Personal Development

Get the scalpel and cut it out

doctor surgeon with scalpel removing limiting beliefs

OK, I admit it – it’s a dramatic title for a blog; however it is descriptive of my current condition, because earlier this week I had a minor operation to remove a lipoma, a small fatty lump.  It necessitated a general anaesthetic, so I’ve spent a few days since taking it a bit easy.  Which led me to thinking … I wouldn’t have said the lipoma was causing me any anxiety or distress; however having had it removed I […]

Can praise be bad as well as good?

business people thumbs up - praise effort not ability

It’s generally well accepted that you should praise people; and that people will perform better if they are regularly praised when they do good things.  The premise is simple: people like being praised, so if you praise them when they do a good job they’ll want to do more good things and thus receive more praise.  Their self-confidence will improve and they’ll be happier.  However, is it that simple?  Or can praising people sometimes be […]

Which side of the bed did you get up on?

smashing alarm clock with hammer

Has anyone ever asked you this question?  This query is normally aimed at people who are behaving particularly grouchy on the day in question.  It can also sometimes be used by people trying to explaining away their own bad day – “I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning and everything that could go wrong has.”  Now of course, which physical side of the bed you get out of isn’t actually going to […]

When the going gets tough

Earlier this week I ‘appeared’ on the “Just Do It!” show presented by Ali Crook on MarlowFM, a community radio station here in the UK. Ali’s show provides ideas for listeners to live life to the full and I’d be invited on to talk about some of the major challenges I’ve faced in my own life. During the conversation we got onto discussing what happens when you’re trying to achieve that great goal you’ve set, but your motivation levels drop and the progress slows down or comes to a halt. What do you do then? There is a plethora of personal development books out there giving a whole host of methods for achieving your goals, so knowing which methods work and which don’t can be difficult. Thankfully in recent years there has been a lot of psychological research into this area, much of which Professor Richard Wiseman summarises in his book “59 Seconds: Think a little, change a lot”. In one of his own studies, involving over 5,000 participants, Wiseman looked at what techniques people used for achieving goals and which generally worked and which didn’t. For example, visualisation in terms of fantasising about how your life will be when you’ve achieved that goal, something widely promoted in self-help books, was seen not to work when used in isolation; and indeed some studies have shown it to be detrimental. However, whilst I’d certainly agree that visualisation alone doesn’t work – achieving goals requires action - I think it’s a useful step to help formulate the goal and to get the unconscious mind to look for the opportunities you need to achieve your goal. So here are six things that the research says you should be doing: • Make a step by step plan. Large goals are good for generating excitement and motivation; however having one big step is usually too big to appear achievable. Plan out some intermediate, stepping-stone goals. Make the steps as small as you personally need them to be to make them achievable. This is something I’ve covered in a previous blog “Taking one step at a time”. • Consider the obstacles. This instinctively seems the wrong thing to do; however the reality is things will get in the way of you achieving your goal. You need to be optimistic in achieving the goal, but at the same time realistic about some of the problems that will occur. As setbacks inevitably occur, instead of just giving up on the whole goal, you simply see it as part of the journey and get on with the task of overcoming them. • Tell other people about your goals. Keeping things to yourself helps ease the fear of failure and makes it too easy to avoid changing your life and drift back into bad habits. So make yourself accountable to others. • Think about the good things that will happen. This is the benefits and rewards you will reap when you achieve your goal. Conversely, the research shows that thinking about the bad things that will occur if you fail is generally not useful. • Reward yourself for progress. This one is missed out by many people. They seem to think they’re only allowed a reward when they achieve the final goal. Not the case. Reward each step; however it does need to be appropriate of course - if you’re trying to lose weight, rewarding yourself with a big restaurant meal is not going to help. • Record progress in a journal or chart. This makes progress to your goal seem more concrete. Expressing progress in writing helps remind you of the positive progress you’re making. Finally, when you find your motivation flagging and procrastination sets in, remember motivation by itself doesn’t achieve a goal, taking action does. If necessary create smaller steps and take even smaller actions. It’s been found that if people can simply work on an activity for a few minutes, they often feel an urge to see it through to completion. Persistence is key; remember ... “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill Mike Jones specialises in helping people to achieve their goals and improve performance. If you would like help to improve your and your team’s performance call him now on +44 (0)1908 509088 or email

Earlier this week I ‘appeared’ on the “Just Do It!” show presented by Ali Crook on MarlowFM, a community radio station here in the UK.  Ali’s show provides ideas for listeners to live life to the full and I’d be invited on to talk about some of the major challenges I’ve faced in my own life.  During the conversation we got onto discussing what happens when you’re trying to achieve that great goal you’ve set, but your motivation levels […]

How are you today?

businessman stretches out hand

A seemingly innocuous question you may think.  One we ask each other all the time, simply as part of a greeting.  But what is your response when people ask you?  Imagine in your head now, we’ve just met face-to-face, perhaps shook hands and I say “How are you today?”  What do you say? I’ve been noting people’s responses to this question recently and in my very un-scientific poll the vast majority of people respond with […]

Leaning down the hill

Downhill skier leaning down steep slope

Back when I was a coder, writing software for a big systems house, one of my assignments took me to Switzerland for a year.  I’d originally learnt to ski by going on the odd school skiing trip; however living in Switzerland gave me lots of opportunity to improve. However my progress soon plateaued when I got to the black runs. Standing there on a steep slope looking down, my natural tendency was to lean back […]

Do you look funny on a horse? It’s a leadership thing.

Household Cavalry soldier on horseback

“You can’t lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse” – John Peers – CEO Technology Inc. Self-reliant leaders recognise they are a complete and self-directed person and have the power and responsibility to choose between options and make decisions. Self-reliance is an important competence for a leader to have and for leadership, an important part of self-reliance is being comfortable inside with being a leader, accepting the responsibility of […]

New Year’s Resolutions are a waste of time

Man playing piano

OK, the title of this blog is purposely a bit provocative, but do I really mean New Year’s resolutions are a waste of time? Well in the vast majority of cases … Yes. Most people who set themselves resolutions at this time of year will frame them in a negative way.  It’ll be things like stop smoking, drink less, or give up eating cakes.  Like with any goal, phrasing the outcome in a negative way […]

End of the world? Not for me.

Girl sitting thinking next to Mayan carving

If you’re reading this there is a good chance that the world has not ended today, which is what some say will happen today on the 21st December 2012 according to the Mayan calendar.  Of course some point out the Mayans never predicted what would actually happen when their 5125 year calendar came to an end.  Some say they would have just started again – a new era so to speak. But what if it […]

What an awful day!

Sad woman looking through rainy window

Perhaps it’s a symptom of this time of year.  I’ve been hearing lots of people saying things like “It’s a grim day”, “What a grey day”, “It’s a sh%t&y day … again!”  You might think I’ve been talking to desperate people; people at the end of their luck, about to be put onto the streets, searching for their next meal.  But no, these are your everyday people – talking about the weather! They’re the kind of people that […]