Lets Take Some Time Out

I’ve just had a lovely slightly longer than average weekend.  A really good friend came to stay, a friend who I probably see 3 or 4 times a year.

I’m sharing this with you because, having my friend in the house meant that both myself and my hubby who also runs his own business, switched off our computers, and put down our tablets for 3 whole days.  I don’t know when this last happened other than over Christmas.  Even when we go on holiday we take a tablet each and seek out the wifi.  Its almost as though facebook would fail without us, let alone our businesses.

I don’t know if it’s the fear that if we don’t get back to someone straight away that a business lead will simply go cold, or our absence from social media means that we lose our presence. Either way those thoughts are unfounded.

The weekend is now over and there are no lost clients, just a bigger than average inbox to go through.  We have however had a lovely relaxed weekend that simply wouldn’t have been achieved had our guest not have stayed.  I even managed to try my hand at making crumpets, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while.

So the moral of this story?  Just once in a while, either with friends or on your own – switch off your social media – its one sure fire way of getting some balance back in your life.

If from time to time you find balancing home and work difficult, using a coach to help you make personal boundaries can make a huge difference. Give Carolyn a call on 07714 216388 today to make an appointment for your first free consultation – what do you have to lose?


Comfort Zone Leap Part III – Gaining Context When It Doesn’t Go Your Way

Well, I’m about half way through the comedy challenge now and like most things that start well, there’s a point you reach when things are losing momentum or not going as well.  And that’s where I’m at.  Fortunately I’ve still got 2 weeks to get out there and iron out these niggling problems.

There were 2 things this week.  The first was at rehearsals.  Having made good progress last week, I hadn’t needed to tweak my routine that much.  Many of the others had, so really my material was old hat to them.  As a result the laughter wasn’t as rich.

Secondly the day after rehearsals I visited the local comedy club here in Leek and the sudden realisation of how good they were and how amateur I am hit me.  I also experienced how hard the 2 middle acts had to work for their laughs. These are the new comedians on the scene who are still forming their material.

For me this a great metaphor for life.

How many times do we compare ourselves less favorably to others and have unrealistic expectations of ourselves.    So here is this weeks learning point:

  • Be realistic – who should you compare yourself to?  In my case it would be better to compare myself to my peers who are learning comedy with me, and we’re all doing OK, some are better at delivery, others have better material but we’re all improving each week.


If you apply too much pressure to be something you’re not or to achieve other’s standards, you could set yourself up for failure.  As a coach this is common with my clients, so if you’re giving yourself an unbelievably hard time and need some help taking the pressure off yourself, give me a call on 07714 216388 to see how learning some personal development techniques could help you.

Comfort Zone Leap Part II – Stepping Up To The Mic

In last week’s post I shared with you my thoughts on the OMG state – a state of mind where your inner voice continually tells you that you’ve made a mistake and its all going to go horribly wrong.

I met up with my fellow comedy challengers again last week.  We’d all prepared some material – short comedy sketches to test on each other and I felt OK about it.  But when we got to the meeting room – there was a microphone and a speaker.  How can one inanimate object scare me so much.  I panicked at the thought of using it.  I quickly realised that this was my negative self (Frankie) trying to sabotage me.  What a brilliant opportunity to practice and use the mic now rather than face it for the first time at the show.

Turning thoughts around into a positive outcome is a great technique to use when you start to panic over something.

P1070681copyright Carolyn Trafford

I’d also really worried about my material.  Having stood in front of a mirror and read it out, it neither sounded funny nor was delivered in a funny style.  I was really nervious when I stepped up to the Mic.

Yet I was greeted with laughter from my 14 strong audience.  Loud laughter! Imagine what that will sound like with an audience of 300.  And better still the feedback I received was that it was almost there.  So my second learning point today is:

No matter what you say, do or in fact believe, when delivered to someone else it will be interpreted differently, gather feedback and if its positive believe it as readily as you would if it were negative.

Well I’m off to practice for this weeks meeting, I’ve added a few bits, changed a few bits and streamlined some of it, so we’ll see what this week throws at me.

Sometimes we need help, encouragement and motivation to achieve the things we are aiming for.  Call Carolyn today on 07714 216388 if you need help with yours and to book your free 45 minute consultation.





Style and Substance – Are Both Critical To Make An Impression?

Week after week Francis was critically  given feedback in the Great British Bake Off for putting style over substance.  And Paul Hollywood was right, substance is important in a bakery competition, first impressions do count but if the cake doesn’t back it up then its all going to fall a bit flat isn’t it?

Working life isn’t quite like that, nor is promoting a business.  In both case style is important.  You need to make an impression and stand out from the crowd.  Take a look at these cakes:

If you had to choose one, you’d choose the nicest looking because you have nothing else to factor in.  That may be the way your potential clients choose their next service provider.

However if someone recommended you to them they may be more inclined to try your services.  Just as you’d choose a different cake if someone told you the slightly collapsible one would taste better, you’d probably give it a go.

However if that slice of cake didn’t taste so great, you’d not go back for a second slice would you? And what if your cake wasn’t there at all?

So yes, its critical you make a first impression.  Make sure your LinkedIn profile has a decent picture, your website and business cards look professional and that you turn up for meetings/interviews looking great, clean, tidy and professional.

And do back that up with substance, make sure that you are prepared and know what you’re talking about.  Be credible, have integrity,  be congruent in all that you do.

You may be familiar with the following impact statistics.  They are used frequently in personal development workshops and books.  Does it surprise you that performance only accounts for 10% of your personal impact?  Yet at work we so often spend so much time being diligent and hoping we’ll get noticed.  Yes it matters, but what matters more is getting yourself out there and getting noticed.  Volunteer to attend and speak up in meetings, attend networking events, make an online presence, use social media positively.

Remember your pie and make sure your cake is out there and on show – metaphorically of course.

Reflections coaching are experts in helping you make an impact, speak confidently, congruently and with integrity.  If you need help with your credibility at work or in businesses, then call Carolyn today on 07714 216388 to book your free consultation.

Failure Or Success? – It’s Your Choice

I was asked last week to do an interview for BBC Radio Stoke about coping with failure.  If you wish to listen to it I’ve loaded a copy onto my website here.

They were interested in my thoughts around failure specifically because of the GSCE results being out and the number of teenagers coming away disappointed with they results they get.  I remember collecting mine at 16 it was the biggest event of my life and so important that I’d done well.  Part of me is still ashamed at having failed French, and a little annoyed that my friend who is was in a lower set than me had passed hers at CSE grade 1 level and therefore considered to be O level equivalent.  My exam must have been harder.

Yes, I passed everything else and yes I got grade A in my maths, plus in those days we took 11 subjects so it was still a great achievement.  Yet it was so easy to focus on the one fail and not all the positives I’d achieved.

Its so easy to focus on the things we haven’t achieved and that can really erode our confidence especially if we label ourselves with the word ‘failure’.

Its also easy to compare ourselves less favourably with others.  My friend would be the first to admit that her maths results were not as good as mine.  She was off to study tourism so to be fair French was fairly important to her.

So next time you face failure, follow my 4 simple steps for turning failure into success:

  • Acknowledgment – yes its happened.  The result isn’t what you’d set out to do.
  • Acceptance – accept that its actually OK that on this occasion you’ve not got it right. Also accept who you are.  In my example it was OK to be good at maths and not languages.
  • Congratulations – remind yourself of the positives, this might be learning for the future, it might be to thing back to ALL your great achievements in the past.
  • Move on – it won’t help to dwell, start to think about your future, set your next goals and focus on those.

P1060707copyright Carolyn Trafford

Sometimes we all need a little support with our confidence.  Reflections Coaching provides confidence booster sessions to help to take you from good to great.  Give Carolyn a call on 07714 216388 for a free consultation and taster session to see how we can help you.

Saying “No” Can Be Hard To Do

If you’ve ever wondered why saying “No” is difficult – there’s a simple answer…..

Time is an irreplaceable priceless asset. Achieving a healthy balance in life is important and being empowered to say “No” when you need to helps in striving to achieve that balance.

We all know that working to our priorities is important, yet how often do we mean to say “No” but actually end of giving in and saying “Yes” simply because its good customer service, or is only a small thing to do.

And that’s great.  If you are able to say “Yes” to people then that can make us feel good, get known for providing that extra special customer service or just be a great person, however if that is impacting on your priorities, leaving you you without the energy for the things you need to say “Yes” to, or feeling like you’re being taken advantage of then something has to change.

So why then, is it so difficult?

To understand the answer we need to explore our belief system:

  • If I say “No” then I’m being selfish. – Saying “No” demonstrates trust and maturity.  Not wanting to say “No” is a common problem and others will respect you for it
  • People might judge me – people form judgements all the time and we have no control over this.  You’re not saying no for the fun of it, so back it up with the reasons you’re having to say no.  Again they will respect you for it.
  • People and customers may go elsewhere – they might and this will have to be a judgment call for you.  If you’re going to say “Yes” make sure that you have the time to do what you promise without letting something slip elsewhere, but remember that in most cases an extra 24 hours won’t make a difference to most people so be realistic about how many customers you may lose.  You have the option to negotiate  before you say “Yes” or “No” so perhaps this is an option to explore.

Saying “No” can be tricky and practice really helps.  This post was understanding WHY we find saying “No” so difficult.  Next week I’ll be exploring the topic some more and looking at HOW we can start saying “No“, so that’s one to look out for.

Until then if you want to know more about self belief, a coaching session would help, you’ll find more information at www.reflectionscoaching.co.uk or leave your thoughts below and I’ll reply as soon as I can:











What Does Success Mean To You?

Watching Murray win Wimbledon certainly made me stop and think about success.  Success can mean so many different things to different people.  Have you stopped and thought about what it means to you?

This week we’ve seen Murray finally win Wimbledon.  Year after year the British have pinned their hopes on him, supporting him, willing him to win.  For many of us we’ll view his success as holding up the cup.

But what does success mean?  Lets face it success is different for everyone and whilst we can use it as a good example we have to relate the stages to our own dreams and ambitions, after all we don’t all hold the ambition to win Wimbledon.

Yes we can all see success in this photo and it is likely that winning Wimbledon was up there in Murray’s top goals list.  But how does he go from starting a tournament to holding up a cup?

Its important to break all goals down and celebrate success along the way. So winning Wimbledon is broken down by winning a numbers of matches, including a quarter, a semi and a final.

Each match requires you to win a number of sets, each set a number of games and each game a number of points.  Surely therefore it’s critical that each point is celebrated and if you follow Wimbledon you will see players like Murray celebrating each one.  It may be a punch in the air, a smile or a wave of a racquet, its still a celebration.

Its simple to apply this to our own dreams.  If realising our dream was just one step we’d have achieved it by now.  So what is your dream?  How can you break it down?  And do you celebrate each step as you get closer to the overall goal?


Get The Right Brain Into Gear

Its Monday as I write this.  I suffer Mondays just as much as everyone else  despite being fortunate enough to work from home.  Some Mondays I spring out of bed and get stuck in to my week, others I’m a little more sluggish in nature and am better off focusing on more admin based tasks than creative ones like writing my blog!

Yet here I am this morning – in slightly sluggish mode, slightly lacking inspiration, brew in one hand and the other I’m using to scratch my head in a metaphorical way.  I have a few rules about how I write my blog and run my business and top of the list is that it needs to be true to me and have an honest approach.  And that can mean admitting to being sluggish some Mondays (perhaps Tuesdays, maybe even Wednesdays…..)

So, I figure that lots of you, reading my blog struggle with inspiration from time to time and that’s OK – we all do.  I’m working hard to use my right brain more.  Right brained thinking is all about using our creative elements.  As a naturally left brained thinker, when it comes to problem solving I have a tendency to use the same problem solving techniques as I always do.  Brainstorming, list making etc.  Yes I sometimes use mind maps but they’re still very word based.

And you know what they say:

“If you always do, what you always did,

you’ll always get what you always got”

So now, when I become “stuck” I pull out my coloured pens, a blank sheet of paper and get to work.  Its amazing the difference it makes. I still use lists, but they’re lists in glorious Technicolor and my mind maps are pictures not words.  My favourite is when I’m creating notes for a presentation as these are made almost entirely of pictures and a few key words. Even if my artistic talent is sometimes lacking.


So, next time you find yourself lacking that all important inspiration, grab some coloured pens, a piece of paper and start drawing.  Let you mind go – you’ll be amazed what you come up with.

I Googled right brain for those of you that want to understand this more and this article seemed to sum it up nicely.  Click here for more info.

What Do Ducks Know About Being Promoted?

I had an early start this morning to attend my regular business breakfast meeting.  I was slightly startled by two mallards who decided to land on the other carriageway of the A53.

I had been quietly rehearsing what I might say during the 60 seconds round of my meeting and it occurred to me that Mr and Mrs Duckie might have been rather startled to land on the hard asphalt with a car hurtling towards them than the nice soft luscious green grass or still calm blue pond that they are more used to.

I rather imagine this feeling to be like the one I experienced during one of my promotions when I worked in the corporate world.  One day you know exactly what you’re doing, and the next, wham! a whole new set of responsibilities and other people’s high expectations of you.  Let face it – they appointed you so you were the best person for the job. Yet you still have doubt.

Bird - Duck - Mallard

Bird – Duck – Mallard (Photo credit: blmiers2)

All too frequently employer support can end there, and sometimes confidence issues can creep in however with a bit of support we can pick ourselves up  and settle into the new role.

Here is my top tip to help if you find yourself like Mr & Mrs Duckie:

Remember to seek out someone who can help.  Even at its worst you may feel like you really can’t fulfill the needs of the role, its usually just your inner voice talking to you.  Enlist the help of someone and use them as a mentor and confidant.  It could be anyone, a more experienced colleague, your line manager, someone you know elsewhere in the organisation who has been through a similar promotion, someone from outside the organisation, or employ a coach. 

Struggling with the changes that a new role requires is not a weakness – it is simply a natural reaction and one that most employers would expect.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Does a healthy body really result in a healthy mind?

I’m not a scientist, I can’t say for sure, but its an ethos that I live by.  It started a couple of careers ago when I worked in a busy customer service environment and much that I hated going to the gym – I always found that a good session on the cross trainer helped to get rid of some of the stress and negative emotions that I was feeling. 

More recently, I found myself in a job that I was bored and demotivated in.  A good walk in the fresh air, even in the rain at lunchtime always made me feel better.  Although the problem didn’t really go away until I left the job, the lunchtime fresh air sessions were part of the catalyst for retraining.

Google the topic and you will find evidence to support this.  Recent studies by the  American Psychological Association (APA), have demonstrated that our mental, emotional, and physical health are closely linked.

Although technically not a value the principle of Healthy Body, Healthy Mind is firmly embedded in my business, particularly amongst my weight management clients, where we frequently have “walk and talk” sessions.


I believe its important to nip negative feelings in the bud as longer lasting periods of stress can increase the risk of heart-related problems e.g. high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke.

Depression can also be linked to a higher risk of developing high blood pressure,  heart attack.  But equally important is that a lack of excerise can also be the cause for stress and depression kicking in so its important that we manage and are aware of both.

So getting a balance is important, I’m not suggesting that anyone suddenly starts training for a marathon, but my one tip to anyone would be:

If you’re feeling the stresses and strains of your day, stop, take 5 and go for a short stroll.  You really will feel better for it.


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