Hard Work

10 08 2010

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” (Thomas Edison)

I overheard a quote recently where someone pointed out that if you wanted £100,000 in 9 months, you could spend the 9 months doing ten thousand £10 sales, or making a hundred £1000 sales or spend the 9 months working out how to get one £100,000 sale – the outcome is the same.

I work with individuals who want more success, so a conversation about what success means to that person is not at all unusual. It may seem that it’s an obvious answer but everyone knows what success means to them. Maybe it’s more money; maybe it’s more fun and passion; maybe it’s more peace and security; maybe it’s just happiness.

Quite often there is an unspoken belief or assumption that an individual is making about what they would have to do or be in order to be successful.

Perhaps they believe that they need to become distant from their loved ones, perhaps work 7 days a week or use unhappiness as a motivating tool to become successful.

While the specifics may be unique to each person, it’s fairly common that there is a belief that success requires hard work and must be difficult. This is a formula that is used by many as a way they seek success and some people will thrive on the extra challenge and pressure that they put themselves under working this way. However, it’s not something that works for everyone, at least over any length of time.

In case you are jumping ahead, I’m not about to suggest that positive thinking alone will manifest what you want and that no work is needed. I am about to suggest that if you are always looking at the difficult route you may be missing easier options. Using the example at the beginning of this piece – maybe you are so focused on trying to make ten thousand £10 sales that you are missing an opportunity that would generate one £10,000 sale. Or perhaps you have been focusing on the one £10,000 sale and missed the ten thousand people wanting to make a £10 purchase.

So often I see the assumptions that people have made about what they will need to do to be successful actually get in their way and often stop then for taking any action. There’s a Chinese proverb, “Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still.”

If you want to write a book you don’t have to sit down and write chapters and chapters in one go, you could just write a couple of pages every day and see how fast it grows.

It will still require you to take action, or do some work but you don’t have to ignore the easy stuff because only “hard work” leads to success.

This week I invite you to answer the following questions:

Pick a situation, goal or area where you would like more success and are willing to explore and play with in more detail:

1. Set a period of time aside each day this week to do the following:

2.What would be one easy step to take that would move you closer to what you want?

3. If you are happy to take that step, go and take it.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the duration of the time that you have set aside.

5. Notice the difference this makes to your energy levels and to the progress you make.

Have an easy week




Happy Happiness Happens Month!

3 08 2010

“Happiness is a Swedish sunset – it is there for all, but most look the other way and loose it.”
(Mark Twain)

August is the 11th annual “Happiness Happens Month.”  The Society of Happy People, who began the celebration, say that there are 3 purposes of the month:

· To recognise and express happiness
· To listen to others talk about their happiness
· And “Don’t rain on other people’s parades.”

Given that this is the first week in August I thought that it was appropriate that today’s message should be about happiness.

As I sat down to write this I glanced at my bookshelves to see several books devoted just to the topic experiencing more happiness in your life. It’s a topic where much can be written about so I will just cover a part that I find often comes up when I am talking with clients and potential clients.

I work with individuals who want more success so very early on we have a conversation about what that means for them and how they’ll know they’ve got it. While I get a variety of answers ranging from financial amounts, where they are living (and who with), it often boils down to the fact that they think that they will be happy when they have that success.

At some stage they have started to follow a belief that when they are successful then they will be truly happy. While I have no objection what-so-ever for someone to have the bank balance, business, relationship and living conditions that they’d love and being happy I think it’s a great shame to postpone feeling happy until that time!

This week I invite you to consider the possibility that

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.”
(Albert Schweitzer)

If that was true, what would you do different?

Have a week full of recognising happiness




Tell The Truth Day

6 07 2010

“Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.”

(Elvis Presley)

I came across a mention on a calendar earlier that tomorrow is Tell the Truth day. A bit of further research has shown that this appears to be the American national Tell the truth day with other countries having similar ideas on different days.

While I’m not in America myself, I did think that it would be an appropriate time to talk about telling yourself the truth.

The origin of the word true is Old English meaning “faithful, trustworthy” with a modern dictionary defining truth as the qualities of being true.

Often people are not being truthful with themselves for one of two reasons:

(i)                  It’s never occurred to them that they are not being honest, they’re so used to a particular version that they never think to question it. Perhaps they have recognised the progress that they have made in an area and their self-perception is further behind reality.

(ii)                A form of self-protection from a potential uncomfortable feeling, often fear. Avoiding having to deal with a situation. As the author Tad Williams so succinctly puts it: “We tell lies when we are afraid … afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.”

When I sat down to write this I pondered the impact that being truthful, or not, with yourself can have. I came up with several points that I could take each one in turn and have more than enough to create a piece. However, to keep this a reasonable length here is a summary of the main impact telling the truth, or not, with yourself can have.
How confidant you are feeling generally, can be affected by how truthful you are being with yourself. In effect not being honest with yourself is pretending to be someone else. So is it any surprise that in that instance many people report that they are scared that someone will find out that you are a fake. One of the common comments when people don’t feel confident is that they don’t feel worthy.  Consider the message you are giving by being honest with yourself – that you are trust-worthy of knowing the truth.  Being honest with yourself is an important part of being comfortable in your own skin.

“Thinking positive.”

At first glance “thinking positive” can appear to be a fantastic idea and taking time to see opportunities, the things that you are grateful for and putting things into perspective with the rest of your life are all things that can make a positive impact upon how you live your life.

So why am I including this in a piece about honesty? The thing is that the way a lot of people attempt to do this is by having their very own internal thought police. As soon as these internal thought police notice a thought that isn’t positive they’ll chime in with another thought that isn’t positive about you not having a positive thought in the first place – it can become a loop of negative thoughts.

Where honesty comes into effect is that if “being positive” comes up against the truth then it can feel draining as you get a resistance to what is actually going on. I find that being honest with myself about how I am feeling, rather than trying to “fight against it” with positive thinking normally means that I feel better within myself anyway.

Often people are concerned if they are honest with themselves about how they are feeling and not think positive that they will be stuck in a negative experience. I will expand more next week about how you can combine honesty and positive thinking as this is a huge topic.  For now, know that when you are honest with yourself and acknowledge how you are feeling does not mean that everything stops. Bear in mind that “this too will pass.” (Phrase taken from a Hebrew fable)
Not being honest with yourself about what you actually want can affect how you feel about the projects you are working on. For instance, a lack of motivation and inspiration can mean that you are working for something you think you should have or want rather than what you actually want. I find that one way to easily find motivation is to reconnect with what you honestly want.
Sometimes we are not honest with ourselves because we have become caught up in a story. It never occurs to question if what we are telling ourselves is the truth now. For instance, we may have an explanation (“story”) about an obstacle that is in the way of what we are doing  – we can get so used to that being the explanation we don’t become aware if circumstances alter, or check that they were even true in the first place. Hiding from the truth prevents you from being able to take any or the right action. 

For instance, Bob thought that the obstacle to him building a successful business was that his skills were not good enough – so he went and got more training, practiced and gained more experience. He kept taking more and more action to increase his skills and neglected that to build a successful business he not only needed to have good skills but at some stage would need to take action to let customers know to come and use these skills! He was so caught up in the “story” that his skills were not good enough he never thought to check where he honestly was.

This week I invite you to be honest with yourself and notice the difference that it makes. This can take a bit of practice, and I advise being kind to yourself in the process. Watch out for getting caught up in familiar stories – double check with asking yourself “is it true?” And “can you absolutely know that it is true?” Allow yourself to be open to the possibility that the truth is not what you expect :)

You don’t have to share what you are being honest about unless you want to, just question for yourself how truthful you are being.

Have a week full of truth, as Shakespeare said “This above all; to thine own self be true”




Unfolding stories

22 06 2010

“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.”
(Earl Nightingale)

For the last few weeks I have been watching an unfolding story of action and perseverance. At times it appeared that it was destined to end in failure but so far despite all appearances to the country it’s looking like a happy ending is on the cards.

I’m not referring to any TV show but a tale that has been taking place outside one of the windows by my desk. 2 wood pigeons have set up their home and have been raising a family.

Their initial attempts of “constructing” their nest looked like a single breeze would bring it down to the ground. Certainly in comparison to the blackbirds in a different part of the garden the term construction would be a generous description of their attempts to balance twigs on a branch.

Yet no one appears to have mentioned to them that they need to compare themselves to other birds. So they persevered with their building until they had a nest balanced precariously on the branch and took up residency. As an onlooker I was concerned as I had seen their attempts at bathing in the bottom of the garden which nearly always led to them knocking over nearby plant pots. Such apparent clumsiness and a balanced nest did not seem like the ideal match to me.

However, not being fluent in pigeon they were unaware of how I expected this story to unfold so they carried on creating a family home apparently unphased by it all.

So after a spell of sitting on her eggs we got a small family, who in recent weeks have been perfecting the art of flying. Sure the parents may not give the most accurate directions – judging by the rebound one of the youngsters had with a window. (Or maybe it’s just inherited it’s parents clumsiness). However, no-one had mentioned to it that if you failed then obviously that’s what it would mean every time because it was soon trying again altering it’s course so that there was no more bouncing of windows.

As I type one of them is currently sat in the tree apparently watching me through the window perhaps wondering what that strange creature is up to this time so that it can tell the rest of its family later the newest exploits!

So often we can get in our own ways by comparing ourselves either to someone else or an imagined perfection. On other occasions we may let someone-else’s concerns drown out our own inner knowledge. Not to mention how easy it can be to use a perceived failure as a reason not to attempt that again.

If you have a situation or project where you have found yourself stuck then this week I invite you to play with the following questions and see which will get you moving again.

1. If it didn’t matter how you completed this, as long as you got there, what would be your next step?
2. If you were invisible, so nobody could see how you completed this situation/project, what would be your very next step?
3. If it didn’t matter if you stumbled or failed, what would be your next step?

These questions are designed to give you new possibilities of action – you don’t have to “do” anything with any of your answers. They are here to give you a different way of approaching what you are stuck with. However, you may find that there is a gem of an idea of what to do next that you haven’t realised before. If there is any answer you want to do and like the consequences of, then by all means take action and get moving again.

Have a week full of taking flight with your next step




How perfect are you?

2 06 2010

“By the time the wind has blown the weather vane around,

I’ll show you if I can,

No matter what the circumstances for one thing I’m renowned,

My character is spit spot spic and span,

I’m practically perfect in every way.”

(Practically Perfect from Disney’s Mary Poppins, music by George Stiles, lyrics by Anthony Drewe)

There are certain films that are regularly part of TV schedules during holiday periods. Yesterday was no exception as one of the classic bank holiday films appeared on the UK TV schedule – Mary Poppins.

It’s not just the fact that my expectations were met about what would be on the TV that prompted me to pen this today. While many may not actually follow Mary Poppins lead by describing themselves as “practically perfect” I do often see people place an unvoiced expectation upon themselves that they, and everything they do, should be perfect.

By perfect they normally mean that it should be “faultless.” Yet the origins of the word perfect actually comes from a Latin word to mean completed. Over 600 years ago the word was being used to mean “to bring to full development.”

If you were to look in the dictionary today, one of the definitions of perfect is still “complete, having all it’s essential qualities.”

These two different definitions can make a big difference to how someone experiences a project or their life in general. Now, if using the faultless definition is working for you then by all means keep doing it. However, the most common results I see with this is an increase in the amount of pressure and stress felt. It’s often used with the best of intentions as a motivating factor to produce your best work. It’s as if you would plan to do bad work if you were focusing on just completing a project!

I also see it as something that stops something from being created because it’s not immediately faultless. For example, a writer may constantly be deleting a paragraph of text and not getting any further because it isn’t faultless. Or someone learning a new skill doesn’t put it into practice as they are not yet faultless. Sometimes, there are steps that need to be taken before your best work can be achieved (ie when writing drafting something, followed by editing etc.)

This week I invite you to play with a situation where you have noticed that you are not making any progress.

What would need to happen for this to be completed?

What is the very next step for this to be closer to completion?

Have a week full of perfection




Alternative routes for obstacles

25 05 2010

“I have a number of alternatives, and each one gives me something different.”

(Glenn Hoddle)

Last week I wrote about identifying and taking ownership of what you actually want is the first step to being able to do something about them.

This week I want to address the part that stops so many people from doing anything more than dreaming.
One of my vague early memories from school is a favourite story about going on an adventure and encountering various obstacles and finding ways around them. For example, when coming across a mountain the line, which we’d all end up chanting, was “can’t go over it, got to go round it.” Different obstacles meant different routes under, through and over.

The thing about obstacles in real life is that sometimes people get mesmerised by the obstacle and not notice any other routes around.

Sometimes it may seem that common knowledge would dictate that it is not possible to do something. History is full of people who would disprove common knowledge – that the world is not flat, that the earth rotates around the sun and that it is possible to run a 4 minute mile are just a few examples.

Brad Cohen knows that living with Tourette Syndrome can be a challenge. When he graduated he had 24 different interviews all saying no. He had to battle the perception that someone who made involuntary noises and twitches was not suitable to teach. Yet he did not quit and on interview number 25 one school felt that they should walk their own talk and give this skilled newly qualified teacher a job.

Mr Cohen went on to be awarded Georgia’s Sallie Mae First Year Teacher of the Year Award and has been a highly respected teacher for the last 14 years.

Perhaps you think that you are too old:

Hazel Soars left school in 1932, when the Great Depression followed by a “busy life” prevented her from carrying on to college. However, she says that she “never lost the desire.” She recently graduated with an art history honours at the age of 94. The great grandmother now plans to work as a museum guide.

Maybe it’s circumstances that are in your way.

At the age of 14 William Kamkwamba lived in a small Malawin village with no electricity. The school he attended was built for 450 and actually had over 1480 students, they had no chairs or tables, no electricity, air conditioning etc. It did however have a small library. Utilising scrap material Kamkwamba created a wind power generator to produce electricity modifying rough plans from one of the library books.

I share these tales not to belittle how you feel about these obstacles but invite you to consider that there may be alternative routes you can create. The three people I mention above could have easily dismissed their ideas as not being possible. That because of their condition, age or circumstances that it just wasn’t possible for them. They may not have followed a conventional route but they did find their own route.

This week I invite you to play with a couple of simple questions designed to help you find possible alternative routes around any obstacles.

These questions are much more powerful if you actually use them with something that you actually really want. (If you haven’t already you may want to play with last weeks exercise first.)

1. Pick something that you genuinely really would love and use that to complete the following questions:

2. What would have to happen to create …?

For example, what would have to happen to create a better relationship with my partner?

3. What needs to happen to create …?

For example, what needs to happen to create enough income to go on holiday to Australia?

Have a week spotting alternative routes




Will you fix it for you?

18 05 2010

“Your letter was only the start of it,
One letter and now you’re a part of it”

(Theme tune to BBC TV’s Jim’ll fix it 1975- 1994)

For a whole generation of children in the UK they grew up with the TV show Jim’ll fix it. The concept was simple, viewers (normally children) would write into the show with a wish and the host would “fix it” for that wish to come true. At it’s height the show received 3,000 letters a day from youngsters wanting their dreams to come true.

The thing about what you actually want is that sometimes over time you loose interest because you just don’t want it anymore. Personally, I remember penning “a letter” (I was only 5, I suspect a scribble would have been a better description) to Jim’ll fix it because I wanted to join Postman Pat on his rounds. Many years later I have no real interest in spending the day with a cartoon postman!

Other times we dismiss what we want because there is some form of obstacle in the way. We can quickly dismiss “admitting” what we may want because we consider that there is a very practical reason why we couldn’t be successful. While I’m not denying that a practical obstacle doesn’t exist (and I’ll address obstacles in next week piece) a path around them is a lot easier to locate if you’ve actually identified what it is that you want. Taking ownership of such dreams is the first step.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
(Harriet Tubman, c1820 – 1913. Born into slavery she went on to become a conductor on the Underground Railway, an African-American abolitionist and humanitarian)

This week, if you are willing, I invite you to play with the following and see what comes up for you.

    1. If you were to write to Jim’ll fix it now what would you ask for?

This is the show that made it possible for a group to eat their lunch on a roller coaster and a viewer to drop an apparently expensive vase on the floor at an antiques show. Most people wrote these letters with that sense of childhood wonder and excitement.

    2. What would be even better than that?
    3. If you didn’t have to be upset at the possibility of not getting it, what would you want?
    4. If you wish share your answers with someone else. Remember that at this stage we are only saying what you want – we’ve not got to a stage at looking at any practical obstacles. If you know someone who is talented at spotting any obstacles and sharing them with you, you may want to wait until you have really clarified what it is you want. Their input will be much more valuable once that is done.

Have a week full of ownership




This site is © Copyright Jen Waller 2008 - 2010, All Rights Reserved.