Invest In Yourself

This is arguably one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received, and something that everybody could and should be doing. We set aside money for clothes, food, bills and entertainment so why shouldn’t we also put some money towards improving our lives? This is an investment of time and money that can offer lifelong benefits.

Before we go on, please allow me to clarify what I mean by investing in yourself. What I am NOT referring to are the seemingly endless supply of motivational books, online programmes or conferences. For me, these do not have a lasting effect, other than to provide a quick motivational boost. A lot of people do find value in them, and I respect that. All  I am saying is that there is something better to invest your time and money in, and the benefits would be much longer lasting.

One shortfall of much of the personal development and motivational material available is its the rose-tinted view of the world which it portrays. They tend to follow a similar pattern. Tell the audience that they have the power within them to achieve anything they desire, and back this up with examples of people who have succeeded against all odds. The recurring message tends to be the power which you have to achieve whatever you want. You can do it. The world is yours. These people have achieved massive success, and so can you. Motivating people is great. We all need a confidence boost at times. Thing is, these books and courses only tell half of the story. They provide the spark or catalyst to take action in the direction of your goals. They fill you with confidence to take those vital first steps. BUT they don’t spend enough time advising how to maintain your motivation once the initial excitement wears off, or how to deal effectively with the setbacks and problems which you encounter. The cynic in me believes that there is a reason for this. It’s good business sense. After all, when someone reads your book and goes after their goals with a vengeance, the moment that their progress slows or they hit a roadblock they will return to your books and material for advice about how to get back on track. After all, it was your material which helped them to get started in the first place.

I’m not saying that the above material should be avoided, because it is a wonderful motivator and confidence builder. All I am sharing here is my belief that your time and money could be put to better use and the benefits would be longer lasting.

Of all the things which formal education prepares us for, there are some huge gaps. These gaps can be summed up as life skills, and without a good understanding of them they can place a person at a huge disadvantage, potentially sabotaging your success. I strongly believe that more time should be devoted to;

  • Bank Accounts. How to open an account, and understand the different types of bank account and the benefits of one over another.
  • Budgeting. How to develop a habit of organising your finances in order to be able to pay rent, a mortgage or bills while leaving enough money available for food, petrol and entertainment.
  • Loans and Credit Cards. Understanding the interest rates and repayment terms. How to work out how much you will end up repaying.
  • Pensions and Taxation. How to understand the deductions that will be taken from your paycheck and how they might affect you.
  • Savings and Investments. How to make the most of your money, as opposed to leaving it in a low-interest current account, and the risks involved.
  • Effective communication in both your personal and professional life.
  • How to network. Do certain situations have unwritten rules which you are expected to follow? If so, what are they? What if you are naturally shy or an introvert? What strategies could be employed to overcome this?

The above list is by no means definitive, but covers the essentials. They sound far less interesting than some book titles, but without even a basic understanding of them, there is a real risk of missed opportunities, debt accumulation or being taken advantage of by others. I have lost count of the amount of people I have met who have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous loans and credit card companies, or have suffered at the hands of an inept financial advisor. To a certain extent, they could have protected themselves better and avoided much of the misfortune which visited them if they had been more knowledgeable of what they were getting into and its consequences.

The good news is that there is a lot of help and advice available. There are plenty of books on the above subjects, but there are also a number of debt charities who provide free resources, advice and guidance to anybody who takes the time to visit their website or give them a call. Some banks even have trained specialists to guide you through any of the above topics, and it’s free. All you have to do is just book an appointment.

Instead of the latest offering by a self-help guru, why not pick up a book or book a course which can help you to better understand and manage your finances? It’s a less exciting read, but the benefits will be huge. After all, no matter how much you earn, if you don’t have a good grasp on your finances you will always struggle. Furthermore, the more you understand and are able to do yourself, the less you will have to place in the hands of others.



Make criticism your friend

Today, something interesting happened to me which i’d like to share. After posting 95 times on this blog, I finally got my first negative comment. It appeared in my spam box, but before I had the chance to respond, it had disappeared. This is not an attempt to boost my ego by bragging, but I am writing to share the experience and what I learned from it.

The funny thing is that, despite its content, this message energised me. I felt a surge of motivation, which turned to disappointment when the message was no longer there. The message itself simply stated that reading one of my posts had been a waste of time, as it lacked information. The thing is, this person was right. That particular post had been written to inspire readers to question their situation and take action. It was motivational, rather than informative. I should have made that clearer in my writing.

It is very easy to be discouraged and disheartened by one bad review or comment. It has happened to me plenty of times in the past. This time, however, was different. It made me question what I am doing, and how I could do it better. It also made me realise that our response to criticism is our choice. It’s all about perspective and mindset. It’s easy to accept criticism as fact and give up, but this fails to take into account that another person’s criticism is simply their opinion and not a fact. Another person might see or read the same thing and enjoy it.

When I post on this blog, it is in the hope of providing value in one of two ways. The first type of post aims to provide value through sharing experiences, advice and information. The second type of post, however, is written as a call to action.

This was the first criticism which I have received while blogging, and if the author is reading this, thank you. I appreciate all feedback, and this particular piece motivated me to revisit my writing style and ensure that I am writing to the best of my ability each time. The aim is that this review and reflection leads to better quality writing, while providing more value for all readers. My only regret is that the comment has disappeared and I am unable to share it here.

I welcome, and enjoy reading, all feedback. While positive feedback lets me know what you find interesting or useful, negative feedback is a powerful tool which can help me to provide even better material for your reading pleasure. So, please keep sharing and I will do my best to keep improving.

As far as any lessons which I have to offer, it is that your response to criticism is your choice. You can let it get you down, or it can fuel the fire within you to keep growing and improving. It’s easier said than done and requires practice, but criticism can be a force for good when it spurs you into action. Use negative feedback to review, reflect and improve your offering. I chose to be motivated by criticism to improve my blog. When criticism comes to you, how will you respond?

Stop feeling sorry for yourself, and take control

Yesterday, we looked at the dangers of blaming others for our misfortunes or lack of progress towards our goals. It is quite worrying that we are so quick to seek a scapegoat when we fall short of our goals or are dealt a bad hand in life, but reluctant to look at ourselves and how we might be responsible.

The truth is that, aside from your family and closest friends, nobody really cares whether you thrive or merely survive. This is because everyone is fighting their own battles and chasing their own goals. So, stop making excuses for your circumstances. Stop pointing the finger of blame at anybody else, unless you can be absolutely certain that there was nothing that you could’ve done to prevent the current situation in which you find yourself.

Your progress, development and ultimate success or failure depend on you, and you alone. Nobody will give you your true value, until you work for it and earn it. Take an employer, for example. Employers want value for their investment (your salary, training costs and bonuses) and will attempt to squeeze as much work out of you as possible. If you let them, they will have you working as many as 60 or 70 hours, including evenings and weekends. It’s up to you to protect your health and personal life. Most companies do offer benefits such as gym memberships at reduced rates, cycle to work schemes and the opportunity to work remotely, from home, but you have to go and get it if you want it. You will not be chased to take advantage of what is on offer. If you sit back and wait for an employer to come to you with offers of better pay and other perks, you will be waiting a very long time. Bear in mind that it is ultimately your responsibility when your health and relationships start to fail, not your employer’s, as you neglected both.

One of the big goals shared by an increasing number of people, is to achieve financial freedom. The popular misconception, though, is that in order to achieve this sacrifices must be made. So people sacrifice their health and happiness in the hope that all of the extra work will allow them to achieve financial freedom and independence. It goes well for a while, until they wake up one morning to realise that they have a healthy bank balance and nice things, but little else. The tendency is to blame their employer for this, but the reality is that this is merely the result of the choices which they made.

As with any other goal, if you want to achieve financial freedom you have to work for it. This does not mean giving up on your personal life in order to give everything for an employer. It means working on yourself, otherwise known as working smart.

Work is not limited to the 8 or 9 hours you give to your employer daily in return for your salary. I find it odd that so many people work all day long for somebody else, but do nothing to help themselves in the evenings and at weekends. It is as if they expect opportunities to simply fall from the sky into their lap. Unfortunately this is not the case.

How deeply do you want to become successful? If you really want it, you need to put the work in, as this is the only way to get peoples’ attention and raise awareness of what value you have to offer. It stands to reason that you can’t do this while at work, and on your employer’s time. So you need to be prepared to give up the box sets or nights out with friends.

Success is not an overnight process, and may take months of hustling in silence during those times when you’d rather be resting or enjoying some downtime, but this is the price that you have to pay if you really want it. After you have finished your day’s work for your employer, you have a duty to work on your personal development. Fail to do this, and you only have yourself to blame when you stagnate and stop making progress.


What is it that you want to BECOME?!

This is arguably one of the most important questions which you need to ask yourself, but it often gets overlooked. When we think about our personal development, we think about what we want to achieve, the value we might bring to the world in the form of a business, product or service and how we might be able to lead a more luxurious lifestyle.  The time has now come, though, to put your “wants” and desires to one side. The fame, cars, houses, holidays and clothes are not where your focus should be. Of course, they would make for some great posts on social media and attract a lot of attention but they are also just things or experiences. Material goods should not be prioritised over providing value and becoming somebody of substance. When you reflect on your current circumstances and set goals for yourself, reflect also on the kind of person you want to become.

Ask yourself what knowledge you would like to acquire. What skills or abilities do you want to improve? Reputation and personal brand are becoming increasingly important in business, so how would you like to be regarded personally and professionally? What kind of relationships and interactions do you want to have? When you leave a room, how would you like to be remembered?

Our thoughts, beliefs and perceptions of the world around us determine our actions and behaviour. These all impact the decisions we make and the quality of life which we lead. Which ultimately dictate the kind of person we become and what we achieve in life.

I’ld love to hear your thoughts on this, but for now will leave you with a few of my favourite quotes on this topic from Jim Rohn;

“Change starts from within”

“If you want to have more, you have to become more”

“Success is something you attract by the person you become”

“Don’t wish it were easier. Wish you were better, then go about becoming better”

Never lose your inquisitive nature

“I think that’s the single best piece of advice; Think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself”

Elon Musk

In the last post we looked at the importance of integrity, and working to the best of your ability consistently over time. Giving your all, regardless of how you feel about your current role or situation, over time can open doors. There is, however, one special ingredient which is still missing but has the power to make a real difference.

That ingredient is questioning. You should never lose your inquisitive nature. As children, we question everything, but then, after years of formal education we find ourselves conditioned to question less and follow instructions more. We question less and less, until we become automatons simply going through the motions of day-to day life. If you are serious about your personal and professional development, though, you need to be rediscover your passion for asking questions and reflecting.

Questioning and reflection go hand in hand. When you question a particular process at work and identify an element which can be improved, for example, your next step is to reflect on your own strengths, skills and abilities and how they might be used to improve the process. Through questioning, you discover innovative ways to solve problems or improve processes but it doesn’t just end in the workplace. Questioning is important in our personal lives too.

By reflecting on and questioning the decisions which you make, you learn more about yourself. You become more self-aware. You also become more independent and less likely to follow the lead of others. You won’t do something just to please family and friends, because you know who you are, what you want and what makes you happy. In this way, you will be less inclined to settle but will rather challenge and push yourself to become and have more. Because you asked questions which helped you to better understand what it is that you want from life.

Questioning is the first step in the learning process. We ask the questions, we think of solutions and then identify our strengths and the gaps in our skills and knowledge before taking action. Through questioning we learn, develop, improve and grow.

Massive success, regardless of what it might look like to you, will not come overnight. It is rather the accumulation of consistently asking questions and seeking improvement while putting in the hard work and effort over time, and this is done one day at a time by focusing on what is in front of you right now.

“My success just evolved from working hard at the business in hand each day”

Johnny Carson

Quote of the Day

Today, rather than offering my reflections, i’d like to share 2 quotes. One of these is more recent than the other but both are full of wisdom and food for thought…

Tony Robbins;

“There is a powerful driving force inside every human being that once unleashed, can make any vision, dream or desire a reality” 

Leo Tolstoy;

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time”

Why did I choose both of these quotes and put them together? Simple. I strongly believe that we all have within us the potential for greatness. Whether we Fulfill our potential,  however, depends largely on whether we have the patience to put in the hard work consistently over time rather than chase overnight success. 

Tabula Rasa..

..or a clean slate, as it is otherwise known.

We have an awful tendency to dwell our our successes and failures, both of which are damaging. Of course our wins should be celebrated, but as with everything else, there should be moderation. Celebrate too long and you begin to lose perspective, as well as any advantage you may have over your competitors. It is easy to begin to overestimate your skills and abilities when you focus too long and hard on your successes. Your ego, however, needs to be kept in check. It is important to understand that life is a continuous process of learning and development. Whatever comes to pass, whether good or bad, has within it a lesson. Identifying this lesson and learning from it is the surest way to continue your personal development and avoid stagnating.  In short, if yesterday was successful, don’t sit back and relax but rather take advantage of it by learning from, and acting on, it in order to continue your progression.

The same rule applies to those times when things are not progressing well or according to plan. It’s too easy to become disheartened and demotivated by focusing on the negative aspects and what went wrong. Left unchecked, negativity and pessimism start to take hold. This can then turn a bad day into a bad week, month or year. Perspective is again important. Amid all the doom and gloom, take a moment to remind yourself just how much control you have over your own life. You control your decisions and actions. Therefore, to a certain extent, you also have a level of control of what happens. So, if you had a bad day, don’t dwell on it but rather use it as a learning experience. Remind yourself that you have the power to turn your fortunes around. Try and identify where it went wrong for you; was it a lack of knowledge or experience? Or was it perhaps a decision which didn’t produce the expected results? Reflect on any  lessons to be learned, so that you can move on wiser as well as determined to get back on track. Learn for the experience and bounce back before negativity sets in and a bad day becomes a losing streak.

Regardless of whether yesterday was good or bad, start each day afresh. Wake each morning with the determination to improve yourself and take steps in the direction of your goals.


Unsure of which path to follow?!

Choose the path of MOST RESISTANCE!!

It is fair to say that the choices we have made until this point in our lives, are largely responsible for the circumstances in which we find ourselves. No matter how small, they all add up over time and take you closer to, or further away from, your goals.

Humans are creature of habit, and our habit is to seek comfort in what is easy or familiar for us. We lead incredibly busy lives with countless demands being placed on our  time and attention every day and often find ourselves drained of energy. Therefore, when we are faced with a choice we favour the easier option. This is often the choice which requires the least effort or energy from us, with the outcome more certain. The rewards tend to be smaller when we play it safe and take the easy option, but so are the risks.

However, it is the more challenging, riskier choices which could potentially make a huge difference in our lives. It is those things which we often regard as challenging, time consuming and tiring which we should be doing in order to succeed. Even if you take the  riskier, more difficult choice and it doesn’t work out as you had hoped, you have a valuable experience from which you can learn. You might even have developed a new skill or acquired new knowledge along the way, neither of which are bad things to have.

That is not to say that you should be reckless and bet your whole future on one roll of the dice, so to speak. Never risk your last penny, home or your livelihood. If, for example, you have a passion which you would like to turn into a business, start it as a side project and only quit your day job when it takes off. I use businesses as an example because they can take a long time to become established and profitable, so quitting your job early would only increase the financial pressure and the risks.

Be bold enough to make difficult, and wherever possible calculated, choices. Enjoy the highs of following the path of most resistance, and learn from the bumps in the road.

I’ll leave you with this popular saying as food for thought;

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations

Why are we still so quick to label and judge people?!

As a society we are still too quick to label people and judge others. As discussed in the last post on judgement, this can lead to missed opportunities for learning, development and discovery. The worst part of this is that it is all completely avoidable. Humans are not robots made the same way in the same factory, but we are all individuals. In our own way, we are all unique but when we come together and share our experiences and knowledge, the world becomes a much richer place. We must, however, set aside our judgements and preconceptions in order to approach people with an open mind if this is to happen.

Recently, while re-reading 2 excellent novels, it dawned on me that there is one paricular group of people who have so much to offer but are being held back by the labels, judgements and limitations which society places on them.

The two novels in question are The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, and The Eagle Tree by Ned Hayes. While the stories and settings are very different, both novels are narrated by teenage boys on the Autism Spectrum and provide a fascinating insight into how they both make sense of the world. In The Eagle Tree, the narrator March Wong is described as being autistic, but in The Curious Incident it isn’t clearly stated. There is no label attached to Christopher John Francis Boone in the latter, but it is hinted that this may be Asperger’s Syndrome or High Functioning Autism. Christopher, though, just describes himself as “a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties”.

I won’t bore you with my attempt at a book review, as there are already a number of excellent reviews available online, but I would rather share with you what I came to realise through these novels. Both novels, while raising awareness of what life is like on the Autism Spectrum, primarily deal with perception and how we view the world and the people in it. March Wong and Christopher Boone are both very gifted, highly skilled and intelligent teenage boys, with an incredible amount of self-awareness. Reading both novels, I couldn’t help but wonder just how much each of the boys would have to offer in the real world, and whether they would be given a chance.

Of course, the novels are fictional, but the issues and questions which they raise are very real and relevant. The stories of Christopher and March show us the dangers of labelling and judging people. In the real world, we don’t get the same insight into a person’s thoughts and feelings that we do when we read a novel. I have yet to meet anybody who walks around narrating their daily life out loud. The only way we get to know, and better understand other people is through communicating with them and understanding them.

Herein lies the problem. Instead of approaching all others with an open mind as to where an interaction may lead, we are still too quick to label and judge other people before deciding whether to speak to them. People are labelled throughout their lives, particularly at school. These labels which are placed on them, and the ones which they choose for themselves, have a lasting impact. How many people have the potential to really make a chance in business or philanthropy, but instead find themselves held back by the labels and judgements placed on them?!

Each and every one of us is the same, and by same I mean human. A person’s mind and their view of the world is shaped by the influences that they are exposed to early in life, and the influences which they choose later in life. Some people, however  view and experience the world differently and they should be embraced rather than marginalised. By approaching all people with the same open mind, tolerance and understanding we can gain perspective and so much more.

We all have unique personalities, but unfortunately some of us get labelled, judged and cast aside. This just begs the question, why not celebrate the individual and the unique and varied gifts, talents, abilities, skills and views which they have? There is an incredible amount which we can learn from each other, if we only embrace others rather than label or judge.

Simply put, our attitudes and perceptions need to change. Rather than label another person and jump to preconceived notions or conclusions, treat them instead with empathy and try to understand them. Just because somebody experiences and views the world differently to you, it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from each other, and help each other. Who knows where life may lead you when you approach other people with an open mind?!

Mistakes and Imperfections

All experts, leaders and gurus were once beginners. Like everyone else, they had to start from somewhere, and undoubtedly made mistakes. It would be fair to say that many of them would’ve been far from perfect right away, but they persevered and learned from their mistakes. They acted on what they learned, increased their knowledge and sharpened their skills, eventually achieving the successes for which they are known today

The same, then should be true for us. We should have the courage to take action in the pursuit of our goals. If mistakes are made, they should be seen for what they are; proof that we are trying to improve our lives and also an opportunity for learning. Lessons could then be learned, if we reflect on our mistakes instead of shying away from them, allowing us to move forward wiser and stronger.


There is, however, a problem. Too many people want to wait for the right time or perfect circumstances before they take action. They wait and wait for a golden opportunity to present itself, but miss out on so much while they wait. Even when they finally summon the courage to act, they lose heart at the first sign of trouble.

The problem lies in our obsession with perfection, to the point that it seriously hinders our progress. We fear that if we fail to attain perfection, we will be ridiculed by others. We will be seen as incompetent, a fraud or an impostor. Our mistakes are, therefore, not learning opportunities to be embraced but rather sources of embarrassment to be covered up. Perfection, however, doesn’t really exist. It’s a myth.

Despite its bad reputation and negative associations, imperfections are actually very good. They show that we are only human, and that like everybody else we also make mistakes. This makes us more likeable and can help us to connect with others, increasin the size of our networks.  Imperfections, more importantly,  provide a learning opportunity which can lead to greater self-awareness.

It’s perfectly acceptable not to have all of the answers right away. Just as its ok to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them. When you find yourself in this situation, here are a few suggestions as to how you can move forward;

  • Re-evaluate the situation and your goals. Where do you find yourself right now? How can you move forward? What led to this mistake? What lessons can be learned?
  • Seek help. If you’ve identified a gap in your knowledge or skills, seek help from a friend, a mentor or a coach.
  • Be patient. While you seek to address one area in which a learning need has been identified, do not put everything else on hold. Continue to push yourself, ask questions and pay it forward by helping others.

Life is a journey of continuous discovery, learning, development and growth, after all.

Carpe Diem

Seize the day. The time is now. There is no time like the present…

These are phrases which we hear all too often, but despite being overused they remain relevant. We all start out with big dreams, goals and ambitions which we chase relentlessly, until we reach a point where we become comfortable and content. So we stop. From there, we fall into a routine and stop striving for constant growth and development because we are happy as we are. Our lives become a cycle of work, play and home life, which is not a bad thing as long as you are not only happy, but also confident that you won’t be filled with regret later. For many people, though, daily life continues merrily until they wake up one morning feeling as though something is missing. This is followed by reflection on time misspent and opportunities missed.

The good news is that it is never too late to put that reflection to good use. Rather than dwell on what may have been missed out on so far, identify what it is that you really want and go after it. Regardless of your age or current circumstances, anybody can set themselves goals for personal development and chase them with vigour and determination. If you want something bad enough and are prepared to put the work in, you will find a way to make it happen. Anybody, absolutely anybody, can make minor adjustments to their daily lives which will help them to take steps towards their goals. These steps may be very small, but each one gets you closer to what it is that you’re aiming for. Darren Hardy calls this “The Compound Effect” and it really does work.

Ideally, you will be carving out a few minutes each day for a little reflection, and acting upon it. I find that this works best for me at night, just before bed, when I look back on my day and ask myself;

  • What have I got to be grateful for (usually 3 things) ?
  • What have I learned today?
  • Did I take any steps in the direction of my goals? Could I have done more? Tried harder? What do I need to work harder on?
  • Did I make a difference to anybody other than myself? Did I pay it forward? Did I help anybody or provide a service? If not, why?
  • What steps can I take tomorrow to get me closer to my goals? Where are the gaps in my skills or knowledge which need to be addressed?

With this done, I get a more restful sleep with a clear mind, and wake up energised and ready to continue my journey towards my goals.

It is by no accident that I post this call to action today, a Friday in August. August is traditionally a month of downtime, when people take holidays to unwind and recharge their batteries. Furthermore, Fridays tend to be quieter days as people switch their focus to the weekend. So on this quiet Friday in the quiet month of August, I would like to ask you this; What if you were to take a different view? What if I told you that there was a golden opportunity to be had if you didn’t follow the lead of others?

A large number of people right now have turned their attention to rest and relaxation while on holiday, or their plans for the weekend. If, however, you chose instead to take action in the direction of your goals, you could gain a huge advantage. Success is not just a matter of hard work and determination, but also having the ability to sense an opportunity and seizing it.

So, while others are working on their suntan or planning their weekend shenanigans, use this to your advantage. The more headway you make now towards your goals, the harder others will have to work to catch you or reach your level when they return from their break.


…Is something which I love to do. I find that it not only helps to pass time, but also inspires creativity If you are suffering from writer’s block, as I sometimes am, it helps to go and sit somewhere with a coffee and a notepad, and for every person you see, imagine their story

The pace of modern life is ridiculously fast.  Our minds are switched on and racing almost incessantly throughout the day. Technology and social media are constantly fighting for our attention. So much so that we become fearful of what we might miss out on if we don’t check in regularly. We forget how to switch off which affects our health, mental wellbeing, ability to function and the quality of our sleep. Once our sleep is affected, then our mental and physical health suffer as a result, locking us into a vicious cycle. 

It shouldn’t be like this. Life is more than just a race from goal to goal and achieving as much as possible in the shortest time. Life is to be enjoyed, experienced and savoured. Slow down to smell the roses. Take time to appreciate the beauty of life and acknowledge that which we often take for granted. Calm your mind in the process. 

Find somewhere quiet to sit and watch the world go by. As you watch the human behaviour and interactions taking place, create a story in your mind or on paper. It is tricky at first, but also a lot of fun. After doing this for a few days, you will find yourself becoming more observant and more appreciative of the world around you.

The untapped potential of your morning commute

For many people, the morning commute is something to be dreaded, whether it involves getting the bus, train, driving or walking. It’s regarded as nothing more than a necessary evil, which gets them to their workplace so that they can earn a living. Does it really have to be that way though?!

It’s easy to understand why this one particular journey, in the morning, is a source of stress for so many people. You wake up, wash, get dressed, have a quick breakfast and then leave the house to head for work. As you leave the house, you put on a pair of blinkers, which provides a dose of tunnel vision for your journey. You then either get in the car and fight the slow-moving traffic all the way to work, or find yourself fighting the crowds of fellow commuters to get on a train or bus. All that then happens is that you arrive at your place of work bored, tired, angry, annoyed, a bit flustered or just in a daze. None of this will set you up for a productive day.

Maybe i’m wired differently, but I enjoy commuting. For me it presents the perfect opportunity to get the day off to a positive start. In total I spend 3 hours every weekday getting to and from work, and I enjoy it because I make the most of the time spent travelling. I love to watch people and observe their behaviour, and it never ceases to amaze me how much time we waste. I see a lot of people listening to music, playing games on their phones, watching a film or just napping. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with this. Not at all. But what if, instead of playing games or absentmindedly leafing through a newspaper, we chose to fight boredom by doing something a little more productive during our commute?

We have become so accustomed to leading fast-paced lives that we feel anxious whenever we have to slow down. The commute is seen almost like a race to work. We rush around to get ready, then rush to the car or station and then try to get to our destination as quickly as possible. Every day, without fail, I see people start checking their watches or nervously tapping their feet on the floor as soon as the train leaves the station. It’s almost as though they believe that their nervous energy can help the train to go faster.

I strongly believe that the morning commute to work is the ideal opportunity to get your day off to a good start. I love to read, and will spend the majority of my travelling time with my head in a book. Not only does this mean that I spend this time learning about a topic which I am interested in, but I arrive at the office more relaxed, more focused and with my brain wide awake and contemplating what I have just read. I don’t need time to adjust or get myself ready for the day ahead. I just make a coffee and then get started. Reading on the train really works well for me. Alongside the knowledge which I gain or the enjoyment which I experience, I also become immune to the many irritations that come with being in a confined space with lots of people. I don’t care if I get bumped, nudged or someone is talking loudly. I am focused on the book in my hand, so much so that even on the worst of days when delays and other irritations come all at once, I still arrive at work calm and happy.

If you don’t read, or drive a car so you can’t read, what then?! Modern technology has blessed us with audiobooks and podcasts on almost any topic you can think of. Pick one, and enjoy a dose of knowledge or escapism. Try to either read a book or listen to a podcast/ audiobook, for a week. Monitor your moods and how you start your day when you get to work during that time. Has it helped in any way?

As I said earlier, we tend to go about the majority of our days with tunnel vision, focused solely on what we are doing or where we are going. In doing this, we miss so much of the beauty of daily life, not to mention the opportunities it presents for happiness and enjoyment. Reading a book or listening to an audiobook focuses the mind. We are no longer fighting tiredness or daydreaming, because we have to be present in the moment in order to understand and make sense of what we are reading or listening to. As a result we turn off autopilot mode, and become more aware of what is happening around us, becoming more conscious and less ignorant of the people around us.

We spend so much time reviewing our daily routines and planning how to improve them as we chase our goals, but we overlook the greatest opportunity of all. The time we spend commuting not only presents us with an ideal opportunity to focus our minds, learn and develop but also ensures that we arrive at work motivated and ready for the day ahead. As you put your daily life under the microscope and look at how you can make improvements, take a good look at your commute and how you can harness its potential How can you use that time to make progress towards your goals?


Profiting from your passion

Turn what you love into a successful business, and quit your 9-5 job!! This is the new dream which we are being sold. It’s everywhere we look from magazine articles to social media. Is it really possible, or just too good to be true? I am not about to try and find fault with this proposition, but rather urge caution. So yes, I do think it’s possible, but you need to be smart about it.

We read and hear of plenty of success stories in which people have turned a hobby or passion into a very successful and profitable business. They subsequently quit their jobs and are now wealthy entrepreneurs. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who gave up everything to pursue their dream only to be brought back to Earth with a vicious bump. Countless people are staking everything on their passion project and losing badly. This begs the question, as to why there are such extremes.

Having helped a number of people launch small business over the years, I would like to share a few pointers on what I have learned. I’ve said it before, the world needs more beauty and positivity, so we should create art and music, or launch businesses which will bring value to people and brighten their lives. However, too many people are rushing in to their new ventures blindly and leaving too much to chance, and it is this which. I would urge against

Your passion must be mixed with practicality. You must also be realistic about your expectations. Yes, you dream that you will take what you love and turn it into a very successful business. You can envision it. You can reach out and touch it. You can taste it and smell it BUT in order for it to go from dream to reality, there will be a lot of hard work involved. Your passion needs to be mixed with a strong work ethic, a well thought-out plan, a strategy of how you it will unfold, resilience and an incredible amount of hard work.

If you are serious about profiting from your passion and turning it into a viable business, there are a few things to bear in mind;

  • Research and Plan. You need a well-researched plan. Look at the market and who you might be competing with. Look at consumer trends and research the forecasts for the future within your chosen market or industry.  Use this information to plan wisely for the future.
  • Be financially savvy. Save enough money, or secure enough funding before you take your first step. It is a hard fact that many business run at a loss in their first year. This is because it takes time to establish yourself and build a customer base. Naturally, there are exceptions, but I would strongly recommend that you plan for this outcome. Plan for the best and work to make it happen, but have enough money in the bank to support yourself if it takes longer than expected for success to come. The last thing you want is to have to abandon your business and take a full-time job to pay the mortgage and bills. Worse still, you might keep your business only to be maintained by funding from an investor who pushes you to compromise your values. Give yourself a financial safety net, and remove one of the big pressures when starting a business.
  • Determine your strategy. You have a plan, a financial safety net and the drive to succeed. Next step? Work out how you will go about launching your business. Who is your audience? How will you grab their attention? What is your story? What value will you offer them? What is your marketing plan? How will you promote your business?
  • Hard work. You are now clear on what you want to do and how you will go about it. Now, just put the work in. Give it your full focus and attention and put in the relentless work. Take advantage of any networking opportunities and use social media to raise awareness of your brand. As you work, though, you must also reflect on your journey. Learn from the positives and negatives and use this knowledge to adapt and grow. This is a fluid process, and as you work towards making your business a success you need to keep learning and adapting. You need to have a plan and execute on it, but you also need to be able to respond quickly to any challenges or expand on what is working well.
  • Perseverance and resilience. There will be bumps in the road, challenges and rejections. This is unavoidable. The key is to keep going. When disaster strikes, reflect on it and see what you can learn from the experience. Learn from it and then get yourself back on track, stronger and more determined than before.

Having witnessed the struggles of people as they launched their new ventures, I would ask you to please reflect on the above so that you can avoid the same challenges. Research thoroughly, plan well, develop an effective strategy and go for it. Give it your full focus and attention, but don’t forget to take advantage of any learning opportunities on your journey and use them to adapt and grow. If the entrepreneurial route is the one for you, I wish you the very best and pray for your success.

If you don’t take control of your life..

…someone else will. This is why I feel so strongly about why we should become more self-aware, set goals in life and pursue them. It’s why we need passion, purpose and drive, or else life can become uneventful, dull and repetitive.

That is not to say that we need to have it all figured out, but we do need a certain level of direction in our lives. We need to know, roughly, where we are headed. With this awareness, we are less likely to be led astray or manipulated by others. We become stronger mentally, more focused and wiser. We are, essentially, better able to position ourselves to live the life of our dreams.

We also need to have interests which we are passionate about, as this gives us a break from the stresses of life. Being in control of our lives means that we will be immune to the doubts and criticisms of others, and have the strength to do whatever it is that makes our hearts sing. After all, when we follow our passion and share that which we create, we are inspiring others to have the courage to do the same.

Humans are creatures of habit, though. We like that which we know. Hence we develop routines which feel safe and also provide a source of comfort. We also don’t need to think too much when something is familiar. But there is a downside to the comfort of habit and routine, which is best summed up in a quote from the inimitable Charles Bukowski;

“How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 8:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so? ”

Talent vs Hard Work.

Which one wins? This is the age old question. Talent is a wonderful thing, and we all have it. Talent is what makes us unique, because we have an ability to do something in a way that precious few others can. The problem is that talent alone is not enough to bring achievement and success.

Identifying your talent is the easy bit; you just reflect on what you think you are good at, and also seek feedback form family and friends on where they think your strengths lie. Once you know where your talent lies, you then have to do something about it. In this respect, talent is very much like knowledge because they are both good to have, but useless unless you act upon them. How many young, talented players have been drafted into NBA, NFL or MLB teams but failed to live up to their potential? How many talented people graduate from universities only to struggle to make an impact in the business or creative world? We focus on those who do capitalise on the opportunities which they are given and become successful, but should also be learning from the talented individuals who fail to live up to their potential.

There has been plenty of research carried out in this area, and one of the most interesting findings is that talent requires focused practice. 10,000 hours of it to be precise. In studies of successful sportsmen and women, and musicians past and present, it was found that they each averaged around 10,000 hours of focused practice on their talent before they became successful. In other words, talent needs hard work and patience to become a success. Lots of it.

Which brings me to my thoughts on this question of talent vs hard work. I strongly believe that there is no substitute for hard work. A good work ethic will open doors to wonderful opportunities, whereas a poor work ethic will leave you floundering. In order to become successful in your chosen arena, you must be prepared to outwork your competition. This means being smarter in the way you work and being constantly on the lookout for ways to develop and grow. This needs to be coupled with patience and persistence, as there is no shortcut to achievement. Too many people focus on the overnight success, which is misleading and a myth. It focuses on the end result, which may appear to have come out of nowhere, but was in reality the culmination of much blood, sweat and countless months of toiling away in anonymity. Talent can help, but I believe it comes second to passion and a strong work ethic.

Talent alone will not get you very far. Greatness comes from hard work, patience and having the resilience and perseverance to deal with adversity. In the battle of hard work vs talent, hard work wins every time.

The unconquerable spirit

We all face challenges and go through difficult times. It’s a hard fact of life, but also a formative opportunity.  The way in which we respond to adversity can forge our character and make us stronger.

The truth is that each of us, alone, is responsible for our own life and the direction it takes. The power really is in our hands, and the sooner we realise this, the better. I’ll say it again; you are in control of  your life. When you realise this, wonderful things happen. Chief among these positive changes is the shedding of the victim mentality. You no longer feel helpless and powerless in tough times, and that things just happen to you. Simply put, you gain a new perspective. You become stronger mentally, more resilient and more confident. You then begin to see challenges as a small bump in the road which you will overcome.

When I am going through tough times, I revisit one of my favourite poems, Invictus by William Earnest Henley, which I would like to share with you below. Invictus itself is a Latin term and means to be unconquerable or unbeatable. It’s about an indomitable spirit and a refusal to accept defeat. It is also strength and perspective in the face of adversity, which makes it perfect for times when you find yourself lacking courage or strength after a setback. Take ownership of, and responsibility, for your decisions and actions…..then watch the magic happen as your life changes for the better. Things do not simply happen to you. Understand that you make things happen. You have the power. Use it wisely.


Out of the night that covers me,   
  Black as the Pit from pole to pole,   
I thank whatever gods may be   
  For my unconquerable soul.   
In the fell clutch of circumstance 
  I have not winced nor cried aloud.   
Under the bludgeonings of chance   
  My head is bloody, but unbowed.   
Beyond this place of wrath and tears   
  Looms but the Horror of the shade, 
And yet the menace of the years   
  Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.   
It matters not how strait the gate,   
  How charged with punishments the scroll,   
I am the master of my fate: 
I am the captain of my soul


Passion, and doing what you love

“Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing”

Hunter S Thompson

Passion is a powerful emotion and, when it’s controlled, it is a beautiful thing. It can bring untold joy and satisfaction, or simply provide an antidote to feeling lost or unfulfilled. It can inspire and motivate us, or provide a welcome respite from the trials and tribulations of daily life.

Passion is more than just an emotion, however, but also a very popular topic for conversation and debate. Business books, journal articles and blogs are increasingly advising us to chase our passions. After all, if we are passionate about something, we will be more inclined to devote a large chunk of our time to it, as it won’t feel like work. We are told that we should think like entrepreneurs and find a way to turn our passions into businesses. Many people are doing exactly this and have become incredibly successful in the process, but it’s not for everyone. It’s not easy, either.

Not everyone wants to turn their passion into a business. Some people just want to enjoy the benefits of doing something which they love. Their rewards come from the happiness, inner peace or adrenaline rush which they may experience. Monetising your passion and turning it into a business, on the other hand, can take away some of its shine and enjoyment. Your passion then gets tied up with the added pressure of financial gain and this can blur the lines between work and fun. That thing which you did simply because you loved it, you are now doing it for money.  Some people are successful in this pursuit, but others find themselves unable to turn their passion into a sustainable or scalable business, or simply lose interest.

Before you even get to the stage of deciding whether to turn your passion into a business, you need to know what it is that makes your heart sing. Many people just don’t know. Their lives become routine and comfortable, and almost seem to run on autopilot. This is why we need people to rediscover their passion, whether it’s to become a business venture or just for personal enjoyment. Passionate people are, after all, happy and can create wonderful things. This all starts, as with most things, with reflection and becoming more self-aware. You have to know yourself, in order to know what truly makes you happy.

So, as you ponder your passion and what it is that makes you tick, i’d like to leave you with a few prompts for reflection which might help;

  • What did you enjoy doing when you were younger?
  • What do you feel that you would be unable to live without?
  • If money were not an issue and you were finances were comfortable, what would you spend your days doing?
  • What would you be prepared to do full-time without being paid?
  • What subject could you read 20 books about without getting bored?

Well… what are you passionate about?



“Man’s happiness lies not in freedom, but in the acceptance of a duty”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Duty is a word which we often hear in our daily lives, from the workplace to the church and everywhere in-between, but struggle to define. What actually is it? It’s sometimes interchanged with the terms purpose or responsibility, but is it really the same ?

There are a lot of similarities. Responsibility, as with duty, can mean being accountable for someone or something. It can also mean an obligation to successfully carry out an action. While there is a lot of interchangeability here with duty, the difference is that I regard duty as being the more powerful driving force of the two. Duty is intrinsically motivated. With a sense of duty, you become involved in an activity not out of self interest and gain, but rather out of compulsion, commitment and a drive that comes from deep inside. Duty is stronger than purpose too. Purpose illuminates the path towards a goal or aim, on which you will focusing your thoughts and actions. Purpose helps you to remain focused when things are going well and to get back on track when faced with challenges. A duty, however, runs deeper.

Duty is something which we feel morally obliged to do, but it is born within us only after we become more self-aware. In essence, duty comes from a clear understanding of the principles by which you will live your life. To be able to fully understand and define those principles, however, you must first have a good understanding of who you really are. If you truly hope to embark on a journey of achievement and discovery, at the end of which you fulfill your potential, inward reflection is the logical starting point. Once you have a good idea of your strengths and weaknesses, what drives you and what you hope to achieve from life, you are then in a good position to define your goals, purpose, duties and responsibilities.

In defining our duties and devoting ourselves to them, we can find fulfillment and a sense of inner peace. Subordinating and sacrificing ourselves to our duties can also give a deeper meaning to our lives, or simply make us happier.





Before you help others, help yourself.

I recently watched a video in which serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk warns that you need to be selfish before you can even think of being selfless. I was initially surprised to hear this because they are complete opposites, but it gave me plenty of food for thought. A few days later, I had a flight to catch. As usual, my mind wandered as the safety demonstration began, but I came back around just in time to hear the announcement instruct passengers that, in the event of an emergency, they should secure their own safety vest before helping others with theirs. In other words, only after you have helped yourself should you attempt to help others. Cue even more reflection.

After my initial skepticism, I actually began to understand and appreciate the brilliance of this advice. If your intentions are noble and you only wish to help others and be kind, the first step is to be kind to yourself. After all, if you are struggling in your personal life or career, how are you going to help anyone else?

Helping others in place of helping yourself will neither make your troubles go away, nor is it a substitute for them. Simply put, if you prioritise the needs of others over your own, it’s just another form of escapism.

In order to achieve anything in life, regardless of your goals, you need to first work on yourself. You need to define your purpose, identify your goals and learn to become resilient in the face of challenges and setbacks. This, in turn, will help you to become stronger and more rounded as a person. From that position, you can use your experiences to help other people meet the challenges which they may be facing.

In short, the more you work on yourself and build your self-awareness and strength, the better you will be able to help others and make a difference in their lives.



It is becoming increasingly popular for people, in social media as in real life, to want to show the world the trappings of their success. These are essentially the designer clothes, jewellery and cars which give the outward appearance of wealth and achievement. The original meaning of the word trappings was the bridle and saddle decoration which riders would put on their horses to show how powerful and privileged they were. In modern terms, however, trappings has come to mean  peacocking and showing off. In short, people are tying their sense of self-esteem and self-worth to material goods and this needs to stop.

We need to stop feeding the narcissism and over-the-top self confidence of these people and deny them the attention which they crave. Of course, everyone should be able to celebrate their successes, but as with all good things it should be done in moderation. Instead we should be glorifying those who achieve greatly yet remain humble. The humble achievers. These humble achievers are not just found in the business arena, but in all areas. These are the people who have discovered their motivation and inspiration, determined their goals and set out on a journey to achieve them. They share their journey with others , so that they might in turn learn from them and be encouraged to define their own goals and embark on their own pursuit of them.

The humble achievers are those who choose to document their journey and process, with all its ups and downs, rather than the end result. They are as open about the hard work and challenges which they face on a daily basis on their journey towards their goals, as they are about the fact that they do not know everything and occasionally make mistakes. They are not driven by fame or social status, but rather their “why” and their purpose.

Here are a few more traits which the humble tend to have in common;

  • They engage with others and listen to their opinions
  • They accept that they have limitations and are open about them
  • They are considerate of others and their needs
  • They are open about their mistakes, taking responsibility for them and sharing what they have learned.
  • They reflect on what they have learned, how far they have come and how far they have yet to go. They are driven to keep learning, growing and developing.

I’ll leave you with quote from Laszlo Bock, Head of People Operations at Google;

“Without humility, you are unable to learn,”

Taking responsibility.

Also referred to as accountability or taking ownership, taking responsibility for our decisions and actions is crucial if we want to lead lives which are happy and fulfilled.

There are times when we find ourselves in bad situations only to realise that, after some honest reflection, that those circumstances were a result of our decisions, actions or lack thereof. These instances, although less than ideal, have the power to become a force for good, IF we act upon them. Firstly, we need to accept responsibility for what has happened. This should then be followed  by some introspective reflection,  exploring where we may have gone wrong and what lessons can be learned. Then comes action. Having turned the undesirable situation into a learning experience, we take action to address it and get ourselves back on track. Sounds simple when described in those terms, but there is a lot of hard work involved as well as difficult questions.

Today, however, I would like to discuss taking responsibility for times when bad things happen through no fault of out own. Unfortunately, it happens and there is little we can do about it. Sometimes it happens as a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, sometimes we become the victims of the manipulations and machinations of others. It’s our response to when things go wrong which are not our fault, that shape our character and determine whether we will make progress towards our goals and a fulfilled life.

The truth is that when these setbacks are viewed with a pessimistic eye, or we adopt a victim mentality, it breeds further unhappiness. We become disheartened and our progress towards our goals screeches to a halt, which can create a cycle of negativity, potentially ushering in anxiety and depression.

On a brighter note, research has shown that there is an alternative. A very good one. This one involves a combination of positivity, hope and confidence that you have the strength and ability to overcome this setback. When you realise that failure is not permanent or fatal, unless you refuse to take action, you are on your way to making a comeback. Buoyed by this realisation, as above, the next step is to reflect on yourself and your goals and plan your recovery. Finally, you need to take action, which will get you back on track. In this way, the setback becomes not only an opportunity to learn from, and reassess your efforts, but it also builds resilience. Overcoming one obstacle gives you the strength, courage and wisdom to either avoid further obstacles on your journey, or bounce back from future bumps in the road.

What happened to you is often not your fault. How you respond to it, however, is your choice. You can choose to stay down and blame everyone and everything else. OR you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off and fight back.

Which will you choose when the time comes?


We need hope. Hope is not just a wishy-washy self-help concept without substance, but rather it is a powerful force for good.

Hope is more than just an optimistic view that everything will turn out for the best. It is a deeply held belief that you have the will, skills and tools with which to overcome any hurdles as you work towards your goals.

With hope, people become more resilient in the face of challenges, setbacks and temporary defeats. To a certain extent, it can also help people to combat anxiety and negative self-talk.

This is supported by modern research, which is increasingly finding that hope offers much more than just comfort during difficult times.

Hope means having a strong expectation that, in general, things will turn out right in life, despite setbacks and frustrations.

The power of hope is nothing new, and was first introduced in Ancient Greece , through the legend of Pandora’s box. 

When Prometheus stole fire from the gods, Zeus took vengeance by presenting Pandora, along with a sealed box, to Prometheus’ brother Epimetheus for marriage. Despite being warned never to open it, Pandora opens the box which contained  death and many other evils which were released into the world. She hastens to close the container, but the whole contents had escaped except for one thing that lay at the bottom. One thing which could remedy all of the ills which had been unleashed on the world – Elpi, or hope as we know it.
Hope has long been viewed as an antidote to the world’s ills, but I would like to leave  you with one of the best definitions I have found which is also much more recent.

Albert Bandar,  the eminent Stamford psychologist states that;

“People’s beliefs about their abilities have a profound effect on those abilities. Ability is not a fixed property, there is a huge variability in how you perform. People who have a sense of self-efficacy bounce back from failures. They approach things in terms of how to handle them rather than worrying about what can go wrong. 

A call for Congruence

In exploring the importance of authenticity and being yourself in the modern digital age, it is wise to consider congruence. Congruence, in this instance, refers to the harmony or balance between our self-image and the version of ourselves which we present to the outside world.

This post is inspired  by a Japanese proverb which I have encountered numerous times on social media outlets. The proverb in question states that we have 3 faces. The first face is the one which we present to the outside world. The second face is the one which we reveal to family and close friends. The third face, which we never reveal to anyone else, is the truest reflection of who we are.

I interpret this as the first face being a mask which we wear when engaging with others outside of our immediate circle. In essence, this face represents the regulation of our behaviour to ensure that it is in line with what is socially expected while also being accepted culturally.

The second face is the mask we wear when interacting with family and close friends. This represents the way in which we modify our behaviour when with our nearest and dearest. We often do whatever we can to let them know that we love, care for and respect them. We often prioritise the happiness of those closest to us over our acting according to our true selves.

The third face is our true reflection. This is our authentic, true self which we often keep hidden from others for fear of ridicule or rejection.

Is it really necessary, or even healthy, to live like this?! There must surely be a better way.

In the last post, we touched on Aristotle’s “Golden Mean”. According to this rule, authenticity is a perfect balance between honesty and discretion, which also takes into account the context and circumstance.

Why can’t we apply the Golden Mean here too? If there are to be 3 versions of the self, why can we not work to ensure that there is congruence, or harmony between all 3? 

In doing this, we relieve ourselves of any inner conflict. Thar is not to say that it is easy. Far from it. In order to achieve harmony between our 3 faces, or selves,  we must first have a good understanding of who we are and what drives us. Self-Awareness, however, is a big part of the journey we are on towards success and something we should be working towards anyway.

On the other hand, maintaining several different personas is tiring. Unless you are an entertainer, it can also be conflicting and tiring leading to wasted energy which could be better directed elsewhere

So, is congruence a possibility? Are we able to find harmony and consistency in who we really are and how we present ourselves to the outside wold? 

Just be yourself

In the last post we looked at being kind, and being yourself, online. Today I would like to explore further the topic of authenticity.

Everywhere we look today, clever marketers and social media influencers are trying to manipulate us, albeit subtly. We are constantly bombarded with messages about how we should be thinking, acting, dressing and working. And we follow blindly, without stopping to question why we are being gently coerced in a particular direction. 

The alternative, authenticity and being yourself, has been heavily criticised in numerous blog posts and journal articles but I for one strongly believe that this is the most appropriate way to lead your life.

Everyone seems to be “faking it” until they “make it”. At the same time, they also strive to stand out from the crowd and be the exception. How is this supposed to work? They are complete opposites. You either join everyone else in faking it, in which case you will just be another body in a sea of fakers, or you stay true to your beliefs and values, be yourself,  and be the exception to the rule.

Faking it does have its merits, though. The commonly held belief among young people today is that, in order to succeed or gain approval, they must alter their behaviour and effectively become someone else. In this respect, faking it is a successful defence mechanism. After all, fear of rejection is no longer an issue when you conform to the expectations of others. It is, however, a less than ideal blueprint for how to live your life.

Of all the definitions of authenticity (and there are so very many!), the one that rings truest in my humble opinion is that of Aristotle. Aristotle, the great philosopher,  advised that we should strive to find the “Golden Mean”. This is the perfect balance of honesty and discretion, which are reliant on the context and circumstances in which you find yourself. 

In this respect, authenticity is about resisting the urge to become someone else, while staying true to your values. It’s also about self expression, but in moderation. That is where discretion comes in. Others do not want to hear all of your opinions and justifications, and everything that pops into your head. You can be yourself AND be discreet. It all depends on context and circumstances. 

I’ll end here with a quote which is particularly relevant;

In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act”

– Caroline Caldwell