The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.


Emotional Intelligence – Your Secret Weapon

Emotional IntelligenceI was interviewed for a leadership program on the subject of emotional intelligence this week.  I call it your secret weapon because it is said to account for 80% of your success.  You might be surprised to learn that intellect, though important too, actually only accounts for 20%.  It is your ability to handle yourself which is what makes the biggest difference and this is what emotional intelligence is about.  And the good news is that it helps you in your work and in your personal life too.

The downside of it is that you need to have it to know whether you have it!

There are four main elements to emotional intelligence (or EQ as it is also known): Continue reading

Influence and Manipulation – What’s the Difference?

How to InfluenceWhen they first start to work with me, some of my clients don’t like the idea of learning how to influence because they see it as the same as manipulation.  But there is a significant difference.  One that sets the influencer apart, builds trust and is a significant factor in helping you achieve your goals in life and in your business.

What is Influencing?

Influencing is the ability to have people buy into you, your idea, your business.  It can smooth relationships so that they are more collaborative and harmonious, even in times of challenge.  It requires the ability to understand the motivations of the other person, their hopes and fears, as well their objectives.  This knowledge, through skilful influencing can help you achieve your own objectives with greater ease.

What is Manipulation?

Continue reading

The Dangers When Motivation Blurs Perspective

Denial or TruthI usually write about performance, productivity and stress-resilience.  This article will cover the thorny subject of Denial which is a cousin to each of those.

The political turmoil at the moment has been cursed with so many twists and turns, accusations, affirmations and resignations that is has been hard to keep up.  At a time of deep unrest, what has been needed is an honest and unbiased assessment of the situation so that stability and a clear way forward can be restored.

This is true in business too – and in our personal lives for that matter.  In an excellent TED Talk, Julia Galef introduced the subject of Motivated Reasoning which she labels The Soldier Mindset.  In this, an individual will be motivated to defend their ideas, or attack the ideas of opponents.  Why shouldn’t we do that?  Because in blindly doing so, we don’t get an accurate picture of reality, we so doggedly stick to our position, that may take us down a path that results in regret, failure, or even disaster.

As an example, last week The Chilcot Enquiry concluded that the Iraq invasion was illegal, resulting in many needless deaths.   Tony Blair insisted he was not at fault, despite all the evidence to the contrary.  It would seem that his motivation was to forge strong links with the US, saying “I will be with you whatever.”  And so, he was.

Professor of Criminology, David Wilson, has called him ‘deluded’ and much worse*.  Whatever your thoughts on the subject of politics, the inability to see things in their true perspective can have devastating consequences.  Denial is a coping strategy to block out the uncomfortable truth.  In the case of Blair, he downplayed his actions to make them palatable to the wider world.  I think we all have a tendency to do that, but the consequences can be detrimental.

So what is the solution? Continue reading

Which Stress Personality Are You?

Stress is a very personal thing.  What might be stressful to one person, can be motivational and energising to another and comforting to yet someone else.

Yes, stress is very subjective.  However, most people would agree that stress concerns how we perceive the demands which we face in life.  If we don’t feel up to the challenges, or aren’t motivated by them, they will be stressful and draining.  In the short-term this can affect performance and teamwork.  In the long-term it can affect health and profit.

An opposite of stress is flow – when you are energised, work seems easy, you are able to give fully of yourself and time goes quickly.  You are in your flow when you do something you like and which comes naturally to you.  How you can enjoy more flow will depend on your profile – a subject which we will be addressing in this article.  Another opposite of stress is boredom.  And in many ways, this is simply another form of stress.  So the first thing to do to overcome stress and enjoy more flow is to understand yourself better so that there is less boredom, less tension and more playing to your strengths.

I use a variety of psychometric tools and one of them is called Talent Dynamics.  This is a simple tool which helps you to understand yourself more fully so that you experience less stress and more flow.

It suggests four main profiles.  I will share the main characteristics of each, as well as how each will experience stress and, at the same time, how each causes stress to others.  I will finish with a few pointers on how to deal with that particular profile. It is a longer article than usual, so get yourself a coffee and enjoy.  Even if you don’t identify with a particular profile, it provides insights into people who might be causing you stress, so it’s worth the 10 minutes it takes to read it. Continue reading

How much is stress costing you?

Employee Wellness

Stress and Wellness – Priceless?

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development have published research which shows that if you are not actively managing employee wellbeing, it is likely to cost you £554 per employee per year in sickness absence alone.  But what is the cost of stressed out employees who do turn up day in and day out?  And what is the cost if you run your own business?

Pressure on performance

With most people working longer hours than they ever have before, chasing tougher targets and meeting tighter deadlines, the continued stress levels affect not only the wellbeing of the individual, but can significantly impact teamwork, performance, productivity, customer service levels and, of course, the bottom line.  It also means that managers are spending much more time managing performance than they are managing the business.

Is ignorance bliss?

Ignoring the problem does not make it go away.  If anything, it makes it worse.  One way or another, your business will pay the price.  And stress does not isolate neatly around the individual – it can put pressure on others who have to pick up the pieces. Continue reading

Enjoying More Flow – The Steel


This is the last in the series of articles which explore your personality profile to help you understand how you can enjoy more flow and less stress in your day to day life.  As this is the last article, I will also use it to serve as a summary.

What is flow?

First of all flow can be considered as that feeling where you are at your best, highly motivated, focused and productive.  Work feels like fun.  Like a top athlete, you are ‘in the zone’.

The biggest secret to having more flow

There are many ways you can be more productive.  But to have more flow, the best approach is to play to your strengths.

We can pretty much put our minds to anything we want to, but, if we are doing something which is not a natural strength to us, it takes a lot of thought and effort.  It is more stressful and you are likely to be prone to more mistakes.  Not only that, it is less likely you will enjoy it. Continue reading

Enjoying More Flow – The Tempo

Enjoying More Flow - The Tempo

Welcome to the third in the series of how to enjoy more flow in your day to day life.  What does this mean?  When you are in your flow, you are motivated, energised, you are productive and everything seems easy to you.  The key to enjoying this is to play to your strengths as much as you possibly can.

One way of understanding your strengths is to have a profile done.  Talent Dynamics is one of several that I use and it has four main types.  Today we will look at the third type – what is called The Tempo.  But it isn’t the name that’s important, it’s the characteristics.

Of course at work it is rarely possible to have a job which only plays to your strengths.  In reality, most people find that there are parts of their job that fits you so perfectly.  It is far more likely that there are elements of your job that you dread, that may take a lot of mental energy and that take you longer to do than you think it should.  But by doing a job which plays mostly to your strengths, and managing your time so your day is not affected too much by the other tasks, you will notice your productivity increases. Continue reading

Enjoying More Flow – The Blaze

flow and productivitySo far in this series, we have looked at what flow means and we have looked at the profile of the Dynamo.  Today we are going to focus on The Blaze and what they need to do to enjoy more flow in their work life.

One of the main factors in enjoying more flow is to really understand your strengths and how to play to them.  So, as you read this article, do consider whether this profile describes you and what you need to do to create more flow.  There is no ‘best’ profile as each brings its own strengths and challenges.  By becoming more aware of what you bring to each activity and how to leverage these, you can enjoy more flow, less stress and more productivity.

It does not mean that if something is not a strength for you then you are doomed to fail in that category.  It does mean you need to be uber-conscious of what you are doing, why and how, to make sure you are being as effective as possible.  It will not flow in the same way as a natural strength, but you can become competent.  So, if you don’t identify with this profile, you might want to consider how the lack of the strengths of this profile could benefit you in your working life and how you might be able to develop some of that.

So, what is a Blaze?  The strongest characteristic of the Blaze is their sociability.  Continue reading

Enjoying More Flow – The Dynamo


In my last article I shared with you the general principles of flow and how to get more of it.  A big part of enjoying more flow is understanding your strengths and how to play to them.   In this article, I am going to share with you the characteristics of one particular personality type – the Dynamo – and would invite you to determine whether or not this is you.   Each type has its strengths and its challenges.  The key to flow, stress resilience and productivity is learning how to be more conscious about what you bring into each activity.  Just because something is not a particular strength, doesn’t mean you can’t do it – it just takes more thought and effort.

So, what is a Dynamo?  They are people who are highly creative, competitive, visionary and goal-driven.  They tend to be more task-focused than people-focused and are great at getting things done.  They tend to be impatient though and dislike being constrained by rules.  If you think you are a Dynamo, you are probably a great starter but need to make sure that you finish things off or have a team that will do that for you.  Otherwise you will have a lot of projects that do not have sufficient ongoing attention to have continuing benefit.  Continue reading

How to Enjoy More Flow and Less Stress

What is flow?  It is that sense of being in the zone, where everything seems easy.  You feel empowered and in control.  You have more flow when you are playing to your strengths, because your strengths tend to be what you enjoy.

Having more flow is to experience more motivation, more energy and more fun in your work.  You are able to navigate challenging situations more easily because you have a foundation of inner resourcefulness to support you.

You make fewer mistakes too because your concentration improves.

This all means you are less stressed and more productive.

Like a top athlete in the zone, you are super-focused, super-motivated and you perform at your best.

So, what can you do to experience more flow?  Here are my tips to help you: Continue reading