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.
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.
“Nice shot Dad, but what are you going to do next”. Those words hit me and this blog title came straight into my head. Picture the scene, a bar in Faliraki, Rhodes. My son and I playing pool whilst my wife and daughter did some holiday shopping.
I’d just potted a difficult ball and was busy self-congratulating myself (helped by a few beers) when I saw the white rolling behind another ball which effectively left me snookered to pot the black and win the game. There was the business lesson right there, it’s all about thinking one shot ahead.
Reality is, I normally do, however I’d taken my eye off the ball. This was the last shot before the black, competitiveness had kicked in, my need to win had distracted me from the normal process of potting one ball at a time and thinking ahead to the next shot. There are a few thoughts which came to mind: -
1. Competition in business can lead you to chase for short term wins with the potential to lose the big picture goal. Adrenalin, excitement and the environment you are in can contribute to this.
2. Always be aware of pressure and how it can impact your thinking and ability to drill your pre-defined processes. Elite athletes are taught this way, to simply execute what they do in training day after day, regardless of the occasion.
3. The metaphor for thinking one shot ahead is a great way to think about business planning. If we do this, what would the shot after be and are we well positioned for it?
4. Every situation is a potential moment for learning, look for the insights.
5. Be quick to reflect on the level of your success before calling in the massed marching bands.
6. There is another obvious one related to alcohol intake, but hey I was on my holidays
Seeing how my son had improved both his pool and table tennis playing skills over our holiday was another important insight about the brains ability to quickly learn and adapt. Both of us rapidly increased our skill by playing every day, committing to memory (both mental and muscle) the strokes, weight and movements needed to improve our respective games.
Ecoutez et Repetez
Like anything in life, if you systematically repeat something, the brain quickly creates new synapses to accommodate the new information. A reminder to commit to those things that are important to you through regular review, so that they become committed to your sub-conscious.
During our holiday, I invested time in re-reviewing my personal vision, mission and values aswell as writing a 50 point plan of all the things that I feel are contributory to living a life of happiness, success and unlimited potential.
This information, processed, documented and validated remains stored in the parietal area of my brain like an auto-pilot or wiki, for constant referral to. By this regular review, like the table tennis or pool, it can only serve you and improve you by participating and repeating the practice regularly.
As your brain then runs your systems like breathing, heart regulation and digestion, it can also run your positive direction of travel, improve your circumstances and potential to achieve your goals and make the whole process second nature. An easy win for anyone wanting to improve their personal success in life.
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.
This was the scene I had in front of me on Sunday morning – fantastic isn’t it. I was out on my bike, it was foggy and early in the morning so the roads were quiet. The sunrise was breaking through the haze and riding towards it, I couldn’t help but feel what an amazing scene it was, so I pulled over and took a picture with my phone.
Absorbing the detail of the view, the trees, the distance, the sunrise and combined with the slightly shivery conditions, I felt glad to be alive and equally glad to be out enjoying such a moment.
As I rode off towards the amazing sunrise, it made me reflect on why I no longer make New Years Resolutions, prefering “lifelong evolution” to short term “resolution” which sounds like you are doing a running repair.
When you are working to a greater purpose (for me it’s simply to make a difference to the people that I meet), you take little notice of days, months and years anymore. Your life is less goal centred and more orientated towards your bigger picture,with goals contributing rather than being the be all and end all.
For too many years I chose to make resolutions, which all lasted for a week or two before I got back into my old ways. Usual stuff, lose a bit of weight, get fitter or ring up an old friend. It wasnt until I turned forty that I began to realise that you don’t need a New Year to do any of this stuff, you can make the choice anytime of the day or night, on any given day on any given year. All you need is a wider purpose to make it meaningful for you, for you to get the motivation to break a habit and create a new one.
Everyone needs goals, they do help to motivate. But goals not linked to a purpose can end up becoming empty goals, or a shot at goal which goes wide of the net. Whether in business or your personal life, feeling connection to a strategic objective or life goal, is the surefire way to accelerate your journey towards it.
Those that may have seen me speak on this subject will have heard me refer to this as defining your “ding” – there is a short blogpost about it which you can read here. When you get that over-arching reason as to what you’re doing it all for, you’ll quickly realise that you can change anything about how you operate in the blink of one eye and change needn’t be driven by a date called the 1st of January which only occurs once per year. You can have twenty “1st of January’s” every day, if they are linked to a real purpose, all you have to do is decide what.
Happy New Year!
One thing about being a child of the 80′s (growing up) is that I’ve witnessed a renaissance in technology over the the last thirty years. When you just take a minute to step back and think a minute, you come up with a list that contains things like this (not exhaustive or in any particular order): -
- Fax Machines.
- CD’s (including portable CD players).
- The internet!
- MP3 downloads.
- Mobile phones.
- Personal Computers.
- Laptop Computers.
- Sky TV.
- Portable flash drives.
- Wireless Networks.
- Digital cameras.
- Satellite navigation systems.
- Social Media – Youtube, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Wikepedia, Hotmail.
- The birth of Amazon and Google.
- Flat screen Televisions – LCD, Plasma.
- Apple (i-pod, i-pad, i-phone).
- Tablet computers.
- Cloud computing.
It’s quite incredible to think that in early 1990 when I entered the world of work, only a few of the things on this list existed in terms of technology. Everything else has been invented subsequently, in fact, life has changed totally. One characteristic of all this technology is that it has led to a world of consumption, with nearly all the tech listed contributing in some way to cramming every available moment we have.
The victim of this is quality thinking time. Waking moments are spent with screens in our hands, devices buzzing, status updates demanding attention and a need to fill down time with something. For you to be at your best, you need downtime from technology to re-connect and quieten the chatter in your head. Over a year ago I did this presentation (see slides 6-8), highlighting how being in this busy mode keeps your brain in a “beta” state, which is massively under utilising your capability to think creatively. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and I run a technology company, however I also know the importance of keeping a balance.
When you disconnect and invest some time away from technology, it can have a re-charging effect on you. Your brain moves into it’s “alpha” mode, which is far more creative, expansive and potential based – a brilliant place to be to come up with solutions to problems or your next big idea. Your internal dialogue quietens down and relaxation becomes easier, you begin to re-connect with the inner you.
Things will keep speeding up, that’s for sure. 2013 will see more platforms, more tech and more reasons to stay permanently connected to the internet. If you want 2013 to be a year of potential and achievement, combined with a feeling of peace and contentment, then make sure you disconnect regularly, don’t be a slave to the system and invest more time in quality thought to achieve your goals. When you do, marvellous things start to happen.
You’ll be amazed at the moments of synchronicity that come your way, how you navigate yourself sub-consciously towards your goals and how you can make more positive choice about your life direction. Don’t do it half-heartedly with a smartphone in one hand and a pen in the other, the best time to think is either on your own with no distractions and nothing on in the background (radios, TV) or when walking, running, cycling, swimming or partaking in some form of exercise.
Achieving your goals is about working hard and smart. Give yourself the edge and make one of your New Years resolutions to invest more time thinking, it will deliver fantastic results.
Happy New Year!