The True Purpose of Coaching People

Currently one third in on my Vision to Action group coaching program with three wonderful solopreneurs, I found myself reflecting on what it is that we coaches actually do. The word ‘coach’ was first used to mean ‘someone who trains of instructs others’ in University slang of the mid-19th century: coaches were private tutors which ‘carried’ a student through an exam.

According to that original definition, coaching does the following:

  • training
  • instructing
  • ‘carrying’ people through a challenge
  • helping them perform and get results

These are all very valid points and regularly part of the coaching process. However, I feel there is one crucial element missing. A good coach does all of the above, and transforms.

In four short weeks time, I have seen mindsets shift, visions and values getting aligned, unhelpful beliefs being questioned and challenged. Clear and attractive goals have been set and personal and professional lives have started being transformed. To quote Brian Tracy: ‘There are no unrealistic goals, only unrealistic deadlines’.

You may have heard (this quote has been attributed to various people, Bill Gates among others) that we typically tend to underestimate what we can achieve in a year, even though we paradoxically tend to overestimate what we can achieve in one day. So we are currently building a bridge between today’s actions and habits and next year’s goals, in order to start creating tomorrow’s results. 

Focus on what you want to achieve in your life, be clear about how it reflects your values and personal identity and if your vision is strong enough, you will figure out the details of ‘how to’ one way or another. Nobody said the journey will be easy; but a goal worth pursuing will make it worthwhile.

PS Do you also sometimes wonder how to transform your vision and goals into positive action and successful daily habits? Do you need more clarity on the difference between setting compelling goals and merely having daydreams? Are you running away from the monsters of stress and overwhelm, but still hear their sinister laugh right behind you? Then I have some idea’s. Grab a slot here and let’s talk!

The True Reason Why You Are Not Motivated

I know it has been a while since most of us have been able to go on holidays, but perhaps you can still remember your morning routine last time you woke up away from home in your hotel, bed and breakfast, chalet or resort!  

Most likely, you woke up looking forward to all the exciting things you were going to do that day. The choices were there right in front of you. A vivid, compelling image of your imminent swimming adventures, epic walks, boat trips and plentiful meals with family and friends took hold of your excited mind. ‘What shall I do first’? Choices, choices….

Compare and contrast this with a typical working day. Perhaps you started the day by hitting the snooze button; ‘Let me sleep just a little more’ you mumbled to yourself. At first, faint images of missing your breakfast and rushing to get dressed crossed your mind. But your bed was too warm and cozy, and you ignored them. Then, at the next snooze, a panic started to get hold of your brain:
‘I will be late in my client appointment’
‘I need to submit this paperwork in the morning’
‘My boss will kill me’

Images of a well pissed-off client, mountains of paperwork pilling up and a vengeful boss, finally motivated you to take action and get out of your bed.

Now I appreciate that most of us are probably somewhere in-between these two rather extreme scenario’s, but they illustrate well the two main motivation ‘programs’ most of us consistently use in our lives: motivated toward vs motivated away

People who are motivated toward, seek pleasure, comfort and relaxation. They typically start the day asking themselves questions such as: ‘What can I accomplish today? What opportunities do I have to get closer to the things I want and desire in my life?’
This style is greatly valued in our Western society. People who are motivated toward, tend to be goal oriented and ‘big picture’. As a consequence of this, they often don’t consider what problems or difficulties they might run into, as they are not good at doing detail. The ‘young entrepreneur mindset’ is a classic example of this motivation style. While it often yields results, it does so by the “school of hard knocks”.

As a solopreneur who is motivated toward, it would help you to hire someone doing the detail work in your business, such as admin work, marketing campaigns etc. You are in your element when you are in charge of these activities like an orchestra conductor or film director, but trust on those around you who are skilled in implementing the detail. 

People who are motivated away, typically move away from pain, discomfort and stress. The further they find themselves from that source of discomfort, the less motivated and therefore less willing to act they are. When the source of the problem comes closer, they get motivated again. This often leads to cyclical levels of motivation, depending on the distance to the source of their discomfort and pain. E.g. if you want to lose weight as a motivated away person, you are only likely to be motivated when the discomfort of that weight becomes apparent, such as when you get breathless running to catch the bus, when your back pain worsens due to excess weight or when you experience difficulties performing simple tasks, such as putting your socks on in the morning.

Motivated away people often think about problems rather than where they want to be. Their attention is focused on what they don’t want, rather than what they do want. They often experience high anxiety and stress until they are motivated to act. It is therefore important to manage your stress levels as a motivated away solopreneur. However, you have one great advantage on your ‘motivated toward’ peers: because of your focus on obstacles and problems, you are an excellent problem solver. You can foresee and analyse difficulties and find solutions before experiencing them.

It is important to keep in mind that while most of us are capable of using both motivation styles, we typically only consistently use one of these in most areas of our lives. Figuring out what drives and motivates you, is key to understanding the areas where you get stuck and don’t make as much progress as you would like. Making little tweaks in these areas, can help you get unstuck and achieve the results you want.

Wishing you a week full of motivation and positive action! 

PS are you often frustrated about all the important things you never get round to, because you are somehow not motivated to do the work despite realizing their importance? Are you seriously fed up of missing the train to your big dreams and aspirations because of the procrastination that holds you back? I have an idea that can help you solve this problem for good. Grab a slot here and let’s talk!

Music Can Enhance Your Mental Health in Unique Ways

I recently asked the following question in my Facebook group for small business owners and solopreneurs“Does music affect your mental health, whether this is in a positive or negative way”?

 As various neuroscientists have demonstrated, music has the ability to light up our whole brain. it doesn’t just engage one part of our brain like many other activities do; it involves most of it, as well as the rest of our bodies.  It is therefore not surprising that the responses I received reflect a wide variety of experiences, showcasing the power of music to affect both our minds and bodies. Below some examples:

The music I love is like meditation and if I get goosebumps I know it’s not just mental, it’s physical too.

It’s a total escape. I find I want to get lost in music to cope with things in life.

I think it’s a vibrational thing, at least it’s certainly that way for me. Lots of songs hold different memories, and once the feelings surrounding those memories events have been dealt with, those songs no longer have the emotional impact they once had…

For me music is my life, so I’m very unproductive if I don’t listen to music for a long time.

I love music and I have different playlists for different moods. I am often seen dancing and singing around the kitchen during my micro breaks.

…surely music affects my mental health, it has to touch my heart  and soul and when it does, I totally get lost in the music  and even think the world around me doesn’t exist. 

Music adapts to my moods, my personal thoughts, it adds “magic” to my days, soothes the soul, also even if I don’t understand the language there’s a certain understanding of feelings between the music, the mystery of the language and I.

But the show was stolen by one of our members, who commented on the benefits of music she experiences despite her profound hearing impairment. It was such a powerful account that I’m relating her comment here verbatim:
I’m profoundly deaf and have been from birth, yet music is my love & lifeline. So given that I cannot hear most of the notes..& forget hearing the lyrics…I rely on those vibrations on a whole new level.
I love it when I can stand next to, or better still, in front of a huge loudspeaker and close my eyes to focus on letting the vibrations sweep over me and through me. It’s incredible…and I just get lost in it. And if the music has a good beat…once I feel it…I can’t stop my feet…and just go with it.
Sometimes a singer may be singing way out of my hearing range, yet I know they are good, simply by the way the hairs on my arms and neck react and with a deep emotional, tears-in-my-eyes response. I use music to focus and work with, to uplift my mood, to release emotions that I’m struggling to let go of, to simply dance to..just because.  It has so many benefits but do do we actually hear with our ears…?
According to my hearing specialist, we hear with our brains and it’s interpretation from the whole of our body, not just the ears. The ears are just a single transmitter of some information, but not the whole book. Think of how much harder it is to “hear” since we are prevented from seeing faces by covid masks…so many struggle. And they are not deaf in the least.
As a thought…music is a person’s expression of emotion, of vibrations they are feeling at that moment in time. Maybe there’s something in the picking up of that emotion on a subliminal level in each of us. I still get really emotional at a some songs and I have no idea as to the content of the lyrics…so maybe I’m picking up on the intention of the emotion of the writer. Who knows?
But whatever it is, it works beautifully for me.

Wow! My mind was blown.
So, if this week had a soundtrack, what would it be and why? Leave a reply below to let me know!

PS if you are interested to find out more about the effects of music in general -and piano in particular- on our mental health, you are going to love this! My friend Mark Deeks curates a 24 hour event starting today Monday 29th March 8am in the app Clubhouse about this very topic. There are a whole range of interesting speakers throughout the day from various musical backgrounds and levels of expertise. Click here to find out more about joining this free charity event.

Why Do I Still Have Unhelpful Beliefs?

When you hear coaches and therapists talk among themselves, the term limiting belief will be inevitably dropped at some point. This is ‘therapy talk’ for what I would describe as an unhelpful belief, or a self-sabotaging belief.

I can give plenty of examples of such beliefs being expressed from my own practice. Here are some classic ones:

  • I can’t change this behaviour/habit
  • I am not good enough
  • I must/should do this
  • My life is meaningless
  • I can’t help doing this (unhelpful behaviour) because she triggers me
  • I am not good at marketing, selling, networking, public speaking etc

As you might be able to spot from the above, these statements have a few things in common. For starters, they are generally negative regarding the person’s ability, skill or behaviour. They are not empowering.  They focus on the problem and not on the solution of the problem. The locus of control is firmly placed outside of the person. And reading between the lines, they often contain comparative deletions (e.g. I am not good enough, compared to whom?) or unhelpful language (imperatives such as must, should, mustn’t, shouldn’t).   

You may reasonably ask yourself, why then do we sustain and even nurture such negative beliefs in our lives? This is because, despite the fact they are unhelpful, they have a positive intention. They seek to protect us from pain and disappointment, keep us safely in our comfort zone and hold on to the status quo of our usual state by avoiding discomfort.

The good news is that such beliefs can be challenged and changed when we are vigilant and determined to get rid of them. Firstly, it is important to realize that they are typically situated on the unconscious level, so spotting them requires some effort. They are often recurring and repeat themselves in key areas of our lives. They tend to manifest themselves when we decide on some important change in our lives, which will require us adapting our habits and behaviours. They take us out of our comfort zone and straight into the fear zone. And they are usually accompanied by feelings of dread and powerlessness.

Once we have brought awareness of such beliefs within ourselves, then we can use a variety of techniques to remove them. You can choose to tackle them heads on, on the unconscious level via Timeline Therapy techniques and Hypnotherapy. Other therapy techniques such as Rapid Transformational Therapy also embrace many of the techniques used in hypnosis and trance to remove unhelpful beliefs.

 There is also a lot you can do yourself in order to tackle negative beliefs. Repetition and consistency are key to any change and transformation, so once you are aware of the existence of such beliefs, you can do the following:

  •  Reframe them in the positive; I am not good enough, will become ‘I am good enough’. Create a short sentence containing the positive wording as an affirmation such as I know my worth and I am good enough to achieve my goals. Repeat this daily, ideally first thing in the morning. A habit usually takes a month or so to be installed, so doing this consistently every single day for at least this period, will start yielding results.
  •  Focus on the solution rather than the problem. Instead of saying to yourself ‘my life is meaningless’, ask yourself: ‘what am I doing every single day, to make my life meaningful?’ This will require accepting that the locus of control is within yourself and not outside of you. The change will take place when you decide to do so and take action, rather than waiting for the universe to be aligned and create that change for you
  •  Remove unhelpful language such as I should/must. Making a simple reframe from I must read/practice etc to I am reading/practicing…sets your brain in action mode, rather than inaction mode. It removes obstacles and excuses. Start by taking some action and doing the very thing you should be doing, whether it’s 10 or 20 minutes at a time, and build up from there once your confidence and experience grow.

What are your unhelpful beliefs? What are you doing daily to tackle them? List your answers below.

Let’s Talk About Money

Do you still remember what you were doing on Monday 20th July 2020? Chances are you don’t, unless a significant personal event took place on that day, or unless you are Jeff Bezos. Because the Amazon CEO and founder made a total of $13 billion just on that one day.

As solopreneurs, we are not likely to ever see this amount in our bank accounts (and if that was your intention, then I’d suggest the solopreneurial journey is probably not the best way to get there!)

I’m quite well-connected in the world of coaching and self-improvement, and I can tell you (as if you haven’t already noticed…) that there are quite a few ‘wealth coaches’ out there. They will speak to you about terms such as the law of attraction, abundance mindset, a millionaire or ‘wealth’ mindset etc. They will tell you all about the habits of billionaires, the dos and don’ts of successful people, the 5am club etc. 

Modern coaching is obsessed with wealth acquisition and riches. Of course there is nothing wrong with wanting to live a comfortable lifestyle, and having money in your account (or invested in property and bitcoin) is a sure way to get you a ticket to that lifestyle. 

But money is nothing more than an exchange of energy, so the important question to ask yourself is ‘what do I want or need this wealth for?’ Is it to have the freedom to do what you want, to live wherever you want, and work the hours you want (or just retire)? Do you want to give something back to family and friends, and maybe to the local community where you grew up? Do you wish to invest into innovation and technology for the sake of humanity? Or do you just want to enjoy a hedonistic lifestyle, without the stress of work or accountability to others?

Whatever the answer, it’s likely to be driven by your values. They determine not just what you do, but most importantly why you do the things you do. You may be driven towards freedom or towards connection; or driven away from poverty or pain. In each of these scenarios you are likely to have a different (and sometimes complicated) relationship with money.

Studies agree that money makes you happy inasmuch it removes actual (not just perceived!) poverty from your life and adds a sense of security instead, so that you can concentrate on the things you want, rather than the things you must do to survive.

But sometimes, people still act as if they are constantly moving away from the idea of poverty, even if actual poverty is no longer part of their lives. At other times, they might be involved in an imaginary war trying to outsmart others and getting obsessed with constantly ‘winning’. Such attitudes, will make their relationship with money tense and complicated.

Wealth is far from the sole determining factor of happiness and joy. Knowing why you want to acquire it, will help you understand what drives you as a person and will direct the energy of money towards your deepest values, giving you a sense of accomplishment and purpose.      

Wishing you a week full of abundance,

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!

How to Waste an Extra Hour a Day

Have you ever wondered what you would do if you were gifted an extra hour in the day? Would you use it to do more exercise, go to the gym or perhaps see more of your family? Or maybe you would spend more time engaging with your hobby, whether it’s playing the piano, crocheting or reading?

The thing is…you probably already know the answer, as there is at least one day in the year where you are gifted this extra hour: every winter, when the clocks go an hour back, you wake up to one day with a bonus hour at your disposal! What do you do with that extra hour? The answer is, probably not very much.

As self employed professionals and solopreneurs, we tend to get lost in the daily details of our actions and often forget about the big picture. Going from chasing up suppliers to providing a service, training staff, finding new customers and keeping existing ones, it often feels like we are constantly jumping from one thing to another without any breathing space or time for reflection.

Because of this, we sometimes lose our alignment with our ‘why’. In our mindlessly going from action to action and ticking off items from our to-do-list, we forget to enjoy ourselves and to feel some of that enthusiasm and energy we should be feeling by doing what we always wanted to do, when we chose to be self-employed and become masters of our destiny.

Whenever you are asking yourself a hypothetical question about what you would do if you were gifted extra time, you are likely to get some recurrent answers.  You might say to yourself  ‘I want to spend more time with my family’, ‘get more sleep’ or ‘exercise more’. Such recurrent answers typically point to driving values, such as creating connection with others, rest and balance, health. These point to themes which are important in your life and can’t be ignored. So start making time for them right now!

If you can’t free up an hour a day, then start with whatever little time you can allocate to this activity. 10-15 minutes of exercise or spending time with family a day, will add up to 70-105 extra minutes a week of doing what is important to you. And that is over an hour of weekly activities that matter to you. 

And doing what matters, is what it’s all about, right?

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!

The Art of Bounce-Ability

For most people, the thought of losing everything they have equates to their worst nightmare. The idea of being deprived of our financial safety net, our health and close relationships is one which is able to make our heads spin and cause us to break out in cold sweat.

Most of us have been raised with deeply ingrained values such as security, stability and  comfort guiding our lives. Since those values dwell on an unconscious level, we are usually not aware of their powerful influence on our decisions, behaviour and ultimately, our results.

But the times we live in are unpredictable. The acronym VUCA is sometimes used to describe the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of situations we often face in the world we currently live in.

Threats such as global pandemics, climate change and scarcity of resources are likely to affect our stability in the future. Jobs for life can’t be taken for granted any more; people keep moving around from city to city and country to country searching for happiness (I’m speaking from personal experience here, having lived in four different countries); automatization and increased robotization make us more and more redundant in mechanical, predictable jobs.

At the same time, there is a whole new set of skills that become more and more indispensable in the world we live in: skills such as creativity, innovation, flexibility and the ability to quickly pivot when the going gets tough.

Our most important skills however, are our resilience, grit and ability to bounce back from failure or any challenges life brings. With these skills in place, we are able to face pretty much everything and quickly find our way back to our purpose, no matter how far we have strayed.

Why Doing Less Will Help You Achieve More

3 Ways to Beat Procrastination

The 7 Secrets of Successful Entrepreneurs

The Truth About Why Most Start-ups Fail

I’m willing to place a bet that at some point, as someone motivated and determined to improve your personal or professional life, you will have been swayed by a headline similar to those above. We feel an irresistible, almost visceral magnetism towards statements our brains experience as ‘positive advice’, things we need to do in order to become that Super Me.

This explains the recent success behind self-help books and magazines; titles such as the above stimulate primitive parts of our brain, giving us answers to questions we ask to ourselves consciously and unconsciously on a daily basis. They give us things to do in order to create that perfect life and solve the puzzles that preoccupy us.

But do we really need more things to do? Will you beat procrastination just by knowing the 3 ways to beat it, and will you also become a successful entrepreneur once you are in on their seven carefully guarded secrets?

The answer to these questions, lies all around you. Take e.g. one of the most popular and esteemed self-help books of all time: ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey. According to Google, the book has sold more than 25 million copies in 40 languages worldwide. Would you trust that reading the book has led to 25 million (more as many borrowed the book, listened to it on audio or bought it from another buyer) leaders, managers and motivated individuals in general to also become highly effective in what they do? Quite doubtful.

Knowing what to do is one thing, doing it is another. And sometimes doing it, is not the answer at all. Sometimes all you need to do is take a step back, and think about your problem with more clarity, looking at the big picture.

I discovered this the hard way when I was running a skin clinic before the pandemic came to shut the business, as it did to many other small businesses. I had acquired this existing clinic which was based on that location for over 12 years, and was quite excited about this. I was determined to make this business work, and was pouring my heart and soul into it, working 7 days a week. I quickly identified what I thought was the problem: pricing. We had the lowest prices in town and weren’t making much profit. So I got advice and assistance and started upgrading my equipment, did some work to the clinic itself to make it look more appealing and modern, focused on the staff delivering premium customer service, trained them to sell a new top quality skincare range, and raised the prices.

And then…crickets. The clients’ response to all these changes was lukewarm, to say the least. Several regular clients even stopped coming, despite us having trained the staff to reach out to them with lovely phone calls, letters in the post and offers they couldn’t possibly resist. This led to great frustration on my part and that of my staff. Could they not see how much better we were than before?

Once I took a step back and looked at the situation with more clarity, I understood the true nature of the problem. The issue was twofold:

  • The clients weren’t visiting the clinic because of the wonderful customer service or the top of the range equipment. They were visiting it because it had the reputation of being the cheapest in town. They were looking for cheap deals, not for quality of service or equipment
  • The only treatments the existing clients were prepared to invest in, were quick fix medical style treatments such as dermal fillers and Botox. They weren’t educated, and therefore not interested, in skincare solutions that require regular maintenance and time investment, such as using clinically effective skincare products in order to maintain the effects of the treatments.

Once I identified the true issue, I applied a two-part solution:

  • I intensified my outbound marketing efforts and invested in a case management system which helped me get new clients in that look more like my ideal clients
  • I used inbound marketing in order to educate people about the role of the nurse so that she could introduce more treatments that are in line with what the existing clients wanted. Furthermore, I encouraged the nurse to also educate people about the importance of skincare maintenance

The solution was there in front of me, but blinded by The Advice, I was looking at the wrong place. My real problem was that I wasn’t yet serving my ideal clients, and didn’t quite understand the existing ones. Once I saw this misunderstanding, the solution to the problem became much clearer. I didn’t need to introduce more things to the clinic. I needed to understand better what the current clients needed, while consistently attracting new ones that fit with how I wanted my clinic to be run.

Clarity of thinking leads to the right solutions. And you would be surprised to find how often that solution means doing less rather than more. Removing thinking that leads to a misunderstanding of the problem, and regularly taking a step back to look at the big picture, might be the single most important skill to help you achieve more at work and in life.

Playing Music Benefits Your Mental Health

Have you ever regretted not having had the opportunity to learn to play your favourite songs on your favourite musical instrument? Maybe at some point in the past you were motivated to learn an instrument, but life got in the way with all its challenges and busy demands?

There is increasing evidence on the benefits of being engaged with music on our mental health. And, it seems, the benefits not only come from listening to music, but also from playing music.

In a fascinating conversation with professional musician and ‘musical de-stressor’ Mark Deeks, we discussed the healing powers of music and the benefits on our mental health of singing in a choir or learning to play the piano.

Mark also dispelled some common myths which are holding back busy people from learning to play the piano. These range from ‘I don’t have the time’ (you can make progress just by devoting 15 minutes a day on playing) to ‘I will need to figure out how to play scales and play classical music’ (Mark teaches a method which doesn’t require either).

Mark has spent more than 20 years working as a musical director, pianist, arranger and teacher, and has built a really diverse group of musicians as a client base. From artists such as Faye Tozer of Steps to black metal bands Winterfylleth (a band Mark ended up joining) and Drudkh. He has given Lenny Henry piano lessons, and written versions of songs by metal stars Sonata Arctica for symphony orchestra and choir.

 You can find information about Mark’s ‘Not Another Piano’ Book here

Solopreneurs looking to beat overwhelm and create a life of freedom, clarity of purpose and accountability, join my FREE facebook group here