Battling to Keep your Head Above Water?

Reality is not what you think it is.

My mother is what you might describe as indomitable.  Four foot ten, eighty years old, she approaches life with enthusiasm, humour and courage.  At eighty she is still doing dog jumping (she rather apologetically says that she has slowed down, and can’t keep up with Bemer, her Jack Russel, as well as she should), publishing poetry, driving all over the Cape, dealing with gangsters, helping anyone who asks, and thoroughly enjoying life.

In her wild impetuous youth (seventy five years old) she and her friend Poelie decided to go paddling in a canoe on Lake Pleasant, near George.  My mother can swim a little, Poelie not at all.  The relative wisdom of two elderly ladies, neither of whom can swim very well, venturing into the middle of a lake in a canoe is debatable.  Be that as it may, they paddled dauntlessly out to the middle of the lake.  When they were about 500 m from shore, the weather took a turn for the worse, and the wind got up.  They decided to head back.

After paddling desperately for twenty minutes, they realized that they were making little headway against the wind, which had become really fierce.  The normally placid lake had now also developed waves sufficiently big to be quite alarming.  The two old ladies put their backs into it and paddled as hard as they could.  After another exhausting 15 minutes, they seemed to have actually gone backwards.

They were now quite desperate!  Again they put their backs into it, with no other result than to wear themselves out even more.  Eventually my mother said bravely, that as she was the only one who could swim, she would jump into the water and pull the canoe behind her as she swam.  I think at this point they both had visions of an imminent watery death. Poelie made some halfhearted attempts to dissuade her, but by this time, death seemed inevitable.

My mother steeled herself, and clambered cautiously over the side of the canoe and slid into the water – to find that it was only knee deep!  The whole lake is not much more than 80cm deep anywhere!  With much relieved laughter the two waded home, dragging the canoe behind them.

Our thoughts totally create our experience of reality.  While they thought that the lake was fathoms deep, they were terrified, and feared death by drowning.  As soon as they realized that the lake was shallow enough to wade in, they could laugh and walk home.

I also like to think of this as a metaphor for the clarity and wellbeing that is our essence.  It is always closer than you think.  It is the murky water of our thinking that is obscuring it.

Importantly too, however, is that my mother took action – she faced the fear and stepped into that lake.  So many fears and obstacles that seem overwhelming are just as easily overcome.

So take the plunge – step into your lake – maybe the water is not as deep as you think!

Practice Makes Perfectly BAD


Have you ever wondered about why it is so difficult to change and create new habits?  You know that old saying – “Practice makes perfect”?  Well it is 100%  true – the problem is that it is a two edged sword!

If you have been practicing the right things in the right way – then you will become really good at these – however………practice the wrong way………

Over the last 15 years, my riding has being going through a serious decline – Mainly due to having no regular coaching, I have been gradually performing worse and worse….. So I have been developing bad habits, and over the years I have practiced these bad habits and become extremely good at them!  My riding has become perfectly bad!

Now I have the amazing privilege of having a coach living on the property where I keep my horse, and getting regular coaching.  Thanks Chloe!  She regularly sighs and shakes her head in despair, but I am improving!

There are four stages of learning

  1. Unconscious incompetence (where you don’t know that you are useless!)
  2. Conscious incompetence (you have realised that you are useless!)
  3. Conscious competence (you can do the activity reasonably well, but have to think about what you are doing)
  4. Unconscious competence – this is flow – it is effortless and easy!

So I have been at the level of conscious incompetence for some time.  Now, with coaching and lots of hard work I am transitioning from level two (conscious incompetence) to level three (conscious competence).  It is really hard to move from level two to level three, because initially the percentage of bad riding far outweighs the good riding, so in the beginning I was still practicing bad habits, more than the good habits.  Now however, the balance has shifted to being more practice of good than bad, so the improvement starts exponentially increasing every time.

The same applies to every new habit or skill – at first it seems to take forever to show any results, and is really easy to become despondent and discouraged – but if you can stay with it until you reach the tipping point where the percentage of good practice outweighs the percentage of bad practice, you will see a sudden huge surge in your skill and ability.

So if you are trying to change and create new habits this year – just remember the curve you will have to go through  – at first it will seem as though there is no improvement, and then the improvement will be so slight that it may feel as though you are wasting your time – but push through these stages and you will experience magic!


Let’s experience magic this year!

Are you a crap magnet?


I read this some years ago, and it really got me thinking.  It was in a book by T. Harv Eker.  He also recommends taking a “complaints holiday”.  Try to go a whole week without complaining.  That doesn’t just mean without complaining out loud – it also means without complaining inside your head.

I haven’t managed a full day yet!  But it has definitely helped!  I have really become aware of how much of my mental “real estate” is taken up with criticism and complaints.  Complaints and criticism about the economy, and the politicians (Zuma!! Haha), complaints about bad drivers, complaints about bureaucracy.  So I am complaining a lot less – and I am much happier and calmer.

The thing is, while I am complaining and criticising I am in victim mode.  A victim is powerless.  So by complaining I am limiting my ability to be proactive, and to deal in a positive way with events in my life.  There is also room for only one thought at a time, so while I am complaining, I am not solving.

The other thing that I have realised, is that complaining is like worrying – I am always complaining about things outside my control – like other drivers, or the economy.  So I make myself miserable to absolutely no effect!

I have heard the argument that venting helps to release frustration, but my experience is that the more you express anger the more it grows.  That is not only experience of my own anger, but I have noticed the same with other people as well.

I also think that the more I complain, the more I create negative energy, and I am resonating on a negative frequency – this will attract more negativity into my life! I often think that we are like spoilt children – we have the most wonderful amazing things in our lives, and instead of being grateful for those we focus on the things we don’t have, and on the “bad things” that other people are doing!

So I am recommitting to a “complaints holiday”, and will just keep trying!  Gratitude goes a long way to keeping complaints away !  The greatest contribution that anyone can make to the world is to be connected to their joyous sense of wellbeing.  The more people that are in that state, the better the world will be!

Have a wonderful complaint free weekend!

Creating your Vision

On Monday I was at a business, which is a branch of a big national company, and I noticed that they had their “Vision Statement” prominently displayed in their reception area.  It went something like this:

“Our vision is to be the leader in the ….. industry through forging close relationships with customers and by providing integrated solutions combining product excellence, complete technical support and dedicated customer service. “  Bleah!

Well I’m sure that inspires their customers and staff!! Not!!

This is so generic, I suspect that some marketing consultant has a template that they use for everyone and simply cut and paste the industry.  It is important to have a vision, but this is actually not a vision.  The purpose of a vision statement is to create a clear, compelling picture of the direction that you want to go.  It is your destination.  If you have a clear vision, then you can create a roadmap of how to get there, and you can measure every decision against this – “will this take me towards or away from my vision?”

If you don’t know where you are heading, then you will be constantly in reaction, being tossed from side to side by any stray current.  Creating a vision needn’t be hard.  It is a matter of asking yourself questions so that you can get clearer about your destination.

The kind of questions I would ask are:

Who do I want to serve?

How do I want to serve them?

How many customers do I want?

What turnover do I want – per year? Per Month? Per day?

What is my business doing really well now?  How can I do this better?

What do I want my customers to say about me?

What trends are happening in my industry?

What products do I want to add? Keep? Dump?

What do I love doing?

What do I hate doing?

These are just a few of the questions to consider.  Really looking at the direction you want to go, and what you want to do is the starting point.  Going in depth into these and aligning these with your deepest needs will give you a clear idea of where you want to be.   When you are clear, then you can clearly communicate this to your team – when your whole team knows which direction to go, then they can really start working together.

The same principles underlie creating your personal vision – if you align your personal vision and your professional vision, then you will be able to create the life of your dreams.

I am working on developing a course on creating your vision.  If you would like me to let you know when it is available, just pop me an email to add you to my pre-launch list.

Do you have a vision?  Do you have dreams that you haven’t yet crystallised into a vision?


Getting Back on

So I have not been writing my weekly newsletter for some time.  Now I could tell you that I have been really busy, and that we were travelling, and my son was home on holiday – and that is all true, but it is also all just excuses.  I simply fell of the wagon.  The truth is that writing this newsletter is hard every week.  Not because I don’t know what I want to say. Not because I don’t know how to say it.  Not because it takes too much time either.  Most of the time involved in this newsletter is in reflection and thought about what is going on for me, what has been a learning and how to get it across.  Once I have that fairly clear in my head, it doesn’t take long to put it on my paper.

The hard part is starting!  And that is hard, because every time I worry that my newsletter won’t be interesting.  That my readers won’t enjoy it!  It is that old “not good enough” fear that creeps in.  Then it is so much easier to go back to busy work.  I read a quote yesterday, and I can’t recall where I saw it, but it really resonated with me.


“Are you repeating the past, or are you creating your future?”


When I stop creating my newsletter, and the other new products that I want to offer to the world, I fall back on my old default mode of repeating my past. I am doing the things that are easy, and comfortable for me.


By worrying about whether other people will enjoy my newsletter, I am worrying about something that is totally outside my control.  All I must do is to write the best newsletter that I can – that is authentic, and from the heart.  That is what I can control.  Whether you like it or not is not my choice, but yours.


It is wonderfully liberating to let go of the need for approval.  To simply create something that is the best that I can do, and offer it to the world.  However I also must move outside my comfort zone.  If I want change in my life, I can’t create it by repeating my past actions and patterns.  I need to create new and exciting patterns!


Are you creating your future, or are you falling back into old patterns?  By definition anything that you don’t have in your life is outside your comfort zone, and moving outside of our comfort zone always brings the inner critic to life.  I am sure you know what I mean – the voice inside that tells us that we are “not good enough”, not clever enough”, “not creative enough”.  Remembering that that voice is not reality is the secret to just letting it go.


So for today, feel the fear and just do it anyway.


Have a wonderful weekend


Last weekend I was supposed to be competing in a show.  I took my horse to the venue, saddled up and was warming up.  Walk, trot canter – everything great.  Then I started popping over a few small jumps – everything still going smoothly – my horse keen and seeming to be enjoying herself.  Then I came on a tight right hand turn to the jump and blam!!  I didn’t even see it coming!  Suddenly, I was on the ground, on my feet in front of my horse – facing her!  In the back of my mind was this vague memory of her hindlegs coming up in a powerful buck.  I felt like a catapult had shot me into the air.  I must have done a complete somersault to have landed as I did! Fortunately for me , the jump broke my fall!

The thing is that my horse doesn’t normally buck, she is the sweetest most willing mare.  If she bucks, it is a signal of pain. Horses buck as a defence mechanism to protect against predators – so that reaction is almost involuntary.  So I knew that this meant that she had some type of muscular or structural issue.  The only way that horses can communicate that there is a problem is by “misbehaving”.

She had injured herself at the beginning of the year, causing muscular strain and needing chiropractic and physio treatment.  This was her first show back in competition. Now I say that I didn’t see it coming, but in hindsight, there had been signals that she was starting to feel discomfort again.  But I think I was in denial.  I didn’t want to acknowledge that the problems were recurring, in case it meant that I would not be able to ride in the show.  This is one of the blind spots that I talked about in my last newsletter.

  • I don’t want to see or acknowledge the true situation

I was not consciously aware that I was hiding these messages from myself.  My poor horse had been gently trying to let me know that there was a problem.  The messages became more forceful, until they were unmistakeable!

This can happen so easily in our relationships.  We don’t see what we don’t want to see – ignoring messages until it reaches explosion point – and then we are “WTF???  Where did that come from???

As always, the first step to change is awareness.  So the awareness that I may be creating blind spots about things that I don’t like, means that hopefully I will be less likely to do so.  Are there blind spots in my other relationships?  I am sure there must be!!  How can I find these? How can you know if you have blind spots?  These are ways that occur to me:

  • Get the honest opinion of people that you trust and respect
  • Work on really listening to others – listening to understand, not listening to reply
  • Honestly evaluate my role in any problems in a relationship


Following on from last week’s newsletter, I have been giving a lot of thought to the issue of “blind spots.” I think there are two different types of blind spots:

  • I am totally unaware of the true situation
  • I don’t want to see or acknowledge the true situation

They are each subtly different.

In my last newsletter I talked about my experience of fixing problems with riding.  I had a whole long list of things that I was trying to correct in my riding – rounding my shoulders, my leg flying back over the jump, not holding with my knee at the jump, getting ahead of the movement, not seeing a stride and so on. These problems were symptoms of an underlying basic flaw.   I fixed my centre of gravity, and those problems have basically disappeared.

But here’s the thing –I don’t know what I don’t know.  It takes someone else to show me what I don’t know.  Then it is up to me to accept and work to change it.  The first step to change is awareness.  The most powerful thing that any coach does is to shine a light on the blind spot, so that we can become aware of it.

If I refuse to accept it, then I lose the opportunity to grow and change.  Sometimes it can be really hard to accept and acknowledge the truth.  A really great coach is someone who can show the truth, gently and in such a way that you gain the insight yourself as a self-realization.  That is the kind of coach that I aspire to be.

The other thing to remember, is that sometimes we are as blind to our strengths and talents as we are to our faults.  Be willing to accept that you may be really great at something!  If people praise you, believe them!  Say thank you and be grateful!

So here’s to becoming aware.  To shining a light on blind spots.  To being courageous and kind.



I have given a lot of thought to the theme of knowing what we really want. The intersection between our gifts, our passion and a way to serve others should lead us to the ideal business or career.  What we would love to spend the rest of our life doing.  Is this something that everybody in the world can achieve?  Definitely not.  But can it be achieved by someone who actively pursues this ideal?  Without a doubt.


It seems to me that the emphasis that we, as a society, place on competition, and on achievement has created a mindset of “Winner take all”.  So when I think of pursuing my gifts, the thinking that holds me back is along the lines of “Other people are much better than me”.


Some time ago I bought a DVD of a Ludger Beerbaum show jumping coaching clinic.  Ludger Beerbaum is one of the greatest horse riders in the world, so I was really excited to watch him teaching.  Well, he is probably one of the worst instructors I have ever seen!  He obviously doesn’t know how he does, what he does, it is totally unconscious!  So he is a great rider, but a poor communicator.  Being the best at something doesn’t necessarily mean that we can pass this gift on – and conversely, sometimes having struggled to acquire skills, means that we can pass on that knowledge more effectively.  What I mean by this as well, is that we don’t necessarily have to be the best at something in the world in order to positively contribute, or possibly to earn a living doing it.


I think that we also tend to think of gifts as being something relating to the arts, or sport.  Also as a mysterious quality that has been bestowed on us.  A gift can be anything that we are good at – maybe listening, or communicating, or knitting – anything!


In reality, whatever we do, there are always going to be people that are better.  However my greatest gift should be the thing that I do best (better than I do anything else) – not the thing that I can do better than others.  What is important is that nobody else can bring my unique personality to the world.  Each person is totally unique, and their expression of their gift will also be totally unique.


What is my greatest gift? Well, according to a survey I carried out some time ago, the response I got seems to indicate that it may be building confidence and trust.  My greatest passion? Well that’s easy – horses!  Is there a way to combine these in the service of others?  Maybe workshops with horses to help people build relationships?


Where is your intersection?  If you knew, would you pursue it?


Have a wonderful weekend




I was given a parrot about two years ago.  He is a Blue Fronted Amazon, and is now about 36 years old.  When I first got him, he was very afraid of coming out of his cage.  I would have to open the cage and then put his favourite treats, just out of reach and gradually lure him out in that way.  He has become much more confident now, and climbs out as soon as I open the door.  However he is still quite nervous about moving into new areas.  He also doesn’t know that he can fly.  To get him to move from his cage to a table, I have to create a bridge for him to walk across.  It also has to be a bridge made of something that he is familiar with – for example, the ladder from his cage.  Flying does not even cross his radar.  It is not that he doesn’t want to fly, it is that flying does not even occur to him as a possibility.  He has in fact flown–his cage was accidentally bumped quite hard and he started losing his balance.  He flapped his wings frantically to avoid falling and, by mistake, flew across the room!  You could see by his reaction (WTF??)  that he thought that some outside agency had flung him across the room!  Also clearly he was thinking “Oh crap – how am I going to get back??!!”


I think that I am very like my parrot – in two ways.  First is the fear of moving out of my comfort zone – that is pretty obvious, but the second one, that is perhaps less obvious is that there are achievements that I would love – but they seem outside my level of possibility.


I have been studying the work of some great, internationally renowned coaches, and I am awed by the level of transformation work that they achieve with their clients.  That is what I aspire to – but what holds me back is the thought “Who am I to do this?”


While studying these coaches, I found that they have had exactly the same thoughts! One of the coaches – Jason Goldberg – said that the way to change this, is to change your language from “who am I” to “I am willing”.  So now “I am willing to serve my clients deeply and take them to new levels of transformation.”  How powerful is that?


Maybe there is something that you really deeply want, but are denying, because it seems totally outside the level of possibility for you?  Maybe you have wings that you haven’t tried to use?  Maybe you don’t need to bridge the gap between possible and impossible?  Are you willing to try?

7 Myths that keep us stuck


I want to start doing webinars, so I have been studying online programmes that will help me to get going with presenting webinars.  One of the things that came up in this learning was 7 myths that stop people from doing webinars.  Now I really found this helpful, and I am going to repeat them here.  Although some of them are quite specific, I think they can each be generalised to getting things done and taking action around success.


Can this apply more generally?  Do have to have your own business or sell your own product.  The presenter suggested selling other people’s products and earning commission on this.  I am still trying to think of a more general application here, in other words not necessarily related to selling – Any ideas?

Incidentally, we all need to be able to sell – it may be ourselves for a job or promotion or our ideas at home or at work, but selling is a part of daily life.


Now this is something that I think can definitely be generalised.  I know that I always feel that I need to learn more before I can start something.  I can put off starting for years while I learn more about how to do it!  I learn and learn, but never do!  How many people do you know that feel that their success is blocked by their lack of education?  At the same time think about the stories of hugely successful people that had no formal education, but were willing to take action.


Okay this is the whole “I don’t know enough people/ the right people” excuse.  I have definitely used this one often.  Once I realised that actually meeting people is fun and easy, and that nearly everyone actually wants to make friends and be part of a group, I changed my ideas, and realised that it is up to me to grow my circle.  There are so many ways to do this nowadays, that there are really no excuses.


If there is something that can make a major difference in your life, there is always a way to find the time.  This excuse is really “I’m not ready, or I’m too scared to do it right now”.  I don’t want to actually move outside my comfort zone.


Hmmm – well maybe this can apply to all sorts of other ventures we don’t try either.  Sometimes we just take an obstacle as a given, and don’t really research the facts to find out whether or not this is true.  Can you think of something in your life where this may be the case?


Ha!  Love this one – I find myself thinking this kind of thing often.  “Everybody has already done this”  “I have missed the boat”  Etc.  There are 6 billion people in the world!  I am sure that there are one or two that may still be interested in what I have to say!  The other thing to remember is, that we don’t have to be 100%  original in what we do.  Creativity and growth is built on the work of others.  It is really not necessary, or in fact easy, to be a pioneer.  If there are lots of people doing something, then it probably means that it is a good thing and that it actually works!  Of course, it is always important to ensure that we do it well.


There is only one way to really learn how to do things – that is to start doing them and making mistakes.  We live in a time where we have amazing technology that is becoming more and more user friendly by the day.  It may not be technophobia that is holding you back, but some other aspect that seems as though it is really complicated and difficult.  The best way to overcome this is to dive right in and do it.  Learn as you go along – and yes I know that is really scary!  It scares me too!


So now I have told about the fact that I want to do webinars – I would love to hear from you – what topics would you love to have a webinar on?  Is there a particular problem that you would love to address?


Please email me or post comments, whatever feels easier to you.


Have a great weekend


Remember – the problem in front of you is not an obstacle, it is a milestone!