7 Tips to keep you sane during lockdown!

It’s fairly obvious what situation I’m referring to at the moment isn’t it? But during any difficulty you may experience in life it is important to take care of your mind as well as your body. At the moment, while we are all staying at home in the wake of the recent coronavirus outbreak, feelings of boredom, frustration and loneliness are being widely reported, and there are others who are experiencing anxiety and worry about the health of themselves and their loved ones, their businesses and their finances. It’s important to remember that this situation is temporary, and these feelings will pass; but in the meantime what steps can you take to keep on top of your mental wellbeing and maintain a positive mindset while we are all riding out the storm at home?

Here are my 7 tips to keep you sane during lockdown! Make sure you practice them every day!

1- Structure

Life as we know it has suddenly changed and so for most of us our normal daily routine has been completely disrupted. How can we adapt to this and create positive goals and a new routine?

If you are working from home try and set your alarm for the usual time. Get up, get washed and dressed as normal, and work for the same number of hours as you would if you were still at the office. It might be tempting, especially in the first few days of working from home to have a bit of a lie-in, switch the laptop on at lunchtime, and tap away until the small hours, all without changing out of your dressing gown. But in order to stay productive and positive it is important that we maintain structure in our daily lives.

Even if you aren’t working from home, it is important to stick to some sort of routine in order to prevent lying on the sofa in front of the TV in your pants for days on end. You can maintain a positive mindset by writing a daily plan and schedule in things such as cleaning, TV, reading and exercising. I would also recommend setting certain times to look at social media or watch the news instead of watching and listening all day; an overload of media can be counterproductive for someone who is maybe struggling with a lot of worry or anxiety – keep informed of course, but balance that with relaxation, work, and an adapted daily routine in order to keep everything in perspective. With that in mind, sticking to a regular sleep pattern is important too, whether you are working from home or not it is important to keep regular hours and to stay well rested – both will be a huge benefit to your mental health. Try the Ultradian Rhythm!

2- Learn A New Skill

Maybe you have a hobby that you normally struggle to find the time for, and now are going to take the opportunity to really indulge – that’s great if it is an indoor pursuit, but if your passions include team sports or other group activities you might feel that despite having a lot of free time on your hands, you can’t do the things you love. It would be easy to feel down about this and to allow yourself to dwell on its lost. However, what is to stop you developing a new skill? Learning something new is a well-known tool in improving mental health, and is great for building positivity and self-esteem. There’s no better time to learn a new language, art or craft, or musical instrument – and given the technological age we are living in, there’s no excuse either; online tutorials on just about anything you can think of are literally just a click away! And while we’re on the subject of technological advances, have you heard of Zoom? It’s been around since 2011, but has had a recent upsurge in popularity since the coronavirus hit when schools and companies adopted the platform in order to hold conferences, webinars, and lessons – with fitness instructors in particular using it as a way to continue teaching classes from home. Which brings me nicely to tip number 3…

3- Exercise

We all know that physical activity is a great mood lifter, and is key to staying mentally healthy and positive. Even those who are older or not incredibly physically fit can participate in some sort of exercise; whether that be the online classes on offer on platforms such as Zoom or other platforms at the moment, or a walk or jog outside. Maybe the kids have a trampoline in the garden that you can utilise, or take a look at any of the many youtube videos that show you how to use everyday objects to work out at home.

Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment; it relieves tension and stress and boosts physical and mental energy thanks to the release of endorphins and other feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and oxytocin. If you are able to workout in the garden or outside you’ll benefit from breathing in the fresh air and get an extra boost from the sunlight, but if not, any exercise is better than none. Make exercise part of your daily routine – ideally first thing in the morning, to start your day off in a positive frame of mind that will continue throughout the day.

4- Engage With Others

Obviously at the moment we can’t meet up with friends or colleagues in person, but don’t let that stop you from engaging with other people. Isolation and loneliness isn’t good for anyone’s mindset; we are social creatures and function best when we are able to socialise and interact with others. Thanks, again, to technology and the advent of social media, group chats and video links, as well as the good old telephone, we are better equipped than ever to stay in touch with those around us – even if we are stuck indoors.

5- It’s Not All About You

Using this time to think about the needs of others is actually about you – your positivity that is! If you are someone who tends to overthink things if you have too much time to yourself, why not use this time to concentrate on how you can safely help others? Are there any volunteer programmes running in your area, either through local care homes or charities that support the elderly or vulnerable? Maybe you are able to help get essential supplies to those less fortunate, or shop for an at-risk neighbour? Do you have a qualification or skill you can share with others – perhaps by creating and uploading your own online tutorials?

Thinking about the needs of others will benefit yourself as well as them; often people find that keeping themselves busy and occupied keeps their mind focused, and that being productive means they aren’t letting feelings of worry take over their brain and put them into a negative mindset.

6- Appreciate The Small Things

This one is obvious when you think about it, but is rarely something we consciously do. Now is the time. Perhaps you’re used to working long hours out of the house away from the kids, but now you have the time to really take in what they’re learning at school, or you are able to witness your toddler experience something for the first time. Maybe family meals are normally a rarity, but now you are all going to make an effort to sit and eat together. Appreciate spending time in your family’s company…switch the TV off and have a conversation or play a game.

And what if you are someone who lives alone? Spend more time on the phone with friends, sit in the garden and appreciate your surroundings, feel the world slow down and breathe, appreciate your good health and the fact that you are alive. Taking some time to think of the things we are grateful for will fill our minds with positivity even in the most testing of times. The world is full of blessings and now, more than ever, we have the time to recognise those and hold them close to us.

7- Look For The Good In Others

That’s been quite difficult in recent times with stories of people selfishly stockpiling goods and leaving nothing for other people, but if you spend our time thinking bitter and negative thoughts it is only you that will suffer – the people who have gone home with their car boots full of loo roll and baked beans aren’t affected by what you think. However hard it may seem at times, it is always better for our own positive mindset to look for the good in others rather than always looking for the worst.

Focus not on those who appear selfish but on those who are supporting and helping others; maybe some of those who appear to be loading their trolleys in the supermarkets are shopping for the elderly or a soup kitchen. Think of those who work in the health services at the moment, or those who are essential workers and are keeping the country going, think of all those who are spreading messages of positivity and are trying to cultivate an ‘all in this together’ attitude – these thoughts will foster trust in others and a positive mindset that even in difficult times we can always find a light, but sometimes it has to start within ourselves.

Do It Now!

Hope for the best, plan for the worst!

Hope for the best, plan for the worst is one of my favourite strategies of all times, is very stoic and over the years has served me well!

On the face of it ‘Hope for the best, plan for the worst’ sounds like quite a pessimistic phrase, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s the ‘hope’ part; it brings to mind visions of finger crossing and the clutching of ‘lucky’ charms. Or is it the ‘worst’ part, which conjures the idea of dreadful expectations and despair. In truth we can spin that phrase to mean something incredibly positive, and we apply it to every walk of life, often without even realising it.

Hoping for the best but planning for the worst is the reason we don’t all drive like maniacs; we want to reach our destinations safely and with everyone intact, and so we follow the rules of the road; wear seat belts, don’t text or drink and drive, and are aware of other road users. These actions could be construed as hoping for the best, but planning for the worst. So could the fact that we take out life insurance – or any insurance for that matter – as a ‘just in case’.

The phrase is the reason brides wanting an outdoor ceremony will ensure there is an equally beautiful indoor area on ‘stand-by’, and the reason that explorers meticulously plan their routes and pack extra food and clothing; even if they have done similar journeys a thousand times.

Planning for a worst case scenario isn’t the same as expecting one and can in fact be a very positive attitude to have. One example would be Pete, a mate of mine who for as long as I’ve known him has advocated saving for a rainy day. He is by no means a tight-arse or a skin-flint, and certainly not a man who spends his time expecting his car to break down or his roof to cave in; in fact, knowing that he has money put away for a ‘worst case scenario’ gives him great peace of mind and contributes to his feelings of positivity, or, ‘hope’.

If you contrast this with another bloke I know, who’s name I won’t mention, that is constantly broke and always worrying that some terrible disaster is going to befall him you’ll see that ‘planning for the worst’ can certainly make a difference to the positivity of your mindset, which as we know, has a knock-on effect on all areas of your life.

So it’s fair to say that having a plan in place in case the worst should happen is a very positive step, and one that we all implement in many ways; but what about when it specifically comes to something like our business? What conscious decisions, changes or plans can we make to ensure that a ‘worst case scenario’ isn’t so bad?

  • Risk Assessment – Take a look at what potential risks your business might face? This could be anything from running your business from home, but living in a terrible phone reception area, to working out of a premises in an area that floods every winter. Of course we all realise that simply moving house or changing premises often isn’t a quick, or viable, option. So what can we do to prepare? It could be a case of shelling out for better broadband, making sure you have all your proper insurances in place, and having a contingency plan such as temporary alternative premises and an equipment evacuation strategy. This isn’t doom-mongering, it’s being prepared and putting your mind at rest.
  • Be Aware Of The Competition – You’d be hard-pressed to find a business that won’t encounter some competition at some time or other, and your best bet if that happens to you isn’t to start massively under-cutting or panicking or firing staff; it’s about preparing and planning. Being aware of what similar businesses to yours are up to just makes good sense, and it can definitely help when it comes to ‘preparing for the worst’. Of course you have faith in your business and in your abilities and are expecting big success, but if you’re noticing that the salon down the road is suddenly offering loyalty cards, discounted rates on a Tuesday, and has employed a nail technician, then chances are this will lead to an extra influx of customers, and it would be worth looking at your own business strategies and what you can offer to increase your own profits. It’s really a case of keeping your ideas fresh and flowing, rather than getting complacent and encountering a ‘worst case scenario’ because you weren’t prepared for it.
  • Looking After Your Team – If you run a business that employs staff, whether that be 2 or 200, you need to always be prepared for a worst case scenario. What would you do if you encountered staff shortages due to illness? Unfortunately if that was the case you would have to either take on some of the extra workload yourself or reach out to agency workers or even family members! Not ideal perhaps, but it is a plan that you could have in place that would counteract, ‘the worst’. When it comes to staff you also want to make sure you have a happy team; you don’t want your worst case scenario being dissention in the ranks or a walk-out. I’m not talking about offering sky-high wages and letting people slack off whenever they feel like it, but in order to keep productivity high you’ll need to have plans in place with regards to the fair distribution of holiday leave, bonuses perhaps, and perks – whether that be making sure there’s always a well-stocked staff kitchen, or organising staff events. Think of these things as ‘hoping for the best’ – a contented and hard-working team.
  • Looking After Yourself – Do you have a plan in place for if you are too ill to work? Do you have all the necessary personal insurances in place? A trusted ‘number 2’ should you be unwell or are away? Again, this isn’t expecting the worst, it’s making sure that your business is still standing and you still have an income in a ‘worst case scenario’ – it’s protecting your peace of mind, particularly important if you have a family to provide for as well as yourself. No better feeling than being able to relax on a beach enjoying a well-earned break, knowing that everything is ticking over nicely back home – thanks to the plans you made in advance.
  • And What About The Others? – Suppliers, designers, business contacts, your accountant….all these people that you work with and rely on a daily basis and that you hope to have a long and fruitful relationship with could suddenly not be there at a moment’s notice, for many reasons. What would you do if your trusted supplier suddenly went out of business or stopped trading? Do you have other contacts in the pipeline if your current ones retire or change business track? This is why networking is so invaluable. Constantly building your business framework will ensure that you have a never ending support system to call upon should times get tough…of course you hope for the best, but….

Planning for the worst, in any given situation, is a way of asserting control over your own destiny and in these very trying times maintaining contact and relationships is very important!

That equipment’s just been damaged. Ok, call the insurance company.
Steve’s broken his arm and he won’t be in for 6 weeks. Not to worry, call the agency and tell them we need them to send someone out from Monday.
Our regular supplier is out of stock. No problem, I know a guy in the next town that can help.

By hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst, we can stay focused, driven, and positive. It really is just about planning and staying one step ahead In any situation.

Do it now.

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The consistency principle!

Sometimes the only consistency in people’s lives is the consistency to be inconsistent!

Many years ago I worked with a bloke who was always banging on about how motivated and hardworking he was. He always has plenty to say about how much he had to do, how much he had done, how he never stopped and that no one around him could understand how he got so much done, and how he was surprised he hadn’t bagged a promotion yet.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was the most hard working and productive man in all the world, and that the whole business would crumble without him. Trouble was, his actions and thoughts did not match up with what was coming out of his mouth. And therefore neither did his results. On the surface of things he was always rushing around, huffing and puffing, shuffling papers, and flitting from workstation to workstation to let everyone know how busy he was.

When you looked deeper it was clear that aside from a lot of talk, he wasn’t really getting anything done. He procrastinated a lot, spent a lot of time in the office kitchen making coffee, and was constantly trying to engage others in conversation while they were working. Because of this inconsistency between his words, thoughts, and actions, he was always the one who ended up having to work weekends and late into the night in order to meet his targets and deadlines.

If he had actually backed up all those claims about working so hard, by applying the same mindset and following through with the actions, he would have been as successful and productive as he claimed to want to be, and in the same time frame as everyone else who worked there.

In order to be consistent our inner beliefs and attitudes have to be supported – both by each other, and by external evidence. It’s no good talking the talk if you’re not going to walk to walk, as they say, and when we make sure that our thoughts, words and actions are aligned, wonderful things can happen. Applying the principles of consistency won’t just benefit you at work; any area of your life that you want to improve will profit from consistent actions, which, when coupled with time, will give you real results, in whatever area you want to achieve them.

As with most things that will make us successful, this all needs to start with your mindset. It is no good having a negative mindset and then expecting to believe in the positive things that come out of your mouth, or expecting good results. It’s ok having positive thoughts and we have to have positive action to go with them. Think of it like this; positive thoughts are the vehicle and positive action is the fuel!

So what changes can we make to ensure that our thoughts, words, and actions all marry up, and how can we implement them in our daily lives?

  • Start A Morning Ritual – Consistency starts with simply repeating the same thought or action over and over again, until it becomes habit, and it is human nature to want to be consistent with what we have done before. This is why a good start to the day often means your whole day will be good, and vice versa; ‘one of those days’. Maybe as soon as you get out of bed and put your feet on the floor, you say to yourself “Make The Most Of Every Day!” Plan a limited list of what you want to include in your morning ritual or routine, this will stop you from waking up and pressing snooze, or procrastinating when you could be being productive. Your ritual doesn’t have to be long or complicated, it just has to be consistent. It could involve things as simple as having your clothes laid out ready the night before, lunch packed, a healthy breakfast waiting for you etc. consistently having a stress-free morning with a ritual will foster a positive mindset to start the day.                                                                                                                        
  • Don’t Feel Like It? Do It Anyway! – Let’s say for example that part of your morning ritual is going for a ten minute run. The first couple of days you did and you felt great! On day 3 it’s raining. On day 4 you’re not really feeling it. By day 5 – well you’ve already missed 2 days, so why bother? It can take 21 days to form a habit, but only a couple to break one, and being consistent in all areas of life is going to involve sometimes having to do something that you might feel that you don’t want to. Re-train that brain and change that mindset! Goals and success will not be achieved if we allow negative thoughts to control us. Do It Now!

 

  • Don’t Damage Yourself – If you stop doing the things that make you feel good about yourself – such as that morning run I mentioned, or sticking to deadlines, or that diet, or being kind to others, you are only hurting yourself. Once we do things that make us feel lazy, guilty, mean-spirited, we feel bad about ourselves, and we can’t get away from it. There is no escaping yourself – that is who you are stuck with. This should be a powerful motivator to be consistent with your thoughts and behaviour.

 

  • Focus On The Process, Not The Results – This can apply to any task you undertake in life: business, relationships, working out. You should already know what your goal is, focus on the small daily actions to take you towards that goal and then measure at the end of each day to see if you have moved towards the goal or away from it? Don’t take responsibility for your results in the gym or that promotion you want; instead take responsibility for the processes leading up to that; focus on showing up and doing your workout, focus on being productive at work, and those long term goals will be achieved through that CONSISTENT action.

 

  • Let Go Of Who You Used To Be – Often we let our old self image hold us back from who and what we want to become. Always seeing yourself as the procrastinator or dreamer, the one who just coasts by in life, or the unfit, unhealthy one, will stop you from evolving and growing into who you want to become. We are programmed at an early age to believe we are one thing or another, it’s not necessarily the truth. You can be the person that you want to be, if you believe that you can! It all starts with a change of mindset. Start to think of yourself as a healthy person, a go-getter, someone who faces challenges head on and gets things done! Once you are consistently thinking these positive thoughts about yourself, that is who you will become. It will become easy to talk about yourself as this ‘new’ person, and to act accordingly. Read Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz

 

  • Remind Yourself – A useful tip to make sure that you are being consistent with your thoughts and actions throughout the day is to constantly remind yourself of what it is you want to achieve through this consistent behaviour – a healthier body, a 6 figure salary, that big promotion. If you say you are going to do something then do it! “Say What You Do, Do What You Say!” Simply write it down and incorporate it into your daily environment – a post-it note on the bathroom mirror or the fridge, as a screensaver on your computer, something you will look at daily and be reminded of what you’re working towards.

Fostering change and success in your life can only truly be achieved by the changes that YOU make, and these all start in the mind. Maybe now is the time to be consistently consistent with some changes, and amazing things will happen.

Do It Now!

Make The Most Of Every Day!

Recently I had to attend the funeral of my aunt, very sad occasion as you would expect. From a large East London family, she was one of nine siblings, my dad being one of them so you can imagine the number of cousins that were there mourning my aunts passing. As is usual at these occasions the talk goes something like this “It’s a shame we only see each other at funerals!” or “We must get together more often!” or “It makes you realise that you should make the most of every day!” or “We should Make The Most Of Every Day!”

We also hear this a lot don’t we? “Live every day as if it were your last” – or at least know someone who has the inspirational wall decal and a ‘Carpe Diem’ tattoo. The words scream at us from posters and advertising, songs and movies; but the truth of the matter is, that if we really did live every day as if it were our last, it’s likely the world would be plunged into chaos. The majority of the ‘normal’ things that tend to make up our daily routine still have to be done; the kids have to be fed and cared for and sent to school, we still have to work, and society still has to be maintained.

We can’t simply throw all caution to the wind, abandon all reason and live a lifelong party. Which is why I prefer the mantra, ‘Making The Most Of Everyday’(#MTMOED) now THAT is doable. On average we get to enjoy 25,915 days on this planet, and the key is to make every one of those count; but it is all too easy to believe we are immortal, and that we’ll make the most of ‘tomorrow.’ However, why don’t we make every day count now, while we have thousands of days rather than hundreds – or tens!

So what exactly does it mean; Making the most of every day? And how do we do it? To make the most of every day is to live productively and intentionally, and to make conscious decisions that will make our lives happy and fulfilled. It is about not wasting time just waiting for things to happen – it is about getting out there and making the most of every opportunity that we have. Sounds simple enough, but we all know that it is easy for our daily lives to swallow us up, and before we know it that positive ‘making the most’ mindset has become mired in routine and drudgery.

Here are some tips of changes you can make that will allow you to create and prosper from the ‘Making The Most Of Everyday’ mindset, and make it work for you.

Early To Rise – You can’t make the most of your day if half of it is over before you get up, and while it is true that a lot of people feel they are more productive in the evening, and everyone loves a lie in – life happens during the day, and to make the most of it we need to experience it. It is in the daytime that the majority of business deals are struck, networking opportunities present themselves, customers are buying, trades are trading, and you are able to participate in human interaction with those you love and care about. Making the most of those opportunities that present themselves during the day is sure to instil a sense of accomplishment and wellbeing. So set an alarm and start a new habit of being an early bird! Being a night owl should be the exception – not the rule.

Set Goals – Setting daily goals will help keep you on track when it comes to making the most of your day. Operating without a plan, or trying to operate with too big a plan, can make even the simplest of daily tasks seem overwhelming. The key to having a productive day is to set small and manageable goals and then manage your time effectively in order to complete them. ‘Organise the spare room’ sounds a little overwhelming, and maybe not achievable in one day, but ‘organise that drawer today’ is a much more manageable task, and is a lot more likely to be completed in the time frame. Completing a small task will leave you feeling satisfied and give you a sense of achievement; whereas failing to complete a large task will just make you feel stressed, and much more likely to write the whole day off. Organising that drawer will motivate you to keep going the next day, and the next, until the whole room is done. Another tip is to write those goals down. You are much more likely to focus and complete them if they are visible, rather than just thoughts that can evaporate into the air as you get distracted by other things.

Live In The Moment – You simply can’t make the most out of today if your mind is occupied with next Wednesday, or next month, or next year. Of course, we know we need to be aware of future appointments or events; but write them down in a planner or diary, don’t fret and worry about what might happen, and then participate in today; be present. Don’t let the potential events of the future take up your time today. We don’t live in the future, or the past for that matter, we live NOW – as do our passions and loved ones. If you find your mind wandering to other time zones you can break them down by switching your brain and focusing on something that is in the now in order to bring you back to the present; the pen in your hand, the rain on the window, the other person in the room. Focus on NOW and you will find that you will become a lot more productive. Do It Now!

Learn To Prioritise – It is a fact that in life you make time for what you want; the phrase ‘I don’t have time’, is uttered by many, but meant by no one. To make the most of our days we need to prioritise our lives, instead of clinging onto ‘I don’t have the time’. If you believe that time constraints are stopping you from doing something you want to do (attend that party, go to the gym), then change your mindset! Instead of blaming it on a lack of time, own the decision by saying ‘it’s not a priority.’ By training your brain to use that phrase instead you can live more intentionally by reminding yourself that you choose what you do and what you ‘don’t have time’ for, not the clock.

Follow Your Dreams – We are all unique individuals who must follow our own paths, and often one of the things expressed by those who are very old or ill is that they regret living the life expected of them, rather than the life they wanted. Don’t let that be one of your regrets. Friends and family may well express their worries about you setting up a new business, or moving abroad, for example, but we are not the expectations of others. It is up to you to assess the risks of doing the things you want; of following your dreams and indulging your passions. Go for that promotion, start that business, confess your undying love; and do it now. Sure, you might not hit every target, but that is better to shoot your shot than to live with regret and not know what might have been.

Maintain Human Connections – In this day and age of mobile phones, Skype, and social media, it is easier than ever to stay in touch with those we love, and yet simultaneously easy to miss out on the human interaction with those we care about. It is important to stay in touch with those we love. I’m not talking about maintaining those relationships that might be toxic or damaging to us simply because we have loved them in the past, or even continue to do so, I’m talking about those who enrich our lives, and it is easy to let family, friends – even spouses – drift away over time as we stop making them a priority and allow work or other things to take over and become our sole focus. But making the most of every day has to include communicating with and loving those important people in our lives – on every one of those 25,915 days.

It is always worth remembering that tomorrow is not promised, so don’t put off living in the moment. Make the most of every day, starting  the day and to help reinforce the habit and before you do anything else, the moment you put your feet on the floor say to your self “Make The Most Of Every Day!” #MTMOED

Do It Now!

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Uncommon Courtesy!

Common courtesy: we all know what it is, and we all know how it makes us feel when we receive it. And how we feel when we don’t – that person walking in front of you and not holding the door open, someone who doesn’t say, ‘thank you’, when you hold if for them, and the frustrating task of trying to have a conversation with someone who is texting. That last comment about mobile phones might cause some to roll their eyes – modern technology is of course invaluable when it comes to running a business, but, in today’s society where everybody is so busy looking down, and a huge percentage of businesses are conducted online, has common courtesy become, uncommon?

A friend of my wife was complaining about this very subject just the other evening. She had purchased an expensive custom-made dress online for her daughter’s prom and was becoming increasingly frustrated with the customer service she had been receiving. Initially when the date she was expecting the dress to arrive came and went, she gave the lady the benefit of the doubt. The prom was a few weeks away anyway and a one-off hand-made piece would surely be worth the wait. Besides, the seller was bound to drop her a message with an apology and a renewed delivery date in due course. A week later, nothing. No dress, no apology, no contact from the seller at all.

So she sent the lady a polite email, explaining that she hadn’t yet received the dress she had paid for, and did she have any idea when it would arrive. She was shocked to receive quite a brusque reply a day or two later, stating that ‘custom made designs are time consuming and can run into unexpected delays, so please be patient.’ No, ‘sorry’, and no explanation of what these ‘unexpected delays’ entailed or if anything was being done to resolve the situation.

With the prom night fast approaching and another fortnight gone by with no dress or explanation in sight, my wife’s friend ended up contacting the seller to cancel her order and buying her daughter a dress from a store. It took several emails and the threat of a negative review on the seller’s business page to get even a partial refund. ‘Never again,’ she vowed, would she buy something from someone selling online.

Conversely, another friend had to return a tie she had ordered online for her grandfather when it arrived, in the promised time frame, after he had sadly died. Not only did she receive her refund in a timely fashion, she also received a card of condolence in the post. This small, courteous gesture resulted in her ordering gifts for friends and family from said company over the following year, singing their praises to all, and the company earning a loyal, repeat customer.

The prevalence of mobile phones and social media in today’s society often have a lot to answer for. On the one hand they can be incredibly useful tools, allowing you to run your business and keep on top of things on the go, wherever you are, while reminding you have the dentist at 4 and that you need to pick up the cat’s medication at the same time. But, on the other hand, there are few things more frustrating than trying to conduct a meeting about business (or even a social meeting for that matter) with someone who can’t stop looking at the bloody thing every 5 seconds.

Turn it off. Put it on silent. Leave it in your pocket. The second it’s on the table vibrating and buzzing away, my companion’s eyes flickering towards the busy screen like a moth drawn to a flame, it tells me one thing: that whatever or whoever you are waiting for on that phone has more of your attention than me and what I have to say. And that is not courteous.

When it comes to your own business it’s never a bad thing to review your customer service, and you’ll often find that those who go above and beyond in that area are rewarded with more contacts, more referrals, more repeat customers. And that’s what we all want, isn’t it?

● Paying Attention To Names – It sounds obvious, but when it comes to networking and building a customer base, remembering someone’s name can be vital. It proves you have engaged fully with that person and have listened to what they have to say. If you don’t hear them the first time, or if you are unsure how to pronounce it, be honest and ask. It shows you have taken an interest in them and care about getting it right. If remembering names isn’t your forte try to repeat it several times throughout the conversation to help commit it to memory – just not so often that you sound a bit creepy!

● Greetings – This sounds like an obvious one, but whether it be in person, over the phone, or via email, everyone likes to receive a friendly, ‘hello, how are you?/I hope you are well’. It establishes rapport as well as being polite, and it will make people remember you as a friendly individual.

● Handshakes and Eye Contact – If you are meeting with someone in person, a handshake is the universal business greeting, and coupled with eye contact and a smile gives a positive first impression of someone who is engaging and honest.

● Handwritten Notes – This particularly applies if you run a business where you might be sending products out to customers who have ordered online. A ‘thank you’ email is nice, however, isn’t seen as personal a gesture as something customised and handwritten. This is especially important if it is to a repeat customer or a large account. It may take a little more of your time than firing off a quick email, and you’ll have to pay postage, but you only have to read my story about the friend who had to return the tie to see how it could benefit your business in the long run.

● Check for Grammar Mistakes and Typos – Again, this sounds obvious, but if you are running a business then chances are you spend a lot of time communicating through emails. Take a few seconds to properly proofread each one before you press send. It could be the difference between looking professional and courteous or sloppy and uninterested.

● Being on Time – This one is so, so, important. In today’s society where everybody’s rushing around and time is such a precious commodity, punctuality is critical. Whether it be arriving on time for a meeting, ensuring that package gets to the customer when you said it would, or meeting that deadline; future orders, referrals, and recommendations will depend on it. Say What You Do, Do What You Say!

● Put Away Your Phone – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the mobile phone has all but killed common courtesy in most social situations – don’t let it affect your business too! Of course your phone is essential when it comes to running your business, but it is impossible to give someone your full attention when you are distracted by your phone. So put it away. Honestly, that text/email/Twitter notification can wait. There is no substitute for human interaction.

● Complaining – In a word, don’t. There are always going to be bad days in business or things that go wrong, but if you start complaining to customers about it all going wrong and how unfair it all is it will put you into a negative mind set, and that won’t help. Customers won’t want to hear what’s gone wrong or why, even if it is the reason why they aren’t receiving their order on time, or can’t order that product today. Instead it is much more productive to think of solutions to the problem and let them know how you are about to resolve the issue – preferably with a ‘Sorry for the delay, we really appreciate your custom and patience’.

You might be thinking that you already follow all those rules, and that uncommon courtesy doesn’t apply to you or your business. But let’s face it, in today’s fast-paced world, where the next big business is nipping at your heels, it doesn’t hurt to make sure that YOURS stands out as the politest in the industry. Your customers will thank you for it by coming back again and again.

Do It Now!

Watch the video version just here…

Growth or Fixed Mindset?

When I was growing up I had a friend called Ben. He was one of them kids who seemed to have been born under a lucky star. You know the type; always picked as captain when we played football, always got good grades, and had loads of mates. As we grew up he was the first one of us to drive, buy a house, and get a job, which as time went on turned into his own amazingly well-paid business, followed by another bigger business. Within a couple of years he had bought an even bigger house with his beautiful wife, and a flash car. You know how it goes – in fact, you probably know a ‘Ben’ yourself; someone who oozes confidence, tries their hand at anything, and never seems to fail, he was the Golden Boy! He had a growth Mindset!

If truth be told it cheesed a lot of his mates off, especially Josh. Josh was the anti-Ben; lacking in any self belief, convinced he would fail at everything before he even tried, and constantly moaning about Ben’s achievements compared to his own – “It’s alright for him”, “Some people have all the luck”, “Why doesn’t that sort of stuff happen to me?”

The assumption that some people are just lucky and others aren’t is a dangerous one. It leads to complacency and resignation. The reason Ben achieved highly in all areas of his life and Josh didn’t was down to mindset. Ben always believed he could do it if he tried, he wasn’t afraid to learn new things, he wasn’t scared of new experiences, he strived, and worked hard. In short, he believed he could do anything he set his mind to. Josh didn’t. Josh believed his own limitations – limitations he himself had set. This is what is known as a Fixed Mindset.

People with a fixed mindset believe that whatever qualities they have are fixed traits that cannot be changed. If you are a ‘Josh’, you will believe that it is Ben’s natural talents alone that have got him where he is today, and that effort was not required. Do you have a fixed mindset? Here are some of the signs:

  • You believe that your basic abilities and talents are fixed traits
  • You have a fear of looking dumb – this holds you back from trying new things, you are worried about others’ perceptions of you
  • You want to appear intelligent, but you believe that your intelligence is fixed and cannot be modified

Can you see how closed that mindset is? It’s boxing you in and stopping you from achieving what is easily within your reach. Your own mind is what is stopping you; so change it. Now.

Ben had a Growth Mindset; an underlying belief that effort on his part would lead to success, that he could grow smarter with time and experience. He put in the extra time – football practice, extra driving lessons, school work, and in time applied those rules to his personal and work life. Do you have a growth mindset?

  • You believe that your abilities and intelligence can be developed with learning, effort, and persistence
  • You believe everyone can become smarter and more accomplished if they try
  • You believe that basic abilities are a starting point for potential

If you have identified yourself as having a fixed mindset it means your fixed beliefs about yourself are holding you back from positive change. It means you probably avoid situations where those traits that you think are fixed (intelligence, your weight, a bad habit) could cause you to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.

So, how can you create a growth mindset? Here are some tips to help you.

  • Acknowledge and Embrace Your Weaknesses – we all have them, but knowing what they are means you can change them. Create specific habits to tackle your limitations head on. Make modest goals and give yourself a set time to accomplish them. Be honest about your limitations and it will help you to form the belief that you are 100% capable of changing them and accomplishing any major goal.
  • View Challenges as Opportunities – The more we challenge ourselves the more opportunities we have to learn about ourselves. Don’t use excuses to stay in your comfort zone – accept that new job offer, call that new contact you’ve been meaning to all week, and see the opportunities open up before your very eyes.
  • Use The Right Learning Strategies For YOU – There are various styles of learning, and they aren’t all right for everyone. Maybe you are a visual learner and need to spend hours watching YouTube tutorials, or maybe reading articles works for you. Perhaps you are someone who needs to learn as part of a group, or maybe learning alone is the best way for your brain to soak up the information. When you know what works best for you, you can get better at studying, and your knowledge will begin to expand. 
  • Remember Your Brain Changes Throughout Your Life – Be aware that your brain is constantly changing and it will help you to adopt a growth mindset. Your brain is constantly forming new connections allowing it to make adjustments when you are faced with new situations. 
  • Prioritise Learning Over Seeking Approval – Don’t worry about what others think of you, focus on bettering yourself for your own benefit.
  • Work With Purpose – Always work with purpose so that you have the motivation to keep working. Ask yourself on a regular basis what is the purpose of the work you are doing. Do you just enjoy it, or is it part of a bigger goal? 
  • Learn to Receive Constructive Criticism – Think of criticism as a way to learn. It makes you aware of your faults so that you can focus on improving them. Don’t take constructive criticism personally; often people are trying to help rather than trying to cut you down. 
  • Need For Improvement Does Not Equal Failure – Needing to improve doesn’t mean you have failed. It just means you are not quite there yet.
  • Learning is “Brain Training” – The more you learn, the more you are training your brain to act a certain way and make various connections. It is vital to be open to the idea of manipulating your brain to keep up with current trends as the world evolves and changes.
  • Develop a Gritty Attitude – If you have passion for what you are doing it will give you the perseverance to see it though. If you want to be successful in your field having a deep interest in your work is one of the most important things to keep you motivated each day. If you want to accomplish your long-term goals, you have to have the ‘grit’ to keep you on track and make it happen.
  • Never Stop Learning – Growth-minded people continue to create new goals so that they stay motivated and interested. Never stop learning! Set a new goal for every goal you accomplish – that is the secret of a growth mindset.
  • Remember That it Will Take Time – Nothing worth doing comes quickly and easily, so be realistic about how long it will take to learn the information you are interested in and to achieve your goals. You might have to try several different learning methods, or keep trying new techniques until something sticks – but stay focused on the process. 

Anyone can develop a growth mindset, you just have to be willing and committed to changing your beliefs about what you are able to do. Do not stay in your little box where you were born with all the talents and abilities you will ever have – break out and grow! Take action to learn and stay motivated and focus on how it will benefit you in the long run to achieve more success throughout your life.

If you’ve found yourself stuck in life, it could be that a fixed mindset is what’s holding you back. The mind is a hugely powerful thing, and allowing it to grow could see you soon achieving more success throughout all avenues of your life.

Do It Now!

When All Roads Lead to Procrastination

Years ago, a good friend of mine was commissioned to write an article for a mate’s website. He had been given quite a tight deadline, but it wasn’t a particularly long piece, and he was very familiar with the industry in question, so he figured it would require minimum research and it would be a doddle to write. He could bang it out in half an hour. Job done!

This delusion lead him to putting the project on the back burner, and everytime it popped to the front of his brain he pushed it back. His mentality seemed to be, ‘I’ll do that later, it’ll take no time at all.’ Several times when I spoke to him he mentioned getting the laptop out to start it, but he said he just couldn’t get in the right headspace – normally he would spend a few days rolling the subject matter around in his mind, letting it pick up momentum as it went; maybe even make a few notes. But this time he hadn’t, he reckoned there was no need because it would be so easy to do, so quick to write, and besides there was something he wanted to watch on telly, so no point in doing it right now. And that’s how it went all week. And the next week. Every time I spoke to him he had something negative to say about starting the project; it just wasn’t work that he felt inspired to do, he’d had to go out all day Saturday, one of the kids was sick.

The day before the deadline date he finally bashed out the article, and when I saw him he was ridiculously smug and confident that his mate would love every word of it. ‘Easiest money I’ve ever made,’ he said. He reckoned he was bound to get work from the friend’s contacts who worked in the same field, and was already anticipating his friend commissioning him to write more articles.

Within about an hour of that conversation, the guy who owned the website had emailed him. He had got the tone of the article totally wrong. He had mentioned equipment that was no longer industry standard, and one of the women he referenced throughout hadn’t won a title in about 10 years; in fact, it was unlikely that any of the guy’s current client base would even know who she was. He hadn’t read the brief properly. He hadn’t researched. He hadn’t cared. He’d been focusing on other things.

He sat up until about 1am redoing that article, and when he resent it all he got back was, ‘thank you’. No glowing feedback. No, ‘I’ll be in touch about writing something else’. Not even a, ‘I’ve passed your details onto my friend..’.

You’ll be unsurprised to learn that the last-minute article was far from his best work. It was factually correct, yes, and included all the information he had been asked for, but it had no life, no sparkle. The main issue here was his mindset.

How many times have you thought, ‘that’ll do’, or ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’? Stop. And do it NOW. Properly. Procrastination will literally get you nowhere because it has no driving force. You might as well be behind the wheel of a car with an empty petrol tank. There are various different types of procrastination, and we have all fallen foul of one type at one time or another. Do any of these scenarios ring a bell?:

  • Anxious procrastination – Does what is says on the tin to be honest; procrastinating because you feel anxious about the task in hand. An easy way to combat this would be through proper time management. Are you biting off more than you can chew and taking on more work than you have time to do? If you are then that feeling of being overwhelmed can easily lead to feelings of anxiety and stress, something you might deal with by procrastinating; a counterproductive result. Make sure you schedule in some downtime to give yourself a break and set realistic expectations about how much work you can take on.                                                                                                                      
  • Procrastinating because, “I’ve got loads of time” – Far off deadlines can be a double-edged sword; to some it is a gift – plenty of time to plan, research, go back to the drawing board if need be, and to others; a curse – particularly if they are a person prone to procrastination. This is probably the most common type, and one that will sound familiar if you used to be a student who had essay deadlines! As my story demonstrates, you’ll do your best work if you don’t leave it until the last minute, so a good tip is to give yourself an earlier deadline than your client has given you, and let someone know – be that your spouse, a colleague, or your friend etc. That public deadline-declaration will make it harder for you to get distracted and get away with putting it off, therefore keeping you motivated and on track.                                                                                                                                                                         
  • The Perfectionist – We can all be our own worst critics, and those who are overly-critical of themselves tend to be terrible procrastinators. People who are always striving for perfection can be so fearful of producing work that is anything less than that, that they never actually get around to doing anything. This should not be confused with taking pride in your work – it is not the striving for perfection that is the issue, it’s the critical mindset that will sabotage you before you have even begun. A good way to change your mindset if you know you fall into this category is to take a look at the last 5 jobs you have completed, or think about the feedback you received from your last 5 customers. Being a perfectionist means you are probably already working to an incredibly high standard, so you don’t need to give yourself such a hard time. If you do identify a time when your work wasn’t ‘perfect’, you’ll no doubt notice that there were no horrific consequences, and you’re still in business.                                                               
  • The Fun Procrastinator – We all know one of these, maybe you are one of these; someone who would rather do anything to fill their time other than the task at hand. I mean, why fill that order/call that client/redesign that product NOW? There’s something good on the telly at nine! Let’s face it there’s generally always something more fun to do than work, but watching those TV shows and videos of cats online isn’t going to help you grow your business is it? If it’s the action of ‘doing something different’ that makes the idea of the job less dreadful, then try doing the next thing on your work to-do list instead. It takes away the stress surrounding the specific job that is making you procrastinate, but is still productive.

So often procrastination comes from worrying about how the job you have to do is going to turn out; your brain is instantly picking out the most negative outcome that could occur; that customer is going to complain, that company won’t order from me again, this is going to be wrong..

By projecting that negativity onto something that hasn’t even happened yet you are setting yourself up to fail. No wonder you’re stressed out and putting the job off. How is this going to help you and your business in the long run? It isn’t. The key is to train your brain to pick out the positive things that could happen by you completing this work; it could lead to new contacts, referrals, repeat business, more money; and that’s what we’re all after isn’t it?

The moral of the story is, whatever your business is, don’t get so complacent or distracted that you stop doing your best work. By putting things off until later all you’re doing is causing yourself a lot of stress and putting yourself under pressure. Focus on the good things that will come from you getting stuff done well and on time – afterall, you’re only as good as your last job, and your next referral could depend on it.

That friend I mentioned at the beginning is still mates with the guy who commissioned him, but he’s never been asked to write for his website again, although the article is still on there. I’ve advised him that if he ever has a day where his mindset starts to slip dangerously into ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ territory, to go back and reread it, cringe inwardly, CHANGE his mindset, and get to work!

Do It Now!

Fancy joining a coaching and accountability group that cares as much about your business as you do? Then watch this!

Six things to look for when choosing a coach/mentor!

When I was a young man of 23, my business partner and best mate Jamie and I used to stop off on a Friday night and have a beer in a pub called the Queens Head and as we were enjoying our pint a young ex public school boy used to drop in and have a drink with us.

Chris worked in the City as a financial analyst and he would say to us, “I’ve got a great tip, if you invest just £200 in this share or that bit of stock, it will make you rich!” Now, Jamie and I being working class type men were a bit skeptical of get rich quick schemes, however plausible they might seem and to add to that we were already well on our way to having a few quid!

ASH[1]-47aaWe didn’t invest! What we did do was check young Chris out and found that he lived in a rented one bed flat in a very poor area and was in debt up to his eyebrows. So the question we did have for Chris the next time he came in the pub and sat down with us was “Why if these stocks and shares are so good why are you skint?” Chris didn’t practice what he preached!

Needless to say we didn’t see Chris for a very long time.

One of my key learning points in life is to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. The delegates that come on my Millionaire Mind-set course will know that I recommend everyone getting a coach/mentor in their life and business. The main reason for this is that we can’t fix a problem with the same level of thinking that created the problem in the first place and as creatures of habit we tend to look for solutions in the same place as we always have.

A lot of small business owners look around at successful business owners and think that they did it all by themselves. Let me tell you this, there are very few successful business people that have done it totally on their own. Every one of them has had some help somewhere; they will have made sure that the people in their lives and business are of the highest quality. I have a mentor and part of her role with me is to keep me focused and accountable.

Every entrepreneur needs a coach/mentor, because the fastest way to learn any business is to study someone who has been successful at it. This person has already paid the price of experience. You must absorb all of the information that you can out of him or her and take action! Does the coach/Mentor that you are considering run successful training courses?

Over the years, I’ve met many people who desperately want to be successful but who are ultimately unwilling to invest in themselves. They think, “I can teach myself. I can learn this on my own.” I’m always gobsmacked by this attitude. If I can avoid making a few mistakes by being mentored by someone that has already been there and done it, then I’m going to.

AshferrariIf a business owner won’t invest in themselves how do they expect other people to invest in them? They are happy to go out on a Friday and Saturday night and pour fifty quid’s worth of alcohol down their neck but won’t pour fifty quid into their head. If only they realised that by pouring the money into their head they could pour as much as they like down their neck in the future!

The wiser people will often come to me and ask me to work with them and others that I meet at network meetings or other business events ask me if I could recommend them to a great coach/mentor, which I do. However, it goes without saying that some coaches/mentors are better than others. There are so many people these days offering their services to entrepreneurs online. Before you jump into a new relationship, take some time to get to know a potential coach/mentor.

I have some basic rules that I use when recommending other coaches/mentors and which, I believe are six great tips before you choose a coach/mentor to take you and your business forward.

So here you go six tips for choosing a business coach/mentor;

  1. Congruency – The number-one thing to look for on someone’s resume is his or her experience.
    • What exactly have they accomplished? Is it the same as you want to accomplish? Your coach/mentor must have walked the walk. I feel strongly about this.
    • Find someone that has truly paid their dues and can speak of their real-life experiences. Ideally, this person will have failed and succeeded. Their insight will help you avoid making costly mistakes and increase your chance of success immensely.
    • Does the coach/mentor you are about to choose have a track record of building successful businesses?
    • Is the coach/mentor’s current business successful? If not why not? I see a lot of business coaches/mentors out there telling other people how to run their business and make more money and they are skint themselves.
    • Make sure the coach/mentor you choose practices what they preach, and actually walk their talk!
  2. Recommendations – Have they got a string of recommendations from real customers?
    • The chances are if you are picking a great coach/mentor they will have a portfolio of testimonials from satisfied clients.
    • Have they got social proof?
    • Have a look at their Linkedin profile and their recommendations. If they haven’t got any, why not?
    • What is being said on Facebook or Twitter?
    • Have a look at some of their YouTube videos.
  3. Honesty – Will they tell you how it is or will they tell you what you want to hear?
    • If you are looking for someone to tell you what you already know, ask yourself is having a YES man doing you any good? You have to want to be challenged!
    • The mentor needs to be honest with you and you need to be honest with yourself.
    • Ask them if they have failed with their past business ventures? If they say no, I would suggest that they are less than honest.
    • Most successful business owners have failed and more importantly they have learned from the experience and then moved on to business success. 
  4. Attitude – I have met some business coaches/mentors that are very negative and spend most of their time finding what’s wrong with life rather than what they could do to get a better result. In my experience, having a great attitude comes with time and experience. The right coach/mentor will have been through it all – and come out the other side knowing a sense of humour goes a long way in business.
    • They are able to see the big picture.
    • They don’t get too upset or emotional.
    • An ideal coach/mentor is very patient, but also persistent and determined.
    • Positive energy is very important in any relationship and if your mentor has a negative attitude it will drag you down with them.
    • Make sure that they have a positive outlook on everything and look to find a way to make things happen rather than find reasons why they won’t.
  5. KPI – Are they a Key Person of Influence?
    • Does your potential coach/mentor regularly give talks?
    • Has he or she written a book?
    • Do reporters interview him or her?
    • A great coach/mentor will have longstanding relationships with people who could benefit you. Ask him or her if they’re willing to open doors for you.
    • Sometimes, it is about who you know rather than just what you know.
    • If this person offers a long list of services, exercise caution. It’s impossible to be everything to everyone, and nor is it desirable.
  6. Accountability – A great coach/mentor will not simply let you disappear.
    1. They will hold you accountable. It’s a lonely place owning a business and in a lot of cases you are not accountable to anyone.
    2. Yes, things get in the way. But he or she cares about how you’re doing.
    3. If you’re lucky enough to find a coach/mentor that you gel with, as I have, you will make a great friend for life.
    4. They will enjoy sharing in your success and feeling like they were part of it.

Remember Jim Rohn’s quote “You will become the average of the five people you spend most of your time with!” So surround yourself with people that you aspire to be like and who fill you with positive energy!

avandentFinally I was driving on the motorway to give a talk to a group of business owners when I passed a van and the sign writing said “Don’t drive around with that dent in your car, or that scratch along the door. Let us fix it for you!” Yes you guessed it; in the front wing was a bloody great dent! And to cap it off, guess who was driving the van….. Chris!

Do It Now!

If you would like to grow your business then why not join one of my accountability groups?

Fancy it? Then watch this video!

Come along to my Entrepreneurs Business Club!

Try our new online coaching groups.

Or you could fill in the form below!!

Are you a new business or solopreneur? Then look at this video…

“Don’t ask for financial advice from skint people, don’t ask business advice from people that haven’t had a successful business and make sure you have your dents and scratches sorted by someone that looks after their own vehicle!” 🙂

Thank you Al Frank Monk for a brilliant photo shoot!

Ash is the “FlipFlopPsycho!”

flip-flop-on-blue

Life Lessons!

It’s coming up to 5 years since the unexpected passing of my mum. This weekend I caught myself reflecting on the morning when I received the news, and how since, lots of people who I barely know came up to me over the subsequent days and gave me a pat on the back, a hug, or a genuine “I’m sorry!”
 More →

Imagine…

I’m glad you’re reading this…

Because today I am going to share a powerful technique with you.

But first I want you to imagine this…

Imagine jumping out of bed each morning with a surge of motivation.

With a huge smile on your face because of your passion of just being alive.

Imagine feeling complete confidence in yourself…

The kind of confidence that makes you stand tall and proud.

The kind of confidence that people notice and draws them closer to you.

Imagine communicating with your friends, colleagues, and clients with surgical precision.

You connect with them on a deep emotional level and they hang on every word you say…

They’re captivated.

Imagine looking in the mirror each morning feeling strong, powerful and in control.

Imagine checking your bank account balance and seeing it grow – not shrink – as each day goes by.

Imagine the freedom you will have. Imagine what you will be able to do.

Imagine who you will be able to become.

Of course…

All these things are possible. But they’re not going to happen on their own.

But if you’re willing to invest a bit of spare time each day AND be willing to step outside of your comfort zone…

Then you’ll be solidly on your way to a an everlasting, better, fuller, and richer life.

Including: your work, your success, your wealth, your income, your friendships, and your relationships.

but you have to take ACTION.

P.S. There’s a powerful technique in this blog.

Did you catch it?

It’s all about using powerful language patterns. It’s about using your language with PURPOSE so that you’re better able to get what you want (and help others get what THEY want in the process).

This is all centered around the word “Imagine.”

I love the word imagine because it allows you to paint pictures and elicit strong feelings with anyone you speak to.

You can help people SEE and FEEL their desired outcomes… helping them to take ACTION.

IMAGINE NOW what this would all feel like if you just used your imagination….

Or you can Choose not to……

Do It Now!

Would you like to join one of my Entrepreneurs Business Clubs?

Have a look at my Millionaire Mind-set seminars.  

If you are one of those that take action and would like to get the results that you want, take a look at this Millionaire Mindset Mini Course.

Would you like to learn more about being in an accountability results group? If so watch this video!

Come along to my Entrepreneurs Business Club!

Lest we forget!

On November 7th, 1920, in strictest secrecy, four unidentified British bodies were exhumed from temporary battlefield cemeteries at Ypres, Arras, the Asine and the Somme.
None of the soldiers who did the digging were told why.
The bodies were taken by field ambulance to GHQ at St-Pol-Sur-Ter Noise. Once there, the bodies were draped with the union flag.
Sentries were posted and Brigadier-General Wyatt and a Colonel Gell selected one body at random. The other three were reburied.
A French Honour Guard was selected and stood by the coffin of the chosen soldier overnight.
On the morning of the 8th November, a specially designed coffin made of oak from the grounds of Hampton Court arrived and the Unknown Warrior was placed inside.

On top was placed a crusaders sword and a shield on which was inscribed:
“A British Warrior who fell in the GREAT WAR 1914-1918 for King and Country”.
On the 9th of November, the Unknown Warrior was taken by horse-drawn carriage through Guards of Honour and the sound of tolling bells and bugle calls to the quayside.
There, he was saluted by Marechal Foche and loaded onto HMS Vernon bound for Dover. The coffin stood on the deck covered in wreaths, surrounded by the French Honour Guard.
Upon arrival at Dover, the Unknown Warrior was met with a nineteen gun salute – something that was normally only reserved for Field Marshals.
A special train had been arranged and he was then conveyed to Victoria Station, London.
He remained there overnight, and, on the morning of the 11th of November, he was finally taken to Westminster Abbey.
The idea of the unknown warrior was thought of by a Padre called David Railton who had served on the front line during the Great War the union flag he had used as an altar cloth whilst at the front, was the one that had been draped over the coffin.
It was his intention that all of the relatives of the 517,773 combatants whose bodies had not been identified could believe that the Unknown Warrior could very well be their lost husband, father, brother or son…
THIS is the reason we wear poppies.

We do not glorify war.

We remember – with humility – the great and the ultimate sacrifices that were made, not just in this war, but in every war and conflict where our service personnel have fought – to ensure the liberty and freedoms that we now take for granted.

Every year, on the 11th of November, we remember the Unknown Warrior.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.

Please share!

Do It Now!

Happiness Truths!

Two weeks ago I was in deepest darkest France attending a pool party at a Chateaux for my son’s wedding celebrations. We were 800 feet above the beautiful village of Beynac which sits on the banks of the Dordogne, sipping champagne with friends and family in 28 degrees of sun! Get the picture?

Moving on two weeks I’m 800 feet up on the top of the North Downs mowing my lawns and I got to reflecting on a conversation that I had had with one of the guests at the wedding and he asked me what I would attribute to the secret of a happy life? I of course said that there are no secrets to happiness, just some universal truths that I believe we all should practice.

Six universal truths,

  • Happiness is a daily choice; Everybody experiences difficulties and disappointment in their life! It’s how we choose to deal with it that makes the difference between being happy or not… Us psychologists believe that you can choose to be happy despite what’s going on around you. Try this little experiment…. Close your eyes and think of a song that makes you feel sad. Get into the song and experience the emotion. Now keeping your eyes closed think of a happy song, and again get into that song and experience the emotion. So did your mood lift with the happy song? Pick five things that you are truly grateful for in your life and focus on those for the first five minutes of the day while you are carrying out your ablutions in the morning!
  • You don’t NEED anything; Believing you need something that you don’t currently have is a definition of insanity! We have all that we need in life because if we didn’t then we wouldn’t be alive! Think about that for a minute!! I’m not saying that you don’t WANT something, however you don’t actually need that new handbag, pair of shoes, gaming chair, Ferrari! There’s nothing wrong with wanting nice things, however, fooling yourself that you need them is just MAD!
  • Stop trying to please everyone; the path to true happiness is being independent of the good opinion of other people. We worry too much about what other people think of us. People will always judge us regardless of what we do or say. On my mindset courses I regularly say to people about public speaking and trying to please the whole audience is pointless, with the best will in the world only 80% will like you and if the other 20% liked you then another 20% probably wouldn’t like you just because the other 20% did! If you wake up every day with a good heart, the intention of helping other people and doing no bad, then that’s the way to go. People can only judge you by their standards, and who says their standards are right?
  • Living in the past; What is done is done, you cannot change the past dwelling on things that have gone wrong can lead to depression and all sorts of other mental illness. Let it go, wasting today think about things that you have no control over truly is MAD. Put an elastic band around your wrist, and every time you have a negative thought about the past, ping the band and replace the negative event with three positive events from your memory banks. I’m sure you have loads of happy memories if you choose to find them.
  • Future pacing; Most things that people worry about happening NEVER do! Putting a negative outcome on an imagined future event is not going to serve you well at all. This again is a question of programming your brain to pick out the positive that might happen rather than the negative. Use the elastic band trick. You will be surprised how quickly things change and how much better you will feel, and you’ll live longer! Putting a negative outcome on a future event will raise your stress levels immensely, so ask yourself how is thinking like this serving you?
  • Now is a Present; Appreciate where you are and what you are doing! People keep telling me that time is going quicker; no its not! They are just so wrapped up in the future or the past and just not paying attention to NOW! Start being aware of where you are and what you’re doing rather than racing through time to get to the next thing that is happening in your life. Love and appreciate every minute of your life, if you’re struggling with this concept then read this book!
  • Blame; Removing blame form your life and taking complete responsibility for you and your actions will be a major step towards happiness. Blaming others, circumstance or yourself serves absolutely no purpose other than to absolve yourself from responsibility for YOUR LIFE! Life is very simple if you choose it to be…. Cause and effect, sow and reap! Use the elastic band again and flick it every time you finding blame entering your thoughts or coming out of your mouth!

Now whether the young man in question will actually try and apply any of these universal truths or not is another matter or will he turn out to be another person that just moans and complains about how hard life is?
How about you, will you try all of these things for a month? If you do, please let me know how you feel?

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The Power of Branding!

An interesting thing happened to me while I was on holiday recently that reminded me about the importance and power of branding! This is often something that is under valued by small business owners.

Last year I had some sloppy tee shirts made and supplied by my favourite branded workwear company for me to wear on holiday. I had my #FlipFlopPsycho logo plastered all over the front and back so that it was very easily seen, excellent attire for the beach and pool!

Two days into the holiday and we are in a lovely walled garden restaurant in Cefalu town centre, Sarah and I have sat down and enjoying a nice glass of Sicilian red when I’ve noticed this couple on a table in the corner keep looking over at us… I thought I had grown horns or something.

After we had finished our meal and was just ordering a coffee the man on the other table walked over to us and said, “Excuse me but are you Ash Lawrence?” Now then, I realise I am quite well known in Kent but in Sicily, really? I tentatively replied with a “Yes, why?” He said “I saw you walking on the beach a couple of days ago and wondered what #FlipFlopPsycho was? I saw the logo on your tee shirt so looked it up on google and found out all about you!”

If you were one of my clients, you would know that I bang on about engaging with people as you never know where that journey might go, so with that in mind I asked him what he thought about what I did? He asked if I could answer him a couple of questions about his business if he bought us a bottle of wine. Oh well, fair exchange is no robbery!!

An hour later and more than a couple of glasses of an excellent red, with him and his wife we agreed to meet back in the UK.

Some important lessons with this story…

1 – The Power of Branding. The power of branding is when you are able to take your brand to a level that anyone can easily identify it. That’s when your marketing and advertising campaigns have succeeded. This is one of the benefits of a strong brand.

2 – We are always networking. We are always networking and we get what we network for. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing, there are opportunities to meet people and engage in a conversation.

3 – You must ENGAGE! If you don’t engage with people either face to face or on social media how are you going to start a journey of discovery with that person? What’s the worse that could happen? Generally the people that get on in life are the great communicators, so just give it a go and ENGAGE!

4 – Positive social proof. Having testimonials on your social media that others can see is a great way to get your reputation out there! A lot of people are afraid to ask for recommendations from people that they have worked with. ASK THEM! If people can see that you are visible and effective then it speaks volumes about you.

Back to the man in question… We met for lunch at St Pancras station and agreed that I would go in and meet his directors, which I did and he has now signed a two year deal for me to work in his business as non-exec director.

All this from a sloppy tee shirt and a #FlipFlopPsycho logo!

Thank you Carrie Stay from Clockwork Moggy for the logo and Rachel Cowell from JustSo branded clothing and workwear for the Tee’s.

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Reticular Activation System!

Our brains are incredibly complex. We can sift through billions of bits of data at any given time. And somehow, so we don’t short circuit, we have to organise that information. The Reticular Activating System helps with that.

The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a bundle of nerves at our brainstem that filters out unnecessary information so the important stuff gets through. The RAS is the reason you learn a new word and then start hearing it everywhere. It’s why you can tune out a crowd full of talking people, yet immediately snap to attention when someone says your name or something that at least sounds like it.

Your RAS takes what you focus on and creates a filter for it. It then sifts through the data and presents only the pieces that are important to you. All of this happens without you noticing, of course. The RAS programs itself to work in your favour without you actively doing anything. In the same way, the RAS seeks information that validates your beliefs. It filters the world through the parameters you give it, and your beliefs shape those parameters.

If you think you are bad at giving speeches, you probably will be. If you believe you work efficiently, you most likely do. The RAS helps you see what you want to see and in doing so, influences your actions. Psychologists believe that you can train your RAS by taking your subconscious thoughts and marrying them to your conscious thoughts. They call it “setting your intent.” This basically means that if you focus hard on your goals, your RAS will reveal the people, information and opportunities that help you achieve them.

If you care about positivity, for example, you will become more aware of and seek positivity. If you really want a new yellow car and set your intent on getting one, you’ll tune in to the right information that helps you do that and all you will see is yellow cars. (Don’t think about yellow cars!)

When you look at it this way, The Law of Attraction doesn’t seem so mystical. Focus on the bad things and you will invite negativity into your life. Focus on the good things and they will come to you, because your brain is seeking them out. It’s not magic, it’s your Reticular Activating System influencing the world you see around you.

There are many  ways to train your RAS to get what you want, and I find this method to be the most practical:

1 – First, think of the goal or situation you want to influence.

2 – Now think about the experience or result you want to reach in regards to that goal/situation.

3 – Create a mental movie of how you picture that goal/situation ideally turning out in the future. Notice the sounds, conversations, visuals and details of that mental movie. Replay it often in your head.

Of course, in reality these things aren’t as easy as they sound, and I do believe that our Reticular Activating System (RAS) can be trained. It’s about visualising what we want, and then letting our subconscious and conscious work together to make it happen.

The idea is: If I can hear my own name in a crowd of thousands, can I also tune my brain to focus and attract the things that matter to me? I’m fairly certain I can. I have to continually refocus and remind my brain what matters and what doesn’t.

If we set our intent and refocus, though, our RAS might help us get what we want. Our brains look out for our best interests. Our RAS is filtering through billions of pieces of data so we can see and hear and be what we want to be.

Be careful what you wish for!

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Four things not to say to yourself!

We all know how to speak and communicate to each other, although the results of our communication are not always what we intended! The way we talk to ourselves, our internal voice and language patterns are so important to the results we get in life.

Below are four things that you most definitely shouldn’t say to yourself!

1 – “I do not have enough to be positive and grateful.”

Some days you’ll find diamonds and some days all you’ll see is coal. However, every day is a golden opportunity to learn, practice gratitude, and positively impact the world around you.

Do not ask for instant fulfilment in your life, but for patience to accept your current frustrations. Do not ask for perfection in all you do, but for the wisdom to not repeat past mistakes.

Do not ask for more before saying, “THANK YOU” for everything you have already received.

And remember, everything in life is temporary. So if things are good, enjoy it. It won’t last forever. If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either. Just because life isn’t stress-free right now, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh.

Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile. The trick is to be grateful when your mood is high and graceful when it is low.

2 – “My life should be easier and free of discomfort.”

Great challenges make life interesting; overcoming them makes life meaningful. It’s how you deal with failure and discomfort that determines your level of success and happiness. Laugh at your mistakes and learn from them. Joke about your troubles and gather strength from them. Have fun with the challenges you face and then conquer them.

Emotional discomfort in life, when accepted, rises, crests and crashes in a series of waves. Each wave washes an old layer of you away and deposits treasures you never expected to find. Out goes inexperience, in comes awareness; out goes frustration, in comes resilience; out goes hatred, in comes kindness.

No one would say these waves of emotional experience are easy to ride, but the rhythm of emotional discomfort that you learn to tolerate while doing so is natural, helpful and prevalent. The discomfort eventually leaves you stronger and healthier than it found you.

3 – “I can’t forgive them.”

Forgiveness is a promise. When you forgive someone you are making a promise not to hold the unchangeable past against your present self. Forgiveness doesn’t mean what happened was completely excusable, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that person should still be welcome in your life.

It simply means you have made peace with the pain, and are ready to let it go and move on with your life.
Forgiveness has nothing to do with freeing a criminal of his or her crime. It has everything to do with freeing yourself of the burden of being a victim – letting go of the pain and transforming yourself from victim to victor.

4 –  “I am alone.”

You can’t make it through on your own. None of us can. That’s why, thank goodness, you are never as alone as you sometimes feel. So many of us are fighting the same exact battle alongside you. You may feel alone sometimes, but you are not alone in being alone.

To lose sleep worrying about a loved one. To have trouble picking yourself up after someone lets you down. To feel rejected because someone didn’t care about you enough to stay. To be afraid to try something new for fear you may fail. None of this means you’re weird or dysfunctional. It just means you’re human, and that you need a little time to regroup and re-calibrate yourself.

No matter how embarrassed or pathetic you feel about your own situation, there are others out there experiencing the same emotions. When you hear yourself say, “I am all alone,‚Äù it’s just your mind trying to sell you a lie. There’s always someone who can relate to you. Perhaps you can’t immediately talk to them, but they are out there, and that’s all you need to know right now.

Next steps…

If I eavesdropped on your self-talk, would I hear statements that empower happiness, or statements that refute it? The next time you decide to unclutter your life and clean up your space, start with your intellectual space by clearing out the old lies and negative self-talk you often recite to yourself.

So there are four things you shouldn’t say to yourself, now what I challenge you to do is to replace these four negative thoughts with twelve positive statements. (Three each one) Please let me know how you get on!

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