Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Stigma of Divorce

I smile as I write this as past words and comments by well-meaning friends, colleagues and acquaintances flash around in my head.

The story goes way back, when I went through my first divorce. I was only 27/28 having married at 21 and people would wonder out loud, what would become of me as a young divorcee with a child. At first these comments didn’t mean a thing to me as all I wanted at the time was out no matter what.

But by the time I realised that my second marriage was not working and that I actually had to leave to be happy, those same words of a few years before came rushing back.

This time round I was afraid, I was embarrassed and left my marriage knowing that I was now “that woman that my parents used to talk about,” you know the one who has two children from two different marriages.

If you ask anyone who knows me, they will tell you that going through my second divorce was not a big deal, that I was strong and just got on with it. And on the surface that was very true but deep within me, I was damaged and ashamed, emotions I would cover by making fun of myself each time the topic of divorce and marriage came up.

I thought I was doing well covering my darkness until one day, after making yet another joke, a very dear friend of mine, Emma, simply looked at me and said, “You’re really going to have to get over that.”

Those few words were the ones that shook me back to myself. I began looking at why I was doing what I was doing to me and why I was carrying this whole baggage of shame and guilt around because I had two “failed” marriages.

I took it upon myself to see and understand why this had happened and accept that, no matter what my ex-husbands had done or not done, I was 100% responsible for finding myself where I was.

I began to realise that those comments made those many years ago had actually not washed over me at all but they had instead made their way deep down and taken refuge in my heart and mind.

I saw how people reacted when they got to know about my divorces and would ask, “so now what?” And the look of pity, horror and shock when after working through my pain and hurt, I would admit that yes, I would get married again.

The stigma of divorce is alive and well despite the fact that divorce is such a common occurrence that the question, “Are your parents still together,” has become as common as, 
“How are your parents?”

I don’t know why this is. I don’t know why divorce still ends up defining who you are while in reality it’s a journey, an experience you have been through - it’s not you, it’s something that happened. Just like being laid off is something that you once went through at some point in your life. It was painful, it was devastating but you moved on and got yourself another job, hopefully an even better one.

All I know is that this fear of being part of the “failed marriages” party has kept many a people in pretty terrible dyads. It has seen children grow up to ask their parents, “Why didn’t you just leave?” while others have shrunk to nothingness because they don’t want to be seen ticking the “divorced” box.

Speaking of which, I now find myself wondering why one of the options on some forms is “divorced”. If you’re divorced doesn’t that just make you single again?

Today, when someone says to me, “You’re twice divorced! WOW!” I smile and say, “Yes, I am and thank goodness for that!”


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Social networking linked to divorce, marital unhappiness

In what may be of little surprise to avid readers of, a new study found a correlation between social media use and divorce rates in the United States.

The study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior by researchers from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Boston University, compared state-by-state divorce rates to per-capita Facebook accounts. In a separate analysis, they also used data from a 2011-2012 survey that asked individuals about marriage quality and social media use.

Their study found a link between social media use and decreased marriage quality in every model they analyzed. They said their research did not prove that social media might be to blame for troubled marriages, but suggested such a link may be proven in subsequent studies.

"Although it may seem surprising that a Facebook profile, a relatively small factor compared to other drivers of human behavior, could have a significant statistical relationship with divorce rates and marital satisfaction, it nonetheless seems to be the case," the authors wrote.

The state analyses found that a 20 percent annual increase in Facebook enrollment was associated with anywhere from a 2.18 percent to a 4.32 percent increase in divorce rates depending on the model used. Similarly, the model from individual survey results predicts that someone who does not use social media is over 11 percent happier in his or her marriage than a heavy social media user.

The study did not attempt to establish any causal relationship between Facebook and negative marital outcomes, but the authors did offer several explanations for why the correlation exists.

The study's authors reasoned that individuals in problematic relationships may be turning to social media for a support system, thus explaining the link between their increased usage and marital problems. They also wrote that social networks may help reduce uncertainty for people going through a divorce by providing information on an ex-partner without forcing direct contact.

The authors also hypothesized that social media's addictive qualities may create marital strife, promote an environment rife with opportunities for jealousy and may help facilitate extra-marital affairs.


Monday, 29 May 2017

Logistical Nightmares: How To Take Some Of The Challenge Out Of Co-Parenting

The key to peaceful co-parenting post-divorce lies in keeping the focus on what is best for the kids. Karen McMahon shows us how.

Many challenges of co-parenting post-divorce are universal whether you have an amicable divorce or not. Other more unique challenges are faced by those emerging from a contentious divorce and custody battle.

The key to peaceful co-parenting post-divorce lies in keeping the focus on what is best for the kids. In this article I address both the logistics and emotions of co-parenting with a person you were unable to stay married to.

On the logistical front, there are a number of issues that if addressed and agreed to upfront allow for a significantly more peaceful co-parenting experience:

  1. Mutual Respect: Each parent respects the other parent in words and actions; NEVER use the children as a liaison to communicate with the other parent.
  2. Education Agreement: Children will attend school on time, well-rested, fed and prepared for their day. They will have a time and place to study and complete their homework – with parent’s guidance if necessary. Textbooks, musical equipment, etc. are at the appropriate house for homework. Parents agree on how they will manage teacher conferences, school events, etc.
  3. Shared Information: Each parent is well informed when the other is taking the children on vacation, away for the weekend, out of town/the country. Vacations with the children involve appropriate notice, sharing details location and contact information in case of emergency.
  4. Health Care: Ensure doctor and dentist appointments are kept, information is shared and difficult decisions about medication and procedures are made in the best interest of the children.
  5. Rules and Consequences: An agreement to enforce similar rules and consequences regardless of whose house the children are at.
  6. Extracurricular Activities: Commitment to the children being prepared and on time for practices, games, recitals, concerts, etc; ensuring equipment is at the right house; both parents are aware of the schedule, location, contact information.
  7. Social: Each parent has names and numbers of the children’s friends for playdates, invitations for birthday parties, etc.

Minimizing the Chaos

Married parents can get overwhelmed with all the dates, times, locations, activities, responsibilities and commitments of today’s busy children. Living in separate households can turn overwhelm into chaos.

I cannot tell you how many times in the early years of my divorce we were running late for soccer practice only to find out that my daughter’s cleats and shin guards were at daddy’s or worse, in daddy’s car and he wasn’t home!! Chaos ensued…tensions rose, we all got upset, accusations were flung back and forth…all over a soccer practice.

The same can happen with a textbook at the wrong house the night before a big test. Or the perfect pair of shoes or sweater for her cute outfit is at mommy’s house and no one scheduled in the mad rush across town before school starts…a tough way to begin the day.

One of the most amazing tools that saved my sanity was using an online scheduling program that enabled me to post our shared parenting schedule, the names and phone numbers of pediatricians, friends, coaches, etc. Our Family Wizard offers a one stop location for all the details of co-parenting. You can use one platform to communicate with your ex about changes in schedule, the cost of shared expenses, need for assistance in driving the kids to this weekend’s activities, etc. All without the need for dozens of phone calls back and forth.

Having Two…When Possible

The second aha for me and my ex was that while we only lived 10 blocks away, we were constantly driving to the other’s house before school, practice or tests. We realized the need and value in having DOUBLES…certain items in both households.

EQUIPMENT…having two sets of equipment (when affordable) makes life much easier. When that is not possible, having a special bag that is always packed and by the front door ready to go to mommy’s or daddy’s house keeps everyone calmer – and is great practice for the kids to learn to be organized and prepared (have your kids do it at an early age!!)

TEXTBOOKS…many schools deal are all to used to dealing with children from divorced families and will provide you with a textbook for each home. For those that cannot, creating a system ie. a packing list can reduce stress dramatically.

Note: Parenting children with special needs creates an even greater stress on both households. It’s not just the children, but the parents as well that need support and tool and there are amazing resources available for you.

All this being said, if you are in or emerging from a contentious divorce, many of these cooperative co-parenting strategies may seem like an impossibility. If communication with your ex often results in criticism, accusation, blame, and bitterness, make sure to read Co-parenting: Take Off Your Armor And Put Down Your Sword.


Saturday, 27 May 2017

How to Avoid the #1 Killer of Happiness

You’ve probably done something like this, too. And it can sabotage your ability to move on.

I thought my world had ended back in January.

I had this job and career that made me comfortable and paid well. It was not necessarily a job that I loved, but it made me feel secure and gave me the validation that I thought I needed.

Until I was laid off.

I started to panic, because although I was not necessarily happy with it, it least it paid the bills and the thought of financially uncertainty terrified me.

But here’s where my own missteps came in: As I started to assemble a resume, apply for new jobs, desperately hoping I would find employment soon, a voice in the back of my head get chiming in.

I’ll feel so much better once I get that job interview!

I know everything will be okay once I get the job offer.

I will be happy again once I am in a new job.

Once I get that first paycheck, I know I’ll smile and feel better about everything.

Do you see the dangerous pattern going on here?

You’ve probably done something like this, too. And it can sabotage your ability to move on.
Relying on external factors to make you happy.

During the next few months, we are going on a quest. And that quest is learning how to take our lives back. But we cannot do that if we are dependent on outside factors to shape how we move on from divorce.

Only we can do that and that’s why we are going to start this quest with developing self-awareness. Because the more in-tune we are with our own thoughts, our own sense of joy, and our own triggers, the easier it will be to practice that mindfulness we need to be kinder to ourselves, more confident in ourselves, and able to hold ourselves accountable to building on with the next chapter in our lives. So let’s get started.

“Once X happens, only then will I be or feel Y….”

At some point in our lives—we’ve all done this. And as we learn to heal and move the hell on from this divorce, we may still fall into what I call the X-Y Trap. We say to ourselves that it will take a certain external situation (what I call the X) in order for us to achieve an internal state (what I call the Y). While this occurs in everyday situations, the X-Y Trap loves to linger during the divorce process. Do any of these sound familiar?

“Once the papers are signed, then I will be happy.”

“I’ll be happy again when I find a new partner to be with. Somebody who will be so much better than my ex-spouse.”

“When I move out of this house with all its memories and ghosts, I’ll be happy.”

“As soon as I quit feeling so overwhelmed, then I can work on being happy.”

They sure as hell sound familiar to me, because I know as I was learning to move on, I would fall into this trap as well!

So, how do we avoid falling into the X-Y Trap? And, if we are already ensnared, how can we get the hell out of it?

Only by changing what goes on internally can we start finding happiness.

It’s simple, but not easy.

We must start thinking in terms of looking inward and relying on ourselves to be happy. No amount of money or outside validation or relationship status will do it for us. It must come from inside. We must consciously choose to be grateful and choose happiness, even when we feel overwhelmed and feel like we are a complete mess. Even when we feel like we are alone or feel betrayed or feel bad or impatient or feel like we will never get through the divorce and emerge on the other side, stronger and more confident than from where we started. Those feeling all derive from outside influence that we choose to react towards in a way that does not help us.

Regardless of where we are in life, we must all consciously choose to be happy, to be grateful, and to find joy in the fact that we are here, we are alive, and we are being given a second chance in this life. We must choose internally to embrace the fact we are now becoming independent—not only financially and now having the ability to live on our terms—but now independent to rely on our
selves to be happy—something no outside forces should determine for us.

Exercise—Take charge of your own happiness.

It may have been years—if at all—that we have looked within ourselves to find a happiness that does not rely on external factors. It may seem overwhelming and impossible, especially when we are stressed-out and grieving. But it does not have to be. Take a look at the easy exercise below, with examples to get you started.

Step 1: Name the things you have relied on to be happy. Some of my own examples are below if you need to get started.

A certain number in my bank account will make me happy.

Being in a relationship with a man who treats me right will make me happy.

Step 2: Flip the script.

No relationship in the world is going to make me happy if I do not love myself and treat myself right. From now on, I am going to focus on myself and work on myself. I need to start putting myself first—speaking up for myself, taking better care of myself, and finding joy in being alone.

Step 3: Whenever you are triggered and thinking that you need something external to make you happy, do this exercise.

Do it often. And the more you practice finding internal happiness, the more your life becomes filled with gratitude, not needing to rely on some outside factor you cannot control to make you happy. You are strong enough to find that within yourself.


Friday, 26 May 2017

Procrastination Prevents Progress – 5 Productivity pitfalls and how to avoid them

There’s an old saying in my day job (as an IT project manager since you ask):

“Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance”

You may have heard versions of it before. The beauty of the “5 P’s” is that it conveys a simple message with some pleasing alliteration along the way. In essence, it’s possible to avoid poor performance of any task or activity by ensuring enough thought is put into the preparation (see also planning and prioritisation as valid substitutes).

What strikes me increasingly these days, both at work and at home as a parent is that we would all do well to not only embrace this saying to accentuate the positive and productive activities in our lives but also to eradicate the negatives; the delaying tactics, the resistances that we put up that at times hinder us in achieving even the most insignificant things. I’m proposing an alternative version:

“Procrastination Prevents Progress”

Perhaps it’s not as catchy but it’s equally applicable in my opinion. Planning or preparing for an activity isn’t the be-all and end-all but you’ve got to at least get on and do something in the first instance if you want to move forward with anything, right?

It seems these days that we are all too keen to procrastinate, over-evaluate, consider and re-consider something before we get on and do it. Sometimes it’s simply too easy to get distracted rather than just getting on with the task at hand. Maybe that’s a result of there being too many distractions open to us in this world of instant information, rapid gratification and fear that we might be missing out on something else if we commit our attentions to one task. Maybe we are genuinely fearful of the job on the list. The reality though is there really is no way we can achieve things without the simple act of getting organised, grabbing the metaphorical bull by the horns and getting on with it.

Below I have outlined 5 typical examples of procrastination and delaying tactics that I see time and again at work and at home, many of which I’m guilty of myself. For each of these I’ve also outlined a means of handling them, whether that’s Father to Child, Boss to Employee, Wife to Husband or from self to self; sometimes you just need to have a word with yourself, right?

My philosophy is that it’s never enough just to acknowledge and lament a problem if you’re not willing to do something to try and resolve it, so here we go!

1) Doing what we want to do rather than what we have to do – The best example of this is the age-old debate we parents have with our kids: homework versus TV. The source of the distraction is inconsequential but the substance of the argument remains. We have to accept that life for most of us is a process of having to do the things expected of us first before we indulge ourselves in the things we’d like to do. We have to go to work in the morning to earn a living before we can come home and enjoy our family-time and pursue our hobbies. Whilst at work we can get on and tackle the tasks we know are going to be time-consuming, complex and potentially unpleasant and leave the routine and administrative matters for later in the day or flip the scheduling of these around. The beauty of the former is that we get the tough stuff done while our energy levels are still high. 
Adopting the same model at home we can encourage our kids to get the homework done before the weekend so they are able to relax and enjoy their free time or it can be left hanging over them until the last possible minute when the only option is a rushed or half-hearted effort done reluctantly that won’t give the best results.

The choice is really all ours, and the suggested remediation is to force a value-judgment that encourages the choice to be made considering the balance of life, and not just defaulting to the path of least resistance to instant gratification.

2) Putting off the tricky tasks until last – There are theories abound of task-list management and how we should prioritise things. It’s often tempting to put off the tricky, unpalatable tasks or those we simply don’t feel like doing until later either in favour of doing the easy ‘quick-wins’ or simply doing nothing at all. The danger with this is two-fold. First, we risk convincing ourselves that we’re being productive or genuinely achieving things by knocking off the little tasks, and further justifying our procrastination over the big stuff. Second, we avoid reality that more significant and difficult tasks are likely to be of higher value and make a greater impact to our lives and hence warrant their status and significance on our task list.

The knack here is to ensure that the task list is only made up of genuinely important things that are aligned to our higher values (whether these are truly linked to delivering the benefits of a project at work, or to achieving our target grades at school). We also need to be clear on what is required of us so that we can then tackle the tasks to completion, tick them off the list and forget about them. I suggest you get ruthless, trim your list down to the truly significant activities rather than padding it with things that you know you can start ticking them off quickly; the progress might be slower on a task-by-task basis but the effects will be profound in your life as each task provides genuine value once complete. Cut out the ‘busy-work’.

3) Allowing ourselves to be distracted (usually by our smartphones) – When we are able to gain real-time insight into goings-on around us whether the Instagram photos of a friend’s dinner plate, or a breaking news article about the latest celebrity divorce, we invite distraction and procrastination into our lives. We convince ourselves that the risk of somehow being out of touch with the outside world outweighs the risk of not doing what we have to in a timely and efficient way. In most cases it’s actually just a means of convincing ourselves we have a valid reason to stay in touch with the world around us, or just an outright excuse. In the days before computers landed on most office desks I presume that distraction came in the form of conversations and visitors to your desk side or the ringing of the telephone. When computers were solely interfaces to operational systems it was likely that the situation remained largely the same. However, once email and Internet access proliferated a world of information and further distraction and interruption opened up to us. Now, in the age of the smartphone we have every bit of information in the world and live communication channels with our nearest and dearest open to us at all times of the day and night. These are truly times of unprecedented change and with two iPhone-toting teenage daughters whose embracing of social media has been committed and wholehearted I can see that the lasting effects of this change will be significant to their development and to that of the world at large.

It is certainly not just kids who’ve allowed this source of distraction into their lives and I can bear witness to many a Chief Financial Officer or Managing Director of large, publically quoted companies who I’ve observed sneaking a cursory look at Facebook or Twitter in the midst of significant meetings and discussions. It may have followed a check of their mobile work email app when their attention has wandered from the conversation at hand, but it is undeniable that the smartphone and the information it gives us access to is here to stay as the distracting force of our time.

The only advice I can offer in this regard is to be mindful of your use, be honest about how much you allow yourself to be distracted and stop kidding yourself that Twitter is any kind of essential business aid. Put the phone down and get on with the job at hand. Lead your kids by example, don’t lecture them in misty-eyed fashion over a simpler time then go back to looking at memes on Facebook.

4) Fear of missing out on something better – A by-product of the smartphone-enhanced world and the social networks within it is that we are constantly tormented with updates on the activities and lives of others. These are of course always 10% more exciting, stimulating or fun than ours; their holidays are to more exotic locations, they are doing more exciting things than us with friends whose company we want to be enjoying, and they are getting more out of life while we are sat here trying to complete an overdue report or defrost the freezer.

The nature of social media, online dating and any other kind of site that exists to connect people, is that users engage others in the ‘good stuff’ that’s going on in their lives and open up jealousy and fear of missing out in those who engage with them. In online dating, the availability of what is essentially a catalogue of sexy people who are all out to advertise themselves and attract a mate, convinces the single person that there is a wealth of potential matches out there and their task it is to weed out the best that they can; is it any wonder that people are becoming more likely to remain single in life as they fail to commit, believing that the best-of-the-best is just around the corner? Again the most effective course of action to counter this is to cut yourself off from the source of torment, or more realistically to know that you are probably as culpable as anyone else of participating in this same process. Pacify yourself that everyone else has to allocate time to the things they must do, as well as that they want to. Take satisfaction that once you’ve got your value-adding tasks done, you can share pictures of you cat/child/dinner/car with impunity, or swipe-left on a few potential dates.

5) Questioning the inherent value in a task (or asking ourselves “What’s the point?”) – There’s a rather corrosive belief held by many people, that these days every task, activity or moment in our lives should be endowed with significance or meaning. If the task is not instantly gratifying, then somehow it’s not worthy of us? This is the biggie and one that I’ll write on separately at some point soon. The significance here though is in the emerging sense of entitlement that seems to be factored into virtually every person’s mind these days regarding one or more aspects of their life, which underpins procrastination when we view tasks as beneath us, menial or just plain boring.

We all believe we inherently deserve the best, whether that’s the best-paid, most interesting job, the finest food and wines known to man, or the dream holiday to the far-flung destinations (whether we can afford them or not). I’m not disputing our right to strive for excellence, but I’m offended by the notion that it should come with zero effort or commitment on our part.

In work, employees baulk, complain and even strike at the notion of basically having to do their jobs if they disagree with the terms, conditions or even just the nature of the work. The UK public sector particularly is rife with people who pale at the thought that they may have to do more than the bare-minimum 35 hours per week and who know that with zero visible symptoms they can receive long-term sick pay for staying home and watching TV. I say this flippantly but also with experience, having worked for 4 long years in local government; it’s part of the reason I now work freelance in financial services; mercenary, certainly but I know where I am when most people are employed under the same terms and operate under the assumption if they don’t deliver they will be replaced following 2 weeks notice. Maybe this is the repressed Victorian Mill Owner in me, coming out in my views on employee-relations.

In our private lives, everyone can now access every material possession they wish (within reason); luxury cars can be leased for no money down, Satellite TV is considered a necessity alongside sanitation and electricity and you’re considered a luddite if your iPhone is more than one version older than the most recent model.

We are all products of the world in which we live and I’m not crusading for fundamental changes in the way we all engage with modern society and the trappings of it. What I advocate though is that we all need to complete activities (“work” in shorthand) that generally contributes to achieving things in life, both to earn a living and be a contributing member of society. Not everything is endowed with a higher purpose or value; we all need to roll up our sleeves and clean a toilet now and again and to view such things as beneath us or believe that we have some underlying reason to put off a task as not worthy of us is, frankly, laughable. I use extreme examples here but the simple message is if you’re questioning a task as warranting your attention, if it needs doing, for goodness sake just crack-on and get it done.

Hopefully you’ll find something that you can apply in the above. It seems obvious to say that the basic lesson of the piece is ‘Don’t Procrastinate’, but that is the fundamental point.
In keeping with point 5 above, sometimes we need a bit of tough love. We may spend our time and mind-space trying to concoct reasons why we want to avoid a task, or delay it until later. The simple fact is that assuming you are required to do something either because it is expected of you in work, or you’ve added it to your personal task list as it presumably aligns with your higher value goals, then by definition you are going to have to do it at some point to achieve your personal goals (to keep your job or achieve the beneficial value in these examples).

The more you put it off, the harder it will be to tackle. Stop considering there is a good reason for delaying tactics, put aside the sources of distraction and get it done.

Then revel in the glory, smug self-satisfaction and tell your friends about it on Facebook.


Thursday, 25 May 2017

Finding your One Reason - Dealing with times of trauma and upset

Following on from the tragic terrorist bombing in Manchester this week, this video considers how finding the one-thing that motivates or underpins your actions can help you when going through times of trauma, difficulty or upset.

10 Harsh Lessons That Will Make You More Successful

Everyone fails in life, and failure can be a crushing experience. The only thing that separates successful people from the rest is how they respond after they fail.
When facing obstacles, you have to decide if you’re going to let them be the excuse for your failure or if you’re going to make them the story behind your success.

“There is no failure. Only feedback.” -Robert Allen

When you adopt the right attitude, failure is a great teacher. Failure interrupts your routine and gives you an opportunity to explore new solutions, but only if you have the right attitude.

Psychologist Albert Bandura conducted a study that showed just how great a role our attitudes play in the face of failure. In the study, two groups of people were asked to complete an identical management task. The first group was told that the purpose of the task was to measure their management abilities. The other group was told that the skills required to complete the task were improvable and that the task was merely an opportunity to practice and improve. The trick was that the researchers made the task so difficult that all participants were bound to fail, and fail they did. The first group—feeling like failures because their skills weren’t up to snuff—made little or no improvement when they were given opportunities to repeat the task. The second group, however, saw each failure as a learning opportunity, and they performed at progressively higher levels each time they attempted the task. The second group even rated themselves as more confident than the first group.

Just like the participants in Bandura’s study, we can either view our failures as reflections of our abilities or as opportunities for growth. The next time you catch yourself wallowing in the self-pity that often accompanies failure, focus on what you can control: your attitude.

Some of the best lessons in life are also the toughest to accept and to adopt the right attitude toward. These are the lessons that challenge your flexibility and willingness to learn. When we don’t embrace them soon enough, the lessons we learn turn out to be harsh ones.

1. The first step is always the hardest. When you want to achieve something important, that first step is inevitably going to be daunting, even frightening. When you dare to make that first move, anxiety and fear dissipate in the name of action. People that dive headfirst into taking that brutal first step aren’t any stronger than the rest of us; they’ve simply learned that it yields great results. They know that the pain of getting started is inevitable and that procrastination only prolongs their suffering.

2. Good things take time. Success, above all, requires time and effort. Author Malcolm Gladwell suggested that mastery of anything requires 10,000 hours of tireless focus. Many successful people would agree. Consider Henry Ford, whose first two automobile businesses failed before he started Ford at the age of 45, or author Harry Bernstein, who dedicated his entire life to writing before he finally landed a best-seller at the age of 96. When you finally do succeed, you realize that the journey was the best part of it.

3. Being busy does not equal being productive. Look at everyone around you. They all seem so busy, running from meeting to meeting and firing off e-mails. Yet how many of them are really producing, really succeeding at a high level? Success doesn’t come from movement and activity; it comes from focus—from ensuring that your time is used efficiently and productively. You get the same number of hours in the day as everyone else, so use yours wisely. After all, you’re the product of your output not your effort. Make certain your efforts are dedicated to tasks that get results.

4. You will always have less control than you want. There are too many extenuating circumstances in life to control every outcome. You can, however, control how you react to things that are out of your control. Your reaction is what transforms a mistake into a learning experience and ensures that a victory doesn’t send your ego through the roof. You can’t win every battle, but with the right attitude, you can win the war.

5. You’re only as good as those you associate with. You should strive to surround yourself with people who inspire you, people who make you want to be better. And you probably do. But what about the people who drag you down? Why do you allow them to be part of your life? Anyone who makes you feel worthless, anxious, or uninspired is wasting your time and, quite possibly, making you more like them. Life is too short to associate with people like this. Cut them loose.

6. Your biggest problems are mental. Almost all our problems occur because we time travel: we go to the past and regret things we’ve done, or we go to the future and feel anxious about events that haven’t even happened. It’s all too easy to slip into the past or jet into the future. When you do, you lose sight of the one thing that you can actually control—the present.

7. Your self-worth must come from within. When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from comparing yourself with others, you are no longer the master of your own destiny. When you feel good about something that you’ve done, don’t allow anyone’s opinions or accomplishments to take that away from you. While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to compare yourself with others and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain—you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.

8. Not everyone will support you. In fact, most people won’t. Some people will inundate you with negativity, passive aggression, anger, or jealousy, but none of this matters, because, as Dr. Seuss said, “Those that matter don’t mind, and those that mind don’t matter.” We can’t possibly get support from everyone, and we definitely can’t spend our time and energy trying to win over the people who don’t support us. Letting go of the opinions of people who don’t matter frees up time and energy for the people and things that do.

9. Perfection doesn’t exist. Don’t seek perfection as your target. It doesn’t exist. Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure that makes you want to give up or reduce your effort. You end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently, instead of moving forward, excited about what you’ve achieved and what you’ll accomplish in the future.

10. Fear is the number one source of regret. When all is said and done, you will lament the chances you didn’t take far more than you will your failures. Don’t be afraid to take risks. I often hear people say, “What’s the worst thing that can happen to you? Will it kill you?” Yet, death isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you—the worst thing that can happen to you is allowing yourself to die inside while you’re still alive.

Bringing It All Together

Successful people never stop learning. They learn from their mistakes and they learn from their triumphs, and they’re always changing themselves for the better.


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

6 Ways to Overcome a Soul-Crushing Life Challenge

It was never in your life plan, certainly never predicted in your high school yearbook.
And yet, here you are. You’ve gone through a soul-sucking life experience and are suffering from the collateral consequences. Uncertainty, fear and disbelief rule the day. You keep waiting to wake up and find out this was all a bad dream.

The problem is that wishing, wanting and waiting don’t help. Whether you’re still in the midst of the storm or idling in the aftermath, the truth is that you have to reach down and make the decision that although you may have had no control over what happened to you, you do have control over how you respond and move forward. These six tips will help start you on that journey:

1. Don’t Compare Your Blooper Reel to Other’s Highlight Reel

At times it may seem like the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Social media exacerbates this perception because people tend to show only their green patch of lawn and not their backyard full of weeds!

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see someone’s perfect vacation pictures captioned: “Don’t know how we’re really going to pay for this; We’re up to our ears in debt! The kids got carsick and puked in the rental car, and Jack and I haven’t had sex for weeks! Wish you were here!”

The grass isn’t always greener. Everyone has something in life they wish they could undo, redo or erase. They just don’t post it on Facebook.

2. Realize That Sometimes You Have No Control Over What Happens to You

Like the saying goes, life is what happens to you when you are making other plans. I truly believe that things happen for you rather than to you to nudge you into growth. When something unexpected happens, ask yourself “What’s the lesson here?”

3. Surrender to Your Situation

Surrendering doesn’t mean giving in; it simply means you stop fighting the fact that the situation happened. Accept the fact that it occurred, that it sucks, and that yes, it probably was unfair and undeserved.

When you continually try to fight against a situation, it’s like trying to swim against a rip current. You can fight it and end up exhausted and pulled out to sea, or you can accept that it is done, swim parallel to it and overcome it. You cannot change what has already occurred but you can change how you respond to it. This is the tipping point to taking your power back.

4. Understand That Your Coping Mechanisms May Be Holding You Hostage

It is natural to feel disbelief, anger and sadness, and to want to blame others for what you are going through. These coping mechanisms are designed to help you deal with the situation at hand. They are also a defense mechanism, a way to push back on the reality of the situation.

The problem is, when you get stuck defending, denying, and blaming, you form an endless loop of negative thoughts that won’t stop spinning in your head. The part of your brain that is controlling the loop is your ego. When you learn to harness your ego, you can transform the way you think and move past these self-destructive thoughts.

5. Harness Your Ego

Your ego is part of your consciousness, and it competes with your higher self, or spirit, for control of your thoughts. Your ego is fear-based and your higher self is love-based. The two cannot coexist because the higher self simply does not recognize fear. Think of the ego as the darkness and the higher self as the light switch; once the light goes on darkness cannot exist.

The ego thrives on fear and separation in order to control your thoughts. It causes you to think you need to be better because you’re not good enough or are lacking in some way. The egoic brain creates this fear of inferiority and you react by putting others down as a way to raise your sense of self-worth up.

You can recognize your ego at work when you are critical or judgmental of others, when you take on the role of victim, or when you blame others rather than looking inward. When you feel self-important, when you feel the need to be right, and when anger, jealousy, and self-importance take center stage, that’s your ego, and it isn’t helping you. It creates a false sense of self.

Once you are aware that your ego is talking, you have begun the process of winning the mind chatter war in your head. Your awareness helps you realize that you no longer have to react to the fear it is creating. Your thoughts are not you but are of the ego. Remember that your ego and your higher self cannot co-exist; When you recognize the ego it has to take a back seat to your higher self. You then can move above these thoughts and shift your perspective from negative thoughts to ones that serve you positively.

6. Create Calm and Gratitude

The ego loves for you to focus on your past, on what you lost. What if you shift the way you look at your situation and focus on what you gained as a result?

What did you learn as a result of the trial? Are you more compassionate, less judgmental? Is your house calmer or cleaner? Did you start taking better c
are of yourself emotionally or physically? Are you finally putting yourself first?

Focusing on what you are grateful for instead of what you lost is a mindset that creates a calmer, happier you. And that is something to be grateful for!


Saturday, 20 May 2017

Do You Have an Impossible Ex?

Has your ex turned your divorce into a minefield?

Recently, I wrote an article about the Malignant Divorce. These are cases that spin out of control in dark and often dangerous ways. Over the next few months I'll continue this conversation, because even when a divorce is not particularly toxic, there are still moments in most divorces when you still have to protect yourself. And if you are in the midst of a Malignant Divorce, forewarned is forearmed. This post offers a direct follow up to the first tip that was referenced in the article. In simple words: if you're trapped in a malignant situation, you must come to terms with the kind of person your ex spouse has become. And if you don't, you're in trouble.

The Intelligent Divorce book series promotes a rational approach to dissolving a family even though feelings are charged. We are not looking for perfect behavior here. Parents under the stress of money worries, legal concerns, stories of betrayal, and uncertainty about the future are going to make mistakes—even big mistakes. But there is so much at stake for their children, that it is worth stepping back and trying to divorce in as intelligent a way as possible. I am not arguing for the easy divorce, just a more intelligent one.

For the record (and, if it's not obvious), intelligent does not mean stupid. There are cases in which the intelligent thing to do is to hang tough, not be particularly friendly and set good limits. There are cases in which the intelligent thing to do is to recognize that you are dealing with a spouse who is out to hurt you or your children. And, there are cases when all your communication must be done through attorneys because a moment on the phone or in person is just too loaded. A Malignant Divorce is instigated when one party simply wants to win at all costs. In these cases, intelligence is using all of your wits just to survive.

Here is the first point (of seven) that I made in the original overview of The Malignant Divorce.

You are dealing with an ex-spouse who just wants to win. If you are the healthier spouse, then you are trapped in a surreal life, largely not of your own making. It may not be fair, but it's time that you deal with it. Laying back and hoping it will all go away is probably a poor strategy.

When getting a divorce you must be aware of whom you are dealing with. This may not be as easy as it appears; after all you were living with him for a number of years and may perceive his behavior as normal—or at least tolerable, when it is anything but.

More fundamentally, your ex-husband or ex-wife may not be quite the same person he or she was during the marriage. It is called regression, and it is not a good thing.

The stress of divorce, which includes the instinct of self preservation, can make your ex (or you, for that matter) function at a more primitive and therefore, less healthy manner.The Intelligent Divorce; Taking Care of Yourself outlines ten common Character Traps that people fall into when regressed. For those professionals reading this piece, I use the concept of a Character Trap, instead of the more diagnostic term, Personality Disorder, because these primitive, and sometimes, dangerous regressions are often time limited to the years surrounding the divorce. Unlike Personality Disorders which have a strong degree of permanence, Character Traps describes a phenomena of stress induced dysfunction that is often less obvious beforehand or years later.

Character Traps are a construct that can provide something to hang your hat on, because they make sense. People who have dropped into a Character Trap are potentially dangerous because they (like Personality Disorders) are not vulnerable, as a rule, to ambivalence. This can be disastrous to the healthier spouse in a divorce. If an unambivalent person is in a conflict with a person who is more open minded, it can be very bad for the healthier person.

If you are the healthier spouse, then you are trapped in a surreal life, largely not of your own making.

You will give him the benefit of the doubt (which in normal cases builds trust) and he exploits it. She says something bad about you to the kids, and you let it pass (which in normal cases may just be an isolated incident) and she sees herself as vindicated by your silence. That is why it is so important to wake up and realize with whom you may be dealing. 

Regressed people often "know" that they are right, and therefore have a powerful moral authority to do as they please. This is a dangerous recipe for abuse that can range from financial manipulation, to parental alienation (from mild to severe), to kidnapping or even, rarely—murder.

Today, we'll go over the Character Traps (your ex can have more than one) that can set off a Malignant Divorce:

The Victim: This Character Trap is dominated by the certainty and injustice of being wronged. She believes that she lost precious years with you or that you are unfit to have anything to do with the children, because of what you've done (This Character Trap only applies when it is a distortion of the truth—note that it can be adaptive if an ex-spouse is truly dangerous). Victims are paradoxically ruthless in victimizing anyone who they believe hurt them. They have a powerful sense of justice and self righteousness. They also work from a kernel of truth, which makes their claims that much more powerful; this can be conscious and manipulative or more deeply unconscious and even, psychotic. I have seen terrible things done in the name of victimhood. If you are dealing with any Character 
Trap therapy is a must, so you have a chance to objectively decide how to stay safe and have a shot at having a relationship with your children. Many perpetrators of parent alienation have these features. Victims, paradoxically, can have a lot of power. They are often supported by family, attorneys, and even therapists, who fail to see that there is another side to the story.

The Control Freak: He was probably always controlling during your marriage, and because of regression, he has become far worse. In these cases, the control freak is really very anxious, but manages it by planning everything so that he cannot lose. He may set you up and then document your "incompetence", bringing copious notes to court to prove how capable he is and how irresponsible you are (for an example, turn to Alfred Hitchcock's Gaslight). The control freak can easily hide your mutual monies, because many are good businessmen who have control of the accounts. The control freak is unambivelent in his wish to win, and the more capable they are, the more work you will have in protecting yourself. Since you were married to him for a number of years, you may also be intimidated by the power of his relentless assault to your very legitimacy. Once again, therapy is mandatory.

The Narcissist: This Character Trap carries the same name as the personality disorder. The narcissist is completely self-centered and self-serving. In this case, your husband probably had some narcissistic tendencies before the divorce. Some warning signs include: a need for admiration, a need to be right, a need to be seen by the community as a great guy, and a need to criticize you privately for not meeting his standards. In addition, he's probably a charismatic and successful guy (maybe that's why you fell for him in the first place) who casually uses his charisma to get what he wants—often at the expense of other people. Now, your ex has regressed into a more severe form of narcissism. With the divorce, he completely dismisses any of your needs, or all the years of devotion and mutual companionship that you had built together. Normal people remember the good from the past. It informs a sense of balance and fairness during a divorce (even through a betrayal). 
You may be getting a divorce, but that doesn't mean that you don't have valuable memories and a life story together. For the narcissist, it is all gone; like it never happened. You will have to understand this if you are to deal effectively with him. The narcissist can undermine you with your friends, with your children and steal your money, all while looking sincere and generating good will among the community. And, need I say it? An excellent therapist can help.

The Avenger: This character trap is very dangerous and can be a natural extension of the victim, the control freak or the narcissist—if taken to an extreme. The avenger doesn't just want to win, she wants you to lose. She will not be satisfied until you are hurting. Many roads lead to Rome and many paths lead to the avenger. Melanie Klein, the great British psychoanalyst wrote about this psychology when she talked about envy, which she defined as "the pleasure one gets in destroying the good that another person has." There is a sense of urgency with an avenger. In a divorce, most people have a moment when they may consider some kind of revenge. It is normal to want to hurt a person that hurt you. But the vast majority of people see that there are two sides to most stories, and furthermore they just want to move on with their lives, if for no other reason than to give their children a brighter future. The avenger sees revenge as an end in itself. In my experience, when the avenger is combined with the victim Character Trap, such people can lose touch with reality. She will stop at nothing to make sure that you cannot be happy. At its worse, the kids literally become pawns in an evil game. In recent years, the politically charged label of parental alienation has been buttressed by research supporting that this insidious dynamic is probably a real phenomenon. Parental alienation is an attempt to deprive you of your children through a form of brainwashing. And what about kidnapping or murder? The avenger may really think, "If I can't have them, he sure won't." Or, "If I don't keep them from him, no one will." If you think that you are dealing with an ex-spouse who has these tendencies, then you will need a good attorney, a great therapist, and a familiarly with how to constructively use the police and the legal system.

Forewarned is forearmed; and that is the intelligent approach to a Malignant Divorce. Years from now, your ex may be surprisingly easy to deal with. Time sometimes heals, as long as not too much damage has been done along the way.


Friday, 19 May 2017

4 Action Steps to Take When Times Are Tough

Under the best of circumstances, being a parent can sometimes be tough. The expectations, responsibilities and realities of day-to-day life often interfere with the image of what we thought parenting would be like.

When a family faces challenging times — illness, loss of a job, the end of the marriage, financial stress or a myriad of other problems life sometimes throws our way — parenting can be even more difficult, especially when there is just not enough time, energy or resources.

As a country, we have just experienced one of the most difficult financial downturns in decades. Millions of families were directly or indirectly affected by it. or many, times are still tough and yet, their dreams and hopes for their families haven’t wavered.
How do you successfully parent when so many resources that many of us take for granted aren’t available to you? What if you don’t have the ability to send your children to the best schools, pay for extracurricular activities that could bring great benefit or give them the things that every other child seems to have?

What’s a family to do?

1. Develop and maintain clarity about what’s really important. That’s often easier said than done, especially when we’re experiencing stress. But if we are clear about the kind of character we want our children to have, we can teach and model the values and attributes that are most important to us. It doesn’t cost money to be honest, kind, hard-working and principled. Many successful adults have come from families without great means. And many children who have been raised with vast financial privileges have failed to go on to create a life of value and purpose.

2. Focus on quality time together. When we’re experiencing stressful times, it’s natural to spend every waking minute worrying or feeling fearful about the future. But worry and fear don’t solve problems. Giving whatever precious free time and energy we have to unproductive emotions simply drains us more. If we can develop the discipline to do everything we can to solve the problems at hand, then for a few hours a day let go of what might happen in the future so we can more fully be with our family, everyone will benefit. 
Have a game night. Read a book out loud to each other. Be in nature. Explore whatever your child is interested in together. Sit down individually and as a family and make a list of what enjoyable activities you can do that involve little or no costs. Then, set aside as much time as you can each week to do some of those things.

3. Find support. Maybe your family of origin isn’t available to help. Or maybe their worldview isn’t one that matches with yours. But if we have just one person we can turn to when we’re down, who can help us remember what’s important, we are reminded that we aren’t alone in our efforts. And if you can’t find anyone to fill that role, think about finding articles, videos, or books about on parenting or other people’s lives and how they persevered and overcame obstacles to keep you going.

4. Give yourself credit. Maybe you can’t do or give everything you’d like to your children. But stop and think about what you are providing and the lessons you are teaching them. What children need most is to be loved, valued, and supported for who they are.

No matter what your circumstances, or whether you’re experiencing tough times or not, paying attention to what’s really important, focusing on spending quality time with your family, finding ways to support yourself and making sure you’re giving yourself credit for all that you are providing your children helps you to feel better about the parenting process. And, it enriches your children in ways that all the materials items in the world cannot do.


2 Similarities Between Being a Manager and Being a Parent

It pleases me when I learn something new about myself. It’s not just the wonderment that an old-dog can indeed learn new tricks, but also shock (bordering on dismay) that I didn’t already know it all.

Whether reflecting upon how I’ve been tackling a problem, only to see a completely different way of doing it that immediately seems obvious, or looking back and realizing that I could have handled something a lot better, the net effect is usually much the same; I can’t believe that I didn’t figure it out sooner.

I’ve been pondering lately the best way of tackling a couple of ongoing challenges in my life, namely how to get the best out of my co-workers (both those above and beneath me in the corporate food-chain) and how best to get my kids to do what I want and expect from them; in both cases I’m largely precluded from considering sanctions, bribery or coercion as options and so I’m left wondering how best to achieve my goal through more subtle means.
I’ve not yet got all the answers, but verging on 20 years into my career, and in my 18th year as a parent I’m starting to build up a useful play-book of techniques.

First, a little context.

In my working life I’m far from your typical ‘manager’ and I’ve deliberately chosen a career path that aligns most closely with my being a goal and delivery focussed individual. When I’m not writing, I mostly work as a freelance IT Project Manager and have long since given up the desire to climb to levels of seniority in that field. Give me a challenge and a problem to solve and I’m in my element. What job title I’m given or how many people work beneath me is completely irrelevant and outside of my interest.

Since stepping onto the first rung of the career ladder I’ve occasionally tried and largely failed to carve out a niche as an out-and-out people-manager since I’m just no good at taking on the challenges of personnel management and have no desire to engage in the politics and general ass-kissing that seem to be a necessity to escape beyond middle-management. I’d sooner work with and organise people to whom I can give the professional courtesy of assuming they are competent, capable and reasonably committed to the job in hand rather than having to concern myself with matters of pastoral care or ‘HR’. Give me a person with the right skills and I’ll happily co-ordinate and guide their actions to achieve the greater-good; just don’t ask me to conduct a career appraisal for them or to help them settle their personal or professional grievances.

I’m completely at one with my motivation towards work, and in myself since I know that my core values are aligned to setting measurable and meaningful goals and then motivating myself (and others) towards their achievement. This holds in my life outside work too.
In my personal life, I’m part-time single parent to two teenage daughters who I’ve raised 50% of the time with their mother, my ex-wife for over 11 years. I’m also step-father to two younger kids that my second wife brought into our marriage, from her first. As such, there’s a fair amount of stakeholder management in my personal life too.

What has struck me more and more as the years have gone by is just how many parallels exist between the two roles, and how much learning I can apply from one role to the other. It extends in both directions too and not just in how being a project manager has helped me as a parent, but also vice-versa.

When I refer to ‘they’, ‘them’ or ‘their’ in the two examples below I’m referencing my kids at home or my co-workers at work. Co-workers also applies equally to those who I manage in delivery of my projects and the senior managers that I report to. The two key similarities are as follows:

1) They just want to be heard and acknowledged – There are few settings within which we spend so much of our lives in as the workplace and for many it can be a crushingly anonymous place where the many drones servicing the greater needs of the hive feel like their efforts are lost and unappreciated. I often experience instances where those both above and beneath me in the supposed hierarchy bringing problems, challenges or items of risk that if not averted will knock things off course. My natural reaction as a goal-oriented and solution-focussed person is to leap into action and to try and solve the issues presented at face-value. Only in the last few years with growing self-awareness and a deeper appreciation for human behaviour (in myself and others) have I recognised that seldom does what I hear really represent the whole story.

In my experience the issue that is brought to me may be a symptom of a wider issue or a general concern that the person with the worries has used as a means of voicing their dissatisfaction. Often-times, it won’t even be something that they needs to be changed or solved but rather that they are just using it as an opportunity to get their voices heard. Many times they don’t even want it to be solved but simply crave recognition from you, the acknowledgement of their existence. Others feel it is their role (whether explicitly or implicitly) to be a source of stretch and challenge as you make your way through working life. As such, they are mainly serving the needs of their ego.

The preferred reaction I’ve learned then is always first and foremost to hear the challenge and to demonstrate that you have taken it on-board and are taking it seriously. This may be closely followed by efforts to investigate and resolve, but it doesn’t always require that.
For my kids I’m often in exactly the same position. I’m fortunate to have nurtured a bond where my kids feel comfortable in bringing their stuff to me, and whereby they can respectfully and maturely communicate their dissatisfactions without resorting to the stereotypical ‘I hate you’ mode of teenage communication (most of the time). That doesn’t mean that things are always as they seem on the surface.

Sometimes they just want a bit of attention, and for kids (and co-workers at times) any attention is good attention.

In the midst of the noise of our day-to-day lives, with the many and varied challenges of work and family life to balance we can become oblivious to those things right in front of us and which we say we value the most. Kids have their own similar battles and alongside school work, their hobbies, dreams and aspirations, they need to carve out their niche in the modern world of social networks and instant gratification. Often they too feel the need to throw on the emergency brake and to feel like they’ve been brought to the forefront of our minds for a few minutes so that they don’t have to compete with all the other things going on in our lives.

When my daughter complains of a stomach-ache, the underlying concern may not be a medical issue which has me instantly reaching for the medical-kit to remedy, but rather nervousness about an impending test at school or a challenging sports game that is coming up. When one of them has a temper-tantrum and attempts to act-up or to get a reaction out of me by making provocative statements it is often not driven out of a lack of care or consideration but because she has had an argument with a friend or misses her mother. Sometimes it’s just hormones throwing her off balance, clouding her ability to deal with a simple day-to-day event.

The challenge then is in both taking things at face-value but in remaining open-minded enough to consider other angles, other sides of the same coin. Often I find I’ve done my bit merely by opening my ears and demonstrating that I’ve heard what they have to say; that I’ve listened to and acknowledged them above all the other noise in life.

2) They want to please me but also crave praise and recognition for their efforts – When asked at work by a team member what it is that I expect of or need from them my answer is often that I simply want them to do their best and make me look good. I apply the same logic towards my bosses and my role in their world. If each person spent their time trying to do the best for themselves and for the person who was in some way responsible for them, then I contend that the whole system would function a lot better and more consistently than it does. If I’m driven to do the best job I can in whatever role I’m playing in a given moment, then the knock-on effects of it will be positive for those around me.

The flip-side of that action, the counter-balance if you like is in the recognition of those efforts which we all crave in life from those to whom we are accountable. This is the feedback on our having delivered value, the validation of our efforts and the sense of gratitude that we feel from those we have served in some way.

At work there’s the reward and feedback of remuneration, and being paid for a job well done, but as theories of organisational behaviour show us, pay and rations alone do not motivate. It is the kindly words, favourable conditions and positive feedback along with the opportunity to grow and feel valued that give rise to the illusive trait of employee satisfaction and which get the best out of us at work.

With my kids, I may feel like I’m doing my bit by giving them a comfortable home, keeping them fed and clothed and buying them the occasional gift to demonstrate my love and care for them. It is the kindly words however that make the most difference, the feelings of love and pride I express to them on a regular basis, the lunchbox notes I send to offer them mid-day encouragement and just the act of ‘showing up’ for them throughout their lives that have grown and nurtured the bond I enjoy with them. Pay and rations come to be relied upon in our personal relationships too, but it is the gratitude and recognition we show for others and their efforts that let them know that we aren’t simply taking them for granted.

Putting it in action

I most certainly don’t have all the answers on this topic (or any other); I’m a student of life just as much as we all are and I’m grateful for the fact that I’m continually learning new things and reaching new insights about myself and how I interact with others. What I have realised though is that it’s not simply a case of having diverse and separate roles in life that I need to master but rather that many of the roles (parent, worker, friend, husband) rely on many of the same traits, skills and techniques if I’m to perform them to my desired standard.

To labour under the misapprehension that we should be one person at work and another entirely at home fails to acknowledge the point that we can all only really be the unique people that we are in each and every role. We have our DNA, we have our in-built programming and we have the lessons we’ve learned to apply throughout our lives in each and every role. We can grow and we can adapt but we cannot bend ourselves into something that we are not and nor should we.

Take the skills and experience that you have, innately and within you and exploit those in each role you fulfil. Be true to yourself and mindful of who you are and how you act. I contend that more often than not you’ll find that the many resources you have in one area of life (that you may consider to be your sweet-spot) can in fact be brought to bear in other areas of your life too if you open your mind to what you know and what you can learn in each role.