Personal Development

The Cinderella Complex

Bad working conditions. Sleep deprivation. Hunger. Loneliness. Hopelessness. Resignation. Cinderella is the perfect victim. If her fairy godmother didn’t pitch up in time for that ball what do you think would have happened to her? My guess is she would end up marrying the stable boy, have a couple of kids and slave away for her stepsisters till she died. The end.

But that doesn’t make a good fairytale. So we need to introduce the fairy godmother. The magical saviour who acknowledges Cinderella’s worth and rewards her for it. In the real world… who would that be? Your partner? Your boss? Friends? Family? Who knows your worth and has the ability to do something about it? What would Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Elon Musk or Marissa Mayer say? I think if you asked them they would likely have a laughing fit and then get security to escort you from the building. Trust our ‘happily ever after’ to someone else? Really?

But we do it all the time. We play it safe, avoid risk and convince ourselves that working for ugly stepsisters is just fine. This wouldn’t be a problem – if we didn’t have a vision of something different. A dream of something amazing. An idea that there is actually more for us out there.

As far as fairytales go, I would prefer to be Hansel and Gretel. They are abandoned in the woods. Happen on a cottage made of gingerbread and candy (already my dream-come-true) and get captured by the witch who wants to eat them. Do they cry? Do they shout about how unfair it all is? Do they give up and become the witches dinner? NO… they strategize, they plan… and then they toss that witch in her own oven. These are hardy little kids! These are fighters, who don’t accept the status-quo. These are individuals who make their own ‘happily ever after’… take no prisoners and fight to win.

If you want your life to be amazing, if you want to achieve your potential and make a difference… don’t wait for external influence. You have to fight for it. You have to bleed for it. You have to take that leap of faith and DO SOMETHING about it. It’s not going to be easy. No-one can do it for you. It will never just be given to you.


Personal Development

Are you carrying an elephant?

Is this person capable of creative thinking, problem solving, strategic intervention, planning? I’d bet that the only thing on his mind, other than the tusks, is ‘put one foot in front of the other’. Imagine the effort of will, the crushing weight, the laboured breathing, the mild panic when the load shifts.

We all know not to carry elephants. The idea is preposterous. But we DO carry guilt, fear, loneliness, worry, shame, frustration and disappointment. Our emotional baggage is just as heavy and has a similar effect on our ability to think clearly, make good choices and see solutions.

If it is so ridiculous to carry an elephant, why do we carry emotional elephants? Perhaps we don’t know better, perhaps we don’t know how to put the load down without getting crushed and maybe, just maybe, we are completely oblivious to the fact that we are carrying something around that is weighing us down!

Ask yourself these questions:-

  • Do I connect easily with people?
  • Do I experience ‘happiness’ regularly, laugh often and smile daily?
  • Do I feel that things are ‘under control’?
  • Do I try new things, enjoy learning and challenging myself?

If you answered ‘YES’ to all of these questions – congratulations!! You are probably not carrying an elephant. Can you spot someone close to you that might not be as fortunate?

If you answered ‘NO’ to some or all of these questions, it is likely that you are carrying an elephant. Don’t be hard on yourself (no need to add more weight!), it is more common than you would believe! The good news is that you don’t have to keep carrying it. Just imagine what it will be like to put down that 5 ton load. Explore your emotional elephant… and let it go.

Emotional elephants are part of what makes us human but we really don’t need to carry them around.

Leadership Personal Development

Leadership and the Lord Of The Rings

My secret is out. I am a Lord of the Rings junkie.

The overcoming of seemingly insurmountable odds, the breathtaking scenery and the knowledge that nothing will ever be the same again – no matter what happens.

While watching it…. let’s say for the second time….. I came to a realization. Frodo Baggins annoyed the living daylights out of me. My hero was Sam. Sam the dull. Sam the coward who can’t find the courage to talk to the girl of his dreams but faces true terror with a tiny sword to protect his hero. Without Sam I don’t think I could face Frodo’s ‘I wish this had never happened to me’ inner turmoil.

So what about life? Self-help sections are full of books on how to be the best, on how to be a great leader and on how to be better, stronger, faster. It is easy to lose sight of one single truth. We can’t all be Frodo. So when you figure out that you are not going to be the leading character what then? What does it take to be a first rate number two?

Followers, even more so than leaders, have to believe in what they are doing. Perhaps the motivations behind their belief differ from the leader – in the end this is irrelevant. The first rate follower provides the support, dots the I’s and crosses the t’s… cooks the food, carries the heaviest pack and protects the hero – even from himself.

If you are going to be a follower – be the best follower. The leaders have to get the job done but they cannot do it alone. It takes combined effort to face challenges, overcome obstacles and pioneer change. The world is full of average people doing extraordinary things. You never hear Sam complaining that Frodo didn’t appreciate his contribution or argue that his load was just as great. Sam believes so firmly in what he is doing that he does it without question or complaint. What a great gift to any hero.

Greatness can be achieved at any level. In every role.