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How to Beat the Fear of Criticism

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A few years ago I was in a meeting room being told that the way I’d handled a project was embarrassing.

I was dumb-founded. I thought I’d done my best under challenging circumstances, but here was my boss telling that she was embarrassed by my sloppiness and that I should be too. She told me I had to do much better and that she wouldn’t put up with it.

I felt my stomach drop through the floor and the blood rush to my face.

I felt ashamed, angry, upset and confused. And I handed in my notice a week later.

That was probably the worst criticism I’d ever received, and as someone who prides himself on doing great work it took me totally by surprise.

Criticism can crush you

Which is why you might be tempted to do everything perfectly, because then, you get to avoid it.

In trying to do things “perfectly” and please everyone, you bring things like image, perception and control close enough that you can feel their breath on your skin and their grip on your shoulder.

Your identity gets mixed with the need to do something perfectly, otherwise you’ll give the critics the ammo they want. And then they’ll rub your face in it.

This, of course, just sets you up to feel devastated when criticism inevitably comes.

So how to avoid the compulsion to avoid criticism out of fear?

2 simple steps.

1. Expect it

Your job isn’t to make sure that you never get criticised.

You can’t control what people think, and it’s possible that you might get criticised for something any time now. The way you’ve done your hair this morning, The way you dealt with a problem at work. The way you prepared dinner.

The moment you stop thinking that you need to avoid criticism at all costs is the same moment you start doing things for you.

2. Choose.

The thoughts in my head when my boss tore chunks out of me in that meeting room included things like, “you don’t have a fucking clue what you’re talking about“, “you wouldn’t have been able to do half of what I did, who the hell are you?“, and of course, “die witch.”

In essence, I ran all kinds of narratives in my head based on how I felt, and the narrative I chose out of all the stories (which included some pretty elaborate revenge scenarios, let me tell you) was to resign.

I took it as a personal attack and so my feelings were wound around that narrative, and while she could certainly have been more business-like about things I didn’t need to do that.

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin once said, “You’re too good to think people who disagree with you are the enemy”, and while this should never be about casting yourself as “better” than the other guy, it’s important to embrace the idea that you get to choose how you react to criticism.

People have opinions and have their own shit going on. That’s fine. Someone not liking something you’ve done or said doesn’t need to rip your heart asunder or invalidate your place on planet Earth.

Keep a distance between the criticism and how you incorporate it. Don’t make their personal judgements your own, remember that the moment won’t end you and see what genuine learnings you can take away.

Criticism hurts if you let it speak to that part of you that fears it’s all true.

And that’s why you don’t have to fear it.

Because in fact, you’re mighty.

20 Questions That Can Change Your Life

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Finger face with a question
I could ask you what your favourite cheese is or whether you prefer ballet or ham, but I don’t think the answers would be very productive.

Mildly interesting maybe, but hardly useful.

For useful answers—answers that give you real insights that you can take away and do cool shit with—you have to ask useful questions.

Here are 20 of them, and they just might change your life.

  1. What’s the real reason I’m doing this?
    A course of action can be started for any number of reasons (fitting in, avoiding pain, feeling sexy), all of which might seem perfectly fine at first. But there are layers to action, and the real reason you’re doing something might not be what you think it is. Don’t be scared of digging and seeing what’s really in it for you.
  2. How can this be easier?
    I’ll choose ease over struggle any day of the week. Don’t follow the urge to struggle, fight or suffer because you think that’s what needs to happen or how you become worthy; look at how you can make things easier.
  3. What can I let go of that isn’t serving me?
    Letting go is liberating. Letting go of something that drains you, frustrates you or otherwise takes away is just common sense.
  4. What’s my intention here?
    Is your intention in this moment to be at your best or just to coast? Is it to look for the bad or celebrate the good? Or maybe it’s to hurt rather than heal. Open that up and see what’s inside.
  5. What can I do to help?
    It’s often easier to look inward and have your own agenda dictate what happens. Nothing wrong with that, but beautiful things can happen just by opening up a little and seeing what you can do to help someone else, something else, somewhere else.
  6. If you did know, what would it be?
    If you don’t know the answer to something (which direction to take, what to say to someone, how to approach a challenge, etc) and are sitting in Stuckville, ask yourself if I did know the answer, what would it be? It sounds crazy, I know, but this is a bloody useful (and sometimes slightly mean) coaching trick that works like a charm.
  7. What is there that’s beautiful, just as it is?
    We’re all busy, we all judge and we all race through our days. But amazing changes can happen just by choosing to slow down and notice—really notice—what’s already beautiful and right there in front of you.
  8. What can I be grateful for in this moment?
    I kept a gratitude diary once, where every night before my head hit the pillow I’d write down 3 things I was grateful for that day. It wasn’t easy, in fact it was fucking crazy hard. But it helped to soften my hard, cynical side and to show me that expressing gratitude can be transformational.
  9. How am I getting in my own way?
    When things are hard or you’re just tired of trying all the time, take a look at where you might be getting in your own way. What are you doing that might be blocking something, or what are you doing that’s limiting results?
  10. How can I be at my best?
    Being at your best doesn’t mean pretending to be okay and it doesn’t mean forcing yourself to be a certain way. What it is, is honouring how you are when you’re at the top of your game, firing on all cylinders and flowing, and knowing that those things are woven through you in every single moment of every single day.
  11. What experiment could I run that would be fun?
    Change is hard and scary like an armoir full of spiders. Which is why making change less hard and less scary by simply running multiple, small experiments—without needing to commit and being able to pivot and adapt depending on the results—makes things a heap easier.
  12. Where am I pursuing validation or approval instead of trusting myself?
    You’re hardwired to fit in; wiring that sometimes has you seeking approval or trying to fly under the radar rather than trusting yourself to do what really matters. But you don’t need validation or approval. You just need self-trust.
  13. What am I tolerating that I don’t need to?
    Sometimes you think you need to put up with something because you don’t want to rock the boat or upset anyone. But your assumptions are worth challenging, especially if you discover you can remove something you’ve been putting up with all this time.
  14. What if I just laugh with it?
    Laughing’s my favourite, and I’m a firm believer that life is actually pretty ridiculous. So laugh with it rather than frown at it, and see what happens.
  15. What would [being a trapeze artist / loving myself / being successful / something else ] look like?
    Ideas come and go, and so does clarity. Asking yourself what something would look like (whether it’s a goal you think you might like to reach or a feeling you might like to have more of) helps you to cut through a lot of shit and look at how it could be. Insights follow.
  16. Am I more focused on being right than being happy?
    Sometimes you cling to an idea, a belief or a way of thinking just because it’s yours and it’s how you think. That’s just ego, posturing and bullshit. There’s freedom in not needing to be right all the time.
  17. If I could do something and know that I could deal with whatever happens, what would I do?
    You sometimes get hung up on what could happen as a result of your actions and have all that stuff dictate what you do. But what might change if you knew that you could deal with anything?
  18. What am I resisting, and what impact is that having?
    You know those things in life you wriggle and squirm at rather than engage with or settle into? What’s a better way?
  19. What’s my body trying to tell me?
    They say that your body is a mirror for your mind, so if there was something your body was trying to say to you, something it wanted you to notice or act on, what would it be? And how can you be more in touch with your body’s messages on a regular basis?
  20. Today, how can I connect with what matters to me?
    If you’re not spending some of your day connecting with the things that matter to you, just how are you spending your time?

What’s jumping out at you?

The Fear of Unmet Desire


In Your Room

U2 sang about it. Oscar Wilde toyed with it. Chocolate inspires it.

And we’re all full of it

My head wants to see my name on the spine of a book in a bookstore, because it would be bloody brilliant to be a published author. My heart keeps going back to Portland, because I desire the fun and flow that I’ve experienced there many times. And the list of things my body craves would probably wrap around the Earth 4 or 5 times.

The things you want and the desires you have do strange things to you. They get your heart thumping, your blood flowing and your eyes sparkling. Sometimes they make you do things you wouldn’t normally do, just because you gotta have it, and sometimes they’re all you can think about.

Desire lays out compelling pathways in your brain; so compelling that they keep drawing your attention, screaming “Hey, if you just get this thing then everything would be totally fucking awesome!”

But the heady draw of desire casts a shadow that looms large…

And that’s the fear of what happens if your desires remain unmet.

What with you being a human being an’ all, your brain will naturally seek ways to keep you safe, always operating by it’s central organising principle:

Maximise reward, minimise danger.

If it senses that there’s risk or danger inherent to pursuing one of your desires, it will engineer fear around it—fear of change, fear of success, fear of failure—in the hope that it will prevent that pursuit.

They’re just pipe-dreams, you tell yourself. You don’t have what it takes to make something like that happen. That’s for other people.

And then, there’s the fear of trying to meet your desire and falling short.

The idea that you can try for something you really want and to still not get it is enough to break the strongest of hearts

The fear of unmet desire is a tangible force on your thinking and behaviour, fating you to a life of quiet desperation if you do what it urges.

So, enter our old friend confidence.

That trusted friend who, in the face of the overwhelming and compelling urge to maximise reward and minimise danger says,

I hear you. But it’s going to be okay. I got this.

Apply natural confidence to the fear of unmet desire, and what you create is possibility.

And maybe, that’s what we all desire the most…

Confidence: Love Not Strength


Love Note 2
Digging deep into this whole confidence thing is sometimes like being mentored by Leonardo Da Vinci.

Just when I think I’ve figured it out, he goes all crazy in the coconut, yells at me that I know nothing and urges me to look deeper, look at it with fresh eyes, promising wonders.

Then he disappears with a flourish and invents a bloody helicopter. “Leonardo,” I shout, “Already got those pal.”

So I grapple and I prod and sometimes I get a bit pissy, but then another layer gets revealed and a whole new world opens up.

Leonardo was right. Of course he was. He’s bloody Leanardo Da Vinci.

This happened when I learned to integrate my illness rather than fight it. It happened when I started to see a relationship between confidence and joy. It happened when I saw I was using faux-confidence to be emotionally unavailable.

And it’s just happened again when I had something of an epiphany about the source of confidence.

People think that confidence is about strength.

It’s how you react in the face of fear, planting your feet and getting ready to show it who’s boss.

It’s how you rise to a challenge, digging deep so you can just hang on that little bit longer or find that extra something that helps you keep going.

And it’s how you take a risk without knowing what’s going to happen, helping you suck it up and take that step, even though you want to run home, make a nest under the bed and stay there ’til your next birthday when there’ll be cake.

There’s a strong chance you know what I’m talking about here, otherwise you’ve either had the easiest life imaginable or you’re a particularly laid-back strain of algae.

Strength implies there’s something you need to be strong in the face of.

Conflict is inherent.

And while that can sometimes be a useful and appropriate response, fuelling confidence from strength can be fucking exhausting.

Assuming you’re not algae, these are the times when you just want to stop already and have an easy life. When you wonder just how fucking strong you need to be in your life. And when you wonder if you’ll ever be strong enough to have what you want.

Enter, love.

Now, here’s where I make a little disclaimer.

I’m a cynic. I love laughing at inappropriate things.
As far as I’m concerned, astrology, crystals and past-life healing can go sit on a stick and get pecked at by crows.

But love? Love is real and tangible. I’ve felt it. You’ve felt it.

Love exists.

I’m in no position to define what love is (that’s the only thing I have in common with Foreigner), but I can speak to what the hell it has to do with confidence.

Let’s look at the previous examples I used.

There’s something out there you’re scared of, whether it’s failure, success or not measuring up. Reacting to fear with a confidence born from love is enveloping it with kindness and accepting that it’s only looking out for you, rather than squaring up to it with strength.

There’s a challenge out there, a career move you’d bite your own arm off to see happen, a health-blip you need to overcome or a relationship issue you want to work through. Reacting to those things with strength is just a lot of noise and chest-puffing, hardening into those challenges when instead you could be confident in your ability to soften into them with your whole heart.

There’s a risk out there, something unknown that you’re about to step into, something that might see you lose something you have or a course of action that might hurt you. Come at those things with a sense of confidence founded on strength and you’ll attack those risks and push through with the aim of “winning”. But approach those risks with a sense of confidence founded on love, and you know you’ll be okay whatever happens. There’s no win or lose, just love for the way you’re able to carve out your life as best you can.

I don’t know why I haven’t seen confidence in these terms before.

Perhaps I’m supposed to be all over this stuff like an old carpet, but it just goes to show what a geek I am for loving what I keep finding and how it keeps showing me new stuff.

I could tell you that I’m a confidence guru, that I know everything about building confidence and how you can be confident today. A show of strength, if you will.

I have some smarts, sure, but I’m at a place where I much prefer to approach my work—both what I know and what I don’t—with love rather then strength.

And so if I might depart somewhat from my normal cynical and sarcastic tone and approach a Disney-esque level of saccharine sweetness that makes the cynic in me want to hurl, if there’s something for you to take away from all this, it’s this:

Love yourself, and true confidence follows.

Why You Should Forget About Being Happy All The Time


I wrote last week about happiness and control. How they get on about as well as an extra in Christian Bale’s eyeline or a stripper at a Papal picnic.

We concluded that happiness was a choice, not an outcome.

And I left you with a question to ponder.

If you accept that happiness is a choice you can make, then why the hell aren’t you happy all the time?

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Being happy all the time?

A big smile on your face, a spring in your step, a little less roof in your room (thanks Pharrell).

But yet, there isn’t a person on the planet who’s happy all the time. Not you, not me, not Pharrell. And there’s nothing worse than pretending to be happy when you just want to be miserable, right?

Aiming for “happiness all the time” drives you to create goals or pursue outcomes that you think will deliver on that promise.

It becomes a goal in itself, another fictional outcome that’s dependent on bending circumstances to your will.

It’ll make you run round in circles second-guessing which move will make you happier, while also making you feel bad for experiencing “non-happy” emotions like sadness, loneliness or pain.

Truth is, you shouldn’t be happy all the time.

We’re not built to live like that, and thinking that you’re supposed to be happy all the time is guaranteed to make you fucking miserable.

We’re built to experience life, not to force it to be a certain way

I’m not suggesting that you sit back and let life happen to you, just as I would never condone becoming a goal-hungry machine. But I think there’s a middle ground, a place where you:

  • Don’t base your worth on outcomes, but on how you engage with your life
  • Don’t grip the rudder with white knuckles, but keep a light hand on it
  • Don’t beat yourself up for feeling low, but sense that you’re okay whatever you’re feeling

This is a terrain that’s pretty darn wonderful to hang out in. It’s a place of self-trust. It’s a place of natural confidence.

And here’s where it really yanks my noodle and becomes what might just be a paradox.

Because, when you’re in that place, happiness is right there with you.

The Shittiest Strategy for Happiness

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Bending Circumstances is a Shitty Strategy for Happiness

You set a goal. You get behind it like Kevin Spacey tackling a juicy role. And you try to make things happen.

All good, except for the all the happiness you invest in reaching that goal.

I’ll be happier when I lose that weight.
My life will be so much better when I switch careers.
All I need is a great relationship and life will be amazing.
Sort my finances out and I’ll be set.
Work hard for the next year and everything will be fucking awesome.

This is why you make you make goals—to control an outcome that you hope will make you tangibly happier. But here’s the thing.

Glue a dove to a tree and it won’t fly so well.

Tie your happiness to an outcome and the same thing happens.

Things go wrong. Circumstances change. Shit happens.

So if your strategy for happiness depends on bending circumstances to your will, then I’m sorry, but that just ain’t gonna fly.

Pursue a goal or an outcome if you fancy it, but stop fooling yourself that you’ll be happier as a result.

Never, ever make your happiness, success or value dependent on reaching a point in the distance or making everything align at some mythical point in the future.

Happiness is a choice, not an outcome

Now, with that said, let me bring this into sharp, scary territory for you with one simple question:

If “being happy” is a choice I can make right now, then why aren’t I happy all the time?

I’ll answer this next week, but would love to know your thoughts in the meantime.

What do you think? Why aren’t you happy all the time?

5.5 Lies You Need to Stop Telling Yourself


There are certain things I tell myself that I know to be true.

Cats are bastards
I should so write for the Onion
Geez Emily Blunt’s lovely

Those are all undeniable facts of course, but there are other things—let’s call ‘em lies—that we all tell ourselves. Things that we should just stop. Right now. Not just because they’re bullshit, but because they’re damaging bullshit.

Here we go.

1. I’m not that kind of person

I’m the least sporty guy you can imagine. Not only do my legs look slightly ridiculous in a pair of gym shorts, but if a bad man yelled at me to catch a ball or “I’d get it” I wouldn’t have a cat in hell’s chance. I’d get it right in the kisser. I’m just not that guy.

But then, there was a decade when I went to the gym 5 times a week and not only loved it but got myself a six pack to boot (now sadly MIA). And there was the time in school when I loved playing Basketball, and the time when I saw the Dallas Cowboys play the 49ers and loved it, and the time I did a marathon.

So the thought that I’m not that guy is only true until it becomes not true.

You’re not fixed in stone. You’re growing right now. Your body, your mind, your hopes, your fears, your aims, your skills, your dreams, your talents and everything else that you are is pregnant with possibility.

Blocking a path towards something amazing, fun or interesting because you don’t think you’re that kind of person is crazy like Meryl Streep only choosing to play women named “Joanna Kramer” because she doesn’t feel like she can do justice to other parts.

If it matters to you or looks interesting, forget about “what kind of person” you are. For heavens sake, just get to it.

2. Other people have all the luck

Part of me wants to be Benedict Cumberbatch.

He’s smart and funny and looks pretty bloody good in a suit. He’s insanely talented and could fill 221b Baker Street to the roof with all his cash. He just got engaged to someone completely gorgeous and it looks like he’s going to play Dr Strange in the Marvel cinematic universe (trust me, for a geek like me, that’s huge). Lucky son of a bitch.

So why the hell do I have to struggle in a small town in Kent when I could be on the red carpet with Hollywood throwing money at me? Geez. The injustice of it all.

The thought that others have all the luck and you don’t get the breaks is nasty like a really angry bear holding a shark. It’s a comparative statement; you look at your own situation then compare it with the success you perceive someone else to have, and conclude that other people get all the luck.

It’s comparing your insides with someone else’s outsides, and it’s bullshit.

So stop it.

3. I’m not attractive

While I am quite clearly, gorgeous, there are times when I look in the mirror and recoil at the misshapen figure reflected back at me. And when I flirt with someone I fancy and don’t get anything back, I wonder what it is that’s wrong with me that they didn’t immediately offer to have my babies. Maybe I should get some botox or have one of those little chin dimples put in? Screw it, I’ll have both done. My new chin dimple will have its own damn botox. Then I’ll feel irresistible.

Telling yourself you’re not attractive is self-criticism gone mad, casting imperfections as fatal flaws, when they’re the very things that make you you and make you interesting.

It’s a reflection of the thought “I’m not good enough”, just a story you tell yourself to feel more secure. This story then either drives you to:

a. become attractive by any means necessary, or
b. pre-empt rejection and possibly never try again

Route a will make you a narcissistic asshole, while route b will make you a sad loner just one-step away from crazy cat-lady. Both routes seek to make the short term much more certain and controllable.

The alternative is that you are enough and you are attractive enough.

A scary thought, because that means there’s nothing in your way.

4. I don’t have what it takes

The world is a fucking tough place, I don’t have to tell you that. Quite apart from the likes of ISIS, the financial crisis and global warming, there are all manner of problems, forces and obstacles in our way. Like other people with their damn feelings, angry bears with sharks and saturated fat. Honestly, it’s really kind of a miracle that any of us get anything done at all.

And there are those moments—quiet, introspective moments—when you tell yourself you don’t have what it takes.

In those moments you wonder if you should just stop dreaming or stop trying. You wonder if it wouldn’t be a heap easier to let life happen and forget this whole struggling thing. And then the thought enters your head that you’ll never have the kind of success you always hoped for.

I could argue that you already have what it takes (because when you decide to, you can do extraordinary things) and I could argue that you’ll never have what it takes (because you’re never finished and you’ll never succeed at everything). Having what it takes is a judgement based on fiction and emotion, so let me tell you something straight and true.

Fuck “having what it takes”; it doesn’t exist.

The only thing you need concern yourself with is doing your best in the places it counts.

That’s everything.

5. I’m a phoney

Sometimes, right before a client session, I think to myself. What if I have nothing? What if I’m just making this shit up? What if they tell me I’m full of shit and write an exposé?

You ever thought something like that? That you don’t know what you’re doing? That you’re not as good as people might think? That any second now someone’s going to see right through you and your whole “thang” (which includes things like your reputation and your value to others) will be sunk faster than a tissue-paper ark?

You know what this is, right?

It’s just the scared part of you—the part that hides behind masks and feels more comfortable playing a role than being uncomfortable being you—looking at your life and thinking, “Shitting hell, how did we get here?”.

You work hard. You’ve been through a lot. You’ve learned heaps. That’s all real. None of it’s phoney.

You’re already worthy of being seen as you really are.

5.5. I don’t belong anywhere

I get it, you feel like you don’t fit.

You see all those faces around you, all of them seeming to be getting on just fine, and you, well, you just feel different. A little awkward, like you don’t really belong, or like others are part of something you’re not. I bet they talk about you when you’re not around. They snigger at you because they know you’re not like them and stop as soon as you enter the room. And they’re probably all in on some cosmic joke where you’re the punchline.

Your head is filled with stories with you as the protagonist. Stories where you’re at the centre and all the plotlines come back to you, while everyone else is separate from you. But these are just stories, and considering the boundaries put in place by the fact that we can’t see into other peoples heads, everybody feels like they’re on the outside.

That’s why this one is just half a lie, because it’s extrapolated from a truth.

BelongSo first of all, nobody thinks about you as much as you do. Seriously, they have their own stuff going on. Then of course, we often conflate belonging with gaining approval. And let’s not forget that belonging requires letting go.

Throughout my life I’ve felt like I haven’t belonged. But I had it all wrong, which is why I had the word “Belong” tattooed on my pasty English arm last year, because it reminds me that belonging is really just anywhere I get to be myself.

Which of these lies are you ready to stop telling?

PlaybookCould you use a hand getting past the lies you keep telling yourself?

Or maybe you want to find your own truth?

The Playbook is perhaps the ultimate in truth-telling, helping you cut straight through the crap and figure out what’s what.

It’s 50% off until the end of February – go check it out.

Doing What You Don’t Know

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Free as a bird
Doing what you don’t know is like freefalling.

At some point, if you want to go forwards, you have to just let go and drop into the space that’s right there in front of your face.

You don’t know what’s in there. Could be lions, tigers or bears (oh my). Could be sharp rocks. Could be marshmallow love pillows.

Doing what you don’t know, you can’t know ahead of time. It’s a first. It’s new. It’s terrifying.

But it’s only when you do something you don’t know that 2 things happen.


Stepping into the unknown stretches your confidence muscle, just like lunging stretches your hamstrings or tasting something new stretches your palate.

Confidence can’t grow or be sustained by staying still. Put a puppy in a box and push it under the bed and see how it grows*.

Stretch is growth, and growth opens the world up.


Nothing like being somewhere new to force you to wing it.

Stretching yourself into the unknown lights your brain up like a Christmas tree and requires that you improvise in order to carve a path through. “To succeed,” Isaac Asimov once said, “planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well”. (Mr Asimov was much smarter than me, so it must be true.)

Improvisation makes you connect disparate thoughts and ideas—if that worked there, maybe this will work here?—and that’s the spot where insight, inspiration and magic live.

Stretch + Creativity = Impact

Having an impact or making a meaningful change is only really possible when stretch and creativity come together, and woven through each of these is confidence.

Confidence to know you can stretch yourself in the first place. Confidence to know you can improvise. Confidence to take that step.

And the real magic is that in doing what you don’t know, you become more confident in doing the unknown.

You become a person who trusts in your own possibility, which is rare like rocking-horse shit and unimaginably more valuable than trusting where you’ve already been.

Does doing what you don’t know scare the crap out you?



How about a helping hand doing what you don’t know?

If you’re serious about this, the Code of Extraordinary Change Playbook is 50% off for the whole of February and shows you how.

Let’s get shit happening people!

How to Love Yourself


Nine of Hearts
Let me say first of all, and sorry to disappoint some of you, but this is not a guide to masturbation.

I could maybe offer a tip or two in that regard (don’t do it while operating heavy machinery, for example), but it’s not really what my coaching’s about and people are trying to eat.

Instead, I want to stray briefly into the cliché-ridden minefield that is learning to love yourself, and learning just what the hell that means in the first place.

It sounds like nirvana doesn’t it? A weird delusional place where everything’s peachy, where you can do no wrong and where if someone doesn’t like you they can go fuck themselves because all that matters is that you love yourself dammit.

But we know that life isn’t nirvana. And we know that delusions aren’t really that good for us.

So how does this “loving myself” thing really work then? What does it mean and what does it take?

Here, ladies and gentlemen, are my thinkings…

Integrate, don’t separate

Separation happens when you try to deliver on peoples’ expectations of you and your desire to please people. You start to compartmentalise, to step into a role with certain people or to mask other parts of yourself with others.

But it’s really hard to love yourself when you’re divided, separated and pigeon-holed. Do you love the part of you that’s a parent? Or the part that’s a homebody? Maybe the part that’s damn good at your job? Or maybe the part that wants to jack it all in and do something crazy?

We’re all made of different things that, when brought together, add up to more than the sum of the beautiful, crazy, immensely capable and distinctly fucked up parts.

Loving one of those pieces and not another just leads to more division and separation, so loving yourself starts with bringing all of these parts together because they’re all you. No one piece is more deserving of love than another. Which brings me to…

Welcome them warmly

Your body’s a funny shape and other people look better in clothes than you. You always hold back just a little, and maybe you’d be further along if you just stopped doing that. You hate the way your voice sounds when you hear yourself back. And isn’t it time you got your shit together and figured out what you’re doing with your life?

We all beat ourselves up for our flaws and imperfections, but loving yourself isn’t conditional on resolving these flaws or smoothing over the imperfections. You love yourself because you’re imperfect, because without those wrinkles and flaws you’d be a preening, plastic princess where peoples’ perceptions are more important than personal possibility (say that 10 times quickly).

You have to welcome your flaws and imperfections warmly and sincerely, because the alternative is judgement, conflict and feeling very much like shit.

Invite your flaws into your home and be the best damn host you can be. These are your friends. These are your family. These are you.

Give a shit

If you’re just coasting and not really living, it’s going to be hard to love your life.

We all end up somewhere we didn’t plan, doing something we might not want with people we wouldn’t necessarily choose. And sometimes that permeates through your skin into your heart, and things become a little greyer.

That feeling seeps and saps, but here’s the thing.

Loving yourself doesn’t mean you have to love your life

Loving yourself is independent of circumstance. It doesn’t matter how much money you make. It doesn’t matter if you’re single. It doesn’t matter if you love your job.

What loving yourself does mean, is that you give a shit about the things that matter to you. So even when you find yourself someplace unexpected or unwanted, you don’t conflate that with your self-worth and you still honour what matters.

Loving yourself means giving a shit about your heart and soul, regardless of your circumstances.


I’ve taken relationships, careers, finances and all sorts of other things in my life and royally fucked them up.

Not every one, but enough to have made a difference in my life. Who knows where I’d be without those mistakes.

You, of course, will have fucked up too. And who knows where you’d be without your mistakes.

But if I was to think less of myself because of the mistakes I’ve made, my self-worth would be akin to something you scrape off the bottom of your shoe. I can’t for one second think less of myself because of my mistakes. They were mine to make, and man alive did I make them.

It’s part of being human, and part of learning to love yourself.

Forgiveness, rather than regret.

Which all leads us to the inevitable question. Do you love yourself?

The PlaybookWant a little love?

To help spread some love at Valentines Day (and help you get going with this whole loving yourself thing), the Playbook is 50% off right through February.

Check it out.

How to Get Back (and Keep Getting Back) on The Horse

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dream of horses and birds
Holy shit it’s February already.

I swear that someone’s spinning the Earth faster because it only seems like a few days ago that I was playing with my nephew’s Christmas toys and eating my own body weight in cheese.

Time certainly does move on, so if you’re confronted with the fact that time is leaping ahead and you haven’t really stuck to your plans, this one’s for you.

Whether you’ve lost steam and slipped back into old ways, lost sight of the good intentions you had on January 1st or tripped, fallen or plummeted, here’s how you can get back on the horse and make sure you stay on.

Stop the flagellation

I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that every client I work with enjoys a little metaphorical self-flagellation. More, harder they tell me as they beat themselves up for not being better than they are.

But it’s human nature to get side-tracked

Just sit down for 10 minutes, close your eyes and train your attention on your breath for that full 10 minutes. Drop in to the whole breath, the breathing in, the little pause, the breathing out. Then do the same for the next breath. And the next. And the next. I’ll bet you a speedboat that at some point your mind will wander away from your breath and think about something else. Because that’s what minds do.

You might not be happy that you haven’t stuck to your plans or lost steam, but it’s really okay.

Don’t turn the side-tracking into another problem to beat yourself up about.

Accept it, then make a fresh choice.

Reboot the environment

If you want to give up cheetos, you’d better make sure your cupboards aren’t stuffed to the brim with bags of the cheesy little bastards.

If you want to start getting better sleep, you’d better remove the rocks from your mattress or fix that leaking tap that keeps you awake all night.

And if you don’t want to feel like garbage, you might want to create some distance between you and that asshole “friend” of yours who keeps belittling you.

See, your environment either adds to your ability to play a great game, or it takes away from it.

Try playing tennis wearing a gimp hood or
try playing Twister underwater and see if I’m not telling the truth

So take a look at all the stuff around you, get rid of the things that drain or frustrate you and add things that support and energise you.

Touch yourself

I ask all my clients to touch themselves.

Not in a sexy, “do you like this, baby, do you” sort of way, but in a way that has them get in touch with what they already have.

Let me ask you something. What are your strengths and talents?

Straight from the age of Personal Development 1.0, not only is it a question duller than a Chris Martin waxwork, but it’s also pretty much useless.

You do have strengths and talents (you have other stuff too: experience, values, choices and all sorts of other gems) and it’s important that you connect with them, but there are better ways to get in touch with yourself that I use with clients.

  • Look at the successes in your life and see what you did that helped nail it.
  • Look at when you’ve been on top of your game and see what allowed that to happen.
  • Look at what you’re most proud of and dig into what it is that matters most to you.
  • Look at what you’ve always been able to do brilliantly without really thinking, and see what talents you have in your bones.
  • Look at how you reacted in the bad times and see what you honoured or what you expressed.

These are a handful of questions that can provide real insights and get you touching yourself in ways that’ll really make you glow.

Give a shit

An easy life is one where you don’t give a shit about anything, because then it doesn’t matter where you end up, what you do or even who you become.

It’s all just grey and sludgy, and about as much fun as
a clown with a pocket full of turds

But you do care about stuff. You do give a shit. It’s just that life sometimes gets in the way, or that you’re so low on gas that it feels like you don’t have enough va-va-voom to give a shit.

One of the things I love most about my work is how clients react to the things they care about. One client told me that she felt “like the sun had come out“, simply because she’d got to a place where she no longer hid from the things she really gave a damn about.

Care about things. Care about yourself. Take a stand in your life. Give a shit.

Step freshly

Routine is a powerful force, like gravity or magnetism. It pulls you towards it, with promise of certainty and comfort.

But it also leads you to constrain what you do, limit your choices and diminish your impact.

So in getting back on the horse, it might not be a great strategy to repeat exactly the same steps you took last time around. Because you kinda know how that goes, right?

I know how hard it is to think of a new, fresh way forwards when you’re lying on your back with the horse you were on having trotted off to fuck knows where.

How the hell can you do something differently
when you don’t know what that different thing is?

Sometimes you might want to plan, strategise or bounce things around with someone else. That’s all good, just as long as you don’t replace taking action with planning or finding the “right” answer.

But ultimately, it comes down to doing something.

It could be something completely unrelated to what you were aiming for before, maybe something frivolous, fun or a flight of fancy (one client went from working on their freelance writing career to travelling South America, and found her mojo as a result). Your next step might be a crazy leap of faith, or it might be a gentle experiment to see what happens. Or maybe it’s simply doing the opposite of what that screaming voice of fear is telling you (like the client who booked a dozen speaking gigs in university campuses despite crapping his pants at the thought of speaking in public).

Whatever it is, please just have the balls the step freshly.

A helping hand…?

These strategies are really just the tip of a whopping great big iceberg, and in many ways my whole job is about helping people get back on the horse and keep getting back on.

Yeah it’s tough.

But the ability to know the light bits and dark bits of yourself, to bring what matters to you to life and to keep on going when it’s easier not to is also beautiful, joyful and pretty fucking extraordinary.

It’s what all this coaching and digging since 2002 has been about, and it’s what the Code of Extraordinary Change Playbook does.

And because I want good things for you, and to spread some love, the Playbook is 50% off for the whole of February.

It doesn’t just show you how to get back on the horse and be fine when you fall off, it shows you how to be your own damn horse.

Check it out.

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