Ever made an error?

Yes, I just did – the classic result of struggling screenshot_505with technology and hitting a ‘Publish’ button before time! However it will act as a little taster of what is to come on Powerchange in the next few weeks – if I can’t get it to you sooner.

The nice thing is that my friends are people who are real, gently amused at my humanity, forgiving, kind, not easily irritated.  A bit like the Kind Stranger I guess.

By the way, have you seen the Powerbubbles video? Its now on Vimeo uploaded by Merv Wyeth who lives just up the road from me.

PowerbubblesRemind yourself about how valuable you are today, and if you haven’t done our Self Worth programme, you’ve not much longer to wait!

Warmest as always


Max Winchester Visits Bethlehem

Max hadn’t intended to visit Bethlehem. The truth is, geography never has been his strong point, and satellite technology isn’t either. When the word ‘Stable’ had come up on his TomTom, he’s assumed that it meant something completely different. He’d hit the ‘Go’ button – with a degree of his normal trepidation – and driven off into the night. Mrs Winchester, knowing the limits of her beloved husband’s technological skills, and aware that he’d left his trusty AA map at home, went to bed a little worried. In the morning, when his side of the bed had remained unslept in, she phoned the police.

No, they hadn’t had any reports of accidents, but thanked her for leaving her details. She heard the Community Support Officer on the other end of the phone snigger as she mentioned his satnav skills. As Mrs W. returned the old phone to its rest, she noticed his mobile on the chair. The battery was flat. Her faith in angelic beings looking after her beloved husband of forty years would be tested over the next few days – and it was. She slept not a wink that night, lying in bed imagining the worst. Or even worse.

If she had only checked with his credit card company in the ensuing week she would have found a series of petrol purchases across Germany, Austria, Croatia and Greece. (Greece was worrying.) And a huge cash withdrawal at Athens. Little did she know that as she lay in bed on the fourth night, their little Ford Fiesta was on board a ferry in the Med, headed for Haifa.

Max Winchester arrived at Haifa and continued to follow TomTom diligently. The man at the border had asked him for his passport, and he was relieved to realise he had on the same jacket he’d been wearing when they’d done their last international trip – Newhaven to Dieppe in the summer. The passport was in his inside pocket. What a stroke of luck! He still remained a little confused about how he had managed to travel so far when he’d only planned to go Christmas shopping at Bluewater. The Med had indeed appeared to be the only blue water he had been in close contact with since he’d left home. However, during his drive through Albania he had noticed a particularly bright star in the night sky. He’d found it strangely comforting – not least in the absence of Mrs W’s reassuring night-time warmth that he had snuggled up to for so many years. This shopping trip had not been quite what he’d imagined, and he knew there was no way he could do anything other than follow the satnav. He’d be lost without it.

He drove out of Haifa with his spirits high, and it was one in the morning when, having had a bit of a kip in the back seat, he checked the satnav again. Only ten miles to go!

The next city looked very unattractive. “Unemployment high here” he told himself as he surveyed the unkempt streets with their high walls covered with graffiti. Very down market. Poor. Not a very safe place to stay. He kept an eye open for a place where he could get a room for what was left of the night – with secure parking. Mrs W. would be very disappointed if he came home without the car.

So it was that a few minutes later a little inn attracted his attention, and he pulled over. This place really was the pits. The gum-chewing girl on reception was chatting up a bunch of locals who smelt of, well, the countryside, and through a doorway he could see there was clearly a lot of activity going on under the light in an old stable. He could hear a girl crying in distress. What on earth…

Max never forgot that out-of-this-world moment. It wasn’t the teenager giving birth, or the scruffiness of it all. It was as if a shaft of burning light like lightning pierced his heart on that December night.

And back in her warm bed, Mrs W. switched off the light, closed her eyes and slept like a baby.

Part 2 … Coming Home.

An ‘Ideal Home’?

I could mean a physical ‘bricks-and-mortar’ home.  I could mean the context of a family most of us have. I could mean the classic ‘family you choose for yourself’, someone’s definition for a close group of friends.  I potentially mean all of those and one more beside: the home you can enjoy inside yourself.

Your Ideal Home.

This is about how you conceive an ‘ideal home’ in your thinking, and how it affects you life.  This Ideal Home concept is part of our SHAPE programme and helps you create the one place in life you can know a deep sense of safety, acceptance, belief in you, a place to (ad)venture from, and a place to return to for rest and privacy.

In a far-from-ideal outer world, you can have an ideal home to provide you with a secure inner world, a psychological ‘powerbubble’ of peace, safety, acceptance, love, honesty, discipline, experiment, playfulness, learning about life, and how to fit in. A place of support and encouragement, of caution and warning.

Somewhere safe.

Some people have never known a secure home life. With this programme you can move towards inner safety, inner acceptance, inner discipline, inner caution, inner encouragement.  We encourage people towards making the foundation of their home deep and strong – and based on something other than a superficial whim.

What, me?

If your curiosity is stirred and you’re thinking something like “This has the potential for making a difference for me”, then it will. irrespective of the past family life you’ve had or not had, irrespective of the state of your family life right now, you can build your own ideal home. Here in Powerchange we have all sorts of ways of helping you, at your pace, to have the ‘home’ you want. And as you work ON it as well as live IN it, you’ll discover how much better your inner home can be.

Like building a physical home for you and those you love to live in, building an inner home is a very rewarding experience. It takes you to a new and different place in life.  Maybe it makes you an official ‘homeowner’! We make it a joy, a rewarding discovery, free of the pain people associate with thinking about the past (we use a very clever technique: Psychological Anaesthetic, which works brilliantly.) With each metaphorical brick, plank, and window, you’ll actually feel, deep inside the GOOD things – and none of the ‘bad’ things – associated with an ideal home-life.

Great views, no close neighbours.

Look out onto a better horizon.

Some people spend their entire lives in a hovel, a slum, and long for escape. Instead you can look out onto wide open spaces, a rich horizon filled with beauty.

Your inner home may change where, and how, you actually end up living. As you allow your thoughts to imagine your ‘ideal home’ those thoughts start to take on a physical power, affecting the daily choices you make. It will be for you personally – one thing your new home won’t be is one that is perfect for someone ELSE.  No this is about you, your life, your sense of place – and not in a selfish way either.

Lots of neighbours, view of a sewerage ditch.

When you have an inner ‘home’ you are proud to own, you will be much better equipped to serve those around you, and just maybe you will be able to inspire others with what you’ve achieved so that they venture out from a place within themselves they know they can confidently and happily return to.

What do YOU offer?

And please don’t tell me you’re not in sales. The truth is, we all are. Even the ‘exchange’ of a greeting on the street has an underlying element of healthy and important trading in it – even if you consciously have no intention to trade!  So you sell something – maybe your time, your skills, your knowledge – even your looks, your skin or your dress sense! Probably a package with some of all of those.max sells a good question

My colleague Roy, with a background in business development, recently reminded a client “If you can’t describe it, you’ll find it hard to sell it.”  It challenged me, and prompted me (yet again) to be clear about what I ‘sell’. In some ways I think I sell good questions, like Max, particularly when I’m coaching or mentoring, but my carefully formed questions are just a means to an end. Here’s the essence of what I really bring to the table:

The power to change.

Simple isn’t it! Professionally at least, I provide people with the increases in personal power they need to be different, to move on, to grow.  This inevitably comes carefully wrapped in a wealth of different outer packages.  People may buy the power in the form of questions and suggestions, creativity, specialist attention and professional friendship. They may buy empowerment packaged in courses, resources, books, packs of cards, and coaching conversations, and then go away and reprocess them into something else: perhaps being a better mum or dad, a higher quality of personal peace, or a sense of being whole. But I’m not offering them (you?) that. I’m offering you more power – the power to change your life for the better.

When you want someone to turn up your power, click here, or call me on 01903 744399.

Learning to be a Mega-Encourager

Yes, each of us has a choice: to criticise or encourage, to focus on criticism or focus on encouragement.

Personally, I’ve learned to listen much more to those who encourage me. Criticism has far more impact (up to 10 times) than encouragement as we seem programmed to be far more sensitive to threat and danger. And critics are two-a-penny, probably because it takes so little thought to be one.

So take up the challenge of mega-encouragement.  Ask yourself: does this person need more judgement or more courage? It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it!

Someone noticed.
Someone noticed.

The most powerful comments you can make, negative and positive, lock into these three categories: PERSONAL, PERVASIVE and PERMANENT.

PERSONAL:  It is about THEM.  Make your encouragement very personal. Generalised encouragement is fine “Well done, everyone!” but personal is so much stronger: a handwritten card of congratulations, a phone call to express you appreciation. And use their NAME, not words like ‘my friend’, ‘mate’, etc. The most precious word a person hears is their name.

PERVASIVE: It goes beyond their current situation into every part of their life. Notice several areas of their life where an attribute is gaining strength. “I love your commitment to living with integrity” [pervasive] is much better than “At least you accept that you’ve messed up here.”[local]

PERMANENT: “You’ve always cared for others and you always will.  That doesn’t change because you forgot to make that appointment.”

So do yourself, your friends, and the world in general a favour by moving your whole  philosophy of life a step towards the Encouragement Platform, and make your input personal, pervasive and permanent. After all, a person like you who reads this for into a blog already has a head start in making this a regular part of their life.  😉

Here are some practical encouragers – even when you disagree with what a person has done, you can help them change by using these phrases:

“Keep going! Someone who is as sensitive/determined/committed as you [personal] will always [permanent] get there in the end.”

“You’re great.  I know you [personal]  – you’ll find a way through anything [pervasive] eventually – it’s in your nature [permanent].”

“I love your unique [personal] determined attitude.  You’re the sort of person who can’t help but improve [permanent] – whatever you put your hand to [pervasive] – even when you make mistakes. I really like that.”

“How is it you’ve come as far as you have?! The fact you’ve come this far only goes to prove you’re a strong person underneath [personal]. You’ll make it through to your goals.”

“You’re a fast learner [non-specific, therefore pervasive], and don’t need anyone to tell you when you’ve messed up, least of all me. I’ve messed up myself too many times to lecture anyone else.”

Personally I’m a better person for having a impromptu funeral service for my mistakes – as soon as possible after they become evident. I mourn their passing and look back months later on what they taught me in the short time they were alive. I don’t need anyone to dig up their remains.  For really significant catastrophes, when I have messed up big time, I want people to help me leave the graveyard, recover from the overdose of human error and live life with courage again, so I tend to surround myself with such people and keep the others further out.  (People who invest a lot in each day, as I tend to do, are the very first people to know just how big the impending disaster is going to be. They don’t need ANYONE else to tell them!)

Endorsement, approval, kindness, and encouragement.  Spew tons of those powerful motivators into the world and I’ll be MUCH more useful to those around me when they come my way!

So will you.

Max Winchester?

Who is Max Winchester?  Well, I’ve been trying to find out.  He is a very evasive character to get an interview with, but I manage somehow.

Some say he is the epitome of ‘blue jacket man’, whatever that may mean, and that his slightly hang-dog expression indicates his vulnerability. Max faces his next controversy From his short pithy lines, I secretly suspect that he knows more about life than we realise. Perhaps in the coming days Max may want to extend his unwitting influence further afield. As the strap-line to Andrew Online says, you never know.

Or maybe he is an icon for all the reactive thoughts people think about the comments, accusations and so-called ‘views’ that come our way?

I understand he comes from a very interesting family background (we’re still trying to discover which part of the UK he hails from) and that he has learnt a lot in the last few years.

No doubt in my research I’ll uncover more about what he thinks in the future. In the mean time, if you have any questions you’d like me to put to him, just let me know.

Handling Criticism

Do anything, badly or well, and there is always a poor soul somewhere who feels it is their God-given right to tell you where you went wrong and how you should have done it! Because few people like to be thought of as judgmental (an even more polite euphemism for smearing someone’s efforts with the conceit of their self-promoting negative opinions) they call it “offering constructive criticism.” Don’t be misled; it isn’t.

Max makes an important decision.
Max makes an important decision

‘Constructive criticism’ – an oxymoron. Check out the dictionary definitions and you’ll get the overwhelming impression that criticism is destructive. It is an expression of the critic’s underlying insecurity, of their attempt to appear superior, wiser, cleverer – usually at the expense of your emotional well-being. Criticism is an easy virtue, it implies that the critic knows better than you and can do better than you without them ever having to prove the point. It is an attempt to behead the tall poppy because it is revealing how short the others are.

You won’t see ‘constructive critics’ on the pitch of any truly successful team. Criticism is the favourite occupation of the man or woman observing your performance from the stands – they’re not prepared to put in the effort, dedication and emotional investment you’ve made in order to play the game, so they stand ‘advising’ (or should that be ‘undermining’?) those who are giving their all in a worthy cause. The bigger the effort you put in and the higher the personal cost you’ve invested, the more sensitive you, the doer, become to the havoc wreaked by the observer, the ‘constructive critic’. It is almost certain that the critic has never succeeded in what you are attempting, and probably has never attempted it either.

And beware the critic in you. Those who have lived with a critical person for any length of time know how their negativity can be catching. Children grow up unwilling to explore new avenues of life or take on new challenges for fear of provoking the criticism of some inner perfectionist that sounds scarily like the voice of a parent or teacher. (In Powerchange we’ve considerable success in silencing those paralysing voices.)

My favourite quote on the critic was made in a speech by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1899 in Chicago. I have carried it with me for years. Do yourself a favour and memorise it. It will be well worth it and protect you when you are vulnerable to criticism:

“It’s not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though chequered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

That quote is an amazing gift to you and to every enterprising, boundary pushing, initiating, creative activist in the world from a gifted and passionate world statesman who knew what he was talking about. Criticism hurts (and is often intended to), there’s no denying that, but I’ve learned personally that it can make you very very strong as it inflames your determination to ‘spend yourself in a worthy cause’ and thus live a life you can be truly proud to own.

And remember, the very presence of criticism is evidence that you have succeeded in doing something that has grown big enough to be noticed and threatens the mediocrity of the status quo.

So keep doing it.

Success Part 3: Better.

Google says there are 51,100,000 references to ‘motivation’ on the web. So what motivates the writing of so many words by so many ‘experts’? Here is my ‘expert’ opinion: people are crying out for a clear sense of personal purpose, their song. Max, song writer.I started to live a much better life when I allowed that song to be created inside me and find its tune. I finally put it into readable words in the five years between 1997 and 2002.

Since then I’ve not been one of the ‘mass of men who live lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them’ as Henry David Thoreau put it.  I’ve written my song, the song I love to sing, the song that generously satisfies my desire for meaning. It is a song with verses about the deepest parts of my life, about my relationship with the Creator and his creation, about my relationship with my family, about my relationship with my friends, and in a rather bizarre way, with you and your friends too.

It is a song that I sing on happy days and on sad days, on muddy days when it is tough and on bright days when the cloudless sky invites me to play in the sunshine, a song for when I cry in private and when I laugh in public. It is a song that gets me out of bed in the morning, a song uniquely mine, yet a song that links me to many millions who may be singing similar words to a completely different tune, or no tune at all.

Of the millions of pages on motivation comparatively few of them get personal about the writer’s own motivation. They tell you how to be motivated, and how to motivate others:  “The Six Rules of Motivation” (rules!), “Motivation 123”, “100 Ways to Motivate Yourself” (a hundred!), “Seven Secrets of Motivation.”  Can you believe it, but there are even books on how many lies have been told about motivation!  “Words, words, words,” announced Eliza Dolittle, “I’m sick of words. Show me!”

Thankfully there are some people who lay their personal cards on the table, and in just a few moments I’m going to be one of them. Until then here is my three-word solution to those struggling with motivation today:


And for the record, here’s mine.

Confident with the future? Try “Pre-retrospection”!

A year or so ago I developed a process for re-evaluating your whole life – even the life you haven’t lived yet!

Max is quick off the mark as usual.
Max is quick off the mark as usual.

I use it with clients who need reassurance of their decision-making processes, and people who are frightened to make a decision in case they miss something better (and as a result they make no decision and are stuck once more with the status quo.)  I used it last week when working with a business consultant in London and as usual it came up trumps.   I call it ‘Pre-retrospection’, and it is a way of looking back on your life from the end of it – as if it has been lived already – and noticing what you did, and how you did it.  It has a clever way of accessing what you think is true at a very deep level; it comes up with some hugely insightful information about the inner you – and is amazingly releasing.

Of course it is psychological tool and as such needs to be used wisely, preferably with someone who knows what they’re doing. It  has huge power and is a relaxing and enjoyable exercise.

I’m often with clients who come to me because they are stuck.  Fear is a normal part of life, but when fear starts to dominate, it reduces life to worse than a chore, with very little joy in it. Pre-retrospection is a great key to unlocking that fear, and clients enjoy life again, launching themselves into the future with confidence and assurance, just as my business consultant client did.  He sat in his chair after this exercise (it involves walking around and talking to yourself!) and told me how amazing he felt and what a good coach I was! (Nothing like a bit of praise for a good job done to make you feel good, eh?)?  Try “Pre-retrospection” – it’s all in the word> Retrospection: to look back.  Pre: before it has happened.  To look back before it as happened, but as if it HAS happened. (If I were a meercat I’d have a word for that: Simples.)

Want to try some?  You know what to do. (I’m sure my email address must be on this page somewhere!)

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