Written by: Rosalyn Palmer, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” ‒ Aristotle
Many companies use psychometric testing, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®(MBTI®) test which gives a snapshot of what motivates you, how you feel, whether you are intuitive, etc.
It is a way of making the psychological types described by C.G. Jung understandable.
It is a relatively straightforward test (and many free versions exist on the internet) that categorises everyone into one of 16 distinctive personality types based on your interests, reactions, values, motivations, and skills.
What is good about such tests is that you can gain better insight into not only your strengths and weaknesses, but also those of others. Such mutual understanding can then lead to improved relationships with others at work. For example, if you are very extrovert and outgoing, you may sit in a meeting with someone very quiet and mistake their reluctance to jump into conversation as being that they have no opinions worth sharing. They may be a reflective type and as such could be a very safe pair of hands for the extroverts who literally form their opinions as they speak. As someone who can relate to this latter type, I’d argue that you need all sorts to make a strong team. Having someone willing to jump in and take charge and come up with a solution quickly can also be relevant and necessary.
So, playing to everyone’s strengths is key, as is an understanding about what makes you tick, how you tend to react and how to work better with others.
Businesses always work out better ways to plan and behave.
Yet those who work in corporations and spend huge amounts of time on training, development and detailed business plans fail to have a life plan. They wouldn’t start a project without a project plan but have no blueprint for their life.
So, to keep it simple here is a 5-Point Better Life Plan. It comprises five B-actions that can put you back on the A-list of your own life. They are:
Blue sky thinking
Belief: many of your beliefs were forced upon you as a child by your parents, teachers, or other adults. They were never yours in the first place, so why not question them? Assess if they are working for you now. If they are, this is good. They are underpinning who you are.
If they are not and you feel at odds with them, throw them out now. Cultivate a better belief.
For example, if you have been pushing for business success and doing quite well, but feel uneasy about it, as the mantra in your head is that ‘Money makes you evil’, then discard
that one immediately.
Blue sky thinking is about taking the cap off your expectations, dreams and desires and asking yourself, ‘What could my life look like if...’, ‘How could life be if there were no limits to what I could do?’ And other limitless and great questions to disrupt complacent thinking, habits, and results.
Bait: is about why you are even going to go after something in the first place. Why do you want to be CEO of your company, for example? You have to really have a strong ‘why’ to put up with long hours or stress and the pressures that would go with that one. Everyone’s bait on their hook is different, but you do need to examine yours and see if it is strong enough to hold and land the catch you desire.
If your bait for wanting to be CEO is ‘to finally make my father proud of me, as he always said I wouldn’t amount to anything’, then you may make it there just to show him, but you will not be happy about either the journey or the destination. Whilst being driven by this motivation, you may lose friends or even close family on the journey as your need to prove yourself may be obsessive and probably not very caring of others.
Often, even when people achieve greatness, they are still not praised by parents who are not forthcoming or family members, so they never get that approval. I’ve heard of movie directors whose parents still criticise them. Their inability to give them unconditional love or praise is the problem, and acting like a child seeking approval all your life and not receiving it can be highly emotionally damaging.
Brand you is understanding and building upon the fact that you are your own brand. It is like the lettering in candy rock at the English seaside. The name of the resort is written in the stick of rock, and if you cut it anywhere across its length, that name will still be spelt out inside: Skegness, Blackpool, Southsea, or Torbay for example.
The principle is the same. Each touchpoint along its length reveals exactly the same identity. Being your own brand means that you have congruency: you are your authentic self and you are not hiding behind a mask.
If you are self-employed, a trader or practitioner of any kind, everything about you is your brand, from how you answer the phone and reply to emails, to your logo and branding, livery on a vehicle or the way your premises look right through to how you look and behave.
How many times have you come across a tradesperson who has a super eye-catching logo, a flash local newspaper advert and bright livery on their van, usually promising something like ‘Plumbing Solutions’, only to ring them and get no reply? You might leave a message for them and days later they reply while they are out and about and don’t have their diary with them. Not much of a solution at all for you, especially if your toilet is still leaking. All of that investment they have made in their ‘brand’ is wasted, as to you their brand is unreliable and unobtainable, so you are busy asking the neighbours for a word-of-mouth recommendation to find someone trustworthy whose word is their brand. They may not even have a business card, but that is not a recommendation either in the grand scheme of ‘Brand You’.
My late father employed a gardener who did a brilliant job. All the neighbours wanted details about him. He didn’t have cards or leaflets. He didn’t even rip up pieces of paper, scribble his details on them and post them through their letterboxes. He obtained no business from the neighbours, they all went elsewhere, and when I bumped into him a few months later and he said that business was a bit slow, I had to bite my tongue.
There will be days when the best your brand can do is dress up and show up. That means be reliable and turn up when you promise. Dress up means dress the part. A friend recently posted a picture on Facebook from a conference she was attending. In it Richard Branson is leaning over the stage cutting off a man’s tie with scissors. I wasn’t an attendee, but I can guess the context. It used to be called ‘suited and booted’ and of course, many workplaces have dress codes. So, what is your degree of flexibility here? If you are now in business for yourself, reinventing yourself after being made redundant, semi-retiring, coming out of a divorce or other life change, take some time on your image too. There are some amazing image consultants who will work with you to cull your wardrobe and even shop with you to find clothes that suit your body shape, personality and desires. It may seem extravagant and throwing out 21 bin bags of clothes can be quite painful, but it is ultimately cathartic and liberating. I did it. I would open two crammed wardrobes and declare that I had nothing to wear, as many of the clothes didn’t fit well, didn’t flatter me, and didn’t go together. Now that is not a problem, and having fewer but better clothes also adds an extra dimension to your life. Simplicity and cutting down choice and dilemma allow you to focus more attention on the things you want to put your energy into and you usually look great too.
I’ve worked with some of the world’s top movers and shakers and have observed that, on the whole, they do not have complicated lives in terms of the clothes they wear or the food they eat. They have ‘restricted choice’ in areas that are necessary, such as their wardrobe, and this allows them ‘unrestricted choice’ in other areas. They have a strong sense of image and brand so their look will not fluctuate wildly. Consequently, their wardrobes will contain many of the same or similar items, perhaps in different colours or fabrics. Their food, which has probably been developed as a peak performance diet to keep them filled with energy without empty calories, will be quite limited. I’ve opened their fridges.
They are not filled with the sort of bewildering variety that some are. There will be several of the same items in different flavours; protein shakes, for example, or crudités and different types of dip.
Their brands go all the way through and when they don’t, that is when trouble arises. There is a great quote that says: “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” Another is: “Character is who you are when no one else is looking.” This is the hard part. Being always at one with yourself and your personal brand. Not being a public figure such as a preacher and then getting caught out in a sting when you use call girls. It is hypocrisy, but it is also a very uncomfortable life to lead, as when you know in your heart that you are not your authentic self, it really hurts. On the other hand, when you are in alignment with your personal values, you feel happier, more at peace with yourself and your confidence increases. You sleep better. You can move towards your goals, as you have a strong grounding.
Bulletproof: Curveballs will come your way and you will make mistakes.
See your mistakes as invaluable lessons. Learn from them. I used to have a sign next to my desk that said: “I’ve learnt so much from my mistakes, I think I’ll make another.” Whilst this is not a life strategy, it is a salient lesson to always remember. Look up ‘heroic failures’ and find countless examples including Einstein who said: “It’s not that I am so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” He had focus and perseverance. He was bulletproof to external criticism.
When you hit bumps in the road, focus on the solution and how to fix it there and then. Just do it. Procrastination is just fear or a need for perfection and neither leads to great results or happy lives. In the novel La Peste by Albert Camus, there is a character called Grand who can never complete what he is writing. He must always know more before he can get it right, for example studying Latin, just so he can perfect his French and always find the right word. He has a constant search for knowledge to produce a perfect prose, and because of it his writing lacks heart and is never finished.
Do you think J.K. Rowling works like that? She creates some of the finest and most successful fiction in the world today. She plans meticulously, then sits down each day and puts those words onto paper, and this action together with her amazing imagination brings forth a rich world. If she was still procrastinating about whether Harry should be called Fred, hook up with Hermione, if he has a scar on his forehead or cheek, then millions of children (and adults) around the world would be deprived of the books, movies, and theme parks that her genius has spawned.
An important step to being bulletproof is to stop comparing yourself to others. By all means ‘model’ and learn. Model is a more acceptable word for a copy. For example, you model your behaviour in a new situation by imitating someone skilled in what you are trying to achieve. Just work out who you want to model. There is an overwhelming array of personal development books with numbers in the title and bespoke frameworks such as The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, 7 Steps to Financial Freedom, The 4 Disciplines of Execution, and my own book Reset! A Blueprint for a Better Life.
Most contain many gems of wisdom and some may be perfect for what you need at that time. Think of them like a car dealership. There are many models. Take some for a test drive, but choose the best one for you to drive around in or you will be back at the bus stop.
Whatever advice you try on for size and then walk around with, you must know that fulfilment and success do not come simply because you read the right book or even that the universe decides life will all go according to your plan.
There is no doubt in my mind that you can manifest many wonderful things in your life and that ultimately the universe (or greater force, God, or whatever you choose to call it and believe in) is not ‘out to get you’. It wants to support you. As people, jobs, business situations and just about every aspect of your daily life throw up these curveballs, it can feel overwhelming and so many of us feel browbeaten and exhausted by the unrelenting demands of it all. The key is to become bulletproof to it or to see and learn the lessons in adversity.
It is often in what appears to be the greatest moments of challenge that the greatest opportunities and growth arise.
I’ve been made redundant three times in my life.
The first of my redundancies were in Yorkshire. This wake-up call in my so-called glittering career path led me to think ‘What next?’ The PR industry was just taking off and I was advised that Lynne Frank’s PR was THE agency to work for, so I applied and was called in for an interview where I met Lynne’s then husband, Paul Howie. He, like everyone else in the uber-trendy glass-ceilinged office, was wearing black and his office resembled a gulag. I sat on a very uncomfortable metal swivel chair on the opposite side of an industrial-sized metal desk. After a while, he said: “Well I think we may take you on, but it is up to Lynne, so come next door and meet her.” I duly followed and entered what can only be described as a Bedouin tent. Lynne was sitting cross-legged on a Kilim carpet eating macrobiotic food.
Thus, I began two years in a world where trips on the Orient Express, breakfast with Daniel Day Lewis, launch events attended by The Rolling Stones and seeing every leading fashion designer in the UK at close quarters were regular occurrences. I cut my teeth on the leading-edge PR of its time, ran an account that was named as one of PR Week’s Top Ten Campaigns of the 20th Century (Brylcreem), and put experience on my CV that meant I could walk into my next job, and then start my own highly successful PR agency only a few years later. Thanks, redundancy. My second redundancy came in 1991. The late 80s and early 90s were a crazy time for agency mergers and takeovers and the marketing agency I joined in 1988 was taken over by an advertising agency in 1990 that itself was taken over a year later by Omnicom, which was, at the time, the world’s second-largest agency group. I was given the choice of either a job at a bigger PR agency that was part of the group or to walk with a redundancy payment. I chose the latter. Setting up shop in my spare bedroom at home, with office furniture bought from a clearance store in East London, my first member of staff was Rosie my Bassett Hound.
On day one I had three clients and enough money with their contracts and my £5,000 redundancy package to last the year. Nine years later, having won the coveted PR Week Award for Best Small UK Consultancy and runner-up in the Women into Business Awards, I sold the company when it had a £1.3m turnover.
The third redundancy was a tad unexpected. To be honest, I think they had really wanted to fire me for a while as we were not all-seeing eye to eye. What was good was that it was all amicable and I again had time to ask myself, “What now?”, and at my first ever foray into online job search I found, and a week later secured, the position as Head of Marketing & Communications at the charity The Leprosy Mission England & Wales. Over five years, amazing work led me to meet some of the world’s most disadvantaged and tribal people across Africa and Asia, work with caring co-workers, go on two overseas trips with The Right Hon Ann Widdecombe, spend a lot of time at the House of Lords and enter the world of NGOs, charities, and World Health organisations.
Redundancy led to the opportunity.
It was after studying mindfulness several years ago that I discovered Gratitude Journals. Through the expression of gratitude, we can not only be present in the moment but by finding the good in even the smallest of things, get flooded with an appreciation that cannot fail to change our mood and outlook for the better. We are always focused on what problems to solve, to the extent that we overwhelm ourselves and put ourselves in a stressed state of constant alert.
Think about the word ‘overwhelmed’. Then it's opposite ‘underwhelmed’. We get overwhelmed by the challenges and difficulties of life. We get underwhelmed by ourselves, our responses to life, our visions of the future.
Now is the time to change that. Every day there will be something to be grateful for. Even if it was the nice chap on the underground who offered you his seat as he saw how weary you were. A smile from your grandchild. A moment spent watching a bird feed from a tree.
Notice and rejoice. By noticing the positive, you start to rewire your brain’s neural pathways to think positively on a regular basis. This leads to happiness and happy people release more endorphins, so they are healthier and less stressed. Those who are happy with themselves make better partners in both business and personal lives. They don’t need to belittle or control others to feel good about themselves. They can be at one with themselves and then let others in, and love and support them too.
Admittedly, there are many challenges. Some workplaces and even home environments can be brutal.
Things have come a long way in recent years (certainly in the West) in terms of employee rights and how people expect to be treated in the workplace, but bullying is rife, especially in national institutions, education, and healthcare. I know, as many people walk through my door feeling so crushed that they are about to walk away from not just a job but a vocation, and many do. They have months and months off with depression and sickness. It is little consolation that most bullies are weak and were probably bullied themselves. Hurt people hurt people, but when you are the one on the receiving end of the bullying or hurt, especially in a work situation, how do you become bulletproof to survive it?
Well one final hack for you is this. It is via a story shared to me by my mentor Marisa Peer:
A journalist goes to interview a holy man and while doing so he rubbishes most of his beliefs and everything he stands for. Throughout the insults and criticisms, the holy man continues to smile, even to beam with happiness and contentment. Finally, the journalist says in exasperation: “I don’t understand why you are smiling. I have just criticised and mocked you!” The holy man replies: “If you offer me a gift and I do not accept that gift who has it?” “Why, I do,” says the journalist. “Exactly,” replies the holy man. “I don’t accept your criticisms; they belong to you and they can stay with you.”
If you would love to be more bulletproof or balanced, to realign your inner happiness to your outer success then let’s talk. You can book a Discovery Call in my online diary.
Or email email@example.com and I’ll be back with some thoughts if you let me know what your greatest life and business challenge is presently.
Let’s discuss my upcoming 13-week group coaching course The Realigned Leader and my 1-2-1 options that can give you the life you desire and work hard to deserve.
Rosalyn Palmer, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Rosalyn Palmer is an award-winning transformational coach and therapist and one of the Brainz 500 Global 2021 list of Companies, Entrepreneurs, Influential leaders and Small business owners recognized for their entrepreneurial success, achievements or dedication to help others. Her work combines advanced rapid transformational therapy with clinical hypnotherapy & NLP-based coaching to create deep desired changes. She works 1-2-1 with clients and via her group courses including the 13-week The Realigned Leader and The Realigned Life transformations. As best-selling author of the award-winning self-help book: ‘Reset! A Blueprint for a Better Life’ and three other Amazon bestsellers, Rosalyn makes emotional wellbeing accessible to all. She enables high performers to live their best lives that feel as good inside as they look on the super-successful outside. Rosalyn draws on extensive business experiences - in top London PR & Marcomms (‘retiring’ as a self-made millionaire at age 40 after a stellar career helping clients including Tony Robbins and Edward de Bono) and the insight of being conflicted when the outward vision of your life doesn’t serve you. Added to this are her deeper values and life experiences born from many challenges including cancer; redundancy; bereavement; menopause; divorce; financial loss that broke her open to finding out what really matters in life and how to live a life of balance and joy. As a natural communicator, she is the well-being expert for radio show Girls Around Town, has a monthly newspaper column, and two podcast series: Monkey Business and Life Alchemy.