Your time, your kindness and your No, is what creates success

a cup of self love

The Three Secrets to Building a Beautiful Business and Life

self esteem and kindness

Have you ever felt overwhelmed, frustrated or stuck in your business? My guess is that most of us have, and, if you haven’t, then you’re either knee-deep in denial or some kind of entrepreneurial unicorn. (If you fit into the latter category, feel free to move smugly on to another blog post… but not before you send me your secrets!)

Learning to say No is the most important skill a business owner must learn
When we first start out on our entrepreneurial journey, we’re told that success is all about the sensible, hardnosed principles and business buzzwords that you’ve likely heard a bazillion times: visioning, leadership, delegation, systems, planning, KPIs, and more. Of course, all of these things are crucially important, but there are three key principles that matter even more.

Three Unrecognised Factors for Success

I believe there are three undervalued and almost unrecognised factors for business success that are far more important than all those clichéd examples put together. These are the secrets to getting unstuck, stepping out of overwhelm and finally building the beautiful business and life that you deserve.

So, what must you learn?

  1. Your time is your business’ most valuable asset.
  2. It’s okay to say “no”, often.
  3. Be kind to yourself.

And that, my friends, is it.

Simple, right? Too simple for some of your sceptical minds, I’m sure. In fact, I can feel the eye rolls and smirks burning through the screen, but don’t write my theory off just yet! Your beautiful business (and life) is on the other side of listening to, and applying, what I’m about to share.

Maximising Time: Your Most Valuable Asset

In my experience, most business owners believe their most valuable asset is their staff, customers, intellectual property, stock, equipment or buildings. All of these things (or people) are incredibly valuable, for sure, but time is the only asset that is truly limited. You can never get more time – no matter how much you try to beg, borrow, hire, buy or steal.

Your time – spent fully focused on the stuff that really matters – is an asset almost as rare as rocking horse droppings.

In order to build a beautiful business and life, you must learn to become greedy with your time. You need to repeatedly check in and ask yourself questions like:

  1. Is this thing the best use of my time right now?
  2. What would happen if I didn’t do this thing?
  3. Is there someone else who could be doing this thing instead of me?
  4. What would happen if I did this thing later?
  5. If I do this thing now, what am I sacrificing?

Trust me: it pays to train yourself to ask these questions, often. Make it a habit. You will always have a “to do” list longer than your arm. You will always have more demands on your time than you can physically fit into a good day’s work. That is, of course, if you aren’t an aforementioned entrepreneurial unicorn (in which case, why are you still reading?!).

In short: learn to do only the stuff that matters most.

Saying “Yes” to Saying No

There is no more important skill for a business owner than knowing how and when to say “no”. Why? For starters, it will help you out immensely with achieving point 1 (maximising your time), but it will also pave the way for making your business stand out from the crowd.

Marketing 101 says that every business needs a unique selling point (USP). That’s why it pays to know your fortes and play to them by turning other opportunities down. After all, “a jack of all trades is the master of none”. Focus on your fortes and you’ll reap the rewards of presenting a highly differentiated brand.

Here’s some homework to get you started. Practice saying “no” in front of the mirror and then make a pact with yourself to say it for real at least once this week – or better yet, today! Remember, it is possible to say “no” respectfully, clearly, calmly and without feeling guilty. This brings me to my next point…

Less Guilt, More Kindness

Do you frequently beat yourself up for procrastinating? Believe you’re inherently disorganised, forgetful and lazy? Think your time management SUCKS? Does a cruel voice in your head frequently tell you that you’re not good enough?

You’re not alone. Absolutely everybody (except psychopaths!) has that critical inner voice. Everyone lets their worries, anxieties and irrational feelings of guilt get the best of them sometimes. However, us business owners are particularly hard on ourselves. In fact, I often jokingly say that small business owners are the most guilt-ridden people on the planet because I hear these kinds of self-deprecating words so often in my coaching practice.

That’s why I saved this particular pearl of wisdom for last, hoping you would remember and digest it well. In my humble opinion, being kind to yourself is not only the most powerful antidote to self-sabotage, but your fastest path back to JOY.

Being kind to yourself is not just the most effective way out of feeling stuck or overwhelmed in your business and your life – it’s the only way.

When we allow negativity and feelings of guilt to take hold, we give ourselves ever bigger burdens to carry. We set the bar impossibly high and then we punish ourselves when we don’t hit the mark. We lead ourselves to the paralysing place of overwhelm with too many tasks to complete in too little time and no plausible end in sight.

An overwhelmed brain is not pretty. It’s extremely inefficient, scientifically proven to underperform at every level and an enormous waste of your incredibly valuable time. And while the devil on your shoulder is, in fact, a protective mechanism designed to keep you safe, that doesn’t mean it ain’t a giant pain in the arse. So, how do we overcome it?

The good news is that you are completely capable of dialling down the negative voice and freeing yourself of imposter syndrome (feeling inadequate despite your success). Our brains are surprisingly malleable, and it IS possible to break the habit of a lifetime. Begin by noticing it and catching yourself in the act. Be inquisitive about where the self-doubt could be coming from. Remain compassionate, judgement-free and patient with your perfectly imperfect self while you reframe those pesky misperceptions and then continue on your merry way feeling 10 stone lighter!

I promise you; this soft, cuddly kindness stuff is the most crucial and hard-hitting work of all. Silencing (or at least muting because it’s a work in progress for all of us, including me!) that inner critic provides the space for creativity to flourish and a new level of clarity and productivity to arise. Plus, as soppy as it sounds, you have every right and reason to give yourself a pat on the pack. You’ve made it this far. You’re alive. You’re learning. You’re growing.

Your Permission Slip

So, here’s your permission slip to stop, give yourself a break and smell the roses. Look at what you’ve already achieved. Tell that little voice in your head to kindly move along because you’ve got this, and you ARE good enough. Now, make a note of my TLDR summary below and then TAKE ACTION on the good stuff today.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, frustrated or stuck and you want to build a beautiful business and life, you must learn to:

  1. Accept that your time is your business’ most valuable asset – and act accordingly.
  2. Say “no” regularly, calmly, respectfully and clearly.
  3. Be kind to yourself, above all else.

This shit works. I promise you.

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More about these topics:

AY: Mental health and wellbeing for small business owners

A healthy small business needs a healthy mind

If you want to build a beautiful business, learn to become kind to yourself.

To build a healthy business you must look after your own health and wellbeing as the business owner first

In 2019, the Federal Department of Jobs and Small Business launched a project to improve the support of small business owners in the areas of mental health and wellbeing.

I was asked to take part in this project in various ways:

  • I attended and spoke at the departments national roadshow Small Business Fairs in Launceston and Hobart
  • I took part in one of 4 workgroups run by the department on improving the support for small business owners in mental health and wellbeing
  • I took part in the creating of 5 videos by the department on mental health and wellbeing in small business.

You can read more about the project on the departments website here

The 5 videos follow below. Besides myself, the other coaches involved in the project were:

The pressure points for mental health and wellbeing for small business owners:
Healthy mind in a helthy small business, personal health and wellbeing for small business owners
Managing stress for small business owners
Stress overwhelm and bad health routines lead to business inefficiency and mental health issues for small business owners
Stress, overwhelm, balance and wellbeing in family business
Roland hanekroot from new perspectives coaching, business and life coach talking about mental health and well being for family business owners
Pearls of wisdom about mental health and wellbeing for small business owners:
roland hanekroot talking about mental health and wellbeing for small business owners

10 Rules for Happiness in Business and in Life

chocolate happiness

happiness

The Rules I’d have if I didn’t hate Rules

I’d love to hear about your Rules in the comments below

I hate Rules, as a Rule (!!), but if we must have Rules, I’d rather we had Rules about happiness than about eating chocolate or wearing helmets.

I recently watched a great video by Robert Waldinger about a 75 year Harvard study on Happiness (watch the video here). It’s a fascinating talk and a fascinating research project. It got me to thinking about the good life and happiness and I arrived at these 10 Rules. As a business coach who’s focus is helping his clients feel great about themselves and build great businesses, my perspective is tilted in that direction of course. Robert Waldinger talks about the value of relationships and at some point in the video he says: “On the whole, the people who do best in their lives as they get older are those who have leant into building relationships during their younger years”. I am completely convinced that he is right, and so I offer these 10 Rules as additional to the findings of the Harvard study.

BTW, they’re not really Rules of course, think of them as food for thought and conversation starters instead.

Also, you need to know, that for me, there is little difference between Life and Business, so I suggest you consider these 10 Rules in whatever context suits you best.

And I’d love to hear about your own Rules for happiness… Please share your thoughts in the comments below… I dare you!!!

So here goes:

Rule 1 : If you know where you’re going and you’re in control of the ship, it’s easy to get up in the morning.

I believe there are two reasons we get to feel overwhelmed and stuck in life. The first is when we don’t know where we’re going and the second is when we feel that life is living us instead of the other way round. The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland told Alice: “If you don’t know where you’re going, My Dear, any road will do“. I’ve always loved that quote (as long as you keep Rule #2 below in mind as well), but what is just as important is that we have a sense of agency in our lives, of having our hand on the tiller. Nothing is more stress inducing in my experience, than feeling we are being pushed and pulled in directions that we have no input over. It is one of the reasons I believe we, as business owners, suffer from depression less than the average population, because even though business might be terribly stressful and frustrating at times, at least we have this sense of being in control of the levers.

Rule 2 : Goals are merely directions on a compass, not destinations to get to.

The self-development craze of the past 30 years has sent us up the garden path with it’s focus on goal setting. We’ve been told that you must set clear measurable goals in life and strive to achieve them (Remember SMART Goals?). But goals can never be anything else than a Hail-Mary: “Given everything I know right now and assuming my best efforts in the future, I am going to achieve XYZ”. You don’t actually know anything about the future. Tomorrow the world will be a different place than it is today; Tomorrow you’ll be a different person than you are today. You may well decide to change your mind about your Goal tomorrow. So Goal setting is indeed a very useful thing to do, as long as you treat the Goal as a direction, a course to travel in, not a destination. And when circumstances on the journey change, you should of course always be prepared to change your direction, if that is what’s required to keep your journey going.

Rule 3 : The smallest difference that makes a difference will change your life.

Forget Change with a capital “C”. Sustainable change in life or business happens by taking one small step at a time, one day at a time. Every day a tiny step forward is a much more effective recipe for effecting change than attempting to jump forward in big leaps. Small step change is much less risky, it allows for everyone to adjust to changed realities and if one of the steps doesn’t work out, it’s no big drama to take one small little step back again.

Rule 4 : Forget growth, concentrate on delivery.


The myth is that business must grow or else it dies. I’m not sure where the myth comes from, but it is a myth, and a dangerous one at that. Focusing on growth as the measure of success in anything is a recipe for disaster and many businesses have grown themselves right into oblivion. The trick is not to grow your business or your organisation, it is to do so while continuing to deliver the quality and consistency and reliability that you aspire to. Growth will follow automatically if you do what you say you’ll do by the time you say you’ll do it at the price you say you’ll do it for, every time, with a smile.

Rule 5 : If you want something you’ve never had before…. You’ve got to BE someone you’ve never been before.

Your business (your career, your relationships, your health) is what it is today, because of WHO you are today. It follows that if you want your business to be something else, you have to Be someone else first. Change in other words, personal Change with a capital “C” (don’t forget to take Rule #3 above to heart as well). You simply can not create the business you dream of and do so without putting your face right up close to the mirror, looking yourself in the eye until it gets uncomfortable, and stay there.

Rule 6 : Today’s plans are tomorrows toilet paper.

Someone once said that planning is guessing, and a famous general is quoted as saying: “No battle plan ever survives the first contact with the enemy”, and in my days as a builder I used to say that all project plans I’ve ever created were out of date before they’d come off the printer. But don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that planning is therefore a waste of time. Quite the opposite as a matter of fact. The conclusion to draw is that we must always be planning. Because planning is a verb, it is what we must do all the time. We must constantly ask ourselves “what-if” questions, imagining the possible scenarios we might encounter and how we’ll respond to those should they come to pass. The value of the plan is never in the piece of paper but in the work done to create it.

Rule 7 : Change is uncomfortable, and that’s OK.

Human beings don’t like Change, we’re scared of it. And that’s because change happens as a result of going on a journey. And going on journeys is scary. Think of the anxiety you feel before going on a big trip, especially a trip where not a lot has been pre-booked. And a journey of change is like a journey where nothing is pre-booked, it’s a journey out on the open ocean, out of sight of land. Journeys of change never take place in the safety of the harbour. It takes courage to leave the harbour behind.  After every visit to the harbour, we have to take a deep breath to push off again, set a course for the horizon and resist the temptation to turn back as soon as the first big swells hit. But then once the sails are set and the ship settles on its keel, we start to revel in the possibilities of the open ocean again (even if we might feel sea sick from time to time).

Rule 8 : Feeling fear and anxiety means you’re not a psychopath, and that is a good thing.

Fear, anxiety, nerves, worries… They’re normal human emotions. There is nothing wrong with feeling fear. Being nervous about the outcome of things is a good thing. Worrying about things means you’ll double check that your parachute is shackled on securely before you jump from the plane. Feeling anxiety before making a new investment, employing a new staff member or signing a contract is healthy. Love your anxieties I say; Seriously, they’ve gotten you this far, don’t knock them.

Rule 9 : Presence is a great thing to aspire to, but un-achievable for normal humans.

Yep I know, it is a great thing to be Mindful, to be “here and nowhere else” and to always remember that Now is all there is. I know it, I feel it, I hear you… and… I also know that I will not attain that state of mind until about 1.5 minutes before I die, and I suspect, nor will you. So by all means, remind yourself to be in the Now from time to time, but don’t give yourself a hard time when you’re not… Noone else is either.

Rule Last : You’ll never be as cool or as rich as Richard Branson, and that’s cool.

‘Nough said…

Here’s how I help my clients life and work by those 10 Rules

Successful Entrepreneurs are Resilient People

Successful entrepreneurs and Resilience

Prepare for the bad stuff in your business and back yourself to get through it.

resilience tree in business

Nervous Entrepreneurs and Bouncebackability

Famous entrepreneur Richard Branson wrote an international bestseller with the title: Screw it, let’s do it. It’s a great book and I am a fan of Sir Branson. I wish more of the giga entrepreneurs were like him (as opposed to some whose name shall not be mentioned in this blog, but whose new office has no corners). But the title of the book has done much to confirm the myth that successful entrepreneurs are wild risk takers. I think that’s a shame, entrepreneurs actually take as little risk as they possibly can, and from what I’ve seen in 30-odd years in and around business, it’s all about mental strength instead.

Business owners who do well are resilient people (more on resilience here), they have mental fortitude, they have the ability to bounce back from adversity and set backs.

When growing a business, adversity is part of the package, it gets thrown in for free. Being a business owner is not for the faint hearted. The highs and the lows can follow each other in quick succession. I always think getting a business off the ground, is a journey out past the horizon of an unexplored ocean, and I have yet to meet a business owner for whom it’s been smooth sailing. Sometimes we’ll receive favourable winds and sometimes we suddenly find ourselves in the midst of an unexpected storm.

I’m reminded of the joke we used to make in the early days of the PC revolution: “You can divide the world in two camps: Those who have experienced a catastrophic hard drive failure, and those who are about to.” The business owners of the world can be divided in two camps as well: Those who’ve had a significant setback and those who are about to have one. And so it follows: entrepreneurs who have achieved a measure of success, have bounced back at least once after facing setbacks; Successful entrepreneurs are resilient people.

The two principles of resilience

There are two principles of resilience that are characterised by the following two quotes:

Accepting that anything could happen, good stuff as well as bad stuff, doesn’t make one a pessimist. There is a big difference between pessimism and being an optimistic realist. Pessimists will imagine the worst and not be able to see a positive way out. Optimistic realists on the other hand, acknowledge that bad stuff will likely come their way. They simply accept that it is part of the adventure, but they back themselves to be able to manage their way out.

Successful entrepreneurs and Resilience Nervous Nellies

Successful entrepreneurs do not walk around with their fingers crossed, hoping it will all be ok, somehow. They know that anything can happen, and they prepare for it. Great small business owners are generally ‘Nervous Nellies’ with active imaginations. But that doesn’t make them pessimists, far from it. They’re constantly on the lookout for what may go wrong and they plan for those eventualities. They ask themselves: If XYZ were to happen, how could I respond to minimize the impact of it? And they trust themselves to be able to get out from under the hammer when it falls. (More about planning here).

I cannot stress enough how important it is in business to look all possibilities straight in the eye. Positive thinkers, personal and business development gurus alike, often beseech us not to visualise the bad stuff in life. Instead, they say, we must focus on the positive things we want to manifest and we’re assured that because of the universal “Law of Attraction” and our “Abundance Mindset”, it will all fall into place, and if not, we’ve somehow not thought positively enough.

Positive Thinking is Nonsense

Successful entrepreneurs and Resilience Believe me: Positive Thinking is nonsense. Instead, accept that the bad stuff will hit you at some point, as it undoubtedly will, plan for it, learn to trust yourself that you’ll have what it takes to weather the storm, remind yourself that the storm is not caused by an intrinsic shortcoming in your personality and finally, take the quote from Ms Grotberg above to heart.

Why I like Edith Grotberg’s quote so much is that it reminds me that we can all become more resilient. If resilience were a character trait that only special people like Steve Jobs, Larry Page and Warren Buffet are born with, there is no hope for the rest of us. But just like we can learn to manage our anger better, become more assertive, or teach ourselves to become better listeners, we can also learn to become more resilient.

These are some of the steps that will lead to improving your resilience over time:

First of all, it’s really important to understand that Resilience is not about being unaffected by the storms;

Resilience is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure

You will be knocked sideways when the bad stuff happens. That’s ok, what matters is what you do next. Ms Grotberg suggests three statements to repeat to yourself and to remind yourself off often:

  • I Have: strong relationships, community and structures; these are external supports I can rely on;
  • I Am: a person who has hope and faith, cares about others, is capable and proud of myself; these are inner strengths that can be developed;
  • I Can: communicate, solve problems, gauge the temperament of others, seek good relationships—all interpersonal and problem-solving skills that I have acquired.

These statements are what are often referred to in various psychology disciplines, as a “Reframe”. While simply reading them here won’t turn you into a resilient rock overnight, they are powerful nevertheless. I suggest printing those three statements out and hanging them above your desk and read them out to yourself regularly. If you do, you will slowly start to strengthen your optimistic realism and change your self-belief, especially when combined with a focus on self-compassion, being kinder to yourself (more about kindness in business here).

Optimistic realism, reminding yourself of the “I Have, I Am, I Can” statements combined with practicing Kindness to yourself will mean you’ll recover from the bad stuff, quickly, and continue build a Great Small Business… I promise you.

Further reading

More about Personal Development and Leadership here

#BusinessResilience #startup #entrepreneurmindset #realtalk #motivateyourself #NeverGiveUp #Resilience #FunInBusiness

FREE Download: The 10 Truths for Making Your Business Grow

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Small Business

Overwhelmed in Your Business? Maybe you’re not Kind enough

Overwhelmed in Your Business? You Might Be Lacking in Kindness.

Kindness makes the world go round

Overwhelmed in Your Business? You Might Be Lacking in Kindness.

Reflections on being kind by an “older person”

I’ve been thinking about kindness a lot in the past year. Kindness to myself and kindness to others. Here is an article I wrote after a presentation I did on the topic of self compassion in June this year.

I’ve got some further thoughts on it that I’d like to share with you.

I think our society is not geared for kindness. We are urged to soldier on, to get stuck into things and to “Get Shit Done”. That attitude doesn’t encourage being kind to ourselves or to each other. That attitude makes us overwhelmed. Social media is rampant with people being unkind (in spite of the inspirational quotes all over Facebook). Road rage is prevalent and anyone we don’t agree with or is different is cut down by screaming headlines in newspapers and other media.

I’m 57, and maybe it’s time for me to realise that I have become a typical older person who believes we are all going to hell in a handbasket, the way the older persons did when I was 16. Maybe so, or maybe the older persons of my youth also had a point worth listening to.

Bull in a china shop

Overwhelmed in Your Business? You Might Be Lacking in Kindness.The thing is, I haven’t practised kindness very much myself in the past 57 years. I’m known as a bit of a ‘bull in a china shop’, I can be loud and obnoxious, quick to judge and I can be cutting and dismissive at times. But I think it’s time for me to change. The challenge came home to me again, today at lunch. I was talking with a very nice person about various people we both know. Some of those are competitors of mine, and I noticed how difficult I found it not to say unkind things about those competitors. I even found it hard to be nothing but kind about people we spoke about who are no competitors of mine. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t really bagging anyone, more like gossiping really, but it was definitely not kind. I noticed myself doing it, but found it really challenging to avoid. It’s so easy to gossip, it’s so easy to make fun of others, it’s so easy to belittle others. It makes for easy conversation.

And it’s unkind.

I had another insight in relation to kindness in the past few months. I spent a lot of time with my mother in her last weeks on earth during July of this year. At some stage she was getting impatient and frustrated. She was ready to go, had been ready for a while and she couldn’t understand why she was still here. It was quite upsetting, because her last days and weeks in this life were at risk of being spoilt by her increasing frustration with not dying yet. I had several conversations with her at the time and at some stage I said to her: “Your death is going to happen when it happens, there is nothing you can do to speed it up, and being angry is certainly not going to make the process go faster, it’s just a waste of your last days” and I said: “How might you get to enjoy what there is, instead of getting frustrated and angry over what there isn’t?”

I impress myself

The question had a positive impact on my mother. She started enjoying her last weeks and she died content. But the question had a really important impact on myself as well (I do impress myself sometimes!). I suddenly thought: What a great question to ask myself in many situations in my life, the circumstances, the business, the people and the relationships… “How can I get to love person X for who he is rather than get irritated for who he isn’t?”

I’ve been asking myself this question a lot in the past weeks and I can feel that I am learning to become a little kinder. I think I only noticed my unkindness over lunch with my friend as a result of having been focusing on this question in the past weeks.

Here’s another way to use the question that might lead to greater kindness: “How can I enjoy my life for what there is instead of be frustrated with what there isn’t?”

Try and ponder that question every now and then for yourself and see what difference it might make for you.

There is a wonderful organisation called: Random Acts of Kindness in Australia. They have a website and a whole bunch of great resources including a one-page sheet with the facts about Kindness, download it here

Kindness is important, it makes the world we live in more liveable, and I absolutely believe we should learn to be kinder to each other and to ourselves.

Further reading:

More about Personal Development and Leadership here

Take the FREE
Overwhelm in Business Survey!

If these words about kindness got you thinking, then you should go on and complete this survey. Overwhelm is often an indicator that people are not practising kindness, to themselves or others.

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Self compassion matters more than anything in business

old man

Kindness is your Key Performance Indicator

The surprising truth about being a great small business owner

grumpy old man I read a wonderful article by Andrew Griffiths the other day in Inc.com: http://www.inc.com/andrew-griffiths/be-a-better-person.html

The title of Andrew’s article was: If you want to have a better business, start by being a better person.

I suggest you read it. As always, Andrew makes a great point, he says it well and it’s an idea we should all go and do something with.

But I think we can take the idea even further. You see, I believe that if you want to have a better business, not only should you practice being a better person to others, but you must start by being a better person to yourself. The key to feeling great about yourself, your business and your life is learning to be a good person to yourself, to be kind to yourself. Kindness, to yourself, is actually the ultimate success factor for your business.

It starts here:

If you want to HAVE something you’ve never had before…

You have to BE someone you’ve never been before.

Or paraphrasing Andrew in the subtitle of his article: “Every business is a reflection of who you are”. In other words, if you want your business (and your life) to be different, you have to change first. Changing your business means changing yourself.

Ready to listen

The idea came home to me again a couple of weeks ago when I had lunch with Brad, an ex-client of mine. We were reminiscing over the work we’d done together last year and how his business and his life looked radically different now than it did before we started working together. At some point I said to Brad: “You know, sometimes I wish I’d met someone like me in 1990, in the early days of building my first business, things would have looked quite different if I had”. Unfortunately for me, Brad is an insightful chap and he put me straight in my place: “Hmmmmmm”, he said, “Maybe, but do you think you would have listened in 1990?”

And of course Brad was right. I wouldn’t have listened in 1990, or in 2000 either. In fact, I probably didn’t start listening to anyone until about 10 years ago. In 1990 I was so wrapped up in myself; I had all the answers, and I certainly wasn’t going to ask for help.

Especially, as asking for help means shaking hands with “The Little Voice on My Shoulder”.

Psychotherapist

I met my Little Voice a few years ago. I was seeing a psychotherapist at the time, and she had me pay close attention to the Little Voice. The thing I noticed, when I started paying attention, was that the Little Voice on My Shoulder is actually this old guy, 75-80 years old. He lives in a retirement home and there’s no one left, no friends, no family. He just sits in the parlor of the nursing home all day in one of those yucky plastic, washable, institution lounge chairs.

And I realised he was just lonely, and bitter and his only source of fun in life was to give me a hard time and to see me squirm.

And this old guy is real, as real as you’re sitting there, and he’s an ugly bitter old bastard; But when he’s there, in a way, I become him.

Not a clue

Stop and listen to Your Own Little Voice on Your Own Shoulder sometimes… Really step back and listen, to him (or her)…

It’s horrible, right? You would never speak to anyone like that, would you?

  • “You’re too fat”
  • “You really haven’t got a clue do you!”
  • “Nobody cares about what you have to say”

Recognise that voice?

But that’s how we talk to ourselves… all day

Murderous bastard

Sorry what’s that? You say you don’t have one of those Voices?

I’m sorry, my mistake, it’s true, some people aren’t troubled by a Little Voice on Their Shoulder. We call those people psychopaths.

So if you haven’t got a Little Voice whispering in your ear regularly, you’re a cold evil murderous bastard. You probably won’t need to read any further. But the rest of you? Maybe you aren’t aware of it so much, but you’ve got a Little Voice, trust me.

And this is the critical point: Because that Voice is what gets in your way of feeling great about yourself, because the harder you try to ignore him the louder he gets, and the harder you’ll find it to feel great.

Here’s two things you have to understand about Your Demon:

  • Your Little Voice is just as clever as you are, just as resourceful, creative and intelligent as you are… Because Your Demon is You…
  • He – or she of course – originates in what’s arguably our most primal fear… The fear of being alone…

Slaying the demon

st george and the dragon But the good news is that you don’t have to let him have all that power.  You can slay the demon, but in quiet a different way than St George slayed is his Dragon (although it looks to me like George could have stayed at home, the princess looks to have the situation well in hand, typical male…. But I digress)

You know I told you how my Grumpy Old Man has nothing better to do than to make me feel shit about myself… So a few years ago I decided to break the pattern and I have been doing this ever since. Whenever I notice him getting all Big and Loud and Nasty again…

I go down and see him and I bring him a cup of tea… And I sit with him for a while.

Power wanes

It may seem odd… But the moment I do that, the moment I give him my undivided attention, he stops feeling so scared and alone, and his power over me starts to wane!

He’s still a Grumpy Old Man of course… He’s me, after all …

But he’s nowhere near as Bitter and Ugly as he used to be anymore…

And most importantly… Nor am I..

And by the way, the adventures with my grumpy old man continued a little further: One day I thought I’d get really clever, and deal with him once and for all. I went and bought him a TV, thinking he could “Netflix and chill” for a while. Sadly, that didn’t work; you’ve got to give Your Little Voice the personal attention it needs from you, there is no shortcut.

It’s taken me many years … and several psychotherapists in Sydney have sent their kids to private school from what I’ve paid them, but what I’d like you to consider is that:

Yes you’re right

Sitting with Your Own Grumpy Old Man (or Woman), is saying:

  • Yes, you’re right, I made a mess of that.
  • Yes, you’re right I might have resisted that second piece of cake.
  • Yes, you’re right I actually haven’t got a clue what to do here

But you know what? It’s alright, I’ll do better next time… I can ask for help… But I’m OK

I’m OK.

Owning your mistakes, naming them, asking for help and above all accepting yourself with kindness … is the only thing Your Little Voice has no answer for.

And what that means is that kindness to yourself, self-compassion in other words is actually the most important Key Performance Indicator in your business.

The most important KPI

Weird thought, right?

But it’s true nevertheless….

I promise you.

Further reading

More about Personal Development and Leadership here