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Have you ever needed resolve to follow through on something in service of a larger goal?  Or fiercely defended a person, belief, purpose or value that is dear to you and under threat?  Have you taken decisive action, even in the face of opposition or disinterest in service of integrity?  Are you ever bravely vulnerable in your relationships and share something with a partner or friend where there is the risk they will laugh at, or ridicule, you?  Do you open yourself to risk of failure?  If you have done any of these, you would have recruited the Warrior archetype.

Conversely, if you haven’t, would it serve you to cultivate Warrior, so that you are better able to honour these qualities in yourself?

When the coronavirus pandemic started, we were encouraged to use an “elbow bump”. An informal and COVID-safe greeting that replaced the handshake. In 2021, however, I have been introduced to the Corona Bow. I think I prefer bowing to bumping. It points to self-respect, mutual appreciation, trust and humility. But, what does bowing have to do with coaching?

The world has changed, there is no doubt about that. Coronavirus had altered the landscape of our lives personally, locally, nationally and globally. It has affected how we shop, work, educate our kids, travel, socialise and created so much uncertainty that is affecting the mental health of many people around the world.

If you are interested in personal growth, be that for business or career development, or simply to be more content and fulfilled in life, you’ll understand the significance of remaining positive.

One of the key factors contributing towards your growing positivity is being discerning about who you spend your time with.  As one of my great spiritual teachers told me, “You are who you sit with”.  Jim Rohn said it this way, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with”.

One of the most effective things you can do is manage your anxiety.  In the face of uncertainty, you cannot often manage the concerns beyond your control.  Instead, managing your reaction to them is where your power lies.

The Inner Game of Confidence is a funny thing.  Most people would say they lack confidence.  Others might say they need more confidence.  These are the self-deprecating people who feel safer in the shadows and not drawing attention to themselves.  They are quiet and do not want to be the centre of attention.

And then there are those who would say that they are confident to the world, while deep down they also feel like they lack confidence or need more of it.  The world often sees them as confident or even arrogant.  They have learned to be loud, larger than life and out-going because they have been taught that portrays a confident air. Yet inside they might be struggling with confidence just as much as the quiet, self-deprecating people. These people do want to be the centre of attention and will talk over others to get control and be seen.

Rarely will you hear a confident person say they are confident.  Usually, they are getting on with it, making their way in the world and making people feel great in their presence.  They bring about trust and confidence in others.

Historically, I have been in all three places.  We all are at different times.  It can even change many times throughout the day!!!! Being quiet in social situations or work meetings so that I don’t contribute; brash and loud when I feel I have to be more assertive than I feel; or the centred confidence of speaking and acting in my power with calm, presence and ease.

Owning your Greatness

Authentic confidence comes from within- an inner sense that is genuinely YOU!!!

When your confidence shines through, you own your greatness.  There are no self-messages telling you that you are not good enough.  Nor are you plagued with self-doubt or feeling overwhelmed with stress.  In that relaxed and confident state, you are using your talents, skills and qualities in service of others…………. and it feels great!!!!!  It’s like you know you are here to do this thing you are doing, and you are living it, right now in this moment. I wrote a blog about this called The Little Signs of Greatness.

Many years ago, on the way to a martial arts seminar, 2 of the three vehicles we were travelling in broke down.  Throughout the experience, I was calm, confident and assured that we would still get to the seminar and be able to return home the same day.  In amongst other people’s frustration, doubt and fear, I held the group together.  We all attended a remarkable seminar and made the 300-mile return trip home in good spirits.  I did not allow the fear, doubt and anxiety to stem the flow of my own confidence, and so I was able to resolve every challenge, conflict and obstacle.  I felt alive, empowered and confident.  And my leadership qualities flowed naturally from me as a result.

The Inner Game of Confidence

This is an example of the Inner Game of Confidence playing out.  In the face of adversity, keeping an eye on the goal and managing my stress and anxiety, I found the inner resilience to creatively resolve the problems we faced. From this confident state, I had access to all the answers I needed.  And when we did not have the solution to hand, we created a solution that worked for the benefit of all.  And I say “we” because my confidence had a positive and stabilising effect on the others, and we co-created the solutions together.

By contrast, when I cannot manage the fear and anxiety, I am less resourced and resilient and so I feel less confident.  As part of my coaching training, we would sometimes practice coaching sessions in front of the class and the teachers.  On the days when my confidence was low, I would never volunteer to do these coaching demonstrations.  When I was a little more confident, I might volunteer- if I couldn’t self-manage well, the coaching was poor, but when I could manage myself more effectively, the fear and doubt disappeared, my confidence grew, and the coaching went well.  And when I was confident, I always volunteered, and the coaching was great- as long as I continued to self-manage the fear, doubt and anxiety if I felt it crop up.

How to Play the Inner Game

In martial arts, you are training to deal with an inherently stressful situation- someone trying to harm you.  You learn the technical skills of self-defence.  This I call the outer game.  But there is a second track called the inner game, which is all about your innate confidence.  Without that, you cannot perform the technical skills of self-defence.  The stress, anxiety and fear will tighten you up physically and mentally.  You won’t remember what to do.  This is why the inner game is SO important.

The inner game works like this:

  1. Know your stuff
  2. Stand confident
  3. Breathe
  4. Focus on the other
  5. Practice

So, let’s take each one in turn:

Know your Stuff

Yes, you’ve got to know your stuff.  But what skills and knowledge do you need for the situation?  A small hand of basic martial arts techniques is all you need to defend yourself, so get to know the basics and work on the inner game so that you can do them with confidence and under pressure.  Public speaking? Know your material and learn the skills of delivering to a crowd and all the while, working on the inner game of confidence. Winging it in a meeting? Know your onions and learn the art of spontaneous, creative improvisation.  You get the idea…… you want to know enough and learn the art of what you are doing as well as cultivate your confidence from the inside out

Stand Confident

It is only possible to be confident if you stand in your power.  Feet shoulder width a part, arms down by your sides, tongue and belly relaxed, looking straight ahead and focusing forward, breathe deep.  Standing this way brings out the qualities of being ready, engaged, connected, interactive, light, adaptable, aware, focused.  Practice it now.  Here’s a video for you to work with:

Martial arts teach you to stand this way for stability, strength and readiness for combat.  When public speaking, stand tall and take up the space of the stage.  Look at the audience.  Breathe to them so that your voice carries and commands authority.

Breathe

Sounds obvious I know.  But, under pressure, so many people hold their breath or breathe from the upper chest, which promotes anxiety.  When you stand confident, it promotes belly breathing.  This encourages calm, deep, slow breathing which increases your confidence.  It also gives you plenty of air from which to speak with confidence, authority and carries your voice.

Focus on the other

Often, focusing on you alone makes you less confident.  It becomes all about you and your fear, anxiety and doubt.  Once you’re standing confident and breathing calmly, sense your inner strength that runs up and down your spine and is grounded at your centre (a couple of inches below your belly button which the Japanese call the Hara and the Chinese the lower Dan T’ien).  Now, project forward.  As far as you can go, like your blowing up a large balloon.  Fill the space as much as you can.  A more advanced alternative is to project in all directions, as if you are standing in the centre of the balloon and make that as big as possible.  For some reason, this gets rid of the overwhelming nervous feeling I get when speaking in public for example.

It has the advantage of connecting you with your audience.  Whether its an audience of one or a hundred, or a thousand, this projection has the impact of creating empathy, connection and trust that builds confidence in both directions.

Practice

Practice and make it fun! I don’t know about you, but I enjoy practising things if they are fun.  Make practice, to let your inner confidence flow, a game.  Have some fun with friends and family standing in your power.  Try it with your kids and see their confidence grow.  Tell stories, share hopes and dreams, recount your day while standing (or sitting) in your power.  What difference does it make?  Are you more articulate, more sincere?  Do you listen better? Practice with work colleagues by the water cooler or when you give or receive feedback.  Are you more focused on the other person?

Practice breathing while you’re sitting in traffic, or on hold, or waiting for the computer to boot up. For some, belly breathing is more challenging because you are out of practice. Here is a good video for building that skill.

I’ll be running a workshop on February 6th, 2020, covering these topics and more in a practical, interactive and experiential way. We’ll be looking at how cultivating the inner game allows you to be more confident- authentically, powerfully and in a truly embodied way.  You’ll find more information here.

Over to You

How confident do you feel? What knocks your confidence? How do you get it back? How did the tips in this blog change things for you? What other methods work for you?  I’d love to hear your experiences and if I can help in any way, please get in touch.

You are about to go into a challenging meeting or give a public talk and you can feel the butterflies in your stomach. The saboteur voices are loud in your head telling you that you are not good enough, who are you to be doing this, what if they don’t like me….. and you are listening!!! What confidence you had is draining away, your throat gets tight, your tummy tense, your breathing is quick and shallow, and you are finding it hard to make eye contact with people in the room.  You are about to race into whatever prepared speech you have with nerves, anxiety and fear.  And then you remember that you have a choice about how you show up in this moment…… and you choose to show up with confidence, power and presence.  You take deep, calming belly breaths, centre yourself, take in the room, make eye contact, pause……….. and then begin.

Confidence, presence and power

Perhaps this scenario is familiar to you?  The details may look a little different- it may be a challenging conversation with your partner or children or a potentially unpleasant conversation with a work colleague; perhaps it is an e-mail that has you reacting from fear and frustration and you want to snap back a rapid reply; or maybe it’s an unkind comment that has your saboteur giving you a hard time.  Whatever the scenario and whatever the reason, you can choose to react from fear and anxiety, or you can choose to respond with confidence, presence and power.

In my experience, confidence and power come with presence.  Presence is the foundation or corner stone of your confidence and power.  This is the place where everything works really well, and you do your best work and show up with the best version of yourself without effort and with an easy grace.  But what is presence?  Do you have it?  How do you lose it?  And what can you do to get it back?

The Power of Presence

Children and animals are always present and shining their presence.

If you want to know about presence, there are two easily accessible places you are guaranteed to see presence- animals and young children.  They are always present and shining their presence.  There is an aliveness, curiosity, spontaneity and playfulness to them.  They are alert to what is here and now, be that around them or within them.  Awareness with an ability to dance with whatever comes up in this moment.  The aliveness of seeing animals and children playing in the park.  The curiosity they had as they discover, explore and experiment.  The alertness and spontaneity as they switch in a moment from tears to joy, or from sleepiness to wakefulness.

It is a beautiful place to be.  There is a keen connection with your experience and the world around you.  So that rather than shrinking away and disengaging from the event, you are actively engaging and co-creating with the event itself.  Steering it, guiding it and creating it with everyone else involved.  As adults, we may know this experience when we are in flow.  Common examples of flow might be performance related like in sport or public speaking, intimate moments with loved ones, an awareness and connection with the vastness of nature as well as your insignificance, or when you are at your edge (at the limit of your ability) and all your senses are tuned in.

Accessing Presence

So, how can you access your presence in everyday situations.  How can you avoid falling into the fear and anxiety of your saboteur and instead find your presence and the confidence and power that brings?  As with so many things, it is down to practice.  Yet, you do not need to practice presence- it is a natural state that comes intuitively.  You are born with presence and born to presence.  What we all need to practice is getting there and staying there.  We spend so much time in the past and the future, being present almost totally eludes us.

Past and future are not the present

You know the experience- you’re daydreaming about some past event or thinking about the future.  Or you’re worrying about something you said to someone and the impact that might have on your relationship or career.  Or you’ve done something you regret and think about how you might put things right.  These are not bad things in and of themselves.  But we tend to make a habit and a lifestyle about thinking of the past and the future.  And not being alive to what is present with us here and now.  We miss special moments with loved ones, magic events that may enrich our lives.  And theirs.  We lose connection with the present and so lose our presence, power and confidence.

All you need do is get that connection back.  Fortunately, there are thousand of ways to reconnect to the present and therefore feel your presence.  Here are 7 simple exercises to practice that I use regularly:

Breathing

Breathe to the wall. Before a presentation or meeting or when you are about to speak, practice breathing out to the far wall.   Feel that connection between you and the wall and notice how your awareness expands to fill the space between you and the wall.  You can also do this with a person- you will become more present to them when you do this, enabling you to listen and engage better in the conversation.

Expanded listening

Broaden your awareness to the sounds around you. First, the sounds in the room (the voices, the clock ticking, the air conditioning unit).  Then reach out to the noises in the room next door or the corridor (muffled voices, footsteps, the humming and whirring of machines).  Lastly, listen to the sounds of the world outside (traffic, bird song, dogs barking, construction work).  How does it change your presence to be more alert to the broader sounds around you?

Expanding your visual focus

Rather than laser focused vision which our lifestyles encourage, soften and expand your focus instead. Focus on a point on the wall in front of you. Now expand that focus to the right and left of that point as far as you can go.  Can you get to the corner on both ends?  How about even further round for full 180o vision?  What impact does this have on your presence?  How are you more present to the room after practising this?

Exercise

Raising your heart rate and breathing, releasing those feel-good endorphins and focusing on an intention to run a certain distance, lift a certain weight, perfect a specific move or improve on your time all bring you to greater presence. How much more productive, creative and present are you after a workout of some kind?

Play

Something as adults we tend to do very little of except with our children. Yet, play is an excellent access point for presence.  Try an improv class or have some spontaneous fun with the kids.  You will be more present with the people you share the experience with.  What does it feel like to play?  Frivolous?  A waste of time?  Enjoyable? Alive?  Foolish? Fun? In a way, all these strong reactions are a sign of presence. The more you practice play, the more you will notice the positive impact it has on you and the people around you.

Centring

Spend a minute focusing on your breathing. If you are anxious and overwhelmed, and you want to calm down, focus and lengthen the OUT breath.  Conversely, if you are withdrawn and disconnected, and you want to engage more, focus and lengthen your IN breath.  Try it now and see how it brings you to a more centred and present place.

Walk in Nature or around the streets of your neighbourhood or work environment

This one includes a version of all the others if you allow it. Don’t just walk from A to B, head down, getting it done as fast as possible.  Allow yourself to connect to the experience.  Feel your feet on the floor, the wind on your face.  Look around and take in the sights, sounds and sensations.  Feel your attention expand and welcome the input.  Notice what impact this input has on your presence.  How much more present do you feel to yourself and the world around you during and after your walk?

What is alive within you?

Then once you are present and feel your presence and power return, you are in a stronger position to take action.  Rather than act from your worried place of the past or from fear of the future, act from the power and presence of the present.  Connect to what is already alive within you- your authenticity, uniqueness, talents, qualities, skills, values, heart, soul, spirit.  Bring all of that present to this moment. You will create and give great presentations and performances from this place.  Conversations will be so much more powerful, alive, authentic and productive.  And your relationships will take on a flavour of honesty and openness that will of great benefit both personally and professionally.

Over to You

What impact is presence having on you?  How do you get into presence?  How do you stay present?  When you are present, what difference does it make to the quality of your work and relationships?  What brings you out of presence?  Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments box below or interact on social media (Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn) or by e-mail.

And if you’d like more support in achieving presence for personal and professional growth, I will be running an event in Cambridge around the topic of presence in business (for both people in employment and self-employed).  You can find out further details and book tickets here. If you’d like to know more you can e-mail me at david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk.

Pass it on

Found this blog useful?  Why not send the link to friends, family and work colleagues?  Most of us would benefit from stepping into our presence more often and more deeply.  It could make a huge difference to someone you care about.

What does it mean to be confident?  Would you call yourself confident?  Are you confident in a particular area of your life or field of expertise? When you step into unexplored roles or arenas, do you struggle with confidence?  Or are you confident in yourself and call upon your inner confidence to step into new roles, find new answers and gain new experiences?

The word confidence comes from the Latin, confidere, which means “to have full trust”.  Therefore, self-confidence is having full trust in yourself.  People strive for excellence in specific fields or areas in their lives.  They become experts in their specialised subject, and they are very confident in that arena.  Yet, take them out of that specialism, and suddenly their confidence has been pulled out from underneath them.  Like the rug has been pulled out from under their feet.  Their confidence gives way to not trusting themselves.

Character building Confidence

It is as if the hard work, perseverance and application to study, learn and grow in a given area have not been fully acknowledged or integrated into their larger life.  This person has not grown as a person.  They may have grown in knowledge, experience and skills, but this does not seem to impact on who they are.  How does being great at poetry make you a great man or woman?  What shift do you need to make in your thinking to turn someone who is great at science or sport or beekeeping into an individual with character?

In the poem “If”, Rudyard Kipling speaks of character, of the qualities I believe build confidence.  Not once does he speak about being a lawyer, accountant, teacher or any other profession.  Nor does he say you need to be rich, spiritual, religious or any other group to belong to.  He speaks to building the qualities in a person that evoke trust and belief in oneself.  That person will not be universally liked, or good at everything they turn their hand to.  Instead, the things this person learns to do will help to forge those qualities that build character.

Confidence is inherent and your birth-right

So, confidence is about learning to cultivate those qualities that I believe human beings have at birth.  They are inherent within us.  A child knows only trust and can only communicate openly, honestly and authentically.  Once we learn the need to mask that behaviour, in an attempt to conform and fit in, we begin to lose that confidence in who we are at our core.  The trust in ourselves begins to diminish and as a result our trust in the world around us.  Yet, that kernel of trust and inner truth is never far away.  We simply need to tap into that inherent wisdom.

Confidence is a superpower. That superhero within is always ready to serve

Think of a time when you were confident.  Perhaps it was playing sport or a musical instrument.  Maybe you felt convinced by an idea you believed in totally or discovered something you know to be true.  When you recall it, what does it feel like in your body?  What feels possible from this place? Allow yourself to be filled up with this feeling.

You have conjured a feeling of confidence, brought it alive in you in this moment.  Now think of the other achievements you have attained in your life.  How capable do you feel?  How do the current challenges in your life appear to you now? Is there possibility, confidence and a way forward for you now?

Confidence and Presence

In my workshops, I use Patsy Rodenburg’s concept of 3 energy circles to explore confidence and presence. Second circle is about being universally confident.  Rather than be confident in a particular situation, you develop confidence in yourself so that you have the belief you can do anything.  You may not know all the answers or know what to do, but you know you have SOMETHING about you that says you can do this.  Learning, trial and error, failure, reflection, integration and perseverance will all play a part in that process- beneath that lies a foundation of confidence in who you are and what you are capable of.

Any life situation can be used to develop confidence in you as a person.  It takes you to look at the situation slightly differently.  You are probably used to doing something really well like riding a bike, or having challenging conversations, or fixing things, or gardening or or or……… and you might say that you are confident at doing that thing.

Growing the whole person

I would like you to think of it differently.  Rather than this skill developing a part of you or an aspect of your character or skill set, think of it as growing all of you, developing the whole of you, making you stronger, more capable, competent, versatile.  The skill, situation or whatever it is, becomes the entry point to grow you as a whole person.  Like the leaves of a tree- they grow and go about their business to grow the whole tree, just as the roots draw water and nutrients for the whole.  Every action makes the tree larger, stronger and more resilient.

You grow in your character and your belief that “if I can learn to do this, then I can learn all sorts of things”.  Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset- How to Fulfil your Potential and TED talk The Power of Believing you can Improve, speaks about praising people for the hard work and effort they put into a piece of work.  This Growth Mindset leads to greater confidence because people believe they have the underlying ability to learn whatever they need to learn and do whatever they need to do to succeed.   There is a curiosity, inquisitive exploration and thirst to discover.  Your work grows you as a person.  You grow in confidence that you have what it takes.

Training and Coaching Confidence

Coaching and Mindful Movement workshops aim to grow the whole person.  They grow your character, confidence and presence.  As you grow in these qualities, you bring them into whatever situations you might face in life.  You will learn what you need, you will gain the experience, you will discover your resources and resilience.  It requires you to be open and willing to learn continually.  And it empowers you to bounce back again and again when setbacks and disappointments inevitably arise.

So, being confident is not about having all the answers or always being right.  Confidence is about trust.  Trust that you will remain engaged in the process of your growth and the growth of others.  That you will see something through to the end and stand by what you believe in.  Trust that you have the character to learn from others, lead with compassion and guide with insight and empathy.  Confidence does not mean you are perfect.  It means you are a great boss, a loving father or mother, a present partner and a life-loving member of humanity.

Over to you

Do you feel confident?  Are you confident in a particular area in your life, or do you feel you have a core foundation of confidence?  How would having that core self-confidence change things for you?  What are you going to do to build that core confidence?

On July 18th, 2019, I will be running the next Be the Best Boss workshop in Cambridge. We will be looking at confidence and presence and how that can have a positive impact on your business as a self-employed solopreneur and on your career as you work up the professional ladder of success in employment. Further details and tickets are available at the link.  Or, if you have further questions, get in touch.

Pass it on

If you know someone who would benefit from more confidence and presence, why not send them the link for the workshop.  They may also enjoy this blog?  I’d appreciate it if you spread the word and shared it with friends, family and colleagues.  Thank you.

Do you view brushes with failure as negative? When you fail, do you respond with self- ridicule and judgement? If you get things wrong does your inner saboteur use it as ammunition to keep you limited, safe and inside your comfort zone?

The Weight of Failure

Failure is an inevitable part of life. Making mistakes offers valuable lessons on the road to success and excellence. Your learning and experience from failure is ultimately determined by your mindset around failure. How do you hold failure? Is it weighty, full of high risk and dire consequences? Or do you hold it lightly, with curiosity and an opportunity to learn, experience, understand and adapt?

This point was brought home to me recently when I visited a local museum. There was a display, showing how locks work and how boats on rivers and canals navigate ascents and descents. I was trying to work out how the various buttons and handles worked the display so the model boat could move from one end of the display to the other. Every wrong button I pressed or handle I moved was met by a correction from the volunteer. Even though I said I wanted to work it out myself and use my mistakes as stepping stones to deeper understanding, the volunteer desperately tried to save me from error.

What was interesting was I felt the empowerment to learn from exploration drain away with every comment from the volunteer. I know it was meant kindly and to be supportive. Yet my experience was the opposite. It undermined my confidence.

Perspective of Failure

I think this volunteer’s perspective is a common relationship we have with failure. As if it is bad. As if we are wrong to get it wrong. If we chastised our children for falling when they were learning to walk, we would all still be crawling. Yet, every time little Johnnie falls over we encourage and champion him, in the belief he can do it. When little Suzie takes a tumble we enthusiastically suggest she try again, knowing full well she will succeed in time.

There seems to come a time when that unconditional support evaporates, encouragement gives way to ridicule and cheerleading is replaced by judgement. Very quickly we develop a perception of failure that is self- defeating. It justifies our unworthiness, lack of ability and missing resourcefulness.  Please remember:

You are able, worthy and resourceful.

Often, we need encouragement to tap into those qualities. Failure is one of those spaces in human experience in which we can be educated to view it as a sign of defeat or a chance for opportunity.

Celebrating Failure

What if we could celebrate failure? Rather than see our lack of knowledge or understanding as a condemnation and a road block to our learning. Perhaps we can develop a more empowering mindset? What if failure was met with an eagerness to delve deeper, create new solutions, explore different perspectives, investigate other paths?

What learning becomes available when you fail? The results tell you everything. 2017 saw me launch Mindful Movement workshops. They were met by my captive audience with enthusiasm and deep learning. I expected 2018 to continue that way. In reality, engagement has been poor so far. Why? After consulting enough people with experience, it has become clear marketing is the main issue. As a result, I have been on marketing workshops. Some improvement but still not great. The next step has been audience focus. Better results again. Now it is language. What words am I using in my marketing literature? Each step gets me closer. Every failure points to the next solution.

On a personal note I have been challenged with communication with my son. I have always reached out to him but he has never initiated contact. At 20 years old I was hoping for a more balanced relationship. I tried a few things- silence, texts, phone calls- none of it worked. I was seeing the endless failures as a sign there was no road through and it was upsetting to contemplate that I would have no two- way relationship with him. Instead, I had it out with him face to face, kindly, openly, respectfully. He responded beautifully to his great credit. It’s early days and so far, we are enjoying a much more balanced and open communication.

Failure as a Positive Force

I have a tendency to view failure as an end of the road. Perhaps you do the same?  It is no such thing unless you choose to put the road blocks there. It is hard sometimes to find the way through, the next step, another option. Creativity, openness, receptivity to advice and suggestions from others and a desire to find your way through are essential I believe. It is a challenge in itself to maintain these mindsets when you hold failure as a negative force. Held as a positive force, it acts as inspiration for creativity, receptivity and desire.

Failure is an inevitable part of the life coaching process.  Each session is an open space for exploration, taking risks and deep learning.  And sometimes when action steps are not achieved, the next coaching session is ripe ground for getting curious about what the obstacles to taking action were.  Is it something about realistic expectations?  Does the client have a relationship with that action that limits them?  Are they holding a disempowering perspective?  At no point is their judgement.  There is only the opportunity for more learning and growth.  Seeing failure as the route to success I think is a healthy view point. That you succeed is a wonderful by- product. Failure is the fertile ground of learning, growth and understanding.

We are all Roses on The Wheel of Life

As a wonderful teacher told me years ago, the rose grows strong and beautiful when you put lots of manure and water on it. Failure and the expansion out of your comfort zone that comes with failure held in a positive light is the manure you flourish in. All the manure and water can do is bring forth what is already there. Failure can entice you to dig deeper into yourself in any given area of your life. In fact, it is the manure your whole life flourishes in: health, business/ career, relationships, finances, education, contribution and any other segments of your Wheel of Life.

As a result, let’s celebrate failure- the barometer that points to your need to learn, expand, grow and ultimately flourish.

Over to You

Do you see failure as a positive or a negative? How do you hold failure? Is it a learning tool or a road block? How does seeing failure as a positive change outcomes for you? Where is the learning in your failure? Failure is such a common part of our lives if we wish to grow and move our lives forward. The alternative is stagnation and overwhelming fear to try. How can celebrating failure change that mind set for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts, experience and realisations. Please share them in the comments box below, on social media or e- mail me at david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk. I look forward to hearing from you.

Pass it on

If you know someone who is struggling with failure, why not send them the link to this blog or share and retweet the posts? It could be just what they need to see failure as something to celebrate.

The Festival of Light

What do Christmas, Hanukah and Diwali mean to you? Are they purely a time off work or do they have a deeper message? What messages, lessons and ideas can you take from Christmas, Hanukah and Diwali into the rest of the year?

This is the time of The Festivals of Light. Christmas, Hanukah and Diwali are all religious celebrations commemorating the Light of the Human spirit. Candles and fireworks are lit to remind us that hope, forgiveness and kindness are human traits to celebrate and practice for the benefit of others as well as ourselves.

Candles and fireworks are lit to remind us that hope, forgiveness and kindness are human traits to celebrate

The symbol of Light in this way is prevalent across the world and throughout time. It is a universal image to which all people relate. Fire has been used for millennia to accompany sacred ceremonies and mark sacred time and space. This fire can represent the divine, that universal force that creates all and, it can illustrate the indomitable spirit within each of us, which marks our uniqueness and our collective humanity. The human spirit is a flame that can be neglected, ignored and covered over. It can also be nurtured, nourished and fanned to create a blaze. The various Festivals of Light are a reminder that we need to cultivate this Light within. I believe people are naturally born with this flame inside them. It holds their Light, uniqueness, innate talents and skills that can be shared with the world.

The Light of the Human Spirit

When we are born, we possess a presence and power that radiates out. Babies light up rooms and bring smiles to people’s faces. Young children are open and free with their emotions, laughing one moment, crying the next, then all smiles seconds later. They show confidence in expressing spontaneous behaviour, sharing unsolicited thoughts and being their authentic selves. This unhampered Light shines as children play, learn and express their love.

Things can happen to cover this Light. By being made to feel wrong for expressing emotions and certain behaviours, by not being supported and encouraged, by denying feelings and longings that are deemed inappropriate, through abuse, neglect and so much more, this Light becomes dimmed and fails to shine in the world with the clarity and brightness that it did in a person’s youth.

This process can start young or later in life. For the person concerned it feels like a void, a gap, even a deadness inside that is filled with pain and a yearning to be given a voice and take action. To the outside world, it might appear as a lack of confidence or commitment, apathy, even indifference. To them it feels frustrating, exasperating and ignites a desire for change. Regardless of how it appears internally or externally, this Light still burns furiously within. It needs uncovering, oxygen and nurturing. Done consistently, we can shine brighter, burn stronger, share our Light more fully and embrace the joy of doing and being that more completely.

Uncovering the Light

How do we start the process of uncovering the flame that burns within so that we can feel fulfilled and live with meaning and purpose? There is the journey of uncovering the things of the past that stifle the flame. And there are the things that happen in the present that if left unchallenged can further diminish our Light. We can learn strategies to uncover the things of the past and the present. This in turn improves our resilience so that we are better able to face life’s challenges. There are lots of ways you can explore these strategies. Coaching is one such method in which you focus on your goals for the future and explore your habits and beliefs and ways of being that prevent you from achieving those goals. Here are some areas that might be powerful for you to explore:

  1. Mind sets supportive to your success. Very often you learn scripts from the past that actually undermine you. These scripts can stop you stepping into your best self. Scripts such as “not good enough”, “not deserving” and “I’m a perfectionist” can be self- limiting beliefs that stop your growth in important areas of your life. By challenging these old beliefs and finding new scripts that are supportive to becoming the person you want to become, you can update your inner landscape so that you can step into new roles and new ways of being. This acts as fuel for your inner Light.
  2. Living in line with what is most important to you. You probably have areas in your life that you are very keen to protect. Perhaps it is time with the kids, your workout schedule or commitment to your career.  You set these boundaries up to make sure things do not encroach on them. You might even think of them as sacred. Yet there will also be areas where you are less robust in maintaining your boundaries and your life suffers accordingly. You might not be consistent with your eating or exercise habits. You might say you’ll do something when you have the time rather than making time to do it. By living your values you make a statement to yourself and others that what is important to you matters. This really nurtures the inner flame.
  3. Self care. So many people put others first. They do it so much sometimes that they wear themselves out, making themselves ill. Alternatively, people are all for themselves. They are number one and no one else gets a look in unless it serves them to think of others as well. This idea of self- care is a delicate balance. To get it right you can think of it as caring for yourself SO THAT you can care for others. If you are someone’s long- term carer, it is important that you get a chance to recuperate and rejuvenate yourself from time to time. You can’t keep giving endlessly. If you do you might become tired, frustrated and even resentful. You have to take from somewhere so that you can continue to give where you choose to give. So many people feel guilty about this, as if to say “I don’t deserve it” or “I don’t have the time”. If you continue this way you will dim your inner Light even though it is your pleasure to give and share. The Light needs fueling. Self- care recharges the battery.
  4. Mindfulness and awareness. Sticking your head in the sand and not dealing with things that are instrumental to your growth are sure ways to stifle your inner flame. However challenging these things might be to confront, it is harder to deal with them the longer you leave them and the more painful they are when you finally feel them. Unresolved emotions have a way of surfacing in a destructive and unsupportive manner. Deal with them on your terms and they can be voiced in a healthy and healing way. This takes awareness in the moment. It will take practice if you are not used to being this way. Like all new habits, it takes some time before it becomes easier. It is worth the investment. As you lighten the burden of undisclosed feelings, your Light burns brighter and makes you stronger.
  5. Reflection and Contemplation. Life can be a relentless journey. You can move from one event to another and never take the time to reflect or consider what you have learned, what could be different and how things might change. Perhaps you are so focused on what is coming up you don’t take the time to enjoy the event you’re in? You also might not think about events in the future either or how you might want your future to look. By considering these things with reference to your sense of what is right for you and where and who you want to be, you can fan the flames of your inner Light, orienting your life towards values- driven goals.
  6. Inner Council. You have so many qualities and aspects of your character that can be developed and discovered. You can learn to embrace and cultivate these innate talents, broadening and deepening your range to make you a more fulfilled and purpose- focused individual. Noticing how people you admire and respect achieve their great success can inspire you to tap into those aspects of yourself, allowing you to make those qualities your own and enjoy success in the way that is most fulfilling to you. Another way to access your inner council is to work with your archetypes. Clients on the Mindful Movement courses and VIP coaching days with me work closely with these ideas.
  7. Whatever you achieve in life, you do so with the help of others. To surround yourself with people who will support and nurture you in your endeavours is an essential part of life success. Where you might notice you lack certain qualities, there may be no need to cultivate those skills yourself. Instead, find the people that fill that space. Whilst you might need to learn new things these may not be your passions. Work to your joys and strengths. Life can be a rich tapestry and a variety of friends, colleagues and associates can serve your growth, fulfillment and purpose a tremendous amount. True friends and other people you can trust bring more flames together to create a raging fire and allow you to enjoy confidence, support and faith in the human spirit.

As we approach this season of Light, please remember to nourish this inner flame. Be aware of it for yourself. Also be aware of it for others. Be an advocate of nurturing this inner Light for all. This applies throughout the year, not just for the weeks around these festivals. The human spirit shines eternal. The more you care for yourself and others the more empowered you are and give people permission to be empowered. I believe this is the message of the Festivals of Light. An eternal and universal message that you can carry in your heart all year and apply to every moment of your life.

Over to you

How do you view Christmas, Hanukah and Diwali? How do they influence your thinking and behaviour through the year? Have you ever thought of the metaphor of the flame representing the human spirit? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share them in the comment box at the bottom of the page.

Pass it on

If you know someone who might find this article useful or interesting, please send it to them by e- mail or through social media. I’d really appreciate your spreading the word. Have a great Christmas and New Year. I look forward to connecting in 2018.