How to choose intuition over logic


Decades of popular entertainment have been devoted to characters who solve crimes relying on their gut instinct. The viewing public are enchanted by the notion that we can access an ‘inner- knowing’ that will give us the answers to problems defied by logic and science.

In today’s society it is not unusual that having pursued a decision to its logical conclusion, we are disappointed when it hasn’t worked out. We often look back in retrospect to the moment when we heard that inner voice, felt a knowing for an alternative solution but dismissed it as madness before following all the supporting evidence pointing the opposite way.

The idea to start my own business hit me like a thunderbolt. I was in a position of hating my job and frustrated by the poor quality childcare that my children were receiving. For months I had complained to anyone with a sympathetic ear, shrugging off any possible solutions raised. I still don’t know the forces in the universe that came together the night my sister suggested, like many before her, that I open a day nursery myself but it felt like I had been struck by a thunderbolt. The idea hit me like no other and from that moment, I became a woman possessed. In that moment, I chose intuition over logic. 

Indeed, I became unstoppable in the relentless pursuit of my goal. Guided by this personal conviction, there was no barrier that could stop me. It was a gut instinct like no other, I knew with crystal clear certainty that my dream would come true.  

Time passed and the business was created. It was never going to be just any day nursery, it was always going to be the best. I wasn’t surprised when awards were won and accolades received, they only confirmed what my gut and intuition had known all along. I was on the path that could only go one way so we expanded and grew into a second facility.  

Someone once said that the hardest part of becoming successful is to maintain that success but awards kept coming. Although somewhere along the line, my certainty dissolved. I don’t know how a successful business person is supposed to feel but my top three adjectives at that time would have been tired, nauseous and anxious. My once rock solid gut instinct had been replaced with a burning pain.  I was not well. 

I can’t recommend accessing your intuition via thunderbolts. As with any major disruption, my history is proof that the method is unsustainable. Po Bronson in researching his book, ‘What should I do with my life?’ discovered that powerful epiphanies are extremely rare and that whispers are more likely to bring clarity and unravel at a more manageable pace over time. As a keynote speaker and trainer, I know that it is far more effective to get the attention of the room by standing in silence rather than raising my voice. 

However, the 21st century is a noisy one, social media demands our attention 24/7. Information is power and there’s a lot of information out there. Text alerts mean that we can be kept informed within seconds of events that are unfolding on the other side of the world. It’s the new normal to become scooped up in the endless supply of information that ceaselessly gets delivered to our pockets.

When did we get so busy and when did that become something to be proud of? Busyness is worn like a medal of honour. Schedules bursting, timetables straining, no wonder tempers fray so easily as deadlines stacked like houses of cards collapse under the pressure of a single failed action. 

How to hear a whisper in the deafening noise

Where are you and what are you doing when you get your best ideas? The shower is a favourite or out walking. My daughter was a toddler when I started the day nursery business. She was the only one of her age when we first opened so I continued to take her to her playgroup for a few hours every morning. It was easy to get consumed in my work with the challenges of the first year so I used to set an alarm to remind me to go and fetch her in the middle of my day. I sometimes resented the interruption as I drove but it was on those journeys, benefitting from time and distance away that I got to hear the whispers. With time, effort and repetition, it became “Louise will have the answer by the time she gets back”.

During the second year she started school, I never gave myself a break during the day because I didn’t have to. If I had, I’d have heard the whispers telling me that I didn’t want to expand and grow the business. My gut had been trying to tell me. It had started to burn a hole in itself with the effort and it took a long time for me to appreciate the connection between the two.

Put your phone down. Walk away from the desk. Give your gut instincts a chance to be heard. The new perspective you’ve been searching for has the greatest chance to be received and heard as you step out of the busyness and the constant buzz. 

Our gut instinct is always there. The more you use it, the easier it becomes to hear and it always knows what is best for us if we’re brave enough to choose the madness of “gut instinct intuition” over logic. Not letting one override the other can help you be You on a Good Day, Every Day. ™ 

Don’t drink the poison: 8 tips to break free of misery and self-pity 

Some years ago, while I was attending a personal development workshop, the participants had to pair up and each spend an uninterrupted three minutes regaling how we had been recently wronged. I chose the most miserable time of my life - the circumstances around my divorce. Three minutes was no problem, I could have waxed lyrical for three hours. My workshop partner actively listened, nodding away, pleasingly sympathetic as I shared my woes. It felt good to be validated, even by a complete stranger. I was not alone. The room was filled with similar chatter. 

Misery is easy. Why? Why do we drink the poison and expect the other person to die? 

The twist in the exercise was to then take three minutes to relate the same event in the positive. No negativity allowed, we could only relate the polar opposite, describing the upside, the benefits, the lessons learned. A seemingly simple twist on events. I was not the only one who struggled, the room suddenly became very subdued as we exchanged stilted statements; periods of silence and nervous laughter prevailed. I had to concentrate to get past the negative thoughts that swamped my mind, pushing them to one side to glean the sparse nuggets of positivity. It was hard work. In my 40 odd years of existence, I’d never practiced the art of re-framing a personal injury, of seeing the gift in the misfortune. Indeed the very word itself tells us that the fortune was missed.

Misery consumes us. Facts and scenarios churn over and over in our minds, keeping us awake into the small hours, the turmoil is company on long journeys, interrupting our working day, the conundrum that will never be solved. I now call wallowing in my misery ‘my cookie monster’, it has the same insatiable appetite. Relentless. In the same way that we pick at scabs regardless of the pain knowing that we will be scarred for life, we continue to prevail with the mindless chatter of misery.

Why do we chose misery? Why is it so easy? How do we break the habit?

When you’re in it you can’t see it. It’s become your brain’s default setting, the subconscious incompetence making it a habit. You don’t even know that you’re doing it, it become the norm, it becomes who you are. You’re the victim of your own story. Deciding that you want change in your life may be a small step but it’s a giant breakthrough.

To recognise what’s going on, start listening to yourself or take a moment to write out some of your thoughts and read them back to yourself. A greater understanding can help but if you still can’t stop at least you’ll have progressed to being consciously incompetent. It doesn’t seem like much progress but happily it’s in the right direction.

Like a plane in a holding pattern, misery takes a whole lot of energy but gets us nowhere. We need to break out of the never ending loop and choose a new direction. Decide what you want more of in your life and focus on that instead. If you’re stuck in the past, having to look over your shoulder instead of to where you want to go, you’re diminishing your chances of moving forward. Write out your dreams and stick them around your space as an easy reminder whenever you catch yourself in misery mode.

Be kind to yourself, you may not be able to control how long this is going to take, there may be many cha cha moments of 3 steps forward and 2 back but hang on in there, have patience and always be thankful for making any progress. You’re heading in the right direction to break free.

Surround yourself with supportive people - I remember being horrified when one friend said that we couldn’t continue our friendship if I didn’t stop. She had had enough, I thought her to be callous and unloving at the time but she did me a favour. Who do you spend time with? Are they happy to sit with you throwing yet another log on the fire to keep the flames of injustice burning or do they encourage you to move on and get on with your life?

There will come a time when even you will get bored and be able to break free from the relentless diatribe, look out for that moment, that moment when mid flow you can say to yourself, ‘Do you know what? This is boring, I’ve got better things to think about’. A time to celebrate as you step into conscious competence.

It will likely feel very challenging at first. Our thoughts create neural pathways in our brain and just like sheep tracks, they become deeper and the default route over time. Changing our thoughts means creating new neural pathways and just like a new pair of shoes it’s going to feel uncomfortable at first. It takes effort to move away from the well-worn pathway and you have to focus but appreciate that you’re moving in the right direction.

We always have a choice. I can remember the exact moment when I realised this unlikely and often unpopular truth. Yet another wrong had been hurled in my direction but I hadn’t perceived it in the moment. The penny dropped 5 minutes later and the oh-so-familiar outrage began to consume me, my stress response flooding through my body in righteous indignation. In a lightbulb moment, I realised that I had been in possession of the facts for a whole five minutes without reacting. In that moment I knew that I had a choice; do I continue to experience the outrage or detach and return to peace allowing the injustice to glance off and pass me by?

Maybe in that moment I had decided that 5 years was enough. Enough therapy, enough coaching, enough support. Maybe other factors were at play, but I had been binding myself in misery for too long. In that moment I chose the latter. I chose to remain calm and step out and away from the misery. As the self-inflicted bonds fell away, I had never felt more liberated or powerful in my life.

Always remember that you can choose to detach and step away from misery and into subconscious competence for a happier and more resilient path in all aspects of life.

10 Ways to Boost Confidence and Resilience in Business


My name is Louise and I’m a recovering perfectionist….

Perfection - a trait that has helped and hindered me in equal measures, ensuring that I both attained my dreams and successes whilst at the same time crippling me with insecurities and physical exhaustion. The outside world was awarding me for my business success, inviting me to share my experiences, the financial rewards were piling up, however life on the other side of this success was anything but perfect.

Constantly fighting physical exhaustion whilst trying but failing to switch off my wired brain, I was carrying a secret. Invited to stand on yet another stage to share my story of success none of them could have guessed that I was living in fear of being found out. Everyone seemed to believe that I had it sorted, that I knew what I was doing, didn’t they realise that I was making it up as I went along, waiting to be caught out at any moment?

I never felt like the success that they were proclaiming me to be, I always felt that whatever I had achieved was not enough. When I looked around and compared myself to others I was always found wanting, it was a long time before I learned that I had been comparing my insides with everyone else’s outside and we can all put on a wonderful outside.

My health deteriorated in proportion to the publicity, ironically the time when my photograph was displayed on billboards promoting entrepreneurship throughout Wales was the time when I felt at my worst.

I’ve learned a lot about resilience in order to regain my health and get back from that low point inmy life :-

1 Host a pity party - We’re all entitled to our feelings, those moments when we want to wallow in our misfortunes are allowed. In my experience ignoring feelings doesn’t mean that they go away. It’s healthy to be aware of how we feel and acknowledge where we’re at, accept where you’re at and know that as with all emotions, ‘This too shall pass’…..

2 Reach out and ask for help - get someone to ask you questions although make sure that they are impartial. Get rid of any potentially harmful hidden agendas and pay for a professional. I thought that my coach was going to fix me but thankfully she asked me the questions so that I could find my own answers and fix myself.

3 Take a Moment - Remember the astronaut that stood on the moon and was too busy getting his jobs done, meeting his deadline to take a moment and feel what it was like to stand on the moon. What’s your moon landing, what are you missing in your life right now because you’re too busy with your own deadline? Stop and take a moment, appreciate where you’re at, how far you’ve come and what it really feels like to be in this moment.

4 Where do you want to burn your energy? - we all know that food contains calories of energy which we take in to maintain our own energy. How do you want to use yours today? Are you joyfully following your passion or finding that a part of you is dying at the thought of what you’ve chosen to do today?

5 Visualise your successes - copy Wayne Rooney. His match preparation includes asking the kit man the day before what he’ll be wearing so that he can visualise himself in detail scoring those goals. What goals do you need to score today? Have you visualised yourself already achieving them and the subsequent celebration.

6 Take a breath - stress is a part of everyday life - our adrenal glands control our stress response and are constantly on chronic low burn. Designed to react acutely and save ourselves at the threat of death, they have become the smoke detectors of the modern world, reacting to each social media demand unable to recognise whether it’s the toast or indeed the house that is burning down. Get oxygen into your bodies as effectively as possible with your ‘magic nose’. When our shoulders are tense with stress it’s impossible to take a deep breath so imagine that you have a giant ‘magic’ nose in the small of your back and breathe in from there. As you imagine taking a breath through your magic nose you’ll be reassuring your adrenals that you’ve got this. 

7 Who’s your number one priority? -  List the most important people in your life, what number are you? We all know who’s oxygen mask has to be put on first in the event of an aeroplane emergency. If you look after yourself first then you can help the person sitting next to you. Who in your life is in that seat, your family? your business? Who is relying on you to look after yourself so that you can be there for them? 

8 Just say no - for all those moments when you’ve compromised yourself, found yourself agreeing to unwanted suggestions, gone along with the consensus for an easy life, know that you’ve been haemorrhaging your personal resilience. Find your boundaries, stick to them and say no to the rest - if they don’t like it (and they probably won’t) they can talk to the hand!

9 Receive your compliments with grace - Appreciate that compliments in life are the greatest gifts. Acknowledge and receive them with the pleasure they deserve, take a breath, a moment and let them land - you deserve them.

10 Let go of the outcome - thinking that you can please all the people all of the time is the road to ruin. Prepare, show up, do your thing and walk away knowing that you’ve done everything within your control. Let go of everything that is beyond your control and give no apologies if it wasn’t perfect!

This blog was first published at Business West - Women In Innovation

How Compromising Yourself Lowers your Resilience


The best thing about sharing my story with an audience is meeting them afterwards and listening to their stories. Considering that I’m the one who was booked to do the talking, I always learn so much from them. 

A listener shared their experience after I’d been speaking about times in my life when I felt compromised and the effect it had on my resilience. In comparison, mine was minor. He had been employed to intentionally mis-sell. He kept looking nervously over his shoulder as he confided about the whole culture of a company that instructed him to train his team to do the same. Yep, he was employed to train his team to mis-sell. The company application forms had even been designed so that the exorbitant annual percentage rate figure could be hidden with a thumb as the form was displayed for the client to sign.

We are all faced with times when our values are conflicted. Sometimes we’re more aware of our being compromised than others. We can be too deep into the deception to appreciate the problem, or unaware that something crept up on us or as we’re surrounded by people who are doing the same. We may even tell ourselves that it must be ok, because the bills must be paid, right? 

At the same time, something doesn’t feel right. Usually we are unsure why things feel “off.” It may be too difficult to consider. For me, it would be come physical with nausea, aches, pains and my loved ones suffering from my short fuse.

So how do you Un-Compromise Yourself?

The first step is becoming aware of what’s going on. Don’t be surprised if you become shocked and feel somewhat obsessed with the situation. As more and more realisations appear, more and more begins to go ‘round in your head.

You will probably want to find a place for the blame. Someone else caused you to do this. How could they have done this to you?  How could they treat you this way? Sometimes you’re really angry with them, sometimes you’re really angry with yourself for getting into this mess.

Once the initial reaction has subsided, it’s time to fully acknowledge the situation. If you’re too confused or unsure of your feelings to trust and confide in another, take a piece of paper and start writing. I cannot overstate how useful writing down your thoughts can be. As each point hits the paper, it stops swimming around in your head and loses both power and momentum. Let this be a relief and an outlet. 

Once you’ve acknowledged just how deep you’re in, push yourself to find some positives about the situation. If you’re struggling to do this, then have a think about the moments when you get your best ideas. Is it in the shower? Walking the dog? Travelling? Go to that place or do that activity and discover what ideas come. It may be a struggle sometimes. Our brains are wired to wax lyrical as to how we’ve been victimised and it’s almost impossible to even consider the possibility of any benefits of a seemingly hopeless situation. 

Focus on those positives and keep them very close. When you’re tempted to succumb to the hopelessness of the situation getting lost in a downward spiral, stick the list on the fridge and go back to it regularly. This is about focusing on what you want more of. Finding the positives is key to finding your way out of the compromising situation and help ensure you can avoid others like it in the future. 

I remember leaving a client after a particularly disastrous day. Feeling completely miserable about the seemingly endless journey back home, when rounding a corner the view across the horizon in the middle of nowhere was incredibly striking. Breathtaking, actually. The day became about stopping to take in the view rather than the failure of the not-so-successful client meeting. 

It isn’t easy to un-compromise yourself, but it is possible. Finding the positives in the situation, writing down your feelings about the situation can all help in the path to ridding yourself of the problem. After all, when you don’t feel as though your values, morals and goals in life have been compromised, doesn’t that let you be You on a Good Day, Every Day? 

Share your stories of resilience with me on Facebook and Twitter: 

I look forward to hearing from you! 

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Five Steps to Stay Resilient and Escape Overwhelm

Since I have a significant level of business and entrepreneurial experience, I thought starting a new one would be quite straight forward. How difficult could it be? I’ve done it all before, I just need to decide on my strategy, marketing strategy, set up the finance, the legal aspects, the systems, then implement. On top of that I need to create and send out a regular newsletter, meet people, find speaking opportunities, get referrals, master the art of and post often on social media, write and post regular blogs, record and post regular vlogs and podcasts, maintain my creativity and always remember that if ever all that is achieved, the best speakers have written a book.

Do you ever have the feeling as if you’re running down hill so fast that your legs are going to come out from under you?  Or standing in a snow storm getting confused and losing your bearings in the swirl of snowflakes? Or maybe like an unattached astronaut spinning into the oblivion of space with no gravity to keep them anchored.

I’ve learned that I’m not alone and we’re certainly not the first to experience overwhelm and the debilitating mindset that can come with it.  It’s small wonder that history came up with all those wonderful phrases as we headed past overwhelm and into panic mode such as, ’gather yourself together’, ‘you’re all over the place’, ‘sort yourself out’, ‘get a grip’, ‘feeling scattered’, ‘in over your head’. It’s an age old problem, a human condition; and those phrases have been used for generations and probably been said with the best of intentions as was the sharp slap delivered to shock you out of your panic.

What starts out as only thoughts, gathers momentum and suddenly we’re experiencing more than mental response. It’s physical as well. Our hearts beat faster, we’re feeling nauseous and need the loo, feeling on high alert, starting to fidget and breaking out in a sweat.  As our adrenal response springs into action and the worse our symptoms feel so the brain switches from analytical to responsive in preparation to fight, flee and survive. Who hasn’t wanted to run away or hide when feeling overwhelmed, after all it’s what duvets were designed for! 

When your brain is in reactive mode it gets stuck in a cycle of reacting to the overwhelm, the more it reacts, the more it experiences and so the behaviour augments and we’re cast out like that spinning astronaut with no gravitational pull, swept into oblivion with no escape. 

Fortunately, these days, the face slaps are outlawed (or less socially acceptable) but there’s still always that one person with the helpful advice to, 'Just do it'. When I’m in the middle of feeling overwhelmed and suffering from self-inflicted mental and physical torture, believe me when I say that if I knew how, I'd be the first to, ‘Just do it’. I’m in awe of those who can indeed respond to the simple command but when I’m in the middle of overwhelm, the thoughts and queries are coming at me too fast. I’m way past seeing what needs to be done and I certainly can’t prioritise. It is difficult to “just do", anything.

When you can’t ‘Just do it’, here are the 5 steps that you can do: 

1     Stop - Recognise where you’re at and hit pause. Just stop. When all the doubts start to jump into your head that you can’t stop, that you haven’t got time, that you’re going to fail, that people are relying on you, listen to all of those, but stop anyway. Just stop what you’re doing. Acknowledge that you’ve experienced this before, this is what our brains do, the human brain traps us in loops that we need to find ways to break out of, acknowledge all that but stop anyway.

If you’ve ever witnessed a trapped animal trying to free itself, it’s a pitiful sight. With some kind of super physical energy, they repeat the same action time and again, more often than not failing time and again until either collapsing into an exhausted heap or finally breaking free, wide eyed, manic and in shock. It’s a natural programming of survival to give our all when under extreme duress, the tragic thing is that it’s not unusual to hear about animals who once having freed themselves and escaped are to be discovered not having gone very far, to curl up and die as a result of the massive stress overload. 

The tragic thing for humans is that we react equally to both real and perceived threat in the same way. Your body is already reacting as if your life is in danger, so stop. Even though you’re doing everything in your power to get out of this, just stop. 

2     Take a breath - this is the fastest way possible to detach yourself from your state of panic. You probably won’t have noticed that your breathing has changed in response to the perceived threat, your body is already in peak state to fight or flee. Bring your attention to your belly and breath, five slow, deep and purposeful breaths would be optimum but one is enough to help you detach.  Ground yourself and take a breath.

3     Change your state - physically walk away, if you can go outside, GO! Completely change your sensory experience. Actively seek out a change in temperature, sound, feeling, taste, the view. You’ll probably resist this suggestion because you really don’t have time, but in my experience, we have to press the restart button. Switching to social media doesn’t work, switching your thinking only is not enough, the stop and restart has to happen on all levels. At the very least walk into another space and make yourself a drink, put some upbeat music on, move away and put some distance between yourself and the feeling of overwhelm.

4     Reach out - have a conversation with someone. If you want to be typically British and only talk about the weather, do just that. If you want to discuss where you’re at, choose your confidents with care. Choose someone who will be able to listen with no judgement and witness you as your storm plays out. In my experience, someone who’s going to tell you what to do even with the best intentions will add to, rather than lessen the overwhelm.

5     Get it out of your head - Start writing and empty your brain on to a page or start speaking and record yourself. Ask yourself why you’re feeling overwhelmed and work furiously, I find that as I get one point out of my head, just like those onion layers, so another will reveal itself to me. 

For your own sanity, piece of mind and progress, get that confusion out. I like to see things in front of me, so I write, if you prefer to hear things, talk away. Keep going and keep asking until you feel that it’s all emptied out, I know that I’ve reached this point when I can’t think of anything more to say. More importantly, I know I’ve reached this point when I suddenly notice myself sighing or feel tension in my shoulders, in the storm of overwhelm when my brain is eating itself, it’s good to remember that I have a whole body attached.


So you stopped; you’ve breathed, activated your five senses, become aware of your body, reached out and had a chat with someone else, now you’re ready to take action to get past the overwhelm and achieve your goal.


Return to the notes or journal entry you made, or listen to your audio recording. Those wild thoughts have been tamed and now need to be organised. What’s urgent and important?  What’s the one thing that you can recognize needs prioritising? If there’s more than one, grade them on a scale of 1-5 . How important? How urgent? What needs your attention first? Like all things, one step at a time. 

Pay attention. Can you feel the echoes of overwhelm begin to rise? If this is the case, name and knowledge it, ‘Oh, I recognise this feeling’, ‘here it is back again’. 

The fact that you are aware of it and can thus detach from it means that you’ve reached your goal. Feel the feelings and know that it’s just brain chemistry. 

Take a deep breath, remember you are indeed resilient, and get to work. 

Why Balance Helps Increase Resilience


Any of us who have played Monopoly know that the dark blues accommodate the highest grossing properties in the game, it’s a premium we’re prepared to pay for the likes of Mayfair and Park Lane (in the UK edition). My interest was therefore piqued when I realised that I was going to work in this property pinnacle for 2 days last week. There’s only one reason why it is the most expensive in the land and that’s because everybody wants to be there. I was going to experience what we all aspire to.

First impressions didn’t disappoint, once past the reception, the atrium opened up into impressive cathedral-like proportions. Four full sized palm trees were seemingly dwarfed in the otherwise empty, marble clad space which rose up multiple floors. When I say there was marble, oh indeed there was marble; brown, pink and cream on the floors, the walls, the stairs, the columns, the banisters, the handrails. Did I mention the marble? Looking up the at the ceiling, a glimpse of the blue sky that held such promise for a gloriously sunny Autumn day was just visible through the bars of the architectural design.

Security was tight and movement impeded although our every need was taken care of, our hosts made sure that we didn’t have to leave the room all day. From the air we breathed, the light we needed, the soundproofing, the constant supply of food and drinks that arrived throughout the day, everything was controlled, there were no distractions, all we had to do was work.

I didn’t realise until exiting into a gloomy dusk some 9 hours later that I had unconsciously let the building swallow me up and I wasn’t feeling too good. I had been completely cocooned from the outside world, it was a shock to feel a different temperature, hear the sounds of the traffic and see green grass. If this is what we all aspire to and I’d been completely taken care of all day, how come my resilience was low, I was feeling wired and tired, and my head pounding?

Resilience is about maintaining balance because whatever the circumstances, there’s a consequence for imbalance; structures will collapse, we will fall over. There was nothing balanced about that day, not the constant caffeine and sugar supply, the manufactured light nor conditioned air. We’re living 21st century lives with cavemen wiring, just as we do need shelter from the harshest natural elements, so we don’t need to spend all our days insulated against them in man made environments whatever the address. Like a pendulum swing we need somewhere in the middle, we need balance.

I returned for day two on a mission to increase my resilience, I looked for ways to introduce some balance. The drinks I replaced with water and avoided the sugar energy slumps by eating more natural healthier snacks purchased elsewhere, I challenged the security system as I got up and moved around. As soon as we broke for lunch I didn’t waste a moment getting outside and into the sunshine, walking around the Square appreciating that city oasis of trees, birds, grass and flowers in a way that I had never before. I began to appreciate the real reason why there’s a premium on those property prices. it’s a shame that the architect hadn’t felt the same way and put some balance into the design of the building.

Feeling refreshed and energised I returned after lunch my neighbour questioning me with surprise as to why I had gone outside as he washed down two paracetamol with a cola.

7 Things That Could Happen When You Ask For Help

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If you had a headmistress like mine, it’s small wonder that you feel pressure at having to have all the answers and that asking for help is a sign of weakness or even failure.

Interrupting lessons, we would have to jump to our feet as she clicked her fingers and pointed at one of us whilst barking out maths or grammatical problems to be solved. If we repeated the question we were admonished for wasting time, whilst getting it wrong involved shame and punishment in front of our peers. To this day I panic and stumble through my times tables.

She didn’t succeed in teaching me my tables but she did instil in me an absolute necessity for having to know all the answers, all the time and that asking for help was not an option. I left that school with a defensive, ‘know it all’ attitude and several coping strategies never to be caught out and humiliated again.

I can tell you that adopting that kind of defence mechanism doesn’t win you any friends and takes a lot of time, attention and effort to maintain. Information is power and I didn’t want to be weak, I always chose the safe option, kept my head down and avoided drawing attention to myself, ‘just in case’. Then came the public speaking, each event endured with dread as I waited for the Q&A session knowing that it was only a matter of time before I would get caught out in public.

Indeed that day arrived and no one was more stunned than I to learn that it’s okay to admit from the stage that you don’t have the answer and will have to ask for help. I’ve since realised that we’re suspicious of a person with all the answers, we can spot a blagger when we see one and are far more likely to trust someone who admits vulnerability. On stage or not, your listener connects with your integrity and wants to trust you.

So if you’re suffering from the condition of, ‘Don’t like to ask’, and you fear being judged and found wanting, I challenge you to step out of your silo of self sufficiency, brave the risk, acknowledge the ‘What ifs’, that are running around your head and ask anyway.

I’ve experienced 7 possible outcomes:-

1 You’ll make someone’s day, we’re all more than happy when someone asks us for help.

2 If they don’t know the answer but are still in the trap of believing that they have to, you’ll be able to watch their defence mechanism with interest.

3 When you hear something that you don’t want to, you’ll be able to watch your own defence mechanism with interest…oh yes..… 

4 You’ll break the silent stand off and start a collaborative culture as others witness it’s safe to reach out.

5 You’ll have to cherry pick what’s right for you when asking for help turns into getting unwanted advice, as some people insist they know what’s best for.

6 You’ll experience the joy of collaboration, because two or more heads really are better than one.

7 If you choose with care, you’ll strike gold and find someone who appreciates that only we know what’s best for us and that given the right questions, we all have our own answers.

What’s your experience of asking for help?

8 Top Tips to Smash It at Public Speaking

Back in 2004 I was invited to speak at the Enterprise Britain Policy Summit at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre, London. There were about 500 delegates and I was 1 of 17 speakers, our purpose was to help create a deeper enterprise culture in the UK.

There I was, the only small business owner, standing on a stage with UK plc giants including Gordon Brown the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Director General of the CBI, the Chair of Channel 4, the Chief Exec of Manchester City Council and 12 equally illustrious others.

So how did a childcare provider from South Wales employing 50 nursery nurses end up speaking about innovation at such a gig? Someone recommended me, they’d heard me before and had been impressed.

Smashing it at public speaking can get you the job, the customer, the platform and these are my top eight tips to do just that.

1    I probably don’t need to tell you that I was nervous, it had started days before, getting edgy at the travel arrangements and snapping at loved ones. Get as much information about the venue and audience beforehand then daydream away. Visualise yourself looking out from the stage to the audience and feel the satisfaction of delivering your perfect presentation.

2    Understand why your body seems to be working against you. We have impressive reactions to fear designed for fight or flight none of which help us to stand on a stage and speak. Try and move beforehand to use up that nervous energy and get your breathing right. Be mindful of the rising panic, it’s not you, you’re the one who’s about to step onto the stage and smash it, acknowledge the fearful voices in your head and reassure them you’ve got this….

3    Be you - we all know a blagger when we see one, we don’t like them and we don’t trust them. You want to build trust with your audience so be you, be in conversation with them and talk about what you know. I talked about me and my business, no one was a greater expert on that subject.

4    Have you ever noticed what happens when someone starts talking about what they are passionate about? Suddenly, they’re energised and smiley and we want to be around them. Speak about your passion and your audience will reach out to you. I LOVED my business and what made us innovative, I couldn’t wait to tell them.

5    Tell your story, the story that only you can tell - your audience always wants to hear about you, your adversity and how you got through it. Listen to a celebrity tell an embarrassing story on a chat show, we love them for it. Dare yourself to be vulnerable, the emotional connection you create will be remembered long after your words are forgotten.

6    I don’t know if there’s another feeling to match 500 people laughing at your humorous comment, it’s a delicious drug but don’t try and make it happen. This is not the time to tell jokes, it’s not about making them laugh, it’s about being you and if they laugh, enjoy the bonus.

7     Be professional - turn up on time, if you’re booked for 15 minutes then speak for 15, practice time and again to get it right. Get your ending right and finish on a high leaving them wanting more.

8    When you’re done, you’re done - show up, do your best then walk away. Don’t begin to imagine that you can control the outcome, I can confirm that mental post mortems are a form of torture. However when the next speaker up is the head of PepsiCo UK and he begins by saying,  ‘Remind me to never again follow Louise’,  congratulate yourself for smashing it!

It’s not my job

School seemed to pass me by, that one life changing teacher everyone talks about must have been at another school because I never sat in front of them; but then I found workshops. I’ve travelled and criss-crossed both the Channel and the Atlantic many times over responding to my intuitive call. That inner tug guiding me to collected groups of people gathered together in the pursuit of experiential learning and the resulting education and growth. Mostly I can’t reason as to why I’m there but years later I can still quote facilitators, their stories and actions have inspired and educated me and indeed my life has been changed.

And so it was with a knowing confidence and optimistic expectation that I sat eagerly in the latest gathering. Sadly as the first day progressed, I felt that sinking feeling at the realisation that this facilitator was indeed a self declared teacher. A man who was confident that he knew what was best for us and what we needed to learn, who demanded our full attention as he lectured at us from his seemingly lofty self imposed position of superiority and seniority. 

And I played my part, feigning interest and attention as perfected in the classroom over 7 years of secondary education. Being a good girl, not drawing attention to myself and staying under the radar knowing that by the law of physics, it would be break time soon.

However it seems that I’ve attended too many workshops and grown too much to imagine that I could be gagged and bound in a way that suited my teenage self and thus I could stay silent no more. A simple, calm query, my attempt at opening up a discussion provoked a remarkable reaction and defence mechanism, I must have offended deeply; it was not my intention. 

The remaining half hour seemed to be aimed solely at ‘winning me over’, even to the exclusion of all others. His discomfort grew as I followed my inner voice, feeling what was right for me and refusing to obey and participate. I constantly checked in to my feelings as he resorted to ever more extraordinary behaviour to get me to join in. And as I witnessed his discomfort and pain so I witnessed my reaction - it would have been so easy to stand up and obey his pleas, it would have been so easy to join in with the others and release him from his self imposed torment. But what about me? What about what was right for me? Do I betray my inner voice, my truth? Do I stand up and obey so that he could feel better knowing that in that moment I would be feeling a whole lot worse? Is it my job to ‘make someone feel better’?

Just as he thought he knew what was best for me, how could I possibly know what was best for him? And so in the middle of this battleground I applied my default logic. ‘If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it’  and in the face of his braying and the whole room who by this time were surely thinking, for goodness sake Louise, just do it: I didn’t do it.

It’s not our job to ‘be good’ and stay under the radar, it’s our job to be true to ourselves, to connect to that inner and sometimes mad voice, it’s the only one that knows what’s right for us. It’s no wonder they call it the road less travelled but I’ve found that the more you trust that inner voice, the more you dare to follow it, the easier it becomes to recognise.

I’m sure there’s a workshop on that!

How Your Personal Story Can Help You Increase Your Personal Resilience.

So I’ve spent the morning with Catherine, an intimidating woman by anyone’s standards. A self made Director of three businesses with a multi million pound fortune, this woman has done it on her own, starting from scratch with 2 babies to bring up along the way. 

Catherine is a driven woman and I’ve always wondered how she continues to thrive, physically, mentally and emotionally when most people would have succumbed to stress by this stage. 

Dopamine is the brain chemical which keeps us achieving, our whole selves lost in the pursuit of the next hit whether that’s building empires, beating our personal bests or even the pursuit for the perfect pair of pumps. 

Those continuous hits of dopamine are what keep us in the achievement zone. It’s like an addictive buzz chaining us to our desk lost in concentration, oblivious to others, to hunger, to day turning to night. However it’s a double edged sword, too much and it drives us over the edge into burnout, too little, we fall into a slump of despair unable to get out of bed each morning.

Oh so many times, I’ve experienced the former and ended up with the latter. Enraptured by the thrill of the chase, oblivious to friends, food and sleep as I strove for and invariably achieved the next success. Oh so many times, I’ve failed to keep away from the edge, crashing yet again emotionally and physically as my life’s milestones passed in a blur.

So what’s Catherine’s secret? How has this high achiever escaped the perils of the addictive buzz?  It seems that her antidote, her answer to maintaining her health and enjoying life lies in her story. She was brought up in the Lake District and is never happier striding through countryside with a purpose surrounded by a like minded community. So looking at this elegant globetrotter, you would never guess that she’s a volunteer Deer Ranger. Regularly devoting half a day in all weathers enables Catherine to disconnect from the buzz and more importantly reconnect to a nourishing and sustainable hum, it's how she achieves the success without falling over the edge.

How can your story help you?