Archive for June, 2009

Jun 30 2009

Wildly Wealthy When?

Sandy Forster has written a great book – Wildly Wealthy Fast!

Yes, it is about making money but even more it’s about the personal transformation that needs to occur to make wealth and abundance part of our lives. We’ve all heard stories of lottery winners who get rich very quickly – and who lose everything within a matter of years – the inside and the outside don’t match and can’t be sustained.

To attract money we need to become wealthy and abundant first.

In honesty we know that we’re not chasing the money, the dollars, the physical cash (although gold and diamonds do look very good!!); what we’re really chasing is the happiness and the freedom that we believe money will bring to us.

In her book Sandy talks abut the importance of being in the right state, the mindset to attract abundance and prosperity. She makes it clear that wealth is an inside game before it becomes externalised.

And she doesn’t stop there. To really create the wealth that will support the lifestyle she insists that action is an essential part of attrACTION.

She provides a helpful 39 point checklist at the back of her book and refers to a list of affirmations to use to help create that inner attitude that we need to learn. For my friends I’m happy to share some free resources that Sandy prepared –

Sandy Forster: wildly-wealthy-affirmations. Right click the link and “Save target as…” or “Save link as…”

If you want the 39 step checklist, you really need to buy the book. It’s worth the investment!wildly-wealthy-affirmations

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Jun 18 2009

Strange Events…

Published by under Hills-Valleys-Exocets

Destination: Bournemouth. Intention: Academic coaching programme.
And strange things happen…

Within a short time of leaving Cardiff I was approaching Newport, sat nav guiding me along the M4, a tunnel ahead.

I know tunnels can distort signals but I was a little surprised to see that, on entering the tunnel my sat nav was telling me I was in Poole (Dorset). As I watched from the corner of my eye, my car (on the sat nav) approached the coast and drove slowly and deliberately into the sea. After a period when the sat nav screen was blue… the red spot representing my car emerged onto the coast of France.

Bizarre! It needed a reset at the services before normal service was resumed!

On arriving in Bournmeouth I settled into my room at a very nice hotel, all was well, the sun was shining and normal service was the order of the day. Next morning I left for work – Bournemouth University has made great progress recently and has invested heavily in academic support and development – an ongoing coaching programme being one element of this.

After a fruitful day’s work I returned to the hotel “Could I have the key to room 121 please?”. I made the short journey up the stairs, around the corner, down the corridor and entered my room.

One of thoese double-take moments ensued.

My room. The curtains drawn (surely I opened them before I left?).

A man’s watch on the table (definitely not mine).

My radio missing, a black belt on the back of the chair… what was happening? Who was in my room?

It took me less than 30 seconds to understand that this was not my room…. so I left, checked on my room key, checked the note I’d made in my pda – yes, room 121… what was going on?!!

Returning to Reception, many apologies, I had been moved…. hadn’t anyone warned me????

No harm done, all was safe and well but it was a weird experience… a clash between what I saw and what I knew to be true.

I wouldn’t recommend it but it was interesting…. but Bournemouth is not the new Roswell!

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Jun 17 2009

I’ll be happy when…

I’m sure you’ve heard it, maybe even said it yourself: “I’ll be happy when…”

How the line ends depends on the situation…
“… when the move is over and done with and we’re settled again.”
“… when the inspection is finished and we can all get back to normal.”
“… if only they’d just stop fighting for a moment.”
“… they’re old enough to go to school and I can just get back to work.”
“… this job is done and we can start looking for something new.”
“… we’ve found the house/car/holiday that suits and just get on with it.”
“… next year comes and I can retire and have done with them!”

The very words betray the truth. I’ll be happy when…

We are delaying our happiness until some point in the future.

At first glance it might seem that the future event will be the cause or trigger of our happiness, but is that true? Does someone or something else really hold that power over our emotions?

What if we could be happy now, in the present, in the middle of whatever situation we find ourselves in?

Sure we might still look forward to the future while allowing ourselves to enjoy the present… but is that what “I’ll be happy when…” is about?

Are we denying ourselves the experience of happiness in this moment? Do we need to give ourselves permission to feel happy right now?

Now maybe you’re saying to yourself “But that’s ridiculous. How could I possibly be happy right now, I’ve just lost my job/received notification of a school inspection/got another totally unreasonable deadline to work to?”…

Now I can’t deny the reality of your current situation but, whatever or wherever you find yourself, how does being unhappy help you?

I’m not suggesting you should feel hysterically ecstatic but, can you be open to the possiblity of accepting whatever the moment has brought you? And what if I were to wave a magic wand and make you feel happy right now without changing anything else… how would that feel? (Relax! I don’t actually have a magic wand!!)

So how does being unhappy help?

Perhaps being unhappy gives you permission to act stressed and let off steam, to stomp about so that other people will notice they’ve upset you or to be the martyr that everybody will admire in adversity. Maybe being unhappy is your way of publicly expressing your grief or your feelings, a signal to others to give you some space or provide some support?

So could you do this more effectively if you chose not to be unhappy, if you allowed yourself to feel and to show contentment, acceptance and then take the actions you need to bring about change.

So if you’re doing what you’re doing right now in order to be happy when… give yourself a break and choose to be happy now. You’ll find that whatever you’re trying to achieve becomes much more attainable or maybe much less important.

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Jun 16 2009

Still searching for starfish

Published by under Inspiration

What a wonderful weekend…
Oxwich Beach
Taking a break from university training I spent two days in Oxwich Bay on the Gower peninsula. If you don’t know this, you’re missing out on some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK – I think this beach was once voted one of the 10 best beaches in the world. Several miles of golden sand on a slowly curving bay gently sloping from the sand dunes behind to the waters edge.

The “reason” for my visit on this occasion was to celebrate a birthday but I take whatever opportunities I can to enjoy this – and this weekend we had sun, sea and sand in abundance.

When life is busy I take every opportunity to remind myself of reasons to celebrate simply being alive – and Oxwich beach makes my heart sing.

At low tide there are large areas of rocks exposed to the side of the beach, and rock pools abound. What makes rock pools so attractive? Whatever your age these still seem to hold hours of fascination and entertainment. And so we stooped and slipped into the water and turned over rocks (I replaced them carefully afterwards!) and admired the life within.

I saw fish and shrimps and seaweed. There were crabs and many things that scuttled and darted.

I had heard a programme on Radio 4 that described starfish on the Gower coast… but this weekend I searched in vain for starfish…

common starfish

common starfish

Which means I need to make that return visit sometime soon!!!

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Jun 12 2009

How can you be enthusiastic about this?

Have you ever heard a boring lecture?

During a session on “Presenting Your Research” we were discussing the number one secret that the majority of Academics ignore during their conference presentations, lectures, seminars etc…

This one ingredient always comes high on the list of “Must Have” qualities when I ask groups “What makes for a memorable presentation?”…

The secret is – Enthusiasm.

If the speaker is enthusiastic about their work, their content, their material, it’s contagious, we can’t help but catch some of their excitement.

And yet so many presentations in the academic arena are, well, just plain boring.

In  their defence I’m sure the academics would protest that their job is to inform rather than to entertain – and yes, I have great sympathy with that. But if your audience is bored by your delivery style, they won’t remember the content long enough to stay informed once they leave the lecture theatre!

If you are a professional researcher – you have chosen this career, this research – if you can’t get enthusiastic about your own work perhaps you should seriously consider looking for another job… The question you should be asking is how can I convey my enthusiasm to my audience?

There are some circumstances when you are called to talk about something you are less enthusiastic about… maybe teaching an undergraduate lecture on a subject that you have little or no professional interest in… how can you be enthusiastic about that?

I’ve met this challenge many times in my life as undergraduate lecturing was never my number one career choice so, apart from the fake-it challenge, how do you get interested enough for your enthusiasm to become infectious?

For me, I’ve always looked for some other aspect to become excited about.

When the subject is too boring because it’s all tiny, insignificant but essential detail, then I make my challenge to see the big picture. How can I get clear about the big picture and clearly convey that to my audience?

When the subject is just boring because I have no interest in that I look for the “hook”. If someone somewhere is interested in this, what do they see in it that I am missing? Is there an implication, a consequence a beauty or symmetry to this subject that I haven’t yet discovered and I try to put myself in their shoes, see the subject through their eyes…

If all else fails I use the exercise as one in the structure and science of communication. If I have to lecture on this subject, how can I craft it so that it becomes the perfect model of how to deliver a lecture? What is the attention-grabbing introduction? How does the structure signpost the essential learning points? How do I reinforce the key learning themes throughout the session??? And I set myself the task of writing it as an exercise, a practice run in communication skills.

Funnily enough, the lecture that I dreaded most now gets the best feedback from my audience. I’m still not personally excited by the content, but I’m proud of how I communicate it to the students!

So how does this work for you? If you’re lecturing about something, how can you get enthusiastic about that? Oh and yes, it does take some time, some effort, some thinking about… like most things that are worth doing well!

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Jun 11 2009

Limiting executive reward or tall poppy syndrome?

Banker’s bonuses, MPs expenses claims, executive reward…

Hot topics generally at the moment and there’s no doubt that something needed to be done to stop widespread abuses of these reward and compensation systems.

There is public uproar as people in the street see those who lead their biggest and most powerful organisations caught with their noses in the trough.

I don’t want to get drawn into specific cases or defend the system but I am intrigued by the splashback, our response and plans for amending them.

I wonder if we are reacting too severely. Calls to strictly regulate or even limit executive reward, prevent  bonuses for any top managers of banks that the government has bailed out with taxpayers money – will this be the best way of getting our banks back to profitability and our economy back on its feet?

I don’t have the answer. However, if we make these jobs so unappealing with limited prospects for reward or remuneration, we will not have a queue of talented people lining up to to take on these undoubtedly great challenges. It seems more likely that we could end up with the young, or inexperienced or even the less competent people who wouldn’t be appointed by more robust organisations.

I wonder whether we are now seeing the public expression of tall poppy syndrome…

We look around and see standing in our midst one who has reached higher and blooms for all to see… it might be that they are not spectacularly more beautiful, brighter or more coloured, but they have reached further… and instead of asking “How” or “Can we grow taller too” our first response is to reach for the scissors and cut them down to size.

Not a pretty sight.

And I’m not certain that this is true, but I know I need to look at myself and my reactions to events and ask, am I cutting down tall poppies or striving to grow taller?

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Jun 09 2009

How long does it take to check-in?

Published by under Hills-Valleys-Exocets

As I approached the Travelodge my phone rang – it was 18.19 as the call came through. I turned off the road and into the Travelodge car park…

Well strictly speaking it isn’t the Travelodge car park, it’s the car park that they rent and have access to along with that American-Italian restaurant and the gym. I could tell there’d be trouble. Cars were slowly rolling to the exit. The car park was full, every vaguely safe but illegal space had also been filled, the rest of us were like vultures waiting for our opportunity – we were hungry to park and followed the sight of anyone looking as if they were returning to a vehicle to liberate that most valued prize, a parking space. The question is always “What’s the best strategy?”. Do you park and wait or slowly circle? Well four laps later I claimed my prize and graduated to the next level of this challenge, the check-in queue.

As I arrived at the check-in desk the man ahead of me was having problems – “Are you sure you booked under your own name? … Can you just confirm how you spell that? … Let me just check on this terminal… The system is really slow today. Do you have your confirmation number?” Eventually the struggle to find his booking passed a certain threshold and another member of staff arrived from the back room to begin to process me… and it sounded so familiar… “Are you sure you booked under your own name? … Can you just confirm how you spell that? … The system is really slow today… Do you have your confirmation number?”

Eventually I was issued with a keycard… only to discover that the room had already been issued to another guest so I returned to Reception, a second keycard… that didn’t open the door… a third key card…

It was 18.58 when I walked into my room.

That is 39 minutes between entering the car park and getting into my room.

Is that a record to be proud of?

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Jun 03 2009

Aggressive, assertive, passive or a victim?

I recently ran an Assertiveness Skills workshop for a group of University staff. It was an interesting mixture of managers and admin support staff who actually got on very well together.

We soon established that while many people in the group habitually adopted more passive forms of behaviour, some more frequently veered towards aggressive behaviour or “being direct” as they preferred to call it. And it can be a very fine line, one person’s simple and straightforward can feel like bullying to someone else, particularly if the second person lacks self-confidence or any sense of their own power.

Sure, there can be a sort of “formula” to assertive communication – demonstrating that you have heard and understood what the other person is saying, being clear to express what you feel, explaining what you would like to happen – but any verbal formula is left empty and powerless if the speaker, with their tone of voice and body language screams loudly “I’m a push-over!”.

As we went through the workshop – and it was an exhilarating ride through many diverse areas of discussion – self-determination, personal choice, social responsibility and worthiness – we came to understand that feeling and acting like a victim really limited our options.

I am so familiar with the idea that our own state of mind and expectation creates our experience of reality and it was a privilege to see this group of people realise the practical meaning of “The more you do of what you’re doing, the more you get of what you’ve got”.

I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said “No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” and these people, male and female, young and not so young, realised just how much they had been consenting to the way they had been put into powerless pigeon-holes.

It turned out that, while we did work through several strategies to develop assertive communication skills, the deeper work was in developing a greater level of self-esteem and escape from the mindset of victimhood.

I know they now need to take their new-found confidence back into the workplace but they have made a start…

It’s on days like this that I’m really proud of my delegates!

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Jun 01 2009

Great business, great holiday!

Published by under Hills-Valleys-Exocets

Hello again!

As you might guess, I’ve been on holiday. As is usually the way – go on, don’t tell me you’re not the same! – the two weeks before and after the holiday are busy, getting packed and ready, tying up all the loose ends so that things go smoothly while we’re away and then going through the reverse process on our return.

This year things really were easier. For the first time I’d chosen to fly from a local regional airport – Cardiff – and the assistance was pretty exceptional. Normally, as we require some assistance for my Dad who has an electric mobility scooter, there are glitches: what to do, where to go, who will look after the scooter???? This time we pretty much had an escort for every stage of the process, someone to make sure that we got through all the checks, barriers and queues without fuss or stress. I have to say it was a very “personal” experience and much less stressful than a similar journey through Gatwick.

The holiday was excellent, good weather, fair wind and great sailing to be had…

The whole experience was great bar one small but significant blemish – I lost my pen.

I have – or had – a lovely Cross Ion gel pen. It was small, shiney, sleek, sexy chrome and it fit neatly inside my pocket on a keyring clip – but I lost it, probably on the airplane.

Then I decided to search online to see if I could buy a replacement only to discover that Cross don’t produce these pens any more.

Enter the knight in shining armour – Roger Knight to be exact.

Roger has a store on eBay and had a small stock of Cross Ion gel pens… I submitted my order around 4.30pm. I received an email acknowledgement within 6 hours, the pens were posted within 18 hours and with me within 40 hours… Now do you think that brought the smile back to my face? You bet it did.

So Roger Knight, thank you!!

It’s great to be able to share examples of great service – I’d certainly give my business to Cardiff Airport or to Roger Knight.

Who would you do business with?

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