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02 Feb

The One Common Habit That You Should Break.

While various articles have been written on the topics of procrastination and self-criticism, let’s focus on one non-productive habit that is common in today’s society.

Whether you are looking at making positive changes in your personal life or work life, this one common habit can be detrimental to the perception that others have of you.

About a month ago, I was listening to the radio in my car (I like listening to traffic updates if I am driving in peak hour traffic). After the news, sports, weather, and traffic report, the hosts of this particular radio show discussed a habit that hit home with me.

Here it is – “Saying “sorry” too much” or “Over-apologising”.

As a trained Counsellor and a certified Life Coach, I have helped others to break out of unproductive habits.

In previous articles, I have mentioned that it can be challenging to just break a habit. You have to replace a habit for long-term gain.

I was “guilty as charged” when it came to saying “sorry” too much. My colleagues, my best friend, and my wife can all vouch for this.

Let me share a story with you. In 2009, I used to work as a Financial Planner for a boutique Financial Planning firm in inner-city Melbourne (Australia). On an occasion, I had to apply for a day off, on short notice. After sending an email to the Managing Director, I was hoping for a favourable outcome. A few hours later, the Managing Director came to my desk, and said “That’s fine, you can have that day off”. Naturally, I was very relieved. As he was walking away, he stopped, turned around and said (in a low tone) “Too many “sorries” in your email mate”.

That day, I decided to make a conscious effort of not apologising too many times. That was to no avail.

In 2017, I was working in a remote Aboriginal community in far northern Australia. One of the locals offered to take me on a boat trip, and show me majestic coasts of Arnhem Land. While we were on his boat, I accidentally stepped on his foot. After realising what I had done, I said “Sorry, I am so sorry about that. I didn’t mean to step on your foot. Sorry once again”. He laughed and replied “It’s okay. You don’t have to say “sorry” so many times. I didn’t realise that you are a sorrier”.

I thought that saying “sorry” too many times is a positive because people who over-apologise are naturally empathic. And, empathy is a positive trait to have. Then it dawned on me that an apology becomes weak if you say “sorry” to many times.

After thinking long and hard, I decided upon doing something more productive every time I needed to apologise to someone.

If you have been reading my articles over the past ten years, you would have realised that I live and breathe gratitude. It is in my top five values. Hence, I decided to incorporate gratitude into apology.

Remember how I mentioned that it is more beneficial to replace a habit than just trying to break it?

Instead of saying “sorry” many times in a sentence, I started to use the words “Thank you” in the same sentence.

For example, if I got caught in traffic, and arrived in a meeting late, I would have said “I am so sorry about being seven minutes late to the meeting. The traffic was very heavy. So sorry about holding you up. I should have left home earlier. Sorry once again”.

Here is what I began to say “Thank you so much for your patience. The traffic was heavier than usual. Sorry for holding you up”.

What I noticed was that others were more receptive of being thanked. The words “sorry” and “thank you” were complimentary in a sentence. Most people who received my apology and gratitude at the same time were appreciative of my words. They even smiled or lightly laughed. It is basic human behaviour that everyone likes to be thanked.

Here is my suggestion to you – please incorporate gratitude in your apology. It enhances the human touch when you have to apologise for something.

The next time you have to say “sorry” to someone, please thank them for something.

Being apologetic and grateful at the same time will take your people skills to another level.

Quote: “An apology can be a wonderful thing so long as it is infrequent and from the heart.” Gary Hopkins

I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how not to dilute an apology by saying “sorry” too many times, and that you will begin to compliment your apology with gratitude.

Influencing you to your excellence,


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29 Oct

Motivation – The Two Types.

Everyone seems to want motivation.

While I have written many articles on this topic, let’s discuss the two types of motivation, and how you can benefit from them.

Renowned goal setting expert, the late Brian Leaning-Mizen wrote about the two types of motivation in his very enlightening book, Beyond Dreaming.  

He said that people are motivated, based on two things:

  1. Fear
  2. Incentive

As a certified Life Coach and a qualified Counsellor, I concur with that.

Instead of the word “incentive”, I like to use the word “desire”.

People want motivation to do things due to either a fear or a desire.

Let’s look at both of them in detail:

  1. Fear based motivation – the most common, or the clearest example of this is the number one fear in western society (the fear of public speaking). I can vouch for this because there was a time in my life when I used to shake and sweat before delivering a speech or a presentation. Imagine that you have to deliver a speech at an upcoming conference or a wedding. What would you do? First, you may look for ways to control or even hide your fear. Second, you might look for tips on public speaking. You might even consider joining a public speaking club like Toastmasters International, or you might take a short course in public speaking. Whatever you do, your actions will be driven by the fear of public speaking. You will be motivated to overcome this fear. You might spend money on a public speaking course. Or, you might spend your evenings in attending a Toastmasters International club’s meetings. Regardless of how tired you are on the night, you will be motivated to attend the club meeting because your fear of public speaking will be motivating you to go.
  2. Desire based motivation – a clear and common example of this is weight loss. A person’s desire to have a leaner and fitter body will motivate them to do whatever it takes to achieve this goal. They will focus on how good it will feel when they are in the shape that they desire so much. Their actions will be dictated by that desire. They will find motivation to take the necessary action steps in order to achieve their goal. Let’s imagine that they have a class at their gym to attend in the evening. It will not matter if it is raining and cold or if it is hot and humid. This person will be motivated to attend that class at the gym because their desire will give them motivation to drive their actions. If this person has to go to a work lunch where there will be unhealthy food on offer, they will resist the temptation, and will stick to a healthy meal. Even if their colleagues are indulging in eating cakes and sweets, this person will stick to their healthy meal. Why? They have a burning desire to get their desired physique. The more they think about being in their best shape, the more motivation they will find/get. Their desire will override any temptations.

At this point, you might be wondering “Is desire based motivation better than fear based motivation, or vice versa?”

The answer to that question (in my humble opinion) is “No”.

One is not “better” than the other, purely because they both give you motivation to take action that will lead you to get what you want. As you might already know, the right action steps are very powerful, regardless of the motivation behind them.

The one suggestion that I have for you is this – if you are driven by fear based motivation, be mindful of your language patterns. For example, instead of saying to yourself “I don’t like the fear of public speaking”, say “I want to be confident in public speaking”. Put a positive reference to it. What you say to yourself is very impactful. Try this short exercise for a moment – close your eyes, take a deep breath, and say the word “Confident” aloud. How do you feel after doing that? Chances are, you feel confident.

Your words can be instrumental in creating your feelings. Use encouraging words when you are driven by fear based motivation.

Quote: “Everything that you currently do well might have seemed to be difficult or even impossible at one time.”  Brian Leaning-Mizen

I sincerely hope that you have gained insights into how you can use the two types of motivation to your advantage.

Influencing you to your excellence,

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27 Sep

Self Care – How Well Do You Do It?

As a Counsellor and Life Coach, self care has always been very important to me and to the people I have supported (in a professional capacity).

Self care is something that I always advocate. However, self care can sometimes be misunderstood.

To gain some clarity on this topic, I refer to an article by Megha Pulianda (a Ph.D. student in counselling psychology at Texas Woman’s University). She states “Self-care is anything but a one-time act. It is a mindset and a process”.

A process indeed!

When I speak about self care to kids who are getting bullied at school, the key word that I emphasise is “habit”.

What does that mean?

It means that you should make self care a habit. It should not be a one off activity that temporarily uplifts you or relaxes you. It should be something that is ongoing and it should serve you long-term.

Let me share a personal example with you. I love training in combat sports. If I am working on a demanding project, just like most people, I will feel the effects of working long hours over a given period of time. Going to a mixed martial arts class after working on that project all day will definitely make me feel better. I will be energised after the training session. Here’s one question – should I only go to MMA training when I am working on a demanding task? Or, should I go on a regular basis, regardless of what type of workload I have on my plate?

The answer to that question is quite simple. If something is uplifting your mood, you should be engaging in it on a regular basis, regardless of how much you have on your plate.

So, how do you begin your self care routine?

Here are three suggestions:

  1. Find something that will minimise your chances of making excuses – let me share an example with you. A close friend of mine was having some mobility issues. Her GP suggested doing yoga. She had a relative who had been attending yoga classes at a wellness centre. She decided to join this relative in doing yoga. The wellness centre was almost one hour away from where my friend lived. She started off well, and was attending yoga classes three times a week. Eventually, the traveling got to her. She said “I have to do more than two hours of driving for just one hour of yoga”. She quit! My message to you is this – include something in your self care routine that will maximise your chances of ongoing involvement.
  2. Be clear on what’s important to you – in one of her articles, Dr Barbara Markway (psychologist) outlines seven types of self care activities. She lists them as spiritual, emotional, physical, social, mental, sensory, and pleasure. If you had to list these seven types in order of importance, what would your list look like? Please think about that. Your priorities will decide what type of self care activities would suit you most. I have mentioned earlier in this article that physical self care (MMA training) is what suits me most. If I was feeling drained after working hard on a project, and a friend asked me to meet for dinner, I would prioritise MMA training over meeting a friend for dinner. That is what I prefer. Have a look at the seven areas mentioned by Dr Markway, and pick which areas you can engage in, when it comes to self care. That will provide you with clarity.
  3. Have support – it can be very easy to lose momentum when you need self care the most. I once delivered a presentation on “Burn out” to a group of animal rescuers. These brave beings are often confronted with unimaginable animal cruelty. One of the concerns raised by that group was the loss of momentum, regarding self care. A young lady in the group said “Sometimes I just cannot be bothered with any of this. I just feel emotionally drained and physically tired. I wish I had someone who would motivate me to do more self care activities”. My emphatic suggestion to you is to reach out and ask for someone to hold you accountable in your self care routine. Ask them to be strict,  and constantly remind you to engage in self care activities. If that person would like to join you in self care activities, that would be great! If not, let them support you in keeping the momentum.

Self care can be a complex subject for some people. If you feel that you are getting close to burn out or compassion fatigue, please seek professional help.

Quote: “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.”  Anonymous

I sincerely hope that you have gained insights into how you can begin to engage in self care.

Influencing you to your excellence,

PS: My Anti-Bullying Charity’s latest short video addresses how to handle overwhelming thoughts and feelings when you are getting bullied (https://bit.ly/2OsIxy9)

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27 Aug

1 Simple Key To Creating Influence

When I was the lead trainer of an organisation called Speak To Influence, we traveled the country, delivering staff training to medium/large companies.

We taught the attendees of our training sessions how to be influential while communicating (be it one-to-one communication or one-to-many).

While there are many experts on communication out there (and they all specialise in their unique messages), there is one common denominator when it comes to creating influence.

Many sales trainers will talk about this common denominator, and suggest that it be used in the sales process.

In delivering staff training on effective communication, we were very emphatic on this common denominator.

And here it is – share a story!

Why? It is part of human nature to hear stories and to share stories. Most of us loved hearing stories when we were kids. Story sharing is a big part of many indigenous cultures in the world eg. the Aboriginal culture in Australia.

International speaker and best-selling author, Sam Cawthorn calls it “Story Showing”, not “story telling”. He makes a very emphatic point that you must show how a story goes.

Stories make it realistic. You are more likely to be influential when you share a story that resonates with the person or the audience that you are connecting with.

Many memorable speeches in history have had stories in them. It is said that Barack Obama’s infamous speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention brought him to the spotlight. Political allegiance aside, let’s briefly look at that speech. He started with a story about his Kenyan goat herder father’s journey to a better life (coming to America). Then he said “My story is part of the larger American story”.  

While it is not expected of everyone reading this article to become a polished speaker like Mr Obama, there are several keys to sharing a story in order to be influential.

Here are 5 steps to effectively sharing stories and being influential:

  1. Set the scene – a story will be more impactful if you set the scene for what is to follow, and build anticipation for the listener(s). For example, instead of saying “I was once taking my son to a football game……”  you should say “In October, 2016, my  ten year old son and I were driving to a football game on a sunny Sunday morning”. Do you see how descriptive the second sentence is compared to the first one? Chances are, the listener(s) will start to imagine you and your ten year old son in the car on a sunny Sunday morning. Once they start imagining, they will pay more attention.
  2. Condense – you will make a greater impact with your story if you condense time, events, and conversations. For example, if you are telling the story about a challenging client with whom you had six meetings before he agreed to invest in your service, you should avoid saying “During our first meeting…….”, “Then, in our second meeting……” and so on. It is far more impactful to condense those events with “Over the course of six separate meetings, he asked numerous questions…..”  In doing so, you are maintaining the attention of your listener(s). Remember, the story is a support tool, not the entire content of your conversation/presentation.
  3. Be in it, don’t just narrate – including dialogue in your personal story is effective, easy, and gives you the opportunity to incorporate emotion in your communication. For example, instead of saying “When I told her that she had been recognised for her dedication, and had received a pay rise, she became emotional”, you should say “I looked at her in the eye, and said (pause) “Jenny, you have worked extremely passionately for this organisation. Here is your pay rise”.  By including dialogue your story becomes more realistic. If you ever read a kid’s story book, it is full of dialogue eg. “The elephant said to the deer “Come with me to the river for a drink””. Including dialogue personalises the story.
  4. Ask for their experience – this is when you bring them into your story. Whether you are communication one-on-one or one-to-many, asking them for their experience will help them make an emotional connection with you. A very effective question that Craig Valentine (World Champion Of Public Speaking) asks his audience is “Have you ever….” This question will make the listener(s) think about their life/experience. It makes them connect with your story, is very likely to help them put themselves into the situation that the story is describing.
  5. Call to action – at the end of the story, give a call to action to the listener(s). If your story was based on “How you can lose 5 kg in 10 weeks”, now is the time to give a call to action. The key here is to use a positive action-oriented statement. Negative-generating questions such as “You don’t want to be overweight for the rest of your life, do you?” should be kept out of your communication. A positive-generating question would be “Just like Rodney lost 5 kg in 10 weeks, what would it mean for you to do the same and enjoy a healthier, fitter, and active life?”  (Rodney in this case would have been someone you shared a story about).

As an anti-bullying campaigner, I deliver one hour presentations in front of up to 1,000 school kids. As the old adage in professional speaking goes – “If you can hold the attention of an audience full of kids, you can handle any audience”. How do I effectively engage with kids for that long? By sharing stories! Every five to ten minutes, I will share a real and applicable (to them) story.

Quote: “Give people a fact or an idea and you enlighten their minds; tell them a story and you touch their souls.”  Hasidic Proverb

I sincerely hope that you have gained insights into how you can improve your influence by sharing stories.

Influencing you to your excellence,

PS: My Anti-Bullying Charity’s latest short video addresses – “Another Tip For Kids Who Change Schools” – https://youtu.be/Iw2PLRTvQc4

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27 Jul

3 Leadership Lessons From Antarctica

On 21 June, I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation by Dr Sarah Hanieh (research fellow) at the Doherty Institute, and recipient of a PhD in Medicine from The University of Melbourne).

She titled her speech “Breaking Through The Ice”.

The insights in her presentation were based on her adventures during a trip to Antarctica through the Homeward Bound Project (a ground-breaking leadership initiative for women in science, set against the backdrop of Antarctica, which aims to heighten the influence and impact of women in making decisions that shape our planet.)

There were three leadership lessons that Dr Hanieh shared with the audience.

She has kindly granted permission to share these lessons with you.

Now, you may be thinking “Do these lessons really apply to me? I am not in Antarctica. I am not a woman. I am not in a leadership position”. Rest assured, these three leadership lessons are universal, and can be applied by anyone, in any area of life. I have certainly started applying these lessons in my professional, academic, and personal lives.

Here are the three lessons:

  1. Follow the right leader – Dr Hanieh used a video of a waddle of penguins who are jumping off blocks of ice, to get to dry land. One penguin chooses the path, and the others follow, in order to make it to dry land safely. Her message was simple, yet emphatic. From a subordinate’s point of view, following the right leader will take you to where you ought (not necessarily want) to go. From a leader’s point of view, if you are not heading in the right direction, how will you lead your subordinates there? This reminded me of an audio program that I once invested in, where the legendary Bob Proctor boldly stated “There is a difference between leaders and bosses”. In my professional life, there has been no shortage of bosses. There have been very few true leaders. If you are a leader (in any capacity – captain of a sports team or a manager in the workplace), please ask yourself this question – “Am I heading in the direction where my team needs to go?”  If you are a subordinate, please ask yourself this question – “Is my leader heading in the direction where I need to go? If not, what feedback can I provide to my leader?”
  2. Embrace the unknown – the unknown can instil fear in you. Dr Hanieh shared the story of what happened moments before all the women in the leadership expedition boarded the ship (bound for Antarctica) in Ushuaia (in the south of Argentina). Some of the women were very nervous. It was the fear of the unknown. Questions such as “What lies out there?” were at the forefront of the minds of many of her travelling companions. Embracing the unknown does not mean foolishly making bold decisions. It means being open to possibilities. In the 1990’s, there was a television commercial to advertise tourism for a part of Australia, called the Northern Territory. The slogan for that commercial was “You will never, never know if you never, never go”. Dr Hanieh’s message for leaders was simple – do not be afraid of the unknown, embrace the opportunities that the unknown may present. Another emphatic point she made was this – when you are faced with the unknown, celebrate the fact that you have the freedom to make a choice. Choices means liberty to decide. Not everyone in every circumstance has that option. She shared the story of when the ship was bound for a British scientific research station called Rothera. It was a place far down south in Antarctica that very few people get to visit. They only accept two visiting ships per year, and her ship was one of the two. However unexpectedly, their planned path was completely frozen over. They were faced with two remaining choices – 1) To turn around and return. 2) To take a longer route, which would mean going out into open seas and facing extremely rough water. This meant facing the unknown.
  3. Excel in empathy – following on from point 2, the expedition leader and ship’s captain called a meeting with all of the women expeditioners. He presented the 2 options to them, and asked for a vote. Nearly all of the women voted to go into open water via the longer route, face the unknown, to reach Rothera. However a minority of women voted against that idea. They were concerned about sea sickness in open water. The groups leaders displayed exceptional empathy, and took into account the sea sickness concerns of these women. The decision was not to go into open water. This is an empathic lesson in leadership. Although, according to democratic rules, the leaders should have listened to the majority, they had empathy for the minority. As the old adage goes, “Sometimes you have to let your heart, not your intellect lead the way”. By the way, the weather cleared, and they were able to reach Rothera!

So, there you have it, 3 leadership lessons from the bottom of the world. I sincerely hope that you can apply all/some of these in your daily life.

Quote: “The key to becoming an effective leader is not to focus on making other people follow, but on making yourself the kind of person they want to follow.” John Maxwell.

Let’s send our utmost gratitude to Dr Hanieh for sharing her insights with us.

Influencing you to your excellence,

PS: My Anti-Bullying Charity’s latest short video addresses – “One Tip For Kids Who Change Schools” – https://youtu.be/q2S1GOP-apA

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26 Jun

Facts vs Impressions.

An impression is simply a clue.

A fact is something that you believe (through information).

When was the last time you formed got an impression about someone or something that was not based on a fact?

When was the last time you based something on what you thought was a fact, and it turned out to be the exact opposite?

Impressions are formed.

A fact is received information.

Now, let’s break it down into a real life example:

Picture this, you are about to interview someone for a sales role. When you look at their résumé, they have all the qualifications, experience, and skills that would fulfill the requirements of the vacancy. You tell yourself “On paper, this candidate is ideal for this role”. You are basing that on the fact that is received ie. what is in front of you (the résumé).

When the candidate walks in, he does not say a word, he gives a very loose handshake, sits uptight, and does not make eye contact with you.

What will your first impression say about this candidate?  Is he still “ideal for this role?”

Can you see the difference between a fact and an impression?

So, here are three tips on how to handle facts and impressions together:

  1. Be open minded – The impression that you create about a person is always in your control. Yes, their behaviour or outward appearance will be the clue about forming an impression. That said, the final decision is yours. Being open minded means that you are not giving in to the facts alone, nor are you giving in to the impressions alone. You are being open to looking at both equally.
  2. Distinguish between the facts and the truth – The legendary Bob Proctor, (whom I consider to be the godfather of personal development) once said “Forget the facts, just give me the truth”. At this point, you may be wondering “What is the difference between a fact and the truth?”  Dr Matt Moody (Social Psychologist) wrote a very enlightening article on this subject. He said “The word “fact” is often used to mean “reality”—the way things ARE, the way the world IS. But then what word should represent the legal evidence that is used to mislead? In legal arenas, fact is often far from a truthful representation of reality.”  In the job interview example above, the fact was that the candidate had the right skills, qualifications, and experience for the role. The truth is that he was extremely nervous during the interview, and created a not-so-impressive first impression. How do you balance the two? Well, that will always remain subjective to your views, opinions, and preferences. That said, please see point number 3 below.
  3. Create a balanced view of the person – In an article by George Dieter (author of I-Power, The Freedom to Be Me), he states “When you observe what someone does or says, it triggers a response in you according to your experiences, values and expectation.”  Opinions are a projection of your values, not the other person’s. As challenging as it will be, do your best to not form an opinion about someone, based on a fact alone or an impression alone. Let me share an example with you. I volunteer as a kitchen hand at a mental health support centre. There are times when some of the attendees are rude, and on the odd occasion, physically abusive too. One day, an attendee who is battling a mental illness and a physical impairment started telling the kitchen volunteers to work faster and harder (by raising her voice). Clearly, she was very hungry. She had no idea about how hard we were working already. It could have been very easy for me to form an opinion about her and label her as “Rude” or “Ungrateful”. Then, I thought “This behaviour of hers is not a holistic view of her. There is more to her than just this behaviour.”  That supported me in forming a balanced view of that person. The fact was that she was very hungry. The impression was that she was rude. Creating a balanced view of her was a conscious choice, and enabled me to remain calm.

The above mentioned three points can be applied in:

  • Job interviews
  • Managing or supervising staff
  • Taking care of children
  • Doing community service work.

Quote: “It takes just a moment to judge someone, but a lifetime to understand them.” Tina Ng

I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how you can handle facts and impressions in a balanced way.

Influencing you to your excellence,

PS: My Anti-Bullying Charity’s latest short video addresses – “Duty Of Care” – https://youtu.be/fZN7vMp_IgE

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27 May

3 Simple Steps For Adapting To Constant Change.

“Adapt or perish”.

Have you heard that before?

It is said that the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. Well, let’s add another one – constant change.

Change is an inevitable part of our existence. Almost every aspect of your life will go through some form of change. Those of us in western societies witness change on a constant basis. Some changes are constructive, some are not. The key is to know how to handle change in a way that the perceived outcome will be constructive. That’s right, you may not be able to control what has changed. You can however, control what the perceived outcome of the change will be.

As I progress through my Diploma Of Counselling, I have realised that many people seek support from a counsellor due to changes in their lives. Some common life changes include developing relationships, ending relationships, moving to a new house, moving to new cities, having children, negotiating adolescence, children leaving home, and retiring.

When I was an Executive Coach, there was no shortage of clients who were continually grappling with changes in their respective organisations. They were not alone in this. Anyone who works for a medium to large organisation will be subjected to changes in the workplace.

Here are 3 steps to productively adapting to change, that I have learnt through experience and qualification:

  1. Reframe – look at it from another perspective. Sometimes we view change from the inside out. One of the most profound life lessons I have learnt is this – We must step away from our problems, and look at our problems instead of being in our problems. Ask yourself “What will it show me if I looked at this from an external perspective?”  In other words, if I looked at this from the outside in, what will I see? What will this tell me? Perhaps it is an opportunity for growth (personal and professional). Maybe this is a good time to take an inventory of your skills, talents, and abilities. Could it be that this change will lead you to something better that you might not have considered earlier? Reframing has two benefits. One – it allows you to look at the holistic picture, not just a one-sided view. Two – reframing will support you in exploring other avenues of handling that change. For example, if you have been made redundant, and have been given a pay-out, some of those funds could be used to upskill yourself by gaining a qualification that you may have been contemplating for a long time. Reframing has the power to balance things out. Enlist the help of someone close to you (if you have to), in order to reframe.
  2. Refocus – what I noticed through my coaching and mentoring career was that some people are fixated on a particular outcome when it comes to handling change. If they don’t get that outcome, they tend to get disappointed. Your goal should be to focus on what you can control. Yes, we will always be at the mercy of external forces (both positive and negative). At the risk of sounding religious, I will quote American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr – “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”. Once you begin to focus on what you can control and what you can do, a sense of empowerment will be gained. Helplessness which is an emotionally paralysing feeling will be experienced once you start to feel that you are totally not in control of what is happening. Focus on your strengths, your previous proven plans of handling change, and do the best you can with the best you have!
  3. Remind – remind yourself that change will keep occurring. It is as sure as sunrise. This is where acceptance plays an integral role. I have written about this many times – “Acceptance empowers you to be more responsible and to take productive action”.  Author and columnist Corine Gatti said “Approach change as a process and be ready to move at your own pace”. She has hit the nail on the head by saying that it is a process. Accept that process. Work within the process, and find strength through acceptance. Another very enlightening quote on acceptance while handling change comes from Joseph Campbell – “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us”. If you are finding it challenging to embrace acceptance, then make a list of what the pros and cons will be if you created more acceptance regarding the change.

Quote: “In this day and age of fast paced living and constant change, you have to think outside the square. If you don’t, your thinking will suffocate inside the square.”  R. Prasad

I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how you can adapt to constant change.

Influencing you to your excellence,

PS: My Anti-Bullying Charity’s latest short video addresses a question – “Another Important Tip For Parents” – https://youtu.be/YhqvUnI4_7o

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27 Apr

Expectations – How Well Do You Handle Them?

Do you have expectations of anyone in your life?

Do others in your life have expectations of you?

Do you have certain expectations of yourself?

Today, we will look at some (not all) aspects of expectations. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines expectation as “The act or state of expecting”.

For the purposes of this article, let’s focus on expectations on a person-to-person basis.

First, let’s break it down into two common types of expectations:

  1. Realistic expectations – these are what reasonable people would put in place on a person-to-person basis. These types of expectations are those that operate on a common sense basis. An example would be a teacher at a school, having a duty of care toward their student. The parents of the students have an expectation of this teacher to provide their child with formal education. Another example could be domestic duties that are shared. A husband could do the washing while the wife is preparing lunch. With realistic expectations, there is a mutual understanding between the two parties. There are lesser chances of conflict in realistic expectations, when communicated properly.
  2. Unrealistic expectations – this is where conflicts can arise. To avoid this happening, please ask yourself the following questions:
  • Are you projecting your values upon someone else? For example, a father of a teenage boy might want his son to study for 3 hours each night after school. Why? That is what he did when he was a boy at school.
  • Does the person you are expecting from have the time or resources required to meet this commitment? – For example, a manager asking their staff member to do something that the staff member is not capable of. Or, the staff member does not have the resources required to complete the task.
  • Are you seeing others as capable as you are? – Tony Robbins wrote something very emphatic. He said “In a relationship, never expect your partner to have your strengths”. That is very liberating advice indeed!

Here are a few suggestions for you, regarding expectations:

  • Keep your expectations realistic – by doing so, you will be less likely to be disappointed. Ask yourself “Is this fair on the other person? Why? Why not?”
  • Have empathy for others – I have written this before, and I will say it again – “Empathy is a very powerful projection tool because it allows us to be more human”. Put yourself in the shoes of the other person. See the expectation from their frame of reference.
  • Communicate openly – if you have expectations of someone, communicate your expectation to them, and ask for genuine feedback. That way, you both will learn, and lessen the likelihood of conflict.
  • Communicate openly again – if someone has expectations of you, communicate your thoughts/feelings/concerns to them openly and diplomatically. This is very important in personal relationships and at work (especially between manager and subordinate). When I was delivering Corporate Coaching, there were many clients who believed that their manager had unrealistic expectations. Yet, they never openly communicated their belief to the manager. Conflict became almost unavoidable.
  • Create confidence – if you have a realistic expectation of someone, communicate your confidence to them. This will be a massive morale booster for them. For example, if a sports coach has an expectation of the team captain to lead by example, something along the lines of “I know what a strong leader you are, and the whole team looks up to you for your leadership skills and strength”  would do wonders for the team captain’s confidence.

Dr Michael Broder (author of the best-seller Stage Climbing) who is a friend/mentor of mine, wrote something very enlightening about expectations:

Sometimes, expectations can be perfectly healthy metrics for making sense of your world. But expectations are also premeditated disappointments! So should you find yourself feeling disappointed, dissatisfied or stressed out, reflect first on your expectations — especially those predictably unrealistic ones you may be putting on yourself and others in your life. The good news is that changing your expectations is practically always doable. In fact, it’s often the only part of a given situation that you can reliably control.

Dr Broder is spot on in saying that you can control your expectations.

Whether you have expectations of others or others have expectations of you, there is a lot you can do to make life easier for both parties.

Remember, communicating openly can create a level playing field!

Quote: “Turn your expectations into appreciation.” Tony Robbins

I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how you can handle expectations (both ways) in a more productive manner.

Influencing you to your excellence,

PS: My Anti-Bullying Charity’s latest short video celebrates a massive milestone (Episode number 50) – https://youtu.be/U4uVI3KKTlY

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27 Mar

Who Wins The Blame Game?

Imagine this – something goes wrong in the life of someone close to you. That person is shattered. What is one of the first things they could do?

They could look for someone to blame.

In my Life Coaching career, there have been many clients who chose to blame someone when things went wrong.

Whenever someone told me about a problem they were facing, I would wonder “Will they take responsibility or will they play the blame game?”

In an extremely insightful article by Dr Susan Whitbourne, she discusses in detail why we tend to blame others. Two of her very compelling reasons are:

  1. It is easier to blame someone than to take responsibility.
  2. Blame is an excellent defence mechanism.

Anyone who is well read in the subject of human behaviour will easily/happily second that (what Dr Whitbourne has stated above).

What I observed in the hundreds of hours spent in coaching clients was this – to some people, blaming others is second nature. If someone told me about an issue they were facing, and I asked “What do you think caused this?”, chances were, they would blame someone.

So, what can you do instead of blaming others? Here are 3 tips:

  1. Accept accountability – As challenging as it may be, ask yourself “What role have I played in this?”  Once you take responsibility on your part, you will be in a position to better understand your own behaviour. I have had this belief (which has been shared with my coaching clients and with the audiences who have heard my speeches) – accountability empowers us. Another positive about accepting accountability is that you will learn about what to do in the future. Actually, you will also learn about what not to do in the future. Realising what to do and what not to do should go hand in hand if you are to become more productive. Accepting accountability can be a very liberating force! Once again, ask yourself “What role have I played in this?”
  2. Ask yourself “How will feeling sorry for myself benefit me?” – There is a quote by Steve Maraboli, which perfectly puts into perspective what a victim mentality will provide you with. Here is that awakening quote – “The victim mindset will have you dancing with the devil, then complaining that you’re in hell.”  Sadly, it is very comfortable for some people to drown in victim mentality. These people will constantly complain – about the weather, about some sickness, about what they saw on the news that morning, and the list goes on. Make yourself different from them. Feeling sorry for yourself will disempower you more than you may realise. Yes, the world can be an unpleasant place. Feeling sorry for yourself will not change that. Okay, let’s be clear that sometimes circumstances can dictate what has happened to you. The current environment can be very harsh, and show no mercy. The point is, your goal should be to not get consumed by a victim mentality. That can/will emotionally paralyse you.  Liberate yourself from thought patterns that will not only disempower you, but will also not bring others down. Who wants to be around someone who is bringing others down all the time? As civil rights activist Marcus Garvey said “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds!”  Make an unbreakable decision to think about how to turn things around, instead of feeling sorry for yourself. Dr Whitbourne also stated “Unlike other games, the more often you play the blame game, the more you lose.”
  3. Do something productive – marketing genius, Steve Plummer (who is the most creative writer I have ever met) recently wrote an article about blame. He said that you must take action, and be productive in order to overcome what has gone wrong. The exact words by Steve were “Why not turn the disruption into an opportunity?”  So, begin to strategise and think outside the square. Ask yourself what simple action you could take that will start your journey in the right direction. Remember, doing your best will not cut it sometimes. You must do what is required. Doing your best and doing what is required are two different approaches. Instill the words “I am productive”  in the treasury of your mind. Make it real, and keep taking the required action. The by-product of taking the right action is that you will be too busy to feel sorry for yourself or drown in victim mentality. If you feel that you cannot take the right action, please reach out to those around you, and ask for some form of support.

The subject line of this article contained a question. The answer to that question can be found in the quote below:

Quote: “No one wins the blame game.”  Bob Proctor

I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how you can embrace accountability and take productive action, instead of playing the blame game!

Influencing you to your excellence,

PS: My Anti-Bullying Charity’s latest short video addresses a question – “How To Encourage Your Kids To Open Up About Bullying”-  https://youtu.be/2fZtPW-M_io

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27 Feb

3 Effective Responses To Put Downs & Belittlement.

Have you ever been belittled?

Has anyone close to you ever put you down in the presence of others?

How do you normally react when someone does that you?

I can safely say that everyone (to some extent) has been subjected to the above-mentioned.

On my Life Skills radio segment, a listener asked a question (and, in all honestly, I have forgotten her name). She asked:
“How do I handle myself when someone is putting me down in front of others?”

Well, she is not alone in that! I have been there myself, and am sure that you must have been in that predicament at some point in your life.

It is never easy to cope with a put down. Especially, if it is in the presence of people you know and love.

On air, I provided this listener with 3 tips. And, here they are:

  1. Take a deep breath, and compose yourself – Remaining calm is the key here. If you react, and get into a negative state, you will be stooping to the level of the belittlement provider. Yes, it is very easy to fire back at them, and put them down too. Fighting fire with fire will only give aggression or intensity to that person. In a very enlightening article by Dr Neel Burton, he states It (the return put down) tends to equalize us with our insulter, raising him up to our level and bringing us down to his. This gives him and his insult far too much credibility.Your goal is to prove that you are bigger than the put down, and are not affected (in a negative manner). Yes, there will be an impact on you. Let’s not deny that please. The point is this – you should not and/or cannot let that person’s behaviour control your behaviour. Your goal is to minimise the impact of that person’s words, on you, your state, and your behaviour. If you prove it to them that you are composed, they will not only be surprised, they are less likely to repeat their offensive behaviour.
  2. Say something positive in return – This is the last thing that anyone who is throwing put downs at you will expect. Let me share a personal experience with you. A few years ago, I was at a fruits and vegetables market, a week before Christmas. The car park was hectic. People were queuing up to get a parking spot. It was a hot day (Christmas falls during summer in Australia). As I headed to my car, there were two men arguing loudly over a parking spot. One of them walked away, shouting at the other man. As I walked past him, he looked at me, and said in an angry voice “People are so selfish these days! No one cares anymore.” He was probably expecting me to ignore him, and walk away. Instead, I responded with “Beautiful shirt, you are wearing mate. That  colour, light blue really suits you. Where did you get it from?” In absolute shock, he replied “Oh, my sister gave it to me on my 42nd birthday! You like it, huh?” He now had a smile on his face. We spoke for a few seconds, wished each other a Merry Christmas, and parted ways. Although this man wasn’t putting me down, he was very receptive of the positive comment. If you say something nice to someone who is trying to put you down, it will most likely break their state.
  3. Ask questions – if someone says something unpleasant about you (or any aspect of you), ask them questions about that unpleasant comment. For example, a colleague says to you “I saw your photos on Facebook on the weekend. You looked like a dag from the 1970’s in the clothes you wore to that birthday party. Ha ha ha”. You could ask them a series of questions :
  • “Why did my clothes remind you of the 1970’s?”
  • “What was daggy about it?”
  • “What would you have worn?”
  • “Why?”
  • “So, that would not have been daggy?”
  • “Why?”
  • “Please tell me more”.

Your goal here it not to frustrate your colleague by asking all these questions. Your goal is to make them dig deeper and realise why they are saying what they are saying. This may provide them with insights into their own behaviour, and they may become less likely to throw unpleasant comments at others. I have tested this personally, and it works.

Now, let’s be clear on one point – a put down is very different to productive feedback. If someone is giving you productive feedback (I personally dislike using “constructive criticism”), be open to receiving it, and growing.

Quote: “Offense exists not in the insult but in our reaction to it, and our reactions are completely within our control.” Dr Neel Burton

I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how you can respond to put downs and belittlement.

And, please remember not to throw put downs at anyone. That way, you will be leading by example. As Paul Wellstone said “Never separate the life you live from the words you speak.”

Influencing you to your excellence,


PS: My Anti-Bullying Charity’s latest short video has one simple tip for parents “How to stop your child from being a bully” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p14KXSOyZSg

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