Try to be flexible


Flexibility can improve your effectiveness in many different ways – reputation, building relationships and credibility to name but a few. Individuals that consider their way to be the only way can be extremely difficult to work with on both a professional and personal level. Going the extra mile will frequently require you to display alternative ways of working, one that does away with a single minded viewpoint. Your attitude of mind should be one that accommodates different perspectives to achieve the desired outcome.

We often value more our colleagues who are flexible – this is because they can understand our viewpoint, listen and then work with us to attain mutual satisfaction. If it is your intention to lead or win over the views of others, you must be flexible in your thinking, attitude and work style. In some instances this may feel uncomfortable. As you progress through life and your career, you will come across many different personalities success means that you may have to adapt your approach to suit the situation.

Be conscious of the way in which you interact with others – do you dismiss views too easily or do you embrace them?  Even if you do not agree frankness and openness with a respectful reason why, will demonstrate clearly a mindset of flexibility.

Flexibility is also an important element of an engaging personality, it involves being reasonable with an ability to bend your thinking whilst not compromising personal values, self control or composure. Do not subject yourself to the whims of others as this projects the image of being a yes person. When you are flexible you are able to take prompt action in acquiring opportunities. The openness of this mindset also attracts others to you because constantly saying no can be off putting and close doors that could otherwise be opened.


Be clear on your personal intentions


Goal setting has been around for years and there is nothing new about the concept. However, I believe that the term is too easily used and indeed its over used. What I mean by this is, its easy to say that you have a goal but how real is it? How emotionally and spiritually are you connected to it? Is it more of a wish? I am desperately trying to get away from the term because personally I think it’s a bit of a tired phrase. Many individuals say they have a goal, however they remain to convince me that its firstly, really what they want and secondly they are behind its achievement with energy, drive and focused activity.

A more powerful way of thinking about your goals is to define your personal intentions. For me this captures a more potent and motivating way of thinking about what exactly it is you want. The road map to achievement must flow from your personal intentions – it should guide your actions and prioritise the projects that will get you there – wherever there maybe.

When personal intentions have total clarity a set of other invisible, yet highly powerful forces flow – for example:


1. Purpose – you know exactly why you  are doing the things you do when your intentions are clear

2. Mental Toughness – you will keep going because what you want is has a meaning

3. Passion – achieving what you want gets you out of bed with gusto, no alarm clock needed

Ask yourself are the targets you set yourself as part of your New Year’s resolution goals or deep-rooted personal intentions – have you delivered on them or have you given up? Monitor your progress against them


People want more – Find the switch to drive personal change


Observation tells me that 80% of people want more from their career, life or business. However the two biggest challenges are:

  1. Defining what more looks like
  2. The will to change behaviour to achieve more

Here lies the heart of debate – most people are resistant to doing things differently with many not willing to take the necessary steps to initiate the changes – the reality is, only action delivers change. A study of 11,000 of patients in the US who had undergone major heart-by pass surgery revealed that only 11% changed their lifestyle habits to accommodate a new way of living – that means 89% carried on with business as usual even though their life was at risk.

For me Darwinian thinking applies in these instances – its about the survival of the fittest, in other words those willing to change usually enjoy long term success. Big changes do not usually happen overnight, it comes in small steps – a bit like a dimmer switch – slight turns make the light shine brighter. Embracing a mindset that welcomes small changes can have an almost profound impact on personal progression.

Lets draw some insights from Nudge Theory, an area that I don’t claim to have any deep understanding but one where its impact I know has had a profound impact on behaviour. The best example of this was seen in Schipol Airport. Toilet cleaning costs were spiraling out of total control. The problems were attributed to the mess made in the gent’s toilets, usually men rushing to catch their flight obviously late but needing to relieve themselves before departure. Unfortunately their haste led to making a mess on the floor, wall and just everywhere including their shoes. This created a massive demand for additional cleaning – costs started to rise at an unbelievable rate. By applying Nudge Theory to this situation the sanitary ware manufacturers etched what looked like a fly on the urinal – guess what 80% immediate reduction in the cleaning bill – think about it. Something so small with such a profound effect – how can you nudge yourself to getting the change that you want? What small nudges can you make to?

  • Think differently
  • Act differently
  • Deliver you the change you want

So the starting point for any one on a mission, ambitious project or wanting to achieve a big goal is – pull the trigger of personal change, recognise that if you don’t you will at best stand still or at worst go into reverse.

Personal change is likened to the turning of an oil tanker, it takes time, and very few of us are blessed with the ability to change at the pace of a gazelle. However, if we recognise that change is constantly needed we are more likely to take action to get what we want.





Enthusiasm goes a long way


Enthusiasm is highly contagious and extremely powerful force you can use to build relationships and form new connections. It is far more pleasing to interact with individuals that are highly energised and motivated by what they do than spend time with people who seemingly just can’t be bothered. If you suppress your feelings about the things you love to do you run the risk of cultivating an image of apathy. It can result in others forming opinions that fail to do justice to you ability, skill and competence. – make your feelings come alive. Enthusiasm is the manifestation of your passion and it should be delivered with confident communication to those you wish to influence.

Fast track goals achievement by allowing your enthusiasm to rise to the surface, make it very clear to others how much a certain issue, topic or aspect of your vocation or professional life means to you. You do this by:

  • Projecting your voice clearly and articulate concisely your thoughts
  • Use open body language and gestures to show how you feel – be animated
  • Have opinions but don’t be opinionated, avoid being viewed as arrogant
  • Use visual aids and props to make key points come alive and engage with examples

Find the dividing line between enthusiasm and over zealousness as the latter can come across as an annoying. Behaving in this way can alienate others to your views as your zeal can be interpreted as pure rhetoric. Be aware of the audience you are interacting with and mindful of their personalities, if necessary curb the enthusiastic behaviour to suit personal preferences. Your enthusiasm and energy can be highly motivating for others when used carefully, it becomes an effective vehicle for adding value and demonstrating to others the difference you make. The spirit of enthusiasm clearly signals to others your zest for life, this in turn creates a charisma – remember charisma sells ideas, thoughts and plans!

Expectation builds reality


One thing that has come clear from the ambitious high growth entrepreneurs I have been involved with is they tend to think in a very different way to those who experience more modest achievements. The former are able to constantly change the way they think and adapt to new challenges and circumstances. They never lose sight of what they want to achieve and they relentlessly pursue what they want – both personally and professionally. In Jim Collins book on Good to Great – his observations where that great leaders face the brutal facts but never lose faith in what they set out to achieve.

The report of the Polar Bear in yesterday’s news that swam continuously for 9 days (in near freezing waters) in search of stable ice and food reminded me of the endurance that I see in so many driven and successful entrepreneurs – they just keep going. And as in a famous Winston Churchill quote “when you are going through hell, keep going” – this sums up what I am increasingly observing in growth wish entrepreneurs. What I also should add is they know very clearly, just exactly where they are going!

I also see many entrepreneurs just plod on, no ambition and generally a negative attitude to the world. Whilst this is OK (if that’s what someone wants) the resultant effect of this mindset is that their business hits a wall. In contrast to the other entrepreneurs I described, this second group often find that at some point reinvention is vital or the inevitable will take its natural course.

There is a clear pattern in the high growth entrepreneurs mindset – it’s the expectation that they will achieve what they want, ultimately this shapes reality. This was summed up in a wonderful quote from a young lady well on her way to business success – recession, I have decided not to participate!

Fast tracking personal peak performance


I am constantly looking at ways in which individuals can enhance their performance and deliver high impact results faster. Research reveals how important mentors can be in personal development. I would totally agree that a mentor is a vital ingredient to an ambitious persons life plan. Many people have benefitted from the experiences of individuals they admire. With this in mind I came up with the concept of “Role Model Benchmarking” (RMB) some time ago, I have trialed it with a number of small groups – it went down a storm. Benchmarking has been around for years and it is used as an effective tool in enhancing company performance – essentially it’s a methodology where a company will rate itself against best in class, identify shortfall in performance then put a plan of improvement in place.

We can take the principles of this management tool and apply it to personal development – in other words benchmark yourself against individuals who inspire you. This approach will put momentum into change and accelerate you to achieving your goals, whether this is in life, career or business.

Just have a go at this simple exercise:

1. Define those individuals you consider brilliant – as part of your overall career or business strategy, think about those individuals you feel you could learn from – these are your role models, characters (real or fictional). Write down a list of five role models.

2. Clarify specifically what it is you admire – think about their skills, behaviours, strategies and approaches you consider could be beneficial in your own quest for success. Is it their networks, skills, knowledge, personal philosophies, values, attitude to life?  You have to be very, very specific about what their qualities are e.g. great presenter, effective negotiation skills, amazing ability of winning new business, caring attitude, written a book….. List the 20 specific things you consider important.

3. Reflect on your list – Of the 20 very specific qualities, behaviours or strategies listed, you must cut this down to a maximum of ten admirable aspects of your role models “DNA”. These become the additives vital to you achieving your own goals and ambitions.

4. Benchmark yourself against these 10 aspects – rate your own performance against those characteristics you consider important on a scale of 1-10 (if you score 10 on any aspect you are not being honest with yourself). There are different visuals you can use to represent your results; the one I recommend is the wheel of life format.

5. Implementation – take action!

By benchmarking your own personal performance against what you consider great will lead to fast tracking personal development. RMB allows you to pin point very precisely what needs to improve or change. It brings practical focus to your learning and development, more importantly it will define specific areas for improvement. RMB will catalyse personal improvement!


Use your daily journal


I started my career as a chemist. The one thing that gets drummed into you when you study and practice a subject like this is always have your notebook at hand. Well this has stayed with me since 1986. I have made a massive commitment to using a daily journal. I use it to make a note of how I am feeling, what I see and the wisdom of brilliant people I meet.  Little did I know but some amazing people used notebooks as part of their life – Leonardo da Vinci, Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, and Einstein. If it worked for them then I am sure it will help me!

I have shared some of my thoughts on note taking with delegates on talks that I have given over the past five years and there are some great examples of how keeping a daily journal has delivered some breakthrough results. People talk about how their goals have been achieved and new ideas and projects have come alive as a result of writing things down. Sounds so simple but the reality is when you put the pen to paper you almost make commitment with yourself to take action. Over time your ideas and diverse thoughts start to coalesce into new propositions and ideas that can be progressed. It takes time and self-discipline to write things down but when you do it some quite amazing things happen. For me I ended up writing my second book and building a high growth company.  Both came as a result of keeping a daily journal – it provides focus on what matters and helps in delivering new possibilities.

Try it  – buy yourself a notebook and make a point of writing down what’s going on around you. What you want to achieve, your goals and ambitions – get it on the page, believe it and see what a difference it makes! It’s quite incredible. I would have never have believed something so simple works!