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?

Would You Trust You?

From Courageous Success Growth Inspiration

The Great Place To Work Institute (100 Best Companies To Work For) believe that “trust between managers and employees is the primary defining characteristic of the very best workplaces”.

Do you like you?  Do you hide parts of yourself?  Are you the person that you’ve learnt to be, to be successful or accepted, especially when you are at work?  Do you see the best in people?  Are you comfortable showing your vulnerability?  To quote a previous blog, are you a workplace bitch?

What creates trust and what makes it so important?
Bodies of research point to a clear set of drivers of trust and its importance in business culture, leadership and performance. The most important driver cited is authenticity.  A recent survey (in the Banking Industry) published by The International Journal of Social, Behavioural, Economic, Business & Industrial Engineering (that’s a mouthful!) found a significant link between our trust in our leaders at work and our level of engagement as an employee.  With trust seen as the ability not to exploit vulnerability and existing where relationships are safe and respectful. Can you be trusted to be relied upon, and not just to deliver your KPI’s?


The level of gossip, manipulation, a*se licking self-promotion, silent and open terrorism and competitiveness that exists in your behaviour directly affects your energy, authenticity and mood.



Research shows that self-protective motives: the guards we create, the gates that we have, the bullsh*t we share, the bottom covering that we indulge in, destroys trust.
Let’s look at some of the stats:

  • 75% of employees say that they want their co-workers to share more about their true selves, with 80% believing that authenticity improves the workplace. Harvard Business Review.
  • People working in an uncivil environment miss information that is right in front of them.  They are no longer able to process it as well or as efficiently. Performance drops by up to 30% in an uncivil environment.  Christine Porath – Georgetown University.
  • University of Virginia research has found that most people lie once or twice a day and over a course of a week they deceive about 30% of those with whom they interact.
  • Frequent liars tend to be manipulative and machiavellian – cunning, scheming, devious – and overly concerned with the impression they make on others.  Texas University.
  • 100% of Courageous Success clients do not know their true authentic selves – despite years of profiling – a rare few would fight me on this – but they are never totally self-actualised at a personalised heart level (oh using lots of HR speak this week!).
  • From our research 88% agree “I have times when I doubt myself”, and over 98% of our clients are not managing their internal mental and emotional reactions or thinking about the consequences of them.

Are you creating a trusting and open working environment?

Authentic behaviour, good behaviour, comes through two simple routes:

  1. Understanding and being our real selves (from the heart).
  2. Managing our insecurities and self-consciousness so that we control our reactions (from the head).

Quick action that you can take to be more trustworthy and therefore lift engagement in others and performance;

  • You can of course sign up for iAM and work with Courageous Success (one of our London & New York clients recently made the top 100 best companies to work for and cited working with us as a key factor in this success).  I’ll stop selling now…  the quick route is to reflect on who you are when you are at your most comfortable and most in flow. This is normally outside of work.  In this zone, we let go of self-consciousness and are simply ourselves.  Consciously choose to be this you at work.  Today.  Right now.
  • Decide to focus on goodness. 80% of our clients have a personal value around kindness, you will potentially have this too – as will your colleagues – be conscious of your choices of behaviour.
  • Stop making it about you. If you put yourself first (that greasy pole!) you are putting others second.  Doesn’t sound like a recipe for trustworthiness does it?

81% of our clients say that as a result of working with us they now feel that they have the power to change their workplace.  By taking these simple first steps you can play your part in changing yours.


The Cringe Factor

From Courageous Success Growth

As mistakes go this was quite a big one – at the 2017 ceremony giving the Oscar for Best Picture to the wrong film, and it couldn’t have been more public, beamed live to a global audience.

Despite all the glitz, glamour and sophistication, in the heat of the moment The Academy is also not immune to the human reaction of finger pointing and positioning blame, however the ‘losers’, the producers of La La Land, have been praised for their poise and dignity.

How did it make you feel? Did you enjoy the spectacle or cringe in empathy for those involved? Scientists tell us it’s a small area of the brain involved in the natural human reaction of embarrassment – blood pressure goes up, heart rate increases and breathing changes. 

We’re all human; we all make mistakes, so we’ve all been there. Whether they are public mistakes or not, we’ve all experienced those awful cringe feelings.  

History is littered with examples of mistakes people have made, big and small. For many,  learning from the failures paved the way to success. Henry Ford had two companies that failed before the one we know that revolutionised the motor industry.


It’s not the mistake that matters,

it is how we manage our emotional response,  

deal with it and move on.




 “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  Thomas A. Edison
 Our tips for handling mistakes positively.
  • Fight or flight? Man up, choose to stay and fight.
  • Accept those cringe feelings, manage them and rise above. Retain your composure and dignity, stay engaged.  
  • Be courageous. Be open and honest straight away and take responsibility.
  • Be remembered for how you resolved it and moved forward, not the mistake.
  • In public (those presentation technical hitches) – breathe, be honest and be yourself. Making light of it dispels nerves and relaxes the situation. 
  • Forgive. Until you stop beating yourself up you won’t be able to move on. 
  • Maintain perspective, whether it’s your mistake or not, don’t get caught up in the vortex of blame and believing that this is the worst thing that has ever happened. Life goes on.
  • Learn from mistakes – ask ‘what will I do differently next time.’  It will make you stronger and more resilient.
  • As a manager and leader be aware of your reactions and how it contributes to your team or company confidence and culture. Encourage calm in the face of a crisis, openness, honesty and mutual support to resolve and move forward. 

Need a stronger spine?

From Courageous Success Growth Inspiration

Courageous Success programmes build resilience. Not using a magic pill, but by challenging & unlocking the natural strength that exists within all of us.

When you get stressed what do you do?

  • Stop, feel emotional and wallow out of control?
  • Blame others or circumstances and deflect?
  • Rant and throw your toys out of the pram?
  • Spend the rest of the hour or day feeling that it’s all so unfair?
  • Snap and irritate your colleagues?

What we know is, conscious of your natural reaction or not, you do have the ability to choose.
The challenge is, for most of us, the responsibility of personal resilience has been forgotten and lost.

Is taking personal responsibility out of fashion? 
Inaction and the habit of waiting for someone else to do something, take the blame or take charge is common and it kills individual and business productivity and growth. Hours of wasted energy & time. 
If you’re waiting for a knight (or princess!) in shining armour to rescue you, as Nathaniel Brandon writes in ‘The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem’ – the truth is …..


‘no-one is coming to save you.’




What stops us from maintaining perspective and moving on with practicality and grit? Is it that hard to maximise our courageousness? 
According to The Health & Safety Executive, the total number of working days lost due to stress just in the UK in 2015/16 was 11.7 million, with stress accounting for 37% of all work related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health.

Can we control our reactions & emotional response to reduce this?  We know that the answer is yes. 
It’s called manning up, taking responsibility and digging in. Feel you can’t do it? You are being a martyr!

Running your own business gives you plenty of opportunity to experience stress, you are forced to control it or frankly you just wouldn’t be able to do it. Cash flow, customer last minute changes, travel, breadth of work, risk…  People let us down and circumstances block our path, all of which we hate. If we don’t control our response, we can allow these things to disable us and potentially ruin our chances of success.

So,  how to thicken that skin?

  • You may immediately think that the answer is to harden. Actually, the fastest route is to stay open, connect with your inner self, your values of love, kindness and care. Cocoon yourself and feel grounded there. Entrench in inner goodness.
  • This doesn’t mean you hide. Quite the opposite. Most shut their gate – shut others out. Don’t. Remain consciously open & review the situation without emotion and look at it all with perspective. Evaluate what is happening? Be practical.
  • Believe in yourself and your ability to move forward.