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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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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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Weathering the Storm – published on Living North Magazine, May21 Issue

We are all in the same boat, but we are all facing different weather. I am often asked, “what should I be doing with my life?". To those who ask, I say that becoming more self-aware is an act of courage, since most of the time, our thoughts and actions are on autopilot. The problem is, when we are on autopilot for so long, that we forget we are on autopilot. And when we are not aware of our own habits, routines, impulses, and reactions, then we no longer control them - they control us. It is easier to lead an unexamined life than to confront your own dark side.  It is easier to surrender to materialism or cynicism or a hundred different ways of ‘comfort living’ - even if that is unsatisfying and unfulfilling - than to face our own fears. If we really challenge ourselves, we are resisting the seduction of simpler paths. When we insist on finding out and declaring the truths that hold us firmly to the person we are, we set ourselves on the path to the person we can really be. So, to those who are willing to face some truths, I say: It’s…

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How To Stop Being A Slave To Your Emotions – published on Living North Magazine, April21 Issue

“Don’t Tell me to be positive. Don’t tell me to love myself more. The more I try to ‘be present’, the more all-over-the-place my mind becomes. I just get lost in overthinking”, said Alice in one of my coaching sessions. When my father-in-law was diagnosed with an incurable illness earlier in the year, he felt fear, despair and ... an overwhelming pressure to stay upbeat. A challenge we all face in this new normal is the tsunami of people popping up all over social media and TV telling us to be positive. And on the basis of that very statement, we should all move forward with a big cheesy grin on our face as if everything is ‘just great’ in our world, seemingly because of said attitude. For most people that is so untrue. The ideology of positivity given birth by our optimistic American cousins and raised into adulthood by the ‘personal growth’ industry, is now a global phenomenon. For many, including new age warriors, 'being positive' has become the new way of telling someone to 'cheer up'. Of course, we know we should be cheerful. Of course, we have heard it a million times before. And it’s downright annoying…

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