How to Transform Your Life

I moved house a couple of years ago and still have boxes hiding in the loft of my garage that need sorting out.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Last weekend, I decided to start ‘operation garage clean up’.

It’s a far bigger job than I imagined which is probably the reason I’d been unconsciously avoiding it for a long, long time!

With each box I opened I had to keep stopping to take a moment.

A caricature from my wedding day — taking me back to the moment and bringing a tear to my eye.

Old Father’s Day presents from when my sons were tiny — bringing back flashes of those days before they could walk and talk that now seem a million miles away.

A book one of my clients wrote with an acknowledgement about our work together — reminding me why I do what I do.

A pocketbook my wife gave to me when I chose to create a new career for myself — leaving behind my chase for conventional success.

And, then there are the notebooks. No end of old notebooks. Notebooks I’ve journaled in for many hours, over the years.

I used to favour black, hardcover, Moleskin ones with quality paper.

I picked up one from a few years back and read one of the pages from many years ago.

It said:

  • Spend time with my sons daily
  • Coaching amazing clients
  • Take holidays with my family without worrying about work
  • Exercise daily
  • Build our own home

Simple things I wanted to create … that I now have. I feel very grateful.

How did it happen?

Can things be manifested just by writing things down?

In my experience, no.

As a recovering ‘positive thinking junkie’, I can say this, having spent endless hours continuously writing out lofty goals ‘thinking’ they would materialise. They didn’t.

Things get created when people take action.

Things get created when people practice and persist — one moment at a time.

The things I created happened through having clarity about what I wanted to create, routines, habits, practice and a mindset dedicated to continuous improvement.

All these things led to transformation.

And, the more intentional I was, and the more I practised, the more good fortune came my way.

Most people don’t ‘get’ this part of ‘transformation’.

It’s the piece most of the people I coach find the hardest to grasp. The irony is, it’s also the simplest when you break it down.

The notebook I opened made me smile and inspired me to write this blog.

I wanted to share with you a roadmap for transformation from my own experiences. A set of systems that have worked for me and my clients. I hope you find them useful.

Get Clear on Your Personal Values

When I finally became crystal clear of my personal values everything suddenly seemed to make much more sense in my world. I was able to say ‘no’ to things that were not aligned with who I am. This made space for me to say a bigger ‘yes’ to things that are. A life-changing level of awareness.

Get Clear on Your Purpose Across All Areas of Your Life

I worked with several coaches and mentors, like Dr John Demartini, and looked at all areas of my life and became clear on three things.

(1) Who I wanted to ‘be’

(2) What I was going to ‘do’

(3) What I would ‘have’ after ‘being’ that way and taking those actions

This, much like values, highlighted my awareness no end, allowing me the freedom to focus on being aligned with what I wanted. I call it my authentic self. It was freeing and made things much simpler.

Create Meaningful ‘Values-Aligned’ Goals

The main reason why most people set goals and never achieve them, or achieve them but still feel ‘empty’ inside, is because they haven’t done the deeper work around values and purpose first.

This means the goals they set themselves lack authenticity.

Goals, ideally, have to have a deep meaning and meaning comes from making a difference.

By slowing down and setting goals aligned to your values and purpose provides you with additional resources inside yourself because you know, deep down, how they are connected to who you want to ‘be’ in the world and how they will make a specific difference to the areas you value most in life (meaning).

So, when the going gets tough, you stay on track and see challenge and support as ‘on the way’, not, ‘in the way’. You also feel fulfilled on a much deeper level.

When I started doing this, my goals started to be realised, rather than be unrealistic fantasies.

Create an Inspiring and Authentic Vision for Your Life

With the foundations of values and purpose in place, along with aligned goals, the next step is to create an inspiring vision for your life. Go into great detail so, when you read it, it’s ‘seeable and feelable’. This is what a vision should be like, that’s why it’s called a vision (the clue is in the name!).

This can be a tricky process because most people don’t know what they want so they settle for creating a vision that’s aligned with what they feel they ‘should’ do. Obligations, fantasies, and unspecific goals that lack meaning and detail.

If you do the heavy lifting here you’ll make sure you have a rock solid foundation from which to create an authentic life you love to lead.

Put a Plan Together for The Year

Once you have an inspiring vision it’s time to bring it down a level and put together an annual plan that outlines your goals, in priority order, and how you envision them being achieved through the year.

Get clear on what projects each goal contains that, when achieved together, will bring the goal into reality.

Once you have the projects, break them down into quarterly focuses and monthly focuses and add dates, deadlines, and accountabilities. This is your roadmap for the coming 12 months.

A lot of people stop once they have created a vision and plan … don’t!

It Won’t Happen On its Own.

I remember, many years ago, I created a business plan which my bank manager, family, and friends all said ‘this is the best plan we’ve ever seen!’ I then promptly put it in my desk drawer and jumped to action … ignoring the plan ... becoming incredibly overwhelmed and disorganised. Don’t do what I did, please.

Make sure you use your plan and vision on a weekly basis.

Once you have that, it’s time to move onto metrics so you can track your progress.

Create Meaningful Metrics

The next step is to create a set of meaningful metrics aligned with your most important goals (which, as previously mentioned, have meaning and are values-aligned).

Include ‘hard numbers’, black and white things that are easily measured such as revenue, hours invested in a certain project, net profit. And, ‘intangibles’, things that are more of who you’re ‘being’ in the world that, on first glance, seem hard to measure.

How can you measure something without a metric?

Simple, you can create a scoring system that’s bespoke to the area you want to measure, a scale to benchmark and track your progress. I learned this initially from my many years of being an EMyth coach and it’s a game changer.

Most people just measure endless meaningless numbers … but … if you have a set of meaningful metrics covering the tangible and intangible and track them weekly, you’ll be amazed at the results you create.

What gets measured gets managed.

Break it Down -- Monthly Review, Weekly Review, Daily Planning

Sometimes, when people create inspiring and powerful visions, it can lead to fear.

Fear of, ‘how the hell am I going to achieve that, it’s just too big to imagine where to start!’

I’ve faced this myself, many, many times, and the key here is to slow down and break the goals from your vision down into bite-sized pieces. I use a monthly, and weekly, review.

Monthly Review

Read your vision, goals, and plan and then choose what the priorities are to focus on for the month. After creating the first draft, slow down and review it again, making sure you’re not taking on too much.

A lot of people forget they still have ‘furniture’ in their calendar — the tasks and projects that form part of your monthly routine as a leader. Staff one-on-ones, finance meetings, strategic time to work on yourself and business, personal time for fitness, family, etc. Make sure you don’t forget these as they all take time -- the closer you can be to the reality of how much time you have to focus on additional projects the better.

Don’t live in a fantasy where you think you have all the time in the world … you don’t.

Once your monthly review is set after you’ve put it through your, ‘is this really possible with the time I have filter’ a couple of times, move to plan your week.

Weekly Review

This is a smaller version of the monthly review that allows you to slow down and focus on the specific tasks you’re going to do this coming week.

Each week, on either a Friday or Monday, start by reading your values, purpose, vision, plan and monthly review to refocus yourself. This helps connect you, and remind you of, what you want to create (your vision).

Then, outline the tasks you’re going to work on this week and allocate space and time for them in your calendar -- literally, block out the time with specific titles that relate to what your working on.

Booking time with yourself to work on your plan is crucial, and often overlooked by most people.

Project and Task Management Software

I use a project management system called Asana I use to keep track of everything I’m managing, repeating tasks, ideas I have, all my projects.

After my monthly and weekly review, I add everything into Asana with a specific date and relate it to a project. Then, I cross reference this with my calendar a few times to schedule specific blocks of time into my calendar to work on my priorities.

Asana is brilliant, and there are many more bits of software that do the same job. I like it because it allows you to clear your mind and have tasks come and ‘find you’ when they are due. More headspace allows you to be more present and create better quality work.

Don’t just have a daily ‘to do’ list … take a broader view.

Your Calendar is Your Best Friend

I’m writing this because my calendar says, ‘write the blog’.

Your calendar is your best friend when it comes to self-organisation and vision achievement. If you use it correctly, it doesn’t lie and it helps you stay connected with reality. Allowing you to know whether you can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to things that come to you.

Most people say ‘yes’ to everything and wonder why they become overwhelmed. Slow down and say, ‘let me just check my calendar’, you’ll be amazed at what you can create. It’s ok to say ‘no’. Or, if that’s too much of a stretch for you saying ‘no for now’ can be a stepping stone for you.

People understand if you say no, they really do.

Create Space

Space in your calendar is important. Make sure you have space in your calendar because that’s where the magic happens.

Never have blocks of time back-to-back, always leave space between meetings, even if only 5-15 minutes.

Never schedule more than 75% of your working day, leave space in case you have an idea that needs some thought.

Having space allows you to breathe and stay focused as a leader.

Slow Down

I review my calendar and tasks several times a day, morning, lunch, and evening. Sometimes, if I’ve underestimated how long a task will take, I move things around to help make sure I don’t miss it off, leaving a loose end.

Loose ends take up mental energy and create anxiety — impacting all other tasks.

Your mind is not designed to have endless unfinished tasks floating around in it. All that does is make you overwhelmed and keeps your mental wheels spinning. Not healthy, you can change it if you slow down.

End of Week Review

At the end of each week, slow down, again, and review your week.

Read your values, purpose, vision, plan and then take out your weekly review and see if you achieved all you wanted to.

Measure your metrics vs. targets and plan your next week and repeat the process I’ve already outlined.

If it’s the end of the month then review the month in the same way and outline another set of priorities for the coming month.

Rinse and repeat.

This is such a powerful process and helps keep your momentum moving forward, bit by bit.

Your weekly and monthly reviews can also benefit from having also a set of bespoke questions to slow you down and raise your level of awareness as to if you’ve actually been aligned with who you want to be and everything you want to create.

You can never slow down enough, there’s always slower. Slow and steady wins the race.

Sack Your Postman

Have control over your email, checking a couple of times a day and prioritising responses. Make sure you control it vs. letting it control you.

A great coach I worked with many years ago, Josef Shapiro, told me a wonderful story about email.

He asked me to imagine I had a virtual postman by my side all day, every day. He then said:

‘what would happen if, every time you got an email, he tapped you on the shoulder and said, ‘mail for you, David’, thrusting the latest one in your hand on a piece of paper?’

How distracting would this be to your life and goals if you always had this postman in your face, each moment of the day?

This is how most people manage email but, because it’s virtual, they don’t see it.

Sack your postman.

Healthy Habits

Have a set of healthy routines and habits as part of your ‘system’ to guide you to being ‘on purpose’ and living your life with intention.

For example, my morning routine includes: Up at 5.30am, meditating, creating (writing or working on myself), reading, waking up my sons, eating breakfast, walking my dogs, taking my sons to school, exercising, and then serving my clients or creating during the day.

If I stay within these disciplines I feel centred and my vision becomes realised. If I don’t (and I’m not perfect, I fall off the horse sometimes) I don’t feel ‘on the ball’, a little lethargic, lower-minded, and I enter a world of reacting more to life vs. creating a life I love to lead.

Simple systems, habits and routines.

You’ll have yours … if you slow down enough to take note of what they are (and, everyone is different).

Mindset

I’ve outlined some steps that I’ve found helpful for myself and my clients. The biggest one of all is your mindset.

You can have all the best systems in the world but if you’re running an internal operating system that’s not serving you taking a look at your mindset and limiting beliefs can also be incredibly valuable. That’s one of the reasons I love working with my coaches, they see how I’m in my own way far better than I can.

One shift of the mind can change everything … forever.

Lots of information above here and, with Google, if information was all we needed everyone would be billionaires with six-packs …

For transformation, you have to slow down and look inside, get curious about your mindset and what it is that could be holding you back. Work on yourself, be curious and create habits and routines that serve you.

Back to my garage.

It’s not as organised as I’d like it to be, yet. And, that’s ok. I’ve put the time in my calendar to continue with the process, one step at a time.

I wanted to show you how I’ve created many things I desired using a combination of deep inner work, where I slowed down and worked with some amazing coaches to get really clear on who I wanted to ‘be’ and what I wanted to ‘create’, and installed simple systems to help make progress. All underlined with the discipline to practice, accountability from my coaches when I wavered, realising that progress beats perfection, and caring about myself enough to not chastise myself when I ‘fell off the horse’ … continued learning with teeny, tiny, daily steps.

My three step process: Purpose -- Plan -- Progress.

I used to be so chaotic and disorganised, with so many loose ends. I realise now I had the perfect system for staying exactly where I was in life — stuck — I’m not making that wrong, a lot of people are, but there’s a difference from feeling stuck and taking action to empower yourself to create a better life and business.

I realised I wasn't living an authentic life true to myself and everything started to change.

If I can do it, anyone can.

Right now, your life is a representation of all the systems you’re running (consciously and unconsciously) that are producing consistent results (ones you want and ones you don’t).

You can transform, just like I did.

If you’re interested in learning how to live a more authentic life you may be curious about a very unique program I’ve put together designed to guide eight people, hungry for growth and transformation, towards creating a life and business they love leading.

It’s called ‘The Authentic Entrepreneur Program’ and it starts in May 2019. Here’s the link:

The Authentic Entrepreneur Program Information Page

Love and wellness,

David.

“You're always one choice away from a totally different life.”
-- Anonymous.


Eight Life Lessons From My 8-Year-old

My first son, Rocco, has just turned eight.

Eight years ago my wife showed amazing strength and stamina for over 27 hours in a long and arduous labour. I was there ... doing my bit … being the water boy (no joke … we had a home birth in a blow-up pool!).

The moment he arrived my world changed, forever. 

I’d always wanted children and it took us many years to have our first. Until he came along I had no idea what being a Dad would be like.

Rocco and his younger brother Enzo (5) are two of the most important teachers in my life. Through parenthood, I’ve experienced children represent one of our, if not our biggest, opportunities for growth.

That is if you’re awake, and open, to that even being a possibility?

My wife and I, like most parents, had a wake-up call when Rocco came along.

The sleepless nights ... the realisation that this little being needs you 24/7 (and can’t talk) ... the ‘I have no idea what I’m supposed to do’ phase ... not to mention the nappies!

The shock to the system of becoming a parent, more often than not, creates a fogginess around the magnificence of having a baby because life changes forever ... and nothing prepares you for it. The only ‘clues’ you get are when you see people who have young children and you start saying how excited you are about your upcoming arrival. These parents give you a knowing look and say something like, ‘good luck, get some sleep now before baby comes' because they know what's around the corner (and they never tell you, do they?).

Sadly, all too often, it can also breed resentment in parents when kids come along.

New parents often throw around comments like, ‘he’s a nightmare’, or, ‘she’s high maintenance’, or, ‘you’re thinking about having kids don’t go there ... it’s a pain in the arse.’

No judgement here. I understand as I’ve said versions of these myself, many times. I am not perfect, but, I have progressed. Progress beats perfection.

Why is it that parents blame their children for impacting their own life and ‘taking away’ perceived freedom? Where do these babies come from ..?

Do children just arrive outside homes via a fleet of low-flying Disney storks?

‘Come on, own up, who put this baby in our house … jokes over now, take it back … please!’

‘Honestly … I don’t know how it happened … I had no choice in the matter!’

Parents seem to forget they, in most cases, chose to create children. They fail to really understand the responsibility involved in that choice and can end up projecting that annoyance onto, and into, the child. Some of this behaviour helps to form the child’s personality. Making them, ‘like that’, whatever ‘that’ is.

Children don’t come out ‘like that’. Parents play a part in creating them ‘like that’. This is both wonderful and scary!

What if Mums and Dads just surrendered to parenthood? Went with it. The ups and the downs. Saw it as a challenge?

What if they went ‘all in’ with it? Did their absolute best. After all, they’re creating a human being, isn’t that incredible?

I see endless similarities between parenthood and business.

A lot of entrepreneurs get started by going self-employed and then start a company.

They love the idea of being ‘free as a bird’ with no ‘boss’ to tell them what to do. And, then there’s the money side, ‘this time next year we’ll be millionaires …’

Then reality starts to sink in ...

They have a team to manage ...

They have suppliers to pay ...

They have to create customers ...

They have to manage cash flow ...

And, as for taking a holiday, forget it … they’re too busy!

What was that about freedom again?

Then, like becoming a parent, resentment can start to sink in, along with victimhood. Which can be projected out onto the business, the culture, the team, customers, partners, kids … everywhere.

‘It wasn’t supposed to be this way.’

‘Why is it so hard? I wish I just had a job, would be much easier.’

‘Why are my team so difficult to manage, I wish they would stop asking all those questions.’

‘You have no idea what its like, you don’t understand the pressure I’m under.’

Can you see any similarities between entrepreneurship and parenthood?

The ‘idea’ or ‘concept’ of parenthood and entrepreneurship look, when imagined, ideal. A picture gets painted in the mind’s eye.

Having kids will be great, we’ll be like the Waltons and, whilst we’re at it, we can create a business as big as Virgin … it’ll be a doddle!’

The reality can be very different.

Choosing to create a business, or choosing to create a child, is a commitment that can last a lifetime. Both come with endless challenge and support.

What if people saw both as projects as being there to guide them to grow into a better version of themselves? Reflecting back the areas they need to uplevel in or grow to develop.

What if they saw them as one big feedback mechanism to help illustrate blind spots to work on? To transform … to evolve.

Most people play the victim. Blaming the child. Blaming the staff. Blaming everyone. Poor me. They forget they had a choice. They forget they can shift their mind to own that choice and take full responsibility to see both parenthood and entrepreneurship as a vehicle to grow.

When I did this, my life changed.

I’m putting my soapbox away for a moment, you can probably see I’m passionate about entrepreneurship and parenthood. If you surrender to them both in a healthy ‘this can help me grow and learn’ way, your life could transform in more ways that you can imagine.

And, this is my own personal experience, having owned several companies with varying degrees of success and failure ... and being a Dad with two children where I’ve had varying degrees of success and failure!

I’ve learned so much from both, I encourage you to slow down and see what lessons are there for you.

Here are eight ways (of several hundred I could name) in which I’ve grown since becoming a Dad.

Some can also be transferred into the business space -- see if you can spot any and, if you do, feel free to share with me any insights you had whilst reading, I’d love to hear from you.

What Unconditional Love Feels Like

After my first was born I had a moment of pure presence as I held him and he was wriggling and snuffling on my chest. He even went to the loo on me! I didn’t care.

I looked down at him as he slowly opened his eyes and I started crying pure joy. Incredible. I can’t put it into words. Pure love, that’s all.

A wave of emotion is coming over me now as I write this. This is what unconditional love feels like.

How Delicate Humans Are

In my experience, our children are partly a reflection of our parenting and the way in which we see the world.

You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘children are like sponges, they pick everything up,’ well, this, for me, is 100% true. I realised how sensitive children (humans) really are and how the smallest thing can impact their mental and emotional state. Especially how the parent is ‘being’.

I’m not perfect, not by any means, but, through the work I do I see how important parenting is for a child, and how important it is to have a solid bond built through presence and love with both parents.

As adults, we all have a little boy or girl inside us that’s walking around still playing out elements of what happened to us as children via the stories we tell ourselves that have been created from how we perceived the world to be … even as babies.

Understanding this has taught me to work harder to not project my own stories onto my children, aiming for them to form their own characters and be themselves. This, as most parents know, is probably the biggest challenge and I’m by no means a Jedi at this ... it’s daily practice!

What Breaking Through Parental Conditioning Feels Like

I remember, when Rocco was about to have his first bath, my wife said, “this is your job, it will be good for you to bond with him”.

What?!? Are you serious?!? I’m too busy!

At the time, I was a very overwhelmed entrepreneur and was working all the hours I could, constantly on the laptop tapping away. The very thought of me having time and space to bath my son daily was so alien to me as I’d grown up in a home where that was ‘woman’s work’. Not being sexist, that’s the way it was, back in the ’70s and ’80s.

Now, I’m so grateful my wife encouraged me to do the daily baths, from day one. It was challenging with a screaming child but it wasn’t always like that, there were moments of pure joy that brought us closer (challenge and support).

At times, it was really hard when I was sleep deprived or stressed from work, and Rocco didn’t enjoy water … but it was so rewarding and that daily routine with both my sons has helped strengthen a loving bond through sharing consistent time together. Laughing and crying. So simple, so beautiful.

I love it when parents I coach get to create space and time to ‘be’ with their children, even if it is just sharing simple moments like this.

The Importance of Surrendering to Life

In the LBK stage (life before kids stage) there seems to be an abundance of time.

When my children came along a huge amount of space and time got filled up with being a parent. Neither of us has any family around to take over from time to time.

Initially, I found this really, really hard to understand and manage, at first.

Until, one day, I said to myself, “you have to surrender to life and being a parent”.

The moment I did that and stopped trying to wrestle my thoughts about how I couldn’t do all the things I used to, and that my freedom had gone, my relationship with me being a Dad shifted. I went ‘all in’ with parenting and I have no regrets.

I’ve created magical memories that will last a lifetime by shifting my perspective.

How to Laugh Again Through Childish Creativity

I play with my sons a lot. Even when I’m tired and want to sit down and read, or relax for a few moments.

Why? Because we all laugh, a lot.

My children have been an amazing tonic for me over the years and we’ve found laughter and joy out of the smallest moments in time. Little comments and observations about the world over dinner, play fights, swimming, wrestling and tickling … lots of tickling. Once again, really simple things that make a massive difference.

And, I get to act and play characters with them. Sometimes, even dress up and just be silly and put on stupid voices and accents. This, I promise, can be a wonderful tonic for an adult if you have a full and busy life.

Playing is sometimes the best medicine ... you can rest in bed ... later.

Life Isn’t All About Me

One thing being a Dad has shown me is that it’s not all about me.

At times, I used to resent not having the same amount of perceived freedom I did before having children.

At times, I was petulant and played victim to it.

But then, I realised that I made this choice to be a Dad.

Nobody made me have children. I wasn't forced into it. There was no stork. It was my choice as an adult to become a parent. And, with that choice, I had to own that it wasn’t all about me anymore. Life had evolved and changed to be much, much more.

I can’t imagine not being a Dad now.

The Importance of Being a Partner With Your Wife

One of the keys to successful parenting and marriage is to approach things as a partnership.

I found this really tricky at the start because I believed, initially, that all Dad’s should go out and ‘bring home the bacon’, whilst Mum’s stay at home and did all the ‘other stuff’.

But, that model is just an idea I picked up, a story, a perception. What most people did back when I was a kid.

My wife and I chose, sometimes by design and often by default or trial and error, that being a partnership where we both played an active and present role in our childrens’ lives was something we wanted to create.

It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worth it. We can both do everything our children need at any time and that allows us both time and space to also follow other areas of our life that bring us joy.

It’s Possible to Be a Successful And Present Parent

I never thought it would be possible to create a successful and fulfilling career and be a present parent. And, it wasn’t an ‘overnight thing’. It took years, with several false starts.

I always thought it would be one or the other, ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it, you know’, as I heard many times growing up.

But you can, as long as you are prepared to innovate, create, and persist in the things that you enjoy and fulfil you. And, to not be greedy with the cake.

I transformed my career after my son was born, I didn’t want to be a grumpy and unfulfilled Dad, I wanted to be there for my son.

I chose to retrain and now, after many years, I have a successful and fulfilling career as a life and business coach and get to work with amazing people all over the world guiding them to create lives they love leading. I guide them to create their version of my journey.

And, I’ve been there for my sons and wife. Every day.

It is possible if you’re willing to work on yourself and focus on what you value. Now, I help other people do the same, thanks to my sons coming along, and I’m also writing a book called ‘Where’s Dad’, about an overwhelmed entrepreneur who’s asleep at the wheel of life with a pregnant wife and two-year-old daughter. Thanks for the inspiration, boys!

You see … parenting can be an opportunity for growth … if you open your heart and mind to the possibility. So can starting a business … depending on how you see it.

What have you learned from having children?

What have you learned from starting a business?

Love and wellness,

David.

Ps. I love you, Rocco, and Enzo. Thank you for being my biggest teachers. And, thank you to my wife, Trix, what wonderful gifts you have bestowed on us … even though it’s sometimes hard to see that when they wake us up in the early hours :)

“Kids don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”
-- Jim Henson.


You and Your Word

“That sounds great. I’ll email you on Tuesday, I promise.”

Tuesday arrives … no email ...

“Okay, I can do 3pm on Thursday for 30 minutes. I’ll call you on your mobile.”

3.15pm on Thursday … no call ...

“I need to do my tax return, I’ll do it by the end of this week.”

The end of the week comes and goes … then another week … and another … no tax return is filed.

“I’ll start exercising next week, go for a little jog.”

One month later … trainers are still at the bottom of the wardrobe ... covered in dust.

Four examples of a word being broken.

Your word being given to others, and you giving your word to yourself. Tossed around like it doesn’t matter.

This happens time and time again, each and every moment of the day, all across the world.

Why is that?

Why do we allow ourselves to throw around ‘our word’ like confetti and not follow through?

“I promise, I’ll play with you in five minutes. Daddy just has a couple of emails to do. I’ll be finished work soon, then we’ll play. Go and get your iPad for a bit.”

45 minutes later and you’ve missed connecting with your child again.

It’s everywhere.

I have an admission to make … I’m a recovering ‘wordaholic’.

I used to throw it around all the time without much care as to whether I kept it or not. With myself and others. It got me into several problems in all areas of my life. That’s just the way I was. I thought it was normal.

“I’ll see you on Friday at 6pm, 100%, I’ll be there.”

I didn't show up and then made up some lame excuse. A vivid and wildly exaggerated story as to why I didn’t keep my word.

“I’ll start saving soon, just need to get a few more paychecks under my belt first.”

I didn't. Always living ‘hand to mouth’ because that’s just the way I was.

“No, I understand, you need your invoice paid. We’re just working out a few cash flow challenges but everything will be ok and you’ll be on the next payment run, next Monday.”

They weren’t on the payment run. We didn’t have a payment run. Ducking and diving ... weaving and bobbing ... looking for a couple of ‘deals’ so we could pay overdue suppliers.

I didn’t even know what the word integrity meant, really I didn’t. One of my old bosses had to explain what it meant many years ago because I’d never, ever been told, or learnt it previously.

Sounds so silly now, but it’s true. And, I’m not making myself wrong, I was ignorant to the ‘knock on’ effect of me not valuing my word.

How it would impact other people around me who I cared about -- family and friends.

How it would impact my employees, customers, suppliers.

How it would impact my reputation and allow people to create stories about the kind of person I was.

How it would impact me. Deep down.

And this, for me, is where the initial shift had to occur. On my inside. I had to start by keeping my word to myself first.

The moment I started keeping my word everything changed.

If I said I was going to take on a particular task at a certain time I would do it vs. avoid it.

If I said I was going to go for a run tomorrow I’d go for a run tomorrow.

If I said I’d meet with someone I would.

This sounds so simple, and it is, but I found it really hard to start with. I had to build my awareness and slow down to see where I wasn’t keeping my word with myself, and it was everywhere!

I didn’t really know who I was or what I wanted to do. This void gave me nothing concrete to compare myself against apart from other people. Which is a recipe for competitiveness, powerlessness, depression, shame, guilt, etc -- all the stuff that keeps people stuck. And, I was.

Once I got clarity on who I wanted to ‘be’ and how I wanted to show up in the world things became easier because I had a set of tools to help me measure my progress when it came to ‘word-keeping’.

A bespoke compass to raise my level of awareness about my choices.

I’m talking about values, purpose, vision, goals … the inner awareness and outer structure that guided me towards the right path, for me.

It’s really difficult to keep your word with others if you don’t start by keeping it with yourself first, almost impossible, actually.

If reading this, you’re someone who knows deep down that you’re using your word casually, without intention and throwing it around like confetti then realise that you can change.

You are far more than the labels you’ve put on yourself. Labels like:

“I’m a bit flighty. Always have been, don’t like to be tied down.”

"I'm always late for meetings, that's just me."

"Yeah, I know I said I would but ... something came up ..."

This behaviour is not who you are. You are far more than that if you slow down to connect with who you really want to be in the world and start coming from that place when using your word.

If you work on this area of your 'being' you'll start to feel more centred, create better relationships with others (and yourself), be seen as a real leader who inspires people, and will notice a whole world of new opportunities aligned with your values start to arise (the ones you didn't see earlier because you were rushing around like a demented chimpanzee trying to grab as many bananas as possible).

Where do you start?

Right now throughout your life, you most probably have a collection of ‘loose ends’ that you know you should really tie up but, for some reason, you’re choosing not to. These things are exactly where to start keeping your word.

Make a list of everything you can think of where you’ve broken your word to yourself and start picking them off one by one. Following through. Keeping your word. Running through the finish line.

Even if you do one a week, that’s 52 examples you’ll have by the end of the year of keeping your word with yourself.

Guess what happens?

You’re no longer that person who throws their word around without a care in the world, you're the person that keeps their word.

Your word is your bond.

Your ‘inner integrity muscle’ becomes firm and strong!

Gone are the days when you’d break your word all the time and then rely on your charm to rescue the situation (which actually holds you back, because it takes away energy from creating something far more fulfiling in your life).

You’ll start to lead your life from the inside with just one small choice -- to be your word.

And, the most wonderful thing is that nothing is stopping you make that choice today (apart from the person you ‘think’ you are).

You’re far more than that, I promise.

Love and wellness,

David.

“The greatness of a man is not how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.”
-- Bob Marley


38 Tips on How to Live an Authentic Life

Have you ever sat back and wondered if you’re living the life you were meant to live?

For many years I was the guy who would go along to get along. I never wanted to rock the boat. A serial ‘people-pleaser’. Bouncing around day-to-day in a dream world.

Looking back, I was in a bit of a trance. Living my life by default rather than design.

I’m not making this way of ‘being’ wrong. I did have some fun and, at times, my ignorance was bliss. But, behind the polish, I was unhappy and couldn’t put words around why.

From the outside looking in, I had it ‘sorted’. My own businesses, nice house, lovely wife, nice car — all the trappings of what I call ‘conventional success’.

I’m not judging these as wrong. I like nice stuff, but the pleasure I get from it is minuscule compared to the joy and ‘inner’ fulfilment I get from other areas of my life. For example, authentic connection with my sons, wife, friends, and clients.

Now I have more awareness and a better sense of what drives me. What I really value in life, my purpose, and the kind of life I want to create. Part of the problem previously was I didn’t know what I truly wanted, or who I really was. I never even realised I could slow down and ask these kinds of questions of myself. I was always too 'busy'.

I used to live what I now call a ‘synthetic life’.

I was asleep at the wheel driving aimlessly through each day. When things didn’t work out I was quick to blame other people and circumstances. I’d tricked myself into believing, ‘that’s just the way life is, s**t happens’.

Upon reflection, I had a complete lack of ownership. With under-responsibility a common thread running my life.

Then my first son was born. This magical event, combined with working with a great coach, helped me ask better questions of myself. I gradually woke up out of my trance and things started to change. I started to see how I had created everything around me — the good, the bad, the ugly.

Although the realisation of this was painful at first, it was also freeing because it put me in control of my life and allowed me to empower myself to transform. When I realised I was the problem it was simple to see that I was also the solution.

Isn’t that wonderful?

I could lead my life rather than let it lead me.

I started to understand that you can choose to change your life, develop and grow, without waiting for ‘things to be just right’ before doing so. I stopped blaming other ‘things’ for the reason why life wasn’t working out as I wanted it to.

I started living what I call an ‘authentic life’.

At times, it was hard. A bit like starting a new exercise program. You go ahead with good intentions but when you’re actually doing the work, breathlessly plodding on the treadmill or straining to lift a heavy weight, it’s not that nice. You want to stop and take a break. Then, once you’ve done, you’re sore. The ripple effects can sometimes last for a few days after each session. You want to quit. It’s too hard. But, you stick with it.

Then, something happens. You start to get used to it, feeling the benefits. You enjoy the challenge more because you can see the progress and the positive impact on your life. So, you keep going.

In my experience, it’s the same when you choose to develop yourself personally.

When you choose to start living an Authentic life vs. a Synthetic life.

It’s a mind game, much like exercise. But, if you stick with it, you can create a wonderful life for yourself you didn’t think possible.

Creating your life rather than reacting to life.

That’s what living an authentic life is about, for me, anyway.

Growth and personal development are about continuous practice, a journey not a destination. Much like exercise, if you don’t use it you lose it. The same happens to your mind and soul.

Untended gardens don’t grow flowers ... they become overrun with weeds.

I am by no means ‘perfect’. I know that if I become complacent and don’t work on my mindset and spirituality regularly I become stale and disengaged. I have certain routines and healthy habits that really serve me and my desire to create a life I love to lead. If I don't follow through with these, I start to morph back into the ‘going along to get along’ guy. I lose energy, focus, and just feel like I’m slowly slipping back into that trance again.

I’ve created a list of 38 ‘real-world’ distinctions from my own experience to help you see some of the differences between living an authentic life vs. living a synthetic life. I hope you find them useful.

Once you’ve read them, ask yourself, ‘where’s my opportunity for growth?’.

Pick one thing and start working towards a daily practice that will help you get closer to the kind of person you want to be. Believe it or not, you do have a choice. When I realised that my whole world started to shift.

If you're inspired by this take some action ... start to progress something in your life that would really make a difference.

Love and wellness,

David.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let out true selves be seen.”
-- Brene Brown

38 distinctions on Living an Authentic Life vs. Living a Synthetic Life

1. Knowing what your own values and purpose are vs. Living your life by injecting other peoples’ values

2. Having a clear picture of what you want to create vs. Living day-to-day putting fires out

3. Being present and connecting with others heartfully vs. Rushing around with no time for deep connection with anyone

4. Taking small consistent steps daily towards your vision vs. Taking on random shiny project after project with the ‘hope’ that someday things will turn out ok

5. Spending quality time with people you love who give you energy vs. Feeling obliged to hang around with people who drain your energy

6. Taking care of your mind, body, and soul so you have more energy to create a fulfilling life vs. Self-medicating with food, alcohol, and other life-sucking unhealthy habits that take energy away

7. Feeling centred and in control vs. Feeling chaotic and uncontrolled

8. Working in a business that is a pure reflection of what you value most in the world and gives you joy vs. Striving for conventional success and money above all else. Chasing, chasing, chasing whilst being unhappy and drained

9. Having time and space to feed and nurture all areas of your life vs. Being chained to the business you’re in with no idea how to create something different

10. Building an engaged team of people who care as much about your business as you do vs. Having a team of people who do just enough to get paid

11. Creating magical memories with the ones you love vs. Never having time or space away because you fear things would ‘go wrong’ if you were not around

12. Taking responsibility for your mindset and energy vs. Blaming external events to lower your mindset and energy

13. Going to bed on a Sunday night well-rested and looking forward to what Monday morning has in store for you vs. Having a restless night thinking about all the things that are around the corner when you wake up tomorrow

14. Leading your life by design, intention, and action vs. Going along to get along, living by default, and feeling out of control

15. Having conversations you’ve been putting off with love, care, and consideration vs. Having passive aggressive thoughts about people behind their backs

16. Realising you have created, and can create, everything in your life vs. Playing victim to external circumstances and always blaming events and ‘things’ outside of your control for the reason you’re not where you want to be

17. Having an open mindset and being hungry to learn how to improve all aspects of your life vs. Having a fixed mindset unwilling to look at new perspectives and believing all the stories you tell yourself

18. Taking full responsibility for your life vs. Under-responsibility and avoidance

19. Using your time effectively on clear, well thought out goals that align with your values, purpose, and vision each day vs. Reacting to things daily in a frenzied way and never really getting anything done

20. Being in control of your personal and professional finances vs. Always putting your head in the sand and hoping things will be ok

21. Having wonderful and energising holidays that bring you joy vs. Always feeling guilty for taking time off and, if you do go away, taking ‘work’ with you

22. Knowing what you want vs. Not knowing what you want

23. Setting personal and powerful goals throughout your whole life that give you success and fulfilment on the journey to achieving them vs. Setting unrealistic and rushed targets that never get met, and, if they do, still make you feel empty inside

24. Leading an inspired and engaged team of people vs. Not knowing where to start managing your staff

25. Loving yourself and not worrying about what other people think of you vs. Being a perennial people pleaser, always putting your own desires, needs, and feelings last

26. Being yourself all the time vs. Playing different personalities at home and work

27. Leading by example in all areas of your life vs. Living a life of, ‘do as I say, not as I do’

28. Being happy to express yourself authentically vs. Never really saying how you feel

29. Serving others from a heartful place without looking for anything in return vs. Always looking to manipulate people and ‘get’ something from them in return for you helping them

30. Knowing steady and consistent progress beats perfection vs. Striving for perfection

31. Being organised vs. Being disorganised

32. Slowing down enough to realise every opportunity you desire is already right under your nose vs. Constantly rushing around hunting for the next ‘thing’ for fear of missing out

33. Understanding who you really want to be in the world and coming from that place vs. Being a chameleon and not really knowing who you are

34. Living an inspired life that moves people vs. Surviving and not making an impact

35. Having the routines and healthy habits that allow you to continually improve vs. Gorging on personal development content and never taking action

36. Having space inside to take whatever life presents you with calmly vs. Panicking and getting angry when things don’t go the way you thought they would

37. Ownership vs. Victimhood

38. Creating and leading your life vs. Reacting to your life leading you

Ps. If you know someone in your life who you would benefit from reading this then pass it on, it may well make a difference to their life.


Who Have You Served Today?

Who have you served today..?

I’ve just been into my local bank to have a review and to discuss opening up accounts for my two children.

The service was incredible.

I bought a car recently.

The service was incredible.

I bought my wife some flowers for her birthday.

The service was incredible.

I popped in and saw the local wine merchant to buy a bottle of red wine.

The service was incredible.

I spoke to a book publisher this week.

The service was incredible.

I love great service.

I love being ‘seen’ and ‘heard’ by the person who has something I’m interested in.

No push.

No manipulative sales tactics from the latest book about ‘how to win sales and influence customers.’

No tricks.

No pressure.

No feeling of neediness or desperation from the person wanting to ‘get’ something from me.

Just good ol’ human connection, listening, understanding, and genuine care.

It inspired me to write this small blog to ask you a question.

Who have you served today?

I don’t mean helped in a minor way.

I mean really served.

Served to the point they felt your love in the connection with you.

They felt your genuine desire to make a difference in their life at the moment when you were together.

That’s service.

It feels good to serve, too.

Why not this weekend make a conscious effort to serve someone with real heart and authenticity.

It could be your partner. Slow down and acknowledge something they did that really moved you. Tell them how grateful you are that they're in your life, ask them if there’s anything you can help them with.

It could be your child who’s asking to play with you, but you’re too busy (again) … slow down ... put the phone and laptop away and actually choose to serve your child by being really present with them for 30 minutes and play with them -- heart-to-heart connection.

Take it into your professional life this week, too.

Have that long-overdue conversation with the member of your team that you sense needs your time. Close your laptop. Spend an hour with them and serve them with whatever they need. Your time, your ear, your advice, your coaching -- your love and support.

Make a choice to come from a place of service.

Don’t do it because you want something back … do it because it feels good to show your human, caring, loving side to other people.

You’ll be amazed at what happens.

What are you waiting for … go and serve!

Love and wellness,

David.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
-- Mahatma Gandhi


If You’re Not Leading Your Life, It’s Leading You

Happy New Year!

It’s tempting to want to make changes at the beginning of a new year. But we also know that New Year’s resolutions aren’t very effective.  Some studies show a failure rate of almost 30% by the end of the first week of January.

Wanting to change something in your life is healthy; it’s a sign that you want to grow and learn.  Making resolutions doesn’t work because resolutions are often not tied to our values. Without any context, resolutions quickly turn into tasks we do begrudgingly because we think we have to.  

There’s a much better way to approach making changes in your life. (My recent posts on identifying your values and how to create goals will give you some context for making those changes.)

The best place to start is to assess where you are right now.

I’ve created the Life Leadership Assessment to help you discover how you’re doing in 10 key areas of your life:  Parent, Partner, Physical, Passion, Profession, Pay, Personal Development, Psychological and Purpose.

Download and print the free Assessment booklet here.  It includes a self-score feature and helps you determine where things are going well and where you may have some room for improvement. The booklet will also give you a way to visualize your results so you can create the balance you want in your life.

Take some time to download the booklet right now. In just a few minutes, you can get a better understanding of how you can more effectively create a life you love leading.

Love and wellness,

David

PS -- If you have any questions about the Assessment and how you can use it, please let me know.  You’ll find my contact information in the booklet (or you can send me an email). And if you know someone who might find the Assessment helpful, please share it!