Wednesday, 29 September 2010


It’s so incredibly easy to be distracted. One minute you’ve got a great idea for a blog entry, the next you’re sucked into a bit of reality TV. A bit of reality TV you’ve already seen, at that. And before you know it a whole week has gone by and the blog idea has disappeared somewhere into the ether.

As simple as that. And that’s where I find myself. But it is interesting as to how easily I find my attention shifted onto something else. Sometimes it has a bit of value, a lot of the time it most certainly does not.

The reason this got my thinking again was because I fell upon a piece by a guy called Harvey Mackay entitled, “Stay Focused On The Big Picture.” The basic principle is ‘the person that is everywhere is nowhere’. Decide what’s important and focus on it.

Too many goals, objectives, distractions, questions etc etc. Focus on the issue at hand and cut everything out. If I may, I’ll borrow a golfing story that Harvey quoted in his article about Arnold Palmer. The golfing legend recalled a tough lesson he learned about focus:

'It was the final hole of the 1961 Masters tournament, and I had a one-stroke lead and had just hit a very satisfying tee shot. I felt I was in pretty good shape. As I approached my ball, I saw an old friend standing at the edge of the gallery. He motioned me over, stuck out his hand and said, "Congratulations." I took his hand and shook it, but as soon as I did, I knew I had lost my focus.

On my next two shots, I hit the ball into a sand trap, then put it over the edge of the green. I missed a putt and lost the Masters. You don't forget a mistake like that; you just learn from it and become determined that you will never do that again. Trust me, your friends will understand!'

It’s unlikely that most of our lives will consist of a golfing major but even on the most basic level there's definitely something to be taken from that. Knowing what to do is one thing. Focusing and getting it done is entirely another.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Lady (hear me tonight)

Having recently picked up an Oprah magazine in my local supermarket, I accidentally followed that up by buying a montly mag entitled 'Psychologies'. I say "accidentally" as I thought it was an academic work rather than a woman's magazine. I guess the picture of Julia Roberts on the front should have been a bit of a giveaway, though I must confess I was happy to be seduced by it.

But the interesting thing about the mag is that it's really quite a nice take on personal development. It's tag is "Know More, Grow More", which pretty much sums up where it's coming from. Yes, it tackles some of the usual ideas you'll see in women's mags but it also talks about streamling your life, confidence, developing your curiosity, the spirit and so on. I can honestly say that I found a few nuggets that I could use. It's another example of the need to not limit our sources of inspiration - in this case it came from Julia Roberts....

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

God bless the child

I was browsing through the 'Financial Times' the other day when I fell upon a piece by one of the paper's columnists, Lucy Kellaway. The article was a light-hearted look at things that CEOs and toddlers have in common. Nothwithstanding the less positive commonalities like the "lack of common sense" and "issues with listening", some of the ideas did make me think, particularly in the context of we, the individual, running our lives as businesses. The positive traits of CEOs and toddlers that came to mind were: 1) Both are full of energy and enthusiasm; 2) Both are natural risk-takers; 3) Both are persistent; 4) Both are inquisitive - they will not be fobbed off with a stock reply; 5) Both are creative; 6) Both have great interpersonal skills; 7) Both are assertive and very good at saying no; 8) Both are good at making decisions.

The list is probably endless, as any analogy can be if you choose to extrapolate enough. But it did make me think that all those years of instruction and shaping and 'evolution' have actually taken me further away from some of the qualities I'm actually looking for now...

Friday, 10 September 2010

Genie in a bottle

Don't you just love Oprah. I've never actually sat down and watched a full edition of her programme but I know that the essence of the Oprah experience is to do good for others. Yes, she's made more money than I'll ever see over a good few lifetimes, but I don't begrudge that, particularly as a large slice of it is being redirected towards good causes.

Anyway, I was having one of those supermarket shopping experiences where you pick up random things to give it a try, when I fell upon Oprah's magazine. It's not my norm to pick up women's magazines but there's no real reason why I shouldn't - if there's value, there's value. So I stuck one into my basket and took it home.

The tag line of the mag is "Live Your Best Life", which to me was a good enough reason to give it a go. A flicked through and fell upon an article talking about charisma, that intangible seductive characteristic that allows individuals to stand out in the crowd. Although I still think it's hard to pinpoint magic ingredients, the article did highlight some interest theories. According to some eminent individual, charisma is made up of three things: 1) expressiveness (a talent for striking up conversations and conveying feelings; 2) control (an ability to fine-tune your persona to suit situations); 3) sensitivity (a gift for listening and sussing out others' mindsets). In a nutshell, it's the art of communication and connection.

And the best thing about it all is that individuals aren't necessarily born that way - they can be made. It might seem a little false and shallow, and it's true that if you're not being genuine or authentic then the facade will fall apart at the seams like a cheap nylon suit. But growing into your character, that intrigues me. Who can forget how Princess Diana was when she was introduced to the world as this shy Lady Diana individual with all the confidence of a young Bambi? She developed a charisma as she threw off her shell. Yes, circumstance did force her to but in my opinion she stayed true to herself. Anyway, I'm committing to working on my charisma - as random and ethereal as that may sound. To me, it's simply focusing my energies more on what genuinely interests me - people and development. It beats spending my time with another DVD box set. Thanks, Oprah.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


Back on the “woe is me” tip, a lot of time you hear people saying “life’s unfair”. Maybe I’m being a bit naive and rose-tinted about some things but I tend to try and view that big realm called "life" as whatever you make it out to be. Yes, it's simplistic but that’s the way I see it. What you choose to believe is true enough.

The reason it came to mind was an analogy I read. It talked about life being up and down but it’s really for the individual to enjoy the ride, rather than resisting it and wasting the moment. There's no point in trying to control it, simply control yourself. As the piece put it “life is a funfair” – that has so much more charm than viewing life as unfair….

Monday, 6 September 2010

Let it be

Falling upon one of my favourite websites, I found the line “I have manifested this because I like it.” It wasn’t talking about achieving some beautiful and wonderfully long-held dream. On the contrary - it was all about the crap that is in our lives that we choose to take on board because we get some weird kick out of it. It’s the old ‘devil you know’ syndrome. It takes some gumption and a fair bit of discipline but if you really wanted to change your perception of any given situation you can. But saying that it's so much easier to be the victim, or the struggler, or over-worked, or the unloved, or the put upon, or the… And it goes on.

There are so many individuals out there that set a shining example for the rest of us. Sure, it's still not all a bed of roses for them. But just thinking about the likes of Nick Vujicic ( makes me think sometimes I need to suck it up and get on with it. If you manage to take a deep breath and go head on against the 'comfort' of feeling crap, as it were, you might actually surprise yourself. Get aware. As ever.