Welcome to The Life Studio a place where you can rest up, take off your shoes and be yourself

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

X Factor Rehab

Between the USA show and the UK show, last week, I spent more hours watching X Factor than I did,
1) going to the gym

2) bathing

3) seeing friends (watching X factor with friends doesn’t count!)

By the time the finals come and go I will have spent a staggering 54 hours watching, and been subjected to around 144 adverts.(I hear you laughing smug sky+ owners!) That’s a serious investment. Even on minimum wage I would be paid £328.32 for my time. So what exactly am I getting in return for my investment? Entertainment? Relaxation? Improved relationships? Time with Gary Barlow?


When I look at how some of my clients are spending their time, they are always gob smacked. A client last week worked out how many hours they had invested the previous four weeks worrying. The answer was 168!! On minimum wage again, if she was being paid for worrying she could put away a tidy sum of £1021.44. Another business man worked out how many hours he had been angry about being overlooked and bullied on a project. This was affecting his sleep, his quality of relationships with his family, and his Sunday nights.

What are your negative investments costing you?

Let it go…

PS. Janet to win!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

8 Tips to Walk the Talk in Any Situation

Who do you picture when you think of a confident person? Alan Sugar, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, someone closer to home, or someone more deluded like David Brent perhaps. Whoever it is we all have an idea of what confidence is, and use that to measure whether we have it or not. Confidence in who you are, and what you do has never been more essential, especially if you are a business leader. It takes confidence to inspire the people who depend on you.

Why is genuine confidence important?

Confidence demonstrates that you are trustworthy, resourceful, knowledgeable and a good bet to be a safe ship in a rocky harbour based on our primitive purpose to survive.

And confidence is not...

David Brent, being the loudest, deluding people, taking risks that harm others or self, dismissing others ideas, aggression, relentlessly telling people you are the greatest or over compensating arrogance.
For many people their perception of confidence is the latter, and therefore no wonder they subconsciously try to avoid appearing too confident. People organically like people who are like them; it is a basic requirement for human social interaction. So if confidence is ultimately about trust and being capable check out these tips to revolutionise yours

1) Smile - Yep easy right. So why do most people dilute their smiles to appear more professional? A smile is your personal and business shop front. Not smiling is the equivalent of a 'not today' sign.

2) Passion - Passion for what you do cannot be faked (think recent politicians). Create passion in place of unconfidence when facing new situations. Passion is infectious and unforgettable

3) Practice - Prepare an elevator style (pretentious way of saying 1 min intro) speech so that you always have a confident intro for who you are, and what you do in your minds back pocket. You will also put others at ease by leading the conversation.

4) Ask questions - The person asking the questions always controls the conversation. Just don't tell my clients! Show interest in others by asking questions about them.

5) First impressions - Focus on making a good impression, words are only 7% of your communication, 38% is voice tone and 55% is your body language.

6) Certainty - we all like a balance of certainty and uncertainty in our lives. Decide what balance is right for you is it 60% certainty and 40% uncertainty? or a you a higher risk taker with an optimum 50/50. There is no right or wrong, just what suits you best. Understanding this will help to improve how you view new situations, which will increase your confidence.

7) Avoid introducing yourself and listing your weaknesses - 'Hi, I'm Dan, I'm not very good at this.'

8) Labels - Check your labels. How do you know 'that' feeling means you are feeling unconfident? It might actually mean that you are just experiencing something new.

'Confidence is the art of making others feel confident in your presence'

Monday, 15 August 2011

To Do or to Don't?

What does your to-do list say about you – are you a ditherer or a sensible planner? Dreamer or a doer? Explore the meaning behind some of our scribbles to ourselves.

Ever wondered what one of the Queen's to-do lists might look like? Perhaps we would find a vertical list written in fountain pen: text Obama, walk dogs, reign longer than Queen Victoria, hair appointment, phone William, buy birthday card, write apology letter on behalf of Philip, call palace window cleaner and a tiara doodle at the side of the page!

A to-do list is a window into the private world of someone. A scribbled list on a torn off piece of paper, or the back of an envelope provides an honest snapshot into our real lives. It reveals both our anxieties and our goals, how we manage our time, and highlights what we are avoiding in life. Today we need lists more than ever, but how many lists are too many lists? How many lists have you made recently about what you have to do, rather than what you want to do? If you have lists about lists than maybe it's time to create a to-don't list instead.

An old flatmate of mine was a list fanatic. She would pack into a day so much I began to question if she had somehow discovered a magic way of having 30 hrs in a day. She would always be running around with an old white envelope in her hand, ticking her way through a long list of tasks. She was constantly in a whirlwind of doing. I was the polar opposite at the time, stuck in a becalming of thinking. Lists to me were still an enigma back then. She decided to explore opening a sandwich shop. Every evening she would sit at the kitchen table with a blank A5 piece of paper, chewing the pen lid as she thought excitedly about the many sandwich fillings she would offer in her shop. These lists read more like a shopping list: bacon, avocado, chicken, cheese, ham etc, all the way to the bottom of the page. Each night she would start again. She moved on to another project quite soon after, for the next two years I would find random sheets of paper with bacon, avocado, cheese written on it. We still chuckle about it now.

Your lists should be helping you to explore possibilities and acting as memory support. There is a very fine balance between thinking and doing. It's a ballet of discipline and dance. Too much thinking can prevent someone moving forward in his or her life, they get stuck in a cycle of thinking. Next time you ask someone to do something and they reply 'I'm thinking about it?' they probably don't know how to do part of the task they are putting off, there is a block. They get stuck there sometimes for years, or avoid it until the 'not doing it' causes enough pain. Too much doing, can sometimes create a busy fool bingeing on small chores. Without thought and defined purpose, the doer has to feed their sense of achievement with doing.

The brain loves an orderly list. The direction helps the brain to tidy up information hanging around in its in-tray waiting for further instruction from you. Once filed, that stressful feeling that things are getting on top of us reduces. Our list habits show electronically too. If you are one of those people that have many screens open at the same time, flicking from one to another and working simultaneously on different projects, you may want to consider thinking through what you are working on and completing one at a time. You will feel so much more relaxed for it.

Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Victor Frankl was very aware of the relationship between our wellbeing and our ability to get things done. He believed that putting unpleasant jobs at the top of the list was the only way to attack them. Your lists should be helping you to control the chaos, make sure they are not controlling you. Lists do point to an unhealthy mental state when they become a tool to satisfy a need for excessive control. But for those that get stressed at the mere thought of writing a list, this can indicate that you perhaps need to look at some of the benefits that embracing a list habit will bring.

Make sure that you give yourself a reward for achieving your lists, particularly if you have dealt with some of those unpleasant jobs. Sometimes just getting everything ticked of can feel like an achievement, the truth is most people will focus on what they haven't achieved and berate themselves. This then sets up the brain with resistance next time it meets a 'tough things to-do' list. Wouldn't we all try to avoid a telling off?

Writing things down is very important for a clear mind. When I ask clients if they have written a 5-year plan they frequently tap their heads and tell me 'kind of, it's all in here.' Help yourself to get clarity, write it down. A habit shared with me recently by a very successful client was that before he goes to sleep each night he writes down seven ideas for the next day. It means he sleeps well and can start the next day with focus.
Help your mind to be clear, and make sure that you aren't operating at the cost of spontaneity. Life is a constant to-do list, its up to us to create what goes on the list, and choose where it takes us.

The List of Lists          

THINKING LISTS                                  

20 ideas to help me…                                             
My ideal partner                                                      
How to solve...                                                     
New Years Goals                                                   
Things I want to achieve                                          
Thoughts to remove from my head                          
Anxieties to go                                             
5 year plan Finances                                                
Pros and cons                                                           
Midnight inspiration


Things to do
Where to go
Event Planning
Table Plans
Shopping Lists
Finances Incoming/Outgoing


Things to stop doing! Rehab for list bingers, control freaks or people that are time poor.


Anything that you don't want to deal with right now. It's very important to set a date to come back to review the task. Just leaving it in the abyss will not create a peaceful mind. Create a 'thinking' list to explore a solution i/e 20 ideas to help me solve xyz.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Dial one for a human

As the revolution of technology constantly upgrades our operational lives, what is the long-term cost of digitally replacing some of our most primitive human requirements?

Call any company that you have trusted with your hard earned money, your heating, your health or your entertainment and the chances are when you want to contact them outside of a digital interaction you will still get to speak to a flaming computer! Grrrr. Computers are great for filtering departments, but there are some clear times when you just need to speak to someone.

I am far from a technophobe, but as someone who understands a fair bit about humans, and also has been a human since 1972, there is a lot that just isn't working for me. I want to speak to someone about my money, I want them to acknowledge me first, not screen me first. My life very often can't be condensed into five numerical choices. Computers are great for helping us with process and computation, or for making the world smaller and more accessible. My life is greatly improved from a one button click access to information in many different ways, but I have a real concern that we are losing some of our human intelligence in ways that will only cause us huge difficulties further down the line.

Focusing on a screen for lengths of time weakens the brains ability to solve emotional problems. This can cause people to feel stuck and frustrated, a clear highway to stress. With speedy access to trillions of terabytes of information our capacity for taking action with it is dwindling. Is technology slowly eating away at our self-direction? Our children's children will probably never experience the self-esteem that can be established by driving around with only their gut instinct for directions and getting to the right place by the map of self-trust. You can fill your head and time with every online distraction and pleasure imaginable, but it will not fill the gap left by a broken family unit or loneliness

There is one function that a computer cannot replace in any way and that is rapport. Rapport is the most important feature of unconscious human interaction. It's a way of our body, mind and souls saying to one another 'I see you and respect you'. In the presence of true rapport, anything is possible. Without it children's brains don't develop properly so that has to also have an impact on us grown up children too.

Our human relationships and our ability to build relationships could become the cost of technology. At what point has the train gone past the station? This maps over very obviously into business. If you are not acknowledging your customers core values, they will leg it at the first sign of a bigger box of trinkets. If you are not building REAL relationships with your customers they will jump ship when someone enters the room that really gets the customers needs and listens to them. If you are dictating your customer needs, they will run away when they encounter someone that makes them feel significant just as they are.

If you don't know the story of David v Goliath here's a quick snapshot. David is a small, regular, all round good-guy. Goliath is 9-¾ ft well trained Philistine soldier. It's a remarkable story in which the underdog, David, prevails against great odds and wins the battle for freedom with a small stone.

There is an ever-growing graveyard of large companies that, regretfully, underestimated the power of human rapport, in the pursuit for bigger and better. They long forgot the purpose of their existence, and the real value that they offered.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Life Studio: Therapy Tuesday

The Life Studio: Therapy Tuesday: "'Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it doesn't get you anywhere' ancient proverb How true is this!! ..."

Therapy Tuesday

'Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it doesn't get you anywhere' ancient proverb

How true is this!! If we added up all the minutes we spent worrying about something in the last month, most of us would have found some very valuable time to invest doing something much more fun. Worrying does nothing, that's right, NOTHING to help us. It does not provide solutions, it doesn't comfort, it does not make us healthy, and it does not improve our relationships.

So what is the purpose of worrying?

When you are in a state of 'worry' you are worrying about something that hasn't yet happened. True? It's worrying about the future. That is, your brain is creating lots of negative possibilities for the future. It's a bit like having a train stopped between stations and the driver putting the handbrake on (or whatever a train has!) and sitting and worrying about what's at the next station. What the driver needs to do is decide where the train is going, if the track ahead is going where he doesn't want to go, he needs to create and build a new track. Then he needs to get back on the train and take the handbrake off.

Many people have become expert worriers and are still in nappies when it comes to truly creating their own solutions. I know I was!

A client I worked with last year was constantly 'worrying' about money. His very real lack of funds was crippling his quality of life. The worry was preventing him from being able to view his options and was creating much stress. What he was doing was trying to survive on so little. What he wasn't doing was investing the same energy in creating HOW he could raise his income. In other words he was keeping the problem. In his case his money strategies began when he was six years old...but that's a blog for another day.

Whatever you are dealing with in life you CAN live a worry free life - worry simply indicates that you have run out of track. The solution is to check back in and create YOUR OWN choices for the future.

Stop worrying, choose your thoughts carefully, and get monstrously creative. The answers are all in your own noggin.

Happy Tuesday

Monday, 6 June 2011

Holidays - heaven or hell?

It's that time of year again when everyone is thinking about taking a break and going on holiday. For many of us this year there just isn't the budget to actually go away from home. If you feel like you need a holiday, what can you do instead?
The most important thing about taking a holiday is having a rest, mentally & physically. However, as we have witnessed in many a 'holiday from hell’ programme this isn't always the case! There are many things you can adopt to ensure that a holiday at home provides a good break with a sprinkle of fun. There are many things you can do to unplug and deflate from the usual escalator of life.

How to get all the benefits of a holiday without leaving home:

1) Call it a holiday – just because you are at home it is still a holiday. Calling it ‘off work’ doesn’t sound anywhere near as fun.
2) Tell your colleagues and boss that you are going away on holiday – you will be amazed how resourceful people can be when they believe you are away. Essentially how you communicate your boundaries shows others how to treat you.
3) Do a written and verbal handover of any current projects, even if that is not a usual requirement.
4) Decide what holiday spends you have as if you were changing money at the airport – This gives you guilt-free permission to eat out, treat your self to a massage, have a spray tan, buy a spur of the moment gypsy dress you will never wear after your holiday, keep the kids busy with activities etc.
5) What is it you want to gain? – Pre holiday, invest 15mins deciding specifically what it is you most want to gain from a break. Is it fun or relaxation? Fitness or lazy days? Decisions detox? Reduce your stress level. How do you want your life to look, feel and be as a result of taking a holiday?
6) Who wants to come too? – Invite a friend to join you on your week off, just as you would if you were going away. Same rules apply, make sure you both want the same from your holiday
7) Pot Luck anyone? – Invite your friends round for an evening. Set the theme as a country and everyone has to bring a random dish.
8) Delegate – book an au pair for the week, or send them off to grannies. Have a holiday from your holiday, create essential YOU time. If you are not full up how can you keep giving to others. 9) It’s not my job – before your holiday write down all your responsibilities, put them into a suitcase or better still post them to you at work so that they are there to pick up when you return. Work from home? Post them to a fantasy address.
10) Be open to adventure – Get out of your comfort zone, develop a holiday alter ego and give it all a go…