Cilla Black

Today we heard about the sad passing of UK celebrity called Cilla Black. A gifted singer, entertainer and TV presenter. Like a lot of public figures we grow up with them, they are doing their thing on the stage, film or whatever. We do our thing – sometimes never the twain shall meet.  

We see these people as they grow older, yet still see them in our mind singing that song or appearing in the movie when they were younger. We forget that we are getting older as well. How many of you have seen someone on the TV and maybe commented how old they are looking. Lets face it that celebrity would say the same thing about us – however we cannot see that we are getting older. Then when it is announced that they have passed away. For some of us there is a sadness – almost a disconnection from them – even though we never met them, yet we felt quite close to them. 

Over the years I have seen some of my favourite film stars, sportsmen and women, academics and the rest who I admired from afar have now gone. This is all the more important when the ones who have passed away have been close to us. There is then a hole in our lives where they once stood, a true sense of loss and maybe a lack of direction. 

This loss or grief is very real as an enforced change has been thrust upon us. Some people deal with this better than others, and, as you know this change can come in many forms. This could be about losing someone close to us, it could also be about a change in the way you work – or don’t work. Throughout our lives we go varying degrees of change. There are many models of change curves or change diagrams. At the time they do not really sit well with us as we are ‘in the moment’ in that place that we feel a sense of numbness.  

I like many of you reading this felt that numbness when I was made redundant. I withdrew into myself, I could not talk to people, I was quite angry – “Why me?” I was very emotional – as though I had been bereaved. This was a sense of loss in a different way. I had lost my way, my direction was not clear – “What do I do now?” They say that time is a good healer, that phrase may work for some people – to me all it means is the pain, anguish and that sense of loss is not as strong, getting slightly weaker in time.

People are very resilient in such situations, some dust themselves down quickly and get on with looking for a new job, or carve out for themselves a new career. Others may take a while longer while they work through their emotions coming to terms with what has happened to them. In my day to day role I help people to find themselves again, I help them regain their sense of purpose – their direction and therefore their motivation.

If you know of someone who needs help while they are going through the own personal change curve – not a change curved devised by some University or study. Then I can help them to move forward. Email me and I will respond with some guidance.

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what do you want me to do
I have been very humbled by the comments and emails I have received about my Blog about stress and its challenges. There is one overriding theme through these communications. How does a person realise they are stressed or not? Remember stress is an essential part of Humans functionality. This part is good as a reasonable level of stress does work for us, not against us.

However when these levels get too much, our minds go into overwhelm. This in itself creates what some might call ‘irrational behaviour’. This may not be recognised by the individual concerned. It is easy to say – recognise and deal with it – not so easy when you are immersed in it.

Apart from the obvious indicators or stress such as , levels of low energy, irritation with others, anger about stuff in general, possibly leading to a withdrawal into a ‘personal world’ almost cutting yourself off from others both and work and socially. We all have what I describe as trigger points that will spark a reaction from this person. These trigger points vary from person to person as each set of circumstances are different. Here is a small list of what for some are those trigger points. Have a look at these and read them with an open mind. Some of them may strike a chord with you, a co-worker or close friend. As we all know stress can and does have very serious effects on a person’s quality of life – and life itself.

In my experience as a Coach, I have come across some people who call for a drink on the way home from work. However in some circumstances one drink will lead to two and maybe more. This person might then end up in court on a drink driving charge, involved in an accident hurting themselves or another innocent person. In fact they might have another drink when they get home.
The same thoughts apply to smoking. There are some people who ‘eat’ cigarettes; they go through 2 or 3 packs a day. Not only is it expensive, and they are damaging their health as well. The alcohol and tobacco elements become this persons ‘comfort blanket’ – their ‘feel good factor’.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Do you have a drink because the bottle is there?
Do you light up that cigarette, even when you don’t want it?

I have also coached people who are fine at work. They perform their job well; they are liked and respected by their peers. However when they get home the family bears the brunt of their stress and frustration. The slightest little thing will cause a person to raise their voice at their other half. I have come across examples where a person walks into the house and steps on a toy – Boom – World War 3 has started. There are some people who have very heated discussions as to who has the TV remote. Something as simple as this can escalate into a very serious situation. Sometimes this type of interaction could lead to physical harm to one or both parties.
Does this sound familiar to you?

The ‘Bedroom Department’
The ‘Bedroom Department’ is seldom talked about. There are times when a person (Male or Female) has not been able to make love to their other half in the way they used to. This is not just a male issue. This in my experience can affect both men and women. In most examples that I have come across, the very fact that they cannot make love brings an added level of stress on top of the existing one. Another factor comes in to play here. Which is a person’s Ego. Like excess alcohol consumption, drugs, unacceptable behaviour at home and the office and the ‘Bedroom Department’, become a Taboo subject or subjects.
Do you have a Taboo subject?

Work Related Issues
Work related stress is one of the most common causes of raised stress levels. If you work at a Company where there are the usual levels of stress – then that is good. This is a Company that does not makes totally excessive demands of its work force. There are structures in place such as your job description is clearly defined. The Company empowers and trains you to complete your allotted tasks. It will have work schedules that are achievable and realistic and challenges you in your current role.
On the other hand, you may experience bullying, unrealistic time pressures, overbearing supervisors and senior staff, no or very little training, travelling to work, redundancies, down sizing and maybe having to work overtime to make a decent wage. These are just a few examples – I am sure that you can think of a lot more. I do not have a ‘silver bullet’ for the examples above. However, in most countries that I deal with there are Company policies and National legislation in place to protect workers against such actions and anti social policies.

If you are involved in your Companies downsizing policy – then see it as an opportunity to seek a role elsewhere. You will have skills and experience that are transferable to another employer. All is not necessarily lost, even though it might feel that way at the moment. Focus on what you want in the future – is what you are doing and having to experience getting you there.
Do you have an Action Plan to get what you want?

Do Not Become A Statistic
I was once a Police Officer in the UK. I was working in the gaol area one night when a guy was brought in under arrest. It turns out that he was arrested on suspicion of Burglary. He was an articulate man, well spoken. Not the usual type of person that a gaoler is used to processing. Once he had been placed in a cell, I did my rounds. After 30 minutes I checked on him to see if he was alright. I got a lot of attitude from him, he thought I was judging him. As I was on the other side of the cell bars to him.

He went on to say that he was a former Company Director with a 6 figure salary, Company Car, Health Benefits, the full works. He was then let go by this Company – and could not face going out in the job market for fear of failure which stressed him enormously. The only way he thought he could feed his family was to rob houses. Which thankfully he was not very good at. He made the point to me, that, I could be on his side of the bars if I make a wrong turn or decision in the future.
Do you know that conversation has stayed with me since 1982!

You are not alone, call me (+44) 0799 099 1103


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Since my last post on recognising stress. I have been asked if I have any more tips on dealing with stress. Here are a few more of my thoughts, They may not tick the box for all of you reading this. However it might help you to create your own strategy – after all if you ‘own’ the strategy, then you will have more change of success. If these do tick the box for you, then start that change process – NOW!

If you look at my previous blog, the main thrust of it, is that someone has a need to recognise the symptoms that are actually stressed. This in turn will then enable that individual to make two choices. Address the stress or simply get on with it. Remember me saying, that we all need a bit of stress to make us function as Humans, to create and achieve our goals for ourselves and our loved ones.

There are some simple things you can do to de-stress yourself:-

1.) Exercise.
This might take the form of joining a gym. When you do go, work at your own pace, do what you want to do. Be yourself and work to your needs not the people around you. Or simply put on your coat and go for a walk – whatever the weather.

2.) Take a snap shot of your life.
Simply look at some of those things that could be causing your stress. A sudden shift by you will not be sustained, as you will revert back to type in time. A small shift on a regular basis is all you need. Remember that phrase “If you do what you have always done, you will get the same result.” Therefore if you don’t tackle stress – you will still end up feeling stressed.

3.) Me Time.
When do you ever have ‘Me Time’? This is very important as you can give yourself some quality ‘Me Time”. By the very fact you are assigning yourself this time – will give to yourself a huge feel good factor. ‘Me Time’ can simply mean listening to music, going out with friends and/or socialising, or doing a bit of mediation or reading.

4.) Give yourself a Challenge.
You might decide to enrol at College and do a basic language course 1 evening a week. If this challenge is a physical one – this will tick this Challenge Section – the ‘Me Time’ Section and the Exercise Section. A win – win – win.

5.) Accept the things you cannot change.
This might be the most challenging aspect. Some things are completely out of our control, there is nothing we can do about them. So why stress about it? Accept the fact and work with it.

These are just some ideas to ‘kick start’ your thinking. If you want me to help you think through your new way of thinking – simply contact me via this blog.

This is your life – your body – your mind. You owe it to yourself to ‘own it’.

Have a great stress free day.
woman thumbs up

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Stress is nothing new in human evolution. Our ancestors have experienced stress and its effects. However we all seem to think it is a modern day phenomenon.
Stress has all sorts of definitions. The one I like describes stress as the experience of unpleasant over or under stimulation. Yes – Over Stimulation OR Under Stimulation. We as humans cannot function without some sort of stimulation or challenge. This stimulation provides excitement, drive and indeed motivates us – as long as you feel in control.
Stress is the mismatch between these challenges that face you and your belief in your own ability to cope with those challenges.

Stress can affect you in four different ways:-
1. Physically – you might get headaches or tummy upsets.
2. Emotionally – you might become grumpy and irritable.
3. Mentally – your ability to think might become impaired.
4. Behaviourally – they way you are acting, is not the ‘normal’ you.

There is a lot written about stress and how to cope with and deal with it. Here lies the fundamental problem. A person, who is stressed, does not necessarily know they are stressed! All the medical people say that a certain amount of stress is good for you – as it stimulates the mind and body into action – which is very true. However if we become stressed we will start to become overwhelmed with anxiety, tension, frustration even anger. These emotions will show in the way we interact with people.

The danger here is burn out simply put burn out is a loss of idealism, energy and purpose. Physical and emotional exhaustion is the order of the day as your ‘fuel tanks’ are empty. There are 4 stages to this process:-

Stage 1 – Lots of energy and enthusiasm for the role you play.
Danger signs – Too busy to take holidays or time off. Taking work home. Too little time with family and friends. Unwilling to refuse extra work load.

Stage 2 – Small bouts of irritation, combined with feelings of stagnation. This may lead to you blaming others.
Danger signs – Not happy with quality of other people’s work. Starting to crumble under workload, hence you might to start working extra hours to catch up. Time management goes out of the window.

Stage 3 – Increasing level of anger inside you. Will lead to low self esteem even be quite apathetic.
Danger signs – Life becomes a chore and whatever you do tires you out. Your commitment to work and home life wanes.

Stage 4 – Complete withdrawal, combined with feelings of failure. You may become or feel ill at this point.
Danger signs – Avoiding people, maybe calling in sick at work. Becoming increasingly isolated. Could lead to increased level of alcohol consumption or use of chemical substances.

If you are at any of the 4 stages. STOP and look at the contributing factors, or see a Personal Coach. They will be able to guide you off this self destructive path. It is vital for your well being to take action now!


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Richards Arrows

For those of you who have looked at my post MIND OVER MATTER. Here is a little something extra.

Over the weekend I was clearing some stuff from my loft at the house. I can across an old bag. In this bag were these broken arrows. I had a wonderful memory of how these became broken. The story of which I will share with you now.

We have all heard of the ‘Fire Walks’ or ‘Walk of Trust’ or whatever people call them. This is where you walk across hot coals. I am sure we have all seen this done in various website and you tube clips. These types of things can be very empowering when done in the right way.

There some people who do workshops on this theme. Where they get them to break a piece of wood that is in front of them. The basis of this is, the mind says, that woods too thick, and it essence it is only as strong as you think it is. So, when you go to break the wood you are hitting through it – focussing on what is behind the wood.

I had a similar experience with these arrows. These are wooden arrows, not knowing much about them. All I can tell you is that the name on the side is CAJUN Archery Inc and it says BOW WT. UP TO 35#. They have feather flights with a plastic knock on the end. On the other end they have an aluminium arrow head. The length is around 63 cm or 25 inches. You only use wooden arrows for this.

How I broke this arrow is very strange and interesting. I was asked to think of a current challenge in my life – which I did. I stood face to face with another person. This other person put the end with the plastic knock against a square piece of wood. This was to hold it in place. Then I was then asked to put the other end of the arrow (the aluminium head) against my throat, near to my Adam’s apple. I was asked to walk forward on to this arrow.

Yes – you are reading this right – stepping forward on to this arrow shaft with its arrow head to my throat.

It snapped, thus breaking or exploding the myth or belief around my views on this challenging situation. I was quite stunned as to how quick it broke.

Do you know, when I reflected on the challenge that I did have in my head. It was no longer a challenge at all – it was quite diminished. I faced my fear about being hurt by this arrow and by doing so helped me with my challenge at the time.

I must stress, that this was done in a controlled environment with qualified people. I do not recommend that you do this yourself.

We all have to face things in life; we have to deal with all sorts of ‘stuff’ day in day out. The best way to sort this out is to actually deal with it and not put it off anymore.

Simple Mind over Matter – Do not take my word for it, try it yourself.

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Last year I went to a Networking Event at a local Hospice here in Harrogate. Wonderful work done by wonderful people.

On that night they informed us about a sponsored bike ride they were organising in July 2014. I said that I was interested in doing it. Well, it is for a very worthy cause. 

Afterwards I discovered the length of the bike ride was 50 miles!! Through the very undulating countryside of North Yorkshire. 

I have a compressed 3rd disc in my back, which tends to throw my hip a bit. It means that sometimes I get pains in my legs. My mind went straight to this fact and was setting up a “Don’t do it !!” scenario. I was looking at the negative side of the whole thing. 

We do this in life, when something becomes challenging, we find ways of not doing it. We might actually put off repairing that dripping tap, because we say to ourselves “It’s a two minute job, I will do it later”. We put off mowing the lawn. Only to find that when we eventually do it, either the grass is too long and too wet to cut, or we burn out the motor on the mower dragging it across the lawn. 

Using my training and coaching skills, I reframed the whole thing. I looked at the benefits of doing this bike ride. I will get fitter, as I will have to train prior to the event. I will have to focus on the end result, giving me something to work to. I.e. raising money for my local hospice. I will eat the right foods for my cycling training and will have a schedule to work to, up to and including the 27th of July 2014 when the event starts. 

Thinking about it – do we do this in life? I would suggest not. 

Most of you reading this will have a job, attend work, get paid, go on holiday, pay bills – all for what? What is your eventual outcome or result – retire? Then enjoy life? 

When I do anything, I look at the end result first and work backwards towards the present. This way it gives to me a timetable in life. 

My outcome for the 27th of July 2014 is to raise money for my local hospice. I will have to prepare my bike, plan a training schedule, eat the right foods, find my waterproofs, as it might rain while I am training – this will be my timetable. As a by product of this I will become fitter – an added benefit. 

So, look at your life, see where you are going – is that destination really where you want to be? 

This is your chance to change it.

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