Tag Archives: Development

Transformational Leadership | North Wales

Gone are the days when leadership resided only in the offices of Senior Management Teams and other upper echelons of the organisation. These days we need to be developing leadership capacity throughout organisations – and especially in the middle. It’s never been more vital to business results to harness the knowledge, skills and leadership potential of the people who are close to your customers, competitors and employees…harnessing the potential of other is what transformational leadership is all about and it begins and end with self-awareness.

These days the quest for leadership is first an inner quest to discover who you are. Through self-development comes the confidence needed to lead. Self-confidence is really awareness of and faith in our own powers. These powers become clear and strong only as you work to identify and develop them. Learning to lead is about discovering what you care about and value, about what inspires you, about what challenges you, what gives you power and competence, what encourages you. When you discover these things about yourself you’ll know what it takes to lead those qualities out of others. Sometimes liberation is as uncomfortable as intrusion but in the end when you discover things for yourself you know that what’s inside is what you found there and what belongs there. It’s not something put inside you by someone else; it’s who you discover for yourself.

Please note that Transformational Leadership is a 6 day programme and the date above represents the starting date:

Module One: 15th -16th May 2017

Module Two: 7th – 8th June 2017

Module Three: 6th – 7th July 2017

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Transformational Leadership | South Wales

Gone are the days when leadership resided only in the offices of Senior Management Teams and other upper echelons of the organisation. These days we need to be developing leadership capacity throughout organisations – and especially in the middle. It’s never been more vital to business results to harness the knowledge, skills and leadership potential of the people who are close to your customers, competitors and employees…harnessing the potential of other is what transformational leadership is all about and it begins and end with self-awareness.

These days the quest for leadership is first an inner quest to discover who you are. Through self-development comes the confidence needed to lead. Self-confidence is really awareness of and faith in our own powers. These powers become clear and strong only as you work to identify and develop them. Learning to lead is about discovering what you care about and value, about what inspires you, about what challenges you, what gives you power and competence, what encourages you. When you discover these things about yourself you’ll know what it takes to lead those qualities out of others. Sometimes liberation is as uncomfortable as intrusion but in the end when you discover things for yourself you know that what’s inside is what you found there and what belongs there. It’s not something put inside you by someone else; it’s who you discover for yourself.

Please note that Transformational Leadership is a 6 day programme and the date above represents the starting date:

Module One: 4th – 5th May 2017

Module Two: 5th – 6th June 2017

Module Three: 4th – 5th July 2017

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Inspiring Leadership | North Wales

For enlightened businesses and individuals that have the courage and vision to join our revolution and put self-awareness at the heart of their development activities.

Inspiring Leadership is delivered one or two days a month, over approx 4 months. Participants can register for all seven days, or can choose to undertake the programme as one or more of the stand alone one day programmes.

Please note that Inspiring Leadership is a 7 day programme and the date above represents the starting date, the course will run on the following dates:

 

6th April 2017 | 15th May 2017 | 16th May 2017 | 7th Jun 2017 | 8th Jun 2017 | 6th Jul 2017 | 7th Jul 2017

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Inspiring Leadership | South Wales

For enlightened businesses and individuals that have the courage and vision to join our revolution and put self-awareness at the heart of their development activities.

Inspiring Leadership is delivered one or two days a month, over approx 4 months. Participants can register for all seven days, or can choose to undertake the programme as one or more of the stand alone one day programmes.

Please note that Inspiring Leadership is a 7 day programme and the date above represents the starting date, the course will run on the following dates:

4th April 2017 | 4th May 2017 | 5th May 2017 | 5th Jun 2017 | 6th Jun 2017 | 4th Jul 2017 | 5th Jul 2017

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Letting Go of Control and Dropping the Mask

This past week my debt of gratitude to the NHS grows even greater.  It has been sixteen months after they so expertly delivered my daughter, Sophia into the world with an emergency C-section.  I can still remember that feeling of having to surrender any kind of control of the situation and handing over to the experts and trusting them with the lives of my loved ones.

Sophia had been quite ill for a few days already when I noticed one morning that a rash had appeared all over her body. For those who have experienced this they will know that it’s quite a shock.  So, I rang the local medical centre, described her symptoms, and was advised to take her to A&E immediately.

Sophia found the examination by the doctor extremely upsetting and was looking to us with open arms with a look of confusion and desperation that said “Why are you letting him do this?  Help me!”  The emotional instinct within me to pick her up, take her away from this and protect her was almost overwhelming.  All I could do was reassure her that it was ok.

With health matters I’m finding there are just so many things that I don’t know and must defer to the experts.  This is an uncomfortable feeling and requires huge amounts of trust to be placed in the medical experts.  It’s uncomfortable to feel like you don’t know what you are doing.

I wonder as a leader, have you ever had that thought or feeling that you don’t know what to do or you don’t have the answer?  That’s when the ego kicks in and suggests that “You SHOULD know this!  You’re the leader after all.  Don’t let them see you don’t know. It’ll be seen as a weakness”.  Ever had such conversations in your head?  Congratulations on being a human.

When we are ruled by our egos like this we keep our true selves hidden away, we protect ourselves from the judgement of others, we wear a mask. It is a powerful and fear based motivation.  I don’t want you to see that I’m sweating here.  Patrick Lencioni in his book ‘The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team’ explains that the reality is that those around us can see that we’re sweating before we realise it.  The great leaders will point to the sweat marks in their arm pits and say “Check this out!”.  We are called as leaders to drop the mask and to share our vulnerabilities and our mistakes. By doing so we allow those around us to admit to mistakes and shortcomings.  When this happens then learning and growth can take place as people become less concerned with self-protection.

Maybe you don’t have to be the one who has all the answers?  What if you felt ok to say “You know what I really don’t know what to do here, I need some help”.  Not knowing what to do or not being good at something can be stressful.  Learning to let go of control and trust others can feel overwhelming but ultimately is a way of enabling others around you to act and develop.

  • How might you be able to let go and create the space for others to become experts?
  • How might your fears be having an impact on your self-development and on those around you?
  • What possibilities might open up if you could ask for help, drop the mask a little and let go of control?

Learning to let go of control and to engender trust in your team is just one aspect of becoming an inspirational and transformational leader.  We would love you to come and join us on one of our Pioneer Leadership Programmes.

 

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Show Up & Be Seen

As a leader or business owner is there a part of you that is waiting for people to find you?

The truth is it is so much easier to hide than to stand up and be seen.

How often do we hide from communicating our ideas and work? Hide from showing what we feel to our partners and friends? Hide from expressing what we really think and feel? If you are like the rest of us, the chances are you hide quite a lot!

We hide because we are frightened. Frightened of not being good enough, frightened of people not liking us or frightened of feeling unsafe in some way. I know you have these fears as well.

Conquering the fear of being seen and heard is definitely not about changing who you are. It is not about forcing yourself to be an extrovert or diving headlong into becoming an expert at networking! The only way I know to come out of hiding is to increase our self-awareness.

Only when you learn more about your own fears and the specific ways that you hide can you feel comfortable enough to drop the mask and step out into the spotlight. When we learn who we are we can share our ideas and thoughts in an authentic way and automatically inspire others to do the same.

One of the keys to getting out of your own way, is to change your focus from your individual fears to the people you want to connect with.

So whether you are a leader, a business owner or a friend, have a think about how you can be seen and show up in 2017. How can you stop thinking about your own roadblocks and start focusing on the people you want to serve? Whatever it involves, know that the feelings of fear will come, as they always travel with anything exciting, so embrace them.

Keep on track by revisiting the impact you are having and keep going, make 2017 the year that you come out of hiding and get in front of people.

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A new year revolution, finding your passion

The New Year is a great time to start something new… not so much a ‘new year resolution’ (which tends to be about improving something you are dissatisfied with) but more a new year revolution. Overthrowing the old to make room for something new.

As a coach I spend much of my time helping people decide what they want to do with their life. They have the idea that they will find their passion in life through thinking or talking about it, and sometimes it does happen that way, but more often than not finding your passion comes when you spend some time playing with something which is in the area of what you love.

Jamie Catto says that we can’t always wait for the ‘trumpet of inspiration’ and that just beginning is the secret to finding your passion. In short, passion can grow out of action once you get started.

It all sounds easy, right? Wrong! Because in order for your passion to come through you have to surrender the usual ego-mind that solves your daily problems. This part of your mind has to take a back-seat when you take creative action. If it doesn’t you will find that the usual mind chatter about not ‘being good enough’ will easily sabotage you getting started.

So this new year rather than focus on what you want to improve, start by putting some time aside to play. Paint one small picture. Set up one meeting with someone you’d like to collaborate with and brainstorm over coffee. Just…one…thing. We don’t discover our passion all at once in one giant leap, we take the next step, then the next and then the next, and it either leads to us discovering our passion, or it doesn’t. There are no guarantees, but there is a whole lot of fun to be had finding out!

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Are we really listening?

How often do we listen to somebody?  I mean really listen to them without our own thoughts and stories playing in the background.  As a trainer, facilitator and coach I have always considered myself to be a good listener.  However, I am noticing more and more how rarely I am actually fully present and listening both socially and at work.

The other day I went for a meal with a friend.  I asked her about what her dreams were for her business.  As she began to reveal her heart-felt ideas and dreams I became distracted by a text message that I’d noticed on my phone.  Before too long I’d lost the thread of the conversation and it must have been obvious to her that I wasn’t fully present because the way she was speaking about her dreams changed.  The enthusiasm had gone and her words petered out.  I immediately apologised and revealed that I hadn’t been fully present to something that was so precious to her.  She said she had noticed I wasn’t fully present and so had started to ‘think small’ about her ideas. Dreams are so precious, especially in their infancy“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow”. Ovid

This experience got me thinking about just how often I, and others, really aren’t fully present at all when they are communicating.  We are in our own maps of the world, listening autobiographically, thinking about our own stuff or what we are going to say next or trying to fix it for the other person. ‘So what?’ you might say.  Well think about how many relationships at home and at work break down as a result of poor communication, false assumptions and complaints of not being seen, heard and understood.
  • What if we could all learn how to be more fully present with others?  What value might that add?
  • What if we as leaders and team members were able to be fully present to the ideas and needs of our colleagues, clients and customers?
  • What might you need to let go of to be fully present when listening?
I know what it feels like to be with somebody who is fully present and listening to me.  It is extremely affirming and empowering. It enables me to give voice to previously untapped and hidden important parts of me. There are three people in my life who immediately spring to mind who are especially good at this.
  • Who in your life does this for you?
  • Who in your life might you need to be more present to?
My colleague, coach, life mentor and friend, Jane, has a phenomenal way of doing this. Those of you who have worked with Jane will know this. Without fail I will come out of a conversation with her feeling better about myself and feeling more resourceful about the situation in hand.  What a gift to be able to give to a colleague, a friend, a loved one, a team member, a child.  So how does she do it?  After asking her it transpires that there is an inner game and outer game going on.  The inner game is about making a conscious choice that we make to give the person with us our full attention.  It’s also in Jane’s words “about love”.  Now if that word doesn’t fit for you in the workplace then what about care or being genuinely interested in the people you work with.  The outer game is about learning listening ‘techniques’.

Learning how to be fully present when listening to others is a really empowering gift to give to others.  On our Pioneer Programme we will be exploring this through a series of practical exercises that help you to realise the impact of presence and non-presence on the other person.  We explore both the inner game and outer game of being fully present to somebody else.  Imagine what potential we might unlock in our people were we able to be fully present to them more of the time.

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Anyone for another biscuit?

It is a belief of mine that for a team to be fully functional, its members need to learn how to disagree passionately with each other and still commit to an agreed way forward.  Teams need to learn how to master conflict.  Conflict is a necessary part of human relationships in work.  It could be argued that there is far less conflict within teams than there needs to be.  I wonder how comfortable you and your teams are with this.  The health of your team could depend on it.

Back in my early days of work as a community worker I used to get invited to the Libraries network meetings.  Their meetings were always extremely pleasant occasions with people being very respectful and nice to each other.  The meetings wouldn’t commence until everyone had been offered at least 3 biscuits with their tea or coffee.  After a few months of attending I became aware that there had never once been any form of disagreement in the meetings.  This was highly unusual especially given the political nature of some of the discussions.  I decided to test this out.  The next time I genuinely disagreed with one of their ideas I said so.  This was met with silence and uncomfortable shuffling followed by further silence and awkwardness. “Anyone for another biscuit?” said the head librarian desperate to save everyone from the torture of potential conflict in the room.  Nobody met my eyes and the next item on the agenda was announced, as if I had never spoken.  After the meeting I asked one of the librarians what that had been all about.  She revealed that people tend not to disagree with each other publically for fear of “hurting someone’s feelings”.  I was never asked back.

Are your staff holding back or are they weighing in?  Perhaps they aren’t contributing to debates for fear of the political ramifications or the social cost of disagreeing.  What a chronic loss of mental resources and creativity.  If this is the case the team might become dysfunctional and the results or outputs could well suffer.  I believe this is far from being unusual in organisations.

This is the 2nd of the 5 classic team dysfunctions that will be explored on our upcoming Team Health Check day.  Biscuits will of course be supplied (along with practical tips on how to overcome these dysfunctions).

Tim

Book Now: Cardiff 3rd June | Book Now: Chester 10th June 

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Thriving through Change

It is fairly obvious that companies that manage change well will continue to grow and thrive, those that don’t become stagnant and fail.

But what is not so obvious is the difference that makes the difference when leading through change. In our experience the difference that makes the difference when leading change depends on the levels of self awareness and maturity of the leadership in the organisation.

The truth is change is scary. Change evokes fear and when fear is evoked we become ‘needy.’ Specifically, our psychological need for Certainty, Connection and Credibility is heightened.

We have found that the following three steps are critical when leading through change because these steps meet our three psychological needs head on.

  1. To meet the need for certainty it is critically important to limit the fear. It is the responsibility of leaders to help the team understand that the change is a positive necessity and ensure that everyone understands why the change is happening. If everyone is sure why the change is happening this can help in protecting the team from external and internal threats and in maintaining a confident attitude.
  1. To meet the need for connection it is critical to provide informal ways that the team can connect with each other through change. Change can often result in people ‘keeping their head down’ and hiding from what is happening around them. The underlying fear can create an atmosphere that leads them to become quiet and uncommunicative. If left unchecked this can result in a toxic culture in which things do not get done.
  1. To meet the need for credibility the most important responsibility of a leader is to have clarity around everyone’s part to play in the process and to make people feel a hero in the journey. This seems obvious but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Sometimes leaders think they are ensuring people feel valued, but this can sometimes be more of an assumption than reality. Consistent praise and affirmation is critical to ensure that all team members know the plan and more importantly that they sense their role is critical for contributing to the overall success.

At the core of leading change is the necessity for leaders to stay visible and available and making their primary role that of communicating and connecting with those around them.

‘Courage to Change’ 1 Day Programme:

Chester: 9th May | Cardiff: 10th May

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Let’s Talk Dirty!

We all know the old adage that a consultant is someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time, and then keeps your watch, so the joke goes.

There are plenty of other ones along similar lines, all suggesting that what a management consultant does is charge people an awful lot of money for delivering something they already knew.

The fact that the jokes endure hint at the sense of controversy that surrounds the profession; what does a management consultant really do, is there still room for consultancy in a world of coaching?

This is the question that came up at our Monday morning meeting. We debated whether or not we were in danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water in ‘dumbing down’ our skill set in management consulting, given that LTI was founded on consultancy?

Jo Lord began her days as a learning and development consultant. She was (and still is) exceptional at it. Clients value her ability to take the wider perspective and the objective and knowledgeable advice that she offers. Discussing her work pointed us to another dimension of consultancy that we had not previously considered.

Consulting has an energetic quality to it that is unquantifiable but can be tangibly felt. When you are stuck, the energy of being advised or even told what to do can have the effect of releasing you from stuckness, whether you take the advice or not!

Being stuck in your own perspective is agonising, it generates an internal atmosphere of inertia and sloth and drains you of the energy that is required for insight. Consultants are free from the swamp of your personal inertia and can bring a freeing energy to the stuckness, they see clearly and have the expertise to speak from a place of knowledge. In short good consultancy has an immediate impact. It is the beginning of a conversation.

After our meeting we decided to trial a new idea called ‘Consultation Stations.’ Consultation stations are quite simply an opportunity to come and get a fresh perspective on your workplace challenges without the obligation of ‘bringing in a consultant.’ At the moment this is a trial to test demand, so we are offering 10 free sessions to those who would welcome such an experience.

Jo will be takilearning (62)ng up residence at a ‘station’ near you and sessions will take a couple of hours over a cup of coffee. If you fancy taking some time out to get a new perspective and picking the brains of someone free from the constraints of your organisation, why not get in touch with Jo and book yourself a slot?

Contact Jo: jo@learningtoinspire.co.uk

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The Trust Effect

Let me ask you a question?  As a leader do you think that you should show your vulnerability to your team?  By this I mean letting them see your humanity by saying things like; “I don’t know”, “Can you teach me that because you’re much better than me at it”, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that”, “I’m not so good at this and I know I need to get better”, or “I need some help”.

I recently asked this question of the Managing director of a small but fast expanding business with whom we are doing some development.  The response was “No, never.  It’s important that the team sees that I am in control at all times.  However, I am very open with my team”.

When I later observed his team meetings it was interesting to see how his team members responded to his request for feedback and openness on his leadership style.  Nobody said a word, the silence and awkwardness was palpable in the room.  After the meeting I asked the team members (away from their leader), why had nobody raised their concerns (of which there were many).  The common reply was that they did not wish to be the one who put their head above the parapet to be shot at.  It seems that despite the leader’s attempt at openness (to his credit), there was an element of fear that was holding people back.  When team members are weighing up the potential social and political cost of expressing themselves there is an absence of trust.  As the leader had never previously shown his vulnerability the team members were not going to risk it for themselves.

When there is a vulnerability based trust in a team people are free to express ideas, joy, concerns, dissatisfactions without fear of reprisal.  This is the trust effect and the cornerstone to any strong, supportive functional team.

From our experience, there seems to be a commonly held myth that leaders show no weakness.  We have found this to be especially true in the more male dominated workplaces such as heavy industries, engineering and mining.  This apparent ‘weaknesses’ includes showing how you really think and feel and who you really are.  Here at Learning to Inspire we believe that there is a growing consciousness of leaders showing their humanity to others and that this is a great strength, not a weakness.

Here are some questions for you to consider:

  • How might you be contributing to a climate of trust or mistrust?
  • How are you at being challenged by team members?
  • What might you gain from some feedback from your team?
  • How might you show your humanity to your team?
  • Do we ever really have control and is it not just an illusion?  Might our teams see beyond our own illusions?

These are the kind of questions we will be exploring on our up and coming ‘Team Health Check’ days…….. where we help you to create high functioning teams.

Cardiff: 3rd June 2016     |    Chester: 10th June 2016

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Adding Drama to Meetings

If I were to ask you what springs to mind when I use the word ‘Meetings’ what would you say? As organisations, we seem to have resigned ourselves to the notion that meetings are unavoidably painful and unproductive – one of the necessary evils of organisational life. But the fact is, bad meetings are a reflection of bad leaders.

According to Patrick Lencioni author of ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’, leaders who are willing to challenge the notion that meetings are unfixable, are able to transform what is a tedious and debilitating process into something productive, focused, even energizing.

The key to improving meetings, however, has nothing to do with better preparation, agendas or minutes, in fact it is our contention that it is the opposite that is required. To address the problem of boring meetings, leaders need to be ready to let go of the control and the hiding place that overly prepared agendas offer.

The first step in transforming meetings is to understand why they are so bad. We believe that one of the key issues is that leaders are frightened of what might happen if they actually let their people loose from the constraints of rigid agendas. If we look deeply at our reasons for tightly controlled meetings we often find fear. It could be a fear of conflict between co-workers, people speaking their minds, or the prospect of ideas that threaten a leader’s credibility. Whatever the cause of the fear the result is meetings that lack what Lencioni calls ‘Drama’.

Lencioni suggests that in order to increase the drama of meetings, leaders need to put the most controversial issues on the table at the beginning of their meetings. In addition, they must insist that their people wrestle with those issues until resolution has been achieved. When they do this they can create genuine, compelling drama, and prevent their people from disengaging.

This level of intense engagement requires high levels of bravery, sourced from equal amounts of self awareness. If you feel you are up to the challenge, then we challenge you to add a touch of drama to your next meeting. Alternatively, if you don’t feel quite ready for this level of risk taking then why not consider attending our Team Health Check taster day….

Cardiff: 3rd June   |  Chester: 10th June

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Do you do what you say on the tin?

Let’s get straight to the point.  If you are a senior manager or owner of a small business there is one thing that people want from you more than anything else.

In fact, if this one thing is absent, even if the leader demonstrates strong leadership characteristics, he or she will struggle to maintain their ‘followership’.

Research shows, and we have found through our work, that the one thing people want is honesty and integrity.  More specifically it is authenticity. Or put it yet another way, you need to do what you say on the tin.

If there are mismatches between words and actions, between message and method, then those following will lose faith and trust.  If you lost faith and trust in a leader will you still follow them?  We think not.

So, if you are a leader or owner of a small business, I would like you to consider one question…’what is written on your tin’?  Just before you answer, you are not allowed to reply with your own name!

This question is designed to get you thinking about what you stand for as a leader.  After all, if people want someone who does what they say on the tin, you had best work out what the tin says. This is not as easy as it sounds, and most training does not help you do it. Most leadership training gives lots of theory but does not help the leader find his or her own voice, or help develop the internal resources needed for when the going gets tough.

Our training is different. Intensely personal and profoundly effective, our training has a focused mission, to give senior/owner managers the self awareness and strategies to lead people in these times of uncertainty and change.

If you would like to find out what you stand for as a leader…

Join us on our taster event: The Quest for Authenticity – Cardiff –April 12th 2016

Our 6 day coaching course:Inspiring Authentic Leadership – starts in Cardiff on May 18th – find out more

Find out about our other one day training events: Upcoming Events Calendar 

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Habit Upgrade Anyone?

How many of you brush your teeth without thinking about it? I know I do, except when I am due to visit the dentist, and then my extra vigilant brushing practically becomes a mindful practice! This is how (Whilst mindfully brushing my teeth) I found myself thinking about habits.

According to Charles Duhigg author of the ‘Power of Habits’ every habit starts with a psychological pattern called a “habit loop,” which is a three-part process. First, there’s a cue, or trigger, that tells your brain to go into automatic mode, second the behavior unfolds and finally your brain remembers everything so that you can repeat it in the future.

What I find interesting about habits is that as soon as a behavior becomes automatic, the decision-making part of your brain goes into a sleep mode of sorts.

“In fact, the brain starts working less and less,” says Duhigg. “The brain can almost completely shut down.” Of course this has its advantages because it means you have lots of mental space to devote to something else. On the flip side though, when we fall asleep to our habits we fail to recognise if our habitual patterns are helping or hindering our growth and development.

Perhaps one of the most useful habits we can cultivate as leaders and coaches is the habit of becoming aware of our habits! The payoffs are immense. When we become aware of how we ‘shut down’ in the midst of a habit we can begin to reclaim the freedom to choose our actions and our responses. As leaders and coaches when we stay awake to our habitual thoughts and behaviours we are noticing what started as an effective way of operating, is still effective.

The truth is whilst some habits are useful, (like breathing for example!) a life filled with habits is often a life spent going through the motions, robbed of joy, excitement and personal growth.

So, why not catch a few of your habits in the act and ask if they have had their day and are due for an upgrade?

Join us on The Quest for Authenticity to find out more about how self awareness could help you develop good habits.

Find out more about Our Development Events & Programmes.

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