Monday, 3 January 2011

How to be a Leader rather than led.

As I have encountered many different people in my life, I have come to realise an astonishing fact – the majority of people, and a surprisingly large number of those in business – are wilfully ignorant. I do not intend to be rude in stating this, nor to suggest that I am some sort of superior being, but rather to point out that in my experience, the majority of people let golden opportunities to better themselves pass them by.

We are privileged to be living in the third great leap forward in civilisation, the Information Revolution. Most people in the developed world now have access all the accumulated wisdom of mankind at their fingertips. For any field that you wish to develop in, the learning is out there and usually free of charge.

And most people completely ignore it! The overwhelming use of online social media for example, an invaluable resource for sharing wisdom, is for trivial chat, showbiz gossip and entertainment media. There is nothing wrong with this use, but to ONLY use these opportunities for the trivial is a phenomenal wasted opportunity.

It is beyond the scope of this article to explain why this should be so, but instead it is written to point out a particular opportunity that presents itself just by virtue of the fact that there IS so much wilful ignorance. It boils down to this: in the world of the reactive, the proactive are kings!

Most people are like aerials – they pick up on the “vibes” around them and react accordingly. Their reality is determined by how things, circumstances, people and events around them make them feel. They vary only in sensitivity – some people overreact to everything, some are average and some people are generally indifferent. This attitude is completely disempowering – it makes you the victim of your world – everything is the fault of something else and there’s nothing you can do about it! You are utterly at the mercy of fate and chance by this view.

However there are some people who are transmitters – there are people who can manipulate other people and circumstances to suit themselves. What is surprising is that almost anyone has the ability to do this and the techniques are well-established, yet most people choose instead to be led rather than lead. Again, it is beyond the scope of this article to persuade people to wake up and see what’s going on. Instead, here are the basics of persuasion and manipulation for those who would rather lead than be led.

The first principle of leadership is to realise that every situation presents some sort of opportunity. This is the fundamental principle of positive thinking. To resent and focus on what you have lost or cannot reach serves no useful purpose, and in fact makes things worse. No matter how loudly your feelings may scream, it is possible to keep the attention and your focus locked on to the immediate opportunities that are always available to take yourself forward. There is nothing final about setbacks and being knocked down – but not getting up again spells certain doom!

Not everyone has this sort of positive focus “built in”, but it can be learned by almost anyone! If you are serious about being free from the tyranny of chance and circumstances, Learning and persevering in this focusing skill is a crucial first step.

With your focus on the opportunities available in any given moment, you are now ready to improve your situation by making people around you predisposed to helping you. We do this not by domination or fear, but by seduction.

Every word, gesture and action from you has a direct and profound impact on the people around you, and they’re ALL important – another fundamental mistake often made by the arrogant. If someone is in front of you, they are important – they can improve your wellbeing in ways you may not realise, even if they are lowly or not relevant in worldly status.

Having accepted the potential of every single individual to foster your cause, including those you may have a dislike for, it is now important to conduct yourself in a polite and friendly manner, even to those who are brusque and even rude in return, not necessarily for spiritual or moral reasons, commendable as these may be, but because it serves your interest! It does not imply that you become a “doormat” or “soft touch”. You may be assertive and refuse to comply with unreasonable or unachievable requests, but you do so politely.

Having established correct focus, thereby controlling your own emotions, and a developed a reputation for firmness with courtesy, you are have established the conditions necessary to exert influence. The procedure for doing this is astonishingly simple:
1. Direct the attention of the subject to something desirable. Most of broadly want the same things – peace, comfort, love, sex, power, success, fame and wealth, but you will have to be careful in determining what the subject wants at that moment. Alternatively attention could be drawn to a source of anger or fear, like losing one’s home or job or being a victim of crime. Tapping in to these primal desires weakens the tendency to judge and analyse incoming information, and creates a feeling of mutual empathy, so the subject is more open to suggestion.
2. Drop a suggestion that something you want the subject to do will fulfil the desire. This could involve a favour, accompanying you, lending you something, or general attitude like loyalty, friendship, commitment or forgiveness.
3. Reinforce the suggestion by some gesture of appreciation for the right response, which can be praise, gratitude, a sweet or a hug.

Watch adverts and political broadcasts or listen to good speeches carefully and you see this tried and trusted persuasion by seduction in every one. Quite often a sexy image is linked to the product, suggesting however irrationally that it will make it more likely that you get sex by owning the product. In others, a breakfast cereal is linked to a happy family, suggesting that the cereal will promote health and harmony in the family.

With the desire aroused, the logical and judgemental centres of the brain are bypassed and the two ideas are linked in the subconscious. As unpalatable as it may be, abundant research shows this subconscious linking to be real and effective in affecting behaviour at a subconscious level, which is why politicians and businesses spend vast sums of money on providers of these marketing services.

The author makes no moral judgements as to the use of these techniques other than to point out that they can be used for purposes both benevolent and malevolent. Furthermore, as stated at the beginning, people who chose not to evoke the disciplines of leadership are by default choosing to be led. It is ultimately an individual’s free choice.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Banish The Doubt - Final Part

For many situations, acceptance alone will eliminate negative thinking, but not all. You need another strategy for when your emotions are RAGING. And this is the discipline of SURRENDER.

Before you can understand this second discipline, you need a basic understanding of your emotions.

Emotions are information in the form of feelings. When you experience an emotion, your body will respond with the release of hormones. This process is completely beyond conscious control at the point of feeling. Thoughts, hormones and behaviours already programmed in to your subconscious will automatically arise as soon as the emotion is felt.

If you have undertaken no training, this response will be a default. This default will be based on past experiences, quite often from childhood. The response may therefore be completely inappropriate! The level of response is also dependent on your sensitivity.

Remember that external reaction may have nothing to do with internal reaction. Some people are capable of a poker-face calm exterior when inside they are seething. It’s your internal reactions, rather than your behaviour, that will determine both your wellbeing and your performance.

Once we feel severely vexed about our situation, we enter into a kind of trance, known as the “Red Mist”, and acceptance can no longer help us. The appropriate response will surprise you.

Raging emotion is actually empowered by resistance. It feeds off the part of our awareness that says “this is wrong”. Why? Because you feel in an impossible position. On one hand you want to do the right thing, yet the “right thing” is utterly unhelpful in resolving the issue. Utterly cornered by this conflict of overpowering negativity and the inability to square it with your conscience, you will only act like any cornered animal does.

So what’s the answer? Give up. Give in. Surrender. Imagine that for some great cause or loved one, in order to save something more precious than your own life, you decide to sacrifice yourself, drop all resistance, and prepare to die. Another picture is to imagine that an alien has been trying to take over your mind. Knowing it will only possess a loved one if you resist, you drop your guard, and allow the creature full access to your mind. Another picture is consenting to receive a general anaesthetic, and to allow yourself to slip into unconsciousness and lose all control, or to submit your will to that of a hypnotist, and his soothing voice, in the absence of all resistance, seems to fill your being.

Of course this is the last thing you would want or think of doing, but letting go in this way has a very surprising effect. Rather than be overwhelmed, you will find yourself calming right down. Depriving the emotion of resistance also deprives it of its power over you. Being you, vulnerable and weak, as in reality everyone is at some point, surrendering to this fact means you are no longer fear it, and fear is the fuel of all negative emotion.

Apply all disciplines I have described and you will completely banish doubt from your mind. Keep your attention firmly on your intention in every waking moment, seize the opportunities in every moment, even if they are not what you’d prefer, and when your awareness is raided by the “Monsters From The ID”, instead of fighting them, completely surrender to them, and they will evaporate like fading memories.

You have everything necessary within your life to succeed, and you always did. What’s been holding you back is simply erroneous ideas handed down to you by others that you have unwittingly taken on and believed. You can override this conditioning rapidly and easily if you have a single burning passion. Harness your attention to this passion, practice emotional intelligence to ride straight through your own mental/emotional obstacles and nothing and no one can stop you. Every time you encounter a disappointment, a rejection, a wrong turn, it only makes you stronger.

…So, are you going to continue letting your attention and emotions wander undisciplined through your mind, sowing doubt and sabotaging all your efforts, or are you going to start doing what you love and loving what you do? An obvious choice perhaps, but to truly change, that choice must be recognised and consciously made.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Banish The Doubt - Part 7

For the sake of this example, you are stuck in morning rush hour traffic:

How do you feel about it? Angry and frustrated probably. You are going to be late and you’re aware of all the things that now won’t go smoothly. Your head is now full of a maelstrom of negative thought.

Can anyone here control the thoughts that pop into their heads? No you can’t. The standard response is a counter-thought (such as “no that is not helpful for me to feel that”) but this doesn’t work because your blood is already up!

You cannot argue with a thought that has a tidal wave of emotion powering it!
So don’t argue with the thought you’re going to be late. Agree with it! Yes I’m going to be late. I’ve every right to feel annoyed!
Now ask this question that works anywhere: What is this an opportunity for?

You now bring in to play a simple skill you’re already using every day, but you tend to keep reserved for tasks and lectures, it is your attention. Your attention is absolutely crucial to emotional intelligence. What has your attention has your emotions, your thoughts and your behaviour. Your attention is not just for tasks and lectures, it should be under your conscious direction every waking minute. If you don’t, it will go looking for trouble because that’s what it’s evolved to do – (that’s how you survived on the African Savannah!)

So here you are in your car. What is it an opportunity for?

In any situation, action, thought and emotion need to sing from the same songsheet. And the conductor of the choir is your attention. Your attention however needs a positive incentive – what’s the payoff of giving this my attention, because if there’s a payoff, your emotions will fall in line. This works for any task, no matter how dull.

You’re now practising the discipline of acceptance, the ability to maximise the opportunities in every single situation. It will give you an edge over Fred Bloggs, because Fred Bloggs is wasting his energy resenting what isn’t there. In any unfavourable environment, practise the discipline of acceptance.

So going back to our example of being gridlocked:
This is not great and I have the right to be annoyed about it!
So what is this an opportunity for? Meditation? Phoning a friend? Notation?
What’s the payoff? Can I suggest getting to work in a much healthier state?
Give this opportunity your full attention, be aware of the payoff in doing it, and thought, feelings and behaviour will be transformed into powerful allies.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Banish The Doubt - Part 6

If you are wracked by doubt, by insecurity, by worry, it’s coming from the fact that stored away in your subconscious is a memory of bad experience that’s ringing a big bell that says I AM NOT COMFORTABLE! Now of course we all have to endure some discomfort, but there’s no escaping the fact that discomfort impairs judgement, and the greater the discomfort, the lower your judgement. Who in their right mind would make a major business decision when they are desperate for the toilet?

So, to summarise up to this point, the origin of all negative thinking is MONSTERS FROM THE ID, bad feelings that have come from bad experiences. If you want to banish the doubt, if you want to be rid of negative thinking, you must have some way of changing your feelings.

You need to learn emotional intelligence, because emotional intelligence reaches the parts positive thinking cannot reach. No matter how stirring the team talk, no matter how wise the words, no leader or coach will ever get the best out of his players if he does not understand their individual emotions and how to manage them.

Emotional Intelligence is the key to revolutionising your life and changing you from an aerial, simply being affected by others to a transmitter, who profoundly affects others.

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify, assess, manage and control the
emotions of one's self, of others, and of groups. So you see, once you have mastered this ability, not only will you change yourself, you will change others too. It is an extremely powerful skill once mastered.

I would really have liked to have learned this a lot earlier, because I would have coped a lot better, made better decisions and be a lot further on. But, at least I now get it. Most of the “aerials” out there never become “transmitters”, so I will count my blessings!

Now there are many different models and methods of emotional intelligence, but as a business person I suspect you don’t want to be bombarded with a load of conflicting psychological theory to choose from, so instead I would like to give you one that works, that’s easy to follow.

The first model I want to teach you is called acceptance, a technique for dealing with an unfavourable environment.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Banish The Doubt - Part 5

So, what happens when what you’re experiencing feels uncomfortable? You feel distressed! You will feel sadness or anger or suffering. And the more uncomfortable you feel, the more distress you feel and if that distress gets strong enough it will override any other consideration.

There is another way you can get distressed, and that’s to have a source of comfort taken from you, and if that loss is big enough, the distress will again explode out of you. For example, most people agree that the most stressful thing that can happen to you, the greatest mental anguish of all is bereavement, the death of a loved one. Anyone who has been bereaved will tell you that they will be never be the person they were before being bereaved. Why is this important? Because it will affect your performance as a business person.

In your life, you will have several big experiences, and what makes them big is the degree of comfort or discomfort you experienced. A really crucial time is between 4 and 8 years old. In this period a phenomenon known as imprinting takes place. What you experienced then is having a direct impact on your business right now. A large part of your emotional responses to situations now was first moulded back then. You see, at that age, you have mastered language, so now you can give things labels like good and bad.

You have a bad experience at that age, and everything to do with that experience will be labelled bad. And similarly everything associated with really good experience will be labelled good. This is why ordinary objects and situations can evoke really powerful emotions, because you associate that situation or object with a traumatic or exciting event. And the bad news is that once that association has been imprinted, it is not easily shifted.

With experience comes ideas, mental maps of how things are in relation to each other, and ideas get built into beliefs, mental maps of how the universe behaves. All these beliefs are built into our concept of reality. So you may be able to see straight away that reality is not objective - we don’t all experience the same reality, we all experience an individual reality which even at best has only some things in common with others.

Now, if you’re a fairly observant person, you may also see that there’s a recipe for conflict brewing up here, because quite often there is a mismatch between how we’re told it is and what we personally have experienced, between what we’re told is important and what you think is important, between how we’re told it feels and how it feels to you, and that conflict is going to undermine your performance in a team.

If you are familiar with computers, you will know that a picture file is not just stored as a picture. It comes with tags. These tags can tell you the format of the picture, the size, the number of individual pixels, who created it, when they created it and so on. In the same way, every word you hear now, every experience you have now, is evoking some kind of feeling. Exactly what is being evoked depends not only on how something is communicated, but on your beliefs, which depend entirely on your ideas, which depend entirely on your unique individual experiences, so no wonder that people misunderstand each other so often.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


To get a grip on your emotions, you need to have a basic understanding of what’s going on in your head. You will probably know that your awareness lives in the brain, an extremely powerful organic computer. More powerful and with more memory than the most powerful computer today, and with more nerve cells than there are stars in the sky, it is a truly impressive organ.

This organ is operated by a highly sophisticated suite of software known as THE MIND. The mind is not a physical thing, it is patterns of energy like any software. This software operates a bit like an iceberg, with most of it under the waterline, unseen by the user.

Most of your mind is beyond your conscious awareness. Called the subsconscious, it is a massive database of stored memories and behaviour.
Like Microsoft Windows it comes with a default.
This default doesn’t do logic! Why not?

Your default mode is geared to survival on the African Savannah, where we Homo Sapiens evolved from the last nearly extinct remnant of our predecessor Homo Erectus. Grab it when you can, hoard what you can, and when times are good, breed like mad! That’s what helped you survive in the primal past.

Clearly, the default mode is just not applicable to modern civilisation! This means that your mind needs configuring.

Oddly, the ability to re-configure your mind has been around for millennia, but the trouble has been who’s been keeping the knowledge. Back in the African Savannah, the guy who dealt with wellbeing was the Shaman, who became the priest, the cleric, the llama and so on, and as religion and spirituality has become increasingly divided, and the knowledge fragmented, here in the West everyone eventually got a bit fed up with this, and wellbeing was taken up by the scientists, but they limited themselves to stuff they could measure, and you can’t really measure feelings and emotions.

Fortunately, we live in the information revolution, and all this disparate knowledge is now getting pooled online! Now you don’t have to sign up for a faith, change faith, or abandon your own faith to get the information, and you can utilise the wisdom of the ancients without compromising your own conscience.
What I’m teaching suits any spirituality or none.

Let us first get a basic understanding of our emotions. They are fundamental to who you are, even more fundamental than thinking. Feeling and emotion and desire were there in your life long before language. All emotions are hardwired to lead you to a fundamental desire, the desire of desires. There is a basic fundamental desire we all have - we had it at birth, we still have it and it will be there at death – it is to be comfortable. When I ask my hypnotherapy clients which feeling they want to feel above any other feeling, they invariably say PEACE, because when you’ve been troubled, that’s your idea of comfort.

Any pleasure or desire you can think of, the bottom line is COMFORT. We all want to be peaceful and comfortable. You want what you want because you think that when you’ve got it, you will experience comfort. Even adrenalin junkies! But there is a problem. Your primal instincts don’t want to wait to be comfortable, they want you to be comfortable NOW!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Banish The Doubt - Part 3

Why are so many of us if not all of us experiencing our success being sabotaged from within? Clearly it’s something subconscious because I have absolutely no conscious desire to fail. I want to win, and I want to win BIG! I know exactly where I want to be and where I want to go. So why in certain situations have I screwed up for absolutely no logical reason?

What causes experienced penalty takers to miss penalties? It would be pretty handy to find out wouldn’t it? I would give us something of an edge. Well good news, I’m going to tell you. It’s not something I discovered personally, it’s been known and documented for thousands of years. It was never lost, it’s never been a secret, it’s never been suppressed or covered up, it’s just been plain ignored, possibly because you can’t measure it. That is one great oversight, one great flaw in Western business thinking and intellectual thinking in general – if we can’t measure it, it’s not important. This is plain wrong! Who makes a business successful? It’s people isn’t it? Can you measure human nature? Bizarrely, one man argued you can.

He was named Francis Galton and he invented PSYCHOMETRIC TESTING in the 19th Century. He was the first to propose that if we ask the right questions, do the right tests and measure the responses, we will know exactly how someone will perform. Unfortunately it’s not that simple! It’s also pretty rich coming from someone who had a nervous breakdown as a young man!

Yes you can get a general idea of someone’s aptitude and attitude, but if you think psychometric testing will tell you what someone will do when it comes down to it, you will soon find out that it’s not a very accurate science. As Gerald Ratner has taught us, great performers make gaffs! I’m sure Gerald would have passed every psychometric test going, but no one saw the business “clanger of clangers” coming did they? Least of all Mr. Ratner himself!

My other objection to the use of psychometric testing is that as well as being an unreliable measure, it is an unreliable snapshot of how that person was on that day. It takes no account whatsoever of someone’s potential. People change, they learn and grow, they are being constantly remoulded by their experience.
You are all not the person you were five years ago, and in five years the person you are now will be dead, there will be a new person with your memories but a different perspective.

So then, if you can’t measure it, what is this X-Factor, this hidden phenomenon that is sabotaging us from within, undermining, overriding and negating every positive thinking strategy you’ve heard of? It has several names. In Buddhism and Taoism, it is called the Mind Monkey. Psychologist Sigmund Freud called it the ID – it can also be thought of as the elephant in the room, the “bull in the china shop”, the ghost in the machine, the gremlin in your morale. It is negative emotion.
Negative emotion, (fear, hate and anger) is a very basic very primal force that drives us all and it can override our most sincere beliefs, our strictest taboos, and our firm intentions. Nothing within you can overcome the monsters from the ID, these beasts from the subconscious. In fact they thrive on resistance and suppression. The more you try and pack down your darkest emotions into some deep dungeon within your mind, the greater the pressure, and suppress them hard enough for long enough and one dark day you will find them explosively released all over your life.

The monsters from the ID do not do logic, explanation, argument or containment. The only weapon you have against your emotion is another emotion, and I will show you how to wield that weapon in in the next part.