Start Taking Action To Make Your Fear Disappear

We are conditioned to believe that our fear is the result of things we do. This makes intuitively sense, but does the statement hold the whole truth when we look into it in more detail?

At first sight, it sounds self-explanatory. Just think of the title of the classic self-help book ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’. The implication here is that fear is a given when taking action, so you might as well get on with it and do things. We are also often referring to our comfort zone and how doing anything that takes us out of it, creates fear (I discussed this topic in a previous article)

But how often do we really do things in our lives which are out of the ordinary? Well, not as often as the times we feel fear or anxiety. Can you think of the last time you felt fearful in your life? Did it happen yesterday, last week, last month?

Perhaps you started feeling unease when your partner didn’t come home at the usual time, without notifying you of the delay. Maybe you were worried when the cat threw up excessively, or anxious of an upcoming Zoom call at work. It’s possible you felt dread expecting a call or email from an unhappy client, or felt butterflies when you were about to make a sales call.

If you are an insomnia sufferer, you might often feel fearful when going to bed, expecting another long, restless night. As an artist, you will regularly feel stage fright, and sometimes be fearful of people’s reaction when you are about to complete a new piece of art.

None of the above examples are rare or extraordinary. Not many of them imply any behaviours that take you out of your comfort zone. They do have one thing in common, which is shared by all experiences of fear; they all start with a thought: the thought that something might be wrong with your partner, as they should be home by now; that the cat might be seriously ill; that you will feel awkward at the Zoom call; that the client will make you feel bad, ashamed, incompetent and so on.

Fear is not always the result of action. In fact, action is often the very thing that removes the thought that creates the fear. Making a call or sending a text to your partner to check they are ok; committing to observe the cat’s behaviour to ensure the vomiting was one-off; preparing yourself sufficiently for the Zoom call and deciding to be in control of your reactions at the meeting; anticipating the client’s pain points, getting in touch first to apologize rather than waiting for them to call or email, clearing up any misunderstandings and getting the record straight…those are all behaviours that are likely to make your fear disappear, or at the very least reduce it.

Our minds favour a sense of control, and fear arises from the thought of losing control. So start by taking control of your thoughts in the first place. Keep a daily journal of thoughts that create fear, and reflect on them. Once you start analyzing them, you will find that they are usually exaggerations based on no evidence at all, other than your anticipated fear and failure.

Why I Would Prefer a Magic Penny to Three Million (and You Should Too)

In his classic book ‘The Compound Effect’ Darren Hardy describes how the key to long-term success lays in small everyday decisions and positive actions that are repeated consistently.

He gives a hypothetical example of having the choice of either accepting three million dollars now, or being given a magic penny that multiplies every single day for a month (31 days in total). Most of us would intuitively choose the hard cash over the magic penny, as it sounds like the better deal, right?

In reality, if your friend was to choose the cash and you the magic penny, they would feel for most of that month that they had the better deal, as your penny increases in value painstakingly slow. But then, on day 30, magic would happen. The value of your penny would have suddenly overtaken the three million dollar mark, and on day 31 you will end up with over three times the amount your friend has.

Such is the power of the compound effect of daily positive actions, when done consistently over time. There is no magic formula for achieving success on the longer term. It’s the result of a big number of small, seemingly insignificant decisions you are taking on a day-to-day basis.

  • “Shall I surf the web, or practice on my instrument for the next 30 minutes?”
  • “Will I make that call to the prospective client now, or ‘tomorrow is another day’?
  • “Shall I use the time allocated for working on my business this morning, or will I instead deal with these emails and calls waiting to be answered?”
  • “One last snack, or brushing my teeth?”
  • “Going for a walk, or taking a nap and waking up drowsy?”

Choose wisely, for the compound effect of your day-to-day decisions will be the difference between achieving your dreams and just plodding along in three or five years’ time.

What is Your One Thing?

In his seminal book The One Thing, Gary Keller states that success is the result of narrowing your concentration on one thing. Success is the result of discipline, and discipline is created by consistently doing what needs to be done.

My 70-year old neighbour is in the swimming pool by 5am, swimming 14 rounds every single day. After that, he goes walking for his 10000 steps a day. He was never a top athlete, neither does he intend to participate in competitive sport any time soon. But his main mission is staying fit and healthy and feeling good in his body as he enters the eighth decennium of his life. And he has decided that consistently swimming and walking these numbers is what he needs to do in order to achieve his goals.

Team sportsmen and sportswomen who desire long professional careers, are usually the first to come to the training ground, and the last ones to leave. While many of their colleagues are enjoying their summer holidays, they spend hours in the gym improving their strength and stamina and working on the areas they know they need to improve or maintain in order to keep going.

Successful authors write one or more pages every single day, whether they are motivated or not, whether they feel they are creating quality or not. They understand that to keep doing what needs to be done, is more important than worrying about quality.

Coaches and therapists who have managed long careers, practice their skills every single day. They hold individual and group sessions with existing clients, engage in conversations with potential clients, discuss techniques with colleagues or work on their self-development by attending seminars, courses and reading relevant books. All of the above helps them to maintain their skills, entice new clients and stay relevant and at the top of their game in an ever changing world.

My mum has been running a beauty business for over 30 years, but after a long working day she regularly surfs the web looking for new techniques to improve her skills, researches the effects of skincare products and follows the technological advancements in her industry. This has helped her to become a recognized expert in her area.

What all of the above professionals and non-professionals have in common, is clarity about their one thing: they have figured out what is important in their lives right now and what they need to do in order to achieve it. Therefore, they are doing it consistently and relentlessly every single day. It’s not always fun and they are not always motivated; but once they have figured out what needs to be done, they know that repetition is key to continue delivering the performance that is needed to get the results they want.

They understood that in order to become good at what they want, they need to become what they want. A writer writes every single day. A footballer kicks a ball about every single day. The act of consistently writing makes someone a writer, and the act of consistently kicking a ball around makes someone a footballer.

How about you? What is your one thing? Have you figured out what needs to be done, and are you doing it consistently every single day?

What Type of Imposter are You?

The Imposter Syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents and accomplishments. It is accompanied by a persistent fear of feeling exposed as a fraud, and feelings of self-doubt. These feelings are not always there. Typically they come and go, regardless of the success you are already experiencing.

I know of coaches working with high executives who have an arrogant persona to the outside world, but in one-to-one meetings express the sentiment that they too feel like a fraud. It’s important to recognize that the Imposter Syndrome is the result of thinking. You will experience it as a feeling, but that feeling is just the outcome of some unconscious thought about the nature of the world you live in and how you should be doing things. This thinking can be divided in several types (Nada Elawdan, 2020):

• PERFECTIONIST

Perfectionists often set impossibly high standards for themselves that they often cannot reach. They will feel inadequate if they cannot achieve every goal, excel at every skill, or check off every task. Any setback can result in self-doubt, excessive worry, or feelings of incompetence. No matter their level of success, it will never feel satisfying.

• SUPERMAN/SUPERWOMAN

Supermen/superwomen push themselves to work harder than those around them just to prove themselves. They set high expectations that they need to measure up to. These high expectations can include taking on too much responsibility, work obligations, and family tasks. They feel the need to do it all; otherwise, they are a fraud. There is a need to succeed in all aspects of their lives.

• NATURAL GENIUS

Natural geniuses believe that their self-worth is tied to how naturally they pick up a skill. They often view themselves as an imposter if skills do not come easily to them, or if they have to exert more effort to be proficient. They struggle to begin something or grow insecure if it takes a long time to succeed. If natural geniuses are not good enough from the start, they might even abandon that activity due to shame or embarrassment.

• SOLOIST

A soloist feels they must always accomplish tasks independently. Soloists view themselves as failures or frauds if they ask for assistance. They believe that they can achieve everything alone without help from others. Asking for help fills them with feelings of shame, embarrassment, or incompetence. Soloists value their sense of worth by their level of autonomy and independence.

• EXPERT

Experts believe that before they begin anything, they must know everything going in. They continuously seek new certifications, information, or training throughout their lives to improve their competency. Experts measure their self-worth by how much they know. No matter how much information they know or how skilled they are, this group will continuously feel unprepared, unknowledgeable, or inexperienced.

If I am completely honest to myself, I will need to admit that in my earlier years, I was a soloist. I believed that I should figure out everything by myself, without any help or interference. Needless to say, this didn’t work out and I learned the hard way the value of asking for help or working together with others in order to achieve a goal. I think this often goes together with the natural genius, in the sense that there is an underlying belief that you should be naturally good at certain things, and therefore able to do them all by yourself.

How about you? What type of imposter are you? Do you recognize yourself, or people around you, in any of these types?

What if some values are better than others?

Earlier this week, I cheekily asked in my Facebook group whether people thought their values, attitudes and beliefs are superior to those of others. As expected, I noticed some head scratching, stunned silence and quiet outrage as a result.

Most of us live in a Western world where our current ‘post-modern’ values system dictates that we hold all values as equal to each other. We cannot, we think, say that some values are better than others, because they should all be equally respected.

In a world where there are many truths, and none of them is more ‘true’ than others, we should all get on with each other, and accept each other’s values as equally valid, regardless of how wildly different and contradictory they are to ours. Right? However, consider the following scenario’s:

  • Would you genuinely consider someone’s racist, sexist or ableist values system as equal to yours?
  • As an ethical business owner, would you accept that a multinational oil trust or tobacco company, which put profit above the environment or people’s health and wellbeing, can continue their destructive activities because their values are deserving of equal respect?
  • Would you say to someone who is telling you that they hate your way of living and ‘corrupt’ Western values and would like to destroy them, that you respect their views because they are as valid as yours?

It is perfectly acceptable to consider some values better than others. This doesn’t mean that people with different values systems should be met with hostility and aggression.

As a person with superior values (obviously!) you can accept that values systems evolve, not only throughout history, but also during someone’s lifetime. We are all born as self-centered narcissists, but (hopefully) most of us learn, mature and develop our value systems throughout life.

Understanding that values evolve and can change, can only fill us with compassion, understanding and patience for those whose values seem (self-)destructive, hostile and contradictory. And having attitudes, beliefs and values which promote understanding and love can only be a good thing, right?

Some food for thought right there!

Things We Lost in the Fire

No doubt you will have heard on the news about the terrible wildfires that are currently raging all over the world, including in my home country Greece. It is a disaster which is often hard to comprehend in areas where the ecosystem is less ‘flammable’.

Within days, often hours, whole areas are destroyed. Animals and trees are wiped out, and people’s properties, which whole generations have often worked hard to build over decades, literally go up in flames.

People who suffer such catastrophic loses often show a remarkable resilience in the big scheme of things. Their view of the events is often philosophical, and they remind themselves that as long as they (and their friends and relatives) are alive and in good health, they can always re-start and rebuild their material wealth.

What can we learn from this resilience? I recently asked the members of my Facebook group ‘If you were to lose everything in a fire, what personal quality would help you regain all that you need?’ Some of their answers were:

  • Acceptance that things are the way they are meant to be; if all is gone, it means I don’t need it any more and I am free to start afresh
  • My personal resilience
  • It would probably be a good riddance, as I have too much stuff anyway

As a kid, one of my most vivid memories from Greece is a quote my mum had put on the bathroom door. It read a bit like this (my own translation from Greek): ‘If you love something, set it free. If it returns, then it’s yours. if it doesn’t, then it was never yours in the first place’.

What are the attitudes, beliefs and habits you need to set free in your life right now?

Slow Down in Order to Go Faster

Like many others, I have been fascinated by the Olympic Games and the thrills they bring. Despite empty stadiums and the lack of an audience, top athletes have been pushing their boundaries and setting new Olympic records every day. 

Of course, not all favourites have performed well. In fact, some of them have not performed at all. I am of course referring to Simone Biles, the charismatic top gymnast who has given up on her disciplines in order to prioritize her mental health.

Anyone can draw their own conclusions from her decision. Personally, I learned the following:

  • Your mental health is not negotiable. Even if you lose everything else, taking care of your mental wellbeing will always allow you to return at the centre, start all over and forge a new path that better suits your needs
  • Success doesn’t equal mental wellbeing. You can be enormously successful and still suffer mentally every single day. You can also be gloriously happy in a non-eventful, ‘unsuccessful’ existence (based on the criteria for success in our Western world).
  • It’s good to know your limits and your vulnerability. The only person who can determine how far you are willing to go in order to achieve success, is you.

Like many other coaches, I often work with ambitious people who want to achieve many goals in a short period of time. It is wonderful to see their progress and achievements, that’s what we coaches are doing this for.

But sometimes I see it as my task, rather than keeping pushing these clients forward, to help them to take a step back and look at the big picture. How ecological are their goals? What are the implications on their mental health and their family life? Are they prepared to live with the consequences of their actions?

As small business owners, solopreneurs and creatives, we all want to achieve success and reach our goals as soon as possible in our journey. But sometimes it is necessary to jump off the coach before the final destination. Particularly if that coach is on a course to crash.

What are the consequences of our ambitions? Will our achievements come at the expense of friendships, relationships and our mental wellbeing? They might serve us short-term, but will they still serve our values, happiness and wellbeing in a year, 3 years or 5 years from now?

As a solopreneur, you have chosen to live your passion and to take ownership of your career dreams. Always remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. In order to reach the finishing line you have set ahead of you, you may need to pace and preserve your energy rather than giving it all right now. 

Stepping back when it matters so that you can take the right decisions, can propel you forward much faster than when you keep running and only focus on what is immediately ahead. You can see the trees, but can you also see the wood?

Another week has just started. If you don’t achieve the goals you have set out to achieve, start over again next week. There will be plenty of other weeks ahead.

How To Measure your Power and Determination

I was recently invited to participate in a board break during an NLP Master training session. When my mentor Dr Bridget invited me to attend, I first thought that a ‘board break’ was some sort of clever NLP metaphor. I was expecting detailed mindset work that will bring to the fore the dirty wash of my unconscious mind, as NLP often does!

But as it turned out, it was LITERALLY that: the breaking of a wooden board, an action which requires quite some mental preparation, as well as determined action. Before you proceed to break a board, there are quite a few things you must get in order first.

 You symbolically write on one side of the board the limiting beliefs that are currently holding you back, and on the other side those you want them replaced with. Then you work on your breathing, prepare your mind, practice your moves and eventually go ahead and execute them. 
It is a great way to measure your power and determination. It requires the perfect coordination of a number of factors:

  • Modelling success behaviour 
  • Following a tried and tested process to get results 
  • Reaching beyond your goal, in order to achieve it 
  • Taking massive action when the time is right
  • Having unwavering self-belief about the outcome of your actions 

So maybe, the breaking of a board is an NLP metaphor after all. Just have another look at the five factors above. Wouldn’t doing these sort of things regularly and consistently be your shortcut to personal and professional success? I think it would!

Here’s to a week in which you show those around you your power and determination!

Kostas

Money Does Buy Happiness

Despite common beliefs and an influential study from the past, recent research suggests that there is a strong link between income and wellbeing. A study at the University of Pennsylvania found no evidence for a ‘wellbeing plateau’ related to income. With other worlds, wellbeing keeps increasing with income!

Crucially however, research indicates that it’s not so much about how much we earn, but about how much we earn compared to those surrounding us, that affects our wellbeing. We are social animals and comparing ourselves to others is normal behaviour. However, an obsession with what others do and earn (or, as a fellow coach puts it, ‘comparisitis’) is not healthy and detrimental to our wellbeing.

I often find that conversations about money tend to centre around ‘how much’ and not enough around ‘what for?’ Studies have consistently found that buying experiences rather than things creates greater wellbeing. However, we often need things in order to create these experiences in the first place. While I love the experience of playing my keyboards, none of it would happen had I not been able to buy a good quality instrument in the first place!

Money also often creates time, and interestingly this also works vice versa. The greater the income, the more flexibility you have to do what you desire in your spare time. For us solopreneurs, extra income means that we can choose to create more time for ourselves, by working ‘smarter rather than harder’! And likewise, we can continue to increase our wealth exponentially if we decide to use that spare time to create more wealth (whether we want do to this, will of course depend on our values and our priorities in life).

What does all this mean for your and your business? It highlights the importance of giving money and income the place it deserves in your life. Be honest about it, and embrace money as your friend, rather than the source of evil, a personal obsession or an elusive entity you are constantly chasing! The following tips can help you to achieve this:

  • Develop an abundance mindset: when you believe there is plenty for everyone out there and you act accordingly, then you will spot opportunities to ethically increase your wealth
  • Detach yourself from negative emotions you have attached to money. Money is just an exchange of energy. Ask yourself more helpful questions, such as: ‘what does money really mean for me?’ Does it mean more freedom, more time to see friends and family, buying all the things you have dreamt of? Does it mean security such as having your own property, buying yourself memorable experiences, enhancing your social status?
  • Increase awareness of your unconscious money beliefs, and what life events led to them (these are often hidden in your childhood). Be in control of your finances, and don’t let the thought of money control your life!
  • Don’t waste your time constantly comparing your income with that of people around you. There will always be people who are wealthier, as well as poorer than you. Figure out what you need from life (and therefore from your income), rather than considering it as a contest with others!
  • Use your income to do good. Being generous and helpful to others will reflect on you in your time of need. Giving money boosts happiness, and happy people give more! Giving creates a virtuous spiral of increasing benefits. My mum, who has always been generous and helpful with her clients in her business, was showered with gifts and presents during lockdown, and many of her clients pre-bought courses of treatments even when it was completely unclear when she would be able to re-open again!

Many small business owners have a ‘love-hate’ relationship with money. They know its benefits and value it, but at the same time they seem to be afraid or threatened by it. Creating a more detached and consciously aware relationship with money, will help you use it to your benefit so that you can create your own path to wealth and financial freedom.

PS there are some exciting and interesting discussions in my FREE facebook group right now! Have you checked it out yet? Click here to join the conversations!

You Are the Fortune Teller

Earlier this week, I asked my Facebook tribe what a famous fortune teller would predict about their future. Some people took this question literally (“Why should I go to a fortune teller if I knew what they are going to predict?”). Others aligned themselves with the spirit of the question, talking about how their future will look like.

Magical things often happen when you start thinking about the future, and even more so when you start predicting your future. This is the case especially when your daydreams concentrate on what YOU will be doing, rather than on the actions of others, or of external events unfolding.

The stronger your vision of the future, the more likely the prediction will happen. There is transformative energy in purposeful thinking. Spend regularly some time thinking about what you want to achieve in the near and not so near future. Make sure you create a positive, compelling picture with plenty of visual and auditory detail. What do you see, hear and feel in your ideal future?

The more positive and compelling the vision of your future, the more you will want to achieve it. The more desire to achieve it, the more your present actions will align with your wishes and your dreams.

Start now by spending 15-30 minutes visualising your future, and write down what you see, hear, feel. The more detail you put into your future picture, the better. Make sure you concentrate on your own actions, and that the image is positive and desirable. Do this regularly, and soon you will realise that you are your own fortune teller. The future doesn’t yet exist, but purposeful thinking and acting in the present will shape it to your liking.