Self-control and priorities

It is a big deal.  Here are three Top Tips from me  –  and read them ALL not just the first one.  They are all fresh and ready for human consumption.

1. Control is a Verb not a Noun.

Self control is something you DO.  It is not something you HAVE.  It is an action, or maybe a non-action. You can’t keep self control in a cupboard and look at it every now and then. You may HAVE driving skills (or talking or eating skills!) but that is not at all the same as driving (and talking or eating). Self control is something you can do whenever you like, outside the realms of torture, a straight jacket, or someone holding a gun to your temple, of course. All of us can control ourselves, give or take.  You can raise your hands or your voice. Both are actions. In the same way NOT  raising your hands or your voice, or food to your mouth is the ABSENCE of an action a deliberate non-action. And NOT acting, doing nothing as an active choice, has consequences too. You decide.

Self control involves the process of putting your desires and longings into some sort of priority and deciding what outcomes you want the most, and acting towards those, and NOT other things.  I recently had a payout for a motorcycle injury and had to decide what my priorities were. It was a big (for me) chunk of money and I had to decide what my priorities were. I acted towards my priorities and phoned Santander to pay off my mortgage instead of Michael Hold to buy that Airstream Bambi! I still want one, but I had another priority. By the way, priority choices usually mean boundary choices. That’s what self-control is all about – living within chosen boundaries.  I can’t spend my money on clearing the mortgage AND get the Bambi right now (it wasn’t that much) though I guess there probably would be a way to do so!

You may want a quiet evening reading a book more than you want a stimulating conversation, so you switch off the phone and sit down with the book and a drink. You may want a fit body more than you want a flabby (or even average) body, so you go to the gym instead the chip-shop. It isn’t rocket science, and doesn’t need a gastric band – or a Bambi parking space.

2. Actions bring consequences.

ALL actions bring consequences – something that won’t happen otherwise. It is not possible to act without your actions resulting in outcomes.  Actions are a deliberate operation into the environment and will change it. It is simple: Act towards your goals and they get nearer. Gallop towards them and they get nearer. Saunter casually towards them and they get nearer. Crawl towards them and they get nearer, though much slower.  The outcome of acting towards what you want is that you get closer to what you want until, all things being equal, you arrive at it!

3. You’re free to choose. 

So what are you not controlling right now? What little contorted conversations do you have with yourself to explain how it is not your fault, there is nothing you can do and another person is to blame? Yes there are all sorts of different pressures on us, seeking to persuade you and me to hand over the control of our minds and bodies to another person. (It usually results in money coming out of our bank account and going into someone else’s) but it is worth remembering that those people have no more power than you – and much less power over you than you have. You really are free to choose. No need to surrender or fight. Just fill your screen (or your thinking) with what is important to you. What you want to be like as a person. What you want in your life. How you want to be in old age.

Then act towards it.

In the interests of self control I’m going to resist the temptation to write another paragraph and STOP.

Except to say … (tempting, isn’t it?)

Driving through a red light?

Here’s an interesting story for you!

Last Wednesday I drove through a red light on the outskirts of Storrington, here in West Sussex.  It was at a road works, and the lights had locked onto red in both directions and were not changing. A two mile traffic jam resulted.

When would YOU go past a red light?

Once I had understood the situation, I turned my bike around and rode back to the lights, parked the bike and proceeded to direct traffic, like the good citizen I am. Within half an hour or so, with my encouragement, 200 or more other people had done the same and the rush-hour traffic jam was no more. It was perfectly possible to see past the road works (the works themselves were only the size of a large car with the two light masts set 3 metres apart from each other!) so there was no need for the lights, and as the nervous lady Community Support Officer turned on her heels I told her that I would be turning the broken lights sideways so traffic could flow again without me.

However: how is it that the CSO would not help the hundreds of stuck motorists but dismissed the problem with a wave of her hand?

Here is the conversation:

Her: “Excuse me sir, you can’t do that (me waving traffic through in turn, with drivers in both directions thanking me as they go past).”

Me: “Isn’t this what YOU are supposed to be doing?”

Her: “I’m not allowed to.”

Me: “But there are hundreds of motorists trying to get home.  Everwhere in Storrington (a mile away) is blocked solid because of this broken system”

Her: “Yes I know. I saw the queue when I was in Tescos(!). It happens. I’ve phoned the traffic light company and the police. They could be another two hours.”

Me: “Well, it seems I’m not so restricted in what I can do to help these people as you are.  I’ll continue to do this until the queues go, then we can turn the lights round so they face sideways. Then people will drive past without a problem.”

Her: “I can’t advise that. I’m not allowed to touch the lights. It is up to you.  I’m just going to walk back to my Land Rover.”

And she walked away.  And I cleared the traffic queues, made the necessary adjustments on my own, and everyone used their common sense and drove in turn past the parked-car sized obstruction without the slightest problem.

Yes, hundreds of drivers drove through a red light on Wednesday, including a fireman in his red car. I saw them. A few stopped, and pointed at the red light. I merely beckoned them on more ‘forcefully’ and they started again and drove on. And I wasn’t even wearing a yellow jacket.

Human beings are all too susceptible to mindless obedience. The Milgram Experiments and many like them have demonstrated that all too clearly. Robert Cialdini in his excellent book, Influence, describes the nature of social obedience.

And the moral to this story?

You decide, and write your comments below.

Time.

I’m sitting in the showroom of ChandlersBMW of Brighton, waiting. My legendary 1200GS motorbike needs a little attention. (For the techies, its a steering head bearing.) It will take an hour according to Phil Banks, Chandler’s outstanding workshop manager. He is brilliant, a walking encyclopaedia.
But this blog isn’t about Phil. Its about Time.

Emmet, without helmet, leading a brilliant ride through the Brecon Beacons.

Will the time I spend waiting in reception pass slowly or quickly?

It depends on what I’m doing and how much I’m enjoying it. If I’m enjoying the wait, … oops, there we go. (The bike is done and the time went far too quickly for me to complete this blog. I’ll stay a while, get another coffee and finish it.)

Emmet Reidy, Chandlers excellent Motorrad Manager, has just come over and is asking me about time. He has to work at “time management” he says, and then lists the unpredictability of each day as the reason for his planning challenges. I laugh, and explain it is to do with how he perceives time, and nothing to do with all the interruptions he cites.

Emmet tends to process time as if he is on the inside of it, a bit like a hamster in one of those exercise balls rolling round the room. He is living in the moment, and is surprised by interruptions that he bumps into as he lives out his day. Classic ‘Inside Time’ processing. Life is an adventure for the hampster (and for Emmet!) When you’re in the moment, as Forrest Gump‘s mother always told him “life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re going to get.” Emmet’s immediate enthusiasm and spark will really ‘work’ for the GS riders like me who love a bit of adventure.

Phil is different from Emmet. He prefers to see time from outside – and runs the workshop accordingly! It’s great – efficient, predictable and thorough. As if he is watching himself from outside the hamster ball, about to roll down a step, he likes everything done very precisely. He sees what he thinks is the ‘future’ coming, and adjusts for it, preparing for those events that surprise Emmet. Phil tends towards ‘Outside Time’ processing. Phil will value safety. Emmet is likely to take some risk – though preferably on a bike that Phil has made sure is safe!

Flexibility – you can have both

The Powerchange GOLD Coach training – famous throughout the world (I wish!) for it’s amazing power, depth and breadth – focused on Time in our training last month. We showed the coaches how to move from Inside to Outside Time processing and back. The flexibility is great. We can enjoy the moment AND prepare for what lies ahead. We can also take a new perspective on the past – and change how we feel about it.

But is it that easy?

Each of us has developed our preferred default position for our own reason. It makes us feel good – either because we get a buzz out of surprises, or because we like the feeling of being prepared, being able to look forward to a good time. Or maybe some other reason. Moving from our default preference can be thought of as a not-so-good choice.

Time is odd. The past no longer exists, the future hasn’t arrived, and that leaves THIS moment. Now. As you read this. Do you prefer to be in the moment, or prefer to live life a little more detached? Are you an Emmet or a Phil?

Emmet may have more difficulty remembering and planning. He’ll need to reference a diary more often. Phil, on the other hand, may find the normal unpredictability of life less exciting than Emmet, and is likely to look forward to future events  and past good times with what he will regard as due caution. He is unlikely to get such an amazing emotional ‘high’ as Emmet. He will avoid the ‘lows’ too. Life will seem safer, and perhaps less interesting.

Human beings start life ‘inside time’. A baby has no understanding of hours days, past or future.  That concept is developing at a massive rate through childhood and into adolescence. However, by the time we’ve reached adulthood we will have experienced all sorts of traumas, some very minor, others highly significant, and know what it is like to wait in a queue and rush for an appointment. Those traumas affect our learning about time. Pain and pleasure affect the memories we have, ‘tagging’ them. If there are a lot of tags that are unpleasant (just one major one can do it) we will be much more cautious about ‘living in the moment’ as Inside Time people tend to, and want to take a more stepped back, Outside Time position. It gives us time to process and consider.  The upside is that we will be better prepared to handle/withstand negative experiences. The down side is we are unlikely to enjoy the pleasurable moments so much.

How do you process time?  If you’re after more flexibility, get in touch.

The Kind Stranger: On the Beach

I was sitting alone on holiday in the sun when the Kind Stranger came to me next. I’d been weary and tired – they’re different, aren’t they – and needed to hear a reassuring voice.

The beach at Speightstown, Barbados.

But it was his shadow I noticed first. It cast itself across the table I was sitting at and I knew straight away it was him. Typically he was not visibly filling the vacant chair at my side, but we both knew he was there. If he had been visible to the naked eye as well as the naked spirit, he would have been leaning back, smiling, relaxed, maybe with his legs crossed, drinking a smoothie.

“Hi Andrew.” It’s great he knows my name as well as yours. “Thinking again I see.”

“Yes, I do a lot of that.”

He didn’t reply. It amuses me how he is perfectly happy to leave my comments and expressed thoughts untouched. He has no compulsion to express his own (priceless) opinions, or pronounce subtle judgements in the way we humans are so clever at doing. So I asked him a question.

“Do you think a lot?”

He chuckled, as if the question itself was a little absurd.

“I used to,” he said. “However, now I tend to live more in the moment, being less concerned about having a thought-out answer for life’s pressing questions. Sometimes they’re better left alone with their mystery intact. I tend to consider whether or not the question has a satisfying answer – whether it needs to be asked at all. Often people ask questions to provide them with greater security or greater power. I’m not short of either of those!”

He paused, then continued, “And sometimes people think thinking is a safer alternative to acting, living out their lives.”

“Thinking to avoid the risk of failing, maybe?” I ventured.

He smiled again. “Could be.”

We’re never rushed when we’re together, the Kind Stranger and me. I don’t think he does ‘rushed’. We just sat for a few minutes, and then …

“I think to puzzle things out,” I said, “to somehow grasp the complexities of life and understand them, to simplify them, to increase my knowledge. In Powerchange we say that people are hunting for MCC, meaning, clarity, and closure.”

“And does it work?” he asked.

“I think so – it helps people make sense of a jumbled world.”

“That sounds to me like a quest for peace of mind!” he laughed.

“Absolutely!” I returned. We both laughed and the conversation went quiet for a few more minutes. We just sat.

“Andrew, I love you, you know.”

“Yes, I do know. I feel very very safe with THAT knowledge. It definitely brings MCC for me.”

“I love you when you’re thinking and when you’re not. I love you when you have answers and when you don’t. I love you when you feel safe and when you feel scared, and as I’ve said before, you’ll never be outside that love.”

I cannot describe how good it felt to hear him say that – though I’d known it to be true for many years. Friendship this deep, this real, this accepting, cannot be confined to the meagre expressions of the English language. It is drawn in through every sense we have – and more.

As I sat looking out from my shady table over the turquoise sea, listening to the breaking waves lap the shore, in my mind I saw the Kind Stranger get up from the table.

“Come on!” he invited. “Enough thinking!”

“Where are we going?” I asked, then watched in horror as he walked out on the surface of the water.

Another question, eh!” He teased. “You’ll never know if you stay where you are now. Come on, follow me.”

I rose from the table, left some change for the bill, and took a deep breath. Some things you just have to do, so I stepped onto the water too. It took a few steps of practice faith – about twenty or so – and I sank several times, but I soon got the knack.

You do, don’t you?

Speaking to Strangers

Yesterday I was one of the mentors and judges at an Enterprise Day for young people held at Butlins in Bognor Regis. There were 150 youngsters, all from Year 10, from perhaps eight schools learning about business. Brilliant. They listened, worked and learned, and so did I.

One of the organisers pointed out to me that a whole generation of children have been brought up being told not to speak to strangers, As I looked around, it seemed that she was right and they had learnt the lesson well. Here were a cross-section of teenagers who struggled to communicate confidently. With people they knew, their peers and teachers, they were fine –  more or less.  With others around them it was a different story. None of them crossed the bridge, or the room, to say ‘hello’ to each other. ‘Don’t talk to strangers’ was the unwritten rule.

Today, when interpersonal communication has never been so important, when networking is crucial to the survival and growth of business, when family relationships crumble for want of communication skills, society continues to create fear of strangers from the earliest formative years, and wonders how we can get that same generation into work.

I love it when it snows here in the UK for this one reason: people moved beyond that highly irrational fear of one another, and take a step towards community once more. Our need for each other overcomes the negative beliefs we have about one another. People are generally good, are generally trustworthy, and have no desire to damage each other. It’s true that a tiny percentage are not, but I’m not going to let their bad behaviour stifle my good behaviour. That makes me their prisoner, and evil triumphs over good.

Here’s how you can do it:

Build a reputation for being a ‘Kind Stranger’ yourself, wherever you are. Be encouraging, inspiring, caring – and be available. Live beyond the fear of being thought of as slightly strange. (At one time it was ‘strange’ NOT to wish those around you a good day.)  I speak to everyone – little children in the shop, teenagers in the car park, an older man on the train, a younger woman walking along the street – and it is very rare that I’m ignored or rebuked. Almost without exception, the invitation to connect is accepted for a few moments and I can brighten that person’s day with an honest, respectful smile and a brief, appropriate conversation or a sentence or two of approval or encouragement. It takes 15 seconds, that’s all – and the readiness to INITIATE the conversation. People soon realise you’re OK.

Please, speak to strangers. In the queue at the checkout, filling the car up with fuel, eating out, walking along the street, on public transport, take a moment to invade the negativity we have about one another, especially young people, and initiate a brief conversation. Yesterday as soon as the youngsters came into the room I excused myself from our little peer group of adult business people and went over and introduced myself to them. Soon we were chatting away, and they personally invited me to join them on their table. How rewarding is that!

In our reasonably large local village I’ve deliberately chosen to speak to young people. I remember feeling nervous about speaking to children, even though I was Chairman of Governors in their school!  How silly.  How I had been intimidated!  I’m not any more. I want them to know that people do not need to be feared. I talk to little children, with mum or dad nearby. It’s so rewarding – and has an added benefit of them learning by my example that fear of strangers is unnecessary and unwelcome. I want children to be free to walk to school on their own without the nagging anxiety of being abducted. I want them happy to grow up initiating their own conversations.

I want the tribal, gang, and class suspicions that afflict us to go. Forever. By reconnecting with one another wherever we can, across every rift and gully of age, gender, class or culture, we’ll become part of the answer in our exploding world instead of part of the problem. And it will get our country back on its feet again.  Isolation and suspicion beget the death and devastation of war. Connect with others around you and you’ll foster trade, prosperity and freedom. It can be a bit messy occasionally, but much less messy than the war alternative.

So do it. Be a Kind Stranger today.

The Kind Stranger Chapter 3: The Hug

When I was a child I remember playing hide and seek. We hid somewhere – in a cupboard, under a bed, and waited to be found. I remember the excitement and the peculiar emotion it created, as the finder crept from room to room in our rambling farm house looking for us. I remember so wanting to be found.

When I became a man and my own children were small they would run and hide and I would make a big fuss about “wondering where they were” as they hid, only half-hidden behind a curtain, desperately attempting to suppress their give-away giggles. When it was their turn to find me I wanted them to enjoy both the hunt and finding me, so I hid where they would find me easily.

These memories go through my mind now as I recall the mornings when I was waiting for the Kind Stranger to come. I knew he would find me if I sat quietly. I also knew he could not be manipulated or forced to come. He was far too strong and powerful for that. He had given me the key to our meetings: I must wait quietly. Like the little children, I was desperate for him to find me and, of course, he did.  He had promised.

I was in the garden, sitting at one end of our old swinging seat.  I had been there quietly for maybe ten minutes or so when I felt him come and sit at the other end. I couldn’t see him, but I knew he was there. You’ll probably know that feeling by now. It’s marked by an overwhelming sense of knowing that I’m loved, wanted and accepted just as I am, sitting just here, even though I don’t deserve it.

“Good morning,” he said, with joy in his voice, “And by the way, I’m not here because you deserve it, but because you’re now my friend.” He’d read my mind. It was as pointless to pretend I could hide my thoughts from the Kind Stranger as it was for the children as they tried to hide, giggling behind the curtain. He knew.

“And yes, I do very much.” That was a surprise. The thought had crossed my mind to ask him if he enjoyed coming to be with me like this.

“Thank you.” I said very quietly. It was lovely to know that he was so sensitive to me. I’d never had a friend like this ever before, and I was so very grateful. I felt him look at me directly and smile with love in his eyes.  Apart from my admission of my need on that day I met him, this was the first time I’d actually spoken to him out loud. Looking back, ‘Thank you’ was the perfect thing to say. I was just so so deeply thankful. I said it again, from the bottom of my heart. “Thank you.”

You know how I mentioned earlier how it felt as if he put his arm around me? Well, it felt like that again. I felt surrounded, embraced, hugged, by him. It was a warm, caring, ‘family’ hug, the sort of comforting hug that a loving older sister or brother might give a little child. I breathed “thank you” again, but the words were unnecessary.  He knew.

It was such a special moment for me. It is well established by now that physical contact, a meaningful touch, a simple caress makes such a difference to people, but this was so much more. It was all encompassing and went so deep. Although this wasn’t an actual physical touch, it felt like it – a bathing of my spirit, an acceptance of me as a person – it was as close as it gets. I drank it in, more and more, soaking in it, allowing that hug to overwhelm me, and it did. I started to sob.

I sat and cried on and off for the next ten minutes or more. They were tears of relief. I’d been found. It was as if his hug was melting the core of my being, softening it again, and the tears were merely a stream flushing away the debris of years. And they did flush it away. As the emotion subsided, I felt clean, whole, refreshed.

I turned to speak, but he had slipped away. That was OK. I knew he’d be back.

I also knew that his hug would be mine for ever.

The Video is here: http://www.youtube.com/user/serx50#p/a/u/0/DMqOmKBz2ug

Fertile thinking?

I never ever thought I’d be standing in a fertility clinic. We have three adult children, and two grandchildren, but last night I was in the London Women’s Clinic in Harley Street, London, with Anya Sizer, one of our Powerchange GOLD Coaches. Anya is using her training and outstanding skills to help transform the lives of couples who want a baby. Last night was the launch of her first book, Fertile Thinking, written with Cat Dean, and published by infiniteideas in Oxford. (You can buy the book on Amazon.co.uk.)

Fertile thinking. Bring YOUR seed thoughts to life.

I love the title. The fertility world is rife with stress–sadness, bereavement, disappointment, elation and many other emotions–as women desperately long to be pregnant. Anya and Cat’s book is a breath of fresh air as she coaches couples towards thinking differently, giving themselves a psychological strategy to support all the physical stuff. The fact that Anya has two children by IVF means she really has ‘been there’. It’s not just our bodies that get pregnant. And ‘pregnancy’ is not limited to women. You have literally thousands of seed ideas that need to be impregnated in order for them to come alive and grow. Like fertility treatment–in fact, like every attempt at pregnancy–there is no guarantee that they will, or that they will all last the term and come out into the world perfectly formed.

But some of them will. The world changes when seed thoughts are impregnated with faith. Faith is the deep-seated belief that something might happen, can happen, even though you cannot see it up ahead just yet.  It is a living thing. Not just wishful thinking, but an alive and wriggling.

Seed thoughts, like good relationships, grow when you pay attention to them. And we pay attention because we believe they have a potential future. When I founded Powerchange in March 2000, I had no idea that I would be standing in that fertility clinic last night. When Anya first joined our coach training programme, I had no idea that she would go on to be so influential in the world of fertility, respected widely for her fertility coaching.

I had no idea you would be reading this. So what are you wanting to bring to birth?  If it’s physical pregnancy you’re concerned about, get in touch with Anya. If it’s your dreams that never see the light of day, there’s a ‘Ideas Fertility Clinic’ you might want to call.  We can help you bring that seed thought to full term.

Get in touch. Email me today. Now. Make it happen. That’s the next step.

The Day of the Entrepreneur has Come.

Hooray!  Hooray!  At last, amid the sad gloom and gutting inevitability of downturns, redundancies  and part time working, there is a glimmer of light on the dawn horizon.

Following evening classes in gardening and French beret design, Monet decided to try just one more...

The country is slowly awakening to the idea that starting your own business is worth it.  Part-time or full-time, for those little luxuries, for feeding the kids or for paying the mortgage, starting and building a business for yourself makes sense  – at least for those people who want to be in control of their own destiny. You’ll work harder than you ever have before, you may work hours longer, but think of it, you’ll get ALL the profit.  YOU get what YOU work for. And you’ll enjoy it. You may even get to buy an Airstream.

As a business creator and coach, (and a bloke who was brought up in an entrepreneurial family) here are my top tips for making a business work – and I’ve made mine work since 1997. When I started I was on Family Credit and Housing Benefit.

Tip Number 1:  See Problems in the World as a Business Opportunity.

Wherever there is a problem, someone somewhere will pay YOU to fix it! People make millions out of everything from manure and toilet paper, to oil disasters, toothache and getting vomit out of taxi cabs. You can make money from ANY problem that someone wants to go away – and all of us want problems to go away, don’t we?  Have you noticed that YOU pay people to do things you don’t want to do?

Tip number 2: Don’t let ‘Pride’ Stop You.

How often do you hear people say, “Oh, I could never do that!” Poor them.  They are letting their fear of what another person might think push them into poverty. If you think like that, you are probably not hungry enough. Believe me, the way things are going you will be hungry enough one day, so why wait until then? All over the country we are catching on to the attitude of a guy I met…

This wasn't him.

… in Mumbai.  He had a shop that sold trendy belts.  I interviewed him for a film we were making, and his excitement knew no bounds.  He was about to open his SECOND belts shop a few streets away. Both shops had ground space of just 3 square metres! (He bribed the street wardens to let him have an extra square metre and increased his sales by 50%!) He was so pleased with himself.  Yet in Britain people would rather be seen on anti-depressants than be seen on a market stall.  And all because of pride.  How stupid.

Tip number 3: Live beyond disappointment, criticism and blame.

I can tell you first hand what it feels like to have people rip you off, steal your money (ie, not pay their bills), lie (say they are going to), rubbish your product when they have never tried it, and lots more besides. They are the true poor, however much money they have.  You will have every good reason to be fed up, mope, slag people off and use other methods to try and make yourself feel better, but all that will only distract you from your essential obsession: to build your business. It took me ten years to stop feeling mad at the disgraceful behaviour of some people who had treated me badly, and when I did, I changed for the better –  I learnt to let it go and keep my focus.

I sell words, words that change people’s lives, rewire their thinking and give them hope, inspiration, and more money in the bank.  Those words do not come cheap, neither to me nor to you. I paid a lot to be able to say those words with utter conviction and passion. I paid a price of personal pain, of rejection, of misunderstanding, and sometimes of real hard cash. (“Poor me”? Certainly not!   They’ve made me a wealthier person.)  Learning the hard way is normal, and entrepreneurs of all people have learnt to milk costly experiences for what they are worth, because they know those same experiences will mature into powerful assets in the future if they are humble enough to be taught by them. Those things become an investment.

So if, like Maria in the Sound of Music, you’ve had a door slammed in your face – or even watched helplessly as the wind blew it shut before you could get to keep it open – remember there is ALWAYS a way out, a window, even from some of the most awful of places. (As you may have read in my previous blog, even from a hard-core prison.) The closed door is perversely an invitation to a new life, maybe less lucrative than previously to start with, but a life of challenge, the thrill of creative inspiration and the joy of achievement.

Today may just be your day. After all, you’ve read THIS, and you’ve got THIS FAR. So what comes next? Are you going to be like the sad majority of people who surrender to the bad times, who plonk themselves down in a heap and get mad at people like me who ‘don’t understand’ but live happy and motivated? Are you going to get into more bad debt and go on the (anti-depressant) pill? Or are you going to come off the crippling contraceptive of distrust, allow yourself to be seduced by the possibility of a better life, and get pregnant with a business? It won’t be long before you give birth to a life that brings worthwhile action and purposeful, rewarding – deeply fulfilling – days months and years. Yes, starting a business is a bit like having a live, wriggly, demanding baby in the family. Mine is ten years old this year, and growing up fast!

If you’re at that point of decision today, give me a personal call on 0777-163-1945, or send me an email: andrew@powerchange.com.  Of course I’ll help you. I’ll mentor you.  And of course I’ll charge you.  But just because you accepted my invitation and read this blog, I’ll give you a special summer discount in July and August. IF you remind me of this offer, that is!

Get in touch.  You don’t yet know just how rewarding that will be.

You could know by tomorrow though, couldn’t you?

An Airstream – outside my house!

You’re not going to believe this, but this morning when I woke up there was an Airstream travel trailer – not a caravan, remember – PARKED OUTSIDE MY HOUSE! Here’s the picture to prove it.

A dream coming true?

If you haven’t read my previous blog about wanting an Airstream Bambi really badly, you probably won’t appreciate the significance of this. Just to catch you up with the story, the Airstream man, Mr Michael Hold (he’s not actually called ‘Something-or-other’), read my last blog and was impressed. Important people read my blog, you know. (You are one of them of course.) And we chatted on the phone. Within a few days he had called to say he was coming down to the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed and could he come and visit? Well of course. He brought his son Robin, and I’m please to report, they are VERY nice people. They came in for a barbecue, stayed with us for the Festival and we had the unquestionable honour of having his Airstream stay too.

The sad truth is, its not the little Bambi.  His is posher and bigger than that, but it hasn’t stolen my affections, despite its beauty.  I like its little sister best, with her little red awning, and pretty proportions. Bambi is SO CUTE.

I was just thinking – would you like to see an Airstream for yourself?  What would it be like if one turned up outside  your house and stayed the night? How inspiring would that be for you?   In Powerchange (that’s our personal coaching company) we have learnt that visual impact really matters when you’re after something. Being able to ‘see’ it, even with your mind’s eye, can make imagination become reality. That is what having a ‘vision’ is all about: something you’ve ‘seen’. We know that what you look at gets bigger the closer you get.  Whether that is winning a Wimbledon Final – the second most important thing that happened yesterday – or an Airstream turning up.

There are other things you can do too. Remember the classic film The Shawshank Redemption?

Freeman inspiring a younger inmate

It is about being unjustly imprisoned and being determined to find a way out. If you haven’t seen it yet, get the video for £6.99 from iTunes. Watch it several times. It is so inspiring.  The central character, played by Morgan Freeman escapes to freedom by chipping his way out of his prison cell, chip by chip by chip. It reminds us that there ARE ways to get out of even the most desperate circumstances of life and be free again. You may be thinking how nice it would be for some Airstream travel trailer to turn up on your doorstep and whisk you away to a different world – and that really might happen! But when you are determined to change your life, don’t leave it to chance. It is better to be in control of the process yourself and chip away at the seeming impossible.

If someone had told me a month ago that I’d have an Airstream outside my house this morning, I’m not sure I’d have believed them – not least because they are so in demand and there is a waiting list! But there it is, in the morning sunlight of a English summer’s day.

A reminder that what you think about, the BMW in the drive, the GS motorbike, the Airstream, (and in my case, even the house itself), can become reality.

Can this happen to you too?

Come on, use your imagination.

Cumbria shootings: emotional pain reduction

There are comparatively few people in physical pain as a result of Derrick Bird’s shooting spree. The ones he killed are no longer suffering. The dozens left behind, injured and bereaved are the ones hurting, potentially catastrophically. And those uncovering and stirring their own old wounds as they are impacted by the media.

I’m not an anaesthetist so am not going to comment on reduction of purely physical pain.  Though a lot of physical pain is caused by emotional problems, the pain of physical injury is not my brief here.

However, I do have a track record of reducing emotional pain. I can categorically state that emotional pain CAN be reduced, if not completely eliminated, and when it goes, for many people it takes a lot of physical pain with it. That is not speculative comment. It happens. Let me explain a bit more…

Human beings, it seems, have basic emotional needs in the same way that they have basic physical needs in order to exist. Physical needs include food, water, sleep, protection – things like that.  The psychologist Maslow had what he called a Hierachy of Needs, and these physical things are ‘bottom line’ essentials for existence. Without them our physical bodies collapse. Maslow also had on his list emotional needs, and although we can live without them to survive, we cannot live without them without suffering emotionally.  They are emotional essentials. Deprived of them you HURT. Resupply them and the pain stops. Emotional pain is caused by the differential (the gap) between the need and the supply, so sometimes it is perfectly possible to reduce the pain by reducing a person’s need of those emotional essentials.

It’s interesting that some of them are perceptual. Here’s an example. The need to be accepted into a group is generally regarded as a very strong human emotional essential, but if you genuinely don’t interpret a group’s behaviour as rejection, you won’t feel the pain, even though people are rejecting you wholesale. And conversely, if you imagine their behaviour to be rejection, then you will feel pain, even if they are not rejecting you at all!

Emotional pain is very subjective. In other words, to a large extent it is up to you how it affects you. Now that is a useful thing to realise, because, potentially at least, it means that if you are in control of the way you think you can control the emotional pain you experience. This of course, like many things in life, may be simple, but not necessarily easy. The good thing is you can learn how to control it – if you want to. (Some people rather enjoy emotionally induced pain in a way that people can enjoy physically induced pain. It can have some real pluses: be a lifetime talking point, provide identity, and give you a bond with other sufferers.)

You CAN get rid of emotional pain – pretty much anyway. One way, like starvation in your physical body, is to provide what its crying out for. That can work, but it can also have other side effects. Like food, there are optimum levels for your emotional essentials, and too much is as bad as too little. It is easy to overcompensate and damage ourselves. And like a physical wound the damage starts to cause pain.

In Powerchange we have what we call  ‘psychological anaesthetic’ to enable people to find a new (usually lower) level of emotional need and close the differential gap so the pain stops.  The addiction to an external supply of the ’emotional need’ also stops.  Freedom!

It’s that freedom I’m wishing upon the people in West Cumbria this week, and anyone affected by Derrick Bird’s final journey.