How to make behavioural change stick


Credit: Ivanko_Brnjakovic

What is it about changing our behaviours that can makes it so difficult to maintain? Think back to the last time you deliberately worked on changing a behaviour in order to be more effective at work. How did it go? If you weren’t successful, can you put your finger on why? If you were, what was it that made it work for you?


Not drowning but waving – how to succeed in your new role


(Photo Credit: Searsie)

Have you ever started a new role full of excitement and then a few weeks in wondered what on earth you had done? Perhaps you feel that way now? The initial enthusiasm after the interview process can sometimes wane as you start to feel out of your depth.
It puts me in mind of the poem by Stevie Smith ‘Not waving but Drowning’.

Perhaps, on the surface, you are putting on a brave face. Perhaps, if you don’t pro-actively do something differently during the rest of what could be thought of as your ‘transition’ period, the following lines from the poem may feel particularly apt in a month’s time:

I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.


The four letter word that helps you succeed

Dropping out of University could have taken the path for my life downhill. I still remember the feeling of failure, the feeling of shame that I had let those I loved down, and the feeling that there would be no coming back from this. It felt as if everything I had been working towards suddenly seemed pointless.

I managed to pull myself up from quite a low place and go back to University a year later, however, in my second year I felt that I was perhaps studying the wrong subject. I recognised at that point success for me would be to consider the year and a half I had left as a relatively small amount of time in the scale of things and that I was only one and a half years away from getting a degree. At the time I studied, unemployment was high and I felt that having an engineering degree would see me more likely to get a job. As such, it was probably better to show I had sticking power, or GRIT,  than to quit a second time. Easy it was not. A life lesson? Definitely.


Forget Resolutions – Choose Revolution!

Do you want more of the same in 2017 or is it time to not only figuratively sweep all of those papers off of your desk but perhaps even throw the desk out of the window too?

Have I been on the seasonal sherry you might well ask? Well no, actually.

It’s more a result of some end of year reflection on my part and a feeling that, much as in business, sometimes revolution, rather than incremental evolution is the only way to bring about much needed positive change. (more…)

Whose list will you be on?

Woman writing in notebook during breakfast, top view

You may have heard the saying that people come into your life for a reason.

The general idea is that there are times in our lives where we interact with someone either professionally or personally and that interaction has a profound effect on us – either because it help us in some way or the person role models something that we learn from or because it hurts us in some way or the person role models something that we decide we never want to do to someone else.

I’ve had my own experience of both of these types of situation. (more…)

When to listen to stories .. not just tell them

It’s at this time of year that older teenagers who have finished their schooling start something new whether that’s moving on to the next level of education at school, leaving to go to college, taking an apprenticeship or starting in the world of work. It can be an exciting time … and sometimes it can be a tough time – potentially leaving behind what you know to try something new and feeling like you have to know what you want from your career at a time when you may not even be too sure about who you are.

We face times like these throughout our lives, sometimes at our own instigation, for example applying for a new job in a different organisation, and sometimes not, for example having a role made redundant.


The strength to go on

(c) Scott Norris Photography

Are you feeling pressures at work that are starting to affect you outside of work? Are you facing problems in your work that seem insurmountable? Perhaps you are fine but are observing a team member struggling and wondering how best to support them?  If so, read on as I share tips to help you build resilience in yourself, or others. (more…)

Moving sideways to get ahead


Are you in the first five years of your career? Chances are you feel an impatience to progress up the ladder, are wondering when your efforts are going to be noticed, and generally think you are ready for bigger things. Why do I say that? Research shows that Millennials (born between the years of 1980-1999) expect, and are motivated by, fast career progression and are frustrated with perceived lack of progress at work. Research also indicates that Millennials change jobs and employers much more than other generations early in their careers (see references for more information). (more…)

Stuck in your career? Jump a few steps forward…

When I was no more than 6 years’ old something happened to me at school that I carried with me, unknown for many years. I carried it with me as a limiting assumption that restricted me from being as effective and confident as I could be with those senior than me. How often is ‘discomfort with senior leadership’ seen as a barrier to being influential and credible in business? Fairly often I think, showing up as a lack of confidence through not speaking up, to failing to sway a decision despite having the facts. Simply working on developing capabilities and behaviours to influence or build presence were not enough for me; it took the support of a coach to get to the bottom of why I couldn’t be a confident leader with the most senior directors.

Now a coach myself, I understand that our assumptions can limit our behaviours, no matter how capable we are, and that the brain needs to uncover such limiting assumptions, hold them up to the light, see them for what they are, and replace them with a more liberating assumption that can remove a long term barrier in the blink of an eye.

In order to explain how you might be able to do this for yourself, I’ll share my story.

My initial schooling at Primary School was in an old building that within 2 years of me joining had been closed with us all moving to a new school. The building was so old that the toilet block required the children to leave their classroom and walk across the playground. My recollection of events was that one day I asked to leave the classroom, the teacher said yes, and I headed out across the playground. When I returned to the classroom, shut the door behind me, and returned to my desk to get on with my work I noticed that the teacher had popped next door to see the teacher of the adjoining class. About 10 minutes passed and I then realised that I had forgotten to wipe my feet on the mat when I’d returned so I dutifully went back to the mat and started to wipe them. The teacher returned, assumed I had only just come back in, told me off for dawdling and time wasting and then, without listening to my version of events, made me stand in the corner holding a broom. That incident was burned into my memory with the feeling that it wasn’t fair (such that fairness is still a strong value for me today). More importantly, it left me with a hidden assumption that even when you are ‘in the right’ or have something worth hearing, others more senior than you can ignore this and things may not turn out well.



So, my story may seem fairly trivial… ‘why get upset over that?’ … and logically that seems a fair assessment but this happened to a 5 year old. As young children we are building our model of the world and the way things work and can be hugely influenced by apparently small things.






Do you find that you have a career blocker that you just can’t get to the bottom of? Have you tried to build skills and capabilities to get past it? Still not working? Consider following the steps below to see if you can remove that blocker and make a leap with your career:

5 Steps to move past a career blocker*

  1. Reflect on the types of situations that you struggle with. What is the context? Who is involved? What is their behaviour typically like? How do you react? What typically happens? How do you feel?
  2. If you have been able to identify some common ingredients to times when you struggle, ask yourself what might I be assuming that is stopping me from behaving as I would like to (or achieving what I would like to)? Keep asking yourself that question until you have exhausted assumptions.
  3. Then ask yourself, which do you think is the assumption most stopping you? When you have decided what that is, ask yourself if the assumption is true. More often than not, the assumption will not be.
  4. If, when holding it up in the light of day, you believe the assumption is not true, ask yourself what your words are for what is true and liberating instead.
  5. When you have found a statement that feels powerful and true, ask yourself ‘If I knew that [new liberating assumption] what would I do? How would I feel? What would change for me?’


Replacing an outdated assumption that we formed perhaps to protect us in years past with another more relevant for us today can be a powerful way to move forward. Sometimes the attention of another to take us through the process is needed which is where a coach can help.

When I finally worked out what was holding me back from showing up confidently with others, a weight was lifted from my shoulders and new career paths opened. Perhaps it’s time for you to do the same?


* Source: Time to Think: Listening to ignite the human mind by Nancy Kline

How your behaviour as a leader trumps company policy

Businessman Working Summer Beach Relaxation Concept

There’s something about being on holiday that gives you a chance to reflect on things with a little more perspective than usual; not sure if it is the relaxation and ability to forget what time it is or the better sleep or perhaps the general positivity that you feel when relaxing in the fresh air.
Whatever it is, it has enabled me to see with real clarity just how important leadership role modelling is. I instinctively knew it but the recent news that France has introduced a ‘right to disconnect law’, which requires companies to negotiate policies that limit the way that work can spill over into personal time, has underlined it for me.