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Why don’t you listen?- Living North Magazine, May 22 Issue

George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  The evidence is clear and unambiguous every day we miscommunicate something to someone. Almost all conflicts (fights, arguments, etc.) are caused by poor communication. I tell leaders that if you wanted to choose one skill to better your life today both professionally and personally, it is to improve your communication skills. Whether you are pitching a new idea, selling to potential clients, soliciting donations, motivating teams, or trying to influence colleagues, conveying your ideas effectively, or just getting along with your partner requires good communication skills. I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So, if I am going to learn, I must learn by listening, because two monologues do not make a dialogue. Quite often we hear what we want to, don't we? rather than what is being communicated to us. The same is also true in our relationships. Bob and Sarah are dating. Bob sees that Sarah is unhappy and asks Sarah what is bothering her. Sarah replies that she wants Bob to be more caring. Bob promises that he will be more…

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Robin Hood Has No Charity Dr Maurice Duffy - Blog

Robin Hood has no charity

The cost of living is not a Robin Hood, taking from the rich to give to the poor. Poverty is the worst form of violence as it deals most cruelly with those who can least protect themselves. The rising energy prices are like a punishment for a crime we did not commit. It is lashing out and entrapping millions of us, whose incomes do not match the rise in the cost of living. Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth, these are the same fight. When prices soar, the cost of living goes up and the chance of living goes down. The impact that we see is the pensioner and the widow security undermined, critical workers savings melting away. The poor are further trapped in an endless environment of basic survival and existence and our kids go hungry. Our foodbanks become the life blood of whole communities, whilst our politicians fight and bicker with each other. Research shows that there are do-it-yourself strategies and lifestyle changes that can improve anxiety and depression symptoms. Here are ten evidence-based activities to help yourself. 1. Go outside to reduce ‘doom spiralling’ Connecting with nature and being outdoors reduces rumination,…

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How to Think Successfully – Living North Magazine, Apr 22 Issue

As we all look on in awe at the amazing feats at the Winter Olympics, should we whether Olympic athletes are superhuman or just robots, or are they somehow a different species from the rest of us? What can we learn from their extraordinary endeavours? In my experience of working with great champions, from Olympians to hugely successful businesspeople, to be a champion, you must compete. To be a great success, you must compete with the best; but to achieve your greatest success, you must compete with yourself. I was watching Max Parrot achieve great things this week – three years after serious chemotherapy treatments for Hodgkins disease, during which he lost all his muscle tone and fitness and was very ill for six months. Max completed an inspiring comeback from extraordinary challenges by winning the gold medal in the men’s slopestyle at the Winter Olympics, on a course that includes replicas of the Great Wall of China. ‘I had to stop everything to fight and fight for my dreams,’ he said. ‘I felt like a lion in a cage as everything I lived for was taken away when I got Hodgkin and I had to get it back.’ And…

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True Lies – Living North Magazine, Mar 22 Issue

When the mind is speaking without permission, it’s lying. When I watch Would I Lie to You on TV, I always try to work out if the story I am being told is a lie, or the truth. I have to admit that I am always just guessing. Some people are just so good at lying. We live in a world where lying has become the norm. Indeed, there are now fact checking organisations to uncover the fabrications often presented by business, politics or in press releases by organisations. I love that quote: ‘You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.’ Of course, it’s not just political figures or business leaders who have the monopoly on lying. Lies happen in most homes, whether it’s the little boy standing over the smashed vase saying ‘It wasn’t me’, or the teenager proffering a story for why they were two hours late home last night. The reasons behind many lies are complicated. Sometimes it’s to protect the liar from being punished, or to protect someone else from punishment. The lie might be to avoid being embarrassed, to hide an awkward situation, or to simply have…

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Happy New Year? – Living North Magazine, Feb 22 Issue

ew Year’s Eve has become more than just a day in the calendar for many of us. We look at New Year’s Eve as not just a celebration of the passing year, but a chance for a fresh start – a reset opportunity – and that’s why so many of us make new year’s resolutions. We all have parts of our lives we want to change. We all have good intent, and our resolutions are always sincere. We all decide that ‘this is the year I am going to get fit/lose weight/find a new job/love my partner more’. Yet we often make these resolutions in the spirit of celebration, with no real thought as to how we will achieve them. You might think with just a little more motivation you can finally take control and crush your goals starting on 1st January. Well, here is a health warning for you. Although we go into the new year with the best of intentions to make good on these goals, it doesn’t take long for many people to give up on their new year’s resolution(s), or to forget about them entirely. More than 80 percent of all resolutions don’t even make it…

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Do you have toxic traits? – Living North Magazine, Jan 22 Issue

This month included Anti-Bullying Week, and bullying is a behaviour that challenges us all. Human behaviour flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge. Our behaviour is the mirror which shows everyone our image. Our thinking and our behaviour is always triggered in anticipation of a response to others cues. It is therefore fear based. There’s no map to human behaviour and it’s difficult for us to look at our own behaviour in an objective way. One of the markers of truly successful people is being able to do self-analysis. To look at oneself from another point of view. We all like to avoid dealing with our own shortcomings. We consider ourselves free agents, generally immune to the constraints that dictate other people’s actions. This is, of course, a grand illusion. A significant consequence of this illusion, or perhaps delusion, is that, when predicting the behaviour of others, we are far more accurate than in predicting our own behaviour. We all have a dark side, yet, we are so quick to judge and comment on others whilst forgiving ourselves for our own bad behaviour. I get invited into many organisations to help them with change, where I am always…

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We Destroy Ourselves

The subject of self-sabotage is truly a fascinating one to me. I do not believe I know a single person who has not fallen victim to this at some point. We all struggle with personal problems in our lives from stress, anxiety and depression to self-doubt, addiction, and worries. Our relationships are often riddled with conflict. Our partners, children, and other family members can at times be challenging. Relationships with our friends our neighbours, bosses, and co-workers can also bring elements of chaos to our lives. And then there are the additional concerns dumped upon us by society such as politics, crime, violence, economic problems as well the continuing and ever-growing societal changes. No wonder so many of us are screwed up and struggling to navigate the minefield that is life. All these problems we face are extremely complex, and their solutions elusive and not always immediately visible. Yet when examined and reflected upon we can see that there is a common link within the nature of these issues, in that for the most part, they are largely caused by us! Yes, Human beings. Most of the problems that we face in our daily lives, within ourselves, in our relationships…

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Live Life to the Full – Living North Magazine, Dec 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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