True North

In the zone

I did really well! No, really, I was brilliant. I was speaking to a group and everything was flowing; they were listening and super-attentive and clearly enjoying what I had to say – you could almost hear the proverbial pin drop. They talk about ‘being in the zone’, don’t they? Well, there was I!

Afterwards I thought about how I’d achieved it. I analysed my performance, and considered each element of it – How had I been reasoning and thinking, what had I been doing with my voice, my body, my hands, my balance, what had I been aware of, how had I been feeling?

Not good! The next time I tried to replicate my success through thinking of the separate elements, I got self-conscious and confused and completely lost it.

I read a calendar quote this week: The less I think about doing something the faster I am able to get it done.

Is it true?

How to beat your opponent every time

Tim Gallwey in his brilliant first book, The Inner Game of Tennis, describes the perfect way to put an opponent off his stroke: you congratulate him on how well he’s playing and make him think about what exactly he’s doing.  He then begins to tell you as he performs about how he’s swinging the racquet and hitting the ball in front of him, and keeping his wrist firm and following through – all the separate elements … and before you know it he has lost his timing and flow and begins to fall apart.

The poet Rumi, writing about 800 years ago, said something very similar about doing and thinking:

The throbbing vein
Will take you further
Than any thinking.

…Do not theorize
about essence. All speculations
are just more layers of covering
Human beings love coverings.

‘Do not theorise about.’

But I can hear someone saying to themselves, “Okay that’s great, but so what? If I can’t examine my behaviour to learn from it, how do I learn?”

A great way to achieve success

I’m beginning to think that we’re a bit too keen on analytical method. It’s fine and useful in many activities, but in some cases it isn’t as effective as a more holistic approach, especially when we’re talking about human behaviour.

Rumi talks about a form of intelligence that is less static and analytical than reason:

        It’s fluid,
And it does not move from outside to inside
Through the conduits of plumbing-learning.
The second knowing is a fountainhead
From within you, moving out.

You’ll recognise such intelligence when for instance you suddenly go ‘aha!’ and capture something in its entirety, without building up the pieces bit by bit, and what you capture is more rich and subtle than the sum of the individual elements.

A great and pleasurable way to learn is through awareness in the moment without analysis. You aim to stay in the here and now, to do while staying present and aware, rather than reason about doing. This was Tim Gallwey’s tennis method which morphed into big-C Coaching. You just notice with subtle pleasure and gentle awareness the feeling of energy and movement when things are going well. That’s your true north.

And the quick way?

There’s a neat shortcut: enjoyment. If you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you’re probably on track. Rumi’s ‘plumbing-learning’ can involve slog and effort; enjoyment doesn’t – and you learn faster and better. Enjoyment is never about what you do – rather it’s doing, enjoying, being, living: the zing of being in the moment. The more you acknowledge and enjoy what you are doing, the more you grow into and embody the skills involved.

Business case

The enjoyment factor is applicable to work too. If your people or team aren’t enjoying their work, beware – you are already losing ¾ of the full intelligence they have to offer. Enjoyment doesn’t mean relaxing – it can be a great workout, mentally, emotionally and physically – but it’s engaging and energising. We motivate people best through attraction towards enjoyment and fulfilment, not by whipping them. Then you get 100% – maybe even 110.

That’s flow, in my book.



The People’s Book Prize Shortlist – please help!

I’m excited! My book, Butterflies and Sweaty Palms has been short-listed for The People’s Book Prize Non-Fiction which is voted for by the public, and I’ve been invited to attend a grand dinner in the City when the overall winner will be announced.

Please will you vote for me? (if you like my book of course!). Voting for finalists is between 21 and 29 May at You can register on the website now and vote later. (NB registration is purely to ensure voting’s fair and doesn’t sign you up for unwanted emails). The website only allows you to vote for the final winner between May 21-29, so I might remind you again closer to the date!

Autumn Course Dates now available

Thinking about learning and enjoyment, here are some written comments all from the 11 participants on last Thursday and Friday’s Voice of Influence workshop. I include them here to encourage you if you are daunted or don’t really enjoy public speaking – it could be you next time!

The workshop was amazing. I think it was definitely the most useful two days of learning that I have ever attended in my career to date. I finally got over what seemed to be an insurmountable hurdle. Everyone who has ever worried about speaking in public should do this course! I will be recommending it to my colleagues, my boss and HR.

I’m so excited to report that on Monday … I leapt to my feet in front of 40 odd people …without a hint of nerves or self-consciousness!  All down to you, thank you.

An invaluable two days.  I wish I had done it years ago!

Nothing had ever helped me “get my head straight” or given me any techniques to manage my nerves or voice.  In just two days on Voice of Influence, I have overcome my performance anxiety, can manage my voice and am actually looking forward to my next opportunity to present formally! 

Really helped with my confidence. Fantastic course – would recommend it to a friend. FANTASTIC AND WORTHWHILE!!!

Such a breakthrough. Excellent +++ experience. 

I experienced a rise in confidence not just with my voice but my overall presence and the way I perceive myself when around other people. Overall, it was a wonderful experience.

I wanted to be at ease, bring humour and be more myself: I think I sort of did that. Great experience!

Totally engaging and credible. An experience I’m very pleased to have had – not a minute was wasted. I almost felt comfortable standing in front of people for the first time

One step closer to being in me more. You absolutely practice what you preach. I appreciate your honesty and directness too. I hope that many more people will get to benefit from what you have to give. Very positive and enjoyable.

Well … to achieve a stand-up speech in front of 12 people in 2 days! Considering the shut down I experience weekly. Can’t believe it! Challenging but supported completely every step. … Life changing experience.


One after that 12-13 Dec. Book for either workshop online here or email me to reserve a place. Is now the right time for you?


Many people who attend the Voice of Influence can’t wait to do more of this kind of learning. The NLP Diploma builds confidence and self-belief and gives you strong practical leadership and coaching skills, plus loads of valuable insights into yourself and other people. It makes a deep-down difference that impacts on everything you do. Attend these workshops and I promise you’ll never look back.

There are three 2-day modules, which you can take separately if you prefer. Book on-line (links below) or email me at Big reduction for booking all three.

Communication & Relationships 17-18 Oct

Leadership & Influence 7-8 Nov

Coaching & Change 28-29 Nov

I can sometimes offer a discount for people who genuinely cannot afford the fee.


Free Learning: E-courses on NLP, Confidence, Voice and more at

Books: Find my 3 books on voice and confidence at Judy Apps on Amazon

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Coaching: 1-to-1 coaching, face-to-face or by telephone/Skype. If you’re stuck or uncertain, in transition, or just want to be the best you can be, coaching works. Contact me at or on +44 1306 886114 to have a chat about it.

That’s it!  Go well, enjoy the sunshine!





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