Author Archives: Tanya Mann Rennick

Confidence following an MBA

Yesterday, I gave a talk at Cranfield University to MBA graduates on how to be confident. The irony is, I was totally in awe of all these clever people!

But here’s the thing, and this is what I told my audience. It really doesn’t matter how well-educated you are or how many brilliant qualifications you have if you lack the confidence to tell anyone about them!

If you have no confidence, you won’t be able to pick up the phone, or send emails, or get your C.V. in front of the right people. Without confidence, you won’t be able to network or socialise and grow your circle. If you lack confidence, you will not attract the sort of people you deserve to spend time around and who are worthy of your intelligence.

So, Why is Confidence So Important? 

Imagine you are standing on a tiny little island called Academic Achievement. There are all your examination results, your degrees, your papers, your dissertations and a whole bunch of certificates. You stare into the distance at a far off land; it is called Success. Over there, far away, is a shiny place where it’s all going on. People are doing all the things you can only dream of. In between you and Successland, there is a sea. It is called the Sea of Fear. Maybe, in your head, it is not a sea. Maybe it is a wall or even a mountain or perhaps a deep valley. However you see Fear, it is very real to you and seems almost impassable. Unless of course, there was a bridge. A bridge could help you skip right across and get you to exactly where you need to go. That bridge has a name. It is called… The Bridge of Confidence.

 

The Brilliant Idea of Acting As If

Henry Ford said; “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” I can’t think of a better way to put this idea, so I’ll let good old Henners take the credit. Our minds are constantly changing and developing. What we think totally depends on what we input and this is referred to as neuroplasticity, or brain plasticity meaning your mind’s ability to change and develop throughout life.

If you convince your mind that you have “Got This” then you probably already have. Here are three instant techniques to try when you find yourself experiencing butterflies in your tummy.

  1. Say your most powerful three affirmations over and over and with great conviction. YOU HAVE TO SAY THEM LIKE YOU MEAN IT. In this type of situation, some good ones might be

I AM STRONG

I AM POWERFUL

I AM CONFIDENT

 

2.   30 SECOND VISUALISATION TECHNIQUE This might take a little longer when you first try it, but once you understand the process, you can almost instantly take yourself into this kind of “state” at will. People who practice this type of mindset technique do it almost without thinking although they may use triggers to get them there and the most simple way to refer to it is to get “In State.”

This is one visualisation idea but of course, there are endless options.

Stand very still. Stand up very tall. Your feet should be hip width apart. You are going to imagine you are a tree. See your arms and head as the branches, gently moving and swaying, covered in leaves and allowing the breeze to pass all around. Your legs and torso become the solid tree trunk; immoveable, strong, resistant. Now send your consciousness down to your feet. Feel your feet plant into the soft warm earth. Feel your feet rooting into the ground, deeper and deeper, connecting you with the earth and anchoring you exactly where you stand. Strong winds may blow, you may even temporarily lose your leaves, but your roots keep sending up energy for regrowth and renewal.

3.   POWER POSE Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk cleverly demonstrates how tweaking the way we hold our bodies can have a significant difference to the way others perceive us. It also has a massive internal effect on our confidence. If we are feeling shy or perceiving a threat, we may make ourselves physically smaller to reduce what is ostensibly the target. We can see this by folded arms and hunched up shoulders etc. What we are doing (albeit unconsciously) is protecting our heart, lungs and major blood vessels. It is a natural instinct and makes good sense if we are in danger to want to cover up our vulnerable life giving organs. When we are feeling confident, we tend to open up revealing our torso and allowing our sternum to be exposed. That’s why most comic book heroes tend to stand with their feet firmly planted, their hands on their hips and their shoulders back with a bit of chest out thrustage going on. Try standing like a super hero and striking your own power pose. Note how strong you automatically feel.

It is believed that babies have only two fears; the fear of loud noises and the fear of heights. Well, I’ve never dropped a baby, so I can’t say much about the second one, although, when mine were at the crawling stage, all three seemed quite determined to launch themselves from changing tables or the edge of my bed, so I’m not entirely convinced. However, if we are to go along with this theory, we could say that all other fears are learned.

So if fears are learned, they can be un-learned.

This includes all our beliefs around confidence. Do let me know if you have found this helpful or indeed if you still need some ideas.

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Motivation: 70 Mindset Quotes

 

Need a motivational quote to fire you up to all the possibilities in your life? Here are 70 mindset quotes that will make a difference in your life. Remember to share your favorite mindset quote in the comments.

1. “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

2. “Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”
– Zig Ziglar

3. “The way to overcome negative thoughts and destructive emotions is to develop opposing, positive emotions that are stronger and more powerful.”
– Dalai Lama

4. “You are the masterpiece of your own life,
you are the Michelangelo of your own life.
The David that you are sculpting is you,
and you do it with your thoughts.”
–Joe Vitale

5. “Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.” – Paulo Coelho

6. “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.” – Edith Wharton

7. “With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.” – Dr. Wayne W Dyer

8. “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” – Norman Vincent Peale

9. “Hate. It has caused a lot of problems in this world but has not solved one yet.” – Maya Angelou

10. “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle

11. “An attitude of positive expectation is the mark of the superior personality.” – Brian Tracy

12. “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

13. “If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

14. “The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking.” – Robert H Schuller

15. “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anais Nin

16. “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison

17. “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” – Douglas Adams

18. “Learning is a gift. Even when pain is your teacher.” – Maya Watson

19. “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened” – Mark Twain

20. “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha

21. “Hope is a waking dream.” – Aristotle

22. “The past has no power over the present moment.” – Eckhart Tolle

23. “Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.” – Francesca Reigler

24. “I do believe we’re all connected. I do believe in positive energy. I do believe in the power of prayer. I do believe in putting good out into the world. And I believe in taking care of each other.” – Harvey Fierstein

25. “If you want light to come into your life, you need to stand where it is shining.” – Guy Finley

26. “Today is a new beginning, a chance to turn your failures into achievements & your sorrows into so goods. No room for excuses.” – Joel Brown

27. “Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” – Tony Robbins

28. “We are all here for some special reason. Stop being a prisoner of your past. Become the architect of your future.” – Robin Sharma

29. “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

30. “No matter what the situation, remind yourself “I have a choice.” – Deepak Chopra

31. “All you can change is yourself, but sometimes that changes everything!” – Gary W Goldstein

32. “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” – Confucius

33. “If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” – John C Maxwell

34. “Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.” – Mary Tyler Moore

35. “I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.” – Muhammad Ali

36. “We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves.” – Swami Vivekananda

37. “The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.” – Unknown

38. “If someone tells you, “You can’t” they really mean, “I can’t.” – Sean Stephenson

39. “There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” – W. Clement Stone

40. “Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows.” – Michael Landon

41. “When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.” – Abraham Lincoln

42. “The difference in winning and losing is most often…not quitting.” – Walt Disney

43. “You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” – C.S Lewis

44. “All things are difficult before they are easy.” – Thomas Fuller

45. “Success is falling nine times and getting up ten.” – Jon Bon Jovi

46. “Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice.” – Stephen Covey

47. “Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” – Kurt Vonnegut

48. “You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It wont happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life.” – Joel Osteen

49. “The next time you feel slightly uncomfortable with the pressure in your life, remember no pressure, no diamonds. Pressure is a part of success.” – Eric Thomas

50. “When the world pushes you to your knees, you’re in the perfect position to pray.” – Rumi

51. “If you can change your mind, you can change your life.” – William James

52. “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor Frankl

53. “Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” – John Barrymore

54. “The best way to gain self-confidence is to do what you are afraid to do.” – Unknown

55. “The day is what you make it! So why not make it a great one?” ~ Steve Schulte

56. “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

57. “Being miserable is a habit; being happy is a habit; and the choice is yours.” ~ Tom Hopkins

58. “You cannot tailor-make the situations in life but you can tailor-make the attitudes to fit those situations.” ~ Zig Ziglar

59. “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” ~ John Wooden

60. “We can’t escape pain; we can’t escape the essential nature of our lives. But we do have a choice. We can give in and relent, or we can fight, persevere, and create a life worth living, a noble life. Pain is a fact; our evaluation of it is a choice.” ~ Jacob Held

61. “Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem and turned it into an opportunity.” ~ Joseph Sugarman

62. “The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

63. “Optimism is the most important human trait, because it allows us to evolve our ideas, to improve our situation, and to hope for a better tomorrow.” ~ Seth Godin

64. “I have for many years endeavored to make this vital truth clear; and still people marvel when I tell them that I am happy. They imagine that my limitations weigh heavily upon my spirit, and chain me to the rock of despair. Yet, it seems to me, happiness has very little to do with the senses. If we make up our minds that this is a drab and purposeless universe, it will be that, and nothing else. On the other hand, if we believe that the earth is ours, and that the sun and moon hang in the sky for our delight, there will be joy upon the hills and gladness in the fields because the Artist in our souls glorifies creation. Surely, it gives dignity to life to believe that we are born into this world for noble ends, and that we have a higher destiny than can be accomplished within the narrow limits of this physical life.” ~ Helen Keller

65. “Nothing truly stops you. Nothing truly holds you back. For your own will is always within your control. Sickness may challenge your body. But are you merely your body? Lameness may impede your legs. But you are not merely your legs. Your will is bigger than your legs. Your will needn’t be affected by an incident unless you let it.” ~ Epictetus

66. “Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives.” ~ Anthony Robbins

67. “Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.” ~ Groucho Marx

68. “Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

69. “Welcome every morning with a smile. Look on the new day as another special gift from your Creator, another golden opportunity to complete what you were unable to finish yesterday. Be a self-starter. Let your first hour set the theme of success and positive action that is certain to echo through your entire day. Today will never happen again. Don’t waste it with a false start or no start at all. You were not born to fail.” ~ Og Mandino

70. You have become who you are because of your story, not in spite of it.

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Inside the mind of a berserker

Why You Harness The Power of Emotion To Become Unstoppable

Want strength? Some of the most feared fighters in history were known as the Berserkers. These Norse warriors were named because of their ‘bersker rage’ – a mad fit of anger that they would leverage on the battle field. In this heightened and agitated state, they would become appear invulnerable and would also be able to accomplish feats of incredible strength.

Enemies facing the Berserkers on the battlefield would be terrified, and it is a well-known fact that campaigns are 90% won when the opposition is defeated in their mind.

There have been more recent accounts of something similar too. Hysterical strength is a term used to describe more recent scenarios where individuals have seemingly been able to dig into an immense reserve of strength on demand.

This is where the stories of Mothers lifting cars off their children trapped beneath come in.

Think it’s just a myth? Turns out there is a solid scientific explanation for how this might be possible. Under extreme stress, it seems likely that the body produces excess amounts of testosterone, adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones increase the heart rate, focus, awareness and muscle tone and this is where the extra strength comes from.

Actually, it goes even a little deeper than that. The thing is, all of us have limits to our strength imposed by our minds and our biology. When you go to lift a weight, you do so by recruiting muscle fibre – little bands that make up the muscle and contract in order to give us our strength. The most muscle fibre that the average person can recruit at once under normal circumstances is around 30%. The most that a highly trained athlete can recruit is closer to 50%. So, a highly trained athlete is only capable of tapping into roughly half of their maximum strength. This is what we mean when we refer to a ‘mind muscle connection’.

The reason we can’t access so much of our strength is a) that it would likely cause us injury as we would break a muscle, pull a ligament etc. and b) that it would fatigue us. If we were to use that much of our muscle power in a single movement, we’d have no energy left for anything else!

But under the right circumstances, being able to dip into these huge reserves of strength is incredibly useful. And adrenaline and other hormones under the right conditions allow us to tap into that power. Studies show that yelling in the gym can actually increase adrenaline and thereby enhance muscle fibre recruitment, resulting in strength improvements!

Now imagine if you could tap into even just 80% of that power at will simply by harnessing your emotions.

And here’s a great example of an early stage entrepreneur explaining in an interview with Jason Saltzman how she used her pain to keep her pushing forward.

Emotions for Calm, Collected Focus

But there’s only so far that being able to leap tall buildings and lifting cars will get you. In the real world, physical strength isn’t really what matters.

This is where the ‘flow state’ comes in. A flow state is often described as a state of calm, focused, bliss. It is what happens when the world seems to slow down because you are so intently focussed and engaged on what you are doing. This is also known as “being in the zone”.

Have you ever opened a cupboard and seen something fall out but moved in super-fast motion to catch it? That’s flow state.

More often we hear about it in extreme sports – athletes finding their flow and being able to pull off incredible stunts at incredible speeds.

Outside of physical activities, it is seen in music. When the entire band synchronises whilst playing, this is a type of flow state.

When you have a conversation with someone that lasts all night, that’s a flow state.

When you’re writing a book and you write so long that you don’t even notice the time passing that is a flow state.

Studies show us that executives in flow manage are hugely more productive than those that aren’t. The same goes for startups and other entrepreneurs.

So, what is flow?

Flow is another emotion. Another mental state that is triggered by the release of hormones and neurotransmitters. In this case, it is a subtle variation on the fight or flight response, a subtle variation on stress and panic. Here, you believe something is just as important as preventing yourself from getting injured, it is just as compelling as fighting for your life – but it is also fun rather than scary.

You have the entire attention of your body and mind which brings about a release of excitatory hormones along with calming ones and those related with bliss – such as anandamide. This actually suppresses activity in the prefrontal cortex, triggering a state known as ‘temporary hypo-frontality’. This prevents us from worrying, from second guessing or from over-thinking.

You just do.

It’s the opposite to how most of us live our lives today and that’s why many of us are filled with anxiety, frozen with fear.

Imagine being able to talk up to a woman/man in a bar and deliver your wittiest conversation ever. Imagine being able to talk in front of an audience with passion and conviction and enrapture them completely in what you’re saying. Imagine being able to work on the projects that matter to you for hours on end without even looking up.

No fear. No doubt. No bursts of anger or unwanted emotion.

This is when our best work is done. This is when we are happiest.

Many people try and live their lives in flow as much as possible. The problem is that most of us are full of anxiety and busy with chores and things we need to do. These limitations leave us stressed, anxious and busy and they take our mind out of the moment. Our entire body and mind cannot possibly be in-sync when we are worrying about debt, or what our boss said at the office.

Entering flow means being in the moment which not only makes you happy and confident – it makes you unstoppable.

Taking Control of Your Emotions

So how do you take back control over your emotions? There are multiple ways, but let’s address two important points: physiology and mindset.

Physiology refers to the fact that your emotions are really an extension of how you feel. Emotions describe things like happiness, sadness, anger, fear. We think that these emotions are born from our minds but a lot of the time, that’s not the case at all.

Rather, emotions come from our bodies. Emotions come from feelings which include things like hunger, tiredness, hot, cold.

The very function of your emotions is to trigger behaviours that will help you to fix the way you feel. When you haven’t eaten enough lately, your blood sugar dips. This, in turn, triggers a release of cortisol – the stress hormone. This tells you that something needs to change and wakes you up and in the wild, this would have encouraged you to look for food.

When you eat, your blood sugar spikes, you produce leptin and serotonin. This makes you happy and content and encourages you to sleep – eventually serotonin converts to melatonin the sleep hormone.

So, in other words, the way you feel is often the result your physiology and that changes the way you think. You think you’re angry because you had a bad day? Possibly. More likely, you had a bad day because you’re angry. And you’re angry because:

  • You didn’t sleep
  • You’re in mild pain
  • You haven’t eaten enough
  • You’ve eaten the wrong things

So, one way to change your emotions and to take back control is to acknowledge them. Firstlyrecogniseze that if you’re angry, it’s probably due to physiological reasons and it will pass. At least it won’t seem so bad later.

Secondly, seek to change this. Eat something. Sleep. Take the cue. Learn to follow your own rhythms and work when you’re naturally most productive. Follow the rhythms of the day and get your circadian cycles in check.

And at the same time, look at ways you can directly control your physiology. The very best way? Breathing!

If you learn to breathe correctly (using belly breathing to fill the lower portion of the lungs, then the upper portion) and if you use slow, controlled breaths, then you will be able to lower your heart rate and calm your entire body. This will change your parasympathetic tone, taking you out of ‘fight or flight’ and into ‘rest and digest’. Try it the next time you feel overly stressed, overly competitive or worked up after an intense workout – your heart rate will slow and your mind will grow calmer.

Leave a comment below and tell me when you last went “berserk” and what it took to calm you. Did you calm yourself? Did you change your physiology? Was it something else that made you change your behaviour? When were you last in flow? Why did you access the flow emotions at that particular moment?

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25 Business Success Afformations

Affirmations not working fast enough? Need to powerfully turbo charge your Mindset? Have you tried Afformations (R) instead? One of the first things we talk about in my Mindset MOT is affirmations and Afformations. Whilst they may sound a little “out there” they’re the foundation for a positive mindset.

Which ones will you try?

Tanya
P.S if you like this infographic please pin it to your Mindset Pinterest board.

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Your Mind Needs Growth

Can I ask a personal question?

  • What makes you happy?
  • What is your idea of a perfect evening?

Okay that’s two questions but how you respond is important. For many of us, the answer would be something like relaxing on the sofa, watching a great TV show and eating something delicious. Maybe you want to stay in with your loved one, or maybe you’d just like to relax and listen to some music.

These things are comfortable and they are refreshing. These things help you to feel calm and to rejuvenate from a tough week.

But you know what? Your mind doesn’t like these things.

In fact, these are the worst things you can possibly do as far as your mind is concerned!

The reason for that is simple: when you relax and when you chill, you don’t challenge your mind. The result is that it starts to atrophy.

Grow or Shrink

The brain is able to adapt to whatever you throw at it due to a process called brain plasticity. Brain plasticity describes the ability of the brain to grow and change shape: to create new neurons and to become stronger. Herein lies the principle of SAID: specific adaptations to imposed demands. If you practice languages, you get better at language. If you practice balance, your brain gets better at that.

But if you’re not growing, then all that extra neural matter is just wasted energy. The result? Your brain starts to atrophy and starts to burn through that extra matter. The result is that you deteriorate mentally and you’re not as happy as you once were.

Grow or shrink. Move forward or move backwards. Being ‘passive’ isn’t an option.

Your Routine Lifestyle Is Killing Your Brain

Routines are the structure of life. They simplify it. They limit the brain-draining decision making. If you eat spaghetti every night for dinner, you don’t have to waste 30 minutes each day wondering what to have for dinner. It’s spaghetti just like it was yesterday. And the day before and the day before and the day before that.

Routine lets us perform complex tasks like driving a car, with little mental energy. It becomes instinctive. Routines are run by your subconscious. They need very little brain activity to complete. You could perform them in your sleep.

Your Brain Loves Growth

When you learn a new language or skill, the brain will see this as positive stimulus. It sees this as a chance to get stronger and to ultimately improve your ability to survive. Thus it produces positive hormones and neurotransmitters like dopamine and brain derived neurotrophic factor. These help you to learn, but they also prevent the atrophy I mentioned. They protect the brain against degeneration and they make you smarter.

These help you to learn, but they also prevent the atrophy I mention. They protect the mind against degeneration and they make you smarter.

So while you might feel like the very best thing you can do for your brain is to relax and to sit down, actually the brain much prefers challenge and learning.

Sure, have your evening off, but make sure your life isn’t just a case of alternating between stress at work and doing ‘nothing’ at home.

Just vary the routine. The old adage “a change is as good as a rest” came about for a reason.

If you’re feeling meh it’s time to crack out the colouring books, the puzzle books or the language learning MP3s.

It’s time to use your mind for the reason it was created.

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It’s NOT Our Fault

My thoughts and prayers for the victims of the attacks on #London and #Manchester. I am rapidly losing patience with people who naively theorise that the perpetrators act for any reason other than Fundamentalism and Radicalisation. Attempts to hypothesise that it is all because of foreign policy or some other spurious theory that does not directly relate to the Indoctrination of Abhorrence for our Western Culture and values, including eight-year-old girls at pop concerts and foodies sampling ostrich burgers at famous markets is foolish and actually irresponsible.

The erroneous belief that our policies have brought this on ourselves is like saying a rape victim asked for it because she wore a short skirt. Or a suicidal schoolboy deserved to be bullied because he was fat.

It’s too simplistic to blame terrorist attacks on Western ideology because it doesn’t explain the actions of extreme violence in countries outside of its control; for example, the Boko Haram kidnapping and killings in Nigeria, the murder of Coptic Christians in Egypt, the multiple bombings in India or the terrorism in the Phillippines.

We need to stop applying our sophisticated logic to barbarism and concentrate on finding ways to prevent the growth and operation of terror cells in our midst.

The evil assault in Manchester was intended to cause maximum impact because of the singer’s popularity with children and teenagers, particularly, but not exclusively, female. Targetting such innocence is absolutely the most grotesque and cowardly act.

The attack in London was hideous in the way it was aimed at innocent people enjoying a warm evening out in our capital. My fifteen-year-old son often skateboards around the city and travels on the tube alone. My family loves to walk along the river.

As a Londoner, a mother and a live music fan, my world has been rocked. I reminisced with my sister the concerts that we were dropped off to attend without parental accompaniment; embarrassingly, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Shalimar, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and too many more to name, but the point was: we went alone. I remember waving my daughter off when she went with our neighbour’s little girl and her dad to see the Spice Girls. My son’s thirteenth birthday treat was a V.I.P. ticket to see our shared favourite band, Black Sabbath. Tony Iommi spotted little Alex in the audience he waved at him and got a roadie to hand my boy their playlist. They played Hyde Park, where incidentally, Sound Garden was supporting; Chris Cornell, now no longer with us. My youngest hasn’t yet even been to a concert…

I do not pretend to understand how the bereaved must feel right now, but I hope as a nation, we are not cowed by this evil. I hope we do not succumb to our initial instincts of holding our children too close, attempting to keep them so safe so that they never feel the joy of freedom that only a few years ago, we took for granted as our right of passage.

My deepest and heartfelt sympathies go out to all the bereaved, injured or affected in any way by these monstrous atrocities.

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What We Can Learn From Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin would put on a disguise and sneak into the movie theatre where his latest blockbuster was playing. He would find a place in the back of the house and watch for the reaction of the audience. He was already successful; he had made a fortune. By the time he walked into the cinema, the picture had already been released, so at that point of retrospect, there was, in fact, nothing more he could actually do. When asked why the master of imposture did such a thing, his simple response was; “Because I care.”

How many of us feel the same way? How many of us make a point of going back to our customers or clients in an anonymous way to find out what they really think?

For those of us who do not, is it because we simply don’t care? Is it because of time constraints? Or maybe, is it because we have become inflexible and unwilling to change what we have created? Do we consider the product we offer as standard and fair; some people like it, and some do not, and there is no pleasing everybody?

Some years ago I was having lunch with my family at a good restaurant in London; the sort with a celebrity chef’s name above the door. Everything was a little too rich for my then six-year-old daughter. Instead we asked for some plain chicken and they were happy to oblige. When it arrived, my little girl asked for ketchup. The unsophisticated request turned the maître d’s face from looks of bemusement to utter repulsion, but in fairness, he summoned and immediately dispatched a flunky to purchase a bottle before the meal went cold.

Did the anointing of Heinz’s best condiment dilute the chef’s reputation? Did he come flying out the kitchen, cleaver in hand, and expel my child, throwing her tomato-soused dish after her? Of course not! And because of that we returned; many and several times over. Incidentally, now my little girl is twenty-four and she has learned to live without the dreaded sauce, although she still enjoys it as a dip for cucumber. Bonkers but true.

SO – how often do we go the extra mile to satisfy our clients? Should we consider this as responding to customer’s needs, or do we see it as a dilution of our brand?

Next time we think about standardizing our offering, perhaps we should take some time to reconsider the “One Size Fits All” mentality. It may well be easy to buy an off-the-peg suit, especially if you are of average build. Indeed, it is far cheaper and instantly gratifying. Certainly, in our age of Amazon Prime, we simply don’t like waiting for much anymore. But the experience of a personal tailor creating your made to measure suit, with the fabric, the lining and the cut of your choice, and preferably made on Savile Row, is infinitely preferable and a much more satisfying long term experience, especially in the wearing. The fact is, following classic lines, but to have them adjusted just for you, cannot fail to make you feel special.

How ironic that in order to demonstrate the idea of aiming for bespoke we should remember the work ethic of a man dressed as a tramp; arguably the first screen actor who so beautifully defined the art of bittersweet comedy, and who demonstrated with tear-jerking empathy the human condition: the late and very great Charlie Chaplin.

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March News

Here’s a snap of me delivering a workshop at the Imperial College Business School for some amazing strong survivors of trafficking. It’s one of the most prestigious universities in the UK. We covered positivity, confidence, and self-esteem. Straight away, I was invited to lecture at another university. Also feeling proud of the presentation skills work last week at Claims Consortium Group because it’s just been voted the 46th in the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to work for and just back from an Intensive VIP coaching session in Barcelona. Love my work x

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Your Own Personal Mouse Moment

I was trying to summon up the courage to dispose of a dead shrew-mouse-vole-thing (couldn’t focus long enough to tell) that the cat brought into the sitting room via the cat-flap. I threw a saucepan over it and ran from the room shrieking, then posted as much on my Facebook page, saying,

“PLEASE don’t tell me it’s only natural or she was bringing me a gift Just tell me what scares you so that I can feel less ridiculous OR send me fortifying encouragement OR offer to come over and get rid of the rigor-mortis-rodent that lies in repose on my particularly nice Oriental carpet…” words to that effect.

I was lucky enough to receive all sorts of fortifying comments, but one in particular from a dear friend in London via Australia really struck a chord with me.

We had joked about all the terrifying insects and beasties that render most people useless except Aussies because they grow up getting used to dealing with them.

Karen pointed out that I get up and speak with ease but although I think she’s pretty good at presenting already, she said she was petrified of it and still learning to do it; “so we all have our own “Mouse Moments.”

She reminded me to take that fearlessness that I have when I stand up in front of an audience of thousands and direct that to one little mouse.
Earlier I helped someone see that they need to spend more time on their fitness or end up finding the time to spend away from work and family when they fall seriously ill. The fear was very real about taking time out but I helped them to see that they would be likely to lose far more than time if their health failed.
Your personal Mouse Moment might be the immediacy of birds, heights or things that go bump in the night. Your mouse moment might be the longer-term fear of not being good enough, your partner’s infidelity, or heart failure.

So what did I do about the shrew-mouse-vole-thing? Well, naturally as is fitting for this age of social media, I took a photo. Then, after a (reasonable) amount of fuss making and an (unreasonable) amount of nigh-on hysterical laughter at the absurdity of my behavior, on went the disposable gloves; out came the fire tongs and the poor little creature was flung under a bush. Of course, I felt like an incredibly triumphant She-Rah Warrior Princess of Power as a result.

The thing is we all have Mouse Moments. So the question is what are you going to do about yours?

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