‘And the difference is ? ‘

A lawyer friend of mine was invited on a ‘jolly’ as he described it, in Cambridge, a marquee on the riverbank, champagne on tap, canapés, strawberries and cream on a balmy afternoon. That was the perception or expectation in my friend’s head at any rate!

It transpired to be a few people crammed onto a punt – no champagne – a few beers and several punnets of warm strawberries which my rather dapper, affable friend was left holding, squeezed in between two giggly young girls. Nothing against the giggly young girls – just not perhaps the Henley-esque experience that he was expecting or maybe hoping for!

Perception, misperception is a common occurrence and where coaching is concerned it happens often. So, may I offer you some clarification?

I reflect on three meetings;

The first was a client, a very capable CEO. He joined the organisation less than 18 months ago and it was significantly loss making, he took this ailing company to becoming very saleable organisation and a deal concluded early this week (a multi-million pound deal, I will add). Did I see a confident, ballsy, excited individual, proud of his recent achievement? I did not! Admittedly, as many of you will testify taking a company through an exit is no mean feat – exhausting, exhilarating, frustrating, exciting, tedious and any other descriptive you care to mention (some of which are best left unwritten!) however the exit and perhaps the anticlimax hailed the start of a new era.

Do you ever have that feeling when you have heaps to do or even one specific thing to do and hard as you try you can’t seem to make the first step to tackling it, head-on or even from the sidelines in stealth mode? This is where we started.

The session enabled the client to articulate the real issues that were going on and therefore reveal the path ahead. Some-one else really probing, asking challenging questions and making one accountable for ones actions – that makes a huge difference to how one moves ahead and progresses. More importantly having an impartial and unbiased supporter that will be metaphorically speaking ‘on your side’ through the ups and downs, and also providing a softer cushion of support when it’s required.

An email later arrived from the client saying ’I’ve come back determined, energized and focused on my great achievement and on the positives, and to milk both for all they are worth!‘

That was coaching. My client shall remain nameless and I was the coach.

Meeting number two, is with a highly regarded entrepreneur, hugely successful businessman, published author, public speaker and generally great bloke.

The two meet at a disceet location in London, they discuss business, aspirations future strategy, global poverty…..

This man is charismatic, steely sharp and incredibly generous with his time and advice. He asks the most incisive of questions and really gets to the heart of an issue – evoking one to really explore all avenues and most importantly really hone in and focus on where one is headed.

From a position of great experience and knowledge, the entrepreneur imparts advice, encouragement and methodologies as to how the other might significantly grow their business in a supportive yet challenging way.

Specific, measurable suggestions that not only enable but also inspire! Topics covered are wide and varied; people, motivation, target market, USPs, finance, legal, marketing and the myriad of other issues facing companies and executives today.

I walked out onto the Strand positively bouncing with excitement and renewed vigour and drive (I still am in fact!).

That was mentoring and I was the privileged mentee and it was a gift.

Meeting number three;

An individual that I know well has been hugely successful in business (and continues to be) and has great friends and family.

Some 20 years ago, my friend grew up with alcoholic parents and lost his mother when he was eighteen in a tragic accident (doubtless caused by the alcohol abuse). At certain times in life this causes him to not only find a given situation very challenging but also he finds it extremely difficult in knowing how to handle it.

He sees a psychotherapist regularly and is slowly overcoming and being able put aside some of the pain.

This is counselling (or therapy), the friend shall remain nameless and the psychotherapist is a member of the British Association of Psychotherapists. Occasionally coaching will stray into areas of our psyche that require the services of a specialist counsellor or therapist – a good coach would always point out that they were not best placed to assist and refer on in such situations.

There is often some confusion defining coaching, mentoring and counselling. There is a time and place for each and the results and outcomes from each intervention can be extraordinary and potentially life-changing. However, they are each very different and it is essential that the boundaries of each aren’t blurred as this is when the wrong intervention can cause entirely the wrong outcome!

My lawyer friend was subsequently invited to the British Grand Prix by a generous corporate organisation; this reality super-ceded his expectation! Use coaching, mentoring or counselling at the right time in the right place and you will find that your expectations are more than likely surpassed too.

Kate Tojeiro is an Executive Performance Coach. Contact her at http://www.the-x-fusion.co.uk

‘Do you have a conflict management strategy? ‘

Conflict sadly seems to be around us most of the time in the world at large and in our day to day business.

The most successful teams and companies have spontaneous and varied outlets for new ideas, innovations and approaches, however, it is also however these creative ideas, innovations and approaches that can be the very ingredients to conflict!

Therefore it is probable that the two greatest skillsets that will directly affect the success and longevity of your business are not only strategic planning but also conflict management! Having been inadvertently on the sidelines of a major conflict between two parties at the week-end and in my work as an Executive Performance Coach – seeing the stress and behavioural barriers to success that ensue, I know this to be true.

You´ve probably heard the saying “the bone is strongest where the break heals” (that is actually medically true!), the same applies to relationships (business or otherwise!), and this may, actually, give organizations a competitive edge. Unresolved conflicts are harmful and put a business at risk. Companies are often comprised of emotional hot houses and systems that are likely to have conflicts at some point or another. Several studies on M&A deals suggest that the largest number fail because of lack of conflict regulation processes. I have observed that those who do well are those who have found ways to regulate and appreciate differences of opinion even and especially if they are potentially explosive. These companies enjoy a competitive advantage, as they are better able to work together, trust each other, and react faster to the changing economic environment. The resulting outcome also leads to better, wiser decisions.

So if you have a conflict management process, fabulous! If not a few pointers which may assist;

• Conflict is normal; differences of opinion are healthy
• Managed conflicts are beneficial
• Build self confidence in emerging leaders
• Strengthen bonds
• Create rich diversity, more options
• Must be dealt with quickly and fairly
• Process is as important as outcome
• Hard bargaining is a poor second to interest based negotiations

Best practices to prevent conflicts:

• Clear strong leadership that is meritocracy based.
• Good employment policies: compensation, employment, exit and entry, reviews.
• Formalized meetings.
• Strong, effective governance with a truly independent board.
• Formalized meetings for sharing and understanding the collective and individual beliefs and values.
• Open and direct communication.
• Dealing with issues and conflicts as they arise in a direct, timely and open-minded way.

When conflict arises;

Remember any human system is also an emotional system with a long, complicated history, working in real-time. In any emotional system that is subject to many and varied opinions and views, a fair and timely process will offer safety and predictability and more importantly a swift solution.
• Establish a fair process
• Build in safety and predictability so individuals will know what to expect
• Get buy-in from parties
• Use it!

Notes on a good, fair process;

Here are steps to follow in managing any conflict:
Ground rules
• Who are the critical decision makers?
• How will we make this decision?
• How long will we give to this?
• What are the rules of engagement?
Initial Positions
• Statement of problem
• Statement of each parties position
Interests
• What does each party really care about?
• What is their motivation?
• This answers the question ´why´?
Create solutions
• “Out of the box” thinking
• Invent options
• Brainstorm
Get objective criteria for each option
• Reality check
• What is the industry standard?
• What are the requirements for that position?
• How do we review that strategy?
Reaching an agreement
• Open discussion of the choices
• Weigh the options
• Make the decision.

My basic premise is that to counter conflict, you need a rational approach of patience & calm. You have to work out what is happening that is contributing to the problem and change it. Easier said than done, maybe! However, by getting to the root causes of the conflict, you not only relieve current conflicts but you are also more likely to prevent recurrences. For example, if you keep having conflict in your management team, it is possible that you might discover that the cause of your upset is not their behavior but your unrealistic expectations. By modifying your standards, you might find that the conflict in the team no longer bothers you or even better, those conflicts result in the more successful outcomes that you could ever have imagined. .

Until next week…

Kate Tojeiro is an Executive Performance Coach at http://www.the-x-fusion.co.uk

Can’t stop change…

Being an Activist!
Be really honest, are there a few days in your life when you want to hide in your office and ignore the world? Hope that no-one will come and find you, or ask you for anything, be it an opinion, a signature, a decision, an agreement to get a new photocopier? Whatever – it is called being human and happens to us all.

Being the leader of an organisation, regardless of its size, does take a huge amount of energy, and responsibility and requires you to be active – either physically or mentally – whether you like it or not.

Now here’s the thing. That is why you are in the position of leadership right now. That is why you are in the top 2% of the population. That is why people want to follow you and be guided by you. You have already shown your tenacity and energy in order to have got into the position that you are in. So feel good about that! A very few percentage of the population are willing to be brave enough, active enough or maybe responsible enough to take on a leadership role – to set up and drive a company, to head up a group of people, to turn an idea into a business.

Here’s the catch.
Unfortunately you are only as good as your last action. What I mean by that is that now that you have made it to the ‘top’ or somewhere close, you cannot revert to a passive way of life and stay being successful. It just doesn’t work. I am sure that we have all known those managers of the past who have got to the position that they think they deserve(!) and then sit back on their laurels using power and status alone to remain in position. Do they add value to the business? Probably little. They might do enough to keep the status quo, but not a lot more. They know how to work the system, and stay out of the firing line. In the end, neither the company or they feel good about the situation. It doesn’t work for anyone.

As a successful leader you find that you have to remain ACTIVE in all that you do. Talk passionately, question the status quo, find out what the competition is doing, employ another great asset, think beyond tomorrow. The list is literally endless, which is inspiring but can be quite scary too. However, how do you feel at the end of the day when you have been active throughout? I would hope that words spring to mind such as achievement, higher self esteem and satisfaction. It must be worth it as you will go back and do it all over again tomorrow. Won’t you?

Please do recognise that there are some days you need to re-group, we just don’t have all that energy required – that is normal! The trick is to recognise this – and allow yourself to have a day of ‘re-grouping’. Just don’t make the big decisions on this day!

So – how do you find ways to continue to be an Activist, without completely wearing yourselves out? Here are some thoughts.

Firstly, enjoy what you do. I am sure that we can think about something you have been hugely involved in, whether it is mending a motorbike, working out a puzzle, painting a picture or a house, and the time has just disappeared. It is wonderful to be so involved that you give it your all without stopping, or even feeling tired (until afterwards at least!). Does work still do that for you?

Secondly, you don’t have to go it alone. Employing some people who are like minded and can be just as active as you, enables you to pass on the gauntlet without doing it all by yourself. Having used your passion to bring them on board will pass on that energy and away they go.

It does get easier too. Luckily, we humans do learn as we go along, so that the tremendous amount of energy we employ in doing something for the first time, requires slight less each time that we do it. So being active actually increases our comfort zone. That’s a relief isn’t it?

Don’t waste your energy on valueless things. So many of us sit through meetings where there is so much potential talent sitting around the table, and none of it gets used. Look in your diary and highlight the events where your passion and your energy are required and make them a priority, minimising the energy-sapping appointments.

Look at yourself at times – and make sure that you are not doing the ‘power – status’ thing – you may feel good for a day, but not sure that it adds value to you or your company!

Finally – a thought, in the words of Carmel McConnell, an inspiring activist and author – ‘You have loads of talent. Let’s face it, most days it just sits waiting inside you.’ So what are you waiting for?

Until next week

Kate Tojeiro is an Executive Performance Coach at http://www.the-x-fusion.co.uk

‘CEO with multiple personalities – please apply’

“I have a dream….” Heard that before? The most quoted speeches about leadership around the globe are those that have provided inspiration and significant change– inspiring groups of people, workers even nations in some cases. Whether it be Martin Luther King, Churchill, or Mandela, they are all recognised for outstanding leadership. Many of us aspire to being half as talented at articulating, mesmerising and leading I am sure! However, for you CEOs and equivalents out there, you realise being a leader is not just about make fantastic speeches, in fact a significant part of your role and day requires a completely different form of leadership.

Myles Downey, a coaching guru of our time, neatly articulates that in order to be a successful CEO, you need to be a leader, a manager AND a coach, regardless of your business being 2 or 2000 employees.

Stop for a moment and cast your mind across your diary. Think through your day and the different, varied facets of your role. Typically it may include speaking at a conference or team event (Leader), a one-to-one with your Marketing Director (Coach) and then checking on progress of your latest product (Manager). Are you beginning to recognise the need for the split personality now?! I am not encouraging you all to be schizophrenic, but I do want you to recognise that it does not take just one type of behaviour to succeed at the top. This is what we have to work on (unless you are naturally schizophrenic that is). In my experience working with CEOs, you will naturally have one of the three personalities as a natural strength. The knack is being aware of the need for the other two when certain situations occur. Do not expect to shine in all three, but ensure that you do have the skills to vary your style to create the best outcome for all events.

Those most successful in the role of CEOs tend to be those that are sensitive to recognising the different roles needed at different times in the organisation.

Let us look at the three styles required:
Leader – This is the person that inspires the team, the troops, by articulating a clear message for everyone to get behind. They will be continuously and tirelessly talking about their vision, how to get to success and driving people to do so. Behaviours will include clarity of thought and communication, together with ability to make tough decisions.

Manager – Here is the person that makes things happen. They ensure that the vision becomes reality through getting teams set up and working with them to continually progress. They will be creative in getting people to move from ‘what’ to ‘how’, in making dreams reality They will be able to prioritise and keeping the momentum going, removing obstacles as they go. They will also be a good team player.

Coach – Here is the person that listens and creates a culture where everyone takes responsibility for the success and progress of the organisation. They will continually create situations for people to express their thoughts, enthusiasms and even worries in order to get responsibility spread throughout the organisation. They will listen and watch and encourage others to move forward and will be continually positive in outlook, having put status to one side.

So – firstly, identify which is your forte? Which of the three do you instantly recognise is your natural behaviour? Incidentally, many of you may instantly think it is Leader, although this is often not the case. You may HAVE to frequently take on this role based on your responsibilities, but that does not mean you are not a natural coach underneath that.

Secondly – recognise when the other two personalities would be better at different events, such as a one-to-one, or a review meeting. What is important to identify what different behaviours are best at these events in order to get the greatest outcome.

Thirdly – practise all three in order for you to seamlessly move from one to another as the need arises. A suggestion for you – Write down two or three words that clarify for you what Leader, Manager and Coach is. For example
Leader – inspiring, consistent, tough
Manager – team player, obstacle remover
Coach – even playing field, listener
And carry this with you in your diary/PDA.

Before you go to an event, pick which ever of the styles you see as appropriate and consciously try to take on that persona – give yourself feedback after the event, so that you continually improve as you go. The greater diversity you have as a CEO, you create greater opportunity for success.

I would like to leave you with a quote that may inspire you to try these techniques out, from one of the great leaders of our time:

“Personally, I’m always ready to learn, though I do not always like being taught.” – Winston Churchill

Until next week,

Kate Tojeiro is an Executive Performance Coach at http://www.the-x-fusion.co.uk

The choices we make….

This week maybe I (or more appropriately my friends) have got to that ‘certain age’.

Two of my close friends have just decided to pack in their very highly skilled, senior professional jobs; one to go travelling, the other to do something different, not knowing what that is quite yet! One was a Partner in a law firm, the other on the Board of an international pharmaceutical company. Both of them had been very focused about climbing the corporate ladder and had achieved much during their 15 or so years at work. However, they both said independently, that the decision to pack it all in without knowing where they would go next was amazingly easy. Considering both the individuals had always taken any decisions to date very seriously and analytically, I was amazed that they both were comfortable to ‘abandon ship’ and just see what happens.

To dramatically change their life and lifestyle at this stage takes considerable courage, and some of you may say that they are bonkers in doing so. Maybe so in some eyes! However, it does highlight that however important you may be in business, however deep your responsibilities are (which are likely to be considerable as a Leader), you DO have a choice in terms of your life. Yes – you really do, as these two have shown me at least!

Now, I am not encouraging all of you out there to abandon your careers, companies and even families just for the hell of it! However, there are some interesting things that are worth considering, as a result of their decisions.

What assumptions are you making?
Both friends said that they never really gave themselves the chance to stop and think about what they really wanted when caught up in corporate life. What was interesting was that they often thought that they did – when on holiday, or talking to their Coach or family. But in reality, this was always within the confines of certain given parameters; incidentally parameters that they had given themselves, sometimes unconsciously. Things like mortgage, children’s education, business dependency are the obvious ones that burst forth initially. Can you think what assumptions, or parameters that you have set yourself in business and at home? Are they real, relevant, or are they just there from habit? For example, Nick (one of the friends) always assumed that he ‘had’ to work to pay for his life, house, family etc. An obvious one I know! However, when he did sit down with pen, paper and a smart Accountant, he realised that he could manage a year of considerably smaller income without doing real damage to his pension, or lifestyle. The same goes for business – are there some assumptions that you are making about your competition, your costs, your revenues that actually could be challenged, without being detrimental to the business? Try to list all those assumptions you are making – you may be surprised at how extensive the list is, when you dig beyond the obvious ones.
Take Courage
The amazing Karren Brady says in her book ‘Playing to win’ that “Courage stems from confidence but stands alone as a tremendous asset”. She is so right. Courage is so often driven by a very strong goal or ambition, and easily taken away from us by our very own actions. Sometimes, it seems easier to hide behind some self-authored parameters that encourage us to say ‘Well I would love to do that, but I just can’t’. There is no such thing as ‘can’t’ when driven by your desire to do something – so look for that ambition that you really, really want. What is getting in the way? Is that your choice – really?
Look into the Future
When you are 80 and sitting in your chair, looking back over your life to date – what will you like to have said that you have achieved? Is it too late now to change your life to do it? Probably not! Every week, we all read amazing stories of octogenarians running Marathons, Pensioners setting up Charities in India, retired folk returning to business to set up a multi million pound Vodka business – so never think it is too late if you have the desire! So as not to be ‘age-ist’, you may think you are too young in some areas, but then consider the 18 year old American Girl who has just completed her final ascent up Everest, and is now the Youngest Human to have completed the Seven Summits – what next!
Do it for the right reasons
A word of caution. Being stuck on the M25 on a rainy, dark Friday night is probably not the most sensible time to consider changing your life! Going back to my two friends, they had both made the decision to change when things were going WELL for them. Doing so enables you to think through various options in a much more objective frame of mind. Again, from a business perspective, when you lose out to a competitor, it is probably not sensible to completely throw out your product or service that night, or sack the team for that matter. Look for when times are good to review where you are.

Lastly – if you are happy doing what you are doing – that is GREAT! Every now and then, it is worth giving yourself time to reflect on your choices in how you live life and do business. It may just help you realise how lucky you are – or is it luck, given the choices that you have made?!

Until next week…
Kate Tojeiro is an Executive Performance Coach at http://www.the-x-fusion.co.uk

Start with yourself…………

‘Hello – is that me in there?’
Recently, I received a frantic call from a guy that had been a client for many years, Mark. “Look – I have read all the books that are on the shelf about being Creative and Entrepreneurial, and done all the things that it said – but see – I am still just ME’ My temptation was to ask “So what is the problem?”, but restrained myself, to listen further. Mark was so frustrated, based on the assumption that by reading several books, anyone can change – and it just was not happening for him. Well, was it really a problem?

As we all know, there is so much information out there in the world of communication and media, to encourage us to be something that we are not, nor will ever be. (This is probably because we don’t really want to be, but daren’t admit it!). Books that attempt to motivate us to be better business people, thinkers, entrepreneurs, even dressers; DVDs to make us into athletes, or Mr Universe. You could miss your plane by two hours just by looking at the possibilities in any airport shop! Just pick up the book/video etc. and away we go to change…. Or your money back?!

Well not quite! One of the key factors that is often forgotten in the furore of transforming ourselves and/or lives is the starting point. ‘Who am I to start with?’

If you are a woman, I am pretty sure that you can relate to the ‘Model’ look. You cram yourself into a new dress in Kate Moss’s new collection in Top Shop, and then feel desperate, as you just don’t look like anything like her, even though you have all her stuff on from top to toe! Let’s be honest, unless you happen to be size 6 (UK) already – you are never going to look like her – sorry! However, you can improve and enhance your natural look by buying some clothes that maybe make you more slim lined, with a long tunic etc., if that is what you are really hoping for. Now that will work!

That goes for the same message in business. If you are an introvert, you are not going to become extrovert by reading one book. However, that book can help you to discover what it is about extroverts that you admire, and what behaviours could you enhance of your own, to move towards that feeling? Now that is worthwhile!

As I did with Mark, my client, ask yourself a simple but critically important question,. Simply, ‘What makes me Me?’ For the answer, get some feedback from a variety of sources, not just your latest discussion in the board room. Personalities have been developing since birth, so even your school reports will unlock some interesting features. Feedback from colleagues, family, different friends. Get a feeling and picture of who you are and feel comfortable with that, as a starting point.

Then think about the specific attributes you admire from reading the articles, books etc. Which of those really resonate with you? When you read or watch, your body will let you know the important factors. You should feel something in your stomach or maybe neck, some form of internal light will go on. For example, when reading about Mountain climbers, it is their ability to focus, or to be patient to wait for the right moment to climb, or to be able to work on their own? Focus in on that one thing, and recognise that this is the key factor you are interested in.

Going back to Mark – his feedback had highlighted that he was excellent at making things happen, and working with others. Even at school, he was often Form Captain and headed up the Debate Society, recognising his ability to take actions forward. He had already realised that he was not a natural at coming up with ideas. Did he really want to do this? After a little soul searching, he admitted that it wasn’t that which inspired him. It was more about being courageous in taking ideas and making them happen. This is something that he really could see himself doing. So, his plan was to go and find people in the organisation that had some great ideas, listen more intently to them and work with them to make things happen. This REALLY fired him up and gave him the courage to change. However, this change was enhancing his skills and behaviours and not making him into something that he was not.

Please recognise that these books, dresses, DVDs are excellent at inspiring us and motivating us to make changes, which is a good thing! However, be realistic with your starting point. Don’t set yourself up to fail – set yourself up to be a winner, by working out who you really are on the starting blocks.

Until next week,

Kate Tojeiro is an Executive Performance Coach at http://www.the-x-fusion.co.uk

‘Practise makes perfect’

I don’t know about you, but I was thrown that phrase endlessly as a child, as I attempted (rather badly) to play the piano. I clearly was not a natural, but nevertheless enjoyed the gradual improvement over the (many) years. My Grandmother had been a professional in the musical world and was so keen for one of her family to follow suit. It was not to be. However, in the many patient hours that she spent with me I am left with a vivid and important lesson in life, rather than just music. She made me realise that however good you are at something, you still need to practise continually in order to improve. I was fascinated by the hours and hours that she would dedicate to sitting in front of her beloved Bechstein, playing again and again a phrase of music until she was happy with it. She would head off to the recording studios just in order to record, hear and re-record tunes in order to continually improve. Her dedication was awesome from a child’s point of view!

Everyday we see this with current musicians, elite sports people, actors and comedians. I have recently been working with a national rugby team and again that ‘awesome’ amount of time into practising their skills is admirable – and what is more – they know it will make the difference between them and their competition. We all know that there are many other things that going into the hat when excelling at any skill, such as natural talent, technique etc., but there is still masses of room for practise. Why do you think Johnny Wilkinson spends many hours every day kicking for goal? Why do you think Helen Mirren spent hours practicing her vocal range as the Queen? Why do you think international rowers get up in the dark and cold to skiff up and down the Thames? All for the same reason – to continually improve towards their goal.

So, let’s equate this to the business world. As a leader in any size organisation, you have surely got to your position due to dedication as well as talent and skill. Everyday I have the joy of working with many very successful people and realise the hours that they put into their jobs in order to for the company and/or themselves to be more successful. BUT – how much do you actually practise your skills?

Working with both leaders in sports and business, there is one difference that continues to intrigue and amaze me. In simple terms, sports people practise their moves, techniques etc., before they let themselves lose on their competition. Do we do the same in business?

Let’s just think about an important meeting coming up – it may be with a key customer, supplier, an appraisal, a board meeting, the AGM. What do you practise before the event and how? In many cases, particularly if it is a conference, you may have written out and practised your speech. However, have you practised your technique in answering? What about practising your rapport building with your clients? When did you last practise running a board meeting? Have you practised ‘passing’ between your colleagues?

Last year, I was working with an interesting guy who has wanted to improve his relationship with fellow board members. He did not have a real business issue with them, but wanted to feel more natural with them, and build greater rapport. I therefore observed him conduct several meetings of different styles and then, upon his request, gave him feedback on specific areas that he had highlighted. Over the next two weeks he literally practised the techniques, with the help of his colleagues. Much to their surprise, he asked them for very specific feedback, and acted upon it through the following meetings. He admitted that it felt very strange to begin with, but was delighted with the results of a dramatically different and closer team. ‘Practising’ is a now a way of live in their board room, as they continue to reap the benefits.

So, if you want to continually improve, can you think of a specific area that you can practise? This may be you, the team, or you as an individual. If you know that you have a difficult meeting with a client coming up, don’t just talk about it, actually re-enact the meeting and practice all the techniques that you will need to get a positive outcome. Give each other very specific feedback and go through it again, until you feel that you have improved your technique. Practise building rapport with different people and see what impact it has. Practise motivating your kids at the weekend, just like you will practise your skills in golf or tennis. Give your brain a good workout, as it will respond as positively as a body workout!

One of the great learnings that we can take from the elite sports world is their ability to scrutinise everything that they do, learn from it, and practise it again, and again. In business, we tend to analyse our outcomes (revenues, costs, profit, processes etc), but we seem to shy away from scrutinising our behaviours and actions, in the same way. There is a business culture which often does not allow practise, as this almost admitting that things will go wrong. Let’s get real – things DO go wrong all the time! That is how we learn. The important lesson is to let things to go wrong when it is not critical to the business. So get practising, try things out, learn and try again. As Clive Woodward said during England’s glory days at Rugby, “Winning doesn’t happen in a straight line”.

Enjoy the art of practising and the game of winning!

Until next week,

Claire Norman is an Executive Performance Coach at http://www.the-x-fusion.co.uk