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Archive for the ‘Confidence’ Category

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? The disgraced jewellery tycoon, Gerald Ratner?

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)

I belong to a Fabulous Women’s Group where successful business women who are at the top of their game meet every quarter to provide peer group mentoring for each other. One of the group usually runs a morning session for the others on our specialist skill then the afternoon is devoted to resolving issues raised giving us more perspectives than just our own when creating solutions. I adore this group, the woman are so inspirational and are exceptional role models of excellence in their chosen fields. So imagine my excitement as I travelled up to Pitsford, just North of Northampton to learn how to do horse whispering with the master (or in this instance mistress) of horse whisperers – the charismatic and utterly authentic Lisa Brice. Watching Lisa with her beloved horses was in of itself a magical experience – it was as if there was an invisible thread connecting Lisa and her horse so that an unseen puppeteer was orchestrating the synchronicity of fluid movements between animal and human.

All of my life I have avoided horses in the belief that they are frightening and give me an extreme allergic reaction. Consequently I was thoroughly armed with an Epipen, Ventolin  inhaler and a sackful of tissues (not very ‘Louise Hay’). Yet I found myself mesmerised by the intuitive horses in front of me. It was as if they could see into my soul and were listening intently to the beating of my heart. For two hours I learned how to understand and connect with these beautiful majestic animals and recognised that any changes in my energy were instantly picked up by the horses who gave me feedback in their own decisive way. Watching my fellow Fabulous Women connect with their horses I saw their charisma expand and engage the horses so that collectively it felt as if we were one entity in constant contact with the rhythm of the earth and nature. After a sumptuous lunch in Lisa’s farmhouse kitchen we sat outside in the paddock with the horses. Amanda Waring used her shamanic wisdom to drum an uplifting melody to our emotional hearts as we connected with the full beauty of this tranquil afternoon. In this moment all of us experienced a profound peace that left us feeling simultaneously vulnerable and strong. In this moment I would be prepared to do anything for any one of these women whose hearts seemed intrinsically linked with my own. So this is what engagement feels like. So this is the power of collaboration in its purest form.

In our western culture, many of the leaders that I have worked with feel uncomfortable when they see that part of my charisma definition mentions – heart – . Many organisations already have strong and robust processes in place to build employee engagement. Leadership teams are generally good at winning the – minds – of their people. Engagement and motivation are emotional responses, an unconscious as well as conscious desire to work with heart and soul for the benefit of their leader and their organisation. When leaders cannot communicate with their heart, and find difficult to express their emotional side,  they generally struggle to build engagement, and often encounter even more resistance to changed ways of working. Heartfelt communication triggers serotonin and oxytocin – chemicals that naturally increase empathy, feeling good and trust.

There is a scientific explanation that explains why some leaders can evoke a strong positive emotional response and attract massive followship. The vagus nerve is a bundle of nerves that originates in the top of the spinal cord. It activates different organs throughout the body (such as the heart, lungs, liver and digestive organs). When active, it is likely to produce that feeling of warm expansion in the chest—for example, when we are moved by someone’s goodness or when we appreciate a beautiful piece of music. Neuroscientist Stephen W. Porges of the University of Illinois at Chicago refers to the vagus nerve as the nerve of compassion. This is because it stimulates certain muscles in the vocal chamber, enabling communication and it reduces the heart rate to promote a feeling of calm. Studies suggest that there is a connection with oxytocin, a neurotransmitter involved in trust and empathy. Consequently, the vagus nerve is associated with feelings of caretaking and the ethical intuition that humans from different social groups (even adversarial ones) share a common humanity. People who have high vagus nerve activation in a resting state, are more likely to be altruistic, compassionate, feel gratitude, love and happiness. Genuine charisma boosts the vagus nerve activators and draw people towards them without effort in an almost unconscious manner.

Horses have a sixth sense for people who have learned how to activate their vagus nerve. You can’t pretend to be calm with a horse, you can’t pretend to be confident – these magnificent creatures reflect back to you, that emotion you are feeling deep down – the one you may have worked hard to suppress. So to invest a day learning from horses is day where you automatically learn how to boost your own natural charisma. As for my own limiting beliefs around allergies and fear of horses – I now recognise that they are simply delusional thoughts that are not real. What’s real is the feeling of connectedness to all that surrounds us.

The good news is that in order to increase your charisma you don’t need to learn anything new. You simply have to feel comfortable being you, connect with your emotions and find purpose and personal meaning in your everyday work. This may sound simplistic because it takes real courage to remain fundamentally true to who we really are inside – with every individual (or horse) we meet – and in every context. Years of environmental conditioning often stops us from allowing our softer and therefore, more vulnerable side to show.  Once we start to honour our true self we experience a feeling of euphoria at the sheer sensation of being alive. And in the same way that we never forget how to ride a bike this feeling of bliss is our birthright, it is a natural state that is within all of us, just waiting to be awakened.

How are you feeling inside as you think about it now? I mean if you could choose any feeling that would enable you to get the most joy from today, what feeling would you choose? Take a minute to read through these quotations and notice your emotional response then read on to discover why your emotional reactions send vibrational waves into your environment.

  • Music is what feelings sound like
  • “What day is it?” asked Pooh. “It’s today.” squeaked Piglet. “My favourite day.” said Pooh.
  • We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
  • When asked how they managed to stay together for 65 years, the woman replied, “We were born in a time where if something was broke, you fixed it…not throw it away.”
  • Always remember that your present situation is not your final destination. The best is yet to come.
  • When nothing goes right….go left.
  • Be thankful for the bad things in life. For they opened your eyes to the good things you weren’t paying attention to before!
  • If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?
  • The mind replays what the heart can’t delete.
  • If you are depressed you are living in the past. if you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.
  • Be someone who makes you happy.
  • Some people are old at 18 and some are young at 90…..time is a concept that humans created
  • You cannot hang out with negative people and expect to live a positive life.

According to sociologist Edward Shills, charisma endows its recipients with an almost supernatural power that transcends ordinary human behaviour. A rather dramatic interpretation at first glance. Yet take a look at people with faith when they are praying. Whether in a mosque, a church or a synagogue or a temple you may notice an aura of radiance, a sense of calm peacefulness that surrounds their physical form. From an energetic perspective, the purer the person’s thinking, their vibrational frequency becomes lighter and higher. So in practical terms, emotions such as anger and sadness are transmitted on a low heavy frequency in contrast to love and gratitude which are transmitted on a high lighter frequency. As my 30 year fascination with charisma has caused me to research and study hundreds of leaders in different fields I recognise that many charismatic individuals (who use their charisma with positive intent) are transmitting their energy on a higher frequency in contrast to their non charismatic peers.

Last year I conducted an experiment based on the iconic master of self development, Napoleon Hill. In 1935 he would imagine holding a board meeting with leaders that he admired. He discovered that his ‘counsellors’ would give him inspired solutions that he had not thought about on his own. On October 26th 2013 I invited 12 intuitive people join me to an event where we channelled the essence or spirit of our chosen deceased charismatic leader. Such was the success and power of this event I decided to run another one on Saturday 12th July 2014. This time I wanted to experience whether it is possible to access guidance from a high vibrational frequency that would enable a group of us to connect with a divine source of inspiration. There were questions I was curious to get answers to such as ‘How can you know if you’ve met your soulmate?’ to ‘What happens when we die?’ Under the expert guidance of experienced and trustworthy Psychic Medium Paul Wayman, we gathered at my house by the river to devote a day to what I affectionately call ‘weird stuff’.

As the day progressed we learned how to access a deeper level of trance and experimented with techniques ranging from inspired writing to channelling wisdom from the akashic records. What stood out to me was the power of our collective group energy and the deep feeling of trust and support amongst us. We were experiencing a collaborative culture in its purest form where individuals accessed their purest creative states and enabled a stream of wonderful ideas and solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems. At a cellular level our bodies became flooded with Oxytocin and Serotonin (hormones that trigger love, empathy, trust and bonding) It was a special moment as individuals recognised that happiness is not attained when we find peace and calm it is when we attain peace and calm that happiness flows abundantly through our system. The power of the group’s support was demonstrated in little acts of kindness that honoured and respected the individual and the group. Diverse personalities blended and merged to create a glorious sense of oneness that will remain with me forever.

If I imagine this state of flow and connectedness expanding into organisations I am able to grasp how new visions of growth can pioneer the frontiers of organisational development. When employees feel safe, connected and supported within their everyday workplace and are operating from an emotional foundation of calm serenity then performance, productivity and efficiency naturally follows. As authenticity, emotional intelligence and compassion for our colleagues grows, the strength and power within an organisation flows and consequently supports itself to transcend from a stuck sterile operational environment to one of pure potentiality. Today’s visionary leaders recognise that profits should never be pursued at the expense of people or by sacrificing the planet. When leaders work in alignment with the laws of Nature and in support of their emotional guidance system they transform the mundane into the extraordinary.

A few days after this event I experienced a heavy cold (I never usually get ill) as the shift in my vibrational frequency caused a release of emotional toxins. I think this sounds a bit more positive as I cough through the night and drink endless mugs of Lemsip and buying into this ‘it’s just a cold’ malarkey!

So whatever you are up to this week, this day, this moment, take a moment to pause and notice how you are feeling. If it’s a good feeling then know that you are more open, more creative and feel more connected than those ‘Moaning Mildreds’ and ‘Whinging Williams’ that try to poison your bliss.

My walk through the woods this morning was particularly magical as the sun shone through the rustling trees and the birdsong caused me to pause and look up at the sky. Something strange happened – I was transported back to a moment in time when I was a girl of fifteen having a similar experience. Another beautiful day, a morning walk in a wood in Bexley, Kent ,where I grew up. Something about the sky and the birdsong linked these two memories as if my younger self was reaching out to me, challenging me to listen. A random thought “what advice can I give my younger self?” started the writing of a letter to Nicola, the fifteen year old me.

Dear Younger Self,

You are going to experience life as a roller coaster rather than a roundabout. One thing I can promise you is that your life is never boring. Enjoy the exhilaration of the highs and remember that the lows give you a context for just how high you can fly. You are a sensitive soul and this is a good thing. Embrace your emotions they are powerful guides that shine light on whether your life is heading in the right direction.

You’ll have many wonderful moments; a cornflower blue sky, the night you first meet your newborn daughter’s gaze, your first kiss in Montpelior Park. Treasure and appreciate these memories because they sustain you through the dark times when you feel like giving up.

The designer stuff and image conscious choices you find yourself attracted to will not prove very satisfying for very long. Credit cards are dangerous! You can only wear one pair of shoes at a time and there will come a point when you’ll chose comfort over style. So totter with delight yet get yourself a pair of comfy slippers. Short skirts and low cut tops are not a good look for you and using household bleach on your hair will make it fall out.

Despite its allure, money doesn’t buy happiness – you can have happiness right now in this moment, it’s a choice only you can make.

Silk flowers are fake flowers so fill your home with living plants and fragrant fresh flowers and remember that bluebells last longer when growing in the wood. Do not put PVC into the tumble dryer – and remember that washing black and white together gives you lots of shades of grey.

Be kind to others and remember that children, old people and animals are drawn to your energy because you view them through the eyes of compassion. It’s a shame you are not able to express the real you with your own age group – they are distant with you because you have built a wall around yourself.

You are not allergic to dogs or horses – these are simply limiting beliefs that are dulling the rich tapestry of your life.

There will be a time when your brother stops teasing you and your sister will always be a bigger man magnet than you. Despite what Jacky Magazine says you can’t ‘train a boy to be a better boyfriend’ – in fact you can’t change other people only yourself. This is a lesson that you’ll need to keep learning, because you’ll discover that marriage is ‘not ’til death do we part.’ You may not be surprised to discover – you have already met your soulmate. A cruel harsh blow will  show you that love isn’t enough if negative programming has been turned up loud. That story has many different endings because destiny is always in your hands.

Diets and crash diets make you fat. Throwing up after every meal is not cool. Healthy eating is not boring it is essential for your physical and emotional well-being. The next time you look critically at your body, despising the bits that are too large or wishing you were model thin, remember that it’s the home that your soul has chosen to live in for as long as it feels welcome. Love and accept every part of yourself – you are exquisitely perfect in your unique imperfection and are doing the best you can. What happens will define your character in your unique imperfection and are doing the best you can. Sometimes you get it a bit wrong. Sometimes you get it gloriously right.

Remember to blow out the candles when you leave the house.

You know how painfully shy you feel? Well guess what, you become a professional speaker on charisma. Charisma is not what you think. You’ll always feel a bit shy and that’s ok. You are a much nicer person when you accept that being you is enough.

One day you’ll have a daughter of your own and everyone will tell you to enjoy her while she’s young because time passes quickly. They are right, it does. She is so much like you! She gives you a challenging time in her teens! You adore her and feel so very  proud of the woman she becomes. She teaches you how to love unconditionally and she keeps you young, even though she teases you loads.

You never learn to cook – you might want to pay a bit more attention in Domestic Science and your vividly coloured Harlequin cake makes Lizzie, the dog very poorly.

Choose your business partners with care rather than because you feel scared to go it alone.   Fear I’ve been told is simply false evidence appearing real. You will experience quite a bit of fear and panic in the next few years. See it as a workout in the skill of resilience. Remember you are not alone. What happens will define your character and you will understand why you have to go through this trauma in about 30 years time. Remember that I am here, I see you and I am watching over you always.When you have panic attacks in the middle of the night know that all will be well and you learn so much about your inner strength during times of real adversity. You are incredibly strong and you always get up every time you fall over. I am proud of you for possessing this quality. You see death as a scary end state yet with time you’ll see that it’s simply your body that gets weary because your soul never does.

Time is just an illusion there is only a never ending series of ‘NOW’ so make every moment special. Make every moment count. Never betray who you are, what you stand for and what is really important to you – people pleasing is not a selfless act. It causes more pain in the long term. Remember to view yourself as equally important as everyone else.

Nicola, as you look up at the sky, if you can hear me, be true to yourself and trust your instincts. Choose to do work that you love. Spend time with people you really care about and accept that everyone you encounter has been drawn into your life for a reason. Your ego is not your friend. Don’t let it trick you into acting in ways that cause your heart to stop singing. Right now you may see success in financial and career terms. This is not helpful.

Success is how many lives you can touch in a positive way and how many different experiences you are open to encounter. Playing it safe will suffocate your soul. Only when you dare to take risks do you honour your infinite potential as this is the only way that you grow and expand emotionally and intellectually.

As you listen intently to the whispering trees, take a deep breath and prepare for an exciting 35 year journey knowing that I’m waiting to greet you when you arrive.

On 31st May 2014 the youngest child of former Prime Minister, Winston Churchill died after a short illness. Described by those close to her as a remarkable and extraordinary woman she led a very distinguished life. For Lady Mary Soames her father’s strength, vision and ability to rouse massive followship has clearly supported and helped to nurture her own purposeful life not just in politics but in her many charities and book writing projects. This woman did not feel overshadowed by the legacy of her father, in fact quite the opposite she positively blossomed and thrived. Contrast this woman to the children of the Former Baroness Thatcher who have so far delivered a much less illustrious life for themselves. Carol Thatcher’s notoriety saw her crowned as Queen of the Jungle when she won the 2005 ITV television show – I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here amidst a media storm about her urinating on the ground. Mark Thatcher is Carol’s wayward twin who has a reputation for misadventure and is described by his estranged wife as being a corrupt womaniser who ruined their marriage with infidelity and secrecy over his business affairs. Two Conservative Prime Ministers yet their children responded very differently to their parents’ political ideals and leadership style.

Last week I calculated that I have now delivered almost five hundred one-to-one sessions with corporate leaders. Unresolved emotional reactions around parents feature regularly as one of the most common issues. It fascinates me how even the seemingly innocuous question from a well meaning mother of father can cause a child to believe they are not good enough for the rest of their life: Child: “Dad – I got 89% in maths today” Father: “Why didn’t you get 100%?” In the first six years of our life we are in a hypnogogic state, meaning that we are very suggestible as we observe, record and download programme after programme. The behaviours of parental influences will impact upon and define the adult you are today. If our parents were seen as role models of excellence then we naturally seek to emulate those same behaviours. If our parents hurt us then we consciously and unconsciously seek to rebel against their behaviours as we choose a different type of behaviour. A child who feels unloved because their father was not affectionate may become tactile and demonstrably loving with their own children. On the other hand a critical and pushy mother may create a critical and pushy offspring who is oblivious to the similarity with their mother! Yet generally speaking most parents do the best they can and will get some things right and some things wrong. So I’m not sure it is healthy for us to ‘blame’ our parents for our ‘stuff’ as adults. Some of my spiritually minded friends believe that before birth at a soul level we actually choose our parents because they can teach us to experience the lessons we need to learn from the school of life –that’s an interesting thought! One things for sure – we cannot change our past we can only change our emotional response to our past. Our parents have in one way or another shaped the adults we are today.

This parental relationship is often replayed within an organisational context, when we may perceive colleagues, line managers or leaders as manifestations of our father or mother because something about their behaviour, the way they look or how the speak triggers us back to our past. The study of Neuroscience has identified that the amygdala, located deep within the medial temporal lobes of the brain is responsible for triggering fear. If an organisation unwittingly triggers a negative ‘parental relationship’ emotion, the individual they will be plunged into anxiety, stress and survival model. The quickest and most effective way to combat this unhelpful reaction is explained very well in Rob Schneider’s article The Power of Positive Thinking. He provides compelling evidence that positive thinking and happiness increases our resilience, enables us to gain the gifts from our parents and significantly reduces stress and anxiety. In term of organisational culture the point is that happier employees are healthier, work harder and create a collaborative and supportive environment that inspires engagement and flushes out disengagement. Happier employees possess huge amounts of energy and shine with impact and radiate presence….. sounds a bit like charisma, don’t you think?

I’ve always chuckled at Philip Larkin’s poem as it conveys the secret and sometimes not so secret thoughts that so many of us share (please excuse the swearing, which is shared because of artistic license):

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

They fill you with the faults they had

And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn

By fools in old-style hats and coats,

Who half the time were soppy-stern

And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.

It deepens like a coastal shelf.

Get out as early as you can,

And don’t have any kids yourself.

Whatever impact your parents have had on you, your inner child and the adult you are today, just remind yourself that you are here because of them, their parents, their parents, parents – in fact you have evolved from a rich tapestry of ancestral descendants so I guess they got something right – YOU!

So Nigel Farrage and UKIP have topped the European Elections. Watching this ‘everyday bloke’ who has clearly engaged the UK voting electorate I feel a tremor of concern that the collaborative intention behind the European Union is being killed off by a rising voice exalting the desire to focus on nationalism. This silo mentality is based on a strong undercurrent of fear as people in Europe have drawn their lines in the sand and shouted a loud resonant “no” to diversity. Whilst I recognise that this voting trend could be explained as a protest vote caused by the frustrations around the economy and overly strict austerity measures, I sense this is a retrograde step not just for Britain but for humankind.

Political rhetoric focuses on damming the policies of other parties, attacking other parties’ values and passing critical judgements on the characters of those ‘villains’ who happen to be with ‘that political party and not my political party’. It happens also in acrimonious marital breakdowns – two people who at one time loved each other turn into silos and view their ex-partner through harsh and judgemental eyes ‘he did this to me’, ’she did that to me’. In religion, fanatics are prepared to kill others as they defend their God, their views. How many times have you heard ‘if you don’t confess your sins you’ll go to hell’ so God is perceived as omnipotent and judgemental. In street gangs there is a sinister sense that it is acceptable to control others because there is a right way and a wrong way. My gang’s way is right, your gang’s way is wrong. We will destroy your gang because you are all wrong. In organisations, pressure of delivering high returns for its shareholders leads to more re-structuring and heads roll in yet more cutbacks, leaner processes and sod engagement scores in the moment. More fear and uncertainty that triggers employees ( who also happen to be human beings)  to close down in a bid to protect themselves. Separatism doesn’t work. Separatism is damaging the fabric of our society.

When Nations, Religions and People continue to view themselves as separate from everyone else, this breeds a ‘you and us’ perception that creates walls and ultimately stimulates more selfishly orientated behaviours. When we view others as either ‘better or worse’ than ourselves we are sending a clear message that we are different and therefore not connected to them. This feeling of separatism is the cause of wars, issues, illness, disagreements and general dissatisfaction.

In the world of science, there are 50 open questions – these are questions where scientists have admitted that they don’t know how to answer them. One of those questions is ‘what is the universe made out of?’ Interestingly with the relatively recent advances of Quantum Physics – scientists now know that at our smallest we are made of energy. Pulsating packets of energy that are continually interacting and impacting upon the energy of others. We are all connected energetically and the impact of one person’s thoughts, intentions and actions will send reverberations through this invisible web of energy that connects us all and is referred to as The Field. When we start to view others as connected to us at a subatomic level then we recognise the importance of embracing the diversity of others because this enables us to experience a previously hidden facet of our own humanity.

Organisations appreciate that when employees or departments act as silos these walls, whether perceived or imaginary, become  barriers to high performance, engagement and growth. When walls are dismantled and employees see that they are all vital elements within their organisation, they begin to work collaboratively as a collective team. Behaviours orientate from selfish to selfless and ultimately everyone becomes open towards change. Resistance stems from a fear of not being safe and triggers a protectionist mindset. At a cellular level when chemicals of stress such as cortisol and adrenaline are present in our body, the gate to each cell closes and creates a vacuum inside. This is damaging in the long term because the cell is unable to absorb nutrients that enable it to grow and flourish. So this cellular operating mechanism of either survival or growth is being played out across Europe right now. When countries focus on keeping their borders closed to others they are choosing a selfish orientation that is unsustainable over the longer term.

The survival of humanity depends on the ability of us to see others, the planet and our very existence as part of a greater whole. One person’s pain damages all of us at a deep level. One person’s fear impregnates others and sends far reaching reverberations that transcends borders and countries. One person’s suffering is our suffering. Seeing that we are all connected, all part of the same universal energy enables us to empower ourselves as well as others because we are part of The Field of collective energy. If voting to close our borders is based on protecting our country’s resources from the demands of others from a different country then we are closing down our spiritual awakening and ultimately dooming our emotional reactions to those gravitating around and towards fear.

These are turbulent times and fear rages across our land and penetrates our emotional landscape. Closing ourselves to the plight of others is closing the road to a humanity who values compassion above judgement, love above hate and the welfare of people above process and profits at all costs. UKIP’s victory is humanity’s defeat.

Kevin Dwyer - one step

Imagine for a moment a charismatic family man on top of his game as a Business Development Manager working for a global organisation. Good looking, hugely likeable with an effortless skill of engaging people. Kevin Dwyer transcended his tough rebellious teenage years to emerge as a man whom upon meeting oozes presence and gravitas.

Fiercely loyal, Kevin always put his family first and is a role model of excellence as a father and good ‘all round bloke’! Sure, Kevin had gone through some difficult times yet who hasn’t? These challenging times simply rounded off the rough edges as he continued to shine as the man he was destined to become.

Then, one year ago, just when he was least expecting it – something happened that rocked his world and threatened to extinguish that shine, once and for all. Kevin felt ill and passed out one morning in May 2013 and when he awoke he couldn’t feel his hands or anything from his waist down. Kevin recalls that his overwhelming fear swung from being calm one moment to completely freaking out. He was transported to St George’s in Tooting. That night, Kevin was faced with a tough decision – how was he going to cope? In the early hours of the morning, the darkest hour before dawn, Kevin started to visualise himself walking and walking and walking. As he fell asleep he dreamed about walking and despite the vagueness of doctors about the extent of his recovery Kevin was walking tentatively with a gutter frame after just 2 weeks. Such was the severity of his injury that after 5 weeks he was moved to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, with the largest National Spinal Injuries Centre in the world. When other patients on the same ward who have less serious injuries tell you that they have been bedridden for eighteen months, most people would feel the bursting of their inner balloon of joyous living as all hope for their future turns futile and black.

Luckily Kevin isn’t like most people – he has an extraordinary gift of seeing the positive message in the bleakest situations. Rather than act like a victim who had been unlucky he chose to interpret his ‘accident’ as a gigantic wake up call. Kevin recalls “it was as if The Universe had been wanting me to do something and I hadn’t been listening – now The Universe has my attention!”

Kevin continued visualising himself walking again, he imagined taking that first tentative step unaided and trained his self talk to empower his thinking rather than block his ability to recover. Kevin became obsessed with The Law of Attraction and doggedly read books on the subject. Every day tiny and often subtle changes were coaxed out and encouraged by Kevin’s calm conviction that he was going to walk. Then one beautiful day in late June, Kevin took his first unaided steps. Just like Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon opened up a whole new world of possibilities – Kevin’s world started to deliver daily progress. He recognised that his mind was omnipotent – with much greater power than his body. He simply took control over his mind and made the decision to walk.

It was on the 26th October last year when I saw Kevin again after his accident. I had asked him to participate in one of my more ‘unusual’ charisma projects. Walking slowly into the room and in all honesty looking physically frail and tentative I was then dazzled by his huge smile, a kind of Cheshire Cat grin but bigger. His eyes radiated an inner strength and there was an aura of calm serenity around him. I felt deeply moved by this man’s courage in the face of real adversity as I witnessed an extraordinary man on a journey that he was determined to walk himself, every step of the way.

So here we are one year later and Kevin is preparing for his return to work. His daily workouts at the gym have strengthened him physically and he has learned to use pain as a feedback mechanism that warns him when he has overdone it. Above all, Kevin has connected with a deep desire to give something back and to share his message of hope and optimism with others less fortunate. As Kevin eloquently states “when we’re prepared to dig deep and show resolve to achieve what we really want, the mind and the human body in combination are insurmountable. ”

As I sat and watched Kevin tell his story last year I had a strange feeling that he reminded me of someone – another time, another nation, another man with a powerful presence and a heart full of courage. If Martin Luther King, Jr was around today to witness Kevin’s resilience I wonder if he might ponder on a phrase from his I Have a Dream speech: “With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”

Kevin is an extraordinary man who has arduously conquered a mountain of fear and is living proof that whatever we believe we can do, we will. The impossible is always possible especially when you have men like Kevin around.