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The Problem with Giving Advice to your Younger Self

hand press on expert advice button on virtual screen

Oh to be 18 again. I had no idea then, the difference I could make in the world. Man, if I had known then what I know now, wow, I’d be like a millionaire probably. I’d be so popular too! I’d have never wasted all that time mastering the art of evading police capture on Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. And what was I thinking going out and having fun every Friday night?!

We can only make great changes if we accept where we are, what we’ve done and plan for the future from there. However, what seems increasingly more common on social media these days, is the phenomenon of asking what advice you would give to your younger self. It was even the number 1 trend on Twitter over the weekend #WhatIWouldTellA15YearOldMe.

Now one of the problems with giving advice to your younger self is obvious. You can’t do it. But even if you could, do you really think it would change anything? No, it wouldn’t. I say that with great confidence. And the reason it wouldn’t is because all the wisdom you have gained in life, was available to you at 15. The problem is it meant nothing to you then, and you probably wouldn’t have listened anyway. I must have heard over 100 times before I was 15 that ‘you get out of life, what you put into it’. I hated it then and only grudgingly accept it now. Of course it is true to a large degree, you will reap what you sow. But it took me another 15 years to really understand and appreciate the sentiment.

You are wiser now because you have had to go through life and learn all those valuable lessons. It does not mean much to be told them. You have to experience them. For instance, people skills aren’t developed by telling someone to listen well, to not be intimidated by others and to talk in terms of their interest. These are all sound techniques to develop people skills, but they have to be learned by experience. The advice was always there, but there was nothing connecting you to it.

So do yourself a favour. If you take all the things you have learnt in life and want to give advice to a version of yourself, give it to yourself TODAY. It is the only version of you that counts. Today you are the 15 year old version of you, the 18 year old, the 21 year old, the 30 year old and so on. You are everything you have been through and learnt. Don’t wish to be able to give advice to your younger self, when the advice you give yourself today is the only advice that can change things for the better. Your 15 years from now self will thank you for it.


Your Secret and Unique Code to a Happier Life

code word as a password to combination puzzle box with rings of letters

“I’m a twenty-digit combination to unlock” – I Keep Mine Hidden by The Smiths

The tears were streaming down their faces. They were hugging each other in the isles. They even needed a few extra moments to compose themselves before leaving. Yes, we all miss a good wedding on a beautiful summers day, but this was a screening of a film called A Monster Calls last Friday night. The emotions of the cinema-goers that day were very real too.

I will refrain from a full critical analysis of the film, but I will say that it did not have the previously mentioned effect on me. The emotion was indeed high; what film about a boy’s struggle to deal with his mother’s terminal illness wouldn’t be? I questioned myself afterwards to conclude if I really do have a heart of stone, but luckily, I think that is a negative. Whilst the film does indeed try to be very philosophical, the key lesson I took from the film was actually whilst watching the audience. And it was simply this; that my truth is not your truth and your truth is not mine.

When we watch a particular movie at the cinema, we bring to it our whole life experience up to that moment. This goes for every single moment of our lives. A strong, emotional film such as A Monster Calls can remind us of certain experiences along our life’s journey and tug on our heartstrings. But of course we all have different experiences and different emotional sensors, and so a film of any kind cannot hit us all in exactly the same way. It takes the right code of emotional impact to unlock all that happiness, pain, sadness and beauty that can cause people to become a teary wreck in their seats.

The code to unlock all our emotional sensors, including happiness, is unique to us, and so we have to find it out ourselves. It is a humbling realisation for someone who wants to coach and train people in personal development. Fortunately, there are many traits and consistencies of success and happiness, but if there was 1 exact code, we could all punch it in and everything would be fine right? Well there isn’t, and that is why my truth is not yours. It is why relying on persuasion is often doomed to fail. What makes me happy, may not make you happy and what I think is true, is not necessarily what you see as true. Our best chance of helping others is if we get to know who they are and realise the struggles and challenges they have had. Only then can we help them unlock their code together.

The only way we can help ourselves become happy or successful is to go through life as inspiration directs. Find that book today you think you need to read. If something is telling you to watch a certain film, go and watch it. Contact that person your brain keeps telling you to. Inspiration, or a ‘gut feeling’, is a mysterious topic, but wherever it comes from, listen to it and let it guide you. Some things will work and some won’t, but along the way you will discover more truth about yourself. The unique truth that can lead you to a better life.


10 Lessons in Life and Business from a Roman Emperor

Image of Roman Forum in Rome, Italy during sunrise.

Looking for the answers on how to lead a good, successful life is nothing new to the modern business age. The greatest thinkers since the dawn of time have been questioning and guiding people on how to lead a better life. Somewhere along that journey came Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD. Aurelius was the modern equivalent of a good journal writer, and wrote many philosophical statements to himself, to help him as a person and Roman leader, at a time of great conflict. These writings were collected after his death and later became known as the book Meditations, which has been held in high esteem as a classic ever since. It is a great book of personal development from the ancient world.

Whilst each passage of the 12 chapters can be carefully analysed, I have identified 10 key passages from Meditations that can help people in their personal and business lives:

1. If you set yourself to your present task along the path of true reason, with all determination, vigour and goodwill……then you will lead a good life. And nobody is able to stop you.

The ending to that statement is so key: “You will lead a good life. And nobody is able to stop you”. The message is clear; the power lies with you. All the aspects that make up a good life cannot be taken away by anyone. They have to be achieved by you of course, but if you focus on the task at hand with an uplifting and determined attitude, then the good life is what will result. The good life is an attitude, not a place.

2. Most of what we say and do is unnecessary: remove the superfluity, and you will have more time and less bother. So in every case one should prompt oneself: ‘Is this, or is it not, something necessary?’

Jim Rohn also used to say ‘Make sure you don’t major in minor things’. So much of what we say and do is unimportant and leads to nothing. If you want to live a more purposeful life, then question everything you are doing, and what the result will be. For instance, if you are speaking to people in a business sense, cover the key points and benefits of what you are saying, without the waffle on the side. Attention spans are much shorter than most people think, and you will lose people quickly if there is no understanding where a certain speech or conversation is going. Be more clear and concise with your words and tasks, and you will gain back a lot of time to concentrate on other things.

3. In this world there is only one thing of value, to live out your life in truth and justice, tolerant of those who are neither true not just.

There are bad people around. Simple as that. People with few morals, self-centred and with a lack of care for the results of their words or actions. The answer is to be a good person in spite of the bad people we will encounter. Few people change much during their life, and it is asking a lot for us to think we can make bad people good overnight. Being confident in yourself by leading an honest and just life, is a great armour to have in the world.

4. Imagine you were now dead, or had not lived before this moment. Now view the rest of your life as a bonus, and live it as nature directs.

This is a common theme throughout Meditations; the shortness of life and the struggle against time. We must be grateful for the time we have on this Earth, and not forget that it can be over at any moment.  Whilst I don’t believe we should live everyday as it if was our last (those flights to the tropical beach will shred any savings plan pretty quickly), we must realise that every day we have is a day to make a difference to the world and our life. Align yourself with your true ambitions, that show who you are at your best, and time need never be wasted.

5. Dig inside yourself. Inside there is a spring of goodness ready to gush at any moment, if you keep digging.

You know you are good. But have people really seen how good? Personal development should be important to everyone. There are great talents and skills within you, but they must be worked on, they don’t appear for free. After planting the seed, the flower still needs water. And not just once. Again and again and again. Only by continual work on yourself, by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone on a regular basis, will your true abilities and talents emerge.

6. Always remember this: remember too that the happy life depends on very little.

 Happiness is rarely ‘out there’. It’s not a case of having more, but being content with what you have. Studies have shown time and time again that money is not a key driver of happiness and in fact only contributes to your mental well-being up to a certain amount (a household income of around $75,000 a year on average if you’re interested). The real difference in happiness is created by who you are and what you do. Leading an altruistic lifestyle, with a sense of integrity and justice, and positive family and friend relationships, contribute far more to your level of happiness.

7. Every living organism is fulfilled when it follows the right path for its own nature.

Wayne Dyer used to call this concept ‘alignment with source’. In essence, it means that if you are bold and pursue your own ambitions and talents, then great things seem to happen easily. Your success is likely to be far greater if you follow the things you want to do and are good at, than if you choose a life of conformity and security. It requires a bit of faith and determination, but following your natural path is the key to your success moving to autopilot.

8. You must compose your life action by action, and be satisfied if each action achieves its own end as best can be: and no one can prevent you from that achievement.

Whilst it is essential to have a vision of where you want to be, you achieve that vision by focusing on what is right in front of you. Every action you take has a desired result, and the best thing to do at any moment is to complete the task at hand. It is important that the actions taken to accomplish a particular goal or vision are clear. Without the plan as to how you are going to achieve the goal, you are setting yourself up for failure. It would be like having a map showing your end destination but without the roads leading up to it.

9. Someone despises me? That is his concern. But I will see to it that I am not found guilty of any word or action deserving contempt. I will be kind and well-intentioned to all, and ready to show this very person what he is failing to see – not in any criticism or display of tolerance, but with genuine good will.

Being a good person means being good to good people and good to bad people. We cannot let ourselves be distracted or knocked off course by other people’s opinions. Whilst it is human to be sensitive to criticism, especially unjust criticism, we must have the strength to be true to ourselves and not let any unjust treatment allow us to respond in ways inconsistent with our own morals and values. If there is any way to change a bad person, it must be to show the value of being a good person and all the rewards that go with it.

10. The good and honest man should have the same effect as the unwashed – anyone close by as he passes detects the aura at once.

I was at a training session recently regarding anti-corruption laws, and the trainer said that a company can pay fines and improve its practices going forward but it cannot buy reputation. Your reputation is the accumulative effect of all the actions you have taken in life. It does not come quickly and easily, and can be lost in an instant. People will know a good company or person by the way they consistently act. It should not be a question whether someone is good, effective or trustworthy, it should be clear to see.

Recommended reading: Marcus Aurelius – Meditations


The Key to Success is….

It’s the reason a rock band sells out a stadium gig.

It’s the reason an author tops the bestseller charts.

It’s the reason a sports star sells millions of replica shirts with their name.

It’s the reason a leader causes a revolution.

It’s the reason a shop has a product flying off their shelves.

It’s the reason a salesperson wins the holiday at the end of year sales conference.

It’s the reason the start up company becomes a multi-million dollar business.

It’s the reason a blockbuster movie makes over a billion dollars.

It’s the reason a TV programme attracts millions of viewers.

It’s the reason the latest console game is played from Australia to Canada.

It’s the reason the social media network registers millions and millions of users.

It’s the reason the presentation has the board in rapturous applause.

It’s the reason the manager wins the support and cooperation of their team.

It’s the reason the company vision is achieved.


The key to success is CONNECTION.


The challenge is to figure out how to create it.


Love January – Everyday is a new opportunity

Young runner tying her shoelaces outside in winter nature

January is not the time for sadness. It is not the time for wishing time itself away. January is a time for planting. A time for action. And action of course is the antidote to sadness and boredom.

When you have a higher purpose you are striving towards, the bleak January mornings will not faze you. Everyday is a gift and a new opportunity to become the person you envision yourself becoming. Yes the Christmas and New Year parties are over, but life of course goes on. They will come round again soon enough. The question is; how will your life be different when they do come back round? Will you be celebrating a glorious year of progression and achievement, or will you be in despair at another year of inaction and wasted opportunities? We only get a certain amount of years.

In the Medieval age, January was springtime. A time to plant vegetables, that hopefully would result in a summer or autumn harvest. Indeed they were at the mercy of the elements and luck if they did see the fruits of their sowing, but there was a clear way to ensure you would yield no vegetables, and that was to not plant at all.

Now is your spring. Never mind what the weather is like outside, this is the time to get busy planting. How lucky we are to have today as an opportunity to make life happen. It is the greatest gift. Love January, and turn the sadness and despair of the short, cold days to create a magnificent harvest later in the year.