Category Archives: Life

Life without Commas & Full Stops

No different to the sentence you’re reading right now, what we find at the end of every sentence is some form of grammatical function – usually a comma or full stop.

Can you imagine what our everyday communication (written or spoken) would be like in the absence of those little friends – it would be nothing other than incoherent noise.

Grammatical rules are the unspoken laws that bring meaning out of the potential chaos of our everyday speech. While tiny in comparison to the volume of words, they are irreplaceable.

Yet, in our hurry up, busy-busy world, this is so often how we live our day-to-day lives – charging from ‘doing’ this to ‘doing’ that without any commas and full stops. When we bring these unspoken laws back into our lives, pausing and reflecting between actions, we find a whole new level and potentiality.

Question: Practicing self-observation today, to what extent are you able to pause between one thing and another – and what is the effect thereof?

Active Listening or Actual Listening

In the management sciences we hear of the importance of ‘active listening’, the practice of listening proactively, supplementing listening with body language and vocal signposts to convey our intent to listen.

Yet in its essence listening is nothing other than giving full and undivided attention. It is about attention and nothing else. To truly listen is the greatest compliment, a mark of genuine respect.

‘Active listening’ is about adding something extra to ‘actual listening’, it is about been seen to be listening rather than listening itself – dividing our attention between the listening and the tricks to boost ‘listening’.

When we truly listen with attention undivided everything falls into place quite naturally including our body language. With ‘actual listening’ listening is authentic and congruent – and we’re never in doubt that someone is actually listening – and rather than a pretence the compliment is a genuine mark of respect.

Question: Within day-to-day conversations to what extent is your attention singularly focused with undivided attention on the person in front of you? 

THE STRETCH ZONE – Pressure: Unwanted Impostor or Unfamiliar Friend

Of one thing we can be certain, there’ll always be pressure in the STRETCH ZONE – that is why we call it the STRETCH ZONE and see it as distinct from our COMFORT ZONE.

And we so often meet the idea of pressure with reluctant apprehension doing what we can to avoid what we experience as uncomfortable – labelling pressure as an unwanted impostor.

Yet, all is not as it might seem and when we look again we see that pressure, in measure, is actually an estranged friend and companion that we so seldom get to know beyond our projected anxiety.

Our COMFORT ZONE seldom brings out the best in us for the simple reason that it is just too comfortable – it is the SNOOZE ZONE. In contrast, our STRETCH ZONE wakes us up – awaking us out of our lethargic drudgery, bringing out our very best at the same time. Pressure is actually an unfamiliar friend!

Question: To what extent do you see pressure as an unwanted impostor or an unfamiliar friend – and what effect does that have on your performance potential?

THE STRETCH ZONE – Avoiding the Unavoidable

Given the pressure inherent in the STRETCH ZONE we so often deal with difficult situations by way of avoidance – a flight response to avoid facing a perceived nightmare at every opportunity.

Yet, life has a way of catching up with us and we can only avoid the unavoidable for so long – and sooner or later we have to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and face the unavoidable.

So long as we do all that we can to avoid the unavoidable, that avoidance only exacerbates our fear and doubt at the threshold of our COMFORT ZONE – it seldom gets any better.

Whether it is a difficult conversation, a presentation, a cup final, an interview, a date, an exam or a new project, flight only remains an option for so long and eventually we have to step up – and the alternative to fear and doubt is calm, poise and composure – a very different paradigm of possibility.

Question: What do you tend to do to avoid the unavoidable and what effect does it have on yourself and the situation you’re trying so desperately to avoid?

Life’s Marathon

With several years work about to come to fruition in the form of my first book and a supporting business to boot, I am in the midst of one of the most exciting periods of my working life.

Yet, in spite of all the potential, the relentless demands and unexpected obstacles over the years has come at much cost – sapping my energy to a point of exhaustion.

What has exacerbated this further is that while there is so much potential, success is most certainly uncertain – and I have had to dig deep to discover renewed reserves to keep going.

They say that ‘the tide turns at its lowest ebb’ and ‘the darkest hour is right before the dawn’ – so in life’s marathon we should never lose sight of our inner most intentions – our bedrock within. When every fibre of our being tells us to give in, we need to keep going with unflinching resolve and single-minded intention – the tide so often turns when we least expect it.

Question: What is your life’s marathon at the moment and what is your inner most intention that will keep you going even through your darkest hour?