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Archive for the ‘Confidence’ Category

This week I collected a beautiful elm coffee table that was made especially for me by a gifted carpenter called Jim. I am tired of mass produced furniture and have developed a bit of an obsession for the old and secondhand. My home is a mishmash of weird, eclectic and interesting pieces so when a friend of mine told me that her husband is a carpenter, I couldn’t resist commissioning him to create a coffee table. From the first moment I met Jim he exuded a calm energy and I instantly felt that anything he made would be crafted with real dedication and would be a labour of love. I was right. Jim chose the wood himself and several emails were exchanged to check various tiny details that I hadn’t realised were so important to the table’s overall look and feel. It was an education.

A week ago it was officially ready to come and live with me. I can’t stop looking at it with a soporific smile on my face. This piece of furniture feels incredibly precious. The detail, the craftsmanship, the dimensions – there is even a natural shape of an angel in the grain of the wood! So as an extremely satisfied customer I have become a true champion of Jim’s work.

Sometimes as organisations grow it can be difficult to instil each employee with the values that the business has built its success upon. When Jim worked on producing my table he worked with heart and soul showing a true passion for the work he was doing. As businesses continually strive to grow, evolve and improve the way they do business, a metric of customer satisfaction has emerged  – Net Promoter Score. Many of you are already aware that this measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or service. So whilst Jim would almost certainly receive a 10 out of 10 from me, (I’m an enthusiastic evangelist about Jim’s work), how easy is it for organisations to embed Jim’s level of passion for his work into their hundreds or even thousands of employees?

Regardless of the processes organisations implement, engagement, a sense of purpose and a commitment to deliver excellence are emotional responses.  Most people are instinctively driven to make decisions based on their emotions and then use their mind to work out the how rather than the why. If a task, a job or a career does not contain personal meaning or a sense of strong purpose then we activate our inner zombie and start operating on auto pilot. Without meaning or purpose we disconnect emotionally and hand over our power to our mind – the place that seeks to control and dominate your every thought.

How often have you found yourself doing something that was mind numbingly boring? How many times have you been beavering away on a task whilst a little voice inside your head is questioning “what’s the point?” How many nights have you awoken in the early hours feeling anxious about your job or stressing about things you need to do? Everyday millions of employees worldwide are going through the motions and doing what they need to do to receive their monthly pay check. How do you inject a sense of passion and purpose into the hearts and minds of people who find themselves on a hamster wheel – too busy to even pause and reflect about how they are feeling or why they are choosing to do this. Opting for going round and round instead of upwards and onwards.

If employees have forgotten how it feels to have passion and desire they unwittingly inject their emotional greyness into the energy of their organisation. This contaminates their internal and external customers with a sense of apathy at best or toxicity at worst. You can’t teach customer service excellence unless you turn on the heart of the entire workforce. When employees are tuned into their emotions they find it easy to tune into other people’s emotions, including their customers’ emotions.

I have just had a meeting with an organisation who attained an impressive 80 per cent Net Promoter Score in 2014 (source: Retail Banker International October 2014) and are way out in front of all the other financial institutions. Julie Barnsley, Head of Commercial Deposits for Metro Bank passionately shared “We hire for attitude and train for skill” – as just one of the reasons behind the bank’s phenomenal success in such a relatively short time. The energy on the busy banking floor in the Holborn Branch was fresh and lively with magic money counters (free service to everyone including non Metro customers), dog biscuits (pets are part of the family) and lollipops for children (or adults who are young at heart).
Vernon W. Hill II is the brain behind this fast growing bank that likens itself to a retailer first who wants raving fans not customers. He has turned the traditional banking model on its head as he encourages staff to surprise and delight. Julie told me about when a member of the customer service team ordered and paid for a cab for a couple who had just opened an account on their way to the theatre. Another story of flowers given to a man for his wife’s birthday. The energy of Vernon’s vision has been cascaded through to the heart of the organisation. Having sat spellbound by Julie for an hour I’ve made a ‘note to self’ to open an account with Metro.

Innovation, passion and purpose combined with the freedom to delight and surprise has created a truly engaged workforce who simply love their job and are attracting fans in their droves. So if you are interested in learning how to create growth in a no growth world buy the book – Fans not Customers – because like its author (Vernon) it’s packed with passion and enthusiasm spills from every page. It also helps that Vernon happens to be very authentic and charismatic. He appears to have effortlessly won the hearts and minds of his employees, stakeholders, investors and the British public. Everyone appears to genuinely love and admire him. He is doing to banking what Richard Branson did and is continuing to do to transatlantic travel.

When we do the best we can with what we’ve got and we do it with positive intent we energise the object or person at the receiving end of our attention ( this is why being really present with your partner is so important). I read about Buddhist monks who send love to chocolate and it tastes out of this world (see their website). If you speak kindly to plants they’ll grow more quickly – ask Prince Charles or Matthew Bent, owner of Bents Garden Centre who conducted The Great Plant Experiment. When children grow up in an environment of love and encouragement they thrive and their sense of self worth strengthens every year. If you lavish people with heart-felt attention they feel incredibly special – it’s not rocket science it’s just good old fashioned service with a smile.

The environment, the culture and the ethos of an organisation either sabotages or supports the growth of its people. Happy people perform better, achieve more and spread a positive emotional contagion to everyone they meet.

Inspired by Jim and Vernon I decided to spread some positivity by surprising and delighting 10 people and here is what I did:

  1. Chatted to Wayne a really lovely homeless guy who I sat next to in Holborn – he usually feels invisible
  2. Gave up my seat on the train to a woman who was half my age but looked really exhausted. I just said “please take my seat you look like you’ve had a tough day”
  3. Left a message on the windscreen of my neighbour’s car that read ‘have a nice day’ with a big yellow smiling face!
  4. Praised the car park attendant at West Malling Station for the flowers he plants and nurtures all year round to give some colour to the commuters  who bravely brace themselves for another daily squashed journey to the capital.
  5. Sent a text to a friend of mine who is going through a tough time, telling her all the reasons why I appreciate her friendship
  6. Tidied my twenty year old daughter’s room so she can enjoy her return from holiday (this really was a labour of love especially in these recent hot temperatures!!!)
  7. Polished my new table again and really enjoyed looking at the beautiful grain in the wood (this made me feel good and the wood certainly gleamed its appreciation back to me).
  8. Gave Mindy (my Yorkshire Terrier) 20 minutes of tummy tickling – she looked as if she was in some heavenly place with glazed eyes and tongue hanging out
  9. As a Reiki Master I sent positive intentions of love and healing to a friend of mine who has just had an operation (hope you felt the positive vibes Tammy)
  10. Sent one of my meditations to a couple of clients, who feel very stressed at the moment due to lots of organisational restructuring, with an email – hope this helps.

I must confess I feel the glow of giving without expectation of receiving anything back and some people appeared genuinely affected by by gestures. Even though my daily work talks about being mindful, present and positive this exercise really affirmed why it’s so important.

So crank up the music, loosen your tie or kick off your heels and ask yourself this question “what actions can I take today that will cause 10 people to smile?” If we all set this as a daily intention can you imagine how much love we can collaboratively create in this world.

Have a wonderful day!

It’s been an extraordinary week. I am on a plane destined for Barcelona then onto Gerona to deliver my charisma masterclass to 30 leaders from the oil industry. The booking came from a client who I used to work with when she was at Shell. I am really excited about meeting her again because I remember the passion she gave freely to each new project. Together we became obsessed with delivering life-changing experiences that would remain in people’s hearts forever. This speaking job coincides with my birthday meaning that my pre-birthday week has been crammed with wonderful gifts and celebrations that have been intensely magical. I have an eclectic group of friends who have really spoilt me this year. I received exquisite gifts of Angels (not the real ones) pearls and powder blue jars of starfish (again not real ones).

Then, on Friday evening my daughter Rose called me into the lounge and started playing a CD.  I instantly recognised the smokey tones of my daughter’s voice and was instantly mesmerised by the beauty of the melody. As I listened to the lyrics I wondered where she had found such a perfect song, it could have been written about us ……… it had been. Rose had composed a song for my birthday that she had sang and recorded at my sister’s studio. Strange how the abundance of musical talent in my family missed me completely! This song is the most special present I have ever been given. I was overcome with a feeling of love and gratitude.  This song reflected the close, intense and sometimes stormy relationship that Rose and I share. As the last notes faded away to leave a silence of heartfelt emotion, we heard tiny little chirping sounds from outside our front door. We found a bird’s nest in one of our plant pots. Inside we discovered half a dozen tiny baby birds with open beaks, emitting a continuous high pitched calling, reminding the world of their hungry bellies. Watching their brave selfless parents fetch them an endless supply of wriggly worms despite our presence – was a breathtaking experience. I felt my unconditional love for my daughter expand as we shared this Disney like moment together. A perfect evening that I will always remember.

I enjoy looking for hidden meanings and the significance of different events that occur in my life. I have trained myself when experiencing adversity to look for the positive lessons learned during some of my darkest hours. My desire to live in an utopian world and this quest for eternal bliss often eludes me. The happy endings that you can depend on whenever you watch a Disney movie are all the sweeter because of the hero’s or heroine’s turbulent journey. As they wrangle with enchanted spells, ward off wicked witches and prove that good always triumphs over evil, we know with betting certainty that the girl will get her man in the end. Even Disney feels compelled to put the stars of their movies through some traumatic events. How did Snow White cope with the knowledge that the wicked queen plotted her murder by the woodsman’s axe as well as by a poise end apples? (Have you seen my Big Apple Experiment that shows the impact of toxic thoughts?) How impressive was Cinderella’s resilience when she lost her father and was treated like a slave by her stepmother? Princess Aurora grew up in a climate of fear as her parents sought to keep her safe from the negative intent of Maleficent.

These dramatic roller coaster moments make a much more interesting story and it gives the characters the opportunity to unleash their hidden strengths. Like a glorious Phoenix rising from the ashes of ruin – we all possess the ability to transcend from the murky depths of despair into an ocean of white healing light. Most of us have long since understood that real life is not a fun filled adventure where we feel safe, calm and supported. We  have tough times as well as good times. As Frank Sinatra put it so succinctly; “That’s life”. Yet when the tough times keep on coming and you’ve blunted your sword after slaying another fire breathing dragon, do you find yourself craving a life without struggle – like a chocoholic on a yoga retreat?

Slowing down to notice then experience the genuine natural beauty around us, gives our heart a brief respite from the gruelling rat race we know as life. A sense of freedom ensues when we escape the tight constraints of a web spun from a stunning array of deceptions: “I thought this job would make me feel financially secure”, “She was the woman of my dreams where did it go wrong?”, “Is this it? Is this all there is?”. The frantic speed of life causes the racing thoughts in our head to triumph over the truth in our heart.  It’s when we pause and take a deep breath can we  create the potential for a Disney moment. A child’s bubbling laughter, the cool crisp feel of freshly laundered cotton sheets or a rousing piece of classical music that soothes your soul stirring ripples of unadulterated bliss that last for infinity. Imagine connecting to a Disney moment every day for the rest of your life? Imagine the gigantic leap in your awareness as you connect with the abundance of vibrant beauty no longer hidden in your world. If appreciation and gratitude became stronger within you, what reverberations would be transmitted into every aspect of your life? What really matters to you?  What really matters in life?

Matter is only energy vibrating at a certain level. When hydrogen atoms gravitate together and reach a certain density then the heat generated forms a star.  What if the density of your positive emotions caused the star within you to shine more brightly? You are the star of your very own Disney movie and regardless of where you are in  your journey, your happy ending is assured if you stop judging yourself too harshly. The expectations  you have about your life may sometimes feel like a whip that chastens your ability to feel validated, significant and worthy. Happiness doesn’t have to be a quest because it’s an emotional state that  you can access at any moment just by noticing the beauty in your life.

Many of us live such busy busy lives that multi-tasking has become the latest must have skill for the discerning go getter. Anything that will triple our capacity with what we can physically achieve in each twenty four hour period becomes desirable until the day when time travel is invented. In the past I have been addicted to busy-ness as it stimulated an adrenalin rush that enabled me to complete volumes of work. Somewhere along the way I forgot what it was like to just be. Life became complex. The simplicity of enjoying small pleasures slipped away like grains of sand disappearing  in the gentlest  breeze. Too busy to cook I would say. Too busy to exercise, too busy to meditate. Too busy to enjoy the subtle nuances that can only be experienced once our senses have been awakened from a hundred year slumber. When fate steps in and kisses us with a passion for living our life in the moment, then we become open and receptive to the universal flow of life’s inherent beauty. Just look around you – beauty resides wherever you might look if you pay attention to it.

My plane is making its descent into the sunny climes of Spain………..

I have just arrived in Gerona sitting high up on a rock looking out onto the vast sparkling Mediterranean Sea . Despite the hour it is still gloriously warm and the sun’s fading heat competes with a gentle yet persistent breeze that calls my attention to this pure gold Disney moment. I smile because I remember that we are human – we do the best we can with what resources we have. Maybe sometimes we strive too hard? Maybe sometimes we should allow ourselves to press the pause button and surrender our senses to the joy of simply being alive?

When you are being you, when you are completely present,  you add colour and depth to your life. In the same way that animators give birth to a whole new story, maybe you might allow your story to unfold in it’s own natural and beautiful way.

You don’t have to shout or show off to be charismatic because charisma is an authentic power that lives within us all. When you are being true to who you really are inside you shine. As your charisma starts to flow you switch your cells into a growth operating mechanism that strengthens your immune system, increases your confidence and expands your awareness. Charisma can be likened to the same state that top class athletes experience – The Zone

You can’t teach charisma, certainly not in a conventional way because the moment that you try to teach an individual a charismatic behaviour that is out of alignment with the essence of who they really are at their core, they will come across as fake, superficial and devoid of charisma altogether. I clearly remember the excitement and nerves surrounding the launch of my first charisma seminar in November 2008 at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. I was about to deliver content and exercises created following two decades of research – it felt very personal.

Here I was on this dark blustery November morning about to teach business leaders how to become more charismatic!!! My approach was inspired by the rebellious world of Quantum Physics and the miraculous reactions caused by the discovery of Epigenetics on cellular healing. As I trained to become a Reiki Master I started to appreciate the vital connection between energy and charisma. Paul McKenna, who I met during an appearance on a well known breakfast show in 1992 introduced me to tools that work at a deep level. The unconscious mind plays a vital role when transforming attitudes through charisma. Whilst I was strongly convinced that my unusual approach to developing charisma worked, it was a rather surreal experience to stand in front of a bunch of discerning business people and introduce them to ‘ a world of woo’!

I spent 5 years testing my methods at The Globe with hundreds of business leaders from all types of organisations and it proved to be a period of accelerated change as my blueprint was relentlessly tested, assessed, adapted, refined and improved. In the early days I remember introducing a couple of exercises and realising that I definitely wouldn’t be running those again!!!! Yet the impact of these two days was visible and dramatic. So much so that I employed the services of a Royal photographer who specialises in photographing well-known charismatic people. He photographed people throughout the event witnessing their powerful transformation.

It feels like a cliche to say that many attendees reported that their lives have been irrevocably changed and the impact of these two days endures. I recently posted a request on Facebook to ask people who had previously gone through my programme to share what they gained in one sentence and was inundated by responses that included:

“Totally inspired”

“Completely changed how I feel about myself”

“My life is completely different now”

“Confidence to communicate more clearly with others”

“A rare a unique opportunity to make sense of who you really are”

The better you feel about yourself and others improves your performance at work, it improves your relationships with your family and it improves your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. I have evolved this programme into a powerful Charisma Retreat held in beautiful venues for a small number of people. Delivered with the amazing Corah Clark who is, in my opinion, one of the UK’s top Transpersonal Therapists and supported by one of the UK’s top Cultural Architects – Karen Bellamy.

2015 Two-Day Retreats:
Monday 23rd – Tuesday 24th March at Down Hall Country House Hotel, Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire
Monday 18th – Tuesday 19th May at Didsbury House Hotel, Manchester
Monday 19th – Tuesday 20th October at Down Hall Country House Hotel, Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire
Monday 16th – Tuesday 17th November at Didsbury House Hotel, Manchester

Book your place before 20th February and receive our Early-Bird rate of £1250 PLUS VAT.

For places booked after 20th February the price is £1500 PLUS VAT.

What’s included:

  • 30 minute one-to-one session using a blend of energetic realignment techniques
  • High levels of additional support with Karen Bellamy and her team
  • Charisma Retreat materials
  • Access to Informal Learning Resources and Charisma Chat Zone
  • Post retreat charisma meditations written and recorded by Nikki Owen

Complimentary call with Nikki Owen
To ensure that our Charisma Retreat will meet and exceed your expectations we offer a free complimentary telephone call with Nikki Owen so you can learn more about what to expect and discover how you personally can be helped. To schedule this call please contact Emma Mattingley by email or by phone on 01732 617816. We tend to manage our lives intellectually – in other words we get stuck in our heads, keeping ourselves preoccupied with juggling an assortment of activities and responsibilities in order to manage the surface of life. We all eventually reach a moment at a certain age when we feel ready to start listening to our intuition and allow ourselves to follow what we feel in our deepest self. It’s the most intelligent, powerful, brilliant, authentic and sane choice we can make. If you feel ready to take this step that elevates you from your head and connects you to the ebb and flow of your heart then we look forward to hearing from you.

Coombe Abbey is a majestic and imposing castle nestled in the rolling undulations of the borders that unite the Coventry and Brinklow countryside. A stunning and breathtaking venue for a gathering of Fellows from the Professional Speaking Association. When I walked into the imposing entrance I was instantly catapulted back in time to 12th century living of isolated monasticism, royal plots and family curses. A musty and surreal historical presence oozed effortlessly from every nook and cranny. Centuries of whispered ancient secrets created an atmosphere pregnant with paranormal possibilities. I  felt emboldened by the mesmerising energy of such a wonderful yet dark building. No wonder castles are becoming the venues of choice for those seeking to hold business meetings with a difference. They add a real gravitas to any occasion that announces your importance like a fanfare of trumpets welcoming you back into the deepest fold like a crusading knight in shining armour.

I suspect it was around the age of four when I fell in love with castles. Fairy tales enthralled me as I listened to my grandmother telling me about beautiful princesses who lived in magical kingdoms. Despite the omnipotent power of the obligatory wicked stepmother or the ugly witch, every story ended with a ‘happy ever after’. The gorgeous princess (beautiful on the inside as well as on the outside) always got her man who was a brave and fearless prince who had risked his life to find her. The princess would be whisked away to an opulent castle surrounded by her heart’s desires whilst she continued to sing with creatures in the forest, undertake tireless charity work and was loved by all who knew her. More than anything I wanted to be a princess and live a magical and enchanted life.

This adolescent desire has never really left me. It was a harsh shock to realise that princes also have intense insecurities and their ability to slay a few dragons and keep me safe was outside of their remit. I needed to sharpen my own sword and embark upon a crusade into the big wide world. There is nothing quite like a bit of adversity to build your castle walls. A failed love affair, a career that breaks your heart or a boulder of responsibility that sucks joy from the magic of your life. When we are hurt we activate a primal need deep within us that erects a protective wall so tough that NOTHING can hurt us again. Over the years our walls often thicken and grow at such an alarming rate we begin to lose sight of who we really are inside.

The illusion of safety inside these castle walls is strengthened by a heavy drawbridge, aggressive archers with a penchant to aim their arrows where it hurts and a moat so deep that monsters lurk in its muddy depths. Having felt under attack for so long, we view most things as an advancing enemy force who wants to invade our personal space and take from us. And so we wait. Feeling safe. Feeling protected. As our supplies of food, water and emotional nourishment become depleted, we start to worry frantically about our future. Did we stockpile enough? Should we have been more frugal during the good times? Can we last until the point of our natural death? When all supplies have finally dried up, some of us still choose to stay where we are, stuck inside these thick oppressive walls as we live in hope that our ‘prince’ is just around the corner. Besides we are too frightened to venture out into the unknown – we have forgotten what it’s like.

There comes a point in everyone’s life that when faced by the probability of a slow and painful death, we may decide to let down our drawbridge and ride off into an adventure to reclaim our hidden self. Surprisingly, ‘the enemy’ is never as frightening as the controlling tyrant we had envisioned for so many years. Surprisingly, ‘the enemy’ is often a little bit like you. Surprisingly, ‘the enemy’ wants what you want – to feel safe, to feel loved and to live a life that has meaning and purpose. A mind at peace, a mind not focussed on harming others, is stronger than any physical force in the universe. When you realise that ‘the enemy’ is a projection of your shadow self you accept that you truly do possess all the resources you need inside to attain whatever you want. Your life’s circumstances do not define who you are, they reveal the essence of who you really are inside. If we strive too hard for the ‘happy ever after’ we lose sight of the magical land we are blessed to inhabit. Every second of every minute of every hour is a sacred gift that we can cherish or disregard. Protective walls don’t stop us from getting hurt, they stop us from enjoying the exhilaration of life.

Regardless of whether or not my Prince Charming ever rides in and carries me off into the sunset (good job that I’ve joined Slimming World or he might find me a heavy burden!),  I am determined to pull Excalibur from the rocks and begin to love and accept my own inner demons for what they really are.

I have been given a beautiful string of real pearls by a lady called Sylvia that I have only known for 6 months. It is one of the most moving gifts I have ever received. The necklace belonged to her late mother and she told me that she felt drawn to give them to me. As I tried on the necklace, I was reminded that pearls are created when sand gets inside an oyster and irritates it. The oyster suffers greatly as this exquisite jewel grows more beautiful at the expense of the oyster’s pain. There is real truth in the expression ‘the world is your oyster’; the irritations of your life develops your inner essence, defining the person you are today. However, this feels too simplistic and doesn’t honour the suffering that we witness around the world on a daily basis. Sometimes when I read the news, witness the pain of another human being or when I’m feeling the struggle in my own daily life it is difficult to see a ‘pearl’ in the midst of such enduring darkness.

Life gives you whatever experiences are most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. You possess within you a Universal Intelligence that is the biggest ‘pearl  making’ laboratory in the world. The same Intelligence that grows trees from seeds, that lets birds fly, that waves the ocean and gives birth to new stars. Your pain and your suffering is giving you the opportunity to experience a higher version of you.

Many of us believe that our purpose here on earth is to seek and find happiness. We do what we do today because we crave success, however we define it, and the future becomes our salvation. I spent 15 years of my life sacrificing the present moment for the promise of future wealth, future relationships, future health and well-being. Working crazy hours, not taking time to invest in my intimate relationships, too busy to eat healthily. Leveraging my assets, accumulating debt, building my overheads to a point that just to stand still was too expensive for me to contemplate. Yet my mind was fixated on some obscure point in ‘my future’ when I could relax and enjoy myself. During a particularly intense 15 year period I encountered set back after set back. Business losses, toxic relationships, a failed marriage, money worries and a breakdown as I began to rebel against the relentless pressure. My spirit has always been a fighting one yet there were times when I felt a deep down weariness as I cried out “can I start again please?”.

As I’m writing this I’m smiling. I  recognise that this frantic treadmill that I chose to place myself on was not the best way for my heart. When you let go of trying to resist the natural ebb and flow of your life and accept the present moment as if you have chosen it then that peace you feel is the energy vibration of your consciousness. It is our ego mind that likes to judge whether something or someone is good or bad. If we can simply accept that our difficult experiences are like grains of sand designed to build the pearl within us then everything starts to feel easier.

Humanity is not destined to live happily ever after because it’s in its struggle and pain that humanity evolves. If we were all to exist in a utopian world of bliss then how could we learn and grow? It is in the struggle that we begin to find our inner beauty, our inner peace. It’s  only when we experience moments of darkness do we have a context to experience the light that shines brightly within us.

In my charisma seminars I conclude with a story that I have adapted from the book Illusions, written by Richard Bach, that I’d like to share with you in my own words:

Once upon a time there lived a village of starfish at the bottom of a great ocean. The current of the ocean swept silently above them all, young, old, rich, poor, good, evil – the current going its own way, knowing its own, true, powerful self. Each starfish in its own manner clung tightly to the rock face and coral because resisting the current was its way of life and clinging was what it had learned from birth. Yet after awhile, one starfish cried “I’m tired of clinging! Though I cannot see it with my own eyes, I trust the ocean knows where it’s going. I shall let go and let it take me where it will, for if I keep clinging on I shall surely die of boredom”. And the other starfish cried “Fool! That ocean that you worship will throw you smashed and tumbled against the rocks and you shall die quicker than boredom”. But the one heeded them not and taking a deep breath he did let go and was at once smashed and tumbled against the rocks. Yet because he refused to cling again he was lifted from the bottom of the ocean until he was hurt and bruised no more. The starfish at the bottom of the ocean,  to whom he was now a stranger cried “look a miracle – a starfish like us but he flies!”  But the one in the current said “I am no more a miracle than you. The ocean delights to set us free if only we dare to let go. This life is our true adventure.” But the starfish at the bottom of the ocean kept crying “it’s a miracle, a miracle” and when they looked again he was gone. They were left alone to creating legends of the miraculous flying star.

When I look at people around me, those that I work with, those I pass in the street, I see pain, suffering and sadness yet I also see courage, strength, creativity and compassion. We are doing the best we can in a world that at times, delivers cruel harsh blows. When you honour the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolves and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you embrace every difficulty as a tiny grain of sand destined to shape your greatness then you start to accept the roller coaster of your life with peace and serenity.

Every time I put on this beautiful necklace of pearls – I see an ocean of wisdom and growth within each one.  My thanks to Sylvia for this exquisite gift who inspired this blog.

http://www-tc.pbs.org/parents/education/files/2012/08/talking-with-kids-2-467x267.jpgGrowing up, how did your parents deal with issues and difficulties? Did they encourage you to talk honestly and openly? Did they tend to explode with anger, shouting obscenities in the heat of the moment? Did they chose to pretend that everything was normal and refuse to discuss anything in preference to sweeping any uncomfortable issues under the carpet? Each of these responses will create an internal build up of emotions that affects the energy and emotional stability you possess as the adult you are today.

The Volcano – when an individual demonstrates explosive reactions to situations that appear out of proportion to the actual incident this usual signals they have buried negative emotions  that have been triggered. I completely disagree with the old saying “sticks and stones may break your bones but words can never hurt you”. The emotional intensity behind angry words can create just as much damage as physical abuse. The husband that shouts at his wife, the father that threatens his children, the man who seeks to control and dominate by using intimidation and power. Do you know an individual who dominates discussions and is on ‘loud transmit’ appearing oblivious to the reactions of others? Have you encountered someone who uses put downs and sarcasm to entertain even when their words are cruel and cutting? Growing up in an environment of violent outbursts (even if these outbursts are more often verbal ones) tends to create children who either grow up believing that it’s acceptable to control and dominate others or children who grow up to become habitual people pleasers.

The Glacier – when an individual refuses to discuss matters or uses ‘the silent treatment’ to show their disapproval. This type of passive aggressive behaviour is also extremely controlling and children may often feel they are walking on egg shells around this type of person. The mother who refuses to discuss any disagreement in the belief that her opinion is always right. The wife who blames her husband for past mistakes and demonstrates icy coldness towards him. The woman who has become embittered and hardened by life causing her to become inflexible, critical and judgemental. Do you know people who refuse to forget the past mistakes of others and bottle up their anger and find fault in everything everyone says or does? This refusal to discuss issues in a fair, open and equal way is also very controlling because it fails to honour the other person’s perspective and creates a silo mentality. “I don’t want to discuss it any more so let’s just forget it” – more negativity is pushed under the surface increasing the pressure even further. What are these people so scared of? Children who grow up with a Glazier tend to either close down emotionally and erect their own icy boundaries or will  crave approval from others.

The Mountain – when an individual speaks openly and honestly from their heart whilst seeking to truly understand what the other person is saying. This strengthens and develops mutual respect and creates a solid foundation for relationships. The father that asks their child for their opinion, the mother who actively listens to their daughter. The parent who allows their growing teenager the freedom to make their own mistakes and choose their own path. The individual who is genuinely interested in other people and celebrate diversity and the wonder of uniqueness.  This behaviour demonstrates that all peoples’ views are valid and that there is no ‘right or wrong’ way only infinite ways of thinking and doing. Children who grow up in an environment of Mountain behaviour will be strong, resilient and possess high levels of confidence and self esteem. They will view others through the eyes of compassion and curiosity that conveys respect and genuine interest. These people will naturally create a feeling of calm strength in others and prefer to ‘empower’ rather than wield ‘power’ over others.

During my one-to-one sessions I am continually amazed with how many of my clients are affected by the past and also present behaviours of their parents. Smart, successful and together (well, they look ‘together’ on the surface) people will revert to childhood programming around their parents. Trying to create a positive change by working within the constraints of the conscious mind will often result in failure because these parental issues were not installed within your adult self they were installed  when you were a child and growing up. Often the quickest way to transform your life is to help your younger self find peace and acceptance of past traumas and difficulties. There are a number of high impact techniques that will help you to do this including Matrix Reimprinting, Timeline Therapy, EMO trance and Hypnosis.

As a parent myself I am mindful of the impact my behavioural choices have on Rose my twenty year old daughter. Sometimes in my desire to help her, my behaviour can appear to her to be very controlling. My maternal instinct causes me to want to wrap her in cotton wool yet I know that she needs to develop her own resilience and cotton wool blocks the definition of her own inner strength. Sometimes I’ve lost my temper and been a Volcano. This immediately causes her to either shout back or withdraw emotionally. Other times I’ve used the silent treatment until the hurt in her eyes causes me to feel ashamed of myself. Despite my imperfections as a mother – I am always prepared to say sorry and to talk and discuss issues, problems and difficulties that Rose or myself have.  My intention for Rose is that she feels free to walk her own path knowing that she has my unconditional love with her every step of the way. I don’t want her to feel obligated towards me and if she wants to spend time with me that’s wonderful and if she doesn’t then that’s ok too. Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs on the planet because of the emotional connection of intense love mixed with your own past programming received from your own parents whilst you were growing up.

So what does this have to do with charisma? I believe that we are all born with an abundance of charisma within us. Parental programming, our environment and traumas, hardship and tough times unwittingly trigger a primal need to protect ourselves. So we put up a wall, then another wall and another until we have built so many walls we have lost touch with who we really are at our core. When we act in a way that is out of alignment with who we truly are inside we appear fake, superficial or not genuine. This blocks our flow of charisma. When we feel safe and are brave enough to dismantle our walls then we reconnect to who we truly are inside. This is when we are at our most charismatic.

In my own life my most important value is to be true to myself and I have learned to speak out from my heart. I find it impossible to act as if everything is normal when it’s not. I struggle to do superficial chatting because the other person fears we uncover a contentious issue. I have let go of the need to ‘fix’ everyone I meet because trying to fix others presupposes they need to be fixed! I value people who are authentic, compassionate and non judgemental. I try really hard to live my life reflecting these values and sometimes I get it a bit wrong. Yet if I keep these values awakened within me then maybe my behaviour will create mountains in the minds of others.

Years ago BT launched an advertising campaign based on the principle that ‘it’s good to talk’. The ability to speak out with kindness and sensitivity enables those around us to grow and flourish. The ability to listen beyond words to the views and opinions of others builds connections, respect, understanding and in parental relationships – deep unconditional love. I remember reading a beautiful book by Dr Wayne W. Dyer that said something along the lines of “How others treat me is their path: how I react is mine.”

Extensive research and numerous studies examining the benefits of charisma confirm that people with high levels of charisma are happier, healthier, enjoy more success in their chosen careers and possess increased resilience to the challenges and difficulties that life presents. If the advantages of charisma are so appealing, why then do the majority of organisations shy away from developing the charismatic potential of their leadership team?

There are people who subscribe to the theory that charisma can not be taught, you either have it or you don’t. Other people perceive charisma as a form of psychological bondage that poses an inherent risk for their organisation. I remember when our Business Development Director had a meeting with a major High Street Financial Institution. During the presentation he was a little surprised when their HR Director asked: “Do we really want charismatic leaders?” Charisma can trigger a strong negative reaction because of the legacy left by disgraced and selfish charismatic leaders. Remember the public outcry about the former CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland, Fred Goodwin? The media publisher, Robert Maxwell?

Even when an organisation’s charismatic leader has proved to be an asset to the organisation, what happens to the business after the leader has moved on? How would the public and investors of the Virgin Empire react if Richard Branson cut his connection with the Virgin brand? The former CEO of Sainsbury’s – Justin King used his charisma as well as other attributes to create a tripling of profits during his ten year tenure. Yet on the day he resigned almost £400 million pounds was wiped from Sainsbury’s share value. Little wonder that corporate competency frameworks rarely feature charisma as a desirable leadership competency.

The corporate prejudice against charisma pales into insignificance when looking at the impact of charisma on a nation when used with evil intent. Historical writer and documentary maker Laurence Rees produced a disturbing 3-part series -The Dark Charisma – based on Adolf Hitler, an awkward, dysfunctional man who developed a level of charismatic attraction almost without parallel in history. Hitler shows that charisma is highly dangerous when possessed by a megalomaniac. Adolf Hitler was without question an extraordinarily charismatic presenter. Certainly in terms of his rise to power, his personal charisma was one of the most effective tools that he used to tap into the collective psyche of the German people.

The Harvard Business Review published an interesting view from Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic , international authority in personality profiling and psychometric testing. Dr Premuzic argues that, amongst other things, charisma disguises psychopaths, distracts and destructs, and is responsible for ‘downgrading leadership to just another form of entertainment’. Whilst I disagree with much of Dr Premuzic’s article, it is well written, and certainly mirrors the distrust that the business community seems to have about charismatic leaders. This sweeping generalisation that some individuals may use their charismatic presence inappropriately, often prevents corporations from taking charisma seriously. Whilst I concur that charisma can be used for good, or for evil – that distinction need not prevent an individual or their organisation from benefiting from what is a genuine competitive advantage. As with any attribute, there is a mantle of responsibility inherently implied for the charismatic leader.

Today most leaders, acknowledge that a charismatic leader appears to effortlessly attract loyal and supportive ‘followship’. Charismatic leaders attract more publicity and more attention from outside groups as well as exerting a strong (albeit invisible) bond with their organisation’s workforce. Numerous studies and many different credible research sources show that Charismatic leaders, outperform their non-charismatic peers by an average of 60%.

As a Fellow of the Professional Speaking Association I have just been enthralled for 2 days by a diverse range of breathtakingly charismatic speakers. Patricia Fripp is a sharp, powerful and dynamic speaker from the US who used to be a hairdresser. Today she entertains audiences across the globe teaching sales people, speakers and priests to create and deliver charismatic presentations or sermons in some cases. Fripp is tiny in stature yet her presence on stage is awesome. Every word she utters hits the spot and I felt I was in the presence of a true genius. It was also the first time I’ve see Deri Llewellyn-Davies known as The Strategy Man. After a rather startling entrance I found myself mesmerised by the artful way he built beautiful crafted links into his extreme challenges. From running marathons across the desert to climbing unclimbable mountains Deri’s speech was packed with powerful tips to build a successful speaking career. And then onto the stage walked Alvin Law whose mother had in 1960 taken a pill for easing morning sickness. Alvin is a thalidomide baby and was born with no arms. He shows not an ounce of self pity – just sheer guts, wisdom and unbelievable resilience that moved over 400 professional speakers to tears. Watching Alvin use his feet to drink from a bottle, brush his hair and play the drums caused me to feel overwhelmed with the courage this man possesses.

Charisma is an authentic power that captivates the hearts and minds of others. When you are being you and you love what you do you shine. Audience engagement is a leading indicator of a speaker’s success. Developing your charismatic potential in a way that is aligned with the essence of who you truly are at your core is the quickest way to enthral an audience. There are five pillars that impact upon your charisma: 1. Self-worth ( in the context of speaking) 2. Sensory awareness of you and your audience ( if you tune into your Emotional Guidance System you’ll have continual feedback about your speech) 3. Compelling vision that creates an electro magnetic force field that your audience will feel and be affected by. 4. Driving force that determines your level of passion and enthusiasm. 5. Balanced energy so you can simultaneously transmit and receive energy that builds huge momentum during your speech. Everyone including you have an abundance of charisma yet when you experience knocks, obstacles and difficulties you trigger the erection of walls that disconnect you from your inner essence. Therefore, the quickest way to re-connect with your charisma is to identify, acknowledge and dismantle your walls. Here are my top tips for boosting your charisma when speaking or presenting to larger groups:

  1. Be yourself. Speaking and presenting techniques  that are not aligned with the essence of who you truly are inside will mean that you are perceived as not authentic and this automatically dilutes charisma.
  2. Deliver your speeches/presentations/talks in peripheral vision. (Focus your attention on one spot then expand your awareness into the peripheral). This opens the doorway to your unconscious mind and enables you to connect to universal energy referred to as The Field. It is in this transcendental state that stimulates your natural charisma.
  3. Start slowly and build the pace. This builds rapport with the kinaesthetics, auditories and visuals in your audience. You can then speak at your natural talking pace.
  4. You cannot engage the heart of your audience unless you create an emotional response. If you struggle with the ability to access a wide range of emotions then book a session with an Emotional Freedom Techniques Therapist who will help you to release the energetic blockages that are preventing you from connecting emotionally.
  5. Ego is the quickest way to drain your charisma. Showing humility, compassion and vulnerability creates a powerful intensity that builds a strong heart-orientated connection with your audience.
  6. Charismatic speakers utilise more of their Limbic Brain. Limber up your Limbic Brain that controls your self awareness and your emotional responses by performing a Cross Crawl exercise daily. This is simply a cross-lateral walking in place exercise that involves touching the right elbow to the left knee and then the left elbow to the right knee.
  7. Every living thing exudes an electro magnetic field referred to as an aura. The larger your aura the more charismatic you become. Emotions such as love and gratitude are the quickest way to expand your aura. This is why charismatic speakers only speak about the topics that they really care about.
  8. Regularly meditation enables you to build a stronger connection with your authentic charisma because it enables you to slow down your brain wave frequencies to ‘Theta’ – the most powerful frequency for transformation. Accessing Theta when speaking enables you to work in a peak state of flow.

As an international speaker on charisma and energy I recognise how important it is to walk my talk. How can I share my powerful messages if I then go and ignore what I advocate for others? One of my guiding principles is that our mind and body is totally connected. You can’t have a thought without it showing up in your physiology. The way you move your body affects the way you think and the way you feel. So ten days ago I took a ‘less that flattering’ look at myself in the mirror and asked myself the question “what does my body convey to others?” Through my eyes I looked overweight, a bit wobbly in places and my pallor seemed to lack radiance. I looked run down and realised that this wasn’t the impression I want my audience to have of me before I even open my mouth to speak.

In that moment ( and I’ve always been a bit impulsive) I decided to book a Personal Trainer to help accelerate my body into a glorious charismatic shape – full of vim and vigour and vitality. Knowing how controlling I am at times I requested a PT who would push me and not allow me to wimp out of the exercises that were too exhausting to even think about, let alone do. Enter Paul who happens to be exactly the same age as me. He looks supremely fit, is very approachable yet I see the glint of steely determination in his eyes! Within 5 minutes of scheduling my sessions he persuaded me to invest in the gym’s heart rate monitor so he could see how much effort I was putting into everything!

Have just completed my first week and – I can barely walk! Muscles that I didn’t even realise I had are throbbing and given that I’m doing 5 sessions a week I have to now accept stiff and aching muscles as a way of life. The fact that I shuffle around the house these days like a little old granny and feel permanently hungry is an experience in of itself. Yet my heart and my head is determined to really work at this and Paul is a genuinely nice man who seems to know just how much I have left in my tank!!! We now tackle the heavy weights by imagining helium filled balloons lifting them. My burning quads are now instructed to feel ‘ice cold’ and he plays the Rocky theme tune on his phone when I’m rowing. Whilst my body is in major shock, my mind is strong and my intention very clear. Already the gradually increasing power in my body feels good as if I am competing with negative demons and we are in head to head combat. I know I’ll win because I am feeling the negativity weaken into submission with every session I complete and ‘survive’. Watch this space as I’ve done ‘before’ photos ( not a great advert for my brand )yet I’ll only show these when I can celebrate my new emerging muscular physique!!!

On a lighter note I spent an enjoyable hour being interviewed for a US dating site for men who wanted to know how their listeners can increase their charisma and attract more women. Actually my message is the same whether I’m working with CEOs or lonely hearts – just be yourself! When you accept that you are wonderful just as you are, you radiate an energy that compels people’s attention. No tricks, no gimmicks just pure authenticity with a large dose of self worth. As we grow older, many of us have learned to surround ourselves with protective walls to stop us from getting hurt. The thicker these walls the more disconnected we become from our core authentic self. Being charismatic requires you to dismantle your wall so your energy switches from isolated silo to connected collaborative.

That’s why I am embracing the pain in the gym and allowing myself to look like a complete wimp – after all if I can still smile at the world then good things tend to happen!

The gentle man walked slowly towards the clearing in the park that he had visited almost daily since he was a boy. His dear old loyal dog – Cindy, ambled along doing her best to move in synchronicity with her owner yet quite happy to simply sit and stare at the trees.So many memories, so many daily trips and so many dogs had shared the endless supply of treats the man stored in his large pockets. This was his place where he felt truly at peace, at one with Nature and accepted and known well by the regular dog walkers that knew him by sight and often stopped to exchange the odd greeting. Sometimes a large crow circled the skies watching for the opportunity when he too would be noticed, called to and then fed by this gentle man.

If you were to look closely you would see the warmth in the man’s eyes whenever he spied a dog, it was as if he knew that these loving animals recognised a kindred spirit a man who knew how to express appreciation and gratitude for their unwavering loyalty and unconditional love. Every line on the man’s face told a story. The mischievous boy who climbed over the walls into the Zoo to peek at the animals. The long and satisfying walks with his wife whom he had loved with all his heart. And the dogs. Each one more memorable to him than their owner, each one a cause for delight as he tempted them nearer for a quick pat, a ruffle of the ears and a tasty treat.

What the man was less aware of was that he was well known and loved by many that saw his presence as a reassuring glow in the middle of the greyness of their ordinary lives. He was a part of this park or was this park an extension of his nature? It didn’t matter either way because they were both entwined as the ivy that grew steadily to the large oak trees. The dog walkers visibly brighten at the sight of Hugh and Cindy because they cast a warmth into the coldest heart irrespective of the day, the time or the season.

So on the 2nd August the day when Hugh celebrates his birthday, this is a sincere and heartfelt message from one of those dog walkers to say “thank you and Happy Birthday”. There is an abundance of trees in Cobtree and an abundance of days in the park ahead. Enjoy every magical moment.

Happy Birthday love Nikki and Mindy (the Yorkshire Terrier)