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The elusive art of self-help

clarity
I spend most of my working time helping people to get clear – clarifying their story, their values, their purpose, what their customers love about what they do, what they enjoy. However, when it comes to myself, clarity is elusive. I’ve found this with many of my colleagues who coach or help others in different areas. Why can we help others do things that we can’t do for ourselves? It’s because we see the best in our customers and the people we want to help. Because feelings of fear, failure and resistance are not sabotaging us when we work with our clients. You might be great at working with others but not able to help yourself with the same problem. This isn’t about your professional expertise but rather about self-compassion…
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Changing your mind

Decisions
I used to feel bad about changing my mind. I felt it was a sign of being confused, of not knowing where to go. It was a weakness, and definitely something to avoid. Changing your mind is only a problem when it’s done without respect for yourself or others. And in most cases, timing is key. Changing your mind about attending your friend’s birthday party? No problem two weeks ahead of the event. A bit more problematic if it’s only an hour until the party starts, and you’re in charge of baking the cake. Changing your mind about your pricing strategy? Not a problem if you’re still braistorming and getting your head around your business model. A bit more complicated when you’ve already launched your email campaign.  Sometimes people aren't…
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A human unsolicited call

sales
I recently signed up for updates from a company providing online platform services. Today I had an unsolicited call  from them. A nervous young woman with a Dutch accent introduced herself. She sounded both calm and hesitant at the same time. English wasn’t her first language. I sympathised immediately.   I could picture her reading her notes about what questions she should ask and how to approach the conversation. Probably because she was new at this job, she sounded warm to me. She wasn’t confident, she wasn’t getting to the point, she wasn’t trying to hurry me on to the next step: instead she was conversational and unsure. I told her why I’d signed up to their email list and that I love their content but I wasn’t willing to…
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Growing your list

growth
My kids’ paediatrician back home is also a writer. He loves writing about how it feels to be a child and how parents can help their children go through the different stages of childhood. Yesterday he sent a new chapter from his book called ‘I’m 8 Years Old’. He talks in the first person about how it feels to go to school, wanting to play all the time, eager to explore the world, and lacking time. It’s simple and full of empathy. You can feel your inner child’s world as you read his words. Along with this chapter he sent a note saying “Today I’m happy because I’ve reached 1,000 people on my list”. You don’t need to think twice to realize that when the book is published he isn’t…
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Where to start

starting
Not with how much money you want to make. Not with who else is doing this. Not with whether  this is scalable. Try instead with what my values are, what I want to see in the world happening because of me, and how I can harness my potential and turn it into something that people love and I enjoy. Money, differentiation and growth are not the starting point. Most of the times it is what it comes after a good start. 
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Loving the imperfect

winning, work that matters
There’s not much space to learn and grow if you don’t love the place where you are.  After facing what was probably one of the worst years in his career in 2015, the tennis player Nadal said that no one fails if you do your best to win: you fail when you don’t try hard enough to achieve your goals. People who achieve remarkable objectives are not only exceptional at what they do but also very persistent. Contrary to appearances, they don’t measure success according to what they want to achieve but according to how much they try. Nadal said once that what makes him wake up every morning and do what he does is wanting to be a better player. And if you want to be better player, you…
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Leadership is emotional

leadership
Leadership is not about being upfront but about keep on going; enduring when you don’t have the patience to go on.  Leadership is about telling yourself that you can respond to whatever you face, no matter how you feel or what mood you’re in this morning.  You can acknowledge your feelings, your mood, your emotions and still decide not to act based on them: I’m angry, but I don’t act on my anger. I’m tired, but I can finish this and then go to bed. Leadership is emotional, because you can’t embrace something that you reject. Leaders see other peoples’ wants and needs, and can also listen to their own. Leadership is emotional because you are aware of emotions, rather than because you need to act on them. 
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Adjusting work to life

work
We can’t be productive all the time. Sometimes we’re creative, sometimes extremely productive, and in between, as we can’t forget, there’s life. Things need to be done, and they can be done with the flow of life or against it.  Can you adjust your work to the stages and situations in which you are from day to day and still get things done?  Being productive is about creating a rhythm in our own lifes while enjoying and appreaciating the life that we have.
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Profit follows identity

identity, profit
There are tons of businesses that make real money just by thinking about profit. A long time ago I met a consultant who worked for big companies and he told me this story. One of his most important consultancy jobs ever involved saving a big company from bankruptcy. There were a lot of jobs at stake, many families depending on whether the company could be saved or not. And they did save it, but sadly after that nobody wanted to work there any more. Culture is everywhere, and it’s everything. You don’t want to think about your culture? No problem: you’ll create one in one way or another. There are just three options. Think about who you are at the beginning when starting your business, think about it in the…
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The ideal customer

customers
We don’t grow by not wanting to be where we are. There is something about rejection that in fact creates more attachment to the situation. Some of the wrong reasons for wanting to grow your business include not wanting to work with your current customers any more. We’ve all gone through the phase of wondering if the people we’re currently serving are really the best match for us. Sometimes we need to move to another type of customer who better understands and values what we offer, but before we do this, a couple of questions might be handy: What do my current customers love about working with me? Why is working with these customers no longer fulfilling? What isn’t working with my current customers? What do I see of myself…
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