Unplugged…

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I’m sure many of you will have encountered this situation: you leave the house without your mobile phone. For many this induces a palpable sense of panic and fear. Many people will turn around, even if it makes them late for work, to go back and get their phone.

How could we get through the day without it? Our mobile devices have become much more than just a phone. In fact the phone ‘application’ on your mobile device is the part that most use the least.

Our mobiles help us feel connected to the world, help us get our work done, help us record and document our lives. It’s amazing how, in conjunction with social media apps, they allow us to connect with old friends, discover unknown connections that make the world seem smaller, more joined up. Somehow friendlier.

Our mobiles are also a portal to the collective knowledge of the human race. Our history, our humour, our desires are all just a few clicks away and can be carried around in the palm of our hands. They contain so much information for us and about us.

They have literally transformed our lives.

So it’s understandable that we feel panicked when we leave them behind, or when we can’t put our hands on them immediately. But there is also a darker more uncomfortable relationship we have with these devices…

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Situational Confidence

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Speaking in public regularly tops the list of people’s greatest fears – higher even than the fear of death. It would seem that speaking in public is a common fear; many people don’t naturally have the confidence for it. On the other hand, I love to speak in public; I still get nervous, but I get a thrill out of it. However, if you put me on a dance floor I freeze like I’m playing musical statues. I hate it. I have no confidence to move around on a dance floor.

Confidence depends on your situation, and whether the situation is something you feel comfortable with. It can be the case that we let the situation determine our confidence, which can be limiting to our future potential. Growing your confidence is worth nurturing; it’s not only an attractive quality to have, it is also essential for pursuing the life you want.

Building confidence is crucial when starting to follow your dreams, because it takes confidence to have a dream in the first place. There are many people I’ve coached over the years who don’t know what they want to do, who don’t have a dream. There’s nothing wrong with that, but often their lack of a dream stems from a lack of confidence.

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Opinions

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Opinions. There are a lot of them about. Seems like everyone has one these days!

We live in a time where it is easier than ever to share our opinions with… well, pretty much the entire world. Social media makes it possible for us to express our opinions about anything at anytime… to anyone.

Highly-charged, emotive events occur around the world and reach us through news channels and media feeds. Each and every story accompanied by a flurry of passionate opinions and commentary – some which align with our viewpoints and some which do not.

But which opinions are right, and which are wrong? When it comes to opinions is there any such thing as right or wrong? After all, an opinion is just an opinion, right? It’s just a way of looking at the world, isn’t it?

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Words Out of Context

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Words are amazing things: they contain meaning, they express thoughts, they can harbour immense power. They have the power to inflict pain, to soothe, to inspire, to excite, to anger, to titillate. Words are labels for objects, actions, feelings, places, people. The words may change depending on the country you live in but, whilst language is local, understanding is universal.

However, words also gain meaning through their context.

I use a phrase, and have done so for many years, when I say goodbye to people; I usually say “Have a good life”. I have to admit, not everyone likes the phrase. Some people have told me that they feel it’s too final – they suggest that I should simply say goodbye, or “I’ll see you tomorrow”.

When I say that phrase I don’t mean to be morbid or, as someone recently thought, rude. I genuinely mean that I want people to have a good life, and I use that phrase because I want to reinforce that on a regular basis.

I think that most people who know me well have gotten used to this phrase, but for those that I’ve only just met, I guess the words are a phrase out of context, one that can cause discomfort or, in a worst case scenario, project a sense of rudeness. So, should I drop my phrase and switch to the comfortable expectation of “goodbye… see you later”?

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What Is Your Motive?

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Image credit: Ryan McGuire

What motivates us shapes our behaviour, it shapes out beliefs, it shapes our communication.

Your motive has the biggest impact on your communication, it is the meaning behind your words.

No matter how skilled you think you are at hiding your true feelings, no matter how controlled your tone of voice, no matter how confident the rapport you build, what the other person will hear, feel and understand is your motive.

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It’s Always A Sale

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You are always selling something, whether it’s a product, a service, an idea… or just yourself. In almost every situation you can imagine, you are selling.

Selling is not a bad thing, I love sales; I’ve worked in sales for many years. I love being sold to as much as I love selling to others – if I find an idea, product or service that I love, I will often slip into “sales mode” when I discuss it with friends or colleagues.

I think I’ve always enjoyed the excitement of selling something, the sense of solving problems, finding solutions and matching products to needs. I enjoy it even when there’s no cash exchanged or financial reward at the end – those times when I’m simply “selling” an idea or concept to someone.

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“I’ve got good news and bad news…”

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“I’ve got good news & bad news – which do you want first?”

I’m sure we’ve all said this phrase or heard it before, but which do you want first? I find most people will opt for the bad news, hoping that the good news will make up for it, offering some measure of consolation.

But regardless of the order we hear them in, we do have a tendency to believe and expect bad news more than good.

When someone tells us they have some terrible news our minds tend to accept it will be bad before it’s even spoken. With good news, we wait to hear it before we decide if it’s good – we’re a bit sceptical, we want to question it, to check it first.

We seem quick to think that somethings are too good to be true. But when did you last hear someone ask if something was too bad to be true? It seems bad news doesn’t need the same kind of validation that good news gets.  Continue reading ““I’ve got good news and bad news…””

Pay Attention – Can You Afford Not To?

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Your attention is not cheap. In fact, there are many who will pay BIG money for it.

Consider how many adverts you are exposed to each day. Common estimates range from a conservative 250 per day, to 3000 and above. So let’s settle for an average of those extremes – 1625.

It might sound like a shockingly high number, but think about how much advertising fills up your news feeds on social media, in the periphery of your internet browsing or at the start of the latest viral video clip you just watched. That’s in addition to the more traditional forms of advertising found on billboards or in TV and print commercials.

These adverts are vying for your attention, and it seems your attention is worth a lot – in 2013 UK advertisers spent over £14 billion bidding for attention, and that figure continues to rise each year – the phrase ‘pay attention’ emphasises the transactional mechanics at work.

Our attention has the potential to be the most valuable currency or commodity in our possession. So, how mindful are we of how we use it?

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Is Change ‘Business As Usual’?

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A few years ago, whilst managing a department through a transformation process, I put a poster up on the office wall.  It simply stated:

“Change or Death.”

It didn’t stay up for long. After a quick word from the HR team and a union representative, I took the poster down. With hindsight, I can see their point. The poster’s blunt message and humour appealed to me, but that’s just my perspective.

Nonetheless, the sentiment is one that I still hold on to and take seriously: if businesses can’t evolve in a quick and agile manner, then they could be finished, possibly destroyed by a competitor.

But constant change rarely feels easy for the people involved.

How will we cope?

How will we be affected?

How will we maintain BAU (Business as Usual) whilst adapting to change?

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We All Speak a Second Language

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If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

Nelson Mandela

On a recent business trip to Hungary, I was dining in a Budapest hotel and, as is often the case on such occasions, the restaurant was quiet and I was eating alone.

I was sitting on a table next to another person who was also eating alone.  His first language wasn’t Hungarian as he was speaking English to the waiter, but it was clear that English was also not his first language either.  With no other distractions or company, I found myself observing their conversation; an interaction between two people, neither of whom were speaking their native language.

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