A day with the High Flyers

When the pressure is on and deadlines loom or disaster strikes, it can be very tempting to want to do something - anything -  to start working on the solution as soon as possible.  And, all things being equal, this is the right thing to do - we should have a bias to action.

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Crashing the Terror Barrier

There comes a point in any journey of personal growth and development where the next step we need or want to take suddenly feels way bigger than all the others taken so far. You might be embarking on your biggest ever project at work, preparing your first public speaking gig, creating your first presentation for work, starting a business or turning up to join a local sports team or theatre club for the first time. Whatever it is, it is something that is taking you out of your comfort zone.

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It's all in the process

It was one of those good-news / bad-news days. 

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The good news was that my beloved Swiss Army knife, personalised with my name in silver, bought for me by my mammy way back in the 1980s had been found – the bad news was that it had been found during a routine security check of my bag as I entered the UK Houses of Parliament for a meeting. (No weapons allowed – I’m sure you understand why).

So, there I stood looking embarrassed as the police woman smiled and assured me it was not a problem – she would keep my knife safe at her desk and I could collect it on the way out after my meeting.  I don’t know what made me feel more uncomfortable – the embarrassment of trying to sneak a weapon in to the home of democracy or the fact that it clearly happened so often the police had a well-oiled process for dealing with the situation…

A well-oiled process – consistency – the right things happening at the right time – these are all keys to success in any business and in our personal growth.

I spent the last two days in a hotel in the Costwolds with Christian Simpson’s Entrepreneurial Elite Think Tank – quite a mouthful I know – but it was a valuable learning experience for me.  The room was full of around 50 entrepreneurs at various stages of growth from start-ups to multi-millionaires and they were all there to help each other and provide advice and mentoring to each other. Iron sharpens iron, as the proverb goes.  One recurring theme over the two days was the need to create and follow processes as any business grows.  It’s a sign of maturity and of transition – marking the move from a small business to a medium business as you grow up the SME scale.  Having a process stops you needing to keep re-inventing the wheel, it helps you be consistent and efficient.

All these truths apply equally to our personal growth and development.  In the 15 Laws of Growth, John Maxwell speaks about the Law of Design: to maximise growth, develop strategies.  I agree with John when he says that systems make extraordinary results predictable - and they can range from the very simple: such as- what time of day do you work best – morning or afternoon – so do your most important work then; to the more complex such as systems like Getting Things Done (link: http://amzn.to/2lGvCwD ) or apps like OmniFocus (link: https://www.omnigroup.com/omnifocus ) which help you plan and priorities your schedule.

The key here- is to have a plan.  I find that when I don’t have a clear plan, I tend to wander (and wonder) and I focus on doing the things that I find the most fun or easy which is rarely the same as the things which are important or urgent and then I get caught out when a deadline that I was not mindful of sneaks up on me.

Jim Rohn said: If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much!

 

So, what is your life plan?  Do you have a plan for personal growth?  How do you intend to add more value (or make yourself more valuable) to your family and clients or employer?

 

A growth plan which includes a system to help you apply it might be just what you are looking for.

My HIGH FLYERS course will challenge you to change your attitude and thinking in 10 key areas of your life and deliver this training in a unique scheduled way which will really help you apply each lesson and embed it into your daily routine before moving on to the next lesson.

Continuous growth and development is not only an attitude I take to my personal growth, but it applies to my products and services as well.  Next week I will be releasing a major update to the HIGH FLYERS course, and upgrading the course from being audio only to being a video based course (and I will still keeping the option to download an MP3 of each lesson as many people like the opportunity to listen on their dog walks and commutes on their phone). This isn’t just a simple conversion of the existing audio and adding some slides – every lessons is being re-recorded from scratch and the content for each lesson is being updated and expanded.  The new HIGH FLYERS course will delivery significantly more content and value and with the upgrade will come a modest price increase.  The new course price will be £197, but all existing students will receive the upgrade for free as part of my usual ‘lifetime access guarantee.’

So if you are not already enrolled in HIGH FLYERS you may want to secure your lifetime access at the current price and enjoy the upgrade for free next week.  Act today- don’t miss out!  Enrol in HIGH FLYERS today:  www.cool-waters.co.uk/highflyers  

Adjust your trim - Lessons in leadership from Concorde

By Eduard Marmet [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Eduard Marmet [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

One of my favourite stories told by my father, was of his time working on the prototype of Concorde – the stunning, futuristic supersonic airliner.   Dad was working for aircraft manufacturer BAC at Filton near Bristol when the second prototype Concorde 002 first flew in 1969. 

The wings of an aircraft produce lift, and the focal point of that lift – the place where the imaginary string would attach that lifts the plane into the air – is called the centre of pressure or lift point.  If the lift point coincides with the centre of gravity of the plane it makes the whole thing easier to fly and control.   When Concorde 002 flew the test pilot noticed that the handling of the aircraft change significantly during the flight. The engineers soon realised this was due to the centre of gravity of the plane ‘moving’ as the weight of the fuel in the tanks changed as the jet fuel was consumed.  The solution to the problem was to pump the fuel around the various tanks in the plane to keep it balanced – but how could the pilot know ‘where’ the centre of gravity was on the plane in order to know what fuel to shift where?  This was my father’s job – to invent a centre-of-gravity-o-meter which the pilot could use from the cockpit.

All planes need adjustments during flight – this is called adjusting the ‘trim’ and it helps keep the aircraft balanced and on course.

The pilot keeps adjusting the trim of the aircraft, tilting the nose up or down, steering the rudder left or right to take into account the winds that are blowing on the plane, any turbulence the plane is passing through and changes in the aircraft itself as fuel is consumed and the metal of the aircraft heats up and expands or cools and contracts.  The pilot knows the destination they are aiming for and keeps on making the necessary corrections and adjustments in order to get there.  You could say it is the same with us- during turbulent times, when winds of change are blowing, when the heat is on – we need to make adjustments to our behaviour and plans if we want to stay on course.  We need to keep adjusting our trim.

In John Maxwell’s 15 Laws of Growth, John talks about the Law of Intentionality.  He says growth does not just happen – it is not an automatic process.  If we want to grow, to improve, if we want to better ourselves and our circumstance and change our situation – we have to do something about it – it wont happen by itself.  And it won’t ever be a single thing we need to do – it will be a process that may take days, weeks or even months to achieve the improvements and changes we desire.  And while we are on that journey – we will need to keep adjusting our trim in order to stay on course.  And by adjusting our trim I mean adjusting our scheduling, keeping our focus and ensuring we are on course to achieve what we desire.  I find that having a clear set of goals and priorities written down really helps.

I’ve just finished an upgrade to my popular course on Goals that will help you avoid the 3 mistakes people often make when setting goals. During the course I will share how goals can help you clarify your priorities and take back control of your schedule, why we set goals that are easy but still fail to achieve them and also reflect on how we get changed by the goals we set – using an example from my own life involving a TV talent show.  I’m sure you will find it as interesting and useful as I did when I first learned these principles.

When I first developed this course on Goals, it was an audio only course but the new version has been upgraded to be a video course with improved and expanded teaching. (You can also download the new course as an mp3 if you want to listen to it on your phone or MP3 player as well) I’m pleased with it and I hope you will find it useful.  The course is still free and you can enrol right now by going to www.cool-waters.co.uk/goals   

One of the things I love about my job as a coach and trainer, is that I am always learning new things that help me to grow and improve – even on subjects where I thought I already knew all I needed to know.

You 2.0

Have you ever tried to remove a nut or bolt with pliers and it doesn’t budge, but when you use a wrench or spanner and get some leverage suddenly it is easy to move?  That lever is such a clever tool – it is very handy and very simple. 

A lever is defined as a rigid bar that pivots about one point and is used to move an object at a second point by a force applied at a third point.  So how do we apply this to achieve a competitive advantage? How do we leverage our key skills?

Most people don’t leverage their own knowledge and skills but instead use just a fraction of what they have within themselves.

The first step is to take inventory of your assets.  This doesn’t mean to list out your home, car, bank account balance… this means to list out your knowledge, your skills and your experience.

Next, explore how to get the full advantage of your asset inventory.  If you own a computer or smartphone, you are frequently prompted to upgrade an application or program. There is new information available that will make your computer or phone work better (well one hopes, not always the case!).  When was the last time you updated or upgraded your knowledge base?  What was the last book, course, lecture or program you engaged in?

So now you have an inventory and you know what needs to be upgraded.  These are your key skills and strengths that you can now improve upon.  You may ask why focus on your strengths and those assets that are already developed.  Why not focus on weaker skillsets.  This is where you need to understand that the highest yield and the most efficiency comes from developing strengths rather than improving upon weaknesses.  Leave your weaknesses for someone else who exhibits those as strengths.  

Think of it this way, if you invest in your weaknesses, you may move your ability from poor to acceptable but if you invested the same time and energy into one of your strengths you could move yourself from being good to great or from great to world class.  Which do you think will make you the most valuable to your clients, employers and family?

Invest in your strengths and build You 2.0

Believe

Many of us have been taught to look for the worst case scenario, to plan for negative contingencies and if we are not careful this can develop into a negative world view and we communicate this lack of confidence in our team and colleagues because we are clearly making contingency plans in case they let us down... and this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It is essential to have an attitude of believing the best in others.

The self-fulfilling prophecy refers to the idea that when someone creates a belief in something that is not yet true, and expects something with certainty, it will become true.  With people, it suggests that as we communicate our expectations (subconsciously or unintentionally), they will conform and deliver the appropriate results. 

When working with people, this is critical.  When you express a lack of confidence in someone, it is returned with mediocrity, however if you believe in them and expect them to do well, research has shown that they will live up to that expectation.

Whatever you believe about your potential - you are right!

The four key principles of the self-fulfilling prophecy:

  • We form certain expectations, or beliefs, of people or events based on our own perceptions, fears and experiences
  • We communicate those expectations through our behaviours in a way that we would not have done without the belief
  • People generally respond by adjusting their behaviour to match
  • The result is that the original expectation becomes reality

Based on these principles, we can conclude that the expectations leaders place on their team determines the quality of the teams’ output.

A study of 100 self-made millionaires has shown that the most common characteristic in the group was the desire and ability to see the good in others. They were people builders, not critics. They empowered and supported their team to be their very best through positive means. 

Believing the best in people is a critical piece of building successful viable relationships. 

Develop an attitude of gratitude

Being thankful everyday for what you have is a mind altering experience.  Try this quick and easy exercise every day.  Wake up and immediately say what you are grateful for.  It could be as simple as another day on earth.  Your feet touching the ground. The ability to breath… or get more involved – and be grateful for a specific person, condition, thing, whatever it is in your life that you are grateful for. Make a note in your journal of the people you are grateful for.

There are half full and half empty people on this planet.  The half full group has their glass filled with gratitude.  Gratitude is one of those emotions that can increase wellbeing and happiness among those who deliberately create it.  Gratitude can also increase energy, optimism and empathy; all characteristics of positive happy people.

Practice being more aware of all the good things that surround you.  Imagine how much easier it would be to handle diversity and opposition when you have this upbeat attitude?  Imagine having a purpose in life, an appreciation for those lives around you, and a willingness to take action to show your feeling of gratitude. 

Those are the ingredients to a more fulfilled balanced life. Focus on the big and the small things to show your gratitude.  You will find that as you express this new attitude, you will become a more positive person, a pleasure to be around and work with and you will attract into your life people who will help you succeed. 

Gratitude is a state of mind that we all have access to.  It takes practice and with practice, it reaps great benefits. 

Efficiency and Habit

Can you imagine that there may be a better way to doing what you do?  

Can you accept that idea?  Are you open minded enough to ask others for differing opinions?  If you are able and willing to look at things through different eyes, read on.

How many times have you completed your daily routine without even thinking twice about which shoe went on first, if you brushed your teeth, if you washed your hair?  

We are creatures of habit.  We do things a certain way because, well, it works! Or that’s how I always did it.  Because: I don’t know! Because: that is how my mom/dad taught me.  Because that is what my big brother did… you get the idea!  

So maybe it’s time to re-examine how you do what you do and why you do it and see if there is a better more efficient way of doing it? Maybe if you stop for a moment and say ok, I am going to consciously take notice of my life, my actions, my choices, you may immediately see that its time for a change. 

Awareness is key to moving from a dependent state of doing to an independent state of being.  Examine your actions and take responsibility for the outcomes.  Now that you are aware of your outcomes and how you got there, examine these outcomes and decide if these need to be changed as well.  

By focusing on the end result, you can make the necessary changes early on to better direct your time and energy.  

Challenges

So many people wish life was easier, with less challenges and obstacles but without challenges, life becomes stagnant and we stop growing.  Challenge help us uncover who we are and it allows us to become better people.  

Let’s examine a very simple 4-step method to overcoming challenges.

First, state the problem clearly.  When we are faced with challenges, we tend to avoid the issue and run the other way burying our heads in the sand hoping it goes away.  Or we may say – ok, there is an obstacle, instead of heading right to it and plowing through, I am going to look for another path and even though that is not the way I want to go – it looks easier… less headache… but rarely does that work out.  When we avoid or go out of our way, we cause more headache in the end.  It takes more of our time, it takes more of our energy and we don’t get the end result we are looking for.  So take this time to understand what the challenge is.  Ask yourself: what is the question, what is asked of me, what is the main goal? Write this down on paper.

Second, identify what you have at your disposal – what resources are available to you to work through this challenge? List all of these resources out.  These should include things such as tangible assets – money, computer, books, etc.  And then what skills you have, what are your strengths to work through this?  Don’t forget other people – what access do you have to others that can help?

Third, design the strategy to overcome this challenge. Begin with the end in mind. Utilise all your assets to create a plan of action.  You may find this plan will need to be tweaked as you execute and that is ok.  Keep at it. 

Lastly, execute the strategy with effort and determination.  Do your very best with all you have to overcome your challenge. 

If you find that you still cannot overcome a challenge, then re-evaluate.  If your strategy just won’t work because it isn’t viable or effective then change it. If your strategy doesn’t work because you didn’t execute it well enough, be persistent and tweak your efforts, giving it more.  

Practice this method on small challenges and see how easy it is to overcome.  

Then try it on one or two of the mountains in your path!  

Behaviour

Behaviour can be defined as: 

a physical thing one does such as a morning routine or it can be non-physical such as replaying negative thoughts all day long.  

A few behaviours are instinctual and built in while the rest are learned through meeting needs.  What this means is that our behaviours are motivated by our needs (or what we believe our needs to be) and therefore we can be manipulated as well as manipulate others to have our needs met. 

So when we have negative behaviours and we want to change them, we find it isn’t always so easy because these learned behaviours that we exhibit are actually rather complex. 

There are two types of motivation – the motivation to approach something and the motivation to avoid something.  When we desire something, we are motivated to approach it therefore receiving positive reinforcement or feedback.  When we avoid something, we are motivated to move away from it or we will receive negative reinforcement or feedback.  This is pretty simple.  We understand that when we eat something sweet, most of us have a pleasant experience and when we eat something sour, our faces pucker and we try to avoid that experience again. 

But let’s look at those things we approach or avoid because we need to learn that the thing itself doesn’t create that behaviour, we do.  Here's an example: Some people desire the adrenaline rush of jumping out of an airplane. It is exhilarating – it is something they repeat again and again as it has a positive affect on them and they desire that and are motivated to seek that experience.  Some people avoid even the thought of getting on an airplane due to their learned fears that it will absolutely crash and they will die no matter what statisticians say – forget purposefully jumping out of a perfectly good airplane!  Did the airplane create these behaviors?  No!  We learned them.  And each of us react differently to different things, experiences, tastes, smells, thoughts, etc.  All because of our own personal thoughts and behaviours. 

So how do you change your behaviours?  Your thoughts?  Let’s say you want to become a public speaker but you are petrified of speaking in front of people.  How can you overcome this fear, build confidence, perform and knock it out of the park?  You have to change your behaviour so that you are motivated to approach public speaking effortlessly without turning into a sweaty mess.  

Practice.  Anything you try for the first time will be clumsy and awkward, maybe even difficult.  By practicing your speech – over and over again until it is so part of you and flows off your tongue as if it is just another story you are telling a friend, you build your confidence to speak to several friends or a small group… until you are ready to speak to a large audience.  Practice! 

Shaping.  Practice your speech and ask your audience (family members, friends, mentor, coach) for feedback.  Try giving it several different ways.  Break down the speech into bits and mix it up.  All the while correcting your approach and delivery until you shape your presentation and performance.  

Chaining.  Very good and effective speeches, keynote talks, sales pitches… are complex.  They are made up of many components within the speech to get you to the end result you desire – sell a product or service, teach a thought or program, build rapport with your audience, create new clients, whatever your end result is, your speech has to be built on a frame and chaining is how you piece it together so there is a natural flow, a rhythm that mesmerizes the audience. Think about a really good comedian who gets up on stage and tells little stories for the whole set and the last story wraps up and circles back to the first story – bringing the evening to a close so naturally and you give a standing ovation because you were mesmerized by how good he was – he practiced, shaped each story or joke, chained them all together and brought it to a close. 

By using these techniques, you can change an old behaviour that you don’t want for a new one that you do want.  Whatever you want to change, practice your new desired behavior, shape the new behaviour by approaching it in different ways and ask for feedback all the while tweaking it, chain all the components of the new skills you are now mastering together and now you have successfully changed your behaviour.