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Live Life to the Full – Living North Magazine, Nov 21 Issue

Everyone agrees Sir David Amess was an exemplary Member of Parliament. Always willing to consider opposing views and to debate issues, he was a man who tirelessly worked for his constituents and to champion their causes. He dedicated his life to the public and ultimately fell on the frontline, while actively engaged in service to the community. These terrible events may have been intended as an attack on our democracy, but in truth it was a futile act and a timely reminder that we are strongest when we stand together. My thoughts of course go out to the family and friends of Sir David Amess. I was thinking about this when I was at the airport as I joined hundreds of people exiting the UK to go on holiday. So much excitement, so much energy, so many plans for their future, as if all of us plan to live forever. The fact is that we sometimes get so caught up in our busy lives that we forget to do more of what makes us happy. And whenever something good happens, we don’t take enough time to appreciate it. We want to please, to be accepted, and for that, we do…

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Breaking the Chains – published on Living North Magazine, Oct 21 Issue

A trip around the world where I stopped off in five countries and spent 10 days advising the Mongolian government resulted in me being stuck in self-isolation in a single London bedroom for 10 days, with nowhere to go other with nowhere to go other than to my imagination. I had plenty of time to think. When should I eat? What should I drink and what is life all about? I think the eating and drinking won! Self-isolation can be hard, especially when you can’t leave your room or meet up with others, and you are left solely with your thoughts. You don’t have to control your thoughts, but you have to stop them controlling you. Every week I do a BBC slot and while in isolation I also did a couple of leadership development virtual sessions where one of the questions, which I am often asked, was ‘Why can’t I break free from where I am?’. My response? Life is too short for you to play small or weak with all the talents you have been given. You were born into a life where there are so many opportunities for you to be legendary. Each of us has a…

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Think like an Olympian – published on Living North Magazine, Sept 21 Issue

We have had Super Saturday, Magic Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Whacky Wednesday and the list goes on as GB pile up the medals. I have really enjoyed watching the world's greatest athletes at the Olympics performing their big moment - which most of them have been preparing for their entire lives. Not only is it impressive to watch these individuals do their ‘thing’, but there are priceless lessons to be learnt from observing how they win and lose Success at the highest level doesn’t come from ‘luck’. It takes preparation. It takes hard work. But if hard work alone was enough, you’d be sipping your Champagne on the deck of your private yacht right now. ‘Behind those warm smiles and friendly waves, Olympians are fierce competitors who have spent years perfecting their craft and learning how to achieve high performance.’ So, how do they keep their minds so sharp, so focused? Can we do the same? I often say ‘you may never become an Olympic athlete, but you can learn how to think like one’. What are the key factors that make the difference? What turns your hard work into a gold medal, a private yacht, or whatever success means to…

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The Parent Trap – published on Living North Magazine, August 21 Issue

Right from birth, kids learn new skills at an amazing rate and, along with those nw abilities they must grow the confidence  to use them. As children get older, that confidence can be as important as the skills themselves. To thrive, kids need to trust in their own capabilities while also learning to handle any push backs or obstacles they may come across if they are not successful at something. However, it is important to note that children are not things to be moulded, but things to be unfolded. Unfolding children is not just about answering their questions but also about opening exciting new doors for them, to places that they would not think of going, encouraging them to experience things that challenge them and help them grow. It is only in their experiencing and mastering of these events, and rebounding from failure, that our children develop healthy self-confidence. Confidence is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give their child. As parents, we worry about what our child will become tomorrow. Yet we forget that the emotions we are depositing today create the adult of tomorrow. It is easier to build confident children than to repair broken, anxious…

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Who am I? – published on Living North Magazine, July21 Issue

This question is so often asked by so many, suggesting that people assume there is a simple, plausible answer. Almost as if who we are, our identity is one fixed static concept. It is not! The first question to ask yourself is not “who am I?” as quite frankly that is irrelevant. What you ought to ask yourself is “who do I want to be”?  Maybe our actual focus should be on creating a more improved version of ourselves, someone better. The emphasis should not be on discovering who you are but rather on facilitating the emergence of what you would like to experience in your life. The irony is that the more you seek to identify who you are, the more fragile and insecure you are likely to feel about yourself. People often want to define themselves, to have an ideal image to portray to the world. We can spend our lives on self-analysis trying to find out what lies beneath our skin. We seek to fully understand what makes us who we are and how, exactly, our minds work, only to discover that our mind has a will of its own. It can trick us into thinking that…

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Do not allow your kids to be another brick in the wall

What I find scary is that 65% of pupils currently in primary schools will go on to do jobs that do not yet exist. And we have no process in place to help them learn to adapt.  The early years' education in our western schools focuses on reading and comprehension skills over knowledge. The results of this are devastating, especially for poorer children. The time now devoted to reading and comprehension has significantly grown. The time devoted to science, social studies, arts, creativity and thinking skills has plummeted, especially in schools where test scores are low. The way we teach our children is a subject that I am very passionate about. In this article, I will address some things parents can do to help start their child's learning process.  I believe the first and most important step in the education of a child is building confidence. The enemies of confidence are discouragement and fear, so, as a parent, it is vital to encourage and support your child in a learning way as they attempt to tackle difficult tasks.

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Flush your drains

We all experience many defeats in our lives. Most people fail not because they lack knowledge or talent but because they just quit. But we must never quit.   Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. - Winston Churchill -   Defeats and failures happen often whether in our personal lives, our business, our career or our relationships. I meet so many people who want to change or follow a dream, but they lack the conviction to change or to pursue that dream. People who lack conviction always take the middle of the road. But what happens in the middle of the road? Yup, you get run over!  People without conviction “go along to get along” because they lack confidence and courage. They conform to others’ opinions to gain acceptance, even when they know that what they are doing is not right for them.

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Let’s talk loneliness

A client once described loneliness to me as being like a caged bird that lies buried in a grave of dreams. My own personal experience of loneliness can best be described by the time I first came to the UK in 1986, searching for work. I found myself in a tiny single bedsit in Cricklewood, London, where many young Irish people would go. I never thought it possible to feel the kind of loneliness that makes the heart physically ache.

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You are not ALONE – published on Living North Magazine, June21 Issue

Earlier in the week, I was driving with my wife Karen to the Nightingale Hospital for her vaccine when we saw a lonely swan on a large pond beside the motorway. My 12-year-old son Ethan said that this was the story I should tell on my next slot with the BBC. ‘Tell them about loneliness,’ he said, ‘the heartache and isolation, and why we must talk to people and make sure they are they okay.’ I feel loneliness is such a complex emotion and one that affects so many of us. I recently read the results of a survey of 55,000 people about loneliness and was struck by the high number who admitted they were lonely. There is a perception that loneliness mainly strikes older, isolated people. Indeed, it does, with over 35 percent of our older population stating they are lonely. Yet, recent surveys are showing that 45 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds are also now admitting to feeling lonely. I get a lot of comments about ‘the noise/chatter in our brains’ and how people feel it controls them or makes them anxious. This ‘chatter’ becomes particularly prevalent when we are lonely. So many fears and anxiety issues are…

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