At A Crossroads? – don’t wait too long

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My last article discussed how we can often find ourselves “stuck” either in our professional or personal life or indeed both and how sometimes just the realisation that we need to take some action to get “unstuck” is the first step to making positive changes in our life.

Another situation we can find ourselves in is facing a crossroads where there are many alternative routes that can be taken and a decision needs to be made as to which path to take. When we are driving a car, or walking and we reach a crossroads we MUST decide a direction of travel at that point unless we want to annoy other cars or pedestrians by just standing in the middle of the road. When reaching a life crossroads however it is a lot easier to hover and procrastinate.

So, what is your personal approach when faced with a life crossroads situation? This can happen at any age. I work with graduates who have just finished university and have several options available e.g. graduate entry level job in big company, go and work for a smaller SME, apply for jobs in total alignment with their degree subject matter or make a complete change as they no longer have interest in that subject three or four years later.

In later life, another crossroads situation can appear in mid-career e.g. Having worked for a smaller company for many years, knowing everyone and having built up a good reputation for the work you do, do you stay put and build on that reputation, enjoy being part of the team or do you apply for jobs in a larger organisation where there may be more career progression and salary scope, alternatively you could go freelance or self-employed and as a fourth option a hybrid model of part time work and other work or personal activity is also an option.

Further on in life many of the people I work with are approaching the last phase of their working life and the crossroads they face can present itself as stay in current role until lucrative pension package kicks in, move jobs into their ideal role before it’s too late, be brave and launch the business they have always dreamt of, reduce hours and enjoy more leisure time, or retire early.

These are just some of the many choices we can face and on one hand it’s great to see how many different routes there are but on another front, having too many options paralyses some people to the point where they just stay put and always wonder in a “what if” way what would have happened if they had taken another route in another direction.

Over the years I have read many inspiring self-development books and added any useful learnings to my own personal toolkit from this reading. One tip I took many years ago that I still use today was from the classic Susan Jeffers book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway… in here she states there is no such thing as a bad decision. I use this when faced with the crossroads situation, take time to consider the options, do a pros and cons list and talk to others but then go ahead and be brave, make the decision and don’t look back. Make the decision on what route you want to take and then set off down in that direction with 100 percent commitment to make it work. Don’t look back or torture yourself with ‘what if I had taken the other route’. If it turns out you took one that doesn’t work out make a different decision at the next crossroads you meet and I have met many successful people who have had to make an occasional U-turn in their lives and its worked out ok in the end.

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Get Unstuck At Any Age

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Over the past few weeks in my private client coaching practice I have been inspired by the number of new clients who are wanting to make significant changes to their lives and how wide ranging the ages of these clients are. Looking back over just the last month I have met with clients ranging in age from 21 to 62 and they all have had similar goals. They are unhappy with where they are currently and want to take ownership,seeking help to either make the necessary changes that they have already identified they need to make; or in some cases they want to explore a number of options and decide which suits them best.

One of the roles  a coach plays in this situation is supporting each person who wants to make changes as they embark on the journey and to reassure them that some of the options that are being considered are  possible at their age. In my experience having watched people for many years make massive changes to both their personal and professional lives age is rarely an issue once the individual is committed to the process and is prepared to put in the hard work involved to achieve this. Occasionally when working with the younger age group my role as a coach is to work out together with the client some of the stepping stones that need to be put in place to achieve the desired goals or work out a realistic timescale  that breaks big goals into bite sized chunks gathering relevant experience along the way.

The most important factor by far regardless of age and also desired goals is the enthusiasm, total commitment and dedication to get unstuck from the current position and do whatever it takes to move towards the future state. The speed people can achieve this is amazing once they have this total mind set to making things happen and surrounding themselves by people who also want to help them move forwards.

So if you are feeling stuck, you can get unstuck – where there is a will there is a way.

 

 

 

Momentum – tested

momentumquoteThe forth step of the G.A.M.E model is challenging me personally at the moment and I know when people have given me feedback after having read the book this is the step that we all find difficult at some time in our lives.

When I did triathlon for eleven years I had two injuries that stopped my training and race schedule abruptly one to the back that made running painful and another to the shoulder that prevented swimming. Both injuries were frustrating and learning opportunities at the same time. At the time of typing I have my first serious injury (damage to a bone in my wrist) from Ashtanga Yoga… yes you can get injured doing yoga! When this happens the day to day momentum that existed in quite a routine way is stopped abruptly. Initially I hoped that it was a little niggle that would go away in time with a few slight adjustments to my daily practice however as the pain persisted it became evident I needed some expert advice and investigations. All the time while the pain in the body persists different mental patterns and physical coping mechanisms arise to keep momentum going and motivation intact. My daily morning practice is important to me as my “set up” space for each day and whereas before injury this was enjoyable this was starting to get less so and then questions go through the mind as should you be even attempting this. What is right and what is wrong for us all individually is entirely unique and one we have to take ownership for.

Then there are the inputs from people who surround us both inside and outside of the medical profession that sometimes helps and other times confuse. Again only one person can decide who best to take advice from and when also to stop taking advice and decide on a path, follow that path to the letter and stop googling symptoms as well, that is ourselves. I thought I had learnt from previous injuries on a correct process to follow but I did find myself repeating some of the old behaviours that I thought had long gone eg googling and self diagnosing. The other skill that is needed in this situation, again I am far from perfect on this, is accepting the situation you are in regardless of the daily frustration it causes physically and mentally. On a good day I am ok with this and look to see what I can do rather than what I cant do. On a bad day I can feel sorry for myself and find unhelpful thinking patterns occurring. It is at this time I need to firstly observe myself going down this path and find something to focus on that stops this downward spiral, this could either be connecting with one of my “rays of sunshine” or focusing on another one of my goals or aspects of my life that doesn’t demand my injured wrist eg learning Spanish or working with a new coaching client or reading a new book. I think my main learning this time round as I struggle with this step is focus on what I can do rather than what I cant along with how can I use this enforced adjustment period to focus on things that maybe I didn’t make time for before inside and outside of my Yoga practice. Making use of the “what makes you feel good” lists  I encourage people to create at the end of chapter 6 in http://www.own-it-book.com is also helpful when this step becomes a challenge.

The full book can be found at http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

 

Peel Back The Layers

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If you are serious about your own personal development and continual growth an area of work that is never complete is building self-awareness. The majority of inspiring people that I have met in my life have had incredible self -awareness and saw this as an ongoing project and an area of their life that they were always willing to do more work on.

When I initially meet prospective coaching clients one of my first jobs is to ascertain how much work they have already done in this area. Some people have been lucky enough to have worked for organisations that have invested in people development and therefore these clients have attended training courses, developmental activities,360 degree feedback and even sometimes had psychometric assessments. Each one of these experiences has enabled the person to understand more about themselves, the good bits and the bad bits.

I was certainly privileged to have had such opportunities during my corporate career and learnt a lot however the learning hasn’t stopped since leaving and it is this ongoing commitment to personal development and self-awareness that is critical in achieving high performance either as an individual ,a leader of a team, in employment or self employed.

My advice would be to take every opportunity you can to learn more about yourself. What are your natural strengths? What are you passionate about? What interests you to the point that you choose to do it in your own time? What do you want to learn more about? What do others say that you are good at. What feedback have you had either formally or informally? What do you find easy to do? What are you motivated by?

On the other side of the coin what don’t you enjoy? What do you find difficult no matter how you try and apply yourself. What subject matter or tasks do you avoid as they don’t interest you? What feedback have you had from others regarding skills and behaviours you need to improve. What are you quite happy to pay others to do as you know this is more effective in terms of both money and time.

When looking at ourselves consider the following layers

  •  Personality … what do you naturally like doing and what are you naturally good at
  • Motivation…. what interests and inspires you, what makes you feel good
  • Confidence … what are you naturally confident doing
  • What are your values and beliefs… what is really important in your life, what do you stand for? What do you firmly believe in?
  • Attitude… day by day how would describe your attitude to daily life? How do you show up in the world? How would others describe you? A Ray of Sunshine always positive and inspiring , Cloudy – sometimes positive, sometimes negative or a Dark Storm – one of lifes victims.
  • Behaviour… what do you do and how do you behave day in day out.
  • Image … what image do you present to the world, how would others describe you?

These are just some of the things to consider as you become self aware.Learn more and how to apply this to audit and build your life plan in Own It available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2phNU6t

The Feel Good Factor Of Quality

Dormy HouseFor 24 hours last week I was reminded of how good it feels to experience quality service. Quality experiences along with quality products and the positive impression this creates is so important. It also makes me realise how rare these experiences are and that is why they do stand out head and shoulders above the average which is sometimes what we settle for or indeed accept as the norm.

From the first enquiry to the venue, through the confirmation process, to the initial personal welcome to departure; the whole environment and service throughout the stay was first class with attention to detail, unique finishing touches plus added extra surprises. In some of the training workshops Kudos have delivered over the years we have often encouraged organisations to ensure all the touch points with prospective or existing customers are positive and memorable. These touch points are often called “Moments of Truth” and can leave either positive or negative impressions. This venue did any outstanding job from start to finish, from the personal welcome on the steps through to the goodbye goodie bag issued at checkout. It appeared as if a lot of thought had gone into the entire customer experience with some surprises thrown in at various stages to solidify the exceptional experience.

This feel-good factor of quality can impact us as individuals on multiple levels. Here are two impacts just 24 hours had on me.

It got me thinking how often do we audit our own work to ensure our customers are experiencing excellent levels of service at each stage, is this consistent and does it cross across both the service and product part of our offering. When was the last time you walked through the entire customer experience and critically asked is this exceptional? What could we do to make it more outstanding so customers leave us and go and tell others how wonderful it was as this is what happens. When each of us have an exceptional experience, we tell others (it also works the other day when things are a disaster we also tell others probably even more so!) Another question to ask in the mini audit of our customer journey is what could be added in that is a little bit different to make this experience unique and memorable for the right reasons? What little twists could you offer that is over and above the norm?

The second thing I came away thinking was how good it feels to be surrounded by wall to wall natural rather than forced quality. Why should we settle for anything less? How can you get more of this in your life so that it becomes the norm and the standard you therefore set for yourself? A lot of the service I experienced over the last 24 hours was down to the attitude of all the people we met, they were attentive, professional, friendly, natural and delivered the element of the service they were responsible for to an extremely high standard. None of these things cost money so really, we can all do this and, we should all strive to surround ourselves by this especially if we are going through a challenging time, maybe having doubts or just not operating at our best.

In Own IT- regain control and live life on your terms: http://amzn.to/2nzRFne as part of the momentum chapter 6 I encourage people to have a ” what makes me feel good list ” I am just going to add “immersing myself in quality experiences” onto my own list as it feels good and it inspires as well. Also, when you audit who you are spending time with chapter 8 are you surrounding yourself with others that expect and deliver this level of service?

Thank you Dormy House http://bit.ly/T6XRnn  for inspiring this blog post and the recent experience … we will be back.

A G.A.M.E. Plan – executed

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So it has been a while since the last blog and the months have certainly been busy. Just prior to the end of 2016 a project that I have been working on met a key milestone when the paperback version of my first book was published. It took a few more weeks until it was on Amazon in both kindle and paperback version; a few more weeks before it was officially launched and hit number one in 3 categories of Amazon.

The whole experience from the idea, through the planning phase. the writing process followed by the final editing has been amazing. I have learnt so much from those people that are experts in this field and also from others who have already trod this path and kindly shared their experiences and own learning.

The whole project came about very quickly, in fact this time last year I had no intention of writing a book in 2016. This is what happens when you find something that you love doing and it ticks a lot of elements in the individual motivational mix we all  have inside of us. Having spoken with other coaches who had written a book I initially just began to explore the possibility of writing one in the future. I was so inspired by the simplistic process that the publishing company suggested that I decided to commit myself to the project in full in July 2016 by investing a whole day in planning the book outline. This turned out to be one of the best investments I made as in the space of 7 hours the ideas for content I already had inside my head having practiced as a coach for 20 years were formulated into 10 chapter headings. It was during this planning exercise that A G.A.M.E. model was also born as a way of formulating how I could convey to readers a few things; the way I work with clients, the way I have achieved major projects in my life and in the end the methodology to actually write the book OWN IT. I will take you through each element in more detail in future blogs but just as an introduction this is what it stands for

A – Awareness of self

G. – Goal Clarity

A. – Act Daily

M. – Momentum

E. – Enjoy & Evaluate

So that’s what I did with the book project. I knew I had the necessary discipline to take the project on, once I set my mind to something I do it! I set myself the goal of writing the book by the end of the year. I worked on some writing each day, I set up a system of writing on my IPAD then transferring it into a word doc in order to keep the momentum of writing alongside my busy schedule. I definitely enjoyed the whole process and I have evaluated what I have learnt for book two!

What I also did was surround myself with the right people – more on this in another blog

If you are interested in finding out more take a look at  http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl or http://www.own-it-book.com

 

 

When Things Don’t Go To Plan

 

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The 12 Emotional Steps

I am a planner by nature and whenever I embark on a project the first thing I do is draw up a master plan. This normally works in my favour enabling me to manage workload, meet deadlines, engage other involved parties and set up contingencies in case things go wrong. So when I think I have planned for every eventuality and something happens that blows the plan completely out of the water it is quite a shock and an experience that isn’t that familiar.

  • The first emotion is shock – wow I wasn’t expecting that!
  • The second emotion is disbelief – how did that happen, events that were completely unpredictable with the knowledge at that given time.
  • The third is anger – how can this be happening to me?
  • The fourth is disappointment – the master plan didn’t work and I thought it would
  • The fifth is uncertainty – now what do I do, I thought this was going to happen and now it isn’t
  • The sixth emotion is annoyance as others try and rationalise and suggest alternative courses of action to the one you wanted.
  • The seventh – bouncing between acceptance and disappointment gradually more days of acceptance rather than any other emotion
  • The eighth – learning and questions, so what did I learn about the plan, the process and myself and what do I want to do now
  • The ninth – possible alternatives come into mind and get serious consideration
  • The tenth – acceptance of situation, acceptance of any personal learnings and the acceptance of an alternative way forwards
  • The eleventh – uncertainty again during the evaluation of all alternatives and decision on one way forwards – will it be as good as the one I originally planned for
  • The twelfth – enthusiasm around the new alternative chosen

Now the big question – how much planning do I do for my new option? – should I be less attached to the outcome and more fluid with my planning. Should I trust in what will be will be rather than planning things with military precision and going through the twelve emotional steps above or is that just life?