Inspiring Workaholism or Doing the Minimum?

Business From Courageous Success Inspiration

One inspired employee can produce as much as 2.25 satisfied employees.  Wow!

This Bain & Company Stat, featured in an article by Michael Mankins in HBR this March, highlights the need for self-productivity as well as business to WAKE UP to shift from downsizing and cost cutting – efficiency –  to promoting and unleashing more from those who work within a business – us.
Statistics this week reveal that global productivity continues to decline.
One of the joys of my life has been my workaholism – a term which the dictionary describes as, “a person who compulsively works excessively hard and long hours”.  I am that massively productive person.  I am an expert at it!  But, I have over done it and to prove it, I have recently been diagnosed with osteoarthritis. My body is reflecting my relentless overdrive to make a difference.  As an expert on this, one of my favourite subjects, I invite you to explore efficiency vs. productivity and the role that inspiration plays in the latter.  How do we work more productively and not fall into dossing about, and how do we inspire others in our businesses to do the same?
As I review the global workplace I am inspired by much, but I also see;

  • Worried people, and a level of anxiety that puts us on personal red alert.
  • A lack of joy and inspiration as we robotically tick off our to do lists to get through it all.
  • A focus on the self rather than the greater good, “that’s not inspiring me”, rather than “that could inspire others to make a significant positive difference”.
  • Self-effacement, as people keep things to themselves, reducing openness, honesty and a human culture, yet on the other hand hold up on Facebook how amazing their world is.
  • A divide between work and life outside of work, with the former formal and an act of doing, and the latter recovery time or a dreamlike place to be – if only forever – fuelling laziness (ouch) and resentment – a “I look after myself” focus.

When I then reflect upon what inspires me to (ok excessively) be productive I find the following to be of vital importance;

  • I feel a purpose and take accountability for thriving in my work.
  • I choose to be positive and I believe I make a difference.
  • I admit my vulnerability and galvanise my courage to get me through challenges.
  • I am myself, and believe that the best person I can be is me.

If efficiency is doing more with less, then productivity is doing more with the same.  However, most businesses are stuck in cost cutting, process reengineering and restructuring to maximise the bottom line.  When we think about managing ourselves we tend to think the same.  What can I drop?  How will I prioritise?  The result?  A treadmill of transactional doing.  With inspiration and ideas to do more with the same, through creativity, generally left for, “when I have time”.
Creativity is inspiring – but achievement is addictive.
85% of Courageous Success clients have a value around achievement – often described as making a difference, having an impact and contribution.  It is addictive because it provides validation and recognition, we don’t want to be dossing about!   Productivity – doing more with the same is Courageous Success the verb – but rather than being applied to pace, speed and content – efficiency – it is viewing everything with creative eyes and energy to inspire what could be done better to achieve even more.


Imagine if every leader had this as their philosophy!





So, it’s less hard work more smart work.  I for one have taken the vow of productivity, what’s getting in your way of doing the same?

  • Are you selfishly thinking about yourself too much – is there a ‘what’s in it for me’ malaise hampering your business and personal growth?
  • Are you as productive as you could be at work or do you work to a level that is what you think you can get away with? Controversial!
  • Are you enduring your work life?  The phrase ‘work to live’ plays into this – it assumes that these are two separate things – one to be enjoyed, the other to be ‘endured’ to pay for it.  Do you feel like this?

Coming back to global and specifically UK productivity, the head of the UK CMI Ann Francke said of last week’s ONS productivity figures, ”Investment in skills and management training is a crucial step to boosting productivity….poor management is costing our economy £84bn each year, and Britain lags other countries when it comes to people skills.”  YES!

Are you being a life changing manager?  An inspirer?




Here are some Courageous Success tips for igniting your inspiring productivity:

Switch off the autopilot!
We are creatures of habit and go through a large proportion of our lives unconsciously. Stir things up.  Take a new route to work.  Regularly speak to people you wouldn’t normally.  Draw ideas on a blank piece of paper.  If you do what you always do, you’ll get what you’ve always got.
Embrace challenge!
Taking on new opportunities will give you the chance to learn and grow. Learning helps the brain evolve new pathways which will literally change your mind. Set yourself a daily or weekly challenge to inspire and see how to do more with the same.

Ask us about working with us 1:1 to boost you and your leader’s productivity, all whilst being the best of ourselves.  We are also now running “I am a life changing manager” workshops, there to potentially save business £84bn.


Are You an Innie or an Outie?

From Courageous Success Inspiration

People who’ve experienced a negative life event have been found to be 10% less productive than their peers.  Ouch.

In the Warwick University Study researchers set out to explore the links between productivity and happiness at work.  In one experiment people were asked to perform a maths problem after watching a comedy clip.  Productivity was roughly 10% higher in those who had watched vs. those that hadn’t had the positive stimulus.
By the way, here’s a fun fact – between 10%-20% of the population have an outie belly button!  Now that’s made you smile!
Happiness is a choice that we can all influence.  What is happiness and how can we use it to maximise performance?
Most of us hold the ideal that we should be happy and in a euphoric state, most of the time. The reality is that we are not. Is happiness ‘ecstatic euphoria’ or being ‘not worried’?
When we experience knocks it can be challenging, but if we didn’t have the negative experience, would we feel the free comfort and contentment of not worrying, and is this happiness?


Most of us also expect others to make us happy, and if they don’t we blame them, be it our partners, friends, boss or workplace.




But what if happiness is a choice, something that we can switch on and cultivate – especially with each knock?

A lot of our clients are still talking about “Thought Leadership” – demonstrating and inspiring through self. Yet most clients are not cultivating their own happiness or that of others by choosing a positive perspective in the moment.
Bookstores and the internet are full of ‘Finding Happiness’ guides – is happiness that elusive that we all need to seek it and need help to find it? What do we depend on to be happy? Is it that next pay rise, relationship, next holiday, better car or house, when I am more successful?  Is happiness something that is created outside of ourselves or from the inside? The answer is probably both, however one of these is much more reliable and sustainable and more importantly – in our control!
Last week we surveyed some of the Courageous Success team on what made us happy. The examples all had one thing in common – they were primarily simple and humble acts, treats or experiences:

  • Sitting around the Courageous Success camp fire.
  • Doing a good deed for someone else.
  • A hug.
  • The sense of progress and achievement having put in the hard yards.
  • Purple glitter.
  • An ice cold glass of wine.
  • Chocolate crispy cakes.
  • Nailing it.

Richard Branson in a recent Facebook post talks about attributing his success partly due to being happy – rather than pursuing happiness.

According to Psychology Today 

”…happiness is a state of well-being that encompasses

living a good life, that is, with a sense of meaning and deep satisfaction…”



Researchers estimate that much of happiness is “under personal control.’’  
In their work with Courageous Success our clients report an improvement of 88% in their positivity & happiness. This isn’t a magic happiness pill that we hand out at induction – it’s about creating a mind-set that we can all experience.  One of the reasons Courageous Success has such an impact on happiness and positivity is that we put your power back in your hands influencing the relationship you have with yourself and the world around you. Creating happiness from the inside and not relying or hoping about what happens outside.
So what is your inside out happiness plan?  How will you take responsibility for your mood and experience so that you can deliver and live at your optimum? 

Are you an innie –  cultivate within, or an outie – waiting for the world to make you happy?

Hairy Legs and Having Courageous Success!

From Courageous Success Inspiration

In a period of very hot UK weather In June this year when temperatures rose to over 30 degrees (we Brits are so unused to these temps and tend to panic!), there were two great media stories about people protesting about dress code.

One office worker was sent home for wearing shorts, only to return to work wearing one of his wife’s dresses!  Also, the fantastic story of schoolboys in Exeter wearing the girls’ uniform skirts to school, as they weren’t allowed to wear short trousers.

At the Exeter school, when the request was put in for the boys to wear shorts in the hot weather, it was apparently said as a joke that they could wear skirts instead.  I’m sure that the teacher didn’t expect about 30 boys to then turn up in skirts – with some of them shaving their legs too!
It took real guts for those teenage boys to wear skirts to school, especially at such an age and in such an environment where fitting in, wearing and doing the ‘right’ things is so important.

A quote from the boys was that they found the experience ‘quite refreshing’, with another saying he enjoyed the ‘breeze’ – it was so refreshing for us to see their rebelliousness and lack of self-consciousness and, as the school has now said that it will look at relaxing their school uniform policy in hot weather, their success.
The definition of Courageous Success is maximising who you are and what you are capable of. It’s being braver. The consequences of not having it? Self-doubt, complacency, coasting, watching other businesses and people do better than you – and continuing to suffer in the heat at school in long trousers!!

Imagine what you could achieve by applying courage, grit, a hint of that gutsy, adventurous feeling every day.  All by being the best of you.

What could you achieve today, this week, this year?

It’s OK to be Normal.

From Courageous Success Inspiration

In an ironic twist for Theresa May in June ’17, the Museum of Failures opened in Sweden a week after the UK general election, 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?

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?

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