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Successful people never stop learning

Life is so bloody fast paced! Trying to juggle career and family are hard enough but throw in guilt of neglecting friends and not squeezing in that exercise that’s so important and it’s all a little overwhelming.  

So, with all this going on, when the hell are we meant to find the time for to learn those new skills everyone keeps saying changed their life. This notion of having it all and continually developing just seems unrealistic and frankly exhausting.

Many of us are guilty of just trying to get through the day, achieving as much as is humanly possible before going to bed and getting up the next day to do it all again.  This short-term view has meant that long-term visions have become blurred.  Getting caught up in the rat race has led to forgetting life’s real purpose.  

The problem with tackling life in this manner is that the path we start out on is unlikely to be the path we remain on for the rest of our lives.  As we grow, inevitable crossroads present themself but if we’ve stopped learning and developing ourselves, how can we possibly have the tools to make those changes successful. By continuing your learning journey, it will help you adapt to unexpected but inevitable change.  

Sadly, the 2020 pandemic made the possibility of losing your job and having to depend on new skills a reality for so many people.  Many of us has to adapt quickly to find a new way to pay the bills.  But you don’t need to go back to university or embark on an expensive course to continue this learning journey.  There are lots of things that can help.  

By setting clear goals and deadlines on what you want to achieve and breaking these down into bite sized chunks, you’ll begin to create pockets in your diary specifically for learning and development.

By learning a wide variety of things, not only those related to your current role, but things you are really interested in, and consume as much information as you can until you’ve exhausted the subject(s), it will increase your knowledge greatly in an area you are passionate about and may start opening up your mind to new adventures.   

And don’t underestimate the power of the company you keep.  If you reach out to people who inspire you and you admire and discuss some ideas and learning topics with them, you will be educated and encouraged to continue on your learning on your journey.  If you can meet these people in person that’s all the better.  This will allow you to network with the brightest people and learn about their success stories.

Another tip is to join a professional organisation as they are a great way to get access to great resources as they often give their members exclusive access to conferences, seminars and webinars, conventions, workshops, and even classes. 

By continuing to learn you’ll more easily step out of your comfort zone and take on new opportunities.  It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps us boost our self-confidence and resilience.  By continuing to increase your knowledge you can remain in front of the pack.   Learning helps expand horizons and helps us grow as people.  This is key to living a fulfilling life and having a successful career

Having this knowledge can also help then people around you, especially if you are managing a team of people.  Part of being an inspiring leader is to introduce learning and development as part of your culture.  Passing on your acquired knowledge or skillsets to your team makes is so important in helping your employees grow and develop that same happiness and engagement you have.  This will increase the productivity of your team.  If your team members can see that you are committed to their development, the payback will likely be their increased commitment to you and your organization.

It’s a proven fact that learning makes us happier people. When we have set out goals and we achieve them it makes increase our emotional well-being. This means that working on our goals makes you more satisfied in life. And when we are happier workers, we tend to be more productive and engaged. 

Learning is essential to our existence. Just like food nourishes our bodies, information and continued learning nourishes our minds.  Today, continuous learning forms a necessary part in acquiring critical thinking skills and discovering new ways of relating to people from different cultures.

I encourage you to be a lifelong student, keep learning new things, be curious and open to learning, be ready for the opportunities that life has for you and keep growing. Keep Learning New Things – Successful People Never Stop Learning!!!!!!

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What are high-performance habits?

What exactly is high-performance coaching and how does this differ from all the other coaching that’s promised us greatness? 

It is simple, HPC helps you reach your highest levels of performance, potential and happiness in practically everything you do, helping you to become even more extraordinary.

As coaching becomes more and more popular, and Certified High-Performance Coaching, continues to sweep the world as the #1 coaching process, teams, companies, entrepreneurs and individuals are looking for top coaches to help them achieve their maximum potential.

Who is a high performer and how do you become one? 

Well, I’ve spent a decade researching this topic and I now coach people through this process?  We all want to become our best at whatever we’re doing but not just for a short period of time we want it for the long term. 

People talk about striving for their “peak performance” but for every peak we reach there’s a cliff edge that follows.  What we want is heightened and sustained levels of performance, potential and ultimately happiness, and that means succeeding and excelling over the long term, above standard norms, over a longer period of time. 

We’ve all experienced times when we’ve been excelling beyond what we normally do, and it felt amazing. You have hit your stride and become more productive – you feel like you’re in real flow.   And I don’t mean for just a day or a week, I mean you are really on it for a couple of months or maybe a year or two and in these times, we feel the most amount of energy, engagement, enthusiasm.  This is when we feel like, our relationships are vibrant and going really well, our careers are flourishing, and we’ve still got time for ourself. 

It would be a little bit crazy to think that all those things could be perfect all the time and that’s really not what we’re striving for here, we’re not after perfection. What we’re after, is, how can we all achieve our best but stay at that level? Instead of, life where its ups and downs and ups and downs, which is the case for so many people, that’s not we’re after!

When a client hires me, the reason they do so, is because they know I’m going to get them up here and I’m going to keep them up there because they can’t afford in their marketplace or their personal life to have major ups and downs.  It’s the same with athletes, their sponsors don’t like it when they are inconsistent, one week they hit peak performance and in the next game they fall back down. 

Qualities of high performance? 

There are five qualities of high performance and high performers tend to have good practice in all of these areas which are: clarity, energy, courage, productivity and influence.

Clarity

The first quality high performers have is clarity.  They have an incredible amount of clarity around who they are, what they’re seeking to do or achieve or experience and they know how their interactions should be with other people, it’s just that they’re very focused.  That clarity in their life allows them to make better decisions, to focus on what’s important and to get rid of distractions so that they can to be who they truly are. To be more intentional.

Energy

The second quality is energy. They have heightened and sustained levels of energy. A high-performing athlete has more energy than one who’s just showing up for the competition, right? We know that there’s a physical vitality, a mental stamina that goes along with their days, that their energy is just, well, it’s palpable, and you can feel it when you’re around them and of course it’s not luck, they’re generating that energy, their conditioning that energy in their body by their training regimes,  their conditioning the energy in their mental stamina by having the clarity of what to focus on what not to focus on and getting very disciplined about where they give their time, energy, effort and attention.

Courage

The third quality of a high performer is a heightened level of courage. They’re more likely to speak up for themselves, to speak up for their ideas, to know what they stand for, to take bold action and risks and that’s why they tend to get ahead.  So many other people have analysis paralysis, they’re 

Productivity

The fourth element of high performance is Productivity!  High performers just produce more. If you look at a high-performing athlete, they’re putting in more hours on the field, if you look at a high performing executive, they’re more efficient and effective with their time than their counterparts, say.  It seems, in the same amount of time, they get more done, get in the experience deeper and are simply more efficient and effective.  But we have to look at that in our own lives and be truthful on how productive we have actually been in this last couple of weeks? Be honest because it’s going to dictate whether or not you’re going to ever reach your full potential. It’s true that productivity has so much to do with our full potential. A lot of the work I do with senior executives, comes back down to reclaiming their life, reclaiming their day and if you can reclaim your agenda, get your life’s agenda back, get your life back on track, take back control, discover what you truly want and start moving towards that with greater boldness, effectiveness and efficiency, then, trust me, life changes. 

Influence 

The last one is having the ability to influence. They have greater people skills.  They give other people time, attention, respect, honor and by caring about other people deeply and they tend to get what they want too because other people see them as compassionate and kind, so they reciprocate. Because they have high levels of ability to be with other people, in influential ways, this leads people to be a good role model for others, then other people admire and respect them. 

Can anyone be a high performer?

Now, you might be asking, is it possible for all of us to become high performers? Well, the answer is YES! Are high performers born or made? No, they’re conditioned!  They’re created by habit in each of these areas, even if they didn’t know it.

It’s true that some successful people, like celebrities or business leaders, might not have ever thought consciously about being strong in these areas but they’re sharpened and honed because they focused on their life. They’re mastering their mind, their emotions, their schedule. They focus on the discipline of creating their success and, those areas, they got sharpened.  

My job, is to ask questions of our clients, to help them find greater levels of power in each of those areas.  I work with people’s psychology, their physiology, their productivity, their people skills, to heighten those five levels of clarity, energy, courage, productivity, and influence and that’s what makes me a great certified high-performance coach 

I hope that someday you consider yourself a high performer or you make it a life’s goal to be a role model, to help and influence people reach higher performance, potential and happiness in their life.

MASTER YOU – then turn to help another!

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The rules of saying no

Why are we so afraid of saying “no” in the workplace?

From an early age we learn that saying “NO” comes with consequences.  And let’s face it, none of us like being told “no” to the things we want.  It’s therefore no wonder that as adults, so many of us struggle with “no”. 

When we start our career or any new endeavor, we often say yes to everything to impress or get ourselves in the game but, if we are not careful, this can be detrimental in the long term.  By placing yourself as the go to person you end up getting a constant stream of interruptions and distractions from your own role and responsibilities which can lead to you dropping the ball or becoming overloaded and stressed.  

Many of my clients tend to be high achievers and many of them say yes to almost everything.  This can be caused by the fear of people thinking they’re weak, can’t cope, are incapable or worry that if they say “no” they’ll be bypassed for any opportunities or promotions in the future.  Sometimes they simply just don’t want to let people down and want to be of service and help, even if they are already overwhelmed and stressed with their current workload. 

In my experience, a key reason comes from a lack of clarity on what actions are important to move them forward.  They are afraid of missing an opportunity therefore they say “yes” to everything.  I work with my clients on seeking clarity around the direction they need to go in so they can focus and also build the courage to saying “no” more often to the things that won’t serve them well.

So, why can saying “yes” in this context often be a mistake? 

It’s so common to hear my clients saying that their workload and commitments are causing them burnout, stress and overwhelm. Now, saying “yes” to a lot of things when you are just starting out, maybe some new opportunities as an entrepreneur or in your career, might help to get you recognized and in the game. But, as you get more established, more busy and achieve more, there’s a massive downside to this behavior.

By becoming the “yes” man/woman that everyone can just throw their agenda onto, inviting manipulators who want to use you for their own gain, you’ll end up with so many distractions that you’ll miss important deadlines and be held back from the important things that could move you forward and the quality of your work will suffer.  Simply, you won’t be able to produce your best work due to being stretched too thin.

The overwhelm and stress of attending to everyone else’s agenda will creep over into all areas of your life.  You’ll end up having less energy for the thing you were doing a good job on and you experience fatigue and burn out in multiple areas of your life. And the frightening thing is, by saying “yes” to everything you are communicating the complete opposite to everyone around you, they simply won’t know that you’re overworked, and this can have a serious effect on your wellbeing.  

I’ve witnessed situations when people end up stuck in a role that no-one wants to promote them from, just because they can be relied upon to take care of everything. If you don’t set boundaries or expectations, you will start to resent the people around you.  

Saying “yes” to everything often seems like the best way to keep getting ahead but it really reduces the focus, discipline, learning and mastery of your own path. It causes so much distraction, not only in your current work but in your life and it can stop you from adding the real value you are capable of.  I work with individuals on their clarity, energy, courage and productivity so that they remove their distractions and focus on the things that will serve them on their path to success.

So, what is the best way to say “no”? ………

In my opinion, the best way to say “no”, is to say “no”. I was taught, early in life, by my greatest mentor and idol, that the word “no” is the most important and best word you can learn to use. This is great, but we all know that not everyone receives or accepts a “no” as just a word. It is often met with feelings of rejection, disregard and frustration. 

If we’re not clear on what is important to us or the other person, we’re not responding from a place of know, therefore, you need to listen and demonstrate empathy and understanding of the requester’s urgency and priorities.  Now, assuming that what they have to offer is NOT aligned with our path and goals, we respectfully, calmly and quite firmly explain to them that it has to be a “no”.  

This “no” should first be delivered by showing gratitude by saying things like, “that sounds really interesting”, “I’d love to get involved in something like that”, “I appreciate you considering me for this” or “thank you for thinking of me” and then followed and supported by facts such as “My calendar is already full”, “I have x project which is a high priority for delivery”, “unless it can wait until x-date”, “If I were to take this on, x-project delivery will be at risk”, etc.

This demonstrates that you’ve have heard and appreciate their request and also given them valid reasons why you couldn’t help next time.  You could them go on to help them by, 

When High Performers get clear on their direction increasing their productivity, they don’t feel any need for apology or to make endless excuses for why they’re saying no. Surprisingly, to many of my clients, when they deliver this “no” in the right way, this is more often met with appreciation and respect from management and clients.

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Is being a perfectionist killing you?

Perfection would lead to success….

When people used to call me a perfectionist, I felt proud! I thought this was a real compliment.  I worked my ass off, to make sure everything was done to the highest of standards, even when it caused me pain, extra time and money, but it was all worth it because people could see how hard I had worked, and I was going to be successful– right? 

This behaviour was never more evident than when I was setting up my first project management business over 20 years ago.  I was determined to ensure every aspect was on point and I worked day and night to ensure perfection.  Delegation was not a word in my vocabulary, I simply didn’t trust anyone to do the job to the standard I expected, resulting in me doing most of the jobs myself.  I would push completion times out adding additional cost onto projects, all of which I had to absorb in my bottom line, just to ensure I achieve the best result possible.  

Anyone who runs their own business will tell you that this spells disaster, especially for a start-up business.  But still, I had this unrelenting inner voice telling me to work harder and that I could do better.

Was my own worst enemy?

Inevitably I lost my business which was a massive blow to my ego, and I felt major burnout, both physically and mentally.  I knew at this point that something had to change.

And the scary thing was, not only did this trait manifest itself in my work life but it also reared its ugly head in my professional life too.  My high expectations resulted in me becoming frustrated and easily angered, which caused stress in my relationships.  No matter what people did it was never good enough and this had a terrible effect on my relationships.

I started asking myself, was being a perfectionist what was holding me back? I was my own worst enemy? These questions kicked started my journey of self-discovery and I began learning how to use this behaviour to serve me rather than inhibit me.  

Is being a perfectionist that bad thing?

Let’s be clear, being a perfectionist isn’t always a bad thing. Having high standard, being persistent in the face of adversity, being goal-oriented and having good organizational skills are great traits that most successful people have.  It’s just learning how to use these things to work in your favour rather than working against your success.     

When is everything perfect and ready to go?

This fear of not being “perfect” stops so many people and leaves talented people on the sidelines when they have the tools to achieve success! When is everything perfect and ready to go? The answer is now, today!  Take imperfect action and get working towards your goals and success!  There are times to produce “perfect work” and times people value speed more, and these are the times to remember that its ok to produce imperfect work.  Understanding the expectation of standards is essential to helping you move forward.

Get a balanced life…

By setting more realistic goals, you will have a more balanced lifestyle.  You can have more time for yourself and your hobbies, prioritising your wellbeing.  Practice taking time to relax and recharge so that you can continue reaching your goals.

Also, remember that the expectations you set for others are often the same level of expectations that you have set for yourself, but these unrealistic expectations.  Once you understand this and begin to readjust, you can begin to live a happier life.

Don’t let perfection stand in the way of your goals or achieving the greatness you desire.    

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Raise your productivity levels and smash life!

There are 6 main pillars of high performance; Clarity, Energy, Courage, Productivity, Influence and Purpose but interestingly, when I ask my clients to rate themselves in each of these categories, 70% of my clients rate themselves lowest around their productivity levels. On a scale of 1 to 10, the average rating is an astonishing 4! Even in cases where individuals are ‘powering through’ tasks, some just don’t feel they are productive.

Let’s face it, we all live busy life’s, trying to balance work and family life can be a struggle and now that many of us are working from home, it’s even more important that learn some skills to ensure we maintain a healthy balanced life.  

The fundamentals of becoming more productive are setting goals and maintaining energy and focus. When you set clear and specific goals this enables you to get you focused and engaged.  So, let’s embark on a quest to become more productive.  To aid you with this, I have detailed out some points for you to consider and some useful tips for you to implement.  So here we go…

Is it smarter to think about goals and targets rather than hours spent? 

Quantity output has often served as a misguided reference to many since, in a corporate environment, it is believed or perceived that if you’re still hung over your computer and desk at 8pm you are “putting in the hours”. Too often that time is spent with internet surfing and shuffling of tasks. Quality output, however, is about focusing on goals and targets rather than how long we spend doing it.

Busy hours spent working means nothing if they are unproductive ones.  A much more focused way to achieve results is if you make a targeted priority list of goals and tasks and create an action plan around how you are going to execute each one.  Once you have completed one task, visual stimulation of simply ticking them off, invokes the feeling of happiness which in turns increases motivation to tackle the next task.

Thus, quality output, considering the goals and targets rather than time, brings more joy and productivity.

Is there a particular time of the day when it is best to attack work?  

Jeff Bezos, founder, CEO and president of Amazon spoke on an interview about how he only schedules important meetings, decision making events and key activities between 10am and 12pm as this is the peak time for his ability to make the best decisions.

So, morning time is a great time to attack large pieces of work as it’s when we are the most rested and have the most energy but, it is important to avoid rolling out of bed and straight into emails and tasks. Doing so only sets us up to be reactive throughout the day. Taking the initial hour of our day to set ourselves up mentally and physically will help us prepare even more for the most effective time we have.

How important are start and stop times? 

You NEED to set boundaries between your life and your work!

Before the changes enforced on us by the global pandemic, most of us had the structure of the daily work routine. These predetermined times gave the boundaries and routine that humans thrive on.  As any parent will tell you, creating a good routine for children is essential as it helps the child feel safe, its sets clear boundaries and expectations and, as long as this is consistent, it will contribute to a happy child.  As adults we still need this, it’s just that we need to be mindful to create our own boundaries, for which scheduled start and stop times for work are essential. 

Setting clear start and stop times will also make you more productive as it will ensure you are working the optimum number of hours in a working week.  Research has shown, when you decrease your daily working hours from 10 to 8 and shorten the work week from 6 days to 5, your productivity increases. The more you work, the less effective and productive you are going to become over both short and long term.  

When you increase your productivity levels and allow more time to relax, you will naturally feel happier which will in turn reduce stress levels, leading to improved mental and physical health. 

Determining these times is essential so that you find the optimum working times. Where possible, your family schedule should be considered as there is no point trying to work when your home is at its busiest.  This will lead to increased anxiety levels, decrease productivity levels and worst of all you’ll not be emotionally present for your loved ones.  By establishing times and boundaries that everyone understands, expectations will be set, and you can hit your ultimate, undisturbed, stress-free productivity levels.

Are there key tricks and strategies to maintaining focus? 

For many of us coffee has become the answer to aid us in trying to help us maintain focus throughout the day, however, we can actually do this another way.  This skill is used by high performing people globally have and use which fortunately can be learned and developed through creating the right habits. In high performance, the first thing we work with our clients on is Focus Points to home in on what we are working towards.

It’s no surprise that when we are focused and engaged in something, passionate about a piece of work or project, or excited and motivated, we have less issues with staying focused on what needs to be done. When we are in this state, we don’t tend to get distracted or invite interruptions, so we can keep laser focused. So, it stands to reason that if we can generate this connection to our projects and tasks, we can also generate more focus.

By building routines and habits around sleep, nutrition and exercise we increase our ability to stay focused and concentrated but it’s not enough. We need to prioritise the projects/tasks we’re working on, set deadlines for completion and avoid distractions.

Blocking time is a great way to ensuring that we stick to our plan, avoid distractions and complete the intended work scope. Ensuring to block time for rest and breaks is equally as important, as well as block times for checking emails and to have our social media check in. By limiting the amount of limbo time in our calendar and replacing it with specific ‘block time’, we stay more focused on those specific projects/tasks and don’t lose 30-60 mins in and out of emails etc.

How important a consideration is what we eat/drink while we work? 

To feel more energized and vibrant each day, we all know we have to take care of our physical body.

The idea that we need to keep eating to keep our energy up, unfortunately promotes a false pretence and understanding that a small sugar hit will help! Studies show that these short bursts actually have an adverse effect on our energy and causes more fatigue, not to mention the health implications that come with it too.

Any advice for what to eat and when is best to eat should come from a nutritionist who has studied the individual’s personal requirements and I do recommendation to anyone who wants to reach optimum performance level, to get a full health check and seeks advice from a reputable nutritionist.  However, simply by increasing your water intake, adopting a more plant-based diet and cutting out snacking, will dramatically increases your performance in a very short time.

Do we need to make time for deep work, and how do we do that? 

The signs of busyness and productivity often get confused. It’s tempting to busy ourselves with these easier tasks, but they, too often, bring less value to our work.  Jumping from task to task or attending every meeting, call and email just because you’ve been invited, means you are busy, not necessarily productive.  To work at ultimate performance over a sustained period of time means you need to adopt a different strategy – The Deep Work Strategy!

Deep work is defined as “professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limits”.  This needs to be performed in a state of distraction-free concentration and is important because without it, you’ll constantly find yourself caught focussing on small non-value adding tasks and you’ll never making progress on the larger important pieces of work. 

Being able to enter into deep work means much preparation.  You need to set time scales to when you are going to enter into this period because burnout is real and work creep is inevitable if you don’t.  In addition, you need to ensure you have no distractions, you are in a good place to work, you have switched off all social media and the likes.  

Most importantly make sure you prioritise.  If you have a lot of smaller tasks which you haven’t either prioritised or scheduled, they can remain in your mind and become a major distraction.  I find that morning time is a good time to enter into deep work as your energy levels are higher.  Later in the day, is a good time to perform the smaller less important tasks where your brain doesn’t need to be so concentrated.   Human brains work in such a great way, they recognise lude various rituals as part of your routine.  This can look differently for everyone but before you start, do the ritual that works for you to signal to your body and mind that you are about to do some deep work. 

Always remember to take some rest. You need to switch off your brain in order to let it recharge.  If you want to continually work at this level over a sustained period of time, your downtime is equally as important as the ‘deep work’ time.  

The pomodoro method is well documented. Are there any other similarly efficient techniques to maximise our concentration power? 

Like pomodoro, there are many techniques to help us manage our time such as, the Getting Things Done (GTD) Method by David Allen, Important – Urgent Matrix from “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Pareto Analysis, Rapid Planning Method and others help to be more effective but, at the end of the day, to maximise our concentration power it comes down to how we are taking care of ourselves and, regardless of what method we use, how and what we’re planning.

The level of our concentration is deeply affected by our mental stamina and physical vibrancy. If we are not managing these areas no amount of planning will allow us to maximise what we’re capable of. By holistically looking at our sleep, nutrition, exercise, planning, prioritisation, distraction and interruption management we can then maximise what levels of concentration we are capable of.

Meditation has proven to be a great technique and antidote to scatteredness. By practicing meditation and implementing it into our daily routines, it can really serve as a very beneficial tool to train our mind to focus on one thing at a time. In fact, I can personally say that upon practicing meditation it has played a key part in my morning routine for focus and planning as well as assisting with transitioning between major tasks and projects. It is also something that I introduce to my clients during our coaching program and has profound affects.

How important a consideration is what we wear while we work? 

I work with may high performers and there is a definite consensus that work performance can be enhanced by dressing well.

Napoleon Hill said “The clothes maketh not the man but they surely do give him a good head start” and if that’s the impression or importance of our choice of clothing then it stands to reason that we should not only “dress to impress” others but also ourselves!

There have been many discussions on how does a dress code impact productivity with no definite conclusion.  It seems that attire is such a deeply personal preference that there is no perfect way to predict how implementing a dress code in your workplace will affect productivity.  However, there have been studies conducted that have discovered the clothes you wear can have an impact on how you act therefore wearing more formal clothing or a uniform can change people’s mindset to that of workplace mindset.

In my opinion, there are valid reasons many schools that have their pupils wear school unform.  Dressing for work puts you in a workplace mindset and work mode.   It teaches its students to dress smartly and take pride in their appearance and prepares students for success by teaching them professional dress.

Not only do I believe that your performance can be enhanced by dressing well I also think that it impacts how others perceive us in the workplace.

Another interesting thing to consider when discussing productivity in relation to work attire is why some of the world highest performers have designed their work wardrobe to have multiple sets of the same work clothes.  The idea behind this is, by doing this it eliminates the task of deciding what to wear in the morning leaving more thinking space on how to be productive through the day and having one less decision to make which allows them to focus on more important workplace decisions.

Get intentional and focussed on making these changes and just wait so see your productivity levels rise and your life transform!