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Siblings Discover Why Tempers Were Running High In Their Business…

November 2, 2011

Giles and Sally had inherited their business from their parents, and while both were grateful, the regular arguments and debates were wearing each of them down.

Recognising that they needed to change their approach – but unsure of the best way to go about it – had led to Sally booking an appointment with me for both her and Giles.

At first Giles was resistant, afraid that his sister was simply going to use the session to get her own way – but he grew increasingly comfortable as he began to realise that not only did I understand both their points of view, but that my focus was ultimately on what was best for their business.

But, before we could start focusing on building their company, we first needed to address the emotional issues, not least because tempers were running high.

Each admitted that at times, the other drove them mad – and it soon became apparent that this was because they both had such a different take on life. Interestingly, as with many older children, Giles – who was the eldest of the two – was used to taking responsibility and issuing orders. His naturally cautious outlook on life meant that he was good at keeping the business on track and averting any disasters.

But while Sally appreciated Giles’ attributes, she was becoming increasingly frustrated that the business wasn’t making the progress that she believed was possible. Not only was she ambitious, but she was also a “big picture” thinker – and Giles’ constant focus on the “detail” was grinding her down.

After both had aired their views, I pointed out that from their business’s perspective, it was good that they had such different approaches. “However, where it’s going wrong is that you haven’t yet agreed a vision for the company – and therefore rather than working in unison to bring the vision into reality, you’re both simply squabbling with each other.”

It’s a common problem with family owned businesses. As well as all the usual family tensions, there’s often a feeling that one should be “carrying on the family tradition”. But without a feeling of “permission” to create a vision for the future, many family owned businesses find themselves falling behind their competitors in the marketplace, as they fail to stay fresh and contemporary.

What made matters worse for Giles and Sally however, was that as the eldest, Giles was inclined to “take control” of the business – and childhood memories meant that Sally tended to let him, feeling that as the youngest, her opinion didn’t really count.

Further discussion helped them both to see that to be successful in business, each needed the other. Giles needed Sally’s creativity and insight – which coupled with her easy manner with potential clients – meant that she was the perfect person to take responsibility for growing the business. However, Sally’s attention to detail was poor and without Giles’ watchful eye, it was likely that mistakes would creep in – which would ultimately lead to unhappy customers.

As I looked at them both, I realised that the pair of them were like the traditional two “halves” of the brain. Giles was more akin to the “left” brain – logical, detailed and process driven. Sally was more like the “right” brain – creative, intuitive and flexible. “But to succeed in life,” I pointed out, “we all do best when we use ALL, rather than just a part, of our brains!”.

Both of them laughed and began to relax as they could see that between them, they had a lot to offer their business – providing they both respected each other’s opinions and recognised the value that each brought to the organisation.

And the first step? Both needed to agree to spend some time working “on” their business and not just “in” their business – with an agreed vision for the future being a top priority.

How changing one word can make all the difference…

October 17, 2011

If you’re into creating great relationships – both at home and at work – then be aware that there’s one horribly easy way to stifle enthusiasm, creativity and passion in someone else. How? When someone tells you about an idea, simply utter the response, “Yes…but”!

“But” – is a limiting word that makes the person on the receiving end feel inferior. While some people get their kicks out of making themselves feel better by putting others down, it doesn’t make for harmonious relationships. In fact, using the phrase “yes…but” is a surefire way to create resentment within the people that you live with or manage (whether that management is upwards, downwards or sideways!).

What makes us say, “yes…but”? Sometimes, it’s because of our previous experience which tells us why an idea simply won’t work and on other occasions, it’s because we’re closed to any idea that we haven’t thought up ourselves!
Recently, my client Mark admitted he was having problems handling his junior colleagues. Having been promoted to a management position for the first time, Mark had been desperate not to put a foot wrong – which is why he played devil’s advocate with his workmates’ suggestions. What he hadn’t bargained for though, was the negative backbiting that his attitude created.

Wondering what he could do, he’d turned to me for advice.
The solution was simple. ‘Change “yes…but” to “yes…and…”’, I suggested. ‘When you say “yes…and”, you’re not only respecting the other person’s ideas but you’re also showing that you value their input. It’s more encouraging to hear “Yes, that’s interesting – and we need to think about …” rather than, “yes, it’s an interesting idea but you haven’t thought of…”.’

Mark tried this new approach for a month and reported back that his difficult staff had miraculously become much easier to work with!

If life’s a game – who’s throwing the dice?

August 15, 2011

Looking at life as a game can bring an interesting dynamic to how we experience and interpret what happens to us.

Take the children’s game, “snakes and ladders” for example. Viewed as a metaphor for life, this popular board game takes us through a myriad of ups and downs – and all seemingly without our having a say in the outcome. The dice dictate our future!

But then, who’s choosing to roll the dice?

As the Buddhists know, it’s our “attachment” to things, people and places which cause our suffering – but while this is an easy concept to get your head around intellectually, living it in practice is of course, far harder.

But it’s harder only because we take our lives – and everything in it – so seriously.

I have to confess that the whole “life is a game” philosophy seemed trite when I first heard it – great as an academic exercise but far less credible when you’ve just spilled coffee all over your new suit.

But I began to get it when I found myself – looking for creative inspiration one day – playing solitaire on the laptop. (Rather than viewing this as merely wasting time, I prefer to see this as a modern form of meditation!).

Having mastered the easy version, I knew that I’d win over and over again. But curiously enough, that took the fun out of it.

In order to keep myself engaged with the game, I had to keep pushing myself to the next level of difficulty!

In one of those “aha” moments that in reality only ever seem to happen to other people, I recognized that it was me that was choosing to complicate the game and in the same way, I often choose to complicate my life in order to create an element of challenge.

Without challenge, our life becomes the “same old, same old” – and ultimately pointless. Without challenge, we don’t grow.

As human beings, we have free will – coupled with the ability to create our lives as we choose. And yet, how often do we actually blame “fate” for what happens in our lives, rather than taking responsibility?

Of course, stuff does happen outside of our control – but it is how WE CHOOSE TO RESPOND to it that makes the difference.

All too often, we crave security – and yet once we have it, we complain of being bored.

The truth is, we’re not here to repeat what we already know – instead we’re being invited to create new experiences for ourselves. Each time we do something over again, the thrill is diminished. And it’s good that it is too – as our ennui leads us to be ever more creative, more experimental. Ultimately, security and freedom are at opposite ends of the continuum.

If the challenges we face strengthen us and provide the foundations for future “greatness”, then perhaps we should be encouraged by the seemingly insurmountable obstacles we find in our way.

They’re the “ladders” to our future – and seeing the “snakes” in this way helps free our minds from whether the things that happen to us are “good” or “bad”. From this new vantage point, they’re all “good”!

Seeing it from this perspective helps free the mind from its ego bonds – most of which are based around fear.

Try it for yourself – for the next month, every time something happens to you, remember that you’re the one throwing the dice in your own game. How are the seemingly “negative” things going to help you in the long run? Use your imagination to fast forward into the future – and from this perspective look back to see how your experiences of today provided you with exactly the learning you needed to become the “you” of your future! Try it, I guarantee that you’ll find it a truly liberating experience!

Is it time to change this dangerous pattern in your life?

July 28, 2011

Interestingly, I’ve just had three lovely clients in the last week who are all experiencing a severe lack of motivation, especially in the world of work.

Each arrived with a different story – but what they all had in common was deep seated anger, which they were burying deep under a veil of “niceness” and “understanding” for the other people involved in their saga of woe.

My three delightful clients had all shouldered more than their fair share of the “work” and had taken responsibility for “making things happen”– only to find that they’d been let down by others. But interestingly, rather than admitting that they were furious at being let down, instead they were insistent on seeing things from the other person’s point of view.

Of course, it’s compassion and understanding which not only keeps society on track, but it’s what we’re taught as being “right”. Only it’s less right when it’s not true compassion and understanding but is instead a masquerade for the real (all be it, uncomfortable) feelings – fury, frustration and fear.

And I have to admit to having a deep understanding of all of this as it’s something that’s played out in my life – so, probably it’s no accident that the three clients chose me to help them!

In fact, someone once labelled me as a “people pleaser”, which I found particularly nauseating – not least because there’s an unpleasant insinuation of weakness. Worse, studies have shown that people with this tendency often go on to develop exceedingly dangerous illnesses…

Time to shake things up then!

Often the people with people pleasing tendencies are those who are only or eldest children, who have an overly developed sense of responsibility.

Rewarded with the sense of approval for being “grown up”, these children learned that it was good to be thoughtful, considerate and polite – but bad to be “selfish and demanding”.

The result?

A tendency to put everyone else FIRST – and leave oneself out of the equation.

Worse, the ego then starts to kick in – and one of two things then happen. Either the person goes even more into people-pleasing and “niceness” – or they go into “anger and attention seeking”.

In the first scenario, the result is just a deepening of an already embedded pattern…in the second, the person feels an initial sense of release and relief, swiftly followed by guilt at not being “good”…and thus they swing back even further on the pendulum into increasing “niceness”.

And all the while, the individual is not getting what he or she wants out of life, with the result that sooner or later, they simply give up on trying, feeling that nothing will ever work out for them…and asking themselves, “what’s the point?”. Motivation levels descend to rock bottom.

But actually, the point is that there is a gift in all of this.

Once the ego is broken down from things “just not working out”, eventually a decision is made to “try doing things differently”.

The invitation?

Simply put yourself FIRST rather than last.

Sounds simple…but not if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool people pleaser.

But of course, the least selfish thing you can do is to put yourself first. By taking care of yourself and your needs, you’re actually stepping into your power. Looking after everyone else at the expense of your own needs means that ultimately, you’re becoming a victim/martyr…and who wants to spend time with one of those?

Great relationships work on a “win:win” basis – love itself is a continuous flow of giving and receiving. Anything else is simply a form of co-dependency, of enabling behaviours and patterns that aren’t actually helping anyone in the relationship.

So maybe it’s time to remind ourselves of the most important relationship we have in our lives: the one we have with ourselves!

It’s time to put ourselves FIRST, and not last. This is not about trampling all over others in order to get our own way, but instead, coming to see that we’re not meant to be giving to everyone else continually, at the expense of ourselves.

I once heard a religious man instructing people to “love others as you love yourself”. Nothing new there. But then he flipped his comment around, almost flippantly… “ And,” he continued, “maybe you should also try loving yourself, as you love others.”

That’s a major change in perspective.

So, the choice: Stand in your power and be true to yourself (irrespective of what others may or may not say about you) – or be the victim, and watch your life (and life force) ebb away. It’s a choice. We have free will.

And finally, I saw a greetings card once which said, “Please yourself – at least one of you will be happy!”

A sentiment that those of us with people pleasing tendencies would do well to apply to ourselves…

Do you believe you can’t be spiritual and wealthy?

June 13, 2011

Admit it – do you feel deep down that you can’t be both spiritual and wealthy? If you’re one of the thousands of therapists who have deep-seated beliefs that when you’re earning money, you’re not being spiritual then you’re running on a negative pattern of self-sabotage… Are you suffering from the symptoms:

 –        You work really hard – but never seem to make much progress?

–        When money comes in – so do the bigger bills?

–        You can’t attract enough full-fee paying clients?

Even though we’re not aware of them, all of us are running on sub-conscious beliefs that – until we investigate them – get in the way of our success. For example, you may have been told as a child that “money doesn’t grow on trees” or that “you should never try to get above your station in life”. 

While the comments may have been made by parents who were keen to teach their children not to be demanding, the result often is a “poverty mentality”. When we think “poor”, we give off “an energy” of poverty.  And sadly, because of the Universal Law which states “like attracts like” what we give out is what we attract. Learning to change – consciously – the pattern is vital if you’re to succeed in your therapy practice.

Changing your thinking is as simple as deciding that what may have been right for your parents and teachers isn’t necessarily right for you. It’s also about giving your conscious mind some positive – and believable – reasons for changing its patterns.

Firstly, in order to create an ideal world, we must learn to be mutually interdependent. This means that while we’re able to look after ourselves, we’re also able to rely on others to provide us with what we need – and at the same time, they can rely on us providing them with what they need. Or in other words, wouldn’t it be great if you could focus on doing what you do best, which would mean that you’d be earning enough to pay others to do what they do best. 

When you’re living with a poverty mindset, you have the belief that you can’t afford to pay anyone else – which is why you end up doing the jobs you probably loathe! 

For example, if you’re a fantastic therapist but hate bookkeeping, it’s best for everyone if you focus on attracting new clients – and with a small proportion of what you earn, you can then afford to pay someone else to look after your financial affairs! (And remember that all the while you’re doing your own books in this scenario, you’re doing a book keeper out of a job – how spiritual is that?!) 

Manifesting is an important aspect of spirituality and it’s only the ego – not your soul – that believes you shouldn’t have oodles of money if you’re spiritual. The Universe is abundant!

As therapists, we’re also teachers – by example. If we’re to inspire others to a better way of being, then we’re far more likely to win hearts and minds if we’re successful and are obviously enjoying what we do.

Finally, ask yourself how spiritual it really is to live a life of poverty, stress and worry? Start to see yourself as the co-creator of your own existence – and realise that you’re much more in charge of your own destiny than you may ever have believed!


Ask yourself this one question if things aren’t going your way…

June 13, 2011

Just recently, I’ve had what seems like a procession of people walking into my office – complaining that life just isn’t working out the way they want. If you’re in the same predicament, then you’ll be relieved to know that there is one key question you can ask which guarantees to get you out of the mire!

There’s a well-known saying in the world of motivational speakers that, “If you don’t like the results you’re getting, then change what you’re doing!” And just in case you’ve haven’t got the point, you might like to consider the following, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing – over and over again – hoping for a different outcome.”

If this sounds like your modus operandi, then you might want to stop for a minute and ask yourself what “hidden pay-off” you’re getting from your behaviours.  Three of my client’s experiences demonstrate how damaging hidden pay-offs can be:

¨After he took the trouble to slow down and investigate his subconscious mind, Mike discovered that he wasn’t getting the promotion he craved because he didn’t want it to get in the way of his relationship. As a child, his father had been a workaholic – and his parents had split up because his mother had an affair.  The hidden pay-off: “I get to keep my partner by not succeeding at work.” 

¨Rick had been wrongly accused of a joy-riding crime as a teenager and he’d been furious that no one would listen to his pleas of innocence. Stuck on the dole more than 10 years later, it wasn’t until he interrogated his subconscious mind that he was able to get to the bottom of his apathy.

The hidden pay-off: “They didn’t believe me, so I’ll make them pay for it.”

¨Dave was terrified at the prospect of making a presentation at a forthcoming industry conference. Convinced that he’d make a fool of himself, he knew that he needed to start to think differently – and fast – if he wasn’t going to end up with egg on his face. After asking his intuitive self to come up with answers, Dave remembered his school teachers humiliating him in front of the class for being a “show-off”.  “Nobody, he’d been told, “likes a show-off”.

The hidden pay-off: “Keep a low profile and keep your friends!”

Try this for yourself: Choose an area of your life which isn’t going quite the way you planned and ask your intuitive self to reveal the “hidden pay off” you’re getting from the situation. Keep contemplating the question over a couple of days – and you’ll be amazed at the answers!


SIRPA workshop for Therapists and Coaches

June 7, 2011

SIRPA are putting on a workshop to teach therapists and coaches about the exciting cutting edge work they are delivering.

Although this is not the full training to become a licensed SIRPA Practitioner, this will be a very full day which will open up the eyes of all attendees to just how common stress illness is.  We will cover the concept itself and practitioners will learn how to recognise Stress Illness and then how to help their clients become self empowered in uncovering hidden stresses in order to begin their journey to recovery.

Coaches and therapists are well placed to use this work for the benefit of their clients and combined with their own work will result in even happier and healthier clients!  It’s a win win situation.

If you are interested in booking this event further information can be found at

Do you find it hard to talk about money?

June 7, 2011

We all count the pennies at this time of year as we try to work out how to afford that all important holiday. Perhaps that’s why I’ve had numerous friends and colleagues with just one topic on their mind: money! Actually, it’s not money that’s the topic of conversation, but rather the lack of it…

Delve under the surface though, and it’s clear that there’s something else going on. There are three underlying, fundamental issues that need to be addressed if you’re to be good with money…

The first is self-worth: Until we value ourselves, nobody is going to value us. Do you feel that you deserve to receive abundance – or is there something deep within you that you feel ashamed about and which (unwittingly perhaps) you’re continuing to punish yourself about? What better way to make yourself “pay” for your crimes than keeping yourself short of money!

Take a look around you. Are the people you hang out with flying high, being creative and receiving glorious abundance? Or are they scrimping & saving and moaning about how there’s not enough month at the end of the money? The people around you mirror what’s going on within you. Watch them and learn!

The second is not setting clear enough boundaries: Of course, boundaries and self worth are very much interlinked…until we value ourselves, we don’t feel we have the right to keep anything for ourselves. Instead, we give it all away to others – and then become bitter when we’re left with nothing.

Sharing, creating interdependence and basing life on an attitude of win:win IS what it’s all about – however, being over-generous, refusing to receive and living life on a lose:win basis isn’t spiritual, isn’t clever and certainly isn’t how it’s meant to be!

The third is fear of disappointment: Every single one of us hates disappointment – it’s a kind of horrid rejection with no-one to blame! Because disappointment makes us so uncomfortable, we choose to both deny and avoid it – with the result that we don’t dare actually ask for what we want!  Until we ask for it, we won’t receive it!

But the trick is to ask for it in the right way! Most of us whine or manipulate (at some level) to get what we want – and yet we hate it when they do the same to us!

To ask for something from someone takes courage, humility and strength and of course, whatever else you do, make sure that you base all your requests on win:win!

For the next month: Start to become consciously aware of how you treat money. Examine your beliefs around money and take note of how you behave with it.  Understand that it’s about creating balance – and only when you know how you REALLY behave with money, can you then start to make any necessary adjustments.

Have you got to grips with “The Secret”?

May 26, 2011

The ancient Law of Attraction has recently been brought up to date with the publication of the hot selling, enigmatically titled book and DVD called simply, “The Secret”.

If nothing else, the concept is certainly working for the group of individuals behind the project. At last count, more than two million copies have changed hands – with word-of-mouth-marketing being the only promotional tool!

Complied by Rhonda Byrne, many renowned self-help gurus have also lent their name to “The Secret”. So, how do you actually get the Law of Attraction to work in your life? Depending on whether you’re a logical, analytical business-type, or a more intuitive, ethereal creature there are two takes on the subject…You pays your money…and you takes your choice!

For the business types: Turning a creative idea into reality requires belief, planning and implementation. In order to guarantee any project’s success, first get “buy-in” from everyone involved.  A thumbs-up from people who secretly don’t believe in the project’s success will result in passive aggressive behaviour, which is both expensive and frustrating. The second step is to plan for the project. An easy way to do this is visualise the outcome as though it had already happened. From this endpoint, simply “re-wind” the video and work out what had to happen in order for the vision to become a reality. The third and final step is to take action – and implement the plan.  The trick here is to remain flexible when obstacles inevitably arise – and yet firmly focused on the end goal. 

It’s a simple three step process: 1. Get everyone’s buy-in for the project, 2. Plan the major steps needed to turn the vision into reality and 3. Implement the plan – remain focused on the “what” but “flexible” as to the how.

For the intuitive types: The secret of manifesting – whether it’s money, a happy relationship or better health that you’re after – is to focus your thoughts on what you want.  Whatever you spend your time thinking about is what you create. Many people waste their thoughts – and manifesting abilities – by focusing on what they don’t want. Don’t fall into this ego trap.  Instead, take one dream at a time and focus your thinking upon it.  But even this isn’t enough. To manifest your dreams, you must also feel them – as though they had come true already.  Your emotions are energy in motion (e-motion) and when you feel the heady excitement and fluttering in your heart of your dreams come true you are much, much closer to manifesting what you want. And yet even this isn’t enough.  What will guarantee your manifesting capability is to take physical ACTION!

It’s a simple three step process: 1. Focus your thinking, 2. Delight in your feelings (as though the dream had already manifested) and 3. Take physical action to make your dream a reality.

If that’s the definition of insanity, are you mad?

May 24, 2011

It was something of a “eureka” moment. Complaining bitterly that my life wasn’t panning out in exactly the way I’d envisaged, it suddenly struck me between the eyes that if I wasn’t getting what I wanted, then it was up to me to change it.

OK, so it’s hardly rocket science – and to my shame, I’ve been teaching this kind of progressive thinking in my courses for some time. Some wag once defined insanity as, “Doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different outcome!”  And I have to confess that I’d been living an insane life – working harder and harder and doing more and more of the same thing!  No wonder I was just getting a lot more of the same results…

So, having experienced this moment of enlightenment, I decided to make the most of it and start to examine every area of my life – from the “opposite” of the microscope.  It wasn’t long before I could see that working so hard was making me over tired…and that over-tiredness was at the heart of my frustration.

I don’t know about you, but when I get overtired, I get crabby. Very crabby. And with the general crabbiness comes an unpalatable propensity towards being judgmental – a characteristic which I loathe in others and despair when I see it in myself.  (It was only a short while ago that I realized that if I were going to be truly non-judgmental, then I was going to have to drop my judgment of judgmental people!)

When I’m in the judgmental zone, everything starts going pear-shaped – and at an amazing pace. Relationships start to crumble, nobody (including me) meets my high levels of perfection which means that we’re all living under a heavy black cloud of negativity.

I was in a vicious circle – the more tired I got, the harder I worked. Sound familiar? And yet, while I could assuage my ego with the thought that I was working hard, in practice I was just being a busy fool.  Worse, I was so exhausted at the end of each day that I was simply slumping in front of the TV in the evening. What I could see was that until I changed something – anything – the equilibrium would remain…which would make me…insane!

First I released myself from the tyranny of the TV by investing in Sky + (hey, I’m not against TV, it’s just that I’d rather choose what I watch and when) and then I set about changing my eating habits…learning the lesson at long last that by looking after myself, I can achieve more.  (Up til now, my car has been getting more tlc than me – how mad is that?!)  I also started looking at where I “leak” time and energy – and discovered that a few so called friends were actually leaching from me. Ouch. It was an uncomfortable discovery – but they had to go!  And with more energy, I now had the drive to set about throwing out all the “old stuff” that seems to have been accumulating and gathering dust around the house ever since we first moved in!

Was it worth it?  Absolutely!  As well as having more energy and more time for real friends, I’m much more focused on the work that’s really going to make a difference to how I live my life. I’ve ditched several projects with the result that some amazing new opportunities – that I’d only ever dreamed about – are now coming my way! 

Try this yourself: Become consciously aware of everything you do.  What are you routinely repeating because you haven’t stopped to investigate why you’re doing what you’re doing? Think about your relationships – who enhances your life and who actually doesn’t? Think of someone you admire and who’s living the kind of life you aspire to – if they were to shadow you for a month, what advice would they give you?