Going All Out

Autumn Workshops – sign up now

Voice of Influence24-25 September

NLP Diploma: Communication & Relationships 19-20 Oct, Leadership & Influence 9-10 Nov, and Coaching & Change 26-27 Nov.  Special “Pay What You Can” terms.  More below …

Going All Out

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 16.18.23I put in lots of effort to do a good job. I’m sure you do too. If a job needs strength, we go all out to be strong. If positivity is needed, we go all out to be positive.

Surely? But life often laughs at us.

Here on the left is one of my favourite photos. On the left of the picture you can see pallbearers carrying a coffin out of church after a funeral, watching appalled as simultaneously the hearse they are making towards is loaded onto a tow-truck to be carted away for having contravened parking restrictions.

Good job, traffic warden!

There’s another story about an old lady billed for late fees by her bank for months after her death in spite of her surviving relative telling the bank again and again that she’d died. The bills kept on coming month after month.

After months of wrangling with the bank the frustrated relative finally snapped,

“How can I say it? She’s no longer at that address!”

“So do you have her new address?” asked the bank official.

“Her current address is Odessa Memorial Cemetery, Plot Number 69.”

First sign of life from the official: “Sir, that’s a cemetery!”

“Exactly! What do you do with dead people on your planet?”

The bank was very consistent. Well-done, bank official!

Jobsworths rule okay! There is no one who pursues their job more single-mindedly, no one who is more consistently consistent than a jobsworth. A vehicle parked in the wrong place? Remove it. No ifs and buts; no special circumstances. Someone hasn’t paid a bill? Pursue them … to death and beyond!

Of course we like such stories, but how often do we pursue some end ourselves with everything we’ve got and somehow miss the point?

At yoga this morning I wanted to bend further towards my toes, but with my best efforts always reached an edge, beyond which I couldn’t go. But then, listening to the yoga teacher, I withdrew a little from that edge and let go on achieving the outcome. Result? Letting go, I found myself actually able to bend further than before and without strain.

That’s a good metaphor for what happens in our dealings with people. Have you ever had a situation where you are adamant about something and the other person is adamant too, and you both push and push to get what you want. Then one of you draws back and gives way, only to discover that the other person all confused becomes more compliant and you find a happy solution.

This is how life works. When we go all out rigidly towards a goal we go against life and create resistance. Life is never rigid. When we look for flexibility and balance we succeed.

If you don’t, if you insist rigidly on certain outcomes, you’re in for trouble. You go all out for happiness and fail to find it. You push for your children to succeed and they protest and fail. Or you do everything to avoid pain and end up suffering. ISIS goes all out with rigid certainty for god and creates the devil. Governments go all out to ensure the freedom of the individual and put many in chains of misery. A politician shows strength at every turn and fails to influence.

I recognise that all-out mood in myself when I get a pressing feeling that I ‘gotta do, gotta do gotta do,’ or experience that urgent insistence that something has to be right at all costs. It’s always counter-productive. I’m noticing it in certain Wimbledon tennis players too – that desperation to win a point that so often loses it. In a favourite book of my youth, Zen and the Art of Archery, the Zen Master says:

The right art … is purposeless, aimless! The more obstinately you try to learn how to shoot the arrow for the sake of hitting the goal, the less you will succeed in the one and the further the other will recede. What stands in your way is that you have a much too willful will. You think that what you do not do yourself does not happen. Eugen Herrigel

Our real strengths are found in balance. And what I find fascinating and paradoxical is that it’s not a matter of finding the happy mean – you know, not too strong and not too vulnerable, or not too happy and not too sad. It’s about both coexisting. Authentic strength coexists with vulnerability. Communication is most powerful where there is high energy and peacefulness. The truly happy person knows sadness – in fact, happiness needs knowledge of sadness.

I’m just beginning to get it – two sides of the same coin. If you insist on just one side you lose the other too. When you are aware of both, you can have one and both. Both and: life all of a piece.


Sign up now for workshops this autumn:

Voice of Influence24-25 September.
Go beyond performance anxiety to powerful performance. Use your voice to influence with presence and connection – even if you are seriously daunted now! 2 fun-filled days that will make a profound difference to your confidence and authenticity and impact on every part of your life. Small group coaching at its best. Many enthusiastic testimonials here.

NLP Diploma: Communication & Relationships 19-20 Oct, Leadership & Influence 9-10 Nov, and Coaching & Change 26-27 Nov. You can register here. 6 days in total of great communication and personal effectiveness learning, or sign up for individual modules.

Once again, I am broadening the reach of the NLP Diploma with a Pay What You Can system based on trust for self-funding participants.  The registration fee is for the basic venue and material costs, and the element payable at the actual course – voluntary according to what you can pay – is for the NLP training and coaching you receive. More here.

Spirit of Coaching

The conference on 27 June was an exciting and meaningful event which witnessed some magical conversations that went beyond the everyday – video available soon. The Spirit of Coaching next international retreat is at Oxford from 2-4 October. Other retreats have been rich and rewarding for participants. If you are a coach and would be interested to attend this ‘by invitation’ event, email me and I’ll pass your name and details on. It is free, though contributions are always welcome.


One of the most satisfying things about my work is to see coaching clients grow into larger confidence and bigger roles. If you’re in a rut, or struggling, or feel you may have more potential than you’re currently using, don’t hesitate to get a coach – a few coaching sessions can make a huge difference to your self concept and confidence. It is truly worth it. And if you think that I might be the person to help you, have a look at my thoughts on coaching, and email me or give me a call (01306 886114) to have an informal chat about it.


My four published books, including the most recent, The Art of Conversation, have helped many improve their communication and speaking skills and build their self confidence. Read more about their content here, and or check them out on Amazon.

I’ve just finished Jackee Holder’s 49 Ways to Write Yourself Well. I can thoroughly recommend it for anyone who’s ever kept and journal or might think about journalling – it’s a rich source of treasures and practical tools.

I’ve also been listening again to the CD of Eckhard Tolle speaking at Findhorn – Eckhart Tolle’s Findhorn Retreat: Finding Stillness Amidst the World  – peaceful listening for long summer days …

Right, back to Wimbledon!

Go well,


Comments are closed.