Fear stifles, it stops people from doing things and creates inertia, driving the voices in your head to trigger often irrational feelings. Fear can manifest itself in many ways, inaction, procrastination and physical symptoms. Ten common fears are: -
- Fear of failure
- Fear of Ridicule
- Fear of Death
- Fear of Rejection
- Fear of Loneliness
- Fear of Misery
- Fear of Disappointment
- Fear of Pain
- Fear of the Unknown
- Fear of Loss of Freedom
You wonder how we ever get to do anything in life? Fear may be stopping you from achieving something wonderful right now, but are you conscious of it?
You’re probably aware of things like a fear of heights or spiders, but is ‘fear of failure’ or ‘ridicule’ stopping you from changing a career, starting a business or doing something you deep down want to? Fear of success is also a distortion believe it or not.
It all starts with consciousness and truly understanding those elements in your belief system which are acting as deterrents in you taking big steps towards your goals. The bottom line is people over-analyse things. Successful people I’ve met generally care very little about the opinions of others, unless they help move them towards their goals. They have developed the right emotional armour to quickly decipher what does/does not serve them (see this
previous post for more info). I’ve witnessed a common trait in their ability to face their fear and manage the consequences, often being close to the brink, yet still taking one further step into the unknown – managing fear.
I’m not a big lover of heights, yet I always stand by the window in a glass lift or peer over the edge on the top of a tall building. Why? It’s about managing that fear and getting on top of it. I’m conscious of it, so must work to convert my ‘fear of heights’ into a ‘fear of falling’ then rationalising just how safe I really am in reality to make it logical and evidence based. A favourite saying is fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real”. You need to turn your fears into evidence based enquiry, hence standing at the edge and ingoring the irrational.
Society brings with it a whole load of baggage about what is/what isn’t acceptable in terms of things that may place invisible barriers in the way of your success. Being the best possible version of self is about walking your own path, being true to your values, your higher purpose and those things you feel passionate about. The opinion of others should not distract you, always beware the collective, be your own story.
Walk your path without fear. Take steps into the unknown, create something, align with your true purpose and realise you may well have been getting in your own way.
Your brain is so powerful.
It is like a permanent recording system, putting every single life experience into it’s memory – a hard disk with unlimited capacity to store information. What’s really powerful is how it can also store not just the data that it sees, but also how you felt, what you experienced and heard, regardless of when the event happened. It stores that information in order to make intelligent decisions quickly when faced with the same experiences. It creates a query into your database of experiences and it it finds one, it can cleverly call on your previous event experience to inform how it should react/respond to the present.
Now, this can be a good thing and a bad thing. Remembering the birth of your first child, a wedding or the day you graduated will serve you with great memories, these are the sort of things we need in our life database, giving us energy, positivity, perspective and reinforcing data.
Negative past experiences, will simply validate your negative feelings about a situation, person or event if you allow those thoughts to purvey. They can create fear, trepidation, poor self-esteem and inertia amongst a long list of distortions which may well not serve you in your present form.
So, the trick in life is to figure out what bits of information are in front of you and whether it is something that you need to learn from (reflect) or not allow through your emotional armour (deflect) as it does not serve you. Once you re-frame your thoughts, particularly commentary which you feel impacts on your self-esteem, you can quickly deflect it so that it doesn’t validate any self-image you may hold in the present. Some thoughts: -
- Criticism says more about them than you (if someone chooses to be critical towards you, it’s generally down to their self-esteem so don’t take it on).
- You can’t be responsible for the emotions/reactions of others (only your own).
- If you’re feeling negative towards an individual or situation, then you need to reflect why? What is it about this situation that might be reminding you of something in the past which no longer serves you today?
- Everyone has an emotional rucksack. You choose whether to put the heavy rocks in it or remove them.
- Forgive regularly. Forgive yourself, forgive others. Forgiveness is not about condoning, it’s about moving on for your own emotional health.
- Always ask the question of yourself. Does this feedback/or these thoughts serve me or not serve me? If not, deflect and dispose!
- If you receive some feedback that says you are for example – “judgmental of others” – then there is likely to be a reason for that. That is definitely a point for further reflection which you should gain further feedback on.
I’ve massively over-simplified this for the sake of a quick read article. In my experience, many individuals that I have met are in their own way of achieving their full potential due to poor self-image or historical events which continue to validate and dominate their thinking, even if they from school days or growing up as a child. The only way to move-on (and I am talking from personal experience) is to give up your past, forgive, update your personal self-image to the current version and then to be selective about what data you choose to store, query and validate information in the present.
Saturday, I sat down to watch the rugby highlights and was struck by the story of former springbok scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen. He was diagnosed with Motor neurone disease in 2011 and has recently launched a charity to raise awareness and funds about the condition. The BBC played an interview with van der Westhuizen, which I found myself playing and re-winding, it was so striking that I grabbed the iPad and noted down the whole transcript which you can read below. The interview was with sub-titles as Joost pushed out every word, you only needed to look at his eyes to see the intent and emotion behind them…..
“I thought it was an old rugby injury but in April, my friend and now doctor spent me for tests and they told me I was diagnosed. Initially it was a big shock – I didn’t know what it was but now 38 months later after they have told me I only have 20% chance of making the new year.
And now, I have made a decision that I’m going to fight it, I am. I’m happy on the roller coaster of emotions. I’m a better person. I’m still alive. I have a family and two small kids and I’m fighting for them.
There are two things we as humans take for granted. That is – health and time. When you have Motor neurone you get told you have none left! Then you realise what life is all about. What’s important.
There is no time to worry about death or the stress about things. Or the petty things…money. There’s no time, I’m humbled by the disease and I know what life is all about.”
Lessons from the Interview
- Live Every Day.
- Time is a precious resource, treat it so.
- Never take your health for granted.
- Be grateful for the simple things in life.
- Money is not the answer.
- Don’t stress over small things, provide context for every thought you have.
- Experiences are sent to us to refine and define who we really are, in his words “I’m a better person” – a humbling statement.
Be your best.
In case you’d missed it, Oprah Winfrey is in the UK this week, promoting the new film she stars in – The Butler.
Arguably one of the highest profile females in the world, Winfrey is rich beyond imagination, powerful and used to dining with presidents, swinging – it’s reported- an additional 1M voters towards Barrack Obama in the American election through an appearance at a campaign rally.
I’ve noticed recently that Oprah has moved much into the realm of spirituality. Perhaps its always been that way, I don’t watch much TV (by choice) and don’t read the papers much either, so it could blissful unawareness. Whilst working from home today, I heard her give an interview on the television and the more I listened, the more I felt drawn towards her words, finding incredible similarity to the content of a talk I gave in Manchester last night called “Unlimited Potential” (UP!).
Winfrey spoke during her interview of having “higher purpose, serving others, knowing your calling, leaving a legacy, the importance of inner balance and congruency”, all absolutely key components in the journey of uncovering your true potential in life. Last night, I asked a room of people if they had figured our their true purpose, judging by the amount of blank faces, there are a few journeys that needed to be figured out yet!
When answered, defining your higher purpose will lay down an important road in your map of the world. Imagine a satellite navigation system in your head, without a destination, it may randomly take you anywhere from Lands End to John O’ Groats. With purpose, you build the motorway upon which you will travel to your desired destination, allowing your conscious and sub-conscious to generate positive and clear choices for you, without any need for reference.
When you add your mission and your values to your purpose (vision), you create the most powerful set of programming into your brain, like a super SAT-NAV. If you ever go off-road, it will always bring you back, automatically re-routing and keeping you on track like a life TOM-TOM.
With your values clear, you’re moral compass gets set in the same way you’d programme a SAT-NAV to avoid toll roads or B-roads, your clear values will provide clarity of which things are important to you in your journey and what things to avoid when presented with them.
Oprah Winfrey has this figured out and clearly it has served her immensly well. Finding your true calling takes a lot of thought and reflection however the best place to start is to ask yourself the question, What do Iwant people to say, think and feel about me? It becomes more powerful if you imagine your epitaph with your best friend delivering it at your funeral. What would they say if there was one thing that should stand out about your contribution to life?
Would you want them to say something like – “My good friend ______ worked all the hours that god sent in their pursuit of happyness” or “My good friend _______ changed the lives of everyone they met through their ____________”, you get the idea.
Unleashing your true potential is like installing the latest computer programme in your operating system, it updates your life “APP” to the latest version of you and gives you true clarity on your direction of travel, which is the only journey that matters.
Serendipity and Synchronicity occur a lot in my life. It’s not always been the case, or maybe it was, but perhaps I wasn’t conscious of it. Over the last year it’s been truly bizarre and I could re-count numerous tales to you of opportunity simply walking straight into my life.
But why and how does this happen and can it happen to you? First answer is that it can happen to you too! It’s all about being absolutely crystal clear about your goals in your life, what regular readers will know I call your “Ding!“. The most important part of the whole exercise is to ensure that a huge chunk of your vision and mission involve serving others, assisting them in order to assist you.
In business this means being generous with your time, referring people, introducing people, connecting others, sharing your knowledge and genuinely becoming interested in the success of other people. When you do this, you’ll find that that generosity becomes re-paid in the long term in reputation enhancement, opportunity donation and business referral back to you. Ultimately, success will flow back to you.
The same applies to wealth creation, give generously to others without condition. The value of what you give is relative, not everyone is Bill Gates able to practice billion dollar philanthropy. It can be as simple as popping ten pence in a donation jar if someone hands you some change, I have a simple rule to put any change that is silver straight into a charity bucket each day. Small acts of giving create a flow of wealth back to you. To receive you have to give. There’s no direct rule or ratio to this, so a daily donation of 10p might not send back a million dollar lottery win but something will come back in a moment of serendipity or synchronicity, so be aware and look for those moments.
The point is, it’s all about flow. If you want something to enter your life, then be prepared to serve and give generously to another first and without condition, for it to flow back to you. Giving is a fantastic way of feeling great, increasing your self-esteem, confidence and sense of purpose. When I look back in my own life, I became one hell of a lot more conscious of this flow when I had become very specific about my higher purpose – “To inspire and encourage the unlimited potential (UP!) in others.”
Part of the mission to achieve that vision or purpose includes “growing myself through growing others”, which links straight in to the idea of other people – get it? That’s why I speak at conferences, write blogs like this, give generously to good causes (people or charities) and can choose the things that I prefer to spend time doing or working towards. It’s actually very simply, you can do exactly the same, all you need to do is get your personal “Ding!” sorted out (your higher purpose), then put that into action every single day and see what happens.
Also have a read of this previous blogpost which gives some further help on how to derive your personal vision, mission and values.
Earlier this week, I spoke at Hull Business Week about a topic I’m passionate about – Unlimited Potential or UP!
I define UP! as being “In a state of mind which allows opportunity + success to flow to you, whilst remaining happy, aligned and committed to those things that matter in your life.”
The deeper I’ve delved into what makes me tick, in modern terms my Emotional Quotient (EQ), the more success and opportunity has seemed to come my way. I spoke to the audience about a number of different things that work for me personally. Here are 15 bullet points covering some of the content I covered in no particular order: -
- Create your personal vision, Mission and Values to set your pathway, main effort and moral compass up.
- Always be in the right ‘state.’ That is, giving your brain the opportunity to think expansively and at higher frequencies. You achieve this by ditching devices and partaking in things like cycling, swimming, walking, which moves your frequency utilisation up from the low teen’s to the mid-sixties.
- Focus on being brilliant at being you. The best possible, highest level of your personal potential, whatever that looks like.
- Read the book ‘The Chimp Paradox’ by Dr. Steve Peters to better understand how your brain works and practice positive self-management.
- Live Every Day. Like it was the first day and the last day.
- Stop being offended (accept everyone has an opinion, even though it might not be yours).
- Let go of your need to win (says more about you).
- Let go of your need to be superior (says more about you).
- Let go of your need to have more (says more about you).
- Be open to everyone, everything (don’t judge, there’s opportunity in everything).
- See every opportunity as an opportunity to learn (Every interaction and experience).
- Have the mindset of an opportunity engineer (Always seek to think what the thing in front of you right now could bring to you).
- Forgive, Forgive, Forgive (holding onto anger simply weakens you).
- Be “MAD” for it (seek to make a difference to something or someone every day).
- Work on your Mind, Body and Soul. Don’t ignore any one of these. Read a book a month, stay fit and do things that touch your heart more frequently.
I once got called the “King of the Three Letter Acronym” (TLA). I do use them a lot when speaking and presenting, but also to remind myself of great insights or when talking with others. TLA’s can be very useful in ensuring an audience goes away with “one key thing” from a talk, something they can easily remember.
One that I use in my own life is “TIM” which stands for “This Is Me”. Early on in my career I spent my time fitting in. Wearing the right corporate uniform, using the right business jargon, saying things I felt people wanted to hear and conforming. I guess I just was trying to be liked and doing what needed to be done to move up the ladder!
Only later did I realise that I wasn’t doing myself any favours by diluting who I was with others. Effectively I was two people, one person at the office, another at home. This led to a fundamental misalignment of self, which needed correction. Misalignment stops you being the best possible version of you and I continue to meet lots of people who can really identify with this concept of a “private me” and a “professional me”.
You can align those two things into a common definition of “me” which then becomes the true and authentic version of you. Life is far simpler and you spend less time on what other people think about you and more time on your own happiness. A recommendation I always give to people is to have clear in their mind their own Vision, Mission and Values (VMV).
Vision – What are you doing this all for? (An easy to remember one-liner).
Mission – What are the major things you need to do to make this happen? (tip, don’t create too many, keep it simple. Think of your main effort(s).
Values – What things really/truly matter to you in life?
One extra I like to add….
Morals – What are your “no-compromise” morals?
I have those things in my mind, stored across multiple devices and written down in key places. They are a constant reference point and act as a great compass in the journey. From first thought to the final list took me a couple of months of thought, refinement and deletion. When finalised, you’ll get a great sense of perspective of the real you. Acknowledge and accept that, then go and be you. Change a few things if you have to as there is no set of rules anyway that you have to be wedded to the past definition of you, whether that’s internalised or how others may view you.
So, in your head think of this TLA. “Hi, I’m TIM” – (This Is Me).
If you do prepare your VMV and get some clarity as a result, will you let me know via a comment or a note on Twitter.
Over the years, I’ve read a huge quantity of books around leadership from biographies to methodologies. It’s easy to copy a successful formula if you are trying to develop your leadership capabilities however you may end up not being the true and authentic version of you.
As I rose up within my own business, it started to dawn on me that I got far more done when I spent more time just being me, not trying to be a Jack Welch clone. People responded to me far more when I stopped trying to be something/someone I wasn’t. From that point my career rocketed, on to lead the UK organisation from humble beginnings as a fax salesman.
To this day, I could kick myself for the “work mask” that I had developed in my early years. Only when I began to work with business psychologists in 2000, did I realise the error of my ways. Over the following years, my leadership style has simply been focused on being the best possible version of me – that’s it. Let me share with you 10 simple things that I have learned about leadership as a framework which may work for you: -
- Being truthful with yourself.
- Being truthful with others.
- Respecting everyone regardless of where they sit.
- Pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL on your past and living in the now.
- Letting your true personality come through not what you think other people want to see.
- Being compassionate when making tough decisions.
- Always giving space for others to give a view.
- Being fair.
- Admitting your shortcomings and mistakes.
- Seeing everyone and everything as a potential for learning.
Back to my opening paragraph, this is not about creating an army of “me’s”. These are just some of the things that allowed myself to be the best possible version of me, when heading up a large organisation. I’ve found that the topic of leadership is more about respect. Respect for self, others and your wider environment, however you define it. When you practice that, it drifts you more towards the familiar descriptions of what “leadership looks like” in a book but with your personality stamped all over it.
Stored belief systems can be incredibly damaging if not updated, think of them like APPS on a smartphone which need to be constantly upgraded to fix bugs to function correctly and at their optimum.
Your brain is amazing supercomputer, which functions 24/7/365. Keeping your heart beating, your eyelids blinking, your legs moving, your imagination whirring and turning your thoughts into words – all without you giving it much thought. It is constantly running in the background, predicting outcomes, regulating your temperature and storing your experiences like a massive hard disc.
With something so powerful, you’d want to be sure that the operating system and software that you use with it is in tip top condition and bang up to date. To do this, you need to ensure that all it’s stored beliefs are updated and that – like a sat nav – it’s updated with the very latest route planner for you.
A tip I often give to people is to work out your personal vision, mission and values. These act as your sub-conscious route planner for your brain when needing to decide it’s direction of travel, left/right turns and the like. Like a corporate mission statement your vision (what I call DING!) needs to be clearly defined, this is your top line “what’s it all for” statement. Your mission is the actions you are going to take each day to achieve that vision. Your values should be those things most important to you which become the basis for your moral compass.
When you have those things defined – and it will take a good deal of thought – write them down somewhere where they are easily accessible at all times. I have them synced in Evernote across all of my devices, so they are never far from reach. Refer to them regularly, memorise them as much as possible, make them part of your core operating system and see what happens.
Decisions become clearer, purpose jumps to the fore and clarity ensues. Your brain will then start to store them deep in your parietal lobe, the key area for auto-pilot responses, and update itself with your personal direction of travel. Hopefully that place is a destination called “success”. Let me know how you get on.
Been thinking about these words a lot of late and worked them into a few talks.
It’s amazing how your thoughts can conspire to constrain you, with past experiences creating a hard disk memory in your parietal brain which may auto-pilot you to never repeat something or your limbic brain telling you a thousand reasons why you should retreat, not invest. I’ve met so many people, wearing their virtual black armbands or past experience, failing to forgive and move on.
Successful people, have mastered the notion of ubiquitous opportunity. They don’t pre-judge, they stay open to everything and closed to nothing. Even if that means repeating a previously unsuccessful thing on a different day as the outcome may be different. Your past experiences can end up pre-programming you to be closed to opportunity, unless you constantly update your stored experiences and beliefs with the up to date version of you.
Earlier I sent this tweet, “Opportunities are never lost,someone will always find the ones you fail to see/action”. It’s a great reminder that those who have moved on into the moment of now, rarely miss opportunity, as they see the possibility in everyone and everything at anytime. They have great listening skills, ask lots of questions, take lots of feedback and update their personal software.
People who have pre-formed opinions, want to spend more time arguing they are right or pre-judging outcomes rarely see as much opportunity. So spend more of your time reflecting as to whether you might be in that place, I have been and from experience I can tell you, the less hung up you are, the more UP! will come your way.