“What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?”
William Henry Davies
These are the most powerful lines of my godfather’s favourite poem which he kept on his desk at work. He was an extraordinary man in every sense – a wonderful family man, an extraordinarily warm people person and a highly successful engineer and entrepreneur.
His last words to me?‘Don’t go changing’.
He squeezed my hands tight as he said this – like it was a pulse from his heart and looked straight into my eyes like he really meant it. And then, like the soul reading Scorpio that he was, he left this world, leaving it so much poorer, but so much richer for having been here.
And you know what? His words couldn’t have been more spot on. I’d just come out of the most toxic of relationships – it frightens me to look back and see how entirely I lost myself. That was partly because I was in such an intense job – I had no time. No time to eat at home, no time to let my emotions sit by themselves and find balance – no time to stand and stare. The soft-hearted girl that my godfather had seen grow up had become muddled, confused and lost.
I now have that time – in bucket loads.
And while I don’t pretend to have it all sorted, I sure feel a whole lot more balanced now and safer in my romantic judgments for one!
Make time this week, Gazer.
And if you think you don’t have time to make time, all the more reason to put some time aside and work out how you can reshape your life a little. It’ll pay dividends
“Imagine yourself 90 years old on your porch in your rocking chair – looking back on your life. Got that image? Good. Now let me tell you that studies show that the biggest regret from elderly people on their deathbed is not WHAT they did, it’s what DIDN’T DO – the risks they never took….”
Surprising communication tip for you to try out this weekend, wee Gazer…
‘The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said’
because - get this – 93% of what you communicate is non-verbal - with your body language and tone of voice being the real influencers communication wise.
The Power Of Bond…
Imagine James Bond face to face with his nemesis with a high-pitched, nervous tone or Eva Green sauntering into Casino Royale with slumped shoulders.. Not quite the same effect, is it.
Joking aside, it’s easy to spend time worrying about WHAT you say whether with your boss, your boyfriend or at networking events – when the real surprise is that words count for little in the grand scheme of all things communication.
Far more important is what your body language and tone of voice is saying – all things non-verbal.
Coaching Case Study
A recent coaching client who was keen to develop her networking skills was pleasantly surprised to learn that worrying over what to say at formal events was actually a bit of a waste of her time! Instead, she’s now focusing on the far more powerful stuff – HOW she says things and what ISNT said – which is a whole lot easier and more natural to boot.
How You Can Apply This In Your Daily Life
So take the pressure off yourself next time you’re worrying about what to say, wee Gazer and instead slow your speaking, relax your tone of voice, stand with confidence and don’t be afraid to express yourself with gestures, laughter and expression a-plenty.
You can also test out the transformative benefits of this wee secret with your nearest and dearest, this weekend.
So next time you feel worried about raising an issue which may cause tension, carefully mulling over what to say in advance (you know the ones…), remember that 10% of conflict is due to a difference in opinion and 90% is due to delivery and tone of voice.
If you’re feeling panicked / unsure / worried about anything at the moment, wee Gazer, guaranteed you can trace it to a lack of one of the three core human needs.
What makes you feel important? Whether your job, a relationship, creating or adventuring, a lack of significance can eat away at your day to day confidence levels and leave you feeling like something’s awry…
I know if I don’t have a sense of growth in my professional world or if I don’t communicate regularly with best friends, I start to feel less significant.
So if you’re feeling a bit below par in the significance stakes, think about who you spend time with who lights up your life or what activities boost your morale and make them a priority – pronto! Your sense of self matters.
Whether giving or receiving love from friends, family, a partner or a pet, studies show that love is central to our sense of centredness.
For me, giving love and receiving love always brings me back to my core, increasing happiness levels and my sense of balance. Failing that, spend time with some puppies. I did so this week and can testify to the happy hormones it releases – better than any man can provide in my humble opinion
If you don’t have an immediate love source, try focusing on giving out more love and watch it boomerang back to you twofold. Watch, wait and receive.
This is a big one – especially for the control freaks amongst us. If you’re unsure about something key in your life whether your job, a relationship or a big change coming up, it’s only natural you may be feeling slightly off-centre somewhere deep down inside.
I know if I’m uncertain about something central in my life like where I’m going to live next (which for me means meeting the needs of my adventure nut boyfriend as well as my need for the finer things in life), I wake up every day with a knot in my stomach.
If you’re feeling a bit unsure about life, identify what’s making you feel uncertain and brainstorm some measures to move you closer to certainty. You’ll be surprised how taking baby steps towards feeling more in control can help you feel a whole heap better.
WHY BOTHER, WEE ONE?
Recognising the root of feeling ‘off’ (as my big-hearted American pal puts it), goes a long way in helping you feel yourself again. Once you have a plan in place for getting back to yourself, you’re half way there. Or in the words of the coolest chick I discovered this week, “SO WHAT; NOW WHAT?”
So here it is – my top secret, transformative Super Power You – Strategise Your Soul - to pole vault you out of the stress / anxiety / worry discussed below and into the inner masterpiece that sits just beneath your frustration, challenges and instincts.
Because when you’re feeling exasperated (you know that stuck feeling), you’re actually on the brink of a breakthrough. Who knew?!
You can either do this easy 4 Step Super Power You Soul Session during your lunch break today or this weekend when you have a wee window to invest in some you time. Easy to apply, soul-shifting and success shaping, it will take just 15-20 minutes and will be the best luxury you treat yourself to today.
Tried and tested on coaching clients across the globe, I applied this to myself yesterday afternoon and it changed my mood entirely, shifting me from stasis and anxiety to forward focus and the “SO WHAT; NOW WHAT?” mindset which means you mean business about your life and your happiness.
So, Now What?
And the best news of all – all you need is your favourite pen and some paper to jot down your thoughts (the power is in WRITING the below down – trust me on this…)
And you’re ready for a magical mind slide…
1. IDENTIFY YOUR GOAL
i) What’s going to move you from where you are now to where you want to be? Sum up what your goal is in one sentence. Note it down.
ii) Think about your issue and forward to a point in time when the issue is as you want it to be. What do you notice that shows you you have achieved the goal? Note it down.
iii) What are you hearing, feeling and seeing that tells you that you have achieved your goal or solved your issue? Note it down.
iv) What are you doing that shows you have achieved the goal? Note it down.
2. LET’S CHAT CURRENT REALITY
i) What is going on right now that tells you you have an issue or a challenge here? Note it down.
ii) What is missing from your current situation that you would like to have? Note it down.
iii) What is happening that is good that you want to preserve to contribute to achieving your goal? Note it down.
iv) What obstacles or possible barriers are in your way that prevent or hinder you from moving forward? Note it down.
v) What resources do you have to help you achieve your goal. What other resources will you need? Note it down.
***REVIEW YOUR GOAL***
Is it still relevant or has it changed? Make any adjustments required now.
3. OPTIONS FOR CHANGE
i) What could you do to move yourself one step forward right now? Note it down.
ii) What else could you do if the world was your oyster with no explanations required to anyone and no financial constraints? Note it down.
iii) What would your best friends suggest? Note it down.
iv) If you secretly know what you should do first, what would it be? Note it down.
v) What is the benefit of each option and which feel the most right in your gut? Note it down.
4. SO WHAT; NOW WHAT?!
i) What are you going to do? List the actions you must go through to achieve your goal. Note it down.
ii) How will these actions meet your main goal? Note it down.
iii) When are you going to take these actions? Note it down.
iv) Who else should know about your action plan and what will telling them give you? Note it down.
v) Whatever your first step is, what obstacle or barrier might stop you from doing it and how will you overcome this? Note it down.
Now DIARISE the springboard to success action plan you’ve dug deep to find and enjoy – because you’re going to watch the stress lift off you as you move closer and closer to achieving your goal and the new, hopeful, inspired you.
You’re here! You’ve made it! You’re where you always wanted to be!
You have a job that you’ve worked your nuts off for. You have a business title which impresses the socks off people and stirs dinner party conversations with even the most boring of people. You spark respect from your parents’ most successful friends and your peers admire you as the girl or guy who has it all sorted.
But there’s something missing.Part of you wants more. You’re not entirely sure what, but you’re sure there’s more to life than this. You’re certain you could feel more alive – and more excited going into work everyday. If you only knew what it took. When to start. How to achieve the dream?
If this is you, check out the super-inspiring, soul-set-alighting readfrom Luke Johnson below, the British serial entrepreneur best known for his involvement with Pizza Express. Former chairman of the Royal Society of Arts and Channel 4, a weekly columnist for The Sunday Times and author of two seriously informative books for budding entrepreneurs (including “Start It Up: Why Running Your Own Business Is Easier Than You Think”), this short, snappy article will open your mind WIDE and better still, stir your SOUL, throwing your limiting beliefs far far away.
With an estimated personal fortune of £120 million and vast experience under his belt, Johnson’s advice on what it takes to make it as an entrepreneur is a MUST-READ for any Gazers amongst you wondering if you’ve got what it takes to go it alone – to launch a business, to make it grow and to make it work – longterm.
Rave over! Relax – enjoy – and prepare to be inspired, excited and everything in between. And the best bit of all – this mentor comes free!
What are your goals this week? How will you know when you’ve achieved them and how will they change your life? What might get in the way and how will you feel when you’ve attained them?
How Do You Reach Your Goals?
No matter how big or small your goals might be, their value is determined by YOU! Set achievable goals which make you feel good and anticipate obstacles so nothing gets in the way. Write them down and visualise how good you’ll feel after traversing from A to B. Then plan a treat to celebrate attaining them
A Week Of Firsts
The last few days have been a week of firsts for me, seeing me achieve goals which may be run of the mill for others but mean something to me. They are, in no particular order:
1) Cooking: my first roast chicken with homemade stuffing and bread sauce (minus the usual culinary disaster). It was lovely to pleasantly surprise my gifted culinary chum, Maudie and my increasingly cynical boyfriend;
2) Driving: said cynic’s big white van without crashing it. Last time there were a couple of near misses, ending in tears in more ways than one; and
3) Skiing: the Vallée blanche without falling down a crevasse. My lack of progress skiing this season made me all the more determined to achieve something I’d be proud of. In the first picture I’d just asked Mowgli if the transceiver that he’d strapped to my torso was in case I fell down a crevasse. ‘No’, he replied. ‘Phew’, I thought. ‘It’s in case there’s an avalanche’. Comforting words.
How Do You Apply This In Your Daily Life?
Commit to your goals this week and don’t let anything or anyone get in the way.
A wonderful friend (top right) sent me this article from Stylistmagazine this morning.
This was a girl who lost her dissertation the day before the deadline, rewrote it all that night and got a First Class Degree nonetheless.
A girl who has taught me shovel loads about the power of friendship, strength and courage.
A girl who continues to exemplify the best parts of really living – helping those less fortunate than herself – whether working with rape victims during university or supporting wounded ex-servicemen and their families.
Constantly throwing herself outside her comfort zone, the latest being joining the Army, this is a girl who reminds me what really matters. No surprise, then, that JK Rowling’s Commencement Speech to Harvard in 2008 resonated with her.
Thank you, Alex, for sharing this funny and inspirational graduation address. A true tale of rags to riches, with no loss of heart along the way, it’s no surprise it’s been watched nearly 1.5 million times on YouTube. Now it’s being released as a beautifully illustrated book. From the lessons of struggling (“I was as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain without being homeless”) to the joy of friendships, Stylist shares some of JK Rowling’s words of wisdom.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.
Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.
The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity.”
“If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to transform our world; we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”
“The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children’s godparents, the people to whom I’ve been able to turn in times of real trouble, people who have been kind enough not to sue me when I took their names for Death Eaters. At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister.
So today, I wish you nothing better than similar friendships.”
“Dame Stephanie Shirley‘s two-level apartment in Henley-on-Thames is a sanctuary of calm and order. Flawless cream carpets stretch from off-white wall to off-white wall. Peaceful artworks, most of them abstract, punctuate the clutter-free space.
Shirley hasn’t always inhabited such a serene environment. Her story is one of meeting adversities head-on, and turning them into opportunities. She arrived in Britain as a five-year-old Jewish refugee from Nazi-occupied Europe, clutching nothing but a teddy bear and her elder sister’s hand. She retired a multimillionaire at the helm of an 8,500-strong IT empire of her own making, and since then she has set about ridding herself of her fortune: to date she has donated £67m and is revelling in the good work it is doing”.
Dame Stephanie Shirley
(Software pioneer and philanthropist)
If you’ve ever felt demotivated to work, felt disappointed that life turned out to be harder than you imagined, felt exhausted by emotional struggles or felt aggrieved that you’ve suffered more than your peers – you’re not alone.
And that’s not all.
That’s not your end.
Those seeming negatives can be channelled into great achievements, becoming the fuel to wonderful successes that lie ahead. They can be your unique selling point, teaching you how to conquer difficulty, how to inspire others and how to empathise and give something back.
Sometimes, it’s role models who get us through the tough times in life, who transform our moods and mindsets in ways that we could never imagine.
Yesterday, this lady changed me.
She opened my heart and mind.
I found myself telling as many people about what I’d read as possible, inspired by her incredible tale of fragility and fortitude. Inspired that if she could do it, we all could.
Read Dame Stephanie Shirley’s inspiring taleof adversity, success and generosity in The Financial Times, here, and see how difficulty can be channelled to create huge personal and professional victories.
SkySchool is a seriously cool British Adventure Sports company, specialising in Paramotoring, Paragliding and Skydiving. Set up in 2005 by Alex Ledger, a self-proclaimed university drop-out, it’s done pretty damn well for a bloke who jokingly referred to himself as ‘unemployable’.
Europe’s leading Paramotoring school, SkySchool runs an array of courses in Spain and the UK, boasting highs including Flying For Heroes, which saw SkySchool flying eight wounded ex-military personnel across Kenya in custom built paratrikes. Check out the expedition video below and catch a glimpse of some once in a lifetime stuff.
So if you’ve ever found yourself sitting at your desk wondering how to go about setting up a business, read on and be inspired…
Over to you, Alex…
Can You Tell Us A Bit About What You Do?
I’m a British Adventure Sports Athlete and Managing Director of SkySchool, which specialises in teaching people how to fly Paragliders and Paramotors in the UK and Spain. I also run APPI PPG, the International Paramotor Association, and I’m the founder of Flying for Heroes, which provides flying training and expeditions for wounded, injured and sick British service personnel.
What Was Your Previous Experience Before Starting Your Business?
I opted out of University after one lecture and instead qualified as a skydiver, scuba diver and snowboard instructor in 2003 while travelling on my own around the world for a year.
What Inspired You To Start Your Business?
I was brought up in a Military family and spent 3 years as a child in Cyprus rock climbing, snorkelling, cliff diving etc. During that time I developed an adventurous streak and after leaving school it became apparent that I was not only addicted to adventure sports but also unemployable! So it was a no brainer to start my own adventure sports business and when I was offered the opportunity in 2005 to take over a flying school, I jumped at the opportunity!
How Did You Manage To Build Your Business?
I started small and grew organically. I focused on providing as good and as safe a service as possible while maintaining good lines of communication. This meant that clients recommended us to others and returned themselves and as the company’s reputation grew, more and more people came to us. I also focused on cash flow, especially during the recession. Too many people have unrealistic expectations and try to run before they can walk which invariably leads to problems!
What’s Been The Biggest Highlight?
The biggest financial highlight was securing a six figure contract in the Middle East. However, this pales into insignificance compared to the Flying for Heroes expedition in Kenya which took 2.5 years to pull off and has led to some exciting plans for the future.
What Is Flying For Heroes About?
Flying For Heroes is a not for profit enterprise providing pilot training scholarships for wounded services personnel and veterans. It launched in July 2014 with an initial eight trainee student pilots. After their training, the pilots undertook a three week expedition flying Paratrikes and Paramotors across Kenya in partnership with Help For Heroes.
What’s The Goal Of Flying For Heroes?
It’s important that we recognise the bravery and sacrifices given by our wounded soldiers, sailors and airmen and to demonstrate to potential employers the capabilities, positive attitude and determination shown by all those who have served our country, been injured and are looking for new opportunities.
Learning to fly is an exciting, rewarding and enriching experience. Flying For Heroes aims to create a bursary to continue offering flying scholarships to our wounded heroes.
What Was The High-Point Of The Trip?
Being flown First Class to Kenya by British Airways was a pretty nice start!
What’s Been The Biggest Challenge?
There have been so many big challenges. One of the biggest is continuing to improve one’s skills and knowledge without losing focus. I’ve been fortunate enough to have several exciting projects to get stuck into which not only allow the business to grow and develop but also keep me focused while continuing to improve and evolve.
What’s Your Favourite Service From Your Offering?
My favourite activity is Acro Paragliding. I only teach this to people who I think have the correct skills and mentality as it comes with big risks but unbelievable rewards! This recent video sums it up.
How Do You Build Your Client Base?
Professionalism, reputation, good marketing, good web presence, good videos/photos/social media content and good communication with potential clients.
What’s The Best Compliment You’ve Received?
‘Thanks for making my dream of learning how to fly come true’.
What Advice Would You Give To Budding Entrepreneurs?
I always advise any entrepreneur interested in starting a business to write a business plan. I think this is absolutely critical as you learn so much about what you are potentially getting yourself into. “Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance”, as they say! I also advise that while running your own business brings a lot of freedom, be prepared for hard work.
What’s Next For You?
My next big project is a secret at the moment I’m afraid! It’s not quite as mad as the 2009 Flying Car project I was involved in but it’s just as quirky and, if I get it right, much more viable as a business!