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.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!


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.