The Confidence Guy

Wired into Truly Confident Living

Category: ‘Goals & productivity’

Jun 21

GoallessYou know the story about the boy in the marching band?

The whole band are marching together with magnificent style and timing, apart from this one boy who’s the only one marching out of step.  His mother, beaming with pride, proceeds to tell everyone she knows how he was the only one in the whole band who was marching in step.

That’s kind of how I’ve felt ever since I trained as a coach back in 2002.  That training was focused on using goals in order to drive personal development and personal change, and even back then something wasn’t sitting right.

It was around 3 years later that I dumped that goal-setting approach and discovered a better way of changing things; a way that actually worked.

I’ve been vocal right here on the blog about how I don’t think goals are all they’re cracked up to be and how they bring along more problems than they solve.  And I thought I was the only one, until Leo Babauta extolled the exact same philosophy during the World Domination Summit.

So here are 5 posts from the archives that tell you exactly why I take issue with traditional goal-setting and what I suggest instead.

  1. Having Goals Doesn’t Work and the Swedish Know It
  2. Feeling Blue – Is ‘Living Up to Your Potential’ BS?
  3. Goal Setting (is) for Dummies
  4. How to Know Where You Want to Go, and How to Get There With Confidence
  5. The No-Goal Guide to an Extraordinary 2011

How about you – can you picture your life without goals? Or do you disagree with me and think that goals are the only way to make real progress?

Apr 21

BBC: Cut the CrapA lot of people will look at this blog and think it’s piled to the rafters with nonsense.  Others will think it’s hitting nails on heads all over the place.  If you’re in the former group then let’s say cheerio right now and go our separate ways.  If you’re in the latter group, hi *waving*.  I’m good with both.

To be fair, there is some stuff on here that I think is nonsense, just like there’s a lot of stuff out there in the world that I think is nonsense too.  Organised religion.  The idea that Law of Attraction will cure my ME.  The 4 hour body.  The heaps of maverick entrepreneurs telling you how to launch your own business online and make heaps of money.  People with an endearably inaccurate view of what they do.  Self-appointed “mavens”.  Katie Price.  The list goes on.

Nonsense = No Sense

Confidence requires honesty with yourself, and if you’re spinning yourself a heap of nonsense – and falling for it – it becomes easy to self-validate by spinning that nonsense to others.

We all see things that make no sense, some easier to spot than others.  Normally I just kinda roll my eyes and move on, but in a fit of cantankerousness here’s some of the crap that I think needs to be cut.

You gotta know where you’re lying to yourself.
If you’re telling yourself a story that everything’s swell when in fact things are falling apart, you gotta call it and get real.  We all lie to ourselves about certain things – eating this extra piece of pie doesn’t mean I’m breaking the diet. I’ll just hang on for a few more months to see if things turn around. It’s the wrong time to make my move. I really do want to be with them.  Sometimes it’s fairly harmless, but other times it’s immensely damaging.  I lied to myself about my spending habits for several years, and consequently I’m encumbered with huge debts.  I lied to myself about a career that was destroying me, and was surprised when it destroyed me.

You gotta know if you’re wasting time or treading water. Similar in some ways to lying to yourself, wasting time and treading water is the last resort of the terminally indecisive.  Putting off a decision or deciding to wait a bit longer to make a decision IS making a decision.  Don’t fool yourself that it’s a positive choice, it isn’t.  There is no sideways in life.

You gotta know if you’re listening to assholes.
There are a lot of people who will say what you want to hear.  There are a lot of people who will offer the earth, take your money and deliver dirt.  Do we really need any more people telling us how to really make six figures online?  Do we really need any more people peddling self-development clap-trap that is more likely to confuse or limit than to clarify or expand?

I’m no font of wisdom and never profess to be.  I’m figuring this all out as I go, and I’d never claim to have all the answers.  My business is based on trust, and if I was to forget that and deliver a message that compromises that or betrays it, then I stray into asshole territory.

So check the messages that you’re taking in.  If you’re only taking in messages that you want to hear or fit with the way you already see things, get real.  There are some genuinely insightful, interesting, expansive and valuable people out there with great messages, great content and great offerings.  Seek those people out.

You gotta know if you’re chasing a lifestyle.
Some people would like you to believe that their lifestyle is one that you should pursue.  They say “Look at what I’ve done, look at how I live my life – don’t you want that too?” and then proceed to lay down how they’ve come to be where they are.

Now this is potentially a tricky one, because learning from other people can clearly be immensely valuable.  My problem with it is when someone goes from sharing insights into their lifestyle and inviting discussion to selling the idea of the lifestyle as a solution (whether it’s location independence, entrepreneurship, working 4 hours a week, becoming a pick-up artist or the latest trend of embracing minimalism).

A lifestyle that works for one person won’t work for another, and while it’s easy to be seduced by what we think a lifestyle will bring us and mean to us it’s the wrong motivation.  Don’t look at the resulting lifestyle, look at the resulting impact of the actions taken and the meaning of that impact – that’s the distinct value.

You gotta know if you’re wrong.
If the whole world is always wrong and you’re always right, one of two things is happening.  Either you’re decades ahead of your time and have reached the very pinnacle of genius, or you’re wrong.

Arranging things in your head so that you’re right does not make you right, and neither does it help you achieve any kind of meaningful success.  There’s tangible value in admitting that you’re wrong; value you’ll never realise if you’re continually caught up in the crap-trap of being right.

What’s so good about being real anyway?

I love fantasy, and part of me is still holding out to marry Uma and live happily ever after on Malibu beach.  We’d have Brangelina over for dinner at the weekend, run along the beach with our dog Brinkley, and spend 2 hours a day showering together (in the interests of cleanliness, of course).

But there’s a big difference between fantasy and reality. Reality can include dreams and ambition – which can sometimes be fuelled or influenced by fantasy – but the point of reality is about taking repeated, meaningful action towards what matters.

The point of reality is that you can put a dent in it.

Same goes for me.  Whatever I do here has to have real value or there’s no point in me doing it.  Everything I write and every product I create has to be able to make shit happen for you, and I’ve got to be confident enough to call it when I’m talking crap and not being real.

I gotta practice what I preach, and this is where you come in.  I need you to remind me when I’m talking nonsense and not getting to the distinct value.  And I need you to do the same with your stuff.

So tell me, where do you think I need to cut the crap?
What are you busy with that you’d be better off without?
What crap do you want to cut?

Jan 30

How Andy Murray Can Get Back up and WinSo Novak Djokovic just beat Andy Murray in straight sets to win the Australian Open for the second time, and ended Andy’s hopes of his first Grand Slam title.

Andy’s gonna be really pissed off.  I mean, really.

The tennis pundits are saying that Andy was out-played and that the tennis he played in the earlier games was streets ahead of the tennis he played in the final.  They’re saying that he’ll be devastated and will be beating himself up for missing out on this Grand Slam win.  Commenting on the quality of his earlier games and his undoubted skill in the game, they wondered if there’s a mental block that plays a role when he comes to a final; something in his head that gets in the way or makes him doubt himself.  I even heard the term “dark thoughts” mentioned a few times.

That’s perhaps a little dramatic, but it does make you wonder. Andy has lost twice before in the finals of the Australian Open, and Djokovic won the title back in 2008.  Before the match, Djokovic even commented that his previous win gave him a mental advantage.

There’s no doubt that the inner game plays a huge role, and it could be that the winner was decided before they even set foot on the court.  But how can Andy pull himself back up?  How can he get himself feeling confident and get back in the game without second-guessing his ability (and capability)?

If I was his confidence coach (and feel free to call me btw), here are a few ideas for how I’d work with him.

  • Be miserable.  Don’t think that you’re not allowed to be upset or to be down, you did lose after all.  It hurts like hell, but pushing those feelings into a box and sitting on the lid just leaves them untended and gives them more power.  You gotta go through to come out the other side, so go ahead, be down.
  • Look at the facts.  You got into a Grand Slam final by playing some bloody awesome tennis.  You’re in the top 5 players in the world.  Go ahead and watch the match back to see how you could have done things differently.  Look for the traps you fell into, look for the moments when you stepped out of playing your best tennis.  Look at the facts, equally, honestly and in open-hearted, non-judgemental acknowledgement.
  • Remember.  Don’t forget why you’re in the game.  You’re here because you get so much from playing.  You’re here because it matters to you.  You’re here because this is how you put your dent in the universe.  Reaffirm your reasons for being in the game, then you’re ready to play.
  • Don’t let what you haven’t done influence what you can do.  So you haven’t won yet.  That’s okay.  In no way does that fact mean that you can’t win.  You didn’t walk until you started walking, and did the simple fact that at one time you couldn’t walk preclude you from walking?  Of course not – break that connection and crack open the possibilities.
  • Rewrite the playbook. Your playbook contains all the strategies that will make you a great player, strategies to counter any obstacles and measurable objectives to track your progress.  Don’t keep on doing things simply because that’s how you’ve been doing them up ‘til now – given everything you’ve learned, be willing to scrap any strategies that aren’t working and put in place new strategies that will work better.
  • Play the next game like it’s the first.  Carry baggage from one game over to the next and you’re encumbered before you’ve even started, so approach each game with a sense of lightness, grace, congruity and even playfulness.  Clear away the clutter in your head, let go of the stuff that weighs you down and play your best game right now, simply because you can.

So how about you?  How do you get back up after you’ve lost?

Jan 01

No Goals HereHappy New Year to ya.

Now that 2011’s here (and just where is my household cleaning robot and hoverboard by the way?) and judging by the volume of articles and tweets I’ve seen, it’s that time time of year when you might be thinking about setting resolutions and goals.

Stop right there!  Put the goal down and slowly step away.  I don’t want any trouble.  That’s it, easy does it now.

See, I haven’t hidden the fact that I’m not a fan of goals or resolutions.  Much of the conventional wisdom about goals just isn’t true, and slowly I think other people are seeing the problems with resolutions and goals and are coming to the same conclusion.

So this year I’m giving you an alternative and a great way to kick things off – a way to an extraordinary 2011 without using goals.  And I’m giving it to you at no cost.

I might get strung up by other coaches for this, but you don’t get something extraordinary by working towards something fuzzy at some point in the future that you think you might want.  You get something extraordinary by getting in the game right now, today, and having that contribute towards something that matters to you.

The link below gives you this approach in a short PDF – just click it to open it up or right click it to save it to your computer.  There are also links in there which will give you more detail on some of the topics if you want to dig a little deeper.

Click here for your free copy of “The No-Goal Guide to an Extraordinary 2011”

Let me know in the comments how you get on – it would be awesome to hear what your 2011 is all about.

Dec 01

StruggleThe brilliant Peter Shallard recently wrote about how frustration and struggle are integral to creativity and business success. To quote the central theme of the article – “To innovate and do something truly worthwhile, we have to struggle.”
I disagree.

Some of this might come down to semantics, but the more I think about it the more I see that struggle is all about wrestling with an endeavour to get a specific outcome that’s frustratingly elusive.  For everything you do, more things conspire to thwart your efforts. It implies suffering, conflict and a refusal to accept things as they are, and it’s frustrating, draining and potentially painful.

But it’s not necessary. Amazing things have certainly happened in the world as a result of struggle and I definitely think that having boundaries does help creativity – but is struggle necessary to achieve something extraordinary?

No.

I Should be Struggling

It could be said that I’m struggling with CFS/ME. There are days when it’s hard to move; days when the brain fog stops me pulling out a coherent thought; days when I’m hurting so much and so dizzy that I feel like throwing up. By anyone’s definition that’s a struggle, particularly as I’ve written a lot about how this has been kicking my ass.

But I’d never say that I’m struggling with it. I’m doing what I can, I’m exploring ways to improve things and I’m smiling and laughing every day. People I work with are amazed to hear that I have CFS/ME at all, and I think that’s down to the fact that I’ve chosen not to struggle with it.

With my health, my business and my freelancing I’ve deliberately asked myself how it can all be easier, and I’ve done what’s necessary to de-struggle it. Why have I done that? 3 reasons.

  1. Because I don’t have the energy to waste on beating against the boundaries in my life.
  2. Because I know that I get better results when I’m at my best, and I’m not at my best when I’m struggling.
  3. Because I can stop fighting with the way things are right now while simultaneously working on changing and improving them.

It won’t come as a surprise to hear that I think confidence makes a difference here.

What would you rather choose?

Confidence allows you not only to choose your behaviour with implicit trust in that behaviour, but it allows you to choose how you think about that behaviour and the context in which it fits.

If I choose to believe that I’m struggling, every action would stem from struggle and what I’m doing loses a sense of fun and capability. But when I’m responding to challenges with a sense of lightness and even playfulness I can think better, innovate better, strategize better and deliver better.

Not only that, real confidence also removes the causal link between achieving a specific result and your level of happiness (substitute satisfaction, fulfilment or success if that works better for you). If I was behaving from day to day with the specific aim of curing myself, I’d be bashing my head against the wall and driving myself loopy.

Instead, my focus isn’t on the outcome but on choosing my experience right now.

This all means that even though something might be intensely difficult, something that might normally be called a “struggle”, you don’t have to struggle with it.

So what do you think? How do you respond to big challenges? Does struggling bring out the best in you, or do you get better results if you’re having fun?

Apr 06

Facing up to your mediocrity?Mediocrity is in your DNA.  It’s in mine too.

I’m okay at a lot of things.  I’m okay at jogging.  I’m okay at budgeting.  I’m okay at maintaining friendships.  I’m okay at cooking.

I’m not so great at more things.  I’m not great at sports (to put it mildly).  I’m not great at dating.  I’m not great at switching off and I just suck at dancing.  There are many, many things that I’ll only ever be average at and many things I’ll never be good at.  But you know what, that’s just fine.

My brain isn’t designed to be great at everything it does, and neither is yours. I don’t let my weaknesses define me and I don’t let them doubt my ability in other areas.

What if the fact that I’m “merely okay” at jogging made me jealous of people who ran past me in the park?  What if being “just okay” at maintaining friendships made me think less of myself when I met someone who has a wide circle of friends that they spend a lot of time nurturing?  What if being “just okay” at cooking meant that I wouldn’t eat out at restaurants because I’d get a complex about the guy in the kitchen who can cook better then me?

If you let low-confidence loose on the things you’re average or weak at you’ll go crazy.

Mediocrity is a part of my life, but it’s not all of my life, and the same goes for you.  You’re beaten the second you think that being average or below average at something makes you less than, and you’ve lost as soon as you equate being mediocre at things with living a mediocre life.

Your brain is designed to be great at certain things and grants you the ability to learn to be great at others.  You’ll only excel at a few things (normally the things you put the most effort into) and so it’s fair to say that the stuff you’re average at will out-number what you’re hands down great at.

The numbers and the ratio don’t matter – I simply don’t let what I’m average or weak at diminish what I’m great at and what I love.

I’m great at connecting with people.  I’m great at empathizing.  I’m great at juggling a whole load of different things at once.  I love laughing.  I love creativity.  Music makes me feel alive.

The things I’m great at make me buzz with life, like someone’s flicked a huge switch to the “on” position.  Those things are where I come alive, but I embrace the things I’m average at and the things I’m great at.  I acknowledge, work on and manage my weaknesses just as I acknowledge, make time for and enjoy what I love.  I have confidence in all of it.

If you don’t make friends with and have confidence in your own mediocrity you’ll never be able to do the same with what makes you come alive.

Jan 12

Dear 2010

Good to have you here.  Sorry for any mess left behind by 2009, who was particularly unruly and seems to have left the place in a right mess.  Seriously, I blame the parents.  Tsk.

Anyway, thanks for reading this letter and there are a couple of things I’d like to talk about.

Before I do that, thanks so much for everything in 2009, particularly for encouraging my sense of humour and finding lots of things for me to laugh at and laugh with.  You might have heard how important laughter is to me, so it would be great if we can keep that going.  Cheers.  I also met a bunch of good people, and you know how much that means to me.  Awesome.

Right, first off I need some help with this coaching thing and the blog.  As things have got busier and my health has worsened, I’ve had less and less energy to spend here and I’ve found it hard to figure out exactly what to do with my coaching business.  The reason I freelance is primarily because it pays well, and secondly because I get to work with some really good people (thanks again).  I want to up my game and take the confidence coaching to a whole other league, but it has to offer me those same things and balance well with my health.

I get such a buzz from seeing people’s confidence grow and their lives grow as a result – it totally rocks and I count myself lucky to be able to do that.  But I want – I need – to do more of it, and in different ways.  What I need is a little clarity and some motivation to get it moving and some sparks of inspiration to look at how I can work together with other people and have bucket loads of fun.  I feel a little stuck with it right now, so if you can help to un-jimmy it that would be grand. Thanks.

Next, I want to fall in love with someone again.  Yeah, I know how that sounds, but in my head it’s all wistful and whimsical like an episode of Ally McBeal.  Look, there’s the Biscuit, walking around in bare feet, summoning the spirit of Barry White.  Leaving Ally to one side, I worked with the awesome Hiro Boga recently and one comment she made is that she had the sense I was “born with a broken heart”.  That kinda rings true.  I’ve been in love three times and each time it was the most exhilarating, painful, awkward, amazing and exciting thing I could imagine.  I want to get the shit kicked out of me by love again, so it would be kinda cool if you could help me to do that, to go beyond flirting to the place where I’m just plain terrified and enjoying every moment.  If they look like Uma Thurman or Brandon Routh that’s even better.

Lastly, and this is the big one, can I have my health back please?

It was last seen early on in 2008 I think, and you can’t really miss it.  Big, bright and bouncy with blue eyes and dimples.  Yeah, that’s it.  If I’m honest I never really knew that I had it, but I’ve really missed it over the last few months.  I’m a little tired of feeling exhausted, the dizzy spells and nausea aren’t my favourite, and having my body ache all the time is certainly something I can do without.  If you can help to get this fixed it’ll be much appreciated.  I’ll tell everyone I know how nice you are, honest I will.

I know you’ll be busy clearing the place up after 2009 left (sheesh) and I’m willing to step up and do my bit, but if you can spare me some time to help me out on these things that would be so cool.  I’ll give you a big hug and bake you a cake to say thanks.

Thanks
Steve

Jan 04

I’ve written many times about how goals and New Years Resolutions don’t work and how setting goals is missing the point.

I’m nothing if not inquisitive, so in the face of other coaches continuing with a goal-focused approach and some folks saying I’m wrong, I decided to take another look.

Turns out, I was right all along.  Well, kind of.

The fact remains that the vast majority of goals and New Year’s resolutions fail, but before I tell you the fool-proof way to use them I want to explain the problems with them.

The problem with goals

  1. The very nature of goals make you look forwards at what’s next, never at what you’ve got right now. They instantly create a gap between where you are and where you want to be, and that makes it easy for a part of you to conclude that where you are right now is a place you don’t want to be, and that you must somehow be “less than” because otherwise you’d already have that goal nailed.
  2. All too often goals are based on what people think they should want, or what they want to want.  This is a sure-fire way of heading down the wrong road or giving yourself more ammo to beat yourself up with.
  3. Goals too-often lack a foundation of meaning and personal relevance.  You’re taking something that doesn’t really mean anything to you and trying to make it happen; sure, you might get an initial burst of motivation that gets you started, but that never lasts.
  4. Goals make you too future-focused and take you out of where you are right now.  Goals put your vision squarely on the future and it’s all to easy to get sucked into planning for what might be rather than noticing what is.
  5. There’s no link between reaching a goal or resolution and happiness. It’s been proven that people who achieve a goal are NO happier than those who don’t set goals or who don’t reach them.
  6. Goal setting can be a handy way for people to maintain the illusion of control.  If you feel like you’re able to plan and control things by setting goals then life’s uncertainties won’t be able to interfere or knock you off track.  Of course, the reality is that there’s little we can actually control and exerting effort in that direction is the definition of struggling.

What’s Needed Instead

  1. Create a mechanism where the perceived gap between you and an end point / goal / objective doesn’t matter.
  2. Have a system that strips away all of the ‘shoulds’, ‘oughts’ and half-hearted ‘wants’.
  3. Use an approach that makes it easy to find what really matters so that everything you do is aligned around the things that have a personal relevance.
  4. Find a way to de-future-fy goals; making sure that where you are right now – this very moment – is the most important thing.
  5. Understand that your happiness is not dependent on getting what you want but that the real gold and real value is in the experience, NOT in the end result.
  6. A way of moving forwards that doesn’t involve struggling or suffering.

So with those needs established I come back to the approach I’ve been using for the last few years.

Games.

The entire, entire point of playing a game is that you get into the game and play it to your best ability. That need and want you have to play a game is something that comes from the inside, something that’s based on what’s important and what matters to you.

And of course you can’t hope to win a game unless you want to play it.  If you win, fantastic, but if you don’t win you learn more about the game and simply become a better player.

You have to get into the flow of playing the game right now, engage with every moment of it, and make a decision to play.  And that’s the level of relevance, meaning, engagement and unstuckness that goals and resolutions simply don’t have.

Here’s a diagram for ya.

Goal setting - this is how it works folks

Looking at the middle box (the one with brand new PurpleArrowTM technology), right at the top is the game you want to play.   If you don’t like the word “game”, use theme or intention instead.

Game
Your game is where you jump in with both feet with what I call inspired participation.  This has to excite you, it has to look, sound, taste and smell amazing to you.  It has to be something you can’t wait to start.  The example I’ve used here is being the world’s best tennis player, but it could be having a $250,000 business, travelling the world, being in the best damn relationship you can imagine or anything else that gets your heart thumping with excitement.

You gotta get in the game to stand a chance of winning

Strategies
Once you have your game you can look at the strategies you can employ to bring your game to life.  This is about creating a roadmap towards winning your game, broad strokes for the kinds of activity that will make you the best player you can be.  In the tennis example it’s nailing your serve, but outside of tennis this could be something like having a social media strategy, building your dating confidence or mastering the inner game.

Objectives & Goals
Underneath that is where the goals or objective fit in.  Once you have your game and strategies sorted you’ll need some specific targets to hit, measurable targets that will stretch you and deliver something concrete.  In the tennis example the objective is to add 10mph to your serve, and why not set an additional objective to hit 95% of serves on target – you can include anything that will help to deliver on one of your strategies.  Create a new, mid-range product for your target customer, go on 1 date per week or master your fear of meeting new people, for example.

Actions
At the bottom level is employing tactics and taking action.  These are the specific things you can do to make that objective or goal happen.  This is about execution; it’s where you actually play the game.  Again, in the tennis example it’s committing to strength training 4 times per week, but this needs to be a specific, achievable action point that you can take away and carry out.

While this might seem fairly rigid it’s actually damn flexible.  You don’t need to sit down and plot all of this out ahead of time, and you can tackle it from any position, as long as you keep in mind all four layers.

Another example
Let’s say that you’ve set a New Years Resolution to go to the gym 3 times per week.  Yawn.  Didn’t you try that last year too? Let me tell you right now, if that’s all you’ve got it won’t work.  This resolution is all about execution; it’s a specific action point for you take away and do and by itself you’ll never see it through.  What’s missing from it is the other 3 levels.

What’s the reason you want to hit the gym 3 times per week?  What’s that?  You want to loose a stone in weight and be able to run for 5 kilometers and still feel ready for more?  Okay, now we’re getting somewhere, you’ve identified a couple of goals and objectives for your action to fit into.

What's your big picture?But where do those goals and objectives fit into the bigger picture?  What strategies are they a part of that add to something amazing?  Well, if you’ve lost that weight and can easily run for 5 kilometers you may well be in your best shape physically.  That’s a strategy right there – “get myself in prime physical shape”.

And then the big one.  What’s the reason you want to be in prime physical shape?  What does that contribute to?  What matters to you that would be helped by being in prime physical shape?  This could be something like running the New York marathon, walking the Inca trail, climbing Kilimanjaro for a charity that has a personal relevance or perhaps changing career to a sports coach.

See how it works?  You can start big or start small, just remember to visit the other layers too.  Also, to aid flexibility the two middle layers – strategies and goals – can be swapped around if it’s easier to work and think that way.  That means that you can define an objective (e.g. to add 10 mph to your serve, move to a company who understand your values, put together a fantastic seminar, etc.) and then figure out the strategies that you need to employ to bring about that objective.  Whichever way works for you is cool.

This is why goal setting is for dummies. Because if that’s all you’re doing you won’t succeed. I’ve run through this stuff pretty quickly because, frankly, I don’t wanna be all preachy and coachy at you.  This, without writing a whole book about it, is how you can get into a game that matters and bring it to life.  This really is how you can make amazing stuff happen in 2010.

Go to it, let me know how you get on and holler if you have any questions.

Apr 20

Susan Boyle - a big surprise and a big voiceIt’s more than likely that you’ve watched Susan Boyle belt out ‘I Dreamed a Dream on Britain’s Got Talent.  Last time I looked that particular film had nearly 35 million views (equivalent to the entire population of Canada) and it’s estimated that Internet-wide the viewing figure is somewhere near 100 million.

I normally don’t watch those shows (honest) but I did happen to catch it on telly, and I’ve watched it on YouTube another 4 times.

There’s something incredibly attractive and affirming about it isn’t there?

Susan kept her amazing voice to herself for 47 years, and somehow decided that now was a good time to let the world see it.  Nobody could argue that she went out onto that stage and was herself, and that made her performance all the more special.

It’s possible that she didn’t have the confidence to do this before now.  It’s possible that she sat on her talent for 47 years simply because she thought she wasn’t good enough, couldn’t do it or that people would laugh.

It’s possible that she was only able to do this now because she’d reached a point in her life where she felt confident enough in herself to share her talent.

I don’t know the lady, so I can’t say.

But she’s made me think differently about something, and I’m not sure I’ve got it cracked yet.

I define a talent as a naturally occurring pattern of thought and behaviour that you can do without thinking.  It just comes to you, like a switch has been flicked to the on position, and it feels great.

Normally I’d say that it’s terrible to hide a talent out of fear of screwing up or a lack of confidence in it.  Hiding a talent is depriving your life and the world of one of the very best parts of yourself and is a sure-fire way to live a regretful life.

As the famous quote goes, “Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.”

I honestly believe that everyone – you included – has a wealth of talents, and finding confidence in them is a truly amazing thing, as Susan Boyle amply demonstrated.

But what’s making me think is this – there’s no rush.  Finding success isn’t a race, you don’t have to sprint to the finishing line.

Susan found confidence to display her talent to the world at age 47, and perhaps it couldn’t have happened sooner.  Perhaps everything in her life led to this point, everything she’s done, everything she’s learned and everything she’s become.

Perhaps everything is perfectly in place now for her to do this, whereas 1, 5, 10, 20 or 30 years ago the component parts just didn’t exist or things just weren’t aligned in the right way.

I’d normally say that you should get to know your talents and use them.  I’d still say that you should get to know what they are, but I’m wondering if I’m wrong in saying that you should use them today.

I’m wondering whether it’s enough to trust that the talent is there, even if you have to wait 47 years for it to come to fruition.

Does it take away from her that she waited 47 years to do this?

No.

Susan will have no regrets about her voice and her talent, because it’s out there and she’s living it.

What do you think?

Jan 01

Happy New Year 2009!Happy New year to you.

Over at Lifehack I just wrote how New Years Resolutions don’t work.

(A big smile and a start-of-2009 “Hi” to you if you’ve just arrived from over there, by the way).

I meant every word in that article, but want to go one step further to tell you how New Years Resolutions are for wimps.

Here’s why.

It’s a cop out.

It’s a way of convincing yourself that you’ve tried to do something positive, when you know full well that you a. don’t want to do it, and b. won’t need to follow through.

It’s an easy way out, and taking the easy way out is what wimps do.  You won’t see Chuck Norris or Jack Bauer taking the easy road.  No siree.  Chuck or Jack wouldn’t just decide to give up smoking, they’d drive a jeep to the Philip Morris factory, infiltrate it stealthily, hit a bad man in the face and blow the whole thing sky-high.

You don’t have to go to those extremes (and I’d never even suggest there are bad men at Philip Morris), but take the easy road and it WILL have an impact on your self-confidence and self-esteem, because it means you avoid 3 things:

–          Stretching yourself and giving your confidence muscle a chance to grow.

–          Thinking about what you really want and what really matters to you.

–          The chance of failing or succeeding.

Taking the easy route means that you don’t grow or learn, but it also ensures that you’re safe – free from the risks of failing and succeeding.

Taking the easy route keeps you exactly where you are.

A row of green Monopoly housesThere’s nothing wrong with that as long as where you are is giving you the kind of experience you want and is based on who you are and what truly matters to you.  But if, like a lot of people, you feel like there’s more out there for you or that you have more to offer, then taking the easy route is like running a race for the White House by painting the houses in your Monopoly set with white-out and deciding to be the hat.

So what’s the alternative?

Forget all about New Years Resolutions, and instead play games.

Play a game that matters to you.

Resolutions and goals are things external to you that you strive for and will prove fruitless unless they’re part of a larger, personally relevant context.  Games are things you can engage with on an ongoing basis simply because you love playing and stand a chance of winning.

Games have gold woven into them – threads of who you are, what matters to you and what you love to be involved in.

AntelopeTrust me, playing a game that matters is whole different kettle of fish than aiming for a goal or working on a resolution.  It’s a different beast entirely – a kettle of antelope or eagles, if you will (although I’d strongly advise not filling a kettle with antelope or eagles, they make a rubbish cuppa).

The key is this – games are meant to be played, and it’s fun playing.  You can jump in, have a go, learn and become a better player.

That’s truly confident living.

And that’s the only way to truly win.