The Art of Stepping Up Into a Bigger Role – Do It Your Way!
After the initial thrill of the promotion, a broader remit and a seat at the new table, how will you settle into your new role? Naturally, you want to be relaxed, and confident, have a few healthy nerves and be ready to make a difference.
What I want, is for you to have a blast, make a positive difference to others and do it YOUR way.
What might stand in your way?
Aside from acquiring the required knowledge, for me, it was usually how well I managed the “airtime” in my mind. The assortment of thoughts and ideas vying for attention.
In other words, how well I managed my mindset.
In my experience it really doesn’t matter how ready you are for the role or how capable you are of doing it, if you have a human-thinking brain you will experience a mix of thoughts and emotions, some favourable and some unfavourable.
The stronger your capability to focus positively, optimistically and with confidence the better you will perform and the more you will enjoy it.
To varying degrees, you are likely to experience the following thoughts:
- Those people don’t think I’m ready, capable, a good fit…
- Who am I to think I can operate at this level?
- What if this makes me even busier and takes over my life?
- But I am not good at <fill in the blanks>
- How long before I’m found out?
- I’ll have to work twice as hard to pull this off.
- What if I fail?
- I don’t know enough about <fill in the blanks>
These thoughts might be fleeting, nanosecond ideas that you’re able to quickly dismiss or they could set up home in your mind and cause a lot of trouble.
The extent to which you can master your mind determines how much you thrive and succeed. A mind crippled with self-doubt seriously impacts your nervous system. The negative feelings create physical symptoms in your body and set up a corresponding behaviour.
- Negative thinking = negative feeling = negative behaviour
- Doubtful thinking = uneasy feeling = uncertain behaviour/lacking confidence
Of course, the opposite is true:
- Positive thinking = positive feeling = positive behaviour
- Confident thinking = feelings of ease and certainty = confident behaviour
While it is true that some people are naturally more positive and optimistic, it’s a habit that anyone can develop. Our brain’s role in highlighting danger creates a negative thought bias that we must consciously override.
Anyone can, but not everyone does.
Develop a rock-solid mindset focused on solutions rather than problems, with positivity over negativity. In doing so you can transform the way you feel and perform in your new role (and all parts of your life).
Most people do this with the help of a Personal Development Coach, Books or Courses. In my view, this type of `inner’ work is always a top priority. It helps you to develop and sustain the mindset and habits of top performers and it’s a game-changer for your results.
“Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.”
– JIM ROHN
Let’s conclude with a glance at the other things you might want to consider, as you step into your new role.
Embrace the learning curve:
- Try to be comfortable with the fact that adapting to new responsibilities, expectations, and skills requirements is part of the journey.
- Seek mentorship, coaching or training.
Increased workload, real or not real?
- Try to avoid the mindset that a bigger role means a higher workload and focus on how you can do things differently.
- Take time to re-evaluate how you currently manage your schedule/priorities and make adjustments as appropriate.
- Set clear intentions about your time and create boundaries before you get started.
- Map out where you intend to empower others and where you want to be hands-on.
Feel into Imposter Syndrome:
- It’s real and it’s normal, but it’s not a sign that you’re not ready. Allow yourself time to grow into the role and do this with a positive and confident state of mind.
- A coach or mentor will be beneficial in helping you to manage any doubts or negative self-talk.
Build and nurture relationships:
- Consider your stakeholder map and adjustments needed in your new role.
- Be ready to put in more effort in the early days as you establish trust and navigate the changes with others.
Adapt your leadership style:
- Your own style may need to be adapted as you step into bigger leadership roles, so do some self-reflection and set intentions about the type of leader you would like to be.
- Consider your working habits and how they may need to be adjusted, where might you need to be more nurturing than assertive, directive rather than passive or delegate rather than do…?
And finally, start each new day with an attitude of service. Leadership is a service role, seek to give more than you get and be the type of leader you would want to work for.
Quit your job!
Walk out swinging your hips while Aretha Franklin screams R.E.S.P.E.C.T, and your colleagues look on in admiration.
Isn’t that the only way to proper fulfilment? Leaving your 9-5 to work for yourself doing something you love. Open a Surf School, become a writer, sell stuff online, or get your arse on stage where you’ve always felt alive!
Follow your dreams.
As someone who’s done this, I will tell you it’s a buzz! I was happy in my executive career, but if I’d known the joy I’d feel spending my days doing what I adore, I’d have done it sooner. Real joy! Like, click your heels and do a little dance levels of chuffed-ness.
But, working for yourself is not the only way to a more fulfilling life and there are some downsides.
The heal clicking stops when:
- Your cashflow is uncertain and unpredictable
- You have to learn how to perform every task yourself including sorting out your own Tech issues
- You’re sick and you don’t get paid
In the beginning, and until you’ve reached a certain level of success you need a strong stomach, but once you’ve made your own business work, you will never go back.
The challenges are bigger and impact you personally and directly, but nothing beats the exhilaration of waking up every day to work on something you’re mad passionate about. If you can get yourself comfortable with uncertainty, rejection, mistakes and failure, I’d say go for it.
But, perhaps for these reasons and other reasons of your own, you don’t want to run your own business. That’s ok. There are so many upsides to working for a company. I loved so many things about my leadership career:
- Working with great people
- Doing interesting work
- Problems to solve, things to improve
- The buzz of the annual conference
- Team Away Days
- My lifestyle
- And, although I took it for granted at the time, predictable income, private health, stock and an annual bonus.
If you’re working for a company right now and you don’t want that to change, but:
- You’re not 100% fulfilled
- You have other things you want to do
- You have passions outside of work
- You want more diversity in your life
- You want to give back in a more meaningful away
What’s the answer?
You don’t have to quit your job, but you do have to turn and do what you love. Just because you can’t do the thing full time, or earn a living from it (right now), is not a reason not to do it.
Turn and do what you love. Do it now. Don’t wait!
- Decide the `other thing’ you want to do and commit to making it happen (let’s call it your passion project).
- Make a committed decision that you’re going to do it and cut off from any possibility (don’t allow doubt or excuses to creep in).
- Decide which hour(s) of the day you’ll work on your passion project.
- Be disciplined and persistent in your work.
- Write down 6 actions you must take to succeed and put them in order of importance. Then, work on number 1 until it is complete or you’ve taken it as far as you can. This is an exercise in focus and momentum. Do not dabble in items 2-5. Stay focused!
- Manage your mindset and fuel your desire by bringing your project to life in your imagination every morning and every evening.
- See problems as opportunities to learn and remain 100% solution focused.
- If you make a mistake celebrate the gift of growth and learning.
“A Person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein
Don’t make excuses!
We’re conditioned to spend our days between work and distractions like TV, devices, social media, consuming food and drink. If you want a joyous and fulfilling life, you have to be willing to relinquish the daily trivia that will suck your time and keep you from your true passions.
Be brutal with yourself.
Be honest with yourself.
No time? Take inventory of how you spend your time. Outside your day job, it’s your choice how you spend it, so invest it well and you will be rewarded.
If you do what it takes, for as long as it takes, you will succeed. Hold the faith. If your passion project came from inside of you, it’s meant for you and you will have it.
I turned to do what I love when I started writing online articles, launched my business, started taking breaks in the countryside alone, started Open Water Swimming. In my experience, most of the things that bring us happiness and meaning are easier to reach than we think and don’t require us to quit our job or turn our life upside down.
It starts with a few simple questions. What do I want? How do I want to spend my time? What could I do now?
I have a list and I’m enjoying
working living through it. Grow my business, travel with my family, start cycling, more hiking and wild camping, write my book….
It’s an exciting future don’t you think!
Success is 5% strategy, 95% mindset. On race day it’s 100% mindset!
Boy, did I need to dig deep to complete Lake Coniston end to end swim (5.2 miles)!
I’ve never swam further than a mile in open water before. I trained hard and knew I was physically strong enough.
What I didn’t know….
On race day, it’s 100% mindset!
In the first 500 metres panic set in as the swimmers in my group (the yellow hats) swam away from me and I was left alone in the river:
- What was I thinking, I’ll never finish this?
- I’m not like those swimmers, they’re professionals!
- I should have started with a 1K for my first event!
- I’m in this water all alone now!
- I’ve got 5 miles to go, there’s no way.
- I’ll be asked to exit as I won’t finish within the cut off time.
- I can’t breath!!
- Lorna, you’re a mindset coach for f***s sake, you’ve got this!
- You make a decision and you do it!
- You’ve got this!
- Get your rhythm and swim.
- Focus your mind and do it!
I took a breath and tugged my wet suit up away from my closing throat, it filled with cold river water creating some space. I set off slowly, counting my strokes. One, two, one, two, one, two. Focusing on the rhythm had a calming effect. Head down, swimming properly, it wasn’t long before I caught up with a couple of yellow hats, regaining a bit of confidence. A period of calm swimming as the sun warmed the river and I looked down at the beautiful yellow plants. I’m loving this.
I reached 1.5 mile and smiled. I’ve got this!
The sun disappeared and I was suddenly getting thrown around like a leaf in the wind. It felt like I was going nowhere. When I turned my head to breath a wave would slosh into my mouth.
- Oh god I can’t do this for another 3 miles.
- Just keep swimming Lorna!
At some point it calmed again and I’m steady away.
Suddenly I felt a surge behind me, realising in horror that the next group of swimmers (faster purple hats), had caught me up and were swimming past me effortlessly. I tried not to panic.
- It’s your race Lorna, do your thing, let them do theirs.
- Let these purple capped dolphins pass and do your thing.
In no time they passed and they’d left a gift! As I watched their beautiful swimming technique, I reminded myself that I’m a good swimmer and for some reason I’d left my technique on the riverbank. I put my head down and started feeling the water, pulling it back and gliding through. Another period of enjoyment before the waves brewed.
It’s just another part of the challenge, keep going. Keep pressing on.
With 1.5 mile to go I was totally confident.
I stopped at the feed boat for an energy drink. Sipped it and threw up a little. Oh no! I feel really sick.
I carried on gingerly, feeling nauseous. My mind racing.
- What is this?
- It must be sea sickness
- I’m not stopping!
- Shall I go faster and get it over with asap?
I tried speeding up, but it made the sickness worse. I started feeling cold. It wasn’t cold, there where people swimming without wetsuits.
- Come on Lorna, less than a mile now.
I really wanted to head into the last mile pushing my endurance, adding speed, but it wasn’t happening. I started retching and had to stop to vomit three times. So sorry for anyone behind me,
I can see the finish and I grit my teeth and swim burning the last of my physical and mental strength.
I try to smile for my photo and say thank you for the medal, but I’m worried I’m going to throw up all over the staff. I see my family, cheering, faces of pride. They hug me. I’m shivering and emotional. I need to sit, lay down, warm up, throw up….
Mark peels off my wetsuit and I hug my dry robe to my chest, shivering uncontrollably. I can’t hang around. Within minutes I’m in the car, heated seats, water and flapjacks in hands. I can barely eat, but I know I must. I nibble half a sweat oat bar, forcing it down.
All through the race I was thinking, never again. Why do we do this to ourselves? I’ve completed my goal to do an open water swim, I can tick it off my list and move on.
Within 2 hours, I’ve signed up for the next one. And I am 100% doing Coniston 2023! I know you now Coniston! Next year I’m giving you my all!
Find The Gifts
Scans, tests, hospital appointments, surgery. My husband Mark is facing something we all hope will never happen to us. The past couple of months have been more challenging and anxiety inducing than anything I’ve ever faced. We are not through it yet, but he had a second surgery to remove a tumour and is recovering well!
Even during our most scary moments, one thought kept coming into my mind.
“What are the gifts?”
Maybe you find this odd. I would find this strange if I didn’t know me. I’ve spent years coaching myself and others to find the good.
Look for the good. It’s always there.
During this life threatening challenge, we regularly paused to talk about the good we could already see in the situation.
- Time together, nothing else was more important than looking after each other.
- Talking and listening, we created space, asked questions, tried to understand and support each other.
- We prioritised wellness, taking action on things we always said we `should’ do, like prioritising cooking to eat well, being with nature, daily smoothies, hydration, meditation etc.
- Connection and reconnection with friends and relatives we’d lost touch with.
- We finally made the commitment to invest fifteen grand to turn the VW into a Camper Van. A summer of adventure or money in the bank?
I used to spend a lot of time thinking about what other people think of me, my social media presence, my live coaching sessions etc. This would often hold me back, slow me down and create a lot of doubt and worry.
I still care, but I now able to touch it lightly. In other words, things that used to worry me, I have released giving a sh** about. Try it, it’s liberating!
In the early months of the Pandemic, the late Bob Proctor reminded us of something. He said, “Accept it, we can’t change it. It is what it is. Harvest the good, forgive all the rest.”
Everything has an opposite. Up, down, right, left, good, bad, happy, sad, positive, negative. I believe there is good to be found in everything. It may not be instantly recognisable, and you may seem crazy to even try to look for it, but it’s always there.
If you’ve been through something like this, you’ll know how much it changes you. It’s like your head has been taken off, shaken around, turned upside down and put back on again. At times it felt like I was living someone else’s life, an outer body experience, a parallel universe. At some point a worm hole would open back up to transport us back to our real life. Our old life.
But that’s gone now, and there’s lots to be grateful for.
I am not in a hurry to go through this again and we are focusing on a positive future. We feel blessed by the growth and wisdom one can only get through experience. Perhaps the bigger the challenge you’re facing the bigger the growth you receive?
Whatever challenge you face, if it’s a big one, get excited because, there will be gifts there for you. It’s hard, but we can look for them, and finding them will get us through.
FOPO: Fear of Other People’s Opinions
I’m obsessed with FOPO right now. Fear of Other People’s Opinions could be the single biggest barrier to confidence and success. It’s the gigantic bag of rocks that we lug around, barely able to walk, let alone leap enthusiastically towards our best self.
- There are people who literally start sweating when they sit down to write a social media post, spend 4 hours writing it, and decide not to post it after all.
- I know people who will only ever take their kids in a swimming pool if they’re on holiday, in another country where there’s no chance that someone they know will catch a glimpse of them in a swimming costume.
- I know people (erm, used to be me!) who spend days unpicking their contribution in a meeting, wondering how they came across to the people in the room.
- In large organisations I was involved in conversations about the `optics.’ It could be the right thing to do, but if it would be perceived negatively it wouldn’t happen.
- Scared to take part in a gym class, scared to join a gym, join but scared to enter the gym, join the gym but gripped by the fear of Lycra.
My FOPO obsession gathered momentum after a recent a breakthrough. Since starting my own business I’ve had my fair share of sweaty palms. Social media posts, videos, hearing my own voice, sharing an opinion that not everyone is going to agree with and generally doing anything public (a requirement in my business).
My first live video! OMG, what will people think of me? It took months before I felt confident in front of a camera.
But this year my husband Mark was diagnosed with Cancer, and the bag of unimportant bricks I’d been lugging around were replaced with a massive rucksack filled with lead. When you’re facing one of the worst things that could happen, everything else evaporates. The things I lacked confidence in suddenly looked ridiculous:
What if I forget my content during the lesson I’m facilitating?
What if I make a fool of myself?
Can I really write a blog on this topic?
In the past 4 months, I’ve said to myself many times “I no longer give a f***!”
I wasn’t faking it and it wasn’t bravado. I genuinely felt the change deep inside, one of the many gifts of Mark’s health `speed bump.’
But it’s human nature to want to be appreciated by others. It’s normal to want to be liked and loved.
Napoleon Hill in Think and Grow Rich says there are 6 Ghosts we need to overcome if we are to maintain the mindset for success. They are the 6 Ghosts of fear, fear of ill health, fear of death, old age, poverty, loss of love and fear of criticism.
How do you imagine things have changed since 1938, when Think and Grow Rich was first published?
How would you rank these fears in order of dominance in your life / mind?
Which of them hold you back most?
Illness and death are serious, one could be deadly, the other positively IS deadly.
But, if you currently don’t have an illness, and you are reading this blog from a train rather than your death bed, then the threat isn’t real.
Maslow’s hierarchy suggests that love and belonging are the third basic human need. Could fear of losing love and the fear of criticism be linked? If we are criticised and judged negatively, we are not appreciated by others, we’re not liked…we’re not loved.
The conclusion in our mind is, If I am criticised, I am not loved.
The message to our mind, I must pay attention to what other people think of me.
I must care what other people think of me.
Which becomes…I must fear what other people think of me.
Which becomes…I lack confidence to do the things I truly desire.
Caring about what other people think and fearing what other people think of you are not the same. I’m not suggesting that we do whatever we want and stick a finger up to the consequences. I am suggesting we learn how to recognise when FOPO is holding us back and push ourselves onward.
I’d like you to reflect on all the areas of your life to understand where you’re overly sensitive to what other’s think. The school gates, in meetings, at the gym, sharing a photo, sharing an opinion on social media, with your family/friends…
Signs of FOPO
- You are in the habit of asking 10 people their opinion before you make a decision.
- There’s something you desperately want to do, but you’re worried what other people may think, so you don’t bother.
- There’s something you could do to achieve a result you desire, but you’re avoiding it because you know it won’t be popular with 100% of the people involved.
- Think of all the areas where you believe you lack confidence and dig into the reasons. In many cases it’s FOPO:
- Lack confidence presenting – FOPO
- Lack confidence speaking up in a meeting – FOPO
- Lack confidence asking for the sale – FOPO
- Lack confidence having a difficult conversation – FOPO
In my business, my desire to reach and help as many people as possible is stronger than my fear of judgement or criticism. Make your desire stronger than your fear and you’ll do whatever it takes. You might care what other people think, but don’t be afraid. You can learn to hold the opinions of others gently, thank them and let them pass.
Overcoming FOPO (Examples provided at the end of the blog)
- Be honest with yourself that FOPO is holding you back.
- Write down the fears. If I do this, then…
- For each fear, consider the likelihood of it happening. If there’s almost no chance it would happen, you can eliminate the fear from your mind immediately.
- Write down the benefits of doing the thing you’re scared of. If I did this then…
This exercise will cleanse your mind from unnecessary clutter, help you laugh at some of the things you’re scared of and be clear on the fears you must face to move forward.
Remember the worst that can happen usually isn’t that bad, but the best could be incredible.
This is YOUR LIFE. Don’t miss out on anything that brings you abundance, joy or success, because someone who is NOT YOU might not appreciate it. Never dim your light or play small to please or appease others. Take the rocks out of the bag and release them. Lighten the load.
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Laugh, every chance you get.
And finally, try not to be the person giving the opinion that the people in your life fear. If you’re going to judge others, make it your mission to look for the good in them, notice their gifts and talents and tell them you appreciate them.
Overcoming FOPO Example 1
Fear of what my boss will think is holding me back from sharing an opinion I feel very strongly about
I’m scared that if I don’t agree with my boss, she might fire me.
The chance of that happening is low.
The benefits of me voicing my opinion are:
- Congruence with my integrity
- I want to develop confidence which will be a requirement when I am a leader
Overcoming FOPO Example 2
I want to go on holiday for alone to recharge and write a book
My husband and kids will think I am selfish for leaving them, my parents think I never finish anything and don’t believe I’d have the staying power to complete a book
The chance of them having this opinion is high.
The benefits of me booking my holiday alone are:
- I teach my kids about boundaries
- I might write a best-selling novel
- I will be a rested and better parent / wife when I return
- I am showing that I trust my husband to take care of the kids
- It’s a desire I have had for 20 years and if I don’t do something to put pen to paper, I might die with this book inside of me
 I want to acknowledge that this fear can feel very real for those with health anxiety.
The Game-Changing philosophy I wish I’d had at the start of my leadership career.
When we’re part of an organisation it can be wonderful! Exciting goals, great people, supportive leaders and team work. It can also be toxic and soul destroying. Egos, arse covering, blame, silos and stress.
I’ve been in both situations. When it’s bad, it feels like the world is intent on making it hard for you to succeed. A harmful culture can make it feel challenging just to show up, let alone deliver to the best of our capability and be the best we can be. I believe confidence is crucial for high performance, but even the most talented individuals can end up paralysed by the noise and cr** going on around them.
So what can we do about it?
I want to share something with you which has helped me enormously. If you adopt it as a philosophy, the impact on your life could be transformational. When I installed this idea, I released myself from self doubt and perfectionism, and I no longer felt the need to do things just to please and appease others. This helped me in my leadership career, and was vital as I stepped out on my own.
To do my job well, I need to be visible to the public (in a pretty big way), therefore other people form opinions of me, and the work I do. In the past, positive feedback would fill me up, and negative feedback, would leave me anxious.
Can you imagine if I hadn’t gotten over this?
Chances are, I would never have started my own business, or if I had:
(a) I would be so deep in the grip of FOPO (fear of other people’s opinions), that I’d avoid doing things necessary to build a thriving business.
(b) Been too scared to do my first webinar, which was scripted, and uninspiring, but a necessary step towards the awesomeness of webinars 10, 11, 12 and 50!
In short, I wouldn’t have a business.
We can’t link our self worth or happiness to results or the opinions of others.
Sometimes I get the contract, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I deliver an exhilarating lesson, sometimes I don’t. I’ve learned to touch the wins and the losses lightly.
It starts by accepting this idea I am sharing with you, then maintaining a poised internal environment, regardless of external factors over which we have no control. I have this quote pinned to my wall as a reminder.
“To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”
– Elbert Hubbart
If I want to be my best in this life, I can’t avoid criticism, but I’d take that over being nothing any day.
Sam has consistently delivered solid sales results and received great feedback. She feels highly confident in her capabilities and has a strong track record.
One day Sam gets a new boss, who is interested in raising the bar. She is working on it, but hasn’t quite met her new boss’s expectations.
In her weekly 121, Sam’s boss highlights her shortfalls and in each email she receives, Sam detects an undertone of dissatisfaction.
She starts every day with the same positive attitude, enthusiastic and ready to win. Today, she is feeling good about the day ahead, and confident that the deal will be signed.
On her way to a client meeting she bumps into her boss and senses her judgement and disapproval. Her boss seems to be criticising and noticing all the things Sam is not doing well enough.
It’s all Sam can think about.
She starts to question her capabilities, even where she knows she is talented. Her optimistic mood takes a nosedive, her mind fills with doubts and her confidence crashes to the floor.
The meeting does not go well and she does not get the sale.
Sam goes home and sits down to play with her two young children, but her mind is elsewhere. She puts them to bed as quickly as possible, and pours a large glass of wine which she hopes will relax her shoulders.
She steps into a new day feeling marginally brighter, but she can’t shake the niggling feeling, the whispering self doubt.
What’s happened in this story?
Sam knows she is good at her job, has a strong track record and is usually positive and successful. Her boss’s attitude towards her is making her question everything.
Losing the sale feels like confirmation that her boss is right, perhaps she isn’t good at her job.
Sam has given her power away to her boss, the bad meeting and negative result.
Despite Sam has peers, colleagues and clients valuing her highly and Sam knowing she is good at her job, she is now questioning everything.
She is like a leaf in the wind being blown one way and then the other. If the leaf lands on the good side, Sam feels great, but if it lands on the other side she feels terrible.
She’s allowing people and events to control how she feels and behaves.
As long as good feedback and good results keep coming, Sam is ok. She still believes in her talents and continues to feel confident. However, when bad feedback, a poor results or a bad boss comes into her life, everything crumbles.
What’s the answer?
The key for Sam is to `Touch things lightly’ (Essay by Thomas Troward – Touching Lightly)
This is an exercise in mental focus.
Certainly, Sam should be aware of her development areas and work at improving them. She should understand why the sale didn’t go ahead and learn from it. What she should not do is centre her whole day, her existence and self worth on a handful of events and one person’s opinion.
You must touch good results as lightly as you touch bad results.
Your centre of control and power comes from inside of you. When this is strong, solid and unshakable, you become resilient and feel immediately at ease.
Troward says “Are we self-poised, or does our balance depend on something external?”
Where does your centre of control come from? Is it inside of you, or is it outside of you?
Don’t give your power away to other people or external circumstances!
These days I a poised and feel in control. Sh** happens, but I no longer niggle on it for days, or even hours. I can’t afford to be crippled by the opinions of others or attach my happiness solely to business success outcomes.
Every day I succeed and fail. I learned to touch the successes as `lightly’ as I touch the failures.
This doesn’t mean I think I am awesome, and that I don’t need feedback. I do something every day that makes me better at what I do, and I listen to feedback. But when it comes, I can hold it gently, pick it up and put it back down again.
I hope there’s something in here to support you to stand in your power and own each day in the way that you want. It’s your life that matters most!
You’ve Got This!
My husband is in the middle of some health hurdles and it’s the hardest thing we’ve ever faced.
This morning, as we waited for the doctor to arrive with results from multiple scans and tests, I thought I was going to be sick, my was heart beating out of my chest. I looked at Mark, face white behind his mask, right knee bouncing up and down uncontrollably.
Each time we heard foot-steps in the corridor we stopped to look at each other in anticipation. “Look at us, sitting here scared of footsteps,” he said. I closed my eyes to count my breath in and out, in and out.
The doctor arrived and told us quickly that the tests were clear. We celebrated briefly, before getting back down to the business of the surgery he was already scheduled for.
As we drove home stomach cramps and chest pain kicked in. When I realised the last time I’d felt this way, I was a little taken back. I’ve ran my own business for several years, but I used to work for global organisations in leadership positions with significant responsibility, heavy workloads and travel.
At the end of a busy day, back in the hotel room, I’d often get stomach cramps, but I never gave it much thought, assuming it was due to eating different types of food. Periodically, I would find myself pausing, trying to take deep breaths to relax my tight chest.
During the drive home with Mark, I realised how much underlying stress I used to have in my body.
These past few weeks, I’ve been filled with adrenaline, ready for fight or flight. My body’s energy diverted, preparing for danger. A `gift’ we were born with to keep us alive, run from Tigers, swim like crazy if we fall in a river etc.
“When someone experiences a stressful event, the amygdala, an area of the brain that contributes to emotional processing, sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. This area of the brain functions like a command centre, communicating with the rest of the body through the nervous system so that the person has the energy to fight or flee.”
Every cell in our body is focused on getting ready to run faster and respond quicker than we would normally be capable of. The body stops doing anything which isn’t required for escaping danger, i.e., digesting food. Our muscles contract ready for action, in my case tightening the chest and shoulder muscles.
Hey, I was busy healing that cut on your hand and repairing cells!
Sorry, pause all that please, I need help to escape this burning building!
My recent stress response was triggered by real threats, not a couple of deadlines and a presentation, but the symptoms in my body were the same!
I’d developed a tolerance to living in a state of mild stress, and in doing so exposed myself to all the associated health risks of heart attack, stroke, anxiety and depression. I was so used to feeling that way, I thought it was normal.
How many of us live like this?
The scary thing is, for years I wasn’t even aware, but now I know:
1. The “threats” were not real, but imaginary.
2. It had very little to do with external factors such as busy workloads, challenging leaders, difficult stakeholders etc.
3. Ideas in my mind created the stress, (disproportionate importance placed on work, feelings of inadequacy, leading to doubt, worry and overworking).
A few years prior to starting my own business, I did some soul searching, personal development, mindset and wellbeing work and the last few years in my leadership role were the best ever! I felt relaxed, calm, confident, had more fun and got better results. I released the stranglehold I’d always tried to have over my work, and stopped giving my power away to other people, deadlines and results.
Every person I’ve ever worked with would agree that they’ve felt this way at least once. One cheeseburger a month won’t kill you, make you fat or clog your arteries, provided the rest of the time, your diet is decent.
A bit of stress can be a good thing, but we don’t want to live there.
4 Wellbeing Checkpoints:
1. Your Mind. Does it feel noisy, cluttered and unfocused?
2. Your Behaviour. Are you multi-tasking, hurried, impatient and short tempered?
3. Your Emotional Home. Do you feel doubtful, worried, negative or sad?
4. Your Environment. Is your office disorderly, your car filled with litter and stuff you haven’t got round to clearing out?
The good news!
We exercise to take care of our body, and we can do the same for our whole self. The Global Wellness Institute confirms there are practices we can engage in to be proactive in supporting our overall wellbeing and move up the scale from suffering to thriving.
I no longer leave my wellbeing to chance, but these past few weeks I’ve had to dig deep to keep my head above water. I’ve had most of the processes below installed into my life for years and usually I am energised, passionate and alive. These past few weeks they’ve helped me survive, and I am grateful for them.
10 coping mechanisms if you’re facing a big challenge:
This is what I did:
1. Walking – get up and walk before the mind starts to race.
2. Break the day into bitesize chunks – the short term milestones can help maintain a level of balance and focus in the mind.
3. Meditate – if you’re new to meditation, it could be a challenge while you’re in the grip. Guided meditations are great for this.
4. Managing your thoughts as best you can – don’t chase the worrisome thought, it’s just a thought, and the thought itself cannot harm you. Let it pass. Shift and try to focus your thinking on a vision of the outcome you desire (and expect it).
5. Swimming (running, cycling, sport etc) – For me, swimming forces a beneficial rhythm of movement and breathing.
6. Cold water therapy (Cold shower, sea or lake dipping, open water lidos) 1
7. Yoga or Thai Chi – Movement and breathing to create focus, calm and mind-body connection
8. Homeopathic remedies for relaxation and sleep.
9. Eat nutritious foods, hydrate.
10. Accept or ask for support – you might want to talk and have someone listen, you may wish to say nothing, but have someone to hold a space of stillness for you, or just be around the people you love.
(You may also want to investigate other practices such as Reiki, Tapping, Counselling and other alternative healing therapies).
As Mark and I face the challenges ahead, we are so thankful that our powerful and positive mindset habits are already a way of life for us. We feel confident and empowered.
As so many of our friends have said, “You’ve got this!” Whatever you might be facing right now, you’ve got this too!
With love and gratitude
- Do your own research, seek expert advice and make the decisions about what’s best for you. For cold water therapy, make sure you are well informed about the safest way to introduce it, and speak to a GP to make sure it is safe and appropriate for you.
When would NOW be a good time?
What do you want to do that you’re putting off? Are you, `someday-ing’ your way through life?
Can we be certain that `someday’ will be available when we’re ready to grab it?
Rather than living with the expectancy of a long life, Buddhists give thanks for each day and value every breath. They live in gratitude for every moment they’re gifted with.
I’m not sure how I feel about this.
I’d prefer to assume that I will live a long, healthy and happy life, rather than preparing for it to end, but appreciating life is important too.
I want to dream and get excited for things to come, but I also want to be present and savour every moment.
Convinced that we have decades ahead of us, do we defer the things we want to do? Suspend living, in the belief that we will do it “just as soon as…”
Putting it off for another day.
I did this for years. Head down, on the hamster wheel, earning money, pausing for a holiday where I wasn’t fully present. Smiling as I pushed my kids on the swings, slightly agitated by the list of things I wasn’t tending too.
- When would my daughter be top of that list?
- When would I do the puzzle with my son with genuine interest and enjoyment?
- When would I ask my husband the kind of questions that I used to ask him when we first met, and be truly interested in what he had to say?
- When would I take a couple of hours off to have lunch with my parents
- When would I meet my sister and best friends for coffee and have a belly-laugh like teenagers?
- When would I go to the log cabin to write my novel?
- When would I do the open water swim
- When would I visit Hadrian’s Wall?
- When would I watch the sunrise?
- When would we convert the van into a Camper Van and live with freedom and nature?
Sooner or later. Why not sooner?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to own a cabin in the country. I imaged how I would drive there, with nothing but a box of food, bottle of wine, laptop, notebook and walking boots. I’d drink coffee on the porch watching the sunrise, then head out for a hike. By 10am, I’d be back writing my novel at the desk by the window overlooking the Lake. In the evening, I’d sit on the porch with a glass of wine and look at the stars.
During a coaching lesson with my clients, I asked them to think about everything they desired in life. I asked them to make a list of 30 things they wanted.
Then, to take a highlighter pen and mark everything on the list that they could do right now.
They were surprised when over 50% of their list was highlighted.
You can guess the next part of that coaching session.
Every person took immediate action in the direction of the life they want to live. Not talking, doing.
Each of my clients experiencing the things they want to experience, living their life now.
Not `as soon as…’
I booked an Air B&B cottage in the Yorkshire Dales. After a hike and a dip in the water-fall, I warmed my feet by the log fire with a glass of red wine in my hand and a glow in my heart. While I was there, I wrote a new coaching programme.
I still don’t own a cottage, but my dream of time alone in a cottage with nature, log fires, a laptop and some wine, is now a reality. All it took was a decision to do it.
Last week, during a clear out, I thumbed through a journal I’d written over 10 years ago. In it, a list of all the things I wanted, and of course the country cabin was top of the list.
Why had I waited 10 years? Time? Money? Perfection?
We often postpone doing anything until all parts are perfect. If it’s not an exact match to what we want, we don’t bother.
I decided that some action was better than no action and having part of my dream was better than having none of it. Why wait to buy ‘some-day’ when I could rent today?
I consider this dream achieved and I have two breaks a year in a country cabin in a location of my choice.
You know what to!
Make a list of all the things you want to experience in your one and only life. Grab a highlighter, get colouring and get going.
Make a decision and take immediate action. Today, not some-day!
Live in Peace – A Tribute to Mr Bob Proctor
I believe Bob offered guidance and support to a world in desperate need of a new path.
Do you know that feeling when you read the last page of a book you’ve fallen in love with? Or you’ve raced to the end of a TV series, and feel lost when there’s none left to watch?
I felt like that when I got to the end of Tony Robbins, `Get The Edge,’ 7 Day Personal Development Programme. Listening to Tony, his ideas about human emotions, his lessons in success and his philosophy to “live with passion,” felt like ME.
Like someone had found the words to explain what had always been inside me. It felt like coming home and I did not want it to end. On day 7 of the Programme, I put disc number 1 back into the CD player and started the whole programme again. I binge listened again, and again, and again.
A voice nudged me, this will help everyone you know, share it! I passed it around, but it didn’t seem to resonate.
This happened years ago, when I was 25, and Personal Development wasn’t really a `thing.’ I wanted to be part of ‘it’ even though I didn’t really know what ‘it’ was, or how to be involved in it.
So, I continued along my leadership career path for the next 15 years, always studying Tony and other leaders in his field, but I didn’t hear the name Bob Proctor until I enrolled onto a friend’s course, which turned out to be Bob’s ground-breaking `Thinking into Results’ system.
This was it! Finally. A process! A method. It was like everything I’d ever read, or listened to, had been poured into the top of a huge funnel, organised and packaged into a system to create the life and results you truly want, rather than what I’d been settling for.
One student of Thinking into Results explained it best when she said, “It’s like the instruction manual for the person I was meant to be.”
Bob trained me in it, igniting a 20 year old burning ember into a passion. He gave me a way to be part of ‘it.’ Instead of passing information around, I could do for others what Tony and Bob had done for me.
I am grateful every day to Mr Bob Proctor, for helping me and every person I work with to live on purpose.
On February 4th I received the news that, at age 87 Bob had passed away.
It hit me hard! I thought of his family and those closest to him. I thought of the millions of people around the world whose lives had been changed forever because of his work. I mourned the fact that I would never again sit with him in the conference room at the Hilton Hotel in Toronto.
Today, what I feel most, is eternally grateful that I had been in this great man’s presence. Grateful to Bob, to his business partner Sandy Gallagher for co-creating Thinking into Results and to the Proctor Gallagher Institute.
Bob helped me to remove the filter through which I’d been perceiving the world. Superficial values and ideologies had me creating a life I didn’t actually want.
Since I straightened out my wonky priorities, I’ve never felt calmer, happier or more excited for today and every day that’s ahead of me.
I believe Bob offered guidance and support to a world in desperate need of a new path.
I am inspired to be a small part of his ongoing legacy.
Mr Bob Proctor, warm, funny and a true gentleman. Love and light to you and your family.
With love and deep gratitude.
I want you to start gossiping every day.
I want you to start talking behind people’s back. Get together with friends and talk about your other friend who isn’t there.
Go to a meeting room with a colleague. Write another colleagues name on a flip chart and start talking about them.
Sorry, I missed a word out. I want you to talk good about people behind their back.
This is one of the lessons in my coaching programme and there is so much more to it than being nice. The basic premise is givers-gain. What you put out, comes back. These are not cliches, this is the way things work.
Let’s say you can get on board with the simple idea that its generally a good idea to talk positively about other people, to give to others, be of service, be helpful and supportive.
But beyond it being a nice thing to do, why bother?
Giving time and love to other people, celebrating them behind their back and to their face, letting them know what you appreciate about them…
All this requires energy. Positive energy. For you to give positive energy, you have create it inside of you first.
Think about it this way, if you’re annoyed at someone who just cut you up on the road, almost causing you to crash into a tree, you may feel that they deserve your anger. But, they’re ten miles away and you’re still raging. Your heart is beating out of your chest and you haven’t yet stopped swearing. Who is hurting most? Not the other driver. They’re singing their favourite song and drinking their sweet coffee.
To be angry, you have to create anger.
To be loving, you have to create love.
To give positive praise, you have to find the positive feeling inside of you first. You can’t give what you do’t have to give.
Put simply – when you give, you feel good.
BOOM – erang! What you send out comes back. It happens by law, the law of cause and effect. If you want good things in your life, form the habit of being in the spirit of giving.
A law means it happens every time, without exception.
Want to be loved, be loveable.
Want more money, circulate some.
Want to be appreciated? Appreciate others.
Where most people go wrong
We expect our giving to come back from the person we gave it to, and when a person doesn’t reciprocate, we stop bothering. This isn’t giving, it’s trading and when you trade, you choke off your supply. Open yourself up completely to giving and receiving wholeheartedly, without expectation.
Open the windows and let the good in. Flow it out. Allow it in.
3 Ways to develop a mindset of giving:
1. Start each interaction with the thought of, `what can I give‘, rather than `what can I get.’
2. Form the habit of looking for the good in others, and let them know you notice it.
3. Whenever you’re speaking about people who are not in your presence, speak only good about them (pssst, they don’t have to hear it to feel it).
Some other fun things you can do to develop the habit of giving:
- Give your favourite hand bag to a friend.
- Write a note to someone listing 20 things you appreciate about them.
- Send someone a thoughtful gift.
- Write a review when you receive good service.
- Tell the podcaster you admire how their work has impacted you.
- Tip the bill (have you heard of this? It means you tip the same amount as the bill).
- Like and comment on ten social posts that you appreciate every day.
- Identify a colleague that bothers you. List 5 good qualities about them. Every time you’re in their company, pay them a compliment (must be genuine).
- If you see a social post that you’d normally role your eyes at, force yourself to make a supportive comment (only if it’s genuine – dig deep people!).
- Forgive the driver who cut you up and almost made you drive into a tree. Remember that there’s not a single driver on the road who has never, ever made a mistake. Not even you!
How do you know if I have a mindset of giving?
You do it even when people aren’t watching and you do it even if they’ll never know.