Category Archives for "Goals, motivation"

Life at the top of the ladder…when you’re afraid of heights

There is a misconception amongst those eager to ascend the corporate ladder. It is that once you arrive at the top, you will have acquired the majority of experience and knowledge necessary to stand there confidently. That amateur emotions such as nerves, self-doubt or fear of failure will be gradually relegated, along with travelling economy or having to explain every decision you make. Sometimes, the task of removing these personal fears is undertaken consciously from the get-go; courses are sought-out, mentors are found and self-work is done. But what happens to those who skip these classes, not realising they are the key to balance at the height of one’s career? Tori Ufondu discusses the pitfalls of high-ranking CEOs who are not only afraid to take the leap into re-visiting personal lessons not yet learned, but those who are too afraid even to look down.

Defining success

The first CEO I ever worked with just happened to be drunk and technically, I wasn’t working. I was enjoying a quiet evening out that somehow ended with this highly accomplished man admitting he was waiting to be found out, exhausted by the amount of stress he was under and unsure whether he actually enjoyed the senior role he’d spent 20 years chasing. A married father approaching his mid-forties, the pressure was palpable. And as he folded himself into a taxi at the end of the night, I saw how misguided it is to label someone as successful based solely on their job title. Even more so, if fundamentally they are frightened and unfulfilled.

As the layers of responsibility, accountability and expectation grow, many of the leaders I’ve met have attempted to sever the connection between their professional and personal wiring. They navigate around personal barriers any way they know how, all in the belief that stopping is unacceptable and that everything they need will eventually catch up or fix itself along the way. And for a time this approach works, they reach their summit through stealth and hard work. But there’s a problem. The way you’re truly wired doesn’t disappear, it just lays dormant. Any issues you haven’t taken the time to address and resolve ultimately become woven into that which may one day shake your stability.

Exposing your weakest link

To be a powerful leader it’s certainly not necessary to deal with your fears or faults head-on, let’s be honest. We’ve all known someone in a position of authority, someone at the helm who’s able to produce results but is significantly lacking socially, morally or in some other capacity we consider vital to our own lives. However, to be a powerful human being with expert leadership as one of your many resources, it is necessary to confront any part of your psyche that threatens to undo you. Presentation angst, difficulty building genuine rapport with your team, discomfort with criticism – no matter how small, large or irrational, there is a lesson there. In order to lead from a strong, well-rounded perspective, all dead weight must be checked-in at every rung of the ladder, including the top.

A different sort of investment

For CEOs who spend the majority of their days consumed by strategic, results-oriented and time-critical thinking, the idea of slowing down for self reflection can feel like a backward and futile venture. In these cases the same principles applied to solving business challenges should be considered. This is the best deal you will ever make. Invest the time, the patience. Recognise that understanding personal blockers enables you to work through them in search of solutions and a viable plan of action. Remind yourself that avoiding challenges doesn’t work and that keeping an eye on your weakest link isn’t enough, you need to strengthen it. This opportunity to fortify your position at the top, if indeed it is where you wish to remain, involves interrogating your own core values as you would a company’s, questioning your beliefs as rigorously as newly presented business facts, and examining the presence of any issues that impact performance.

Ask the right questions

It was Voltaire who said “Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” So, if failure is the fear you carry, ask yourself whether it’s the concept of failure or the actual reality that you would be unable to deal with. If you’re determined to prove you’re the best at what you do, ask yourself why you need to prove it instead of justdoing it. Even question your reason for scaling the ladder, were you moving towards or away from something?

There are those who will survive for decades, outwardly content with having achieved their professional goal, those for whom a drink before board meetings, stress-filled days and volatile working relationships are perceived as par for the course. I challenge that mindset daily, as well as that way of living. To lead from above you must ironically ask yourself what you require to stay grounded. You must find out which internal resources have been unexercised in favour of external dependencies. And then fix them. All this, for a real shot at professional and personal success.









Sticking to your new year’s resolutions

Top Tips for sticking to your new year’s resolutions


Tip 1: Make goals a reality

When something is important to us we keep a record of it, we write it down, we stick it to the fridge or mark it in our calendar. Get your goal out of your head and into your visible daily life where you can be reminded of its importance.


Tip 2: Be clear

Okay so you want to eat better, great! But how are you going to do it? What will you eat, where won’t you shop, when are your indulgence days, who do you need to tell for support? A goal without a plan is like a map with no words – it makes for a difficult journey.


Tip 3: Create milestones

Goals are rarely realised in one giant leap, so break down the steps along the way. Set reward stages which mark your progress and reinforce determination. If your goal is to save £5K, give yourself a special gift every time you get £500 closer.


Tip 4: Focus on bonus prizes

Keep in mind that the actual attainment of goals is not always the most exciting aspect. Ask yourself why you want the promotion at work, why you want to move house, what will these things enable you to do? For maximum inspiration, pay attention to the outcome of your goals – not just the goals themselves.



“Be brave. Even if you’re not…

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“Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference. Don’t allow the phone to interrupt important moments. It’s there for your convenience, not the caller’s. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is. Don’t burn bridges. You’ll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river. Don’t forget, a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated. Don’t major in minor things. Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Learn to say no politely and quickly. Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved. Don’t waste time grieving over past mistakes. Learn from them and move on. Every person needs to have their moment in the sun, when they raise their arms in victory, knowing that on this day, at this hour, they were at their very best. Get your priorities straight. No one ever said on his death bed, ‘Gee, if I’d only spent more time at the office’. Give people a second chance, but not a third. Judge your success by the degree that you’re enjoying peace, health and love. Learn to listen. Opportunity sometimes knocks very softly. Leave everything a little better than you found it. Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation. Loosen up. Relax. Except for rare life and death matters, nothing is as important as it first seems. Never cut what can be untied. Never overestimate your power to change others. Never underestimate your power to change yourself. Remember that overnight success usually takes about fifteen years. Remember that winners do what losers don’t want to do. Seek opportunity, not security. A boat in harbor is safe, but in time its bottom will rot out. Spend less time worrying who’s right, more time deciding what’s right. Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life. Success is getting what you want. Happiness is liking what you get. The importance of winning is not what we get from it, but what we become because of it. When facing a difficult task, act as though it’s impossible to fail.”


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Is this acceptable?

This is the sentence of the week. The one small question that my clients and myself will befriend during our waking hours, when it’s all too easy to get caught up in daily routines, habits, expectations – when life easily and unconsciously flows from one commitment or distraction to the next, only slowing intermittently, without pause.  In asking this question of ourselves, we aim to re-introduce the inner us back into our own lives.

Imagine you’re walking down a busy street, hundreds of people around you.  Don’t just read this, actually imagine it.

Again, imagine you’re walking down a busy street. Hundreds of people around you, all moving in different directions. You notice someone standing still.  They’re not playing with their phone or trying to find something in their bag. They’re not lost, they’re not confused. They’re standing still.  Amidst people rushing past, all desperate to get to one place or the next, this person is separate from the flood of motion. They are standing still.

What’s your first reaction to this person? Concern, curiosity, amusement? What if this person is looking directly back at you?

Sometimes a pause, for us and for those around us, can be more effective than the most intense efforts of action.  We must be this person that stops and looks directly at ourselves.  Being still, whether physically, emotionally or mentally, is deeply liberating and entirely within our power.   By asking ourselves, in any given moment, Is this acceptable? we’re essentially pausing the unconscious part within us that would usually continue on, regardless.  By pausing, we’re questioning the flow of life and taking the time to remember and realign with our own inner tides.  And, becoming aware of the present moment allows us to become conscious witness to findings that would otherwise remain masked until a time of reflection, after the moment has passed.  Findings, like the thought in our actions, the millisecond decision-making in our impulses, the intention behind our desires.

So it’s why this week I suggest that we, as often as possible, ask ourselves ‘Is this acceptable?’  Not, What is the next best thing I could be doing? or How could I have done that better? but, What I’m doing right now, is this acceptable?  Is the food I’m choosing to eat right now, acceptable and aligned with how I want to treat my body?  Is the work I am producing the best I can do, right now?  Is the level of attention I’m giving to the person talking to me, acceptable for the good, present listener I want to be? If the answer is yes, then continue.  If it’s no, then maybe work on that.