Why We All Need Heroes

This weekend I took my cricketing-mad son to the Somerset Ground to watch Somerset play Essex, and Charlie’s cricket-hero, Alastair Cook.  Charlie has loved cricket since he was around 18months old, when we used to throw tennis balls gently towards him, while he smashed them with his foam bat.  Over the years, he has progressed to being  a keen member of our local cricket club and avid watcher of any cricket match available.  Inevitably, this has led to him having a cricket hero, Alastair Cook: a left-handed batsman, like himself.

Charlie loved the match and was keen to watch how his idol played.  Knowing that my son would love nothing more than to be a cricketer himself, I asked him whether he thought he could do the same.  He thought for a moment and said, “Yes”.  This then led to me asking him what he would need to do to get there and we had a long conversation about the steps he would need to take, sacrifices he may need to make and how he would feel when he achieved his dream.  He was inspired – and not just inspired by what he saw, he was inspired to take action: the action to jump out of bed early this morning and go for a run (he hates running, but it was part of his plan!).

It made me think how important it is for us to all have heroes in our life.  Our heroes inspire us, give us something to strive for, someone whose behaviour we can model and give us a vision of success.  This helps us to plan what we need to do and most importantly, give us motivation for taking the all-important action.

Looking back, I have had many heroes in my life, ranging from my Mum (whose belief in equality and determination has been my inspiration), to Teachers, work colleagues and well-known Coaches.  All of these heroes have enabled me to form my own vision for my business (and life) and helped me to draw on what’s needed to get there.

Having a hero should not be limited to when you are a child; we all need at least one in our life as they really can make our life better.

 

 

 

 

 

Learning to unplug

I was brought up to believe that I could achieve anything I wanted if I worked hard enough.  It was a belief I strongly held and yes, I have achieved lots in my life: good exam results, great career…but that did come at a cost – I did have to work really hard at it.

Not only that, when my career involved being an employed Director (employed by someone else, not my own business), it seemed that everyone was conditioned to work really hard: putting in as many hours as they could, skipping lunch, and running round the building like headless chickens whilst they demonstrated just how busy and important they were.  And yes, everyone was important, they were doing a great job – but the stress was so visible and a number of colleagues burnt out, including myself.

For me it was a wake-up call.  My burn out manifested itself in lots of illness that wouldn’t go away – my body was literally telling me to stop.  I knew that if I continued at the pace I was, my body might stop for good.  As a mother of two young children, it scared the hell out of me.

It taught me a lot – about the power of stress (and how at it’s worst it reduced me to feeling useless and helpless) but most importantly, about resilience.  I thought I was highly resilient – and I was.  That meant that I was seen as a good worker who delivered, which meant more and more work landed on my desk.  But what I learnt about resilience is that it’s all a balancing act – if our stressors exceed our resilience, then we will break (and everybody has a breaking point, no matter how resilient you think you are).

In order to become more resilient, we need self-care: we need to do things that top up our cup and make us feel good and happy. It really made me evaluate just how much I did for myself: very little.  I thought about all the things I love doing such as running, walking, reading, spending quality time with my boys, spending time with friends, taking a long soak in the bath and actually, I got to do those things infrequently.

Since then I have changed my life enormously.  I now have my own business which I have grown over the past four years – I spend my days coaching and training others in how to develop their business and make it successful.  One of the biggest messages I give, is that in order for us to be successful we cannot work at a hundred miles per hour all the time – if we try to operate like a machine, we will burn out (and actually who leaves their machines and gadgets on 24 hours a day? We all know they will burn out and go up in smoke!).  If we are to be successful we need to be clear on our strategy, focus on the important and we need to make time for ourselves; we need to unplug from the daily treadmill and do things that make us happy.  It is then we have the energy and focus to live enriched lives, to deliver what’s important and to be truly successful.

Change your thinking and change your life!

I truly believe the power of the mind is a wonderful thing.  Our minds really can take us to success –or it can hold us back, just by what it is telling us.  And what I mean here is, our own internal dialogue (or mind monkeys, as I also like to call them).

For years (through school, university and the first part of my career), I wasn’t confident at all.  I really wanted to be the person who gave their opinion freely, who spoke out at meetings and got credit for the ideas which were going on in my mind.  However, my inner dialogue was completely holding me back.  When I was in meetings, my mind monkeys would be saying, “You can’t say that, they won’t take you seriously”, or “That’s just stating the obvious”.

So I would sit and listen to everyone else come up with ideas.  And sometimes someone else would come up with my idea – and guess, what?  The congratulations would pour in for that person, and I would be left feeling frustrated.

So I knew that I had to change my thinking – because there was nothing wrong with my views or solutions to problems; what was wrong was that I didn’t have the confidence to voice them.  What’s worse is that I knew that this was holding back my career and my future earnings potential.

So I learnt to overcome those mind monkeys – when my inner dialogue said something negative, I challenged it and replaced it with positive thoughts, to drive me forward.  I started making contributions in meetings – and I got recognition, I got respect and I got promoted – a lot!

So are you holding yourself back?  Are you avoiding situations because of your inner dialogue?  If so, change your thinking.  Think of positive thoughts that you can say to yourself – and when those negative thoughts creep in, replace them with your positive thoughts.

Also, just take a couple minutes each day to repeat those positive thoughts to yourself – because the more you say those things, the more your mind will believe it – and if your mind believes it, your actions and success will follow!