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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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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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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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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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