CONFIDENCE BOOSTER No.7: Get a Positive Charge

It’s a simple fact that the more external negativity you allow into your life the more down you feel. Now, there are sources of negativity over which you have no control and very little influence, but there will be areas where you can make a positive difference to your environment.

THE CHALLENGE: To create a more positively charged environment in which to live.

If you allow yourself to be surrounded by ‘down beat’ and depressed energy from people, places and media, you are at a disadvantage before you even get started. Is there any benefit to your confidence in permitting this to continue? If you wish to up, maintain or enhance your confidence, it will be more difficult if you are weighed down by the burden of a negative environment. Remember that negativity is contagious and it loves company, but the same is true of positivity, so….



  • Seek out the company of supportive, positive and motivated people (this means reducing exposure to pessimism, doubt and psychological lethargy)
  • Do not allow your enthusiasm and motivation to be eroded by the negativity of others – you’ll know who they are. Where possible keep a distance because they just love to spread frowns.
  • Look out for negative judges, labellers, self confessed control freaks, or those who are simply unkind. The time may come when you may be able to help them….but you first.
  • Seek out different physical environments – try something new: gym, pub, café, restaurants, clubs, sporting clubs, parties you attend etc. Taking positive action will create positive change.
  • Beware what you read, listen to and watch. The constant media flow does have an affect how you feel – it’s your call.
  • Adjust your social media friends / likes as this alters the tone of your feed. Or take a holiday (temporary or permanent) from certain social media altogether.

This may seem obvious, however, so often  we can run our lives on auto pilot which will obscure what needs changing. It is said that if you own the action you own the consequences so a number of small adjustments can have a greater impact than you can imagine. The trick is in the doing.


THE CHALLENGE: To overcome inaccurate statements, self-talk and mindset. 

My clients get to hear about this over and over because accuracy has a complex role in combating a very powerful adversary of self confidence: cognitive distortion. This may sound complicated (it is) but if I highlight the most popular forms you will know what I mean:

  • Filtering – amplifying negative information while diminishing or completely excluding positives
  • Polarised “black & white” thinking – leaves no room for manoeuvre for yourself & others & leaves no room for balance
  • Overgeneralisation – With sparse information, creating strong opinions on a wide range of people, subjects or situations
  • Rushing to assumptions – not waiting for all (or any) available information on a subject & so assumptions are drawn & decisions made in considerable ignorance
  • Catastrophising – Why settle for a drama when a full blown crisis will do? This is when everything is bad even if it has happened only once. “I’m rubbish at this”, “No one likes me”, “You cannot trust anyone”, “Today was disastrous” etc etc.



It’s called tracking which is, in this context, keeping a log / diary of instances when you are inaccurate in any given situation about yourself, people, your day etc. If you are unaware of behaving in a particular way then how can you do anything about it? Just being aware of it will make a huge difference.

BEWARE: real and lasting shifts in deep seated mind set and behaviour takes hard work and consistency

Now you may be thinking that this is all a bit obvious and that calling yourself ‘useless’, for example, is merely a turn of phrase. But words have a huge significance: not only do they tell the outside world a great deal about us, but they also say much about our moods and mindset. Get control of them and they WILL begin to affect your attitudes and emotions for the better. 

CONFIDENCE BOOSTER No.5: Stop Comparisons

THE CHALLENGE: To stop using unfavourable comparisons to others as a stick with which to beat yourself.

Look out for this popular trip wire if you are trying to restore some lost confidence. If you are comparing yourself unfavourably to those around you: friends, colleagues, even relations, then you are actively undermining your own position and where’s the upside to this waste of mental energy?

  • Finding inspiration in the achievement of others can be a great source for motivation, however, be careful this does not slip into negative comparison – which is very fruitful ground for weighing down your own self confidence…..completely unnecessarily.
  • You are unique and possess your own skills and abilities, but how can you properly concentrate on your own performance if you are busy getting anxious about how someone else is doing?

How many sprint races were lost when, instead of dipping for the finishing tape, a competitor decides instead to glance across at the competition? 



Improve your own game – you have already identified your skills in BOOSTER No.2 so:

  • Set out a plan to enhance the things you are already good at, and to challenge yourself in areas where you may need to improve.
  • What new element would you like to add to your skill set? Identify it and then set about getting it

Up your own game – this is where true motivation comes from….not in glancing at what others are doing….they will have different strengths and weaknesses to you. Watch out for wasted energy wishing you were like someone else – it’ll never happen so rule it out of your thought process.


CONFIDENCE BOOSTER No.4: Handling Criticism

The challenge: To take criticism the way it is intended and learn the lesson in its context.

If we offer or simply think critically of someone in a negative sense, we are not seeking to improve or to support, but are simply passing judgement. On these occasions, there is something else at work which in most circumstances has little or nothing to do with the poor soul on the receiving end. In most instances it’s about our own ‘stuff’ – our frustrations, our disappointments, our ‘what ifs’ etc. Ultimately, that judgement may have nothing to do with the target at all!

The same is true when we find negative criticism coming our way:

  • It has next to nothing to do with us.
  • The comments cannot be objective (otherwise they would not be negative).
  • This breed of criticism will not be helpful.
  • If the criticism comes from a stranger, it’s not even personal – how can it be? Remember they do not know you.

Therefore, we are merely the canvas upon which another person has chosen to sketch out their issues. Incidentally, if the negative judgment comes from a close friend, then that is a clear sign that your friend is in need of your help and support. Pitch in and find out what on earth’s the matter.

With all this clear in the mind, it is easier to take positive feedback from friends and colleagues in a constructive way and in the manner in which it had been intended – with good will.


  • Identify the source of the criticism/feedback and ask yourself, “What is their intention?” – Is it well intentioned or not? Is it to your benefit or not? Write it down.
  • Note an instance (more than one if you really want to drill down on this issue), of when you feel you have been criticised either recently or in the recent past… write it down.
  • What was your reaction? Keep writing!
  • Then conclude – on serious and accurate reflection, is the criticism really something that should be taken to heart?

As in all personal development, this is an ongoing process and the more you practice doing this, the more it will become a good habit. Over time, this will replace the feelings of being under siege when you are criticised and will remove the reaction of self-defence – be it internal or external.

CONFIDENCE BOOSTER No.3 : The Damage of Comparisons

Another unnecessary pressure we heap on to ourselves in an already pressured environment is when we compare who we are, how we look and what we have achieved, to others – & such comparisons are rarely favourable.


  • It’s time to measure up to your own standards and not those set by peer pressure and the desire to be like someone else – these have a detrimental effect on self esteem in a very profound way.
  • If you compare yourselves to others you are not going to have the full picture necessarily: the sacrifices they made to get there; how happy they are with the outcome; the effects on other aspects of their lives i.e. home & family. You do not see the full picture so you cannot know how successful someone REALLY is beyond the superficial.
  • While you are busy measuring up to others you can miss your own opportunities where your particular strengths & talent can shine – effectively you stifle your own talents.



  • Identify your skills and abilities (as in No.2), and match these to goals you would like to achieve. This way you play to your strengths…..why would you want to do anything else?

By all means, seek inspiration in others, in their achievements and the examples they set – but in doing so give full credit to your own abilities. In aiming for your goal, ensure you do it your way and for your reasons. The keys word here is AUTHENTICITY, which will check negative comparisons at every turn.

CONFIDENCE BOOSTER No.2: Is Failure an Option?


The fact of the matter is that if you are reading this and are a member of the human race you will make mistakes, maybe even the odd howler, I guarantee it. The secret is to accept this fact and cut yourself some slack – but I am not asking for any more or less than you would a good friend or work colleague.



If you suffer with issues of self confidence (and most of us do at different times), and if you are prone to working yourself over for making mistakes, you can set yourself a whole set of unnecessary challenges:

  • Reluctance to take risks
  • Stifling your abilities
  • Ignoring your achievements while highlighting your failures



  • Write a memo to yourself listing your abilities, which will be a matter of public record and fact – so that not even you can dispute them. Don’t roll your eyes….do it.
  • Note down your past successes – as you may well have buried them beyond normal daily recall. Get them out, dust them off and put them on display (this is for your benefit, not ours, as it will be you that cannot see them).
  • Check out what some of the most successful people in history have said about failure – in particular our greatest scientists, who reached the heights of achievement through trial & ERROR – get it?

There’s nothing wrong with striving for perfection and having to make do with mere excellence. The trick is not avoiding making mistakes or failing – it is in doing so and using that stumble as a lesson & not as a source of corporal punishment!

CONFIDENCE BOOSTER No.1: Maintain Proportion



We have all heard the adage that this life is not a rehearsal. What that says to me is “please do not waste a day” and that is what I try to instil in my clients who suffer with low self confidence and low self esteem. True, we cannot always succeed but it is a good reminder to have in the background to nudge us from time to time: avoid dwelling on an issue that we may have perhaps built up beyond its importance – also known as, wasting time.


Pick an age you wouldn’t mind reaching 80, 85, 90, message from the Queen? It’s up to you. Then convert the years from the present until that date into days. Seeing your life quoted in days can cause a moment of pause and bring home just how precious is each day. You’re not always going to be able to have good days, in fact some may be down right hard work, but the idea is to become more determined as how you view your valuable time and your priceless life.

The benefit is that getting into this habit will help to put issues and problems into context. It will not make them disappear, but in the grand scheme of your life, they may well take on more realistic dimensions, and appear in their correct proportions – and not seem to be monumental obstacles.

Try it and see….

MAKE IT STICK! How to set goals & stop back sliding.


MAKING IT STICK: understanding how to set goals & not backslide

The workshop was conducted together with Adam Strong of In these excerpts, I concentrate on speaking about the ‘head game’ – not just the preserve of elite sport, but also vital in business and managing and sealing goals.


As a coach I have to be able to listen – this may sound all very obvious, right? But there’s listening and then there’s ACTIVE listening. This is a skill that is not only fundamental for any coach, but it is also an essential skill for any meaningful interaction be it in our lives at work, with our friends or at home.

According to the International Coaching Federation’s core competencies, active listening is:

“The ability to focus completely on what the client is saying and is not saying,

to understand the meaning of what is said in the context of the client’s desires

and to support client self expression.”


As a member of the ICF, this skill is not only a core competency (the fundamental skills of life coaching) but is practically an article of faith emphasized in all our training and our CPD going forward.




Being Present

I become fully present and ‘in the moment’ with whoever I’m in discussion with – to the exclusion of all else. This is irrespective of whether we are having a discussion in a consultation room, or in a bustling hotel foyer


Get ALL the information

Active Listening distinguishes and ‘reads’ on just the words, but also the emotions, the tone of voice and the body language. All of these inform the flow of information and the quality of our work together


The agenda is yours!

It ensures the agenda is being set by you – by adhering to what I am hearing, seeing and sensing  you are not going to be fit into any pre-prepared behavioural models. What you say will dictate and direct what happens next and where our journey takes us.


Follow what’s being said

It prevents the mind from running ahead of what is actually being said. If we do that, then we’re not listening properly and focusing on the present discussion. Instead we are over thinking and analysing to the detriment of the discussion.


Clarity for both of us

‘AL’ develops understanding and gets to the heart of the main issues in a way that produces remarkable trust and clarity in areas which may have been obscured in the past.


What people are REALLY thinking

This may not come immediately. Openess and candour can give vital and valuable information – what people have to say is the clay with which we have to work.


It is as important to understand a person’s strengths and potential for greatness as well as observing their challenges and vulnerabilities – the whole picture has to inform the discussion and, of course, the conclusions.



Mindfulness practice, both formal and informal, makes all of the above that much more natural and easily available. The ability to maintain a high state of awareness in the moment, and without judgement, helps to take the skill of Active Listening to another level – but that’s a whole new topic….


I maintain that people already have everything they need to make positive, lasting change for the better in their lives. If proper attention and awareness is paid to what is being said – this will provide us both with all the raw material we need on which to build a rewarding and successful coaching relationship.


“The bird of paradise alights only on the hand that does not grasp”

John Berry

A source of frustration or worry and anxiety I often come across in my work as a coach originates when people feel they are not in control. How often do we hear (or even utter ourselves) the words: ‘I like to be in control’, or ‘I hate it when I’m not in control’, and even ‘I know I’m a control freak’?



We may often be under the impression we are in control, especially when people are doing what we want, but that’s only ever temporary. The truth is, we are never in control of events, what people think or what people do …. ever. To believe so is to live in an illusion and if we base our happiness on whether or not we are in control, we are going to have to get used to disappointment. In fact, people who like to feel in control are often frustrated and unhappy when their world does not cooperate with their demands.



  1. In desiring control we hanker after something we can never have, therefore we are wasting our mental energy chasing the impossible. This often leads to frustration and a general sense of unease and even unhappiness.
  2. The quest for control generally leads to pressurising (or even bullying in extreme cases) our partners, friends or colleagues. Their compliance should not be mistaken for control as it never endures – it’s simply negative influence, backed by force & fear, masquerading as willing compliance.
  3. We must ask ourselves whether such pressurising will be more or less productive in our relationships, social or otherwise. Such an approach will create and perpetuate stresses and is that really what we want?



The fact is that there is one thing over which we have complete control (if and when we choose to exercise it) and that is control over what we are thinking. In this our control can be complete & our responsibility is absolute. No one can tell us what to think, whatever they may believe. But it’s ironic that the one thing in our lives over which can we actually claim full control is so often neglected either in part or, in some cases, completely abdicated. What we think governs our decisions and our decisions determine our lives – so the sooner we claim back control the better.


People can break the habit of allowing the mind to function in auto-pilot. Through practice designed to develop mindful awareness people can develop greater focus, presence, and improved memory. The greater our control of our thoughts & therefore our actions – the more we exude strength and positive energy. It is this that gives us influence over events and on those around us and it is influence, emanating from within ourselves that can  contribute positively to our relationships. The positive reality of influence as opposed to the negative illusion of control can only fuel our success at work or at home and in the words of Napolean Hill:

“Self-disciplined begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don’t control what you think, you can’t control what you do.”