Weak as a kitten
Image by Dim Hou from Pixabay

We all have a weakness of one sort or another. An area where we feel inadequate or limited. Nobody is good at everything and most of us suck at many things. So mostly it’s okay.

There are times, though, when not being good at something can be a problem for us. It may be a personal skill, such as being confident in social situations, or getting up on time. It may be a whole big area of ability, like doing maths, grammar, or being able to draw.

It may also be a key area, within a bigger area that is actually a strength.

Maybe you’re a tennis player, who’s great at most things, but weak at backhand. Maybe you’re a company director who can guide and lead your organisation through difficult times, but you’re not so great at managing your work-life balance and giving time to your family.

If you know you have a weakness in an area, that’s great, but the first step is to check in on yourself and ask how you know. Who says? What is the basis for your assumption that you are bad at something? If others perceive a weakness in you, they may be right, but they may be making assumptions based on their own map of the world.

When you are aware of a weakness, at any level, the awareness itself is a big step forward. If you are not good at something, and don’t know it, you’re going to make the same mistakes every time.

It could even be that the thing others see as a weakness, is actually a strength. Somebody tells you that you are rubbish at chitchat in the office – you’re a bit of a bore. In fact, although you feel conscious that you are not part of the crowd, you made your bonus 6 months in a row even though you took on other projects. Your weakness may actually be the strength of ‘focus’ or ‘single-mindedness’ or being able to compartmentalise.

Some ‘weaknesses’ can sometimes be fundamental to your identity. Being reserved and only talking about serious things, may limit your ability to fit in with the crowd, but does that mean you have to change?

Be clear about the things that you do need to change and let the rest go.

How to overcome a weakness

1. Decide what you want

Just because you are weaker at some aspect, doesn’t mean you have to become amazing at it. What you want will impact the difficulty of the challenge.

Is this something you need to develop as a strength? Or is it something you just need to be able to do to an average level?

It could even be that you just need to be a little better than you are right now.

Try to define the outcome in terms that you can measure, if possible. Set some criteria that will be evidence that you have made progress.

2. Check it is possible to improve

There may be physical or practical limitations that prevent you ever becoming good at something. You can’t run a traditional marathon if you only have one leg.

On the other hand, many of the limitations we see as preventing us from achieving, just require a slight adjustment of the outcome – run that marathon with a prosthetic.

Being clear about what is possible is one of the trickiest parts of self-improvement.

3. What is the limiting belief that makes it a weakness?

If you know or believe you have a weakness, it is easy to focus on that weakness and reinforce the belief that you can’t do it. It’s a vicious circle. ‘I’m rubbish at football, and so I won’t play it. I don’t play football, so I am rubbish it’.

Beliefs are the things we call ‘reasons’, and they are sometimes also called ‘excuses’. So if you ask yourself WHY you are bad at something, and come up with a lot of reasons, you will almost certainly discover that they are actually beliefs.

What is the impact of believing that about yourself? Even if it is true now, it doesn’t have to always be true.

4. Take it in small steps

When you are aware of a weakness that you want to change, it is fine to be aware of the ultimate outcome, but to get better you need to think about a more immediate goal. What is the one small thing, that if you were to achieve it, would take you closer to success?

Then break it down even further, into baby steps. ‘In order to achieve w, I need to do x, y and a.

5. Do it with others.

Try to find other people you trust, to support you. Close friends, family, an expert in your field or a coach or therapist. You need someone who is able to put aside assumptions about what you can do, even more than you do. So sometimes the people you would naturally approach may not be the best. A friend can be great, but sometimes their entire friendship is built on the assumption that you have this weakness and they may be reluctant to help you improve.

Choose someone whose judgement you respect, or someone who has not had the opportunity to judge at all!

Robert Sanders - my daily routine

Having a daily routine can be a really important part of making the best of life. Everything that you do as habit or routine is one less task your brain needs to do consciously. Steve Jobs was said to have a wardrobe full of identical suits so that he didn’t have to make a decision every day about what to wear.

If you do have a routine, it can be a good exercise to write it down and unpick it a bit. Challenge the ‘stuff’ you don’t need to do, and find ways to make the banal and routine more enriching.

6.00 I get up and have a good breakfast. Sometimes just cereals and toast, but I find it easy to cook up a few poached eggs – just pop the bread in the toaster and the eggs in the boiling water and their done about the same time.

6.00 I spend some of my day working with kids at a breakfast club nearby. It is a matter of hopping on my bicycle and I’m there in three minutes. All of the work I do is local or home based.

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windy beach

It’s the start of Summer, right now and I’d love to go down to the beach. The temperature isn’t exactly balmy though, and down on the coast, with a stiff breeze, the wind chill factor will make it will feel even colder. I’m better off staying put in my back garden.

The wind-chill factor is the bane of my life sometimes. On a recent trip to Mallorca, even though the temperature was around 20 degrees. I would normally be sunbathing on the beach at that temperature but the wind chill meant that I was actually too cold. I couldn’t stay on the sand for any length of time.

Why does it feel colder when it’s windy?

Apparently, when there is no wind, our bodies create a protective layer of warmth around the skin. When the wind blows across our skin, this protective layer is stripped away and we feel cooler than it actually is. The greater the difference in temperature between the wind and the air around us, the greater the loss of heat.

Reading this fact put me in mind of a similar effect. When something unexpected happens – a negative event, it naturally knocks us back. It may take time to recover, but if other aspects of life are going okay we can often regain our balance, take action where possible, and recover.

But what if life is already out of balance? If we are struggling with loneliness, lack of direction, or inability to control our lives, we may find it much harder to cope with any new problem that is thrown at us. Our protective layer has been blown away, and the more out of sync we are with our best selves, the harder it will be to bounce back.

What if you get too cold to warm up again?

I don’t know if you have noticed, but if you get cold, it is really hard to warm up again. It is so much better to wrap up in advance than it is to put layers back on once the chill has penetrated.

So the time to build your networks, take control of your life and find your direction in life is now. If things are okay, but a little ‘meh’, you may be tempted to just let it tick over. Be warned – if you do, you will be putting yourself at risk of a psychological wind chill effect.

And if you are really struggling with a bad experience, work on fulfilling your basic psychological needs. This is a vital part of the recovery process.

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It is the beginning of Spring. All around me are the burgeoning buds of green as leaves erupt from dead-looking twigs and branches. Small animals look for food on the forest floor now they no longer need to hibernate. It is the time of emergence and new growth, the eternal life coach’s metaphor!

It’s true for many, that as the weather gets warmer and life restarts in nature, many of us feel motivated to begin new things. We begin new businesses, new relationships, new ways of seeing and being. Many of us feel we want to take action and seize the day.

If that’s you, then hunker down with your coach and get started.

What if I want to hibernate?

What if that isn’t you? What if you are the kind of person who just wants to hibernate a little longer? What if you are aware that you will need to wake up soon and start living again, but the world outside still seems grey and frosty.

After all, there is a lot going on in the world right now. It’s an uncertain time.

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When you set a goal, or plan a task or project, it is important to have a clear vision of the outcome. Visualisation, written goals, SMART outcomes and Well-formedness are all aspects of this same principal. Create the future in detail and then have a plan that takes you there.

Many of us who set out with a mission find that the reality is very different from the plans. Problems get in the way, costs spiral, a pandemic breaks out or even a war! It is no wonder that many people give up entirely on their goals because they go off course.

A core part of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) aa set of are it’s ‘presuppositions’. These are a set of guidelines that practitioners use to help them be more effective in their lives. One of these presuppositions reads:

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On Valentines day, the world goes a little crazy. For this one day everything in the shops turns pink and gets covered in roses. The price of flowers explodes, restaurants rearrange their seeting to look like school examination halls with rows upon rows of tables for two.

Husbands panic. Wives sigh despairingly. Couples of every kind step things up a notch in the bedroom, the kitchen and sometimes all over the house!

There are so many ways that we can show our love and appreciation, and many of these are a million miles away from the traditional Valentines activities.

My advice to couples everywhere is to enjoy the best of it and in particular avoid these Valentine’s day no-nos:

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epiphany

When you have been living your life in the same way, sometimes you need an epiphany to overcome it. An epiphany is defined in the dictionary as ‘a moment of sudden and great revelation or realization’. It is a moment in time when one incident – a thought, an experience – changes everything for good.

There are many stories in history of people who have made sudden realisations that changed everything. The classic epiphany would be the story of Archimedes, leaping from his bath, shouting ‘Eureka’ as he came to understand water displacement. Sir Isaac Newton is said to have had an epiphany when an apple fell on his head – illustrating gravity.

These events, if true, were significant enough to change the course of science and mathematics. An epiphany can also be experienced at the personal level too. Any experience that results in a major shift in thinking or a new way of experiencing the world is an epiphany. In his classic book The Dubliners, James Joyce explored personal epiphanies through his short stories.

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Hereward Kaye

Many people see success as a goal that you strive for, and then achieve. You tick the success box and you’re made for life. Of course life is a journey. There are many successes along the way – some of them daily. And when you really hit the big time, you still can’t know that it will continue forever.

Many of the most ‘successful’ people in the world struggle with confidence and self-belief for this very reason.

In the third part of my interview with Hereward Kaye, composer and writer, he shares with us one of his most successful moments – the premier of his West End Musical, Moby Dick.

To have a musical that you have co-written performed at the West End and produced by Cameron Mackintosh is unquestionably a successful moment for which many hanker.

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Hereward Kaye

In this second ‘Inpiring Success‘ interview with Hereward Kaye, composer and musician, we talk about the elusive nature of success. Hereward explains how, in his modest opinion, the success he has had as a ‘jobbing musician’ is more manageable than that found by the young stars who shoot to fame. He talks about his love of the work he does and the joy he has from the fact that his passion is his job.

We also get to hear about Hereward’s experience at a Beatles concert and learn about his current projects.

Hereward is a past member of the Flying Pickets. He wrote a West End Musical, called ‘Moby Dick’ and founded Rok Skool Sussex.

Hereward has met and worked with some of the greatest names in music. Names such as Rick Wakeman, Tom Robinson and Cameron Mackintosh. He currently runs Rok Skool Sussex where he teaches bands and individuals to develop their skills and experience in performance.

In the previous exerpt Hereward talked about dealing with big personalities, and preparing to perform. Part three will be a delightful story about launching a Westend Musical.

For further information on Hereward and his work, visit these sites.

www.herewardkaye.co.uk

www.rokskool.co.uk

If Hereward’s story has piqued your interest then why not get involved in his crowdfunding project to publish the full lockdown memoir – ‘The Ship Hits the Fans’, which gives the full inside story of the Moby Dick musical, along with stories of his time working with Rick Wakeman, the Flying Pickets and many others.

Hereward’s campaign, which offers incentives of first editions and invites to the book launch, can be accessed on his crowdfunding page.

The earth in our hands

Some time ago I wrote a blog on metaprograms and the value of ‘chunking’. In a nutshell, when dealing with issues it can be useful to change ‘chunk size’. You can look at things in more detail – chunk down – or you can consider the bigger picture. Both approaches have their value, and there are multiple levels of thinking.

As I write this, the world’s attention is on the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) and although I am not following it in detail, I definitely think this is a time for chunking up.

At all levels of society there is attention on what we can do to save the planet and our environment. From recycling waste to buying electric cars, many of us are trying to ‘do our bit’. There is plenty of evidence, sadly, that ‘our bit’ is not enough. Every little helps, but a lot helps more, and to do a lot, we are going to have to look at a bigger picture.

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