It’s Not All About You!

From Courageous Success Growth Inspiration

Developing, growing and ‘improving’ ourselves is important but it’s not all about you!

What is also important is what you think of other people, especially in your relationships at work. Thinking positively about others and building relationships and trust is important, it makes us feel connected and ourselves. Research shows there is also a clear link between putting you aside, building positive relationships with trust and business performance.

Paul J Zak has spent years researching this link and has found, (as reported in HBR): ’’Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout.’’

His research has also found that when we start to trust someone, oxytocin is released in the brain. So called a ‘sociable’ chemical, it increases empathy, a useful trait when trying to work with others. It has an impact on motivation, energy and positive culture.

Instead of asking ourselves ‘how can I improve?’
Maybe we should ask ourselves: ‘how can I see the best in others, show people I like them and build trust?’

From our own research we know that 80% of our clients have a personal value around kindness, so building trust amongst co-workers should be easy? Experiments around the world have shown that humans are naturally inclined to trust others, but don’t always.

What stops us?

Our habitual ways of experiencing and processing information can really get in the way:
Malcom Gladwell in his book ‘Blink’, talks about how we ‘thin slice’ and make judgements and decisions on small amounts of data and experience. We filter the world based on our point of view – does it fit with my beliefs and values or not?  If the answer is not – we can dismiss it – making us judgemental of others stopping us being truly open.

Then there is how we communicate, now more often than not, by email. Without all of the nuances of verbal and non-verbal communication, we can interpret the tone of emails differently to how they were intended and according to Psychology Today, we tend towards the negative.

”If the message is ambiguous, many people will automatically read the most negative emotions and intentions into it.”  



We also make inferences about people and their intentions when our emails don’t get a response.
Stress can inhibit that sociable chemical oxytocin, this explains why often when we are stressed we can avoid interaction with others.

So – how can we be more open to others and build trust?
  • Practise being open, remove your gates and guards, and let people in.
  • Be less defensive about your own ideas and opinions; ask others how to make them even better.
  • Share information about yourself. A google study found that managers who “express interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being” outperform others in the quality and quantity of their work.
  • Embrace difference.  Remember that we are all unique and others are not like you so stop expecting them to be!
  • Be curious, what can I learn from this situation or others’ ideas?
  • Get out of your comfort zone. Try new things, maybe one per week e.g. listen to a different style of music, read a different source of news, broaden your experience.
  • Manage your emotional response and take accountability for your mood – don’t give your power away.

Be yourself.
The minute you are the heart-based, real you, you’ll automatically be less self-conscious and will naturally maximise your focus on others.


How’s Your Bulls**t Detector?

From Courageous Success Growth Inspiration

Authentic leadership is often talked about as the holy grail and gold standard of being a successful leader or manager– but do we know what being an authentic leader is?

Googling the term ‘what is authentic leadership’ brings back 22 million results with lots of articles and debate from all over the world. This week the topic has been spotted featured as follows:

  • The Australian Financial Review reporting from their Bosses’ Summit that ‘Leadership has to be authentic, big bosses say’.
  • The author Monica Ali in a BBC article shared “the cult of authenticity is flourishing”, and explored what does it mean to be “authentic”?
  • Professor Rosie Campbell in her BBC radio programme described authenticity as the ”yardstick by which we now measure many things in our society.’’

Professor Campbell’s programme examined authenticity within politics and shared how Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn are seen as being authentic with Theresa May and Hilary Clinton being less so. Interesting!
Of course people in the public eye are subject to far more scrutiny than us ordinary folk, but how do we gauge if someone is being authentic or not?  Is it a rational response to someone or more of a sub-conscious emotional reaction?  I think we all get a feeling of whether someone is being authentic or not – we all have great in-built bulls**t detectors!
There are many definitions of what authenticity in management and leadership is. According to research featured in the Harvard Business Review, authentic leaders are ‘genuine and honest, admit errors and stay true to what they believe in.’

Do we need to be told what authenticity is?  It is as simple as knowing who we are at heart- our iAM Values – the real us – and then being that person wherever we are? Bringing who we are outside of work, into work.

The benefits of authenticity at work, reported by HBR, is significantly higher job satisfaction and engagement, greater happiness at work, stronger sense of community, more inspiration and lower job stress.   So it works.  We gravitate to, and tend to like people who are authentic.  We all want to work for and be with people we like.

Here are some tips for bringing the real you into work:

  • Be the same person at work as at home, you’ll feel and come across as more real and natural.
  • Don’t conform, we often think of work as having to be professional and formal. None of us have ‘professional’ written on our hearts!  Be informal and normal.
  • Bring friendship and care into your relationships at work.  Listen, with openness and approachability.
  • Be encouraging and build self-belief in others – always see the best.
  • If you need to have a difficult conversation, think about how you’d approach this out of work, with either friends or your kids, and then do the same with your team.
  • Admit mistakes and ask for help , and encourage this in others. Create a normal and real environment, where help can be given and mistakes made without it being seen as failure.
  • When you need to achieve something, think about how you might ask your best friend – and take that approach.


Enjoy it!
Love the connections and time together.

Small, wide-eyed animals at work!

From Courageous Success Growth Inspiration

”…there is a small, wide-eyed animal within each of us that doesn’t understand why we keep kicking it.”
William Sieghart talking about his new book: The Poetry Pharmacy

If the animal inside you represents the joy of being you, your confident self, your wide-eyed innocence & excitement about the world, and you are regularly kicking it, what is the impact?

If you keep kicking, will the wide-eyed animal shrink, wither, be scared, vulnerable, disengage and hide from the world – become broken? Does this small animal represent your self-belief?


Are you in touch with the animal inside you?

Do you know how it’s feeling?

Do you nurture it, feed it and really look after it?




We have a courageous counter that we use with clients to measure how much you need us.  One of the questions looks at your relationship with yourself, how much do you know yourself, are you in-tune with yourself and do you have useful internal conversations? If you were to score how positive your relationship is with yourself, would your score be high or low?

There isn’t one human being that we’ve met that doesn’t give their inner animal a regular kick. 

Courageous Success global leadership research shows that 88% of leaders agree that: I have times when I doubt myself, 79% agree that they’d use words like worrier, doubter, overthinking and lacking confidence when describing themselves.  But over 90% of us don’t look within ourselves for the answers. 

Do we let our life journey keep our inner animal down?  Do we start conforming at an early age: to what’s required at school, higher education and work – becoming what we think we should be? During this journey, does our childlike enthusiasm and joy dim over time without us even realising? When did your inner animal feel the most alive? How does it feel now?  Want it back – healthy and alive?

You can reignite your inner wide-eyed animal.  Think about how you’d feel if: 

  • I invited you to pass the parcel, would you feel the anticipation of excitement?
  • What about that interview for your first dream job, imagine you could be there right now and it was tomorrow.
  • You had that first kiss with the love of your life.
  • The moment you first stepped off a plane into the warm summer sunshine.
  • You opened the envelope to see that great grade or they said yes.

Ask yourself:

  • What’s great about being me?
  • Do I love me for who I am?

Start to have those inner conversations, the ones you want to have with your kids, your nieces and nephews, your friends and work colleagues.

What’s this got to do with work? Well, you are the worker. You are not a transactional, logical, robotic machine, you are that excited child waiting for the parcel to be passed to you.

You are not a number or a colour or a profile, you are you, and if you nurture your inner, small, wide-eyed animal, you and all those around you will experience the best of you.  

Is Joy and Respect the Fuel for Your Working Life?

From Courageous Success Growth Inspiration

”Putting joy and respect at the centre of my work is the fuel that makes me happy. Financial success is the by-product.” Mary Portas UK retail expert.

In a recent newspaper magazine the UK retail expert talks about her new business philosophy and one that she states as ”a simple philosophy, and one that I wish I had discovered years ago.”   Having worked with Save The Children in revamping some of their shops into ‘Mary’s Living and Giving’ shops and raising £11m for the charity, Portas was inspired by the volunteers that worked for free in the shops: ”they had a sense of duty,..they would turn up every day, same time, and do their thing. It was gorgeous”.  This inspiration led her to completely re-brand her retail agency, ‘Portas’, to be more aligned with the culture of these shops, changing a company in ”the tough world of marketing and communications” with as she put it ”the traditional masculine business approach of profit, competition, you’re fired’, to a company based on a philosophy of giving, with a culture based on trust, respect, kindness and emotion, and she says, with great results.  

How?  By bringing heart into her business.

Another example: the CEO of the US company Vaynermedia, is so committed to creating a positive culture for his workforce that he has created the role of Chief Heart Officer – what a fantastic title!   Seen as the CEO’s 2nd in command, Claude Silver describes her job as ‘serving others and mentoring a workforce of 750’.  Talking to Forbes this month she says of her relationship with the workforce “I work for them they don’t work for me. I am here to be of service.”  
Employing a Chief Heart Officer is a major statement by a company of how they view their workforce – but we can all contribute to a great culture ourselves, every day, and generate one including joy, respect and compassion, all by bringing our hearts to work.

Here are some tips on bringing this to the workplace every day:

  • Question any old & formal processes, are they needed for real compliance or a legacy from the 1970’s that de humanise culture?
  • Remember that where you work is actually a group of human beings that service others in some way – all wanting do to their best.   
  • Most of us conform to what we find at work.  Be innovative and look at things as you would if it were your own company or life, and make positive changes.
  • Be yourself, not who you think you should be.  Work to drop any mask you wear at work, any self-consciousness and be the real you, humanising the workplace.
  • Have courage to speak up positively and make a difference via the decision makers.
  • As a leader or manager – connect regularly with your team, and show your human side; admit mistakes and show vulnerability.
  • Smile, enjoy what you are doing, and do it in a way that reflects the very best of what you are good at, and truly reflects you at heart.

Are Power Games Killing Your Relationships?

Business Growth Inspiration

This week my normal pattern of train commute has changed – I’ve been lucky enough to have early starts at my desk and take late morning trains – lovely! 

With later trains I’ve been joined by holiday travellers. Sat amongst this mix, what has shocked me is the dominance and power that one side of a couple can exude, and I’ve seen again and again, an underlying steaming anger.  What’s going on?
What is it about relationships that means we want to have power within them, and what stops us standing up for ourselves when others try to have power over us?

We see this in leadership personas all the time – dominance and submission. 
Not every business fosters this environment but many do. 
And it’s toxic. 
It destroys confidence, courageousness and engagement.  


There are many types of power and many potentially outdated theories around it.  An interesting one however is French and Raven (1959), and later Raven (1974), stating that there are six bases of social power:


Reward Power:  the ability to give rewards when others comply with your wishes.  This may not work from one setting to the next.  For example, an employee might laugh at a boss’s joke, but the boss’s neighbour might not.

Coercive Power:  the opposite of Reward Power.  It’s the ability to deliver punishments.  While coercion can be effective in the short-term, it creates resentment and individuals will try to end the relationship.

Referent Power:  where role models come into play.  Referent Power is when somebody wants to be like you.  They identify with you.  You are their reference model.  They find you attractive in some way and they model your behaviour or thinking. 

Legitimate Power:  power that comes from a position or role.  It’s positional authority.  For example, you “should” or “ought” to listen to your parents, or your boss.  The unique aspect of legitimate power is that it’s not about rational arguments — the power comes from the position or role. 

Expert Power: “knowledge is power”, where expertise or knowledge is the source. This is where credentials, awards, and know-how play a role.  You end up deferring to greater knowledge for the area of expertise, such as a doctor or mechanic.  It’s limited to the area of expertise. 

Informational Power: the most transitory type of power.  Once you give your information away, you lose the power, e.g. you share the secret, the power is gone.  It’s different from other forms of power because it’s grounded in what you know about the content of a specific situation. 

What types of power do you experience? 

  • How good is your self-awareness? 
  • Is there a fragile base to your need or habit of power? 
  • Are you damaging connections or people by using power? 
  • Do you depend on knowledge for power – and if so, what happens when you don’t have the answers?
  • Are you consciously looking at the impact of power within your workplace?  

At Courageous Success we talk about not giving your power away – we all have the ability to control our emotional response.  

So, what power games are you playing? 

I Don’t Fit! Get Me Out of Here!

From Courageous Success Growth Inspiration

Fewer than 30% of organisations are able to find the right executive leaders, not only that, newly appointed executives take too long to adapt.
(McKinsey, recently shared in Harvard Business Review)

In the US, an astonishing 75% of employees report that their direct line manager is the worst part of their job (if you knew how much time in our 1:1 programmes is spent managing the boss, you’d be just as shocked!).  Another stat?  According to Leadership IQ, 46% of all new hires fail within 18 months.


This recruitment behaviour is costing business a fortune and all of us a huge amount of unnecessary work and hassle!



HBR’s article shares that despite the recruitment process accurately assessing a leaders’ skills and capabilities, the process forgets about cultural fit, and yet an essential element of effective leadership is the congruence between leaders’ values and those of the organisation, including the new leaders’ team.

Who is this person?  What do they feel in their heart?  What drives them fundamentally?

The starting point for understanding cultural fit is to understand your current team and business culture.   A humanised one is best.   People love to work with open, comfortable, authentic people – those who feel they can be themselves – their values – wherever they are.

Think about your home and who you live, your family, group of friends or roommates. Now picture your neighbours’ or friends’ homes.  The feel is different?  Yet the people there fit.  If I came to your home I’d experience a uniqueness.  I’d get a feel for the place.

Imagine if someone new entered and tried to join
– what kind of values would be a good fit?


Does the person need to be organised, structured, logical, or fun and carefree and happy with flow?  These questions are vital, and yet rarely asked at work.


In many blogs, I have quoted studies that show the positive impact of authenticity in the workplace – the greater employees’ feelings of authenticity, the greater their job satisfaction, engagement and performance.  When recruiting, how much is fit as important as ability and that proven track record?  During the recruitment process how much are you able to look beyond logic and behaviour and ask questions that show the person at heart, identify their values and therefore who they really are?  How much are you listening for the values of others at work?

Values bring realness.  They bring authenticity and trust.  They create connection and kinship.

How are you using realness through values to get a better fit?

It’s OK to be Normal!

Business From Courageous Success Growth Inspiration

It was an ironic twist for Theresa May, the week after the ’17 UK general election, the Museum of Failures opened in Sweden and received global press attention.

Exhibiting such things as the Bic pen for women and coffee flavoured Coca Cola (yuk!), the museum has the strap line ”Learning is the only way to turn failure into success’’, showcasing failure and celebrating it as a key ingredient to innovation.  Speaking to the BBC the museum’s founder, Samuel West, said that many major brands were just not willing to contribute, showing just how difficult it can be to admit failure.  Has this now become a cultural norm?  From Facebook and Instagram showing only the ‘best’ of people’s lives, the airbrushing of imperfections in photos, to schools and colleges removing winners and losers from sporting events – all creating a new ‘perfect’ normal, where mistakes are seen as weaknesses to be hidden and never spoken about.

However there is change on the horizon, Samuel West, the founder, also talked about his teenage daughter taking the Museum of Failure stickers to school, where they were becoming popular and being adopted as badges to be worn with pride.  His daughters’ friends’ identifying that failure is normal, honest and human.

According to a Harvard Business Review study: ‘’When leaders are true to themselves and admit mistakes or failures it gives others permission to do the same, changing the norms of the workplace.’’  The benefits are reported as: significantly higher job satisfaction and engagement, greater happiness at work, stronger sense of community, more inspiration and lower job stress. The more people share of themselves with others, the better the workplace experience.  Spending less time and energy on self-monitoring freed up more time and energy for the task at hand.

In practice this means; not following the crowd, not being self-conscious and bringing the real you into work – being the same you in work as out of work.

Showing that you are human,

normal and vulnerable – like we all are. 


As Julie Hilton, our Head of iAM Global, said the same week: ”it’s time to let rip!”
Ways to humanise and normalise your workplace.
  • When was the last time that you openly admitted to a mistake?  Do your co-workers or team feel able to freely admit mistakes and ask for help?  Make the change so this honesty becomes normal.
  • Do you always try and present the perfect you?  Get over yourself – it’s a façade. Being authentic is accepting the real you – warts and all.  
  • Be honest about your weaknesses and view them as opportunities to look outside of yourself.  Find the strengths in others.
  • Stop seeking approval – be honest and say what you really think. Stop trying – just be.
  • Are you often judgemental about others? This can stop you valuing those around you.  Turn off your critical voice, really listen and be open to others.
  • Be led by your heart and not your mind, trust those hunches and go with your intuition. 
What will you put into the museum of failure?

Grow Your Mental Toughness

From Courageous Success Growth Inspiration

Research is revealing that your mental toughness — or “grit” — plays a more important role than anything else for achieving your goals in health, business, and life.

Research studies by Angela Duckworth (Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania) find that intelligence accounts for only 30% of your achievement — and that’s at the extreme upper end.  What makes a bigger impact than talent or intelligence is mental toughness.
How mentally tough are you? 
Most of us would say not very.  Why?  In our experience, we don’t control our thoughts and minds.  Not only that, we believe that we can’t. 
And so, our heads win and the negative beliefs that we hold about ourselves rule. We think that this is only us, that others are mentally tougher. 

Every one of us has the capability

for greater mental toughness. 

We just need to work on it.



The first step to building your mental toughness is easy, you have to know that you can. So many of us martyr and its often easier to do so.  Lacking grit becomes a habit. 
Mental toughness is mental resilience.  It’s adult, grown up.  It’s something we all have the power to exercise and build.  When you can control your mind to block out worry, anxiety, fear and self-doubt, you clear your consciousness to reveal a full capacity to focus and step into positivity.  In Barbara Fredrickson’s “broaden and build” theory, she shares that positive emotions broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind, which in turn allows you to build new skills and resources that can provide value in other areas of your life. So,  it’s a virtuous cycle, mental toughness allows positive emotions, which in turn builds mental toughness.A simple exercise to grow your mental toughness immediately…

  • Imagine you have a set of walls in your mind.  The walls are high, you can’t see over them and they fit any situation snuggly, nothing can leak back once you place a wall.
  • Now think about something you’d rather not think about.  It may be a person you are not keen on or a task or project on your list that is too overwhelming or you don’t want to do.  Perhaps it’s a situation that has triggered you and wound you up.
  • Now place a wall in front of it so that it is compartmentalised to one side in your mind.  
  • Leave it there, mentally know it’s behind the wall and you can carry on. 
  • The “I’m not going to think about that now” allows us to do exactly that.  You are now free to move forward irrespective of that situation, task or person.
Sounds simple?  Great do it.
In my experience only 5-10% of us are actually doing this.  The rest let their mood get affected and lose focus and concentration, reducing their grit and mental toughness.
A word from a happy customer
”You are absolutely brilliant – keep up the good work and continue helping others to have life changing moments!!”

Making Yourself Stressed and Burnt Out?

From Courageous Success Growth Inspiration

When we ask clients to score their agreement with the question “I have a strong relationship with myself” (as part of our Courageous Counter) the vast majority score a low 3.5 out of 10.

The Courageous Counter comprises of ten questions that evaluate an individual’s propensity for having Courageous Success. This single question stands out for vast majority of us as something we need to work on. We have a whole kingdom of resources within and yet many of us don’t use it, want to accept it, like it, look after it or want to spend time with it….with ourselves. 
Gallup estimate that 31% of us are stressed and 24% of us are suffering from tiredness or burnout, how many of us are looking within ourselves for the answers? We can tell you: our research shows that over 90% of us don’t.
So, how is your relationship with yourself?                                              
I asked Nikki, our Head of Development, what well-being is. In her experience of working with thousands of us around the globe her conviction was clear –  well-being is “a fully grounded sense of self”.
Clients work with us on many objectives, from leadership and profit generation, to maximising authenticity and courage. Many objectives are similar, some of the most common are:

  • Generally have less anxiety and panic, absorb the stress of others less.
  • Be less of a pleaser – I say yes to everything.
  • Manage my reactions better and over-analyse less.
  • Put less pressure on myself – most of it is self-imposed and I forget this!
  • Less frustration, directness and aggression – pause my ambition and focus on now.
  • Feel more confident about my strengths – accept myself.

If you’ve worked with us, you know the answer. You also know it’s simple and I hope that you are continuing to be consciously aware. Let me know. I love it when you share your stories!
For those of you yet to engage with Courageous Success, the fix that we all want to these questions, lies within. Here are three steps to move you forwards;

  1. Choose to fix it yourself, regardless of circumstances.
  2. Decide to remove your self-consciousness whilst being your real self.
  3. Connect with yourself and have a positive conversation. Look within for your thoughts and strength. 

A study from the Dept. of Economics at Warwick University found that happy workers are 12% more productive than the average worker, and unhappy workers are 10% less productive, therefore the strength of your relationship with yourself will not only make you happy, if you decide to generate happiness yourself, your productivity will fly. 

What are you waiting for?

Are You a Zombie at Work?

From Courageous Success Growth Inspiration

”When you’re at work, do you behave in the same way as you do when you’re at home? Or do you have a work persona – a duller, more subdued version of your real self?”

From the BBC CEO Guru series, one chief exec of the tech firm Jive Software calls these people Zombies ‘‘…companies that don’t try to encourage staff to express themselves at work, and instead try to force them to fit into some kind of corporate clone – doing what they’re told to do without questioning – will lose out.’’
As humans we all want to fit in, be liked and succeed.  We are tribal animals and have a need to belong and be accepted and we do that by ‘following the rules’.  When we were part of tribes many years ago it was essential to show that we were not a threat – like animals in packs.  The modern version of this is becoming the person we feel we ‘should’ be to be accepted .
There are so many labels that we pick up to conform in this way – introvert, extrovert, the job description we have, the roles we have outside of work.  How often have we heard the phrase “Oh he’s an accountant,  that explains it all”.    We choose our narrative or label to help us fit in and feel comfortable.

Going with the flow in this way might appear easier however research published last year from the University of Buffalo and reported in Science Daily showed that ‘standing up for your beliefs, expressing your opinions and demonstrating your core values can be a positive psychological experience.”  The research was aiming to understand the impact of the pressure of conformity by assessing cardiovascular responses of people who were briefed to fit in with a group with a common view that didn’t fit with the goal they had been given, and reported that ”..their cardiovascular responses were consistent with a psychological threat state.”  The researchers reported  ”when trying to reach a goal, evaluating high resources…leads to a mostly positive, invigorating experience called challenge, which corresponds with feeling confident. Low resources and high demands (going along with the group against your own feelings) lead to a much less confident state called threat, which may produce feelings of anxiety.”


In the modern workplace this encourages safe ‘group think’, stifling difference, diversity and creativity.



For us all to be the best we can be we need clear energy space around us,  when we are worrying about fitting into the tribe, not posing a threat or being judged by others, we make it all about us – our energy is filled with worrying about us and what others think of us and feeling uncomfortable.  Once we can free ourselves from feeling that we need to conform, we release courageous energy, powerfully shifting ourselves to be more creative, intuitive, better able to concentrate on the greater good and impact more positively within our workplace.    

Do you need to break free from being a Zombie at work?