BLOG#17 The Staircase

In all of the stories ever told about winners and losers, failures and successes, there is just one thing that separates the two: the failure gave up, the winner didn’t.

It’s that simple.

In an interview I saw yesterday with Al Pacino, he proclaimed:

“Determination can beat talent!”

…and it made me think about how we classify some things as being optional and others as guaranteed.

How long do you give a child to learn to walk? At what point do you decide to give up on them and accept they will have to crawl around the rest of their life?

Learning to walk, learning to have a conversation, learning to write… these things we conquer as children are immeasurably more difficult than the things we routinely quit as adults: Getting a 6 pack, becoming a millionaire, publishing a book, building a successful business…

Why doesn’t everyone with any goal succeed?

Why don’t we just get it done, then move onto the next? Like kids do.

I think it’s all down to the staircase…

My little boy Jake is 14 months old and learning to walk (we’ve not given up on him yet), but he’s been an avid stair climber for months. He loves the stairs and any time he gets himself to the bottom, I stand behind him and follow him up to catch him if he falls. His Sherpa.

I will never forget the historic moment he first made it to the top unaided.

The first few stairs, no problem. He paused only slightly about a quarter of the way up to glance over his shoulder at me. Already he was as far as he’d ever been before.

The next few stairs, mechanically reaching up one arm and then pulling up one leg at a time, he was on a mission and now he was past half way.

Then, for no apparent reason, he paused, uncertain, looking up at the path ahead and peering back down where he’d come from. I could see he didn’t have many stairs to go, but he was close to reaching for my help, which meant the end of the expedition.

I lowered my head to his level, “Keep going Jakey” I told him close to his ear, with as much proud dad enthusiasm as I had ever had.

But before I stood back up, I glanced upwards and downwards as he had and immediately I realised something: to him the staircase was never ending.

Looking up it was just more of the same as he’d already climbed, more hard work with no end in sight. He was so close to the stairs he couldn’t see the top!

And looking down, all he could see was how high he’d climbed and how far he had to fall. His confidence was disappearing and fear was taking over.

But from my view, standing back up, l could see was how far he’d come and how close he was to the top. I had to get him to keep going just a little longer.

“You’re nearly there, keep going Jakey!” I banged on the stairs “go go go!”

I mimicked him crawling up the stairs with a beaming smile at him.

He looked at me blankly, then suddenly smiled at me and, with a crazed look on his face, grabbed the next step, pushing himself upwards with his chubby little legs and just a few seconds later he was sat triumphantly at the top of our staircase, looking down at how far he’d come from a whole new world he could now get to.

I thought what an awesome lesson he’d just learned, stick at it and you get there. I hope that spirit never leaves him and I reinforced the satisfaction of getting to the top with an over the top celebration of cheering and whoop whoops! so that the emotions might help to embed the lesson into his nature.

Who knows if it will.

I’ve thought a lot about the staircase metaphor, the relentless grind of anything we set out to achieve, the lack of any visible progress along the way or any hint of the destination in sight.

And without anyone around you there will be little to no encouragement along the way (some arseholes will even revel in seeing any glimpse of you failing), no rewards or pats on the back for sticking at it, nothing but the same pain and discomfort you had yesterday without any promise of it ending soon, the fear of it all going wrong and a fading desire to even reach the destination any more.

Talking yourself out of achieving your own goal.

Ask anyone who’s done Weight Watchers and they will tell you that it was the group that helped them reach their goal; the regular encouragement they received, the success stories from people just like them and not wanting to let the team down.

But out there on our own, no wonder we give up. The staircase is unforgiving.

But it’s just a staircase. Ask anyone who’s climbed it; the guy with the 6 pack, the millionaire, the best selling author… they see a different view. They know that all you need to do is keep going.

It’s that simple.

Now, keeping going might not mean keep banging your head against a wall, it might mean stopping for a breath, taking a fresh look at what you’re doing.

If you don’t want to succeed then listen to the opinions and advice of people who’ve never accomplished what you’re going after.

If you want to succeed then only listen to the people and stories of those who’ve climbed the stairs already.

Regroup. Adapt. Improvise.

If we keep going we will get there.

It’s that simple.


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BLOG#15 The Only Reason You Do Anything

About 9 years ago, for around 3 months every Friday afternoon I spent 1 hour in a little wooden cabin chatting to a guidance counsellor, who was helping me overcome a problem that was very close to ending my relationship.

He fixed me. The girlfriend is now the wife and we’ve had an amazing life together so far.

I’ll never forget the final session.

He told me when we met for the first time, after I’d explained the problem and we’d chatted for a while, that he believed I could pretty much (if not entirely) overcome the issue. But it was impossible to know how many sessions it would take. Only that we would both know when we were done.

He was blunt, but warm and I immediately liked him and I trusted his judgement.

At every session after that, he just asked the occasional question and let me do all the talking.

It’s strange to have someone really listen to you. I think just having someone sit and listen to you, without judging you or trying to think of a smart reply, is a big part of the therapy process.

The simple, selfless act of just listening to each other is something we should all do a lot more.

He never made notes (at least not during the session) and it baffled me how he always remembered the finest detail of what I’d talked about, even bringing things up from several weeks before that I’d never have remembered.

It was maybe session 9 or 10, only around 20 minutes in. I was chatting to him and when I finished my sentence, where he’d usually pause and think for a while before asking the next question, instead quite abruptly he said “I think we’re done, do you?”

It jolted me as I realised what he meant. He was right and I agreed.

In those moments, as how far I’d come sank in, a weight literally felt like it lifted from me, something I’ve never experienced before. I sat back in the chair I’d sat in for so many weeks, and felt like I’d never relaxed in it until then.

After explaining to me what I should expect over the coming weeks and months, he asked me if there anything I wanted to ask him for a change.

The first thing that jumped into my head was “is there a common problem people come to you with or is every problem unique?”

“Yes there is” he nodded thoughtfully. I was really just trying to ask an intelligent question and it caught me by surprise that I’d poked him in an area that he clearly felt quite strongly about.

He confided in me:

“There are some exceptions, but often, people come to me from all walks of life and on the face of it they have everything that’s supposed to make you happy. But they are very unhappy and feel helpless.

An example is a guy who has a really good job, right at the top of his company. He lives round here and has a lovely house and he’s married with a couple of kids. What anyone would describe as doing really well for himself. No reason to feel down.

But he comes to me, tells me about all the good things in his life and then says…

‘…but I’m miserable. I feel so unhappy, so depressed all the time and I just don’t know why or what to do about it.’

…and in my experience I believe that many people live that way; with a level of unhappiness or dissatisfaction with their lives. And I know it’s completely unnecessary.”

“You mean you could fix them?” I asked

“In most cases, yes.”

I’ve thought about that conversation a lot over the years.

There’s no doubt in my mind that a lot of people live with a degree of feeling unhappy, or dissatisfied, or unfulfilled with life.

I know some of them; some battling to fix it, some masking it superficially with binging and addiction, and some just accepting ‘that’s life’ and complaining. A lot.

But I’ve also met and know people who are content with their lives. Who seem to have more time than anyone else, are interested in what you have to say and always leave you thinking ‘I need to me more like that’.

Although I’ve noticed these types of people over the 9 years since that conversation, it’s only in the last few months I’ve started to understand what makes one type and what makes the other.

Think about this:

If you play the part of the annoying kid and keep asking yourself “why?” about anything you do, you will always end up with the same answer.

There is only one reason we do anything – because of how it makes us feel.

And usually there is a choice involved. Do this or do that, do it this way or that way.

We make our choices based on what feelings are most important to us right there and then.

But this is the fork in the road.

Making your choices based on what feelings are most important right there and then, is how the people who are dissatisfied with life make their choices.

The people who are content with life, make their choices based on a bigger picture – of what they believe is right and fair, what is most important to them, what they value most.

Making your choices because of what you feel is important right there and then, will probably make you feel good for a short time. But it’s unlikely to make you feel good in the long term, or in other words, short term decisions are unlikely to give you any long term satisfaction.

More often than not, these types of short-term choices are based on false beliefs, programmed into us from the day we were born, that external things and people are what make you feel satisfied with you life:

‘I need to have a career to make my parents happy’
‘I need to earn this much money, own this house, own this car, to feel successful’
‘I need to wear these clothes to impress these people’
‘I need to lose this weight, look this thin, to make someone love me’

Like a human ping pong ball, getting batted around by whatever belief is strongest in our minds at the time, we are emotionally drained and never feeling like we’re getting anywhere.

People who are dissatisfied with life may constantly be making choices to try to feel better, but the way they make choices is the cause of their dissatisfaction. Time to make choices differently.

When you make choices based on what you believe is right and fair and important, it gives you confidence and satisfaction. Those 2 feelings combined add up to feeling content with your life.

Like a moral compass, your values will only ever point you towards the choices that give you real satisfaction.

How can you decide what is right and fair and important? How do you discover what you value most?

I’m sure there are many ways, but for me personally what worked is imagining the best funeral I could ever have. Gathered around are all the people that are most important to you in your life.

The exercise (which is well worth doing with pen and paper if you’re feeling a bit lost) is to write down something that each of those people would say about you. Not what they would say right now, but what you wish they could say about you, if you lived your life in the best way you could for them.

What you end up with is a list of the things that are most important to you, the things you value more than anything else.

I really had my eyes opened by this. A lot of the things I was chasing, spending most of my time on, would have been ridiculous for anyone who I cared about to say at my funeral.

BUT (and this is a big old BUT) it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change what you’re already doing.

For me, the major focus of my time was building my business – making more money. What this exercise changed were my reasons.

Whereas before, my reasons were to prove to myself that I could be a success on my own, prove others wrong, impress certain people etc. my reasons became to give my family security and to be able to be able to spend more time with them than I could ever do if I was working for someone else.

That’s just one of many things from the list I made, but getting real clarity on what mattered to me has changed how I make decisions about my work and my time.

The result since doing this exercise, ironically, is that my business has grown faster than ever before, I’ve spent more time with my family than ever before and I’ve only taken on new projects that lead me directly towards more security and free time.

You don’t realise how much power you have to feel good about life right now, with what you have.

Only when you take the time to understand what’s most important to you, then use those values as your compass, will you see that the real satisfaction with life comes from the small choices you make all day long.


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BLOG#11 The Real You Beats Any Diet

I believe that dieting is a symptom of misery.

It isn’t a cure, which means as long you’re on a diet you are destined to remain miserable.

Why do we go on diets?

Because we look in the mirror and don’t like what we see.

But what you see when you look in the mirror is the result of everything you have done from the day your were born until right at that moment. Your genetics have either dampened or amplified the effect.

The person looking back at you in the mirror is what someone looks like who’s done exactly what you did with your life so far.

How much you slept, the work you did, the stress you suffered, the good times you enjoyed, the booze you drank, the food you ate, how far and fast you walked, the thinking you did, the arguments you had, the exercise you did, the time you spent sitting down, the holidays you went on, the overtime you worked, the afternoon snoozes you took, the tv you watched….

The mirror does not lie, it can only show you what a person looks like who does exactly what you do.

I think that everyone has a vision of how they would like to look in the mirror.

But how we choose to think about that person is where we have the power to control who is looking back at you.

A destructive way to think about it, ensuring you’ll never be fully satisfied with what you see, would be to think of the person in the mirror as “Ideal Me”. In other words “the person I wish I looked like”.

I’ve started to think about it differently.

I think of the person I wish were looking back at me is actually the “Real Me”. In other words “the person I really am”.

I think that we know, with every decision we make all day long, whether or not it is a decision that Real Me is making.

But the majority of the time, right up to the moment you look in the mirror, someone else in in charge.

The greedy, selfish, lazy part of you who is also a liar. I’ll call him “Disgusting Me”.

Disgusting Me makes all my greedy, selfish, lazy decisions by telling stupid immature lies in my head:

“there’s nothing healthy on the menu”
“I deserve a rest”
“I’ll do it tomorrow”
“I’m happy enough”…

Disgusting Me specialises in coming up with reasons not to do what Real Me would do. And the more intelligent you are, the more convincing the reasons are that your Disgusting Me comes up with.

But the result of letting Disgusting Me make lots of small decisions all the time, is that the person looking back in the mirror disgusts you.

Occasionally Real Me may get his way, but over a whole lifetime it’s barely a drop in the ocean of hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of decisions that Disgusting Me has made for you.

If you’re like me then you sometimes get mad because you know exactly why the person looking back in the mirror looks like that. Not only do you feel fat, but you also feel stupid.

Now the good news…

Staring in the mirror feeling fat and stupid is a powerful motivator to make a change.

You have 2 options:

Option 1: The Miserable Temporary Solution
The temporary solution we’ve all opted for is a diet. It is a compromise – accepting you won’t be happy with some parts of your life (like what you eat) so you can be happy with others (like when you look in the mirror).

But you know that what you see in the mirror is just a reflection of the decisions you’ve made every day for years. So a diet can only work by being the complete opposite to the life you’ve lived (not just the food).

And you need to sustain this temporary lifestyle for a long time for it to have an effect on how you look.

In other words, a diet means prolonged misery (the opposite of what you’ve managed so far with your life) to enjoy the brief moment you glance in the mirror.

That to me is insanity and the perfect definition of “a waste of your life”.

So if you look in the mirror, before you decide to go on a diet you should acknowledge that your unhappiness is not caused by your reflection. Its caused by letting Disgusting Me make your decisions.

Then you have to ask yourself, is there another option than enduring the misery of a diet just to enjoy the brief moments I look in the mirror?


Option 2: The Enjoyable Permanent Solution
The permanent solution is deciding to live the life that Real Me (the person you wish were looking back in the mirror) lives, right now.

Psychologically, you become Real Me instantly when you choose the permanent solution.

The first thing to know is that Real Me lives the life that you really want and know would be possible if it weren’t for lazy, greedy, selfish you.

He doesn’t eat like a pig and never exercise, neither does he live life on a cardboard diet and spend every minute at the gym.

Real Me enjoys everything life has to offer. He eats delicious and nutritious food, drinks when he wants to drink, enjoys his work and has strong relationships with his family and friends. (The latter has been proven at Harvard in the longest happiness study ever conducted to have the greatest impact on a long and happy life – watch the TED talk here).

Real Me spends time doing things he loves that keep his body healthy. He doesn’t promise himself he will exercise 3 times a week, that would be like saying he’ll only eat breakfast 3 times a week. Loving things that keep him healthy is part of who he is.

Real Me grabs opportunities that come his way and makes his own luck, because he isn’t lazy, isn’t selfish, gives a shit more about others than himself and (this is the important bit) as a result of the decisions he makes all day long, he always feels good about his reflection.

Real Me knows that tomorrow’s 24 hours will never come again so he doesn’t waste any of it making lazy, selfish or greedy decisions.

As soon as your Real Me starts making your decisions, he / she will start staring back at you in the mirror.

And the longer Real Me keeps making your decisions, the more Real Me starts to replace Disgusting Me in the mirror.

Think of it like Disgusting Me is a glass full to the brim of Coke. Then Real Me starts making your decisions and each day a drop of water gets added to the glass until the glass becomes clear all traces of your bad decisions are gone from your reflection.

You almost certainly will have to expend some effort to find things you love doing with your time that are good for your body, things you love eating that are healthy and nutritious, spending your time with family and friends who bring out the very best in you and making your work exciting and energising (I suggested one way to do that in BLOG#1)…

To me that’s all life is – The things you choose to do with your time each day and it’s in those milliseconds of making each decision that you have complete control over your happiness.

The Short Version…
Planning to go on a diet to feel good about yourself is like taking an Aspirin to cure cancer.

When you’re truly happy with the decisions you make all day long, you don’t need a mirror to make you feel good and you’ll find that you’re never unhappy with the person looking back at you.

I’m the first to admit I’ve got pissed off with the mirror a lot over the years. But in the last few months the Real Me has controlled more and more of my decisions and it’s made so many parts of my life (and those around me) more enjoyable.

One last thought: Think about the times you’ve felt best about yourself in the past. For me personally they’ve never been after I’ve stuck to my diet for a day and they’ve never come from looking in the mirror or down at weighing scales. They are the times I feel like I’m making the most of life, when I’ve done the things I love best with the people I care about most. For me it’s surfing, drinking a few beers, eating good food with awesome people… It’s impossible to look in the mirror and not like what you see when the Real Me is in charge.


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BLOG#10 The Two Best and Worst Reasons to Quit Your Job and Start a Business

I’ve always had a voice in my head whispering (sometimes shouting):

“Don’t settle for an average life”

So in 2009 I left a well paid career to start working for myself. To start building an extraordinary life.

I can’t begin to describe the immense ups and downs life has thrown at me since then. Its like starting work on a jigsaw puzzle where you don’t know what the final picture is supposed to look like and you don’t know how many pieces there are.

Around 2 years ago, my puzzle really started to come together. The massive (and I mean massive) number of mistakes and new problems I faced (and still come up against), forced me to learn more and work harder than I thought possible.

(Bearing in mind I’d just left a 72 hour / week job working for a year in the middle of the desert)

I now know that all the lessons were pieces of the puzzle, each one seemingly unconnected to another. But as I reached the tipping point, everything new I learned fit together with something I already knew. Problems were easier to solve and mistakes that had prevented progress started to become increasingly bigger steps in the right direction.

The picture was starting to take shape but I couldn’t believe how long it took for things to start getting easier. There were a handful of moments I sat staring out of my office window with tears in my eyes and felt like a failure to myself and my family. But those are in the past and now (even just this morning) I have quiet moments of real pride and satisfaction from my work.

Starting a business isn’t for everyone. It’s easy to start a business and be miserable, anyone can do it! But if you really want to take a step up from the average 9-5 life, looking back at my own reasons and having studied what makes businesses success for over 5 years now, I think there are 2 very good reasons to start a business and 2 very bad reasons.

Very Good Reason #1 – To Create Personal Freedom
If you want full control over everything you do in a working day. If you hate having to answer to others. If you want to do things your way. If you want to decide the hours you work and the work you do.

Starting a business for freedom means you’re going to need extreme drive and commitment to work harder than you’ve ever worked. To get started you may need to do work you don’t enjoy and you need to be willing to learn a huge amount to become very good at it. The quality and speed of your learning dictates how quickly you’ll progress, so you also need to accept it may take a while before you see the benefits of your business translate into a better life than full time employment could give you.

From my personal experience I can promise you that your hard work and persistence will pay off big time because one day you’ll realise the 9-5s that you envied when things were tough are now envious of the freedom you’ve created for yourself.

And when you reach that point, you never stop learning so life just keeps getting better.

Very Good Reason #2 – Passion to Improve People’s Lives
If you believe something should be done differently. If you believe you can do something better. If you believe something isn’t being done that needs to be done.

People who start passion businesses are the people who change the world. They are the people who believe in something so firmly that they make it come true and the only thing that can stop a passion business owner is losing belief and giving up before they succeed.

You will have to accept that practically everybody you know including close family, will tell you that it’s not going to work out. Persistently. The reason is partially because they care about you and don’t want to see you hurting from failure, but also because they’re subconsciously reassuring themselves that you aren’t capable of something they don’t have the balls for. Fact.

The stories you hear of businesses that were rejected by Dragons Den investors, who went on to become a huge success? Those are passion businesses, where the owner didn’t care what they were told, their belief and determination made their vision a reality.

Very Bad Reason #1 – For an Easy Life
You will have to work way harder for yourself than anyone (even the slave masters of the Egyptian pharaohs) could ever legally work you. Add to that the fact that nobody can tell you exactly what to do to succeed and you won’t earn enough to live until you figure it out, working for yourself is harder, more stressful and more demanding than just about anything you can decide to do.

The one benefit of starting a business for an easier life, is that the laziness that drove you to quit your 9-5 will be cured faster than you can say TGIF.

Running a business does 2 things for you. Firstly it highlights the worst parts of your character and forces you to fix them. Secondly it brings out the best in you, usually when your back’s hard against a wall, you get to see what you’re really capable of. That can ignite a real transformation in some people.

Very Bad Reason #2 – To Get Rich
Your income is directly proportional to how much value you’re providing (to your company or to the world). That means if your goal is just to get rich (i.e. a 100% selfish goal), your goal is to provide zero value to anyone else so you will struggle to survive.

The irony here is that the worlds most successful investors will tell you that starting a business is statistically the best way (in terms of ROI) to get rich. But (and this was a major part of reaching the tipping point for me) the more focused you are on providing value than earning money, the richer you will get. That’s why people who run passion businesses are some of the wealthiest of all, because their primary intention is to improve people’s lives.

So my advice if you want to get rich is either climb the corporate ladder or start a passion business (for the right reasons). Don’t make the mistake of starting a business just to make a lot of money or you may end up miserable, trapped in a prison of having to do something you hate to keep the cash flowing, which in turn makes your miserable because you don’t have the freedom to enjoy your cash. Depression is big business and the reason is that a lot of people have fallen for this trap (rich and poor).

My own jigsaw puzzle of life becomes clearer and more detailed with every new piece I add and I realise now that I’ll only see the finished picture on my final day. Which means there are no limits to how beautiful a picture I can make.


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BLOG#9 If I Could Only Teach My Son One Thing…

If my time was up, right now, and I only had time to teach one thing to my son that I’ve learned in my 36 years, it would be this:

“Give to others what’s most important to them and you will have what’s most important to you”

This is the concept of VALUE and I’ve not found one area of life where it doesn’t dictate success or failure.

Value starts with shutting your mouth and forgetting about yourself, then opening your thoughts and your ears and focusing 100% on someone else.

If you want a stronger relationship, find out what’s most important to your partner and spend your time helping them to get more of it.

If you want to earn more money, find out what’s most important to your company or your customers and spend your time helping them to get more of it.

If you want to be happier (this is the big one), work out all the things that are most important to you and dedicate a part of every single day to them.

On the other hand…

If you aren’t happy with your relationship, it’s because you aren’t helping your partner to get enough of what matters to them most.

If you aren’t happy with your income, it’s because you aren’t helping your company or your customers get enough of what matters to them most.

And here’s the thing: you don’t just get back what you give, you get back much more.

It really is that simple.


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BLOG#7 Can You See the Invisible Influences?

Saturday afternoon, lazing about the house enjoying having nothing to do, the Food Network channel mumbled in the background as Tori and I chatted about what to have for dinner that night.

(please don’t hang up this does have a point)

We found ourselves getting dragged into Man vs. Food, a show where the host visits the best diners and in a city (lots of grilled-cheese sandwiches, fried chicken, bbq cow cuts, ice-cream mountains…) which culminates in him taking on a ridiculous food challenge.

This week it was Atlanta and a 30 inch (yes thirty!) pizza weighing 11lbs called the Carnivore Challenge, taken on by Adam the host and a team member. Food won.

Our discussion turned to pizza options for dinner.

Before we’d made our decision, the show ended and one on Asian cooking began, Ching the host sampling some delicious-looking treats from street food to tantalising pancake combinations. By now our mouths were watering.

We ordered Chinese.

A week or so later, Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals was the background for the evening meal choice (I’m painting a greedy yet quite accurate picture of my home life). I don’t even remember the dish but what I do remember is Jamie’s focus on fresh healthy ingredients and you couldn’t ignore the simplicity of preparing a delicious meal at home.

We didn’t discuss one takeaway for dinner.

Instead I headed to the supermarket and did the big shop for the week. I made a hot and spicy potato and pea curry for tea and it was spot on (not to mention super healthy!) if I may say so.

Why do I bore you with my TV shows and dinner choices?

Because these two episodes are a perfect illustration of the invisible influences over our decisions each day.

The effect is known as Priming and the principle is that many of our decisions, in particular the fast ones that we don’t consider to be major life choices, are made by a system in our brain that uses our short term memory for reference.

That means if I watch 2 TV shows about junk food, my (non-life-critical) decision about what to eat for dinner will more than likely be some form of junk food, because my short term memory doesn’t have much else in there to choose from.

If I look in the mirror after reading a Mens Health magazine or watching athletics, I’ll more likely to have a negative view of my appearance and will be much more likely to decide to get in shape.

If a young girl regularly watches US / Australian soaps and reads celebrity magazines, she will be more likely to be unhappy with / become depressed about her appearance.

If you see on the news a terror attack in Paris blamed on the ISIS group, you will be more likely to treat Asian-looking men (regardless of their nationality and religion) with suspicion. That isn’t to say you are racist, your short term memory just don’t have any other recent reference to form an opinion around.

Priming effect has been used by marketers (long before the effect was proven by the academic and scientific community) to influence the likelihood that you will buy their products.

But the reason behind this article is not to warn you of deceptive marketing.

I’ve written this to make you aware that everything around you, all day long, is influencing your view of the world, the decisions you make and ultimately your day to day happiness.

So what’s the answer?

I have 2 suggestions.

Suggestion 1: choose what you (and more importantly your kids) spend your time watching, listening to and reading.

But a WARNING goes with this – It will require effort on your part!

The lowest-effort approach to life is to accept what the world’s media chooses to paint your picture of how the world really is.

The trouble with that is the media choose to paint a picture of the world’s extremes, because media is business and businesses survive by capturing your attention more than their competitors.

Popular media paints an unrealistic and much more negative (attention-grabbing) view of the world than you are likely to experience, which means it will prime you to look for the negative in others and in yourself when in reality you (and the majority of people) have a lot of things to love, be proud of and be grateful for.

Suggestion 2: there is a second system that your brain uses to make your decisions. This is the “real you” and it’s the way you make important decisions, weighing your options more carefully and taking your time over so you’re ultimately as comfortable as possible with choices that are important to you. Like buying a house for example.

There’s no magic at work when the real you, the one that’s influenced more by your values than your surroundings, is in charge. All you need to activate it is pause for a second and ask yourself “is this something I’ve really decided for myself?”.

It’s not as easy as you would think.


BLOG#6 For a Better Day Eat the Frog First

My work days have gone a lot better since I started eating the Frog first.

The Frog is that important thing you really don’t want to do, the thing you’ve been avoiding because it’s going to be uncomfortable.

The Frogs in your life are what has made you an awesome procrastinator.

But eating the Frog first thing in the day has 2 beneficial effects:

Firstly, as Mark Twain once said:

“If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that it is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long”

Secondly, in my experience, the Frog never tastes that bad. What makes it a Frog isn’t the uncomfortableness (that’s definitely a word spell check!) of dealing with a task or situation. How can it be when it hasn’t happened yet?

What really makes it a Frog is the story you’ve been telling yourself about it in your head and the longer you put it off, the more detailed and real the story of discomfort becomes.

I’ll admit I still put some things off for days that I should just deal with.

But on the days when I eat the Frog first thing, they’ve never tasted as bad as I imagined (some surprisingly positive things have come from them) and the satisfaction of getting it over with has made the rest of that day a breeze.


BLOG#3 How I’m Using My EU Vote to Be Happier

I firmly believe that my day to day happiness and satisfaction (or stress and dissatisfaction) with life is controlled entirely by me.

It has ZERO to do with anyone or anything else and that includes whether the UK is part of the EU.

My belief is that the feelings and emotions we experience are simply the result of the thoughts we think.

And our thoughts are the one thing in life we have absolute control over (although controlling them can sometimes be more difficult than others).

BUT, last weekend I heard genuine worry in someone’s voice as they weighed what might happen to them as a result of the referendum this coming June.

I thought it was mad that someone could be stressed over which way to vote!

Yet, the following day I was out pushing my baby boy Jake’s pram in the early Spring sunshine and I found myself thinking deeply about how I would vote.

Very quickly I decided that the outcome of the referendum won’t have any effect on my day to day happiness or stress.

However, my personal choice of how I vote (in or out) is definitely an opportunity to have a positive effect on how I feel. Maybe just short-term, but possibly (in a very small way) forever.

So this is what I decided:

Firstly, making a choice is much easier if you have an ultimate goal.

And, being as the result of the referendum won’t affect me personally, I thought about Jake and his future family and how the generations yet to come.

Would the result make their lives better or worse? Or in other words – if there is no real short-term difference for us either way, what will the long term affect of voting in or out on the people I care about?

That is easy to answer.

If you consider everything that makes your life good – the freedoms, the comforts, the luxuries, the opportunities, the entertainment, the knowledge – all of these things had a starting point in someone’s mind.

And in my opinion, everything that makes life good, exists because someone had an idea of how they could help someone else, or how they could improve the lives of a group of people.

Every positive step forward in history that has brought you the things you enjoy most in life, has come from people who didn’t think “will this make me better off”.

Those people are the ones who held us back.

I believe that the human race has been advanced only by people who thought “will this make others better off?”

So if you want to adopt the mindset of the people who drive the human race forward, making the world a more civilised, advanced and enjoyable place to be for you kids and theirs, when deciding which way to vote just ask yourself:

“Will the people of Europe be better off with us in or out?”

or more importantly:

“Will I help (or hold back) the advancement of the human race with a mindset of collaboration or isolation?”

I will be voting to stay in and that thought is one that has already me happier.