Friday 21 September 2012

All You Need is a New Car, Right?

I've never driven a Peugeot car, and I'm indifferent to the prospect, but their new ad for the 208 is intriguing from a life coaching perspective.

Have a look.

Do you see what I mean?

It speaks of the "you inside you". Of the person you could be - should be - if you weren't so .... inhibited. It's like you sit there in the passenger seat of your life, watching the buffoon who's driving. They're doing what they always do; getting what they always get (and sharing it with you - whether you like it or not). You might give them the odd whisper of driving advice now and then - or even a frequent scream - WHY DO YOU KEEP DOING THAT?? But they're not listening. And the years roll by. 

The Peugeot people know that's true for many of us, and they're using that awareness in us. Clever. And it's a great ad. Somehow, it delivers a really powerful message without any apparent hard sell. No shouting "Cillit Bang Barry", no Injury-Lawyers-for-You clap trap. It seems to be talking to us as one of us, and specifically, the more ordinary us-es that populate the real world. That's an appeal to our sense of inadequacy; an invitation to step outside it and do something wonderful.

But what?

Well, Peugeot want you to buy their car. They're sending you an "Oh, go on! It'll be GREAT!!", and suggesting that your life will step up a notch if you do. Well, I dare say it's a nice car, and maybe you'd be well chuffed for quite some time if you bought one. But the things they show their hero doing are really nothing to do with cars.

They show the new you arriving by post on a dark rainy evening. You open the package, and inside is you - BUT ON A REALLY GOOD DAY (don't get me started on Barocca...). You look just the same and yet you look entirely different. You're open, confident, engaging, and a hell of a lot of fun. This new you goes-out-and-gets, it lives life on full power. Whilst you sit quietly in a restaurant, this you takes the opportunity to be deliciously amorous with your partner. You jog, but they jump bungee. You sit and watch baseball, but they stand up and do that ... well what is that he's doing?? I don't know, but I like it, and so does the lady sitting next to him. Oh, and he's topless in a sea of fully-clothed people. Brave or what?

So buy the damned car, right?

It's a fantastic ad, and somehow I forgive it for the manipulation - which is inherent in so much of our advertising these days. But really, the car's not the answer.

Your new you won't arrive sitting on the passenger seat of a new Peugeot 208, any more than it will arrive in the post on a rainy evening. You have to make it - and it's not easy, because the old you won't let go without a fight.

Making change happen is what I do for my clients, and here's one sneaky tactic I've found which works really well because it sneaks up on the old you and makes changes by stealth. The chances of a punch-up are much lower. Ready?
Raise Your Game
by a Tiny 1%
When You Can

What does that even mean? I dunno, but you can find out for yourself. Think about the new you. How does that person differ from you? That's your compass. Make your changes in those directions.

So - if you're shy, then maybe the new you is confident. Confidence is your new direction. So maybe your new 1% better is to make eye contact with everyone you see in the corridors at work. That's all. Just look at them fleetingly in the eye. When that new you settles in, it's time for another 1%. Get the idea?

Your direction may be entirely different, so your 1% will be different, too. But think tiny steps that even you won't fight against. Embed the new habit; make it normal for you. Then do another one. Remember to keep it going with this idea or - perhaps better - with my free online goal reminder system.

Watch the video again. You know you want to.

Every journey, however long, starts with a single step. Good luck!

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Tuesday 11 September 2012

Who Really Does it All for Themselves?

One of the dominant reasons why people resist life coaching is the feeling that it represents some kind of personal failure.

Thoughts like:

"I should be able to do it myself!"

"coaching is like counselling for the needy"
- abound. (Lots I could say about the second one especially).

Well, the truth is that the VAST MAJORITY OF SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE in many walks of life hire coaches to get there, or to stay there, or to cope there.

Here's Google CEO Eric Schmidt talking about why he hired his coach.

"Google CEO" has the ring of success, huh? A man who's made it. And he has no reason to promote something he doesn't believe in.
We'll, I'm with Eric Schmidt. Whatever you want from life, you're far more likely to get it with coaching.

Coaching is really powerful, for all kinds of reasons, many of which I explain here!

Good luck in all that you do.

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Tuesday 3 July 2012

Compelling Illusions, Human Misery & the Power of your Own Bull


"The evidence of your own eyes" will tell you this picture is not possible. Yet there it sits. What can't speak can't lie, right? It's nuts... Walk away.

In fact, it is a real and possible object and it does exist, but it's not what you think. You've made an assumption which is so strong, you can't think it's wrong. In fact your assumption is so strong, and so universally true for you, that you don't even see that you're making it. You're just "seeing the world as it undeniably is".

Coaches call these "mistaken certainties" and they are very powerful in most of us. Things we think we know about ourselves. Things which are obvious. I've written about this a lot, because it keeps arising time after time in my coaching practice, and it's so pernicious that we need constantly reminding that things are not always what they seem. We should stay open to information form the world. We should hold off the point of decision making (AKA "closing down")  and see what the world is really telling us.

If you have low self esteem then you'll know (and I mean know) some pretty awful things about yourself, and you see the world in the context of that knowledge. I often describe it this way:
seeing the world
through the lens
of your beliefs
Let's say you think you're not very clever.  Well, let's say you know it, because the world has been confirming it all your life.

So, you're un-confident and highly stressed when you're "out there". You don't think clearly, and you know what? That looks a lot like not being very clever. So you make the thing you fear is true, true.

It gets worse, because you make others make it true, too.

So, you're talking with someone, and what they say doesn't make sense. OMG - it's further proof that you're dumb, right? Well, it could be that they're not thinking very clearly at the moment, or that they're distracted, or that it's noisy and you didn't hear properly, but you'll reject those because the other one makes more sense, because it fits with what you know.

You are interpreting the information the world gives you, based on what you know about the world. That sounds sensible, right?

You are interpreting the information the world gives you in a way which supports your beliefs. That's not quite so sensible, it is?

You are distorting the world to fit your beliefs. Now we're getting there. And if these beliefs make you unhappy? So much the better.

How to get out of this, then?

Well, I said it earlier, but here it is in a little more detail.

Firstly, as always, raise your awareness of your thoughts. Sounds dumb - how can you NOT be aware of your thoughts, right? Well - very easily, and almost all of the time. So bring them into your consciously analytical mind. You'll struggle to remember to do that, so try this.

Then recognise that you are making judgements based on your certainties. Try to accept that these certainties may be wrong. Stay open; be a little mischievous. Then see what you see. Easy to say - hard to do.

When you let your certainties unravel, the real world will emerge, and usually - it's rather nicer that the one you made up!

Now, enjoy, as this video rips up your certainties, showing you that impossible is possible and that what you absolutely knew - was totally wrong.  Send it to your most certain friends - shake 'em up a bit!

If you want help to unravel your issue, then my book below will help you. Or why not book an informal phone chat to explore possibilities.

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Wednesday 13 June 2012

Summer Special Offer

Here's a little something for you...
It's back!

From now until the end of the summer solstice (June 21st), you can claim any coachingyou buy for half price. So if you buy one session, you'll pay £30 instead of £60. If you buy a 4-pack, you'll pay £110 instead of £220. And you can buy more than one if you like.

If you're a new client, you'll still have to start with a £10 initial phone consultation, but that cost is refunded if you pay for full coaching on the same day.

So, if you've wanted to reap the benefit which only coaching canm give you, then nwo is the time to get it for half price.


News clients, start here - old clients, just drop me an email or use this contact form.

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Thursday 7 June 2012

Get a Life!

Hi Peter. So most of all, you want to "get a life".

The first thing I suggest ni these cases is to get specific.

What would "a life" (one you'd like to live) look like? As long as it's a fuzzy dream, it stays a dream. Getting specific brings it into the realms of the possible. Of course, that then means doing stuff to make it happen - ewww - work! And more than that - work that makes you go "eek".

So if one of the components of your new life is a social life, write that down, but don't stop there. What does that mean for you - a good social life? Does it mean blokes in boozers, or artsy folks in London, or Morris Dancing in Maidenhead or something else?

If it means blokes in pubs, then don't stop there. How many blokes? Which pubs? How often? 

And don't stop at "blokes" - specify what kind of blokes. Sporty types? Intellectuals? pretty people? Brickies? None of these? A mixture of all of these? Or something else?

You can do this for any kind of aspiration. Keep asking yourself for more detail to clarify the picture of what it is you want. When it's pin-sharp, it's time to ask how you might set about making it happen. How you do what depends entirely on what it is, of course, but always it means action in the world, and always it means "oh crap - I actually have to do stuff" and always, there's a level of fear in there to be overcome.

Actually, that's the difficult part - the rest is easy and fun, but the fear part is what drives us into the verge and off the road. We find reasons not to do the things we know will get us what we want. This inner struggle is very hard to win, and it's why coaches make such a difference.

Anyway, I hope that gives you a leg up on getting yourself your new life. If I can help - let's talk.

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Thursday 3 May 2012

Stop Making Things Worse!

I've been thinking about resignation.
Not resigning, but being resigned. Some clients have situations which simply cannot be fixed or escaped and then it's a different game.
If you can't get what'll make you happy,
then perhaps
you can get happy with what you've got.
Or at least try to get OK with it.
So - whatever situation you're struggling with and can't escape, maybe you can be less miserable, less annoying, less frustrating, less painful, less scary. More OK.

That process starts with removing denial - accept what is - because it is. Look at it square on. Acknowledge the facts, simply as they are. Be with that for a while. Maybe a few days or weeks. Then see what your own thinking is bringing to your misery and try to dismantle it.

A few weeks ago I mentioned a little doggie I know called Wolfie. He developed a ruptured disk in his back and he back legs became very sluggish. He would avoid the pain by not walking much, but he'd drag himself around merrily enough from his food to his water to his favourite cushion and so on.

Wolfie is not capable of worrying about his future or his disability or his possible death, or the loss of his freedoms and his pleasures - he lives in the moment, and the reality of his moments with sluggish back legs was pretty damned OK. Food tasted OK, water was a refreshing, and so on.

So - paralysis brought something new and negative into his world; he accepted it, but he didn't add to the misery with mind-stuff.

Wolfie is fixed now, and as boisterous and annoying as ever :o)

What is there that you can't change that you hate? How can you reduce the additional misery you are adding as a fun optional extra?

You forth and accept stuff!

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Monday 23 April 2012

The Science of Human Happiness

Martin Seligman is an American psychologist who has spent much of his career looking at human happiness, and here's your nutshell taster of his latest and greatest version. It's a simplification, but it's good enough for a taster.

Firstly, he isolates "happiness" in the narrow sense (think chocolate or champagne - lovely but short-lives and one dimensional) from what he calls "flourishing" - the deeper, richer, life-long sense of living a good life. To bring that point home, imagine looking back over your life from your death bed. If your enduring memory is "boy, I drank a lot of champagne", then you're unlikely to think of your life as well-spent. Flourishing, is what happens when you're living a life which, looked back on, will make you proud.

He's coined an acronym - PERMA - and here's what it means.

- stands for pleasures. Things like chocolate and champagne. These are important, but they last as long as the experience does, and they dull with rapid repeated use. There's only so much chocolate you can eat in a day. So find your pleasures and enjoy them greatly, but a life on the sofa eating chocolate is unlikely to make you flourish alone.

- stands for engagement. Think of two extremes. If you're slumped in a chair with no interest in the people or events around you, your engagement is very low (are you ay work by any chance??). If you're falling from an aircraft with no parachute, however, you're likely to be fully involved with the process. That's the spectrum of engagement, and the message is to find things which you find engaging. Find environments and activities which interest or inspire you to a very great extent.

- stands for relationships. Human being are social animals. Those who say they're not are actually struggling with something which is suppressing or concealing our natural attraction to living with, and enjoying the company of other human beings.

- stands for meaning and it's a big one. Let's go back to your deathbed (in a chirpy kind of way!). If you look back and see countless years of pointless work in the service of a rat race you grew to loathe, then, it means you saw little meaning in what you spent your time doing, and most of us would see that as a bad thing. If, on the other hand, you saw three wonderful happy children who grew up to raise eight beautiful grandchildren, and you saw a marriage which was a wonderful journey, and big contributions in your career, and wonderful painting holidays, and all your efforts to live a green life, then you might meet you maker with more of a smile on your face. Meaning is that stuff - the things which give us the sense that our lives have purpose; that we contributed and lived in ways and in areas which will persist when we're gone. What's meaningful depends on who you are, but without a sense of meaning, we don't flourish.
- stands for accomplishment. The sense that we have value to the world and to ourselves. That we can do things worth doing. Again, that's a movable feast and each of us will have different ideas about what makes a worthy accomplishment.
There is cross-over in each of these areas, so don't get too hung up on whether your taxidermy is about meaning or accomplishment - just recognise that it's a positive contribution.

So What Now?

Well, this is the best humankind knows about why people are happy, and it's straightforward enough for almost anyone to understand. It may even seem kind of obvious to you. But this PERMA framework can be used as an excellent scaffold upon which to build your flourishing life.

Why not assess yourself High/Medium/Low on each area? Take each in turn, and look at what's in it. Where are my pleasures? What do I love to indulge? Is my pleasure pot full or empty? What else do I want to put into it? Do the same for the others. If you spend even five minutes doing that, you'll probably come up with some powerful insights, and if you follow through and turn those insights into actions, you'll improve your happiness quite considerably.

Have fun with your PERMAing!

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Monday 16 April 2012

Blocked by Perfectionism?

I am blocked by a long standing belief that if I can't be the best, then what's the point in trying hard for pretty good. I can see this is a daft thing to believe but can't seem to dig deep enough to pull it out by the roots.

Hello Frances,
The problem you describe is one I can identify with personally.

For me, in youth, it was either top-of-the-line perfection or it wasn't worth having. I don't know where I got this from - we were poor, and my mum knew far better than I did in this regard, but I wasn't open to learning from her.

My response to our rusting fridge was to loathe it and my life which had such an object in it. Her response was to wallpaper the fridge.

In fact, the family used to joke that you'd better not stand still too long in her house or you might find yourself enclosed in a fine red flock.

Knowing intellectually, as you do, that this isn't too smart, bizarrely doesn't help as much as you'd think it ought to. It does help though.

Another ingredient to shifting the block is to "try on" how life would be if you got the "none best" improvements you're resisting in your life, and recognise that they're better than what you have now.

Another is to ask, more broadly, who you'd be today if you didn't have this block - do you prefer that person and that life? This one is worthy of repeated reflection over weeks and months.

Lastly, I would say look for the fear. We dress it up, but usually fear underlies these blocks. What would it mean to go for non-perfect? Would it mean, for example, that you'd have more opportunities? I'm guessing far more imperfect opportunities come along than perfect ones, so perhaps this block is about avoiding what might be scary things.

If you don't try, you can't fail, right?

This is the land of coaching.

I hope you can find a way forward, Frances, but these things are fiendishly difficult to do alone (here's why), and so if find you want some help, please feel free to give me a call.

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Tuesday 10 April 2012

Wishing your Life Away?

Hello Melanie,

I noticed your comment about wishing your life away and enjoying it instead. That's a lovely wish and I help lots of people like you in this way.

I can give you some pointers, but experience has taught me that people find this work almost impossible to do on their own. There's an article explaining why that is, here - but in summary, we can't see our own lives clearly because we're too close to them, and too emotionally tied up in them.

But here's a pointer anyway, which I hope you'll find helpful.

Try to get really specific about what it is that you want from your life. If you had a magic wand (or a really good life coach!) - what would you wish for? Get really specific - with dates, monetary amounts, locations, times, durations, names, locations, and so on.

Of course, pessimism will be snapping at your heels throughout - you may not be able to take yourself seriously. It may even make you feel worse because you'll see more clearly how far you are from your dream life. But - if you're not clear on what you're trying to get, then you're very unlikely to do the things which will bring it to you, so this is an essential first step.

What comes next is the "outer game" - the analytical things you'd need to do to get those things you want, but really, this outer game is a "false floor". You'll see what needs doing, and then you'll find ways to avoid doing them. Why? Well, things like fear, excuse making, saboutaging, and so on. Entirely naturally and totaly destructive. That's the work of the "inner game" - the floor under the floor. It's where the real work gets done, and it's where I earn my living as a life coach.

Working with you on gaining belief, maintaining focus, finding courage and commitment in the face of a world that's almost certainly not going to roll over and play dead for you, is what makes the difference between living to dream and living the dream - or at least living a life somewhat closer to the dream than it was before.

But you know what?

In practice, most of my clients don't blossom into a brave new world like that. More often, with my support, they limp through phase one in a state of semi-dis-belief - reluctantly, sceptically, doing the stuff, grudging the effort, and fending off life's blows to get across the line. But then - when they get a measure of success, they're transformed. Now they know that change is possible. They realise how small their game was before, and how big it could be in future if they stopped blocking themselves, and they're ready for more change making. Fear of the unknown is much reduced.

If you think it might be worth investing £10 to see if you can make radical positive changes in your life, then please book an initial coaching consultation.

So - over to you. If it's time for a change, then here's an opportunity for you.

Best Wishes,

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