Even When The Clouds Cover The Sun It Is Still Shining

At the times when we feel #hope is fading fast, it’s good to remember that there is hope, it’s just that we can’t always see it.

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Add A Bit Of Colour?

“Where’s the photo?” You may ask.

There isn’t one & for a good reason.

It’s very easy to make statements like this but without a reference point or completion (e.g., photograph to illustrate what I’m saying).

In leaving-out the photo much of the impact of what I am saying is lost.

Just made me wonder how often I say things in life that are not supported or enhanced by what I do.

Until next time …

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Confidence: From Within or Without?

Confidence doesn’t always start from within: sometimes it needs a kickstart from outside.

That’s why I disagree with the “think positive & everything will be well” brigade. We can think as much as we like but some things only begin to take balance & resolve when we are given a new perspective on an old problem, by another person.

At that point, “I could never do that!” has a chance of becoming “I never thought I could do that!”

Until next time …

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UK Government Does It Again!

I just read with interest how, once again, our UK government have proceeded to make decisions that affect the wider British public … without consulting the wider British public.

In their wisdom, they have appointed the head of a ‘successful’ inner city school to help decide on sex education for 5 year-olds and upwards. 

Great!  But why was there no public discussion or canvassing of opinion before such a wide-ranging decision was made?


It seems that with alarming regularity, our politicians are making sweeping and increasingly significant decisions about the UK, from the safety of their ivory tower and without getting their hands dirty by asking some serious questions of the people that put them in power.

Perhaps it’s because they are afraid: afraid to face issues that others really care about and actually carry feelings that go against the politically correct norm (whatever that is).  Abortion bills rushed through ‘because of lack of time’.  What a great reflection on our society that we don’t have time to discuss the very thing that makes society live … life.  Please tell me what’s more important … MP’s salaries?  Christmas dinner?  The new car?  Choice of buffet lunch? 

Or is it that they genuinely don’t care?  Have they lost sight of reality?  Are they unreachable?   Do they weild too much power without true accountability?  Are they amoral?

Or do we keep quiet on issues that need to be raised and debated?

Yes! I am cynical.

We’re told, “Be polite”, “Don’t cause trouble”, “Enter into honest discussion.”  

But I ask, “When is this really reciprocated?”   My answer is, ‘Near to Election Time’ when they really fear the consequences of public apathy and the possibility of not getting back into power; when they need our support.  That’s when issues suddenly open up for ‘public debate and discussion’!  But until then, we have to put up with minority groups who shout loudest or carry a disproportionate amount of power dictating what the average person in the UK suffers, shaping a ‘future for all’ which does not include all and is far from rosy.

Come on Westminster!  Please stop insulting and fearing the electorate that put you in power and speak to us. 

And if it’s just good old British arrogance you suffer from … get a life and face reality. 

There’s more to this country than your parliamentary careers and public image.  Spin may flow smoothly from the doctors’ lips, but at some stage you will be taken down by the whirlpool it creates. 

Why can’t we have some transparency and accountability?  Or is there just too much to hide?

There is nothing to fear in open debate unless the fear is what will be seen by debating openly.

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‘Once in a Lifetime Offer!’

I read the other day that over 89% of the business books that people purchase and download go completely unread.

Of the remaining 11%, only 1% of those who read the book will actually implement any of the ideas they find in the book – even if they are well aware that doing so will cause immediate and drastic improvements in their lives.

And of that remaining 1% who attempt to use the ideas, an even smaller percentage will use the ideas correctly.

So, the average person has less than a 1% chance of benefiting from any book they download or buy.

I was staggered.  But then, after thinking about myself, I wasn’t quite so surprised.

The power of marketing is to prompt the ‘impulse buy’.  People pay professional copywriters hundreds, even, thousands of dollars to write compelling script that leads us to the big sell; making a decision to buy. And before we know it, our credit card is debited!  They know the power of words, images and a compelling argument. 

And clearly, for the majority of people this tactic works. 

We buy some low-cost product that we promptly forget about, whilst the seller repeats the process to hundreds or thousands of visitors … and makes a very healthy profit … mainly on people’s impulse buying.  We think, “I can’t do without this”  when clearly we can, or there would be a much greater percentage of people who would digest and apply every last morsel of information from those unread business book downloads!

In a world of ever-increasing speed and convenience, increasing pressure to possess and have, increasing messages of “You’re not successful in life unless …” it is little wonder that so many are drawn in by these ‘Once in a Lifetime’ offers.  We’re afraid of losing out or missing a bargain, when in reality, we’re spending money and gaining nothing … and in the process we join the queues of people on the credit and debt trap.

“Buy now; pay later”.  We’ve all heard it.  But if we haven’t got the money now, will we have the money when the bill comes through in 12 or 18 months?  It’s easy to think “Yes, of course we will!”  Unfortunately, if we fall for the salesman’s slogan once, there’s a good chance we’ll fall for it again.  So, in 12 months we don’t have one item to pay for; we have two, three, five, ten …  and at that point we’re stuck.

I don’t honestly have many real answers to this, and I’m certainly no financial expert, but I would like to share with you some principles that I try to apply and have worked for me.  So please, make of them what you will:

  1. Whenever possible I pay in full at the time of purchase.  If I use a credit card I always try to transfer money from a bank or building society account to the card and pay it off.  Yeah! I know the economists will tell you this is ‘bad practice’ because you lose the interest on your money, but honestly, unless we’re talking about thousands of pounds, a couple of weeks interest on a hundred or even a thousand pounds is worth nothing compared to our peace of mind.
  2. If I feel that I’m being drawn into a sale I’m unsure about I either make sure I have some time to think (the salesman worth his salt will grant this time; the shark will bite with “Oh! The offer finishes today”).  For online offers, if I’m reading the script and feel like I’m being drawn in, I take ten minutes, twenty minutes, an hour, or whatever is needed to walk away, have a coffee or tea and really think about what is on offer:  Will I use the product or information?  Do I need it?  Do I need it now?  I try to be very much aware of the ‘call to action’ line that so many marketers add to their copy: “Buy now!”, “Why wait?”, “Do it now?”, “Can you afford to wait?”  The answer in nine out of ten cases is nearly always “Yes I can thank you!”
  3. If I am going to ‘Buy Now; Pay Later’ I make sure I have the money in the bank and transfer it to an account where I won’t access it until payment day.  That way, I benefit from the interest and from the peace of mind of knowing that the money is there, ready to do its job when needed.
  4. If I’m shopping for larger or more expensive items I try to take someone with me who is not emotionally involved in the sale and can see things more objectively.  If they’ve got experience in the field of what I’m buying, all the better.  But their role is one of being objective; seeing things as they really are, without getting involved emotionally.  You’d be surprised how much easier it is to say “No” when you have someone with you who can help focus on what is going on without themselves being involved.  Marketers and salesmen know that the strongest pull on people comes not from facts but when our emotions are engaged. They craft their copy and words to appeal to our emotions whilst bypassing our reason and logic.  Reason/logic combined with emotions are a powerful force for common sense and keeping out of unnecessary transactions!

I know this may seem obvious but if it worked every time, many salesmen and online marketers would be out of a job.  They know our vulnerabilities and target them.

Enjoy shopping; buy books, read them and apply their knowledge; enjoy the bargains; benefit from ‘once in a lifetime offers’ but do so from a position of security and control. 

And if all else fails and you’re not sure, practice saying “No”.  The world will rarely come to an end if you do miss a bargain.

Until next time …

My Zimbio
KudoSurf Me!

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12 Top Tips On How To Exclude People & Make Them Feel Worthless

Excluding People Costs Lives

Have you ever been in a situation where you feel invisible or excluded: an unrecognised cog in a wheel; faceless; of little value?  

This sounds dramatic but it occurs thousand of times every day in many different settings: at work; with friends; in the pub; in the sports team; at home.

Excluding people & making them feel devalued is rarely a deliberate act, but there are some habits, behaviours & activities that work really well in achieving this.  These work particularly well when we are dealing with people new to our group or familiar people we don’t already know.

Here are my top 12 tips on how to make it happen:

  1. Leave Them Alone:  This is probably one of the most effective strategies to alienation.  People standing on their own, often in a corner or at the side clearly have a problem with socialising.  Leave them alone or for other people to approach.  After all, if they really wanted to speak they would find someone.  It is irrelevant if they are shy, introverted, disabled or just plain new.  It will sort itself out eventually.
  2. Wandering Eye Syndrome:  We all know how inconvenient it can be spending time with people we don’t know or who can’t further or personal progress. So, if you get lumbered speaking to such people, make sure that you scan the room for better or more important people to speak with.  At some stage, you will see someone & have a justifiable excuse to relieve yourself from your current burden.  After all, what can these newcomers offer that your existing friends don’t already?
  3. The Conversation Interruption:  This is probably the most underestimated weapon in your arsenal.  See someone in conversation you know, then simply butt in, even if they are speaking to a newcomer or someone else & start talking.  One of the places I visit frequently are so good at this that the place name has become a verb; to be ‘Emmanuelled.’  It’s a great practice to maintain as it spreads like wildfire & soon, the whole culture finds it acceptable & effective.
  4. Bring In A Friend:  If you are struggling to talk to a newcomer or stranger, invite in a good friend into the conversation & focus your conversation on them.  It’s always good to include a few facts about the person you were speaking to so that they don’t feel too left out. 
  5. Body Language:  If you are in a group & want to let people understand that you do not want to be interrupted by outsides, stand or sit in a circle or huddle, facing inwards with your backs outwards.  Be careful to leave no gaps in case someone misinterprets that as an opportunity to join in your conversation.  This is a great way of telling others to try elsewhere.
  6. One Way Flow:  There is nothing quite like telling others about yourself. This is especially important with newcomers or strangers.  If you tell them in endless detail about your family, accomplishments & future aspirations you will inspire them to look up to you & perhaps even become like you.  It is very important if they attempt to to tell you anything about themselves to show how you have been in exactly the same situation & come through it with flying colours.  This also gives great opportunity to brag (explain) about your family, especially siblings & children, even if it has no direct relevance to the conversation in hand.
  7. Perfecting Lack of Appreciation:  A real winner when it comes to destroying the confidence in others & a great move to keep the group small.  We all know that people only help others because they are craving attention & praise, so what better way to counter that than let them give their time, energy & talent for free (well, at cost to them) & then simply act as if it is the expected norm.  As a friend of mine once said to me, “I only make a comment when something is wrong as there is no need to when they are getting things right.” 
  8. Create A Clique:  This relates to items 4 & 5 above.  The great thing about a closed circle of friends is that they can be trusted.  Well, perhaps more a case of at least you know them.  There is no point in falsely raising the hope of a potential newcomer, so simply let them know they are not needed by sticking to the people you already know, especially if they can further your progress & status.  It is probably best not to openly refer to the group as a clique. Terms such as ‘my circle of friends’ or ‘our club’ or ‘in this family’ or the like are much more appropriate & easier to defend.
  9. Avoid Important Subjects:  People less familiar to ourselves or who are new do not want to be engaged in meaningful or deeper conversation.  Even if they allude to it, they are simply creating a front or trying to build a bridge in. You are best to divert any such conversations to more trivial subjects.  At all costs avoid anything emotional & if they do manage to slip something into a conversation, smile, nod in a knowing manner, perhaps use words like “I understand” & then rapidly change subject or escape.
  10. Make An Instant Judgement:  The last thing many of us want is to make a reasoned judgement.  Take a look at their clothes, hairstyle, mannerisms; note their accent; note the way they stand.  You will get a truly accurate picture if you do this from a distance without even speaking to them.  If you are unwittingly engaged in conversation, look for a few key words like “I” “Today” or “Home” & draw your own conclusion. Don’t be misled by apparent emotion or by facial expressions.  Remember that the aim is to keep the group small, select & to your own advantage.  Letting just anyone in could upset the dynamic & may prove embarrassing for you if you can’t answer their questions. 
  11. Can They Help Me?:  Of paramount importance in the development of a new relationship or friendship is the question, “How will knowing this person help me?”  Relationships should not be based on what we can do for others, but on what they can do for us. Other important questions include, “Does knowing them make me look good?” “Will knowing them harm my reputation?” “Will they help me get to where I want to be?” These questions can be asked by individuals & groups as the outcome is the same.  Forget the notion that this other person may be shy, lonely or need someone to talk or relate to.  Addressing those issues can be time-consuming, messy & cost us in effort & energy.
  12. Be Full Of Good Intentions:  Sometimes we cannot escape speaking to strangers, newcomers or outsiders.  In such instances, a great tactic is to offer to meet-up, chat or help at sometime soon or in the future.  This gives us space to forget or fill our time with other things so that engaging in what we suggested cannot really happen.  We all feel much better as we have offered to help, but have been prevented from doing so by life’s circumstances getting in the way.


Many of these when practised often enough become a habit, sub-consciously ingrained in our lives.  When they become part of a group culture they lead ultimately to the destruction of that group, one way or the other.

Exactly why we do these things is a huge subject beyond the scope of this post. 

What is clear is that we almost always have a choice. Easy or hard, the majority of us can decide to change … or not. We can aim to do the opposite, create our own set of anti-tips that help people to feel included, build them up, feel valued & part of our community.

The big question is, Do we want to?

When we decide yes, we will find a way.

When we decide no, we start to dig our own grave, individually or as a group, society or team.  It is likely to be us stepping over the cliff edge as much as those we seek to exclude.

Take care until next time …

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Manx Storms & Sunsets – Part 1

The Isle of Man is an island of contrasts & great beauty.

Here are photographs of a storm & subsequent sunset I experienced recently whilst visiting Port Erin in the south of the island.

As often happens here, the rain seemd to come from nowhere, taking many people by surprise.

Whilst the rain came down in torrents, Oyster Catchers could be seen at the water’s edge, foraging for food …

after the storm waders port erin isle of man sunset

 Seagulls were never far away …


image seagull sunset storm port erin isle of man

One family, caught on the beach in the heavy rain seemed unperturbed as they flew their kite …


children on beach flying kite against sunset

Eventually the skies cleared, the storm passed & the day at Port Erin, ended in tranquil beauty as the sun sank below the horizon …


port erin harbour sunset isle of man

 … & the light began to fade.


port erin beach harbour sunset isle of man

Take care until next time …

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California Dreaming Just Became Reality: Do You Know The Way To San Jose (2)

Following on from my recent entries & photographs, today I’ll look at some other sights in & around San Jose

Buildings of all shapes & sizes push skyward within the city.


Downtown San Jose Skyline


This new office block bedecked in shades of blue towers over the downtown area.


Downtown Office Block in Shades of Blue: San Jose


Not far away, the McEnery Convention Center played host to the Silicon Valley Comic Con 2016: it was a surreal experience being surrounded by Eewoks & Super Heroes.


Silicon Valley Comic Con 2016 Attendees Flood Into the McEnery Convention Center, San Jose


Close by is the beautiful National Civic Building, built in a more traditional style …


National Civic Building, San Jose


Dominating the older Quarter is the beautiful Basilica Cathedral of St Joseph …


Basilica Cathedral of St Joseph, San Jose


…and in the midst of the concrete, stone & steel are the green park areas, guarded by palms & other trees, a haven of peace from city life …


Park Area in Downtown San Jose


Even after a great day of sight seeing & sore feet it’s always good to hop on the Light Rail …



…. & return to the peace & seclusion of the pool & palms …



Take care until next time …

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10 Positive & Successful Habits To Build Confidence & Feel Great

10 Helpful Steps to Increase Self Confidence

We are what we think!

Or, to put it another way, what goes on in our head determines our approach to life, which determines what we achieve.

Have you ever found yourself sabotaging your own ideas before you start?

Do you fail to try something because you talk yourself out of doing it before you ever get going?

Is there something you would love to do, but just don’t think you could?

The good news is, YOU CAN.

Positive thinking is essential to self-confidence and overall health. According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking has been scientifically linked to longer lives, lower rates of depression, increased immunity and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. We have been conditioned to think negatively, compare ourselves to others and get trapped in self-deprecating cycles of worry. It’s all around us, in the news, on your Facebook feed, even in your home.

So how do we make the shift to feeling more positive and confident?

Start small, with positive and intentional actions every day. The more we practice positive thoughts and behaviors, the more confident and self-assured we will feel.

Here are some habits to help you make the shift:

10 Positive Habits to Practice Daily

1. Make a Decision. Don’t consult with a friend about what to order at dinner or call your spouse when shopping for groceries. Make a decision based on what your gut is telling you. It will make you feel stronger and allows you to practice trusting your inner voice.

2. Try Something New. Confidence doesn’t come from perfection, it comes from effort. Take action.

3. Gently Exercise. Exercise is perhaps the most important treatment for anxiety, depression and insomnia. Just moving your body will break up negative thoughts and boost serotonin. Move your body every day, just be mindful of your energy and never overdo it. A seven minute workout or yoga in your living room will all work.

4. Clean Up Your News Feed. Social media that is full of triggers, images and updates can push you into a bad mood. Start following inspirational or “happy” accounts. HealthyPlace on Facebook. Happsters on Instagram and MindBodyGreen for healthy living tips are also good choices. The more positive images you view the better you will feel.

5. Think Back Over the Past Week and Write Down Every Good and Affirming Thing That Others Said to You. Review the complements or comments when you’re feeling insecure.

6. Make a Happy Playlist. Music can physiologically change your brain and body. It can make you breathe faster, increase your pulse and make you smile. Songs with a quick tempo and uplifting lyrics have been shown to be more effective in bringing out happy emotions, like ‘Happy’ by Pharrell or ‘Walking On Sunshine‘ by Katrina and the Waves. We all have our favourites: what are a few on your playlist?

7. Say No. Don’t say yes when you want to say no. You’re letting yourself down if you do favors you don’t want to do. Next time someone asks for something that will make you feel funky and you feel the urge to say “yes,” remind yourself they are asking, not ordering. You will respect yourself more later on.

8. Practice Posture. Hunching over at your desk can make you less confident and more insecure according to research from Ohio State University. Pull your belly button in towards your spine and pull your shoulders back when sitting or standing.

9. Give Yourself Credit for Small, Daily Accomplishments, even if you are not done. Did you work on cleaning up your cupboards but still have stacks of clothes to fold? Great, take a moment to focus on what you have done; don’t just wait until a project is finished.

10. Practice Gratitude. Write a thank you note, or call someone to say thanks for meeting with you for that lunch last week. People who are mindful of the positives in their life, create more positive energy. Comment on a post you like, email a friend, or even write down what you are grateful for in the moment (try to think of 5 new ones each time).


10a. Decide to do it.  If you say, “I can’t,” there is hope. Your intentions are giving you a chance. When you say, “I won’t,” you give yourself little or no chance of changing.

10b. Practice Forgiveness. Yes, forgiveness is one of the most powerful tools we have to release us from situations that inhibit us and hold us back.  Sometimes hard: always essential.

Adapted fom 10 Ways to Feel Positive and Confident | Building Self-Esteem – HealthyPlace

Ask yourself daily, what small change can I make today that will take me one more step along the road to being more confident & feeling more fulfilled?

Take care until next time …

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Is The Grass Greener?


The Grass is Greener Where It's Watered Most

The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence: the grass is greener where it’s watered most.


Take care until next time …

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Some Ways to Challenge Our Fears from Valencia Higuera


Sometimes We Have To Push Out Into The Choppy Waters To Start Overcoming Our Fears

As you will know I am passionate about helping people overcome their fears & grow in confidence.

Here is a very succinct & useful article on overcoming your fears: http://www.careeraddict.com/5-ways-to-overcome-your-fears-to-achieve-success

I’ve also put a pretty picture at the top if you just want to enjoy a bit of nature.

Take care until next time …

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I tried & Didn’t Do Very Well: I’m Not Sure It’s For Me

[Thinking About Achievement With My Son Matthew]

Thinking About Achievement With My Son Matthew

Steve Jobs of Apple fame was one of the most physically awkward & unconfident speakers when he started. He went on to become probably one of the most sought-after & inspirational presenters of the past century.

When I was 7 or 8-years-old, I was a liability to any football (‘soccer’) team. If you wanted goals scoring in the opponents goal, I was not your man. If you wanted goals scoring in your own net, then perhaps I was a secret weapon! When I first went to University at 18 in the late 1970s I was approached by one of the Liverpool University football teams to play in goal.

I am no Steve Jobs but I think we shared one thing in common: we were not prepared to let failure, hardship, struggles or projected thoughts of others deny us of what we could achieve.

Sure, there were lots of thing’s that I tried & at which I sucked; but there were lots of things I didn’t know I could do & do well, until I tried them.

The title of this blog came from a short conversation I had with Matt, my son, this morning. Even at 21, he has plenty of presentations under his belt. But he did one this week where he felt really unhappy with the result & so he doubted any future of doing them regularly or perhaps even professionally.

It wasn’t that he couldn’t do it. It was that his confidence had wained because he had a rough ride on one occasion which seemed to question his future ability to ever do another good one.

At least in his head!

If you have grown up with friends, family, colleagues, the media telling you that you can’t do it, won’t ever achieve anything, won’t ever be able to (you complete the sentence) then I am here to tell you that you CAN.

This isn’t some vague hokey-pokey good wishing for when all the planets align or the universe to say, “Now is the time.”

It is an assurance based on my own past experience, the experiences of my friends & on the experiences of thousands of thought-leaders & game-changers over the centuries.

Sure, we may have to commit ourself to pain, frustration, concentrated learning, reading, working with mentors … whatever it takes. But, if we are determined to become great at something we are already competent or good at, we can move onwards & upwards.

Forget comfort & convenience. Forget getting there quickly with little effort. Forget achieving without investing.

See where you are now, set where you want to go, identify the steps you need to get there & then, above all else, TAKE ACTION, one small step at a time.

The biggest barriers to achievement are not usually in our physical bodies or external circumstance. Large though these may be, the biggest barrier is usually our thinking. Change our thinking & we change our achievement.  Look at paralympians outperforming ‘able-bodied’ athletes. Look at Helen Keller, enjoying fulness of life, writing books, inspiring others after she had been struck blind & deaf as a child through illness.

We often have to unlearn stuff we have been doing on reflex for the past 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years or more & relearn. We often have to unlearn stuff we’ve been told that isn’t true. It isn’t easy. BUT IT IS ACHIEVABLE.

I hope this has set your thought processes in motion.

Even if we only have one thing we can change to improve our life, don’t we owe it to ourselves & those around us to give it a go. Perhaps when we have done that we will find something else.

Today is the best day to start.

Take care until next time …

Posted in bringing hope, building confidence, challenge, disability or ability, dreaming, escaping from the trap, face your fears, fulfilment, honesty, integrity, learning, meaning for life, new start, overcoming barriers, personal success, the bigger picture, transforming our life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment