At Canary Coaching we often support clients on goals, from setting realistic ones, to putting in milestones, to achievement…and setbacks.
I am always looking for strategies that successful achievers have, which I can share with those experiencing setbacks. Most recently I asked a previous client who had lost half of his body weight over the past two and a half years, going from morbidly obese to a healthy BMI, “what advice would you give other people attempting to achieve that goal?”
His answer was a brilliant, easy to share strategy for setbacks. He explained that he still ‘fell off the wagon’ having the odd binge, but instead of thinking ‘I’ve ruined it now, there’s no point’, and giving up (and worse, punishing himself for doing so), he decided to get back on the wagon the next day. Simple.
He concluded by saying that the cumulative effect of all the days ‘on the wagon’ far outweighed the setbacks, and therefore no binge, or break in training is worth deleting the goal for. He is happier now than I have ever seen him.I love this outlook and have talked it through with clients who have a variety of goals, be it to ignore social media during working hours, run the marathon or do internet dating. Initially we talked about going to bed being the ‘re-set’, to ‘start-again’ the next morning. But then I brought it forward, what if you ‘re-set’ straight after the set-back?
Food for thought…
If you’ve got a goal that you’d like some coaching and support with in order to achieve, contact us.CONTACT US>
Well...wedding season is coming up again and consequently I'm coaching a couple of lovely best men. They have both come to me with similar concerns, particularly with regard to the delivery of the speech so I thought it might be useful to have a blog post with some key points.
When writing your speech, having a good structure is key. This will help you remember it, and also help to make the audience feel save in our hands.
I would recommend having an intro covering the key things - how beautiful the bride is looking, thank yous to the family etc. Following that have three short stories with a beginning sentence, a description in the middle, and a summary or link to the next passage at the end. Finally the summing up and the toast.
The good thing is, no one will expect you to remember the whole thing. Most speech-makers at weddings either have the whole thing typed out, or prompt cards.
I would recommend having prompt cards - just the key points you need to hit on a card, so that if you lose your way, it's easy to get back on track. If you follow the structure suggested above, you'd have the top line summary of the intro, three key stories, and the summary written on the card.
How to Practice
Preparation is key, however going over the speech in the same way, over and over again, is likely to make it boring to you, as well as the audience.
Here's some top tips for practicing:
- First, mark in your breaths. Put
little ticks on the copy all the way through, when you're going to breathe -
then have a read and see if that works for you. If you need more, then add
- Second, practice it like a primary school teacher! One of the most common problems with first time public speakers, is that their voices can get stuck in a 'pattern' - this can, on occasion, be hypnotic and send the audience into a trance! To avoid this, practice the speech as if you were a primary school teacher or CBBC presenter - this will make you vary your vocal tone in a new way. You don't have to stick with this, but it will help you engage your vocal range.
| |- Third, play with pace. As well as a 'tonal rut', new public speakers can also get stuck in a 'pace rut'. Decide which exciting parts of your speech could do with building in pace, and which parts are serious and require....more....weight.
- Fourth, play with character. If each of your paragraphs were a character, who would they be? The wise old owl giving sage advice to the groom, the cocky successful best mate, or the bookish led-astray friend of the trouble-seeking groom? Each section can be different and thinking about this will add an element of fun and keep the audience engaged.
- Practice. Once you've thought about all of these things, it's time to practice. Do one paragraph per day and once you've been through them, practice one link between paragraphs per day. You'll soon have it licked!
- Record it. It's always a good idea to record yourself doing your speech - this will tell you whether you're rushing, skipping over words, or whether the pace needs changing a bit.
If you can visit the venue or look at it online, do. That way you'll be able to visualise yourself delivering your speech in the space, as well as know roughly where the bride and groom, and anyone else you might refer to, will be sitting.
It's not about you!
This is actually quite a nice way to think about it. Take responsibility for communicating your message to the audience and giving them a nice time. People want to be there and to hear what you've got to say, so just go for it!
Sometimes a coaching session or two can really help you to nail your speech and feel confident on the day. If you'd like to book in, just click here and contact us.
People do various things to achieve a state of meditation , flow, relaxation or anything you like to call the practice of switching off the internal voice and just ‘being’.
My way to do this is practicing Hot Bikram Yoga which I’ve been doing for about 5 years now. It’s great for me because I have to concentrate so hard on staying still in poses in a boiling hot room, that there’s very little space for my to-do list!
However, it’s quietening the inner voice can still be a challenge and today, I allowed my inner monologue to be ‘triggered’. It started well – I placed myself in a great spot – near the windows (just in case the teacher takes pity and opens them), and with a clear view of the mirror so I could see if I was wonky. We started the class…so far so good. Then, halfway through the first exercise, the lady diagonally in front of me moved her mat. Directly in front of my mat. She then proceeded to have quite a difficult class with a lot of wobbling and getting up and down – we’ve all been there and it’s completely understandable, but tricky to concentrate when someone’s flapping directly in front of you!
My justice button had been hit, and off went my internal monologue. It was a very good loop of the following statements. ‘Why would she move directly in front of me when there’s plenty of other space in the room. The teacher asked her not to move in the pose but she still did. He hasn’t noticed that she’s slap bang in front of me. Now she’s wobbling and I can’t concentrate.’ Etc. etc.
| |Have a Word!
For the first time, in quite a long time (as part of our NLP
training we learn to diffuse as many of the things that ‘set us off’ as we can), I had to have a word. With myself.
The first question I asked was very sneaky; ‘How long do you want to carry on ranting about this inside your head for?’. ‘Not long’ was the answer, it wasn’t exactly fun and was definitely spoiling my class.
Second question - ‘What are your options?’. ‘Er…well…To move myself and disrupt the class, to ask her to move and disrupt the class, to shut up and get on with it and enjoy the challenge.’
It was like speaking to a five year old. I quickly agreed that there wasn’t anything I was going to actively do to improve the situation, so I’d best get on with it. I then challenged myself to stay still in adversity and ended up having an incredible class. By the end of the class all feelings had dissipated and I had a huge smile for the wobbly lady – I have had so many classes like that and I know how it feels!
It’s funny - internally ranting at or about someone or a situation does very little to the offending person or situation and manages to work the ‘ranter’ up into a negative state. Whether it’s rehearsing an argument with someone who’s stood to close to you on the tube, or thinking about what you’d like to do to the driver of a car that’s just gone through a puddle and ruined your best outfit, the longer you rant, the more impact it has on your day and consequently your mood.
Some top tips for shutting yourself up:
- ask how long you plan to have said ‘rant’ for, and allow that time if it’s reasonable.
- look at your options for action.
- take one of them. Simple!
Lobsters can be found everywhere; in relationships, jobs and homes. What’s good about them is if you gradually increase the pressure on their situation, they tend not to notice. Like a lobster.
In order to cook a lobster you don’t put a live lobster in a boiling pot. They’re not stupid, they’ve got reflexes and would jump out. What you do is you put them in a pot of cold water and gradually turn up the heat until they’re cooked. This way, they don’t really notice. However if they’d known about the end situation at the beginning, they wouldn’t have got into the pan.
How do I know if I’m a lobster?
There’s a simple question to test whether or not you’re exhibiting lobster-like qualities:
‘If I had known it would be like this when I got into it, would I have done it in the first place?’
For example – if you’d known that your whole team at work would be gradually made redundant and their work given to you, would you have taken the job?
If you’d known that on the flip side of a passionate man you’re dating was an increasingly bad temper, would you have gone out with him at all?
What’s wrong with being a lobster?
Lobsters are often ‘putting up with’ a situation that they’re not at all happy about (being cooked). If they had been dumped in that situation their reflexes would have told them to get out, but having had the heat turned
up gradually, they’re numb to it.
| |Is it fair?
If you have identified yourself as a lobster, you might want to ask yourself whether it’s fair. Given you’d have jumped straight out of that situation had you known in advance, is it fair to expect yourself to endure it now?
Look after yourself
Once you’ve recognised that you’re now in a pot of boiling hot water that you definitely wouldn’t have got into in the first place if you’d known, it’s important to get out. It may be as simple as recognising the situation as unacceptable and walking away, or you may like to have some coaching/support to put together an action plan. Either way, it’s time to get out of the pan.
When I’m coaching, this is often one of the more contentious
obstacles to overcome in relation to interviews, and indeed life.
Who is Responsible for How You Feel?
Who is responsible for how you feel in an interview – you, or the panel? It is common to come out of an interview thinking “They made me feel really nervous”, or alternatively “They made me feel very comfortable”. If you are going through life allowing other people to make you feel things or push your buttons, then you are putting yourself in a fairly powerless position – who knows how someone might make you feel today?!
Er…But…Wait a Minute!
Taking responsibility for your feelings can be a tricky concept to accept if you are a big believer in the ‘make me feel’ philosophy. After all we are conditioned to sign up to the idea from a very young age – how many songs have that exact phrase in it – ‘you make me feel like a natural woman, ‘the way you make me feel’, ‘you are the one who makes me feel so real’ – the list is endless.
However, what if you’d just won the lottery and walked into that interview, or just been proposed to by the love of your life – would the panel have been able to make you feel as
nervous, or as uncomfortable? My hunch is no, therefore some, if not all, of the responsibility, and power lies with you – great!
Make the Panel Feel Good!
Taking responsibility for how you feel can be extremely liberating, especially in an interview situation. I like to take things one step further than that. How about taking responsibility for how the panel are feeling. If you assume that, unlike you, they sign up to the make you feel philosophy, then think of the impact how you’re feeling and behaving can have on them. If you’re feeling nervous it might make them feel stressed, if you’re feeling comfortable and confident then it may well make them feel comfortable and confident in your abilities. Challenge yourself to guide the feelings in the room. Once you do, you’ll find you’re far less concerned about how you’re feeling and are adopting a ‘host’ (as in hosting a party) mentality – flexibly adjusting your approach to best suit the people you’re with.
| |The Interview Heaven course (details below) that I am running monthly with a fantastic trainer, Angus, gives you plenty of tools for taking responsibility and importantly a forum in which to practice them. In the meantime here are some top tips.
Top Tips for Taking Responsibility
- Mentally act as if you are ‘hosting’ the interview – you are responsible for making the panel feel happy and relaxed. This enables you to focus externally rather than internally.
- Identify your‘ hot-buttons’ in advance. These can be questions or facial expressions or gestures or anything that you think might throw you off course.
- Diffuse your hot-buttons. This is worth doing with a coach, but if you don’t have time for that, make a plan for how to handle things if these questions/gestures etc. do come up so that you can be fully focussed on nailing the interview.
Canary Coaching are offering half price tickets (£65) to Interview Heaven in March. Just use promo code ‘CANARY’ when booking.
For more information on the ‘Interview Heaven’ course see
Saturday 16th March 2013
April 2013 (Edinburgh)
May 2013 (London)
At the moment I am co-running a monthly, one-day, interview course ('Interview Heaven') which gives candidates the tools they need to be at their best in an interview.
As we know, the jobs market is extremely competitive and more often than not we’re up against people with the same qualifications and similar CVs. The thing that stands us apart then, and wins us the job, is our performance in the interview. It’s no wonder that candidates feel the pressure!
Unfortunately the ‘symptoms’ of putting this pressure on ourselves (the sweating, nervous rambling, mind going blank, or even just not being quite authentic) can be the things that lose us the job we know we can
In this series of blogs about interviews I’ll be covering the most common areas of concern for interviewees. However there’s no substitute for actually using these tips so it’s worth doing the course if possible.
One of the most common areas of concern is around answering questions – sounds simple, but in the pressure of the interview it can sometimes be more difficult than you might think.
Here are three top tips for handling interview questions:
1. The Courage to Clarify
Many interviewers haven’t had a lot of time to think about their questions before coming into the room. They also may not know exactly what they want out of a question, or they might be using a standard interview question that they’ve read off a sheet but aren’t sure what they’re after from it. If you are in any way unsure about what they are after, be bold and ask – it’s much kinder to then then rambling on about something you think might be relevant !
2. Listen to the Style of the Question
In order to give the panel what they want, it is a good idea to listen to the way in which they ask the question and answer in the style indicated.
There is a real difference between:
A: Can you name three scenarios in which you’ve had to report figures to senior management?
B: Can you recall a time when you handled reporting to senior management well?
C: What are the most important things to remember when reporting to senior management?
Whilst they are all about reporting to senior management, the style each question is asked in gives you a big clue as to how to answer it. ‘A’ is most likely to want three short sentences with reference to figures. ‘B’ is most likely to want a story or experience with a bit more detail. ‘C’ is most likely to want a high level summary of what you find to be important. It may be worth clarifying whether ‘C’ would like examples.
| |3. Check
Be aware of the panel when you’re answering the questions. Check for ‘buying signals’ like nodding and smiling, and ‘stopping signals’ like fidgeting, interrupting and looking away. If you are aware of stopping signals come to the end of a sentence, and stop.
If you are in any doubt as to whether you have given them what they wanted, you can ask. Did that answer your question or would it be helpful to add more detail/give facts and figures etc.
Canary Coaching are offering half price tickets (£65) to Interview Heaven in March. Just use promo code ‘CANARY’ when booking.
For more information on the ‘Interview Heaven’ course see
Saturday 16th March 2013 (London)Saturday 13th April 2013 (Edinburgh)Saturday 18th May 2013 (London)
I have noticed a peculiar phenomenon in a few of my clients and friends who have got engaged. I call this ‘donning the life-long goggles’. These life-long goggles (similar to the old-school rose-tinted glasses but a slight reversal) can cause significant problems if not recognised and removed.
What is the impact of the goggles?
The goggles will go on almost at the instant of the accepted proposal (sometimes even before)– often without either party noticing. Prior to donning the goggles, things are often going swimmingly (excuse the pun) – yes, there’s the odd niggle around the loo seat being left up and taking a long time to get ready, but nothing that could possibly be a deal-breaker.
HOWEVER, as soon as the goggles go on the happy couple’s filters change. These niggles, when viewed through the life-long goggles can become deal-breakers. Suddenly, the loo seat being left up isn’t just the loo seat being left up, it’s the loo seat being left up every day for the rest of your life. And the slightly extended time it takes to leave the house is no longer just that, instead all of the minutes every day for the rest of your life are added to make years and suddenly it’s too much to bear!
This adjustment in the way we view things can lead to arguments which blow up over nothing and sometimes even a question mark being raised as to whether the whole thing was a good idea in the first place.
So what can I do about that then?
It’s quite simple really - recognise that you’re wearing them, and take them off. Realise that something that used not to bother you at all has been blown out of perspective by you and your goggles. A good way of getting things back into perspective if you’re having trouble is to think hard about four things that you love about that person. Really get a sense of those qualities and think of specific moments when they exhibited them. Then try and think about the niggle. It’ll probably be back in its box with the goggles.
| |Where else do goggles affect things?
Pretty much everywhere – we all view the world through our own pair of goggles. You may find yourself putting on the ‘it’s going to be a bad day goggles’ the first time something goes awry in the morning. These will filter for everything else that goes wrong, and filter out the potentially good stuff along the way. These enable you to label a whole day as being bad, rather than a contained incident – hmm. I have noticed a fair few Facebook statuses recently stating ‘good riddance 2012 – what a bad year’ – really? A whole year? Every day? Or was that your goggles talking?
Thought for the Day
Think about the goggles you’re wearing and what they’re doing for you. What are you filtering for?
Happy people tend to wear optimistic goggles – the ‘what’s going well goggles’, or perhaps even the ‘rose-tinted glasses’ of yore. CONTACT US>
What is 'Attaching Meaning'?
‘Attaching meaning’ or in strict NLP circles ‘complex equivalence’ is a common thinking pattern a lot of us fall into. In essence it is ‘this means that’ for example ‘he crossed his arms -that means he doesn’t like me’ or ‘she texted back immediately - that means she’s super keen” etc.
OK…and what’s wrong with doing that?!
Well…if you fall into a pattern of it, it can lead to confusion and disappointment. You’re not always going to be right – folding arms can be because someone is cold, and texting back might just spell efficiency…or a hundred other things. Imagine how many conversations have gone on in order to attach meaning to the frequency or speed of return texts?!
For performers this attached meaning is a common trap. They are regularly put up against a panel from whom they get no verbal feedback – only the twitch of a pencil or the raising of an eyebrow. What does this mean?! Have I got the job?
This week we ran a competition for our audition workshop and the entrants were requested to send us their worst audition ever story. The results were astonishing – we had casting directors asking their dogs what they thought, co-performers who brought their own whips(!) and a lot of performers who had all but been given the job by casting directors only to hear nothing. Imagine attaching a meaning to all of that – ‘the dog didn’t seem to like me, I’ll probably never work again’, ‘I really thought the whipping worked in my favour, the casting director was scribbling away’ etc.! This searching for meaning can either end in disappointment, a knock to the confidence or at best a wasted week of worrying.
| |Oh dear…I attach meaning all the time….what should I do?
If you'd like to find out more, I am running a one day workshop for performers called 'SMASH IT" with another Canary Coach and Director, Tim O'Hara.
- The first step is to notice it – and having read this, you probably will.
- Then question it – does this really mean that? Or am I guessing? What else could be? And how valuable is guessing?
- Then forget it. Find something else to do that isn’t deciding what things mean.
- There is one alternative…and this might be dangerous (but can definitely highlight how wrong you might have got your attached meaning)…ask them! Can I have some feedback (because I really thought it was in the bag because you smiled at me when I came in and when I left?).
- There can be a hundred reasons for not getting a job, and many of them are completely out of your control. What’s great is when you know you’ve done a good job, and that’s all that matters.
For more details see:
| |Er...isn’t it a bit early for this?
It may seem that way to some people –resolutions are very often formed out of the carnage that is Christmas – hastily made plans to convince ourselves that all that has been done can be undone now that a fresh new year is upon us.
Let me ask you a question. How many of your New Year’s Resolutions for 2012 will you have achieved by the end of December? How many have been let slide for various excellent reasons?
OK...so what am I supposed to do?
A bit of planning is all. The reason that so many resolutions get shelved is that they’re either not that achievable in the first place, or they didn’t take into account the various aspects of life that tend to get in the way. They were ‘dreams’ rather than ‘plans’.
That makes sense...so talk me through it.
Well here’s a quick tool you can use to make your resolutions a lot more likely to happen. Write answers to each of these sections.
- Positive. Talk in terms of what you do want rather than what you want to give up. I want to play the guitar, I want to be a size 10, I want to be a non-smoker, I want to speak Italian.
- Evidence. What will be evidence that you’ve achieved the goal – what will you see and hear? ‘I’ll see my family singing along with me, ‘I’ll hear people say ‘you look well!’. List as many as you can.
- Context. Frame the context in which you want to have these things – ‘I want to play the guitar in the evenings with my family’, ‘I want to be a size 10 in July and for the rest of the year after that’.
- Self-Achievable. This is probably the most important. If you’re relying on the behaviour of someone else, then you don’t have control over whether you do it. So rather than ‘I want to have a published novel’, how about ‘I want to have finished writing my novel’.
And you really think this will work?
- Advantages and Disadvantages. Consider these carefully. What will be the benefits of being able to speak another language? What will be the drawbacks of training for the marathon – especially in the winter months? Considering these and acknowledging them means you’re much more likely to achieve as you’re going into the goal knowing about the hurdles you may face.
- Worthwhile. A final check. What will achieving do for you? What will it help you to avoid? What are the benefits?
Yes. Using this tool makes ‘dream’ seem real and turns it into ‘well-formed outcome’. You might want to go on from this into making a more solid timetable or timeline and get buy in and support from members of your family and friends. Why not have a think about next year now, while you’ve got time, before the Christmas craziness is upon us – that way you can know what you’re looking forward to.
If you'd like some coaching to get you ready for the new year, or even to handle the stress that Christmas may bring, feel free to get in touch.
We are offering a *Resolute Resolutions* coaching package - a great gift for you or a loved one to ensure you reach your goals in 2013. Click here for more info.
| |“The breaks come when Luck allows you to put your indisputably talented self in the right place, at the right time and in front of the right person. And to give yourself a better chance of achieving this you need contacts” – Hugh Bonneville....I don't disagree with this, but, as with improv, I tend to agree, and ADD.
Surely talent and contacts are enough?
Regardless of your talent and your contacts, if you only have the ability to nail your performance some of the time, then your career is likely to be a bit hit and miss.
We all have off days, bad hair days, scratchy throat days, bad mood days etc., but the panel, or the audience don't want to know. Don't care even. If it's the first time you've met them and you give an 'off' performance, they may not call you back. I know a high ranking casting director in the West End who has a blacklist - she very rarely calls people more than once.
I work with performers a lot, and these are some things I regularly hear:
SO what can we do about it?Well you have regular coaching for your voice, or your acting, but what about your mind?
- “I was the last auditionee of the day - didn't stand a chance”
- “I heard the guy before me smash it, I just went in and crumbled”
- “They kept me waiting for 2 hours – I was in a complete state when I went in”
- “I know the casting director hates me - what's the point”
- “I only ever get the jobs I don't really want”
- “I hit all the notes at home, but in the audition they wouldn’t come out”
- “I learned the whole speech really well but the words just went”
In NLP we believe that if you can do something once, you can model it - you can work out what it is you do, and do it EVERY time. Further we have techniques to back this model up. In the same way that whatever time of the day or night it is, if your favourite tune is played, you can feel on top of the world - you can programme helpful feelings to happen when you step into any audition room.
| |As a director and writer I have been on the other (easier) side of the casting desk for many an audition, good and bad. This has helped me to realise the importance of different perspectives. We work a lot on this in NLP - putting yourself in the shoes of the casting director, in that room, at that time and finding out what they want to see and hear, and then making yourself responsible for giving it to them. This kind of knowledge is power. And in an industry this competitive, you need all the help you can get!
So an adaptation on Hugh’s wise words - 'The breaks come when Luck allows you to put your indisputably talented self in the right place, at the right time and in front of the right person. And to give yourself a better chance of achieving this you need contacts...AND an ability to SMASH IT EVERY TIME!’
I am running a one day workshop called 'SMASH IT" with another Canary Coach and Director, Tim O'Hara, which covers these topics in detail enabling you to put it all into practice.
For more details see: