My But is Getting In The Way

Have you seen the scene in the movie Sing where the three rabbits are singing ‘Oh my God, look at her butt’, this was the highlight for my youngest son! There is a lot of talk about butts, and bottoms at the moment in our house. Then it dawned on me how much I use the word BUT – ‘It was a great meeting but….’, ‘I love the idea but..’, ‘we love being back in the UK but…’.

Any positive message is lost as soon as the word BUT is uttered. In fact, you forget what comes before the but - the but becomes the focal point and what follows is negative.

So, I’ve started to replace the word BUT with AND.

It isn’t easy, in fact over the last couple of weeks what I’m noticing is when I say BUT, my brain then remembers I am trying to say AND, and then I end up saying Bollocks!

And what I’m noticing is, when I do say AND instead of BUT, the impact is noticeable. I don’t feel the negativity, or the drop in the conversation.  

Why am I bothering?

Well I was part of a meeting recently when some research from Stanford University was mentioned. And how making changes such as replacing BUT with AND, and introducing ‘WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THAT IDEA, AND’ instead of our natural tendency to find fault in an idea, has a huge impact on our positivity and those around us, and our ability to create new ideas and new ways of thinking about a situation.

Give it a go, replace BUT with AND, and next time you are in a meeting with someone stretch yourself to say ‘What I like about that idea is…..and…’, and if all else fails say bollocks, it will confuse your audience!

sally powell
I'll meet you at a different Bar

Standing on tiptoes can you reach it with your finger tips? Or is it a couple of metres above you? Can you even see where you've set it, or is it too far away?

How high have you set the bar for yourself?

I don't know about you, but it doesn't feel that fun or motivating to set the bar where I'm never going to be able to reach it. Yes there is being ambitious and striving for more and setting new goals to challenge ourselves, but living every day with a bar that you can't reach. Is that a great life? Is that what you want for yourself, would you want that for others, for your kids?

"It's because I'm a perfectionist". 

I hear this a lot,

"How's that working out for you?"

"Not so great, it's exhausting, I can't ever really succeed, I beat myself up for not doing enough". 

Sound familiar? 

Striving for perfection, striving to reach that unreachable bar, it's a bugger. It's like playing a game where you can never win, and it's also a game where you have created many of the rules. 

So many of us are playing this game. Striving to be perfect, logically we know it doesn't make sense and yet we still do it, and we start to expect these standards of others, of our loved ones. 

Perfection is an impossible goal. There’s always something we could be better at. Fail to realise this and our drive to be perfect will always rule our life – probably at a cost to relationships, our creativity and our happiness. 

I've decided to back away from it. No I'm not backing away, I've dismantled the bar of trying to be perfect, it's not working for me anymore! Instead I'll just keep exploring, dreaming, failing, acting and making it up as I go along....that's where the fun is! 

Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you do, and fix it along the way...  

sally powell
My four year old came home in a police car

One morning last week, around 6:30am, the police were standing at the front door with our four-year old son. He had climbed out the living room window, in his pyjamas, bare foot, and gone for a walk, hoping to find the toy shop. I can only presume he was sleep walking. The rest of us were happily in our beds, none the wiser that he had left the house!

This is the most surreal thing that has ever happened to us, even to think about it now makes me shiver. We are so grateful for the bus driver who spotted our son in his black and white skeleton pyjamas; so grateful for the policemen who drove him home and gave him a scarf to keep him warm; so grateful for the database that meant he was brought home quickly with only a first name and a birthday to search by; and so grateful that only a couple of people asked why the window wasn’t locked!

In the days before and after, I feel like everything I read and listen to has contained a message about gratitude. Tony Robbins morning rituals on gratitude; Brene Brown on joy and gratitude; the science behind gratitude; the gratitude practised in Robin Sharma’s book The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, and so on.

The reason he starts his day with gratitude, Robbins explains, is because of its ability to overpower the dangerous emotions that can sidetrack us.

“The two emotions that mess us up the most are fear and anger, and you can’t be grateful and fearful simultaneously. They don’t go together,” Robbins says. “And you can’t be angry and grateful simultaneously.”

There have been fleeting moments when I have let fear and guilt take over, since our son’s ‘trip to the toy shop’, but I have caught them in time and I think it has much to do with a conscious effort to practice gratitude.

It’s too easy to let ourselves be drawn into fear, and ‘what ifs’, rather than focus on how grateful we are for positive events which happen to us every day. I don’t believe you need to download a gratitude app, or buy a gratitude diary, just add a structure or reminder to your day to start practising, if you don’t already.

I’m also grateful that he didn’t find the toy shop, he would have been very disappointed to find it closed!

sally powell
Somewhere between the Dark Side and Yoda

Being a planner, an achiever, a doer, can serve many people well but it also has a dark side. It makes it difficult to turn off the mind, the internal chatter, the to-do list, and just be still. I'm slowly learning to become a human being more than a human doing.

I recently returned from a Leadership program, seven days in Spain with 20 amazing people from around the world, a break from family and work, and an opportunity it turned out to explore being.

Such a simple word being - to be, to be present, to be in the moment, and yet why is being so difficult? Is it the habit we are in of constantly doing - googling ideas for holidays, worrying about next Fridays presentation, writing another to-do list, checking Facebook. That if I'm not doing, I'm lazy, not achieving, that stillness feels uncomfortable.

What I'm learning to appreciate about the moments of being still, when I focus only on the breathe going in and out, is that for me it's when space really begins to open up, that I feel a sense of relief, that I can really tune in. It turns out the stillness is always there, it just takes being to realise it.

I am no expert in being still but I know what it's like to be a beginner at something, so here are a few tips:

  1. Schedule a time everyday, in a place where you won't be disturbed, for 10 minutes to just be.  
  2. Sit down, close your eyes and focus only on your breathe. If you need help there are some great apps - Calm, Headspace or just a timer on your phone will do. Sometimes 10 minutes whizzes by, other times it can drag!
  3. Just start, that's the most important thing. Thoughts will come up, that to-do list will flash in front of you, don't judge yourself, just focus on the breathe and be still. 

It takes around 30 days for habits to stick, and if you're telling yourself you haven't got 10 minutes to set aside for you, then I don't believe you!

This simple routine is now part of my life, it's too important not to do. If you have read this far then give it a go. Step away from the dark side and take a step closer towards the stillness of Yoda (...even the first word in the latest Star Wars trailer is Breathe!)

Learning how to be still, to be really still and let life happen, that stillness becomes a radiance (Morgan Freeman).

sally powellComment
Rules are meant to be broken

How big is your rule book? Are you even aware you have one?

Rules about work, relationships, money, where you live. Our rules are set very early on in life, influenced by our parents, schools, church, friendships, and by fear of what's expected, what's considered 'normal' or acceptable. Rules limit us. To recognise our rules, let alone change them can seem extremely challenging, perhaps impossible, until we try.

I can't sing, I could never run my own business, I'm a team player not a leader, I'll never meet anyone who accepts me, I can't do that I'm not brave enough, I can't change I've been doing this for too long.

Rules, and limits, on your life.

One of my clients said she would like to rewrite her rule book, so I challenged her to do just that. With a blank piece of paper in front of you, what would you choose in life, who would you choose to spend time with, how would work be structured in your life, what would you 'subscribe' to, what would you create?

Your get to choose, to create, and ultimately lead it. Are you up for the challenge?

Explore, Dream, Act

sally powellComment
Zombies, chimps and headmistresses

You are lazy, other people get in at 7, you'll never get promoted with that attitude. Yes have the extra latte, but your trousers look tight, that's 500 calories. You're buying another self-help book, it wont help you. Don't apply, this job is fine, you won't get an interview anyway, you don't have 500 contacts on Linkedin, the market's flat. Remember you messed up the last interview, it will be the same this time, there's no point trying, you'll just fail again.

This is the chimp, the gremlin, or the zombie as some of my clients call it. You wouldn't choose the chimp as your friend, it's a bully, looking out for itself so as to control you and your current status quo. Chimps love the status quo, they love to constantly remind you of past experiences and keep you in fear of moving forward. But what the chimp doesn't want you to know, is he is tamable, but first you have to notice him.

Simply notice.....what does he say? .......when does he show up?

Can you see that he's not you, he's separate from you. This is key. 

After a while my clients start to get a sense of what their chimp looks like, their personality. Clients say things like, it's a short fat man called Eric with a whiny voice telling me to stop talking in meetings or mine.... a headmistress, a Miss Trunchball from Matilda, who scrunches up her face and starts tutting just before I do something brave or different (she does not like this blog).

Once you have a sense of the chimp, listen to what it says. There is a tiny bit of truth or knowledge in what it says. I mean tiny, 2% tiny, one chocolate flake on your cappuccino tiny. What is the 2%? Listen to it, then thank your chimp and do what you need to do with it! One of my clients last week put hers on a slow boat to Greenland. 

You will never get rid of your chimp, in fact they get louder with change, but you will be able to start to laugh at them or even grow fond of them. Fortunately chimps are portable, which means they can be put back in their box!

Two great reads are The Chimp Paradox, and Taming your Gremlin, and if yours is saying 'what another self-help book?', then it's time to get a coach. Get in touch!

sally powell
Gold bars

Imagine yourself standing in a room surrounded by your own gold bars, piles and piles of them, proper James Bond gold bullion. Do you feel successful in this room?

So many of us are striving for success yet we haven't stopped to think about what success means to us, not what it means to our parents, or our boss, or partner, but to you. What does success feel like, what colour is it, where does it show up in you, what does it make possible every day?

Perhaps success is being proud of what you do, creating your own path, connecting with your kids, or appreciating the big and small wins everyday. 

Go on, allow yourself time and space to answer the question - what does success mean to me? Only then will you know what you're aiming for. 

sally powellComment
We're not fixed, we're works in progress

We're not fixed from cradle to grave, we are works in progress. Physically we are constantly changing, what about our dreams, our thoughts, our perspectives.   

What's changing for you, what's stuck, what aren't you saying yes to? If you gave this chapter in your life a name, what would it be? What do you like about this chapter, what's the energy like, what is it time to say goodbye to? ......what's your next chapter going to be called? 

Life is constantly changing. What's the change you want to see?

sally powellComment
Create some space

When I start coaching a new client I encourage them to clear a space. Declutter a draw, empty the car boot, sort out the desk drawer. This simple process sends out a clear message that you are creating space for something new in your life - a new opportunity, a new way of thinking, a new perspective on an old problem.

It never fails to amaze me of the impact this small step has on people, try it, you might surprise yourself.

Spark Joy by Marie Kono, is a wonderful book for those that are inspired to declutter their homes and offices, and for those that follow its principles it can have a powerful effect on what you allow space for in all aspects of your life – relationships, career, money, etc….


sally powellComment
What are we all so afraid of?

I recently ran a coaching workshop for women and started with a simple icebreaker. Go up to someone in the group, tell them your name and what your dream is, then the other person does the same. There is no need to respond, there's no commentary, it's simply an opportunity to say your dream aloud to someone who is listening. Then move on to someone else, repeat, repeat.

There was a look of horror from many in the room when they heard this was the ice breaker. Some silent murmurings of 'I don't have any dreams'. With a bit of peer pressure everyone went for it and very quickly faces opened up and smiles and laughs were forthcoming as wonderful women shared dreams of 'moving nearer to the sea', 'becoming a carpenter', 'starting a school', 'getting a dog', 'starting my own business'. Wonderful, honest, beautiful dreams.

And yet what is so daunting about saying it out loud? What are we all so afraid of? ......."what if it doesn't come true, what if I look stupid, what if I look too arrogant, too big for my boots, what if my dream is too small, too unimaginative, what if someone else's dream is better?!" And on and on goes the inner critic, our own inner critic, the one we feed and water every day! Yet when those women shared their dreams, put a voice to them, started to feel them, they all took one step closer to making their dreams a reality. It starts with not being afraid to voice it.

 What's your dream?

sally powell