As someone who coaches sports men and women, in terms of their mindset, I am always interested to see what impact something can have mentally in the way they play. Whether they are playing an individual sport like snooker or golf, or as part of a team as in rugby or cricket, a shift in mindset can bring about a huge change. 

We're big fans of rugby (amongst other sports) in our house, supporting England of course, so love this time of year with the Six Nations tournament taking place. I was fascinated to hear that Eddie Jones had changed the way in which he referred to his players who were on the bench at the beginning of a game. In a team such players are usually referred to as 'substitutes' which implies that they are not the best in the team but 'a deputy, a proxy, someone to use instead of another' (Chambers English dictionary) as and when the need arises with no particular role to play.

Eddie Jones has done something that on the surface may appear to be very small but in reality has had an enormous impact on the whole of the team. He refers to the players on the bench at the beginning of the game as 'finishers. A finisher is 'a person who completes or perfects'. Why has this had an impact? Well, suddenly these players are very much part of the team, they have a specific role, an important role to play in the game. They now know, as do the starting players, that they will be brought on and relied on to finish what the rest of the team have started. Interestingly it also has an impact on the opposing team, implying that the England team have a strong squad of players some simply waiting to come and 'finish them off' at the end of a match. 

A great example of how changing one word can change the attitude and mindset of not only a player but a whole team. And if one word can have such an impact on how someone feels imagine what could happen if a lot more words were 'substituted'?  

Posted on Mar 15, 2017 - Posted in Sport
Back in July 2016 the chief executive of the European Tour stated: "...golf must embrace new formats" and suggested that 6 hole tournaments must be embraced by the golfing community. Golf has to be "...more open to letting the youth actually participate".

His statement was followed this week with the announcement from the R & A and the USGA that new rules for the game of golf are scheduled to be implemented in 2019. The idea behind them is that they want to make a game of golf quicker with simpler rules. They want the game to appeal to more people, younger people and attract people back onto golf courses. 

Other sports that have been around for a very long time have added new formats, versions of the game: cricket with Twenty20 and snooker with One-frame Shoot-out. Not only have the formats changed but so has the way in which the spectators participate: shouting out, music, shot clocks and PA announcements all aimed to increase the 'noise'. Even a change in dress code is being allowed. 

Is this a sign of the times that even our leisure activities need to speed up? Everything in our lives must happen quicker and faster. When we want something we want it NOW, instantly, we're not prepared to wait. We no longer seem to have the ability to wait, to ponder, 'to smell the roses'. Boredom seems to be banned, not allowed, a thing of the past particularly in our free time (well if you can call it free time nowadays). We must fill every second, every moment with something... anything! If we're not engaged in a conversation out comes the smart phone to 'connect us' to the wider world, afraid we are missing something. I remember when I was younger (I'm sounding like my grandfather now, let alone my mother!) and we went to someone's house or they came to ours, having to just sit and listen to adults talking, being bored - which actually meant having time to think, space in my brain to slow down, to create, to imagine and not worry about what I was missing out on.

Scientific research is showing that our attention spans are actually decreasing as opposed to increasing. So it's comes as no surprise that everything in our lives must happen quicker and faster. When we want something we want it NOW, instantly! We get anxious and stressed when things don't happen straight away and interestingly we also get anxious and stressed because things happen straight away, meaning we struggle to or can't keep up. We send a text and expect an immediate response, when we don't get it we start worrying: did I say the right thing? have I upset them? don't they like me? has something happened to them? Worry, worry, worry - whole days are spent worrying, getting stressed and anxious because we are trying to catch up with a world that WE are actually making go faster and faster. 

Should we be surprised that anxiety, stress and depression along with a whole range of mental health issues are on the increase at a younger and younger age? Should we be surprised that people in corporate life are getting burnt out because of the hours they have to work just to "keep on top of their emails"? When we're the ones sending them!We're the ones creating this stressed out, ever faster-paced world. But don't worry, it's OK, we can relax by watching or participating in a game of golf. 

Phew...thank goodness for that. 

Just as long as it's quick, keeps my interest for every second and doesn't take up too much time!

Posted on Mar 03, 2017 - Posted in Lifestyle
I was on a train travelling into London thinking about the course I was planning to run at Brooklands Museum in Weybridge, to help people overcome their fear of flying. I started pondering on what makes people afraid of flying, travelling on trains, the underground etc. and it lead me to think back about my experiences of flying and why I wasn't afraid. 

I remember my very first flight, it was on a school skiing holiday when I was 14 years old. It never occurred to me to be afraid. Like many others I'd never flown before as it wasn't very common back in the early 1970's but I remember I was so excited to climb up the rear steps (which seem to come out of the tail) into the aircraft. I guess I didn't overthink it, I didn't have lots of negative stories or images to scare me. I thought nothing of it. I was so excited with butterflies in my stomach. I loved the flight out and the one back.

I never had the chance to fly again until I applied and was accepted to join Laker Airways as a member of their cabin crew. I was 20 years old. What on earth was I thinking?! It never occurred to me when I applied and accepted the job that having only done 2 flights I wouldn't like it or I'd be afraid.

The next flight I took was to Los Angeles via Bangor, Maine (aircraft couldn't get there in one hop in those days!) as a member of cabin crew. I had learnt all about the things I needed to just in case something went wrong: we practiced evacuating the aircraft, jumped down slides, fought fires, wore breathing apparatus, up-righted life rafts and much more. Did this new found knowledge about what could happen put me off? Did it make me afraid of flying? No not at all.

When I was crew I never really understood why people had a fear of flying or how crippling it could be. Some people manage to fly but are anxious and fearful throughout whilst for others the fear is so intense they can't even look at the photo of an aircraft let alone board a flight or they used to fly with no problem but have now become anxious. So what is going? What makes me and everyone else that happily board aircraft different to those who have a fear? The answer is very simple, in basic terms, the difference is in what we are thinking, what we are imagining is going to happen, the story we are telling ourselves. The brain will then react accordingly: activating the appropriate parts, releasing the necessary chemicals that in turn prepare us physiologically to respond - either to relax and enjoy the flight or prepare for danger. 

What do you need to do to overcome your fear? ANY fear? Again the answer appears to be very simple - change your thoughts, think differently. But being able to do it is the interesting part! 

For further details on my half-day courses at Brooklands Museum go to /course-at-brooklands-museum/
Posted on Feb 23, 2017 - Posted in Lifestyle
I was coaching a client recently and they wanted to be more confident socially. They had bags of confidence at work and having left a job they hated had started their own business. To look at them you would be surprised to hear that socially they lacked a huge amount of confidence and avoided invites from friends as a result. 

The first couple of things I ask clients who want more confidence is "what does confidence look, sound and feel like to you?" And "If I could give you all the confidence you want right here and now would you take it?" It is amazing how many clients struggle to define what  'confidence'  means to them and how many actually start to give me reasons as to why they wouldn't want me to give them 'all the confidence' right away. They absolutely know that having more confidence is the answer to what they need to do, so what are the fears stopping them from becoming more confident?

There seems to be a range of fears that prevent people from being more confident from things like: 

-  I'll become this whole other person who can do anything and that's scary! 
-  I'm not sure I'll like the new confident me. 
-  Will my friends still like me?
-  Will it affect the relationship I have with my partner? 

to 

-  I won't have an excuse not to do it (whatever that happens to be) then, will I?
-  I won't be able to tell myself the same story in my head as to why I am where I am?
-  I won't be able to blame my lack of confidence for holding me back.

So is it more confidence that you want or do you find yourself resisting any opportunity to become more confident? If the latter is the case then more questions need to be asked.

Earlier this year I was talking to my friend Janey Holliday, who runs an online business  http://makingthingseasy.com for women, about people wanting to be more confident. As a result we decided to run a 5 week online "Confidence" course and interestingly enough there are some women who want more confidence in certain areas of their lives but are actually resisting the opportunity to find out how to get it. The question is: what exactly is it that they fear will happen to them, their lives, the people around them, when they become more confident? 
Posted on Nov 06, 2015 - Posted in Uncategorised
How many things do we start to succeed at in life only to then self-sabotage our efforts? One of the most common examples would be people on a diet who start to lose weight, feel better about their achievements and then, for what appears to be no reason, go and put all the weight back on again. What makes us self-sabotage our successes in life?

We start developing beliefs both positive and negative about ourselves at an early age from the things people close to us say. We then look for evidence to support the belief, ignoring any evidence that contradicts it. A negative belief is kept going or supported by our own inner critical voice. An example would be that as you were growing up you were constantly told, "You'll never succeed you can't stick to anything!" We'll start to generalise this belief to include everything we do in life including losing weight. The result is that as we start to control our eating habits and see that we are losing weight - contrary to our belief about ourselves - our inner critical voice starts telling us "Why bother? You'll never succeed, might as well eat that cake/crisps/chocolate". We've self- sabotaged our chances of succeeding.

Often there is an underlying fear or deeper belief that brings about the self sabotage. The deeper belief can take some work to uncover and the question I work through with my clients is, "What belief about yourself do you have which must be true for you, that makes the self sabotaging behaviour to true?" For example: your belief is all chubby / overweight people are popular and funny, therefore to make that belief true and for you to still have lots of friends and be popular you must stay chubby / overweight. The deeper fear might be that if you lose the weight you won't be funny and therefore people won't like you as much so you won't have as many friends. The inner critical voice will do all it can to support your belief and therefore self-sabotage your efforts.

Other examples of deeper level beliefs behind self-sabotage are: that you don't deserve to succeed, be thin, be loved, be happy, have a good job. Once you work on challenging and changing those beliefs: where did they come from? Did you create them to fit a certain situation / event? Are they still relevant today? It becomes much easier to stop self-sabotaging your successes.

Focusing on the negatives around what you want to achieve create a build up of frustration, which gives way to the inner critical voice, and you give up. Start mentally celebrating and focusing on the small successes and achievements around your goal, it's far more motivating and will quieten that critical voice! 

If you would like to know more about self sabotage, or want help to overcome your emotional eating, I have linked up with Janey Holliday, lifestyle mentor and health coach. We are running an online course to help people tackle their Emotional Eating. For further information click here: http://makingthingseasy.com/project/emotionaleating/.
Posted on Sep 08, 2015 - Posted in Lifestyle