Wednesday 9 December 2009

What's In This For Me?

It's a great question, right?

We're all fundamentally, genetically, "selfish". Society teaches us to crunch that into a box with a grin pasted on it, but it's still there. The same is true for a number of other human attributes, including what we call "laziness".

Many people know this viscerally, and they think that it's a reason why coaching isn't for them. They know what needs to be done, but they know with equal clarity that they don't have the stuff to make it happen. Given that, they don't see the point in throwing money away on coaching.

I start from a different place. I take it as given that - if we are to succeed together - we'll need to work with who you really are today - warts and all. With all your fears, pessimism, idleness, reluctance to comb your hair, and fondness for Garner's pickled onions (no wait, that's me) - that's who we'll be working with from day one. That's why you'd be paying me. We'll take who you are, and get the progress anyway. Hah!

How do I do that? Well, largely, through a highly developed set of professional techniques I like to call "low tricks". Like permaculture, these are designed to give you what you want by working with what you have - not by fighting it. So we leverage who you seem to be - and we don't  encourage you to pretend to be someone else. BIG difference.

Talking of low tricks, here's one I prepared much MUCH earlier, and it leverages the self-interest motif close to all our hearts.

I've written about it more fully here, but in brief, the technique is simply to cultivate the habit of asking yourself one simple question:
What's in this for me?

Whenever you're in a situation which is unfamiliar, boring, annoying, or in any other way - about to become a negative life experience, ask yourself that question, then open your mind to let the good stuff in.

Now let me take you back to some weeks ago, and join me in my bedroom (don't be alarmed, I'm going somewhere wholesome with this, I promise). I found myself at around dawn, unable to sleep. Meditation wasn't working either. Truly annoying - does my brain realise I'm a LIFE COACH, DAMMIT?

Well, meditation may not have been working for me, but two of my low tricks were.

Low Trick 1: Step outside your situation, and look back in with the smarter you

That would be the me that combs his hair and doesn't eat Garner's onions, presumably. So, I was able to take control of my emotional response to a situation which, for any mortal hair-comber would spell irritation, frustration, anger and worse. Rather than horsing around with that malarkey, I decided to deploy another low trick:

Low Trick 2: What's in This for Me?

So, I'm in bed, tired yet somehow unable to sleep. What's in this for me? Well, TIME of course.
I had access to a 27-hour day, because three of them were no longer being spent in sleep.
I decided to get up and go for a walk by the river. Much needed exercise and some time to think.

Whilst walking, cold and groggy, I re-applied Low Trick 2, What's in THIS for me, then? Well, I'm walking, so I already got some return. I'm not rolling around disgruntled and useless in bed, so that's another return. Could there be more?

Oh yes. I made this video. It talks about my Money Back Guarantee on Life Coaching. I know that fear of wasting money is the number one reason people don't hire me, and this video has been on my TO DO list for some time. Now it's done. I look a bit rough, granted - but hey - it's really early - I wouldn't want my astonishing good looks to frighten off the clients, right? :o)

So, in summary:

1. Coaching is for REAL PEOPLE LIKE YOU - warts and all
2. The techniques (low tricks) we use work on real, imperfect, busy, scared folks
3. I just showed you two of them in action, for real, in my own life
4. Check out that money-back guarantee, huh?

Friday 4 December 2009

Go Forth and Screw Up!

Failure is at the root of all ... not succeeding (!). Profound, huh? Failing makes us feel inadequate. It saps our energy and tells us to give up. Who did we think we were, anyway? We hate failure! We try to pretend it's not there - laughing at us, but secretly we know it is.
 But really, failure has had a bad rap. It's trite but true:
There's no such thing as failure, only feedback
If you try something, and it didn't work, have you failed? No - that attempt failed - sure - but you haven't failed until you stop trying. Now. You can see this as an endless stream of kicks in the teeth - to be endured and despised - but why go to all that bother? Why not see each endeavour as an experiment with reality. In exchange for your efforts, reality will reward you with some information about its true nature. Feedback. 
Significant success is guaranteed to involve some "failures" along the way. Maybe quite a few. Take that as a given from the outset. Watch those experiments carefully; listen to what they tell you. Apply a fun mindset to find creative ways forward - to collect more information about reality - to get to know it better, and to make it your friend. Happy resilience in the face of failure is what you need to succeed.
Churchill said success is the art of moving from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.

Zig Ziglar says Let failure be your teacher, not your undertaker.

And they say (anonymously, it seems) that success might be only one more failure away.

So - if you're not succeeding, maybe you're not failing nearly often enough.

Go forth and screw up!

Thursday 3 December 2009

Judge Not, Lest Ye Become Bitter, Twisted, and Lonely!

l was enjoying dinner with a friend yesterday and discussing her 9-year old daughter, Alison. I asked "how's Alison's friend Tulula?" (mainly because I like saying Tulula!).

It seemed Tulula was no longer Alison's friend, because, a couple of weeks before, at Alison's birthday house party, Tulula had accidentally kicked her plate over, but more importantly - had not apologised, nor made any attempt to clean up.

This morning, this incident came back into my mind.

Before I became a coach, I was fascinated and somewhat dissatisfied with who I was - and why I was that person. It's what drove me eventually to coaching. Coaching is all about understanding what a human being is, and why they do such odd things - especially given their ability to think better than anything else on the face of the planet. We then use that understanding to help people move to better places in their lives.

I learned that it is not our intellects which drive behaviour, but our beliefs - and that is a very powerful insight. It's not my own, but one I use every single day in my coaching practice.
We view the world through the lens of our beliefs

Beliefs are grown largely in childhood, when our young minds are ravenous for new material. We are without the experience it takes to critically assess incoming messages and filter out the dross, and we believe adults know everything. What a frighteningly risky time to grow the beliefs which will drive our behaviour for the rest of our lives!

This is why parenting is so crucial to the healthy development of happy children who will go on to become happy grown-ups. We can be the gatekeepers of our child's growing beliefs, exploring our children's growing belief structure, weeding out the false conclusions which will grow into life-long problem-thinking. We must be extremely careful, though, not to implant our own inadequacies - a tall order because most of us don't know we have them.

Here's what I wrote to my friend.
I was thinking about Alison and Tulula, and our chat about what coach-perspective can do for parenting.

One of my problems as a 50 year old man is my fierce judgementalism.
This is driven largely by my strong sense of right and wrong, but I've over-baked it and over the years it's ruined many friendships. I learned my lessons late.

As a parent, I would try to encourage proportionate forgiveness, and letting go of resentments.Tulula was and probably IS "rude", but that's a function of being (a) human and (b) not being civilized out of your native rudeness yet - i.e. it's down to parenting, and not Tulula.

It's possible, and wise to dislike behaviours without disliking the people who behave that way. There are other strategies which are better than cutting Tulula off as un-worthy - eventually, everyone is un-worthy and so this is a recipe for bitterness and solitude.

Instead you might have a word with her, or her mum, or avoid putting her in situations where she can do the same or similar again, or simply accept that Tulula is sometimes thoughtless and will kick stuff over. But she has other attributes which, for a time at least, seemed to keep Alison happy enough.

Don't throw the Tulula out with the broken plate.
I would try to encourage in Alison a spirit of forgiveness. Invite her to enjoy what people are, rather than lamenting what they're not. Leave as many doors open, for as long as you can, consistent with your personal integrity and happiness.

If she can do that, she will be able to enjoy so much more of what the world has to offer from an early age - and not spend so many years rejecting people as I have done.
My friend's response was to fault me on putting my nose where it's not welcome and we're no longer friends.

No, I'm kidding, but you get my point!

Well, it's never too late to start, so if your judgmentalism shuts your life's doors, you might want to re-examine your strategy - and it is a strategy - albeing one you probably operate un-consciously. It's not about compromising your personal integrity - it's about accepting that which is - i.e. imperfections in all of us, and not discarding the whole person.

If you are a parent, encourage this in your children from an early age. Since I'm talking about parenting, and how important it is, I thought I'd mention this book from my online store.Doctor Steven T. Griggs has a numbe of them there. I've read them all and they are great. Here he brings you the benefit of his 20 years of clinical experience on the thorny topic of how to civilize your children.

Click the image to learn more.

How to Change Children

Monday 30 November 2009

Cold Tea, Anyone?

Do you sometimes find yourself learning the same lessons from different directions - and not realising it until you get there? I had one of those this morning.

Beavering away at my desk, I let my tea get cold. I picked it up and took a sip. YUCK. COLD TEA! Then I realisesd that my response was almost a learned reflex. I was taught long ago that cold tea was a Bad Thing, and that lesson was embodied in my YUCK-reflex - I had no conscious role to play.

I'm getting better at "watching my thinking" - I advocate it for my clients and I've done it for myself for years, yet still I'm catching myself out not doing it quite a lot.

So, recognising my YUCK-reflex for what it was, I chose to park it and re-examine the sensations available to me. Cool liquid on lips and tongue; the feint smell of oil of bergamott, a vague milkiness, the cool mug itself. All intrinsically not yucky. All available for the extraction of pleasure, should I decide that that might be a better way to process this event.

Closed-mindedness and quasi-consciousness are with us most of our waking lives, and of course - when asleep we don't even have that level of access to reality.

I talk more about being available for pleasure here, and this incident is me re-discovering the lessons embodied in that article again this morning. There are so many ways to forget the progress we make, but this is one worth working hard to remember. Listen to reality - not your assumptions about it, and not society's teachings about it.

Dumber is Better.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Near-Death by Tube Train


Six Absolute Truths for Being Depressed

This is another quotation from Dorothy Rowe's wonderful "Guide To Life". If you are depressed you believe these statements, and as long as you believe these, you'll struggle with depression. Here they are:

1. No matter how good and nice I appear to be, I am really bad, evil, valueless, unacceptable to myself and other people.

2. Other people are such that I must fear, hate and envy them.

3. Life is terrible and death is worse.

4. Only bad things happened to me in the past and only bad things will happen to me in the future.

5. It is wrong to get angry.

6. I must never forgive anyone, least of all myself.

I reckon I have a propensity to think in three of these ways. By paying analytical, critical attention to my thinking, and through other  techniques, I've been able to keep it largely at bay.

I wonder if anyone is completely free of this.

Thursday 19 November 2009

People and Animals; People and People

In her book Dorothy Rowe's Guide to Life, Dorothy quotes Henry Beston, then goes on to draw parallels:

Henry Beston, [writing in The Outer Most House (1928)] about how little we understand animals, said:

Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creative through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move more finished and complete, gifted with extensions of senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not underlings, they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners pf the splendour and travail of the earth.

Alas, just as we interpret animals so we misinterpret other people. We think that our way of seeing things is the only right way to see things and we forget that we are all "fellow prisoners of the "splendour and travail of the earth". However, we are free to change.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

The Secret You Know and I Don't - Will You Tell Me What It Is?

Running a business is a funny old thing, and success mostly comes down to meeting one particular challenge. I often think that challenge this way. The business owner is on one side of a fence; all the potential clients are on the other side of that fence. The challenge is to get them to step over the fence, walk across your lawn, and buy your stuff.

So, you put up a big sign "Great Stuff here on my lawn!" People walk by on the other side. A few glance over. No-one crosses your fence.

So, you get yourself a Facebook profile, you Tweet, you Blog (howdy!), you advertise, you cross-link websites, but still most people don't step over the fence. You look at your products - they're great! You KNOW they work. You look at your prices - they can't be beaten! So WHY DON'T THEY CROSS THE DAMNED FENCE?

One thing is for sure, THEY KNOW. They know what you don't know. They know exactly why they don't cross your fence, walk across your lawn, and buy your stuff. And here's the point. IF YOU KNEW THEIR SECRET, YOUR BUSINESS COULD EXPLODE INTO SUCCESS.

The number one reason people people give me for not buying life coaching is that they they don't want to risk their money because they doubt it will work. My response is simple - there is NO RISK because I give a money-back guarantee.

So if this is your secret obstacle, I just removed it. If it isn't. I'd love to know what is!

Friday 6 November 2009

I'd Love To Know What You Think About This

I've set up a new Insights Panel; a group of people who help me with my marketing in exchange for vouchers towards buying my products and services, and you can read more about that here.
You're welcome to join.

But, I thought - why not ask my wider audience, too, and so here is the latest consultation, which I'd really value your opinion on.

Hiya folks,

Firstly, I hope you're all well. I didn't get a single response to my last email!
I'm sure you're all busy - and I hope - I hope in productive and enjoyable ways.
Anyway, here's another item for us to think about.

I've just developed a new product which I'm very excited about, and I wanted to run it past the panel for feedback. You can read a new, secret, article, describing the concept here

I'm interested in your views in general, and specifically as follows:

1. What do you think of the idea? How can I improve it?

2. What would it take for someone like you to buy it? (I won't hold you to it!)

3. The layout of the page is perhaps daunting and too texty and dense. What can I do to make it more accessible?

4. What images would help it?

5. What about the list of packages - are they the wrong ones? Which are missing? Which one (present or missing) would you want to buy?

6. Is the normal price tag appropriate? If not, what should it be?

7. The current name of the new product is "Fast Track Mentoring", but I don't really like it.
    Americans might call it "Inside Track Secrets" but that makes me a little uncomfortable, but it's not about what I like - it's about what my prospective clients like. Other candidate words and titles might be: "Get The Edge", "Step Up To Success", "Winning Ways", "Fail to Fail",
"Make It Happen", "Read and Rant" (!)... what else?

8. I'll be making a video on the same subject. What can you tell me about how to do it and how not to do it?

Please respond to the Facebook discussion board here - or you can reply confidentially to this email direct to me.

Many thanks & Warm Wishes,
Have a great weekend.

Friday 30 October 2009

Corporate Clap-Trap

Well, it's dated and quaint, but this Reggie Perrin clip still reflects the degree of nonsense which pervades much of corporate life in the UK.

Most of us endure it. Some of us learn to succeed in it. It seems to have a momentum all its own - un-stoppable an intolerable. My corporate clients invariably see no room for movement, no choices that won't get them fired, and no end in sight. So they feel trapped, and the prospect looking forward seems grim.

I always think it's far more fun to try to smash it up, but then, I always had a rebellious streak. But seriously, whilst the game is already in play when you arrive, there's nothing to stop you from re-writing the rules as you go.

First step is to recognise what's happening, and then to question it. That's all about your NORMS, and this article will explain more.

Thursday 29 October 2009


This blog will mostly (though not only) be about the experience of life and how we can learn to do better, by carefully watching our thoughts and our actions.  Your comments are wecome. Maybe we can build a community here.