front of others, that you worry about looking weaker than you are by asking for help, or possibly that you don’t think anyone would think you valuable enough to say, “Sure, I’ll help you.”

The reasons not to seek support are many and compelling, and learning that you don’t have to do everything alone is a valuable lesson in vulnerability.

4. Because it works your confidence muscle

When you work-out, those lifts, presses, stretches and core exercises all combine to lose fat and tone muscle, and the same thing happens with your confidence.

The stretch inherent in reaching for something that’s just out of reach tones and builds confidence, and I love that I get to observe that happen in my clients.

It’s beautiful and goose-pimply, and working your confidence muscle is what makes reaching further, easier.

5. Because it proves that the value is in the journey

You ever wondered how strong life needs you to be? Or wondered when it will all come good?

Life isn’t a competition, but that doesn’t stop it feeling like a big string of losses or second-bests sometimes.

Underdogs understand that they won’t win all the time; that it’s the manner in which they engage in this moment, right now, that makes all the difference.

You can’t wait for everything to be right, or solid, or perfect, and when all there is is right now, you can’t pin your hopes and define your value on some outcome in the future. You have to find enough value in where you are and who you are right now, just as things are.

Being the underdog is living proof that the value is in the journey, because no matter what happens you still get to be whole, add value and do cool shit.

So if you’re an underdog, let me congratulate you.

You’re the lucky one.

Trust: The Currency of Confidence

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Forex Money for Exchange in Currency Bank
If confidence was a commodity like oil or gas, it would be traded in units of self-trust.

7 trust units to start a new project.

1 trust unit to get a haircut at a new salon.

46 trust units to apply for a new job.

189 trust units to love someone.

You get the idea.

Point is, the more trust you have in yourself the greater your ability to meet an action head-on.

When you’ve raised enough self-trust there’s a tipping point. A tipping point where the gate swings open and the way ahead is open to you.

But, like forming a frog circus, it ain’t quite that simple.

  1. The amount of currency needed for firsts—the first time you do something, like chairing a meeting, singing karaoke, making love to a new partner or starting a business—is more than is required for nexts.
  2. The more you do something—the more “nexts” there are—the fewer units of self-trust are needed. The point where something becomes rote is the point where it requires zero self-trust.
  3. You’ll believe you have fewer units than you actually do. In fact, you have all the currency you’ll ever need. Sometimes you just stash it away in the back of a cupboard or under your mattress and forget all about it.
  4. Where there’s a gap (real or perceived) between the number of units you have and the number of units you think is needed to commence a course of action, that doesn’t mean the gate’s closed to you. You can create currency on the fly, simply by pausing. And in that pause you can remind yourself how far you’ve come and acknowledge that you can deal with whatever happens simply by using what’s in your bones and making the best choices you can. Et voila, more currency.
  5. Having an abundant supply of self-trust units doesn’t preclude fear. This currency is not an antidote for fear, rather it simply provides a space where that fear can be heard and where it loses its power to control you.
  6. Sometimes, it won’t feel like you have enough currency to commence a course of action, in which case there’s a cheeky little loophole you can leverage. This loophole states that when the level of energy (interest, fun, passion, commitment, love, joy, etc) is greater than the deficit of currency, you can go right ahead anyway. Just because.
  7. The currency is automagically invested in a special kind of high-yield account. If you don’t spend any units, their market value will diminish until you start spending, and the more units you leverage the more you make back. Start something that needs 200 units and not only do you get those units right back, but a similar action will only need 175 from then on. With confidence, you can spend your way to more.

This is kind of a silly way to talk about confidence, I know, but it makes a weird kind of sense, right?

The best part is, unlike our real financial markets that are based on our worst qualities of fear and greed, the currency of confidence is based on out best qualities.

Joy. Love. Contribution.

All that jazz.

It’s the best damn currency I know of.

So tell me, how rich are you?

5 Situations When You Gotta Stand Up for Yourself

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Standing tall...
Doing the right thing.

Just what the fuckity-fuck does that actually mean?

Do you do what’s right for you and screw the next guy? Do you do what’s right for someone else, whatever the cost to you? Or do you do what’s right for society, community, family, work or whoever you work for?

“Right” is prickly like a bouquet of thistle and hedgehog, but I’d argue that doing what’s right is actually nothing more than standing up for yourself when it matters.

Because if you can’t stand up for what you believe in or who you are in the moments that count, there’s no other kind of “right” that matters.

Here are 5 situations where that needs to happen.

1. When someone’s putting you down

Banter’s one thing, but when someone routinely belittles you or puts you down, it’s NEVER OKAY.

Check out the comment thread here to see how people are suffering with this, and then tell me that the best way to deal with this kind of behaviour is to roll over and take it.

If you don’t stand up for yourself when the cost of doing otherwise is to have pieces of yourself chipped away until you’re a shell, then when are you going to?

But here’s a twist.

Standing up for yourself doesn’t always mean you need to confront the person putting you down and tell them “No more”. It might be that you need to stand up and out of the narrative that’s in your head and remove yourself from the story about needing to keep them happy, not wanting to upset them or even believing that you’re not good enough.

Standing up for yourself when you’re being put down is often more about changing your own thoughts rather than someone else’s behaviour.

2. When you can lead

Find yourself whining and whinging because people in charge don’t have a fucking clue?

At work, in government, even at home, it’s the simplest thing in the world to look at the shots that others are calling and tear it all apart.

More difficult, is getting off your arse and leading.

Leading is really just about believing in something enough
to align your behaviour behind it

It’s believing enough in something that you stand up and put your money where your mouth is.

That’s all it is.

It takes real, honest guts, because there’s no way of knowing what’s going to happen. All you have to go on is the fact that it matters to you.

And of course, taking the lead in your own life is how cool shit happens.

3. When you’ll regret it if you don’t

Regrets? I have a few.

Like not having enough faith in myself to date Barbara. Like not grabbing the opportunity to teach Mr Saatchi’s son about computers when I was 15. Like my wild overspending in my 20’s and 30’s.

Unless the things you’ve done include pushing a bishop down the stairs, opening all the cell doors in the high-security wing or tipping a bucket of blood over that odd little thing at the school prom, the saying that it’s better to regret the things you’ve done rather than the thing you haven’t is largely true I think.

Sometimes, life coalesces into a moment that invites you to step up

And whether you step up or stand down, you gotta live with your decision.

So if you suspect that doing nothing will be a decision you might regret, or if you detect the faint whiff of wanting to play it safe because shit’s getting real, then now might be a great time for a different kind of decision.

4. When there’s something real at stake

Dustin Hoffman looking for that damn monkey in Outbreak. Ron and Hermione standing next to Harry Potter when the shit hit the magical fan. Sam L Jackson dealing with those motherflippin’ snakes on the motherhubbard plane.

When things are on the line, some people stand up while others don’t.

This isn’t just about wild fiction or action movie tropes, it’s about real people getting involved because they give a shit.

An injustice in your community that fires you up. A change at work that threatens everyone’s great work. A crisis that threatens to engulf a relationship you care deeply about. A twist you couldn’t predict that’s just screwed up your new passion project. A curveball that knocks your health for six.

I could go on, but life is always ready to test you. To see how you react to new challenges. To see what your mettle’s really made of.

The choice to take a stand in your life is a simple one—either do or you don’t. And while what’s on the other side of that choice is rarely simple or easy, I think it’s the only real option you have, otherwise you’re just letting life flatten you like a muffin under an elephant. Who has a grand piano balanced on his head. With another elephant laying on top of the piano in a slinky red dress.

So, yeah. Pretty flat.

If you don’t stand up for yourself when there’s something real at stake, just when are you going to?

5. When your values could get crushed

Values. They’re the things that live ten thousand feet down inside you that tell you what’s most important in yourself, others or out there in the world.

They’re your compass. Your guide. Your intuition.

There are moments when life presents a situation where your values might be crushed like a late-harvest Gewürztraminer

When the company you work for has a discriminatory hiring policy or immoral sales tactics. When a friend asks you to take sides unfairly or to help them in a project that takes advantage of others. When you’re faced with a choice to tear something down rather than build it up or a choice to keep yourself safe rather than try an exciting new creative outlet.

These values-based choices are everywhere, and standing up for yourself is really just knowing that you have the right and the ability to honour, express and demonstrate what matters most to you.

Exercising that right, is what confidence is all about.

Fucking hell Fear, Don’t Be Such a Pissy Little Diva

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jennifer. . .
Fear is such a bloody drama queen.

Hey Steve, don’t go and do that because it’ll blow up in your face and then you’ll have mess all up in your face and everyone will be all like “Hey, look, Steve’s got a whole lot of silly dumb mess all up in his face.”

That kind of thing.

That’s fears job.

Fear makes you afraid of what might happen by telling stories

Turns things into dramas before they’ve had a chance to happen.

Stops you taking a chance by shouting at you like a pissy little diva.

But fear isn’t really so bad.

Fear just wants you to be safe. Warm. Comfortable.

Listening to the stories; that’s where the damage gets done.

Hearing the sound and fury is what keeps you away from change.

Screams, cries, sobbing, wailing, hiding and sometimes foot stamping.

All just ways to get your attention and add weight through drama.

If that’s all you experience of fear, then there’s an opportunity available to you.

See, while fear can shout loud it’s a quiet response that calms it

A response that knows fear is like a frightened child, crying because it’s afraid of the dark.

It’s okay.

Things will be okay.

You’ll be okay.

They’re just stories.

Ignore the tantrums and hissy fits that fear might throw at you and get behind the pissy little diva that fear pretends to be, and you get to comfort the scared child inside.

You get to take care of that part of you, not ignore it through shame.

You get to nurture that part of you, not feed it through inaction.

And you get to love that part of you, not dismiss it through judgement.

Fear, stop being such a pissy little diva and be what you are.

A little bit frightened, and totally lovable.

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