Make Room For What Counts

Have you ever learned a lesson you didn’t expect to?

Make Room For What Counts

There’s always room for the important stuff.

The teacher stood at the front of her English class,  a collection of odd things laid out on the desk in front of her. The children were quite used to her eccentric ways and even looked forward to seeing what crazy thing she’d come up with next.

As the children settled into their seats, she picked up the biggest of her props, a large empty jar and started to put the golf balls next to it inside. The children fell quiet as they turned to see what she was doing. She hadn’t uttered a word at this point.

By the time she’d put the last ball into the pot, every child was sat in his or her seat and all eyes were turned towards her; silent.

She turned to the class and asked the children if they thought the jar was full. They all looked at her as if she was mad and yelled “Yes!”

The teacher then picked up a box of pebbles and proceeded to pour them into the jar. She shook the glass gently so that the pebbles rolled into the gaps between the golf balls.

She asked the children again “Is the jar full now?” and of course they again replied “Yes!”

“Are you sure?” she asked, “Because you said that last time and I found enough room for all those pebbles; are you sure?”

Most of the children shouted that yes, they were sure. Only a few kept quiet as they tried to work out what was coming next.

Next the teacher picked up a bag of sand she’d collected from the beach a few days earlier and poured that in on top of the golf balls and pebbles. As you’d expect, the tiny grains slipped easily between the larger objects and disappeared into the big jar.

The children squealed with delight!

“So,” asked the teacher “It wasn’t so full was it! Do you think it’s full now? or can we fit something else in?”

The children weren’t so sure this time. Excitement and anticipation bubbled around the classroom as they tried to decide if the teacher had another rabbit to pull out of the hat.

“I know” said the teacher, “If you think the vase is full now, go and stand over by the window, and if you think there is room for this to fit in, go and stand by the door”

The children looked to where the teacher showed them a brown paper bag. They couldn’t see what was in it, but it was about half the size of the jar which now looked full.

“I’ll give you a couple of minutes to make your choice” she said and allowed the children to talk amongst themselves.

At the end of the time, she told them to pick sides and watched as all but two children gathered by the window.

“Before we see if we can get any more into the vase, one of you tell me why you picked that side” said the teacher.

One of the more vocal students stepped forward, looking self assured,

“Because we can see that it’s already full. There’s no room for anything else, it’s full right to the top.”

The teacher turned to the two children on the other side and asked them if they wanted to change sides. One of them looked almost fearful and said yes, and with a sorry face moved over to stand by the window.

A single little girl remained by the door. Her bottom lip trembled a bit as she realised she was alone. The teacher gave her a reassuring smile and asked her why she had chosen to stay there.

“Well,” started the small girl, a hitch in her voice, “I thought the flower pot was full the first and second time, but you still managed to get more in, so I figured you might still be able to squeeze something else in that none of us has thought of.” and as she finished she looked down at the floor, clearly unsure if she was right.

The other kids were starting to giggle and whisper, so the teacher invited the lone pupil to come and help her.

From the paper bag, she produced a bottle of water. The little girl excitedly pulled the top off and ever so carefully tipped the water into the jar.

The gaggle of children by the window exasperatedly, slapped their legs and foreheads as they realised they’d been beaten.

The little girl who’d stood firm had a grin from ear to ear.

“I knew it! I knew it!” she squealed, “There was more room, we couldn’t see it but it was there all along, waiting for the right thing to come along and fill it. I was afraid when everyone else went to the other side that I was wrong, but in my heart I knew I was right.”

The teacher quickly forgot her planned speech on how if you worry about the little things and fill your life with them, there will be no room for the big, important stuff. This brave little girl who’d defied her fear and her class mates had delivered a far stronger message that day, both to her class mates and her teacher.


Self Esteem – Why it’s Important and How to Improve Yours Easily in 10 Days

Self Esteem – Why it’s Important and How to Improve Yours Easily in 10 Days

A healthy level of self esteem is major factor in determining how you do, how you feel, how and even who you are.  It really is essential to keep your self esteem as high as possible and there are some really simple ways to do that.

How to improve your self esteemWhat is Self Esteem?

First of all, let’s look very briefly at what self esteem actually is.  I think the easiest way to explain it is to start by thinking about who your ideal you is.  You might do this by thinking about someone you really admire, someone you think is beautiful, someone who has achieved things that you would love to achieve, or someone you consider to be a good or clever person.  Or, you may prefer to do this in a more abstract way, by considering the qualities you would like to have, or the things you would like to accomplish.  Or, you may like to think about the things about yourself that you would change and in what way.  However you choose to do it is just fine, as long as you can get a clear idea or picture, of what the ideal you is like.

The next thing to do is to compare where you are right now, with the person you would like to become.  Where are the differences?  Are they physical or intellectual? Are they mainly things constrained by values and beliefs you hold or emotional issues?  Again, however you measure and compare them is just fine.  This isn’t a black and white issue, so whatever answer you give yourself, as long as it is honest, is the right one.

Now that you have two markers, the ideal you and the you as you currently see yourself, you can measure your self esteem.  It’s basically the gap between the two! It’s worth remembering that this is only how you see yourself, pick one of the things you dislike about yourself and ask your kids about it, for a different point of view!

Now, it doesn’t need me to point out, that if your image of you as you currently are is very poor, then the gap between that and your ideal you is going to be huge; and the bigger the gap, the lower your self esteem.

It’s a vicious circle.  If your self esteem is low, you will have all sorts of unhelpful beliefs about yourself and are less likely to move quickly towards your goal.  So, what can you do?

Think about your best friend.  They’re no more perfect than you are and yet you love them just the same.  Imagine them making a mistake or an error of judgement. Would you get angry with them? and if you did, would you hold it against them forever?

Would you remind them at every possible opportunity how stupid they are? Would you punish them by making them overeat, even though they want to lose weight? Or deny them things they enjoy, to teach them a lesson?  Chances are, if you did they wouldn’t be your best friend for long!  It sounds silly and yet this is exactly the kind of thing we do to ourselves all the time!  Trouble is, that unlike a friend who can distance themselves from you, you’re stuck with yourself!

What has this got to do with anything you ask?  Well, I’ll tell you, it’s very simple.

Your unconscious mind, the part of you that runs your body for you, stores all your memories, protects you, heals you and controls your emotions, is like a young child.  It’s listening in all the time to what goes on around you and inside you; and it takes everything very personally.  Every time you put yourself down, or beat yourself up, your unconscious mind is listening in and taking offence.

How to Improve Self Esteem – Fast!

So, here’s a challenge for you.  For the next 10 days:

  • Speak to yourself – and that means inside your head too – as though you were your best friend.  When things go wrong, learn how to get it right next time and move on.  You wouldn’t shout at a toddler for falling over would you?  Of course not.  So, don’t dwell on the mistake, focus on a successful outcome next time.
  • When you look at yourself, look for the positive things instead of noticing every little flaw, and if you see something that isn’t as good as it could be, think about it as you would say it to a friend.  Be kind to yourself.
  • Find things you like about yourself and notice them out loud (you can do it when you’re on your own so you won’t feel silly!)
  • Praise yourself when you do something well. If you really want to make this super effective, combine a verbal congratulation with a physical gesture, like patting yourself on the back or squeezing your thumb and first finger together.  This creates a neurological link between the great feelings you associate with praise and the physical thing you do – then when you feel less great, repeat the physical gesture and you’ll find the great feelings come back too!

It shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for anyone to fit these simple steps into their daily routine. I guarantee however, that if you do all of the above for 10 days, you will have installed a set of really beneficial habits in yourself and you will feel better.

Once you have mastered these easy steps, you can begin to add to them and really build your self esteem.  Then you can concentrate on your goals and the steps that you can take to move towards them and becoming that ideal you; developing your focus and recognising the opportunities that will occur with increasing frequency, as you attune your mind to be open and seek them.

Treat yourself as though you were your own best friend, because ultimately you are the only person you can count on 100% and the only one who will be with you 24 hours a day, every day of your life.  The only thing you have to lose is low self esteem.

PS …….. For more ideas on how to understand and improve self esteem, why not take a look at a copy of my book About Self Esteem and How to Be Confident. You can see more about it and take part in a fun quiz on my Facebook page.

Shortcuts to a Positive Mindset

Shortcuts to a Positive Mindset

I’m often asked how I stay positive and whether or not there are any easy ways to get a positive mindset. At the risk of losing my air of mystery, I thought I’d share some with you!

So here is the first in series of short audio posts on shortcuts to a positive mindset.

Positive mindset shortcuts 1

I hope you like it and find it useful, please be sure to leave a comment if you do!

Three Harmful Habits You Should Drop Today

Three Harmful Habits You Should Drop Today

Do you harbour a grudge?

Worry unnecessarily?

Spend time going over things long after they happened?

Three habits guaranteed to do nothing but waste your time and energy and wear you down. Like many of the negative emotions on our spectrum, they contribute nothing positive to your life

I read a fantastic blog post this week, which illustrated this point beautifully, using the powerful medium that is a story.

The post was on my friend Mike Smiths blog so why not head over there right now and see what I’m talking about…

Go, on! Click the link here and go and read it for yourself 🙂

Be the Best You Possible!

I didn’t really get caught up in the Olympic fever, but one story really resonated with me because it reaffirmed one of my strongest beliefs. Whilst this is no surprise given the way our unconscious filters in the things which fit in with our beliefs and values, as I explained briefly in a post on my other blog, it still feels good when it happens!

It’s my belief that every child has a seed of greatness in them, that if nurtured and cherished will blossom.

Not everyone will go on to be an Olympic champion, but they can go on to be the very best version of themselves and that’s all any of us can hope for.

Here’s the story, taken from Sky News….

“While 80,000 people in the London Olympic stadium held their breath, wondering if Mo Farah could become the first Brit to ever win gold in the 10,000m, one man had no doubt.

Alan Watkinson, Farah’s PE teacher and the man he credits with turning his life around, knew he’d be a champion from the age of 11.

“He was a lively kid,” Alan recalls with a wry smile. “He was swinging from the goalposts and doing all sorts of crazy things in lessons but he loved PE. He loved sport, he loved to be active and that was something that needed to be harnessed.”

Farah came to south west London at the age of eight, an asylum seeker from Somalia.

In a mainly white school he stood out and the language barrier didn’t help matters.

Mo Farah

Farah came to the UK from Somalia as an asylum seeker when he was eight

He fell behind in lessons and started to get into scrapes, but Alan spotted Mo’s talent and persuaded him to try athletics.

Back then, Mo was more interested in football than running, and Alan had to resort to bribes to motivate him to win competitions.

“I said if you win the English Schools (he had come ninth the year before) I’ll buy you a football kit. And he did win the English Schools.

“So before the Olympic final yesterday, I sent him a text message saying ‘If you win I’ll buy you a football kit’.

“He hasn’t sent me a text back yet so hopefully he won’t expect it!”

Far from being just another teacher in Mo’s past, Alan has stayed close friends with the long distance runner, even standing as his best man at his wedding.

Watching his protege cross the line in the Olympic Stadium was an experience Alan says he will cherish.

“I was jumping up and down and screaming. The people next to me must have thought who’s this guy? What’s he doing?

“It was just a remarkable feeling. From knowing him 17, 18 years ago and seeing him develop from that youth who had a few troubles at school but who was charming and good humoured … to see him go from that to the stadium in London was just … you couldn’t make it up.

“Tears were rolling down my cheeks, I don’t think I even saw him go across the finish line I was so emotional.”

He’s gone from a mischievous child to an Olympic champion, but Mo Farah can’t relax yet – he’s scheduled to compete in the 5,000m final next week.”

Isn’t that a wonderful story!

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a teacher like Alan Watkinson. Many don’t even have a friend or parent to believe in them.

What I would like to say to you if you have grown up feeling unloved, unworthy and unfulfilled is..

It’s never too late!

At any moment in life we all have choices. Choices to do, say, think, feel and be what we will. It may not always be easy to make the right choice and your race may be starting way before the start line, but the past does not equal the future.

You can build a great life despite a poor start.

You can be so much more than you know if you will just give yourself a chance.

Mo Farah became an Olympic Champion with the help of his PE teacher, who saw and nourished that seed.  You can become a more brilliant version of yourself by routing out and cherishing your own shoots of brilliance.

Why not start a new race today.

The race to be the ultimate you, whatever that might mean. Build yourself up and start the journey to the life of your dreams.

I know it can be done because I have been fortunate enough to work with people who have changed their lives around. You can do it too!

You deserve it, all you have to do is believe that, want it and be prepared to make the choices to make it happen.

If you have enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and leave a comment below 🙂

Sorrow, Loss and Waiting For Rainbows

My dear old Nanny, Gladys Elizabeth Shergold passed away last night, on her 92nd birthday, determined to go with the same style and panache by which she lived her young life it would seem, and as ever, on her own terms.

I guess with all such things, it is normal to reflect and as ever I am led to question what lessons I might learn from my sorrow and in this case from her passing.

She has been poorly for a long time and her quality of life was not great, so in some ways it is both a blessing and release and not the shock it might otherwise have been. The human capacity for grief doesn’t seem to pay much heed to prior warning though does it! I look positively frog like this morning!

It is interesting how such an event churns up old feelings. Memories of losing my beloved father unexpectedly 7 years ago came rushing back.

I have thought a lot about loss since his passing, I still don’t like to refer to it as his death, seems too harsh and finite somehow. I have practised many, many times diverting my thoughts of him from  being sorrowful, into remembering the very many happy times I spent with him, and the old adage ‘Time is a great healer’ has certainly proved to be true for me. I will always miss his presence in my life, but I remember him with smiles and laughter now. It is a habit I have cultivated and it serves me well.

So I know from experience, that my though my heart is heavy today, and rightly so, it will get better and I will smile when I think of her without my eyes filling up.

The point of writing this today is in some ways to mark her passage here on earth, but also to share with you what I have learned in the hope that perhaps someone will come across this when they are in need of hope that the pain will get better. I promise that it will.

I would like to share with you a piece from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. It is the most beautiful book I have ever read and was given to me at a time when I would have been quite happy to die myself. If you haven’t read it, it really is wonderful. In this passage he speaks of death far more eloquently than I could ever hope to.


On Death  – An extract from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. THEN Almitra spoke, saying, We would ask now of Death. And he said: You would know the secret of death. But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life? The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light. If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life. For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one. In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond; And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring. Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity. Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour. Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king? Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling? For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered? Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.


My Grandmother, was to me the perfect Nanny. She always had time to play, time to cuddle and when I grew up, time to share a sherry or a glass of Baileys and a secret or three.

She made bombs during the second world war, lost her mum at age 10 and her husband 27 and once danced with Clarke Gable. She had skin like a peach and a will of absolute iron. I have yet to meet a woman with more determination than her – perhaps instead I will become that woman.

If you have come across this post at a time in your own life where you are sad or lonely and life feels like it’s all just too much. Please take heart.

Think back to other points in your life when you have felt those same feelings and then moved past them. Remember that just as night follows day and sunshine follows rain, you will smile again. It may not be tomorrow, or next week, but you will rise again and the rainbow that the sunshine brings will stay with you, so that your pain will have brought you something and not have been pain for pain’s sake.

Remember and smile

Force yourself to do it at first and it will become a habit I promise.

Look forward not back

You know where you’ve been, it’s where you’re going that matters. Learn the lessons of the past and them move forward from them.

Embrace your capacity to really feel

Allow the well hollowed by your sorrow to be filled with your joy.

Live your life with purpose and passion

In honour of those who would wish it for you, those who look up to you and above all yourself.

Positive Parenting

I know that I’m sometimes very deliberate in my parenting and I am aware that I might go on a bit sometimes to make my point, but let’s face it, no-one teaches you how to parent do they? You don’t get a guide book on ‘Good Parenting for Kids’ or how to acquire the necessary parenting skills with your first born!  We all hear lots about bad parenting and I don’t want to fall into any of those traps.  I probably drive my children mad! Positive parenting I like to call it, and those moments when they naturally demonstrate a lesson I know I’ve purposely taught them, make it all worthwhile!

A couple of weeks ago, whilst camping with my children, our great British Summer weather struck and our tent was destroyed. Not just buckled a bit, or frayed; completely and irrevocably broken.

We were in a museum avoiding the rain when I got a call from the camp-site to tell me. It was one of those moments where time starts speeding round in your head and at the same time standing still, or so it seems. Part of me wanted to panic, cry and ask someone else what to do. Part of me wanted to laugh. Yet another part wanted to stamp my foot, cross my arms and shout “It’s so unfaaaaair!” To begin with I did none of these – thankfully!

I have trained myself to look for learnings everywhere in life and so once I’d got into the car and started driving, my brain switched into ‘Ok, what can we get from this mess then?’ and I put on what my Dad always called my ‘determined head.’

Sure enough, the tent was destroyed, but the camp-site owners gave us shelter that night in their ‘Campers Lounge’ (a lot like a big shed!) and we collected another tent the next day. The immediate problem of where to sleep was solved.  In a way, that became irrelevant. What was important to me, was that the boys see that I wasn’t defeated and that we could find a solution. We stayed positive and we still had fun. We turned a disaster into an adventure.

Yesterday, my eldest was stringing some green beans, with my ‘safe’ bean stringer. He pushed instead of pulled and deftly sliced off the side of his thumbnail! ouch! Without much fuss, he then continued, only to slice the top off of his other thumb!

I tended to his wound – it was pretty deep – and told him to go and sit down and that I’d finish the beans. He said “No. “I won’t be defeated by this mum!” and having sussed out that the problem was his technique – he was pushing the stubborn beans onto the blade rather than pulling them through – and in doing so stringing his thumbs too! – he finished them off.

“Great attitude” was all I said, but it was one of those positive parenting moments for me and I was grinning inside. I always try to encourage the children to look for other ways to do things and above all, to never give in, and this little episode was great proof that my message is hitting it’s target somewhere!


You Need a Change!

The quote in the picture is from an 18th Century French writer and philosopher, Denis Diderot. Funny isn’t it that some things remain true no matter what the era you live in. Charles Darwin talked about ‘survival of the fittest’ but I think it’s much more accurate to say survivors are those best geared for adaptation.

In my work as a coach and when writing my books, I see my role as being to guide my clients/readers through change, to a more empowered and enlightened position. Interestingly, one of the first questions I am often asked is “Why do I need to change?” My answer is always the same!

Your current mindset, skill set, perspective, habits and behaviours have got you to where you are today. If you are looking for a coach, then I’d guess it’s because there is an aspect of your life that you’re not entirely happy with. If that is the case, then at least one of those things needs changing!

For many people the fear of change is so great that it over shadows their dislike of things the way they are.

Do you fear change? Do  you find reasons and excuses why you can’t have, do or be something more than at present? Not enough time, not enough money, too many demands already, don’t deserve it, it’s too expensive/good/decadent for me… the list goes on, but in the vast majority of cases it comes down to the same old things. Low self esteem and/or self worth and fear.

Perhaps the first change you need, is to change the way you view change! That’s almost a tongue twister isn’t it! You need a change of perspective. The way you think and feel about change will determine your success rate and be the deciding factor in whether you even begin the process. Does the word change sound like a death knell to you? tie your stomach in knots and make it difficult to think clearly through the ensuing mental fog? or does it sound like an invitation to have fun, feel great and make progress towards a brighter future and achieving your goals?

Change doesn’t have to be scary. It can be liberating, exhilarating and life changing. It doesn’t mean you have to stop being who you are or change all the great things about you; it means doing more of those and being and even better version of yourself! 

What one thing would you like to change if you could and what’s holding you back? I’d love to hear so please do leave a comment below.




Positive Parenting


As parents we constantly put our children first, often going without ourselves in order to give to them the best we can. We do this because we love them and want to be the best parents we can.

If I was to say to you, that you may be creating all kinds of problems for your children and even limiting their potential, you may think me rude or harsh. That isn’t my intention. You see your example is perhaps the most important gift and lesson that you will ever give your children. From the day they are born they are watching you and learning from you. Seeing how you interact with others, how you behave in different situations and how much, or little, you value yourself.

Many of the beliefs you now hold as the pillars of your life, you will have taken on from someone around you when you were very young. Someone who may not have known any better. The way you feel about yourself was created when you were too young to understand what was true and what wasn’t, and again, will reflect those who peopled your life.

If you want to be a great role model for your children, and I think almost all parents do even if they’re not sure how, then the best way to begin is by working on yourself.

Freeing yourself from limiting beliefs and increasing your self esteem and confidence will not only enrich your life, it will also set a shining example for your children, one which they can follow and which will allow them to lead more empowered and fulfilled lives.

If you have thought about self improvement and shied away, perhaps through lack of time, lack of motivation or because you ‘just couldn’t see the point’, I’d like to urge you to think again.

Do it for your children or do it for yourself. The results will be the same and you and everyone around you will benefit.