The Heart of Business – Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism

By Hubert Joly

I just finished reading a great book by an inspiring leader, also an alumni of the business school I graduated from – Hubert Joly: The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism 

After joining Best Buy as CEO in 2012, Hubert Joly drove Best Buy’s spectacular turnaround transformation, and built a reputation as one of the world’s leading advocates of defining a business’s reason of being with social purpose and people as a guiding star- to unleash “human magic” and achieve sustainable results. 

I highly recommend this insightful read – it is a brilliant playbook for how leaders and companies can better serve all stakeholders in a new age of inclusive capitalism.

This is not a summary (for more, here is an interview of Hubert with McKinsey) but I wanted to share a few of the quotes that stood out to me.

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There is no genuine human connection without vulnerability, and no vulnerability without imperfections.

Corporations are not soulless entities, but human organizations with people at their center, working together in support of that purpose. When companies do this, it unleashes human magic, by creating an environment where all employees can blossom and reach their full potential.

Most people around the world feel indifferent, at best when it comes to the work they do or the company they work for. (…) This is a tragedy of unfulfilled personal potential, for we spend a significant part of our lives at work. (…) This is also a tragedy of unfulfilled economic potential, for study after study confirm how engagement positively influences productivity, reduces employee turnover, increases customer satisfaction and profitability and even reduces workplace injuries.

We long to find the one – the dream job that will answer our search for purpose and offer a promise of happily ever after. More often than not, no such Prince or Princess Charming will just show up. I was well into my forties and years into exploring my purpose when I landed on a robust formulation.

I learned to look at feedback as “forward” and to choose areas I wanted to work on: this is a subtle but important distinction: I was not focused on fixing a problem but rather devising what I wanted to get better at.

Profit is not a good measure of economic performance. It does not take into account the impact of a business on the rest of society (…). Profit – like the temperature of a patient – is a symptom of other underlying conditions, not the condition itself. And focusing on the symptom alone can be dangerous. Think of a doctor who is rewarded merely for keeping patients’ temperature within a healthy range.

Doing great work for customers happens when employees relate to these customers as human beings, not walking wallets.

At the very top is a noble purpose. Purpose is the reason the company exists. (…) The purpose of a company is to contribute to the common good and serve all its stakeholders. (…) The architecture I am advocating has employees at the heart of business, creating and nurturing authentic relationships both within the company and also with all of the company’s stakeholders – customers, vendors, local communities, and shareholders. (…) Profit is an outcome of a successful strategy and the quality of the human relationships that drive it.  (…) In summary, this approach is a “declaration of interdependence”. 

The gap between today’s reality and my vision is not between words and intention. It is between intention and practice. (…) Good intentions alone or shortcuts will not result in the required change. (…) It requires a fundamental rethinking of management and leadership.

We also changed management practices by changing metrics. Key performance indicators ought to go beyond financials or rankings. (…) The measures are not perfect. But no measure is, so imperfection is no excuse for inaction.

Framing a meaningful and authentic purpose is not limited to companies engaged in the business of saving lives. “Meaningful” is about making a difference in people’s lives in a way that matters to employees. “Authentic” is about credibility – something aligned with what the company does, that it is able to deliver, and that is at the core of its DNA.

Unleashing human magic by celebrating employees and individuals is at its very core about diversity and inclusion. (…) When I talk about diversity and inclusion in the context of creating human magic, I mean creating space for every individual to contribute and be valued for who they are, as they are, with their unique perspective and experience. This of course covers gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. I also include considerations such as cognitive, age, social and cultural diversity.

I eventually concluded that leaders are neither born nor super humans. I realized I was free to decide what kind of leader I would be. (…) Clayton Christensen gave this advice to graduating Harvard Business School students in 2010: “Think about the metric by which your life will be judged and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success.” This is a good framing to me. To make a choice about the kind of leader you want to be, think about three things: what drives you, the legacy you want to leave, and how to stay the course.

To advance toward becoming a purposeful leader, we must start with ourselves. We cannot be authentic and truly connect with others without deeply connecting with ourselves. And to help people succeed and become the best version of themselves, we have to strive to be the best version of ourselves as well, day after day. So start with yourself. Be the leader you are meant to be. Be the change you want to see.

Any farmer will tell you that seeds planted on poor soil do not grow. You first have to ensure that the soil is good. The same holds true for companies. The first step for companies on their journey to pursue a noble purpose is not always to define the company’s purpose. It may be more appropriate to first focus on creating a fertile environment, making sure that people feel that they exist, that they are seen, that they belong, that they matter. Only then can a noble purpose take root and flourish.

Journaling and morning pages

A laboratory for self-awareness and intentional living

“It is impossible to write Morning Pages without changing your life.”

Julia Cameron

Self-awareness is one of the most valuable skills that underlie how to live intentionally. People who are self-aware are not only better equipped to master their “inner game” and deal with the ups and downs of life, but also the mental struggles of others and themselves.

Journaling is one of the best ways to increase self-awareness.

This is supported by personal experience, inspiring examples from history and thought leaders – from Marcus Aurelius to Benjamin Franklin, from Mark Twain Oscar Wilde, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Virginia Woolf, Anaïs Nin, Franz Kafka to George Lucas and Matthew McConnaughey, or entrepreneurs like Tom Bilyeu or Tim Ferriss … and above all it is supported by science-backed research.

A journal is a place to document the development of your own life. You will be amazed at the incredible leaps in personal understanding and self-awareness you will experience.

Here is more on why, and how to form and sustain the habit of journaling.

A timeless morning ritual to consider for greater intentional living: Journaling with morning pages

Julia Cameron wrote The Miracle of Morning Pages and The Artist’s Way to describe Morning Pages as an invaluable journaling ritual.

The pages in journaling aren’t intended for anyone but you. 

Meaning: the process matters, not the quality of the writing.

As author Julia Cameron puts it, it is “spiritual windshield wipers.” – trapping thoughts, caging your monkey mind out of your head and away from the vicious cycle of potential over-thinking … and onto paper (i.e. writing).

“Once we get those muddy, maddening, confusing thoughts [nebulous worries, jitters, and preoccupations] on the page, we face our day with clearer eyes.”

Julia Cameron
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7 benefits of Morning Pages

1. Morning pages give you a special space every morning to pause.

To breathe. To write about what happened. For your eyes only.

Your morning notes might point to challenges as well as joys, fun times, dreams and goals. You could write looking backward like a diary or forward about a current project or goal and ideas you feel called to brainstorm on.

“Morning pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. They are not “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not overthink Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page … and then do three more pages tomorrow.”

Julia Cameron

2. The magic of writing by hand for greater introspection.

Allow your hand to write in “free form,” meaning you don’t overthink about what to write on the page, but tune in the intuitive voice inside of you, listening to what it tells you that feels good. You may be surprised if you just let your hand write every morning, as it tends to provide you with little messages to you that you didn’t see coming.

Writing by hand (vs. on a computer) forces you to pause and connect to how you feel. It is a cathartic writing process that clarifies your mind, builds confidence, and creates a path for greater creativity.

Powerful negative emotions diminish by writing, and powerful positive emotions increase. Writing about your fear reduces its strength, and capturing your excitement magnifies its power.

Typing on a computer doesn’t give this. Becoming more self-aware of how you feel enables you to control your emotions and take action. In that sense, it is similar to meditation. However it is different and complementary: it is not only about observing yourself, but also taking actions. It is about what you did, what you are about to do and what you want to do in the future (e.g. Why did I say that? Why does it always make me feel that way? If I follow this course, where will I be 1 / 3 / 5 years from now?).

3. It offers you an effective way to figure it all out.

Even if it is an effortless practice, patterns will emerge. There is something magical about writing down a problem. It is almost as though in the very act of writing what is wrong you start to discover ways of making it right.

  • Write about a current dilemma you are facing. Whatever it is, take the time to capture it on paper the way it really is. Use your journal to then chart out a course of action to eliminate whatever is standing between you and your better future
  • Paint mental pictures of the limitless paths you could intentionally travel. Create a set of circumstances on paper, and then place yourself in the middle of them: How would you feel about doing that? What would it be like to live in that city? How would you feel having those responsibilities? Pick a direction, and travel with your imagination to new environments, to new positions, to new opportunities. Take your dreams from your mind to your journal, and then take them from the pages of your journal to set aligned goals and actions. 

4. Writing about events and circumstances that occur helps you to clarify exactly what is happening.

When we describe life to ourselves only in our minds, our imaginations tend to feed false or distorted information about how things are, positive or negative.

When we describe a situation in writing, however, we become more factual, more accurate, and certainly more realistic.

Once we finally see things as they are rather than as we think they are, we can then see more clearly a way to make them better. 

5. Morning pages help you reclaim your freedom and unlock your creativity.

It is like a brain dump to get all the negative self-talk out of the way.

We often have an inner saboteur voice or limiting beliefs that frighten us and intimidate us. With morning pages, we gain perspective and can better distinguish our thoughts from reality. We can then start to make decisions regardless of what that inner voice says.  

As we collect a variety of thoughts on any given theme or subject, there is a tendency for these individual ideas to come together and form themselves into a whole new idea. 

I don’t journal to ‘be productive.’ I don’t do it to find great ideas, or to put down prose I can later publish. The pages aren’t intended for anyone but me…I’m trying to figure things out…I’m just caging my monkey mind on paper so I can get on with my fucking day.”

Tim Ferriss

6. Morning pages give you that insight into your past self.

Reading back your pages, if you so wish, can remind you of so many things you forgot. Often, even we might remember what happened, but how we felt at that moment (e.g. what we were upset about or how excited we were; whether we were in a good or a bad mood, feeling of empowerment or anxiety).

What you capture today will not have any specific meaning or purpose in your life at this moment, but ultimately at some future point in time when you review them you will learn great lessons about what you did that worked or did not work, and what you can continue to do or improve.

Matthew McConnaughey attributed journaling as a keystone habit in his self-growth, in a Joe Regan podcast episode where he was interviewed during his book release (Greenlights).

“And going back in those journals, I found that there are times when I got in a rut later and I was able to go back to those journals and go, what were your habits when you were rolling, man?” “Who were you hanging out with? Where were you going? What were you eating, what were you drinking and how much sleep were you getting? How were you looking at life?” “And they helped me recalibrate in the times when I was off frequency and to get back on the rails and find my frequency again.”

Matthew McConnaughey

7. Build a legacy.

Your journal and the lessons you learn through your intentional life may become perhaps part of the legacy that you leave behind for your loved ones, and the world at large. Let your journals capture your personal history, and in doing so they add to the history of all mankind and to our collective heritage. The most valuable treasure anyone can leave behind is the knowledge they have acquired in their one lifetime. 

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5 tips to create a ritual of writing Morning Pages 

While writing Morning pages is a fairly straightforward practice, there are tips that can help you make the most of your daily writing practice:

  • Integrate it in your morning routine. Write as often as you wish, and as often as you need. It does not have to be daily
  • Write longhand. It allows you to process what you are expressing. 
  • Be authentic and say it all, if it matters to you and whether good or bad, happy or sad. Write in half sentences, and break all the rules of grammar and punctuation if you choose. Draw pictures, make diagrams. This is one place where you should feel free to say it all and say it as you wish – without fear of judgement. And remember, it doesn’t have to be a monumental occurrence to be worth capturing. Never censor yourself when writing morning pages. 
  • Realize there is no wrong way. Morning pages are unique to every individual. There is no right or wrong way to do them. 
  • Record the date, time and location of each entry. Not only will this provide you with a means of measuring your progress, your growth trends, the different phases of your life and your changing attitudes, but where and when you write can in themselves provide interesting revelations. Your journal becomes like a photograph album, capturing moments in your life. The only difference is that a photograph album kept for many years reveals physical changes in yourself and your environment, while journals over a period of time reflect mental changes within yourself and about your environment.
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As you begin to develop the habit of writing down your thoughts, recording your observations, emotions and reactions to life’s events, you become an intentional observer and participant in life’s events. What you capture today might not have any specific meaning or purpose in your life at this moment. However, in the future, should you review your pages, you might learn great lessons about what you did that worked or did not work, and what you can continue to do or improve.

I invite you to give this a try. If you like it and stick to it, you will return to these pages over and over again and look back at the progress you have made each year. A secret laboratory for your intentional living journey. 

3 psychological traps that might cost you fulfilment in and out of work – and how to overcome them

“When your thoughts are more powerful than your emotions you create change.” 

Joe Dispenza

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” 

 C.G. Jung

As you might know, A life altering near-death experience surviving the Tsunami in Thailand in 2004 awakened me to my deep sense of purpose and the fact that our time on earth is limited.

This was the very start of my determination to leverage this experience to make a difference in people’s lives.

To empower others to live a more intentional and regrets-free life.

To not let the fear of the unknown prevent one from truly feeling and enjoying this life, in and out of work.

“Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow, and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately. […] You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire… How late it is to begin really to live just when life must end!”

Seneca, On The Shortness Of Life

From this day onwards more than ever before, I developed an acute awareness that everything is impermanent, that everything and everyone is precious. The “normal” life we take for granted is fragile, and thus not really normal. Even in the most breath-taking places, when one feels in heaven and safe, everything can actually happen, in the blink of an eye.

Yet, the way the human brain works can sabotage the choices we make. 

Our human brain is a powerful, but we can all fall in the trap of letting it play us

1. Our minds don’t work in absolutes, which means we think in relative terms 

In the Ebbinghaus illusion, because the blue circles on the left are so large, our brain registers the orange circle on the left as smaller than the one on the right, even though they are both the same size. 

The same goes for our flawed perception of what will make us happy

At any given point in time, if we have a new job or house or car for example – we will probably be happy. But it is also possible that 6 months or 1 year in, that feeling of happiness will start to fade away. We are most often comparing ourselves – to what we have done / invested in time or money, to others, our environment, and to what we see on TV or social media. This impacts what we think we want, which then distracts from what we actually want.

2. Knowing Is Half The Battle

Knowing our cognitive biases is not enough to overcome them. This predicament can be illustrated using the Müller-Lyer illusion, pictured below.

Even though we know that the shafts of each arrow are exactly the same length, when asked to point out the longer of the two, we invariably choose the arrow whose tails point outward. 

A picture containing object, clock, antenna, player

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Some psychological traps might cost us fulfilment in our personal & professional life

Below are 3, with tips on how to overcome them.

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Trap 1: Sunk Cost Fallacy

Do you often find yourself continuing on a path that doesn’t feel right, only because you have already invested so much time or money into it?

People demonstrate “a greater tendency to continue a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources (time, money or effort) – even if this doesn’t fulfil them, hereby just digging deeper in a hole.

Not giving up even in the face of adversity is a wonderful trait, but it needs to always be intentional and for the right reasons, keeping in mind that the greatest sunk cost is our own time, which we cannot recover.

1. We don’t want to feel that we spent anything in vain – time, money, anything. However, even if we know deep inside that our approach is wrong, we still have trouble abandoning it. 

E.g. clothes or shoes that don’t fit well but since you spent a lot of money on it they are still in your closet; time invested in a career path or relationship that doesn’t make your heart sing anymore and yet is difficult to leave; or a business idea that appears to be less commercially viable than initially thought and yet you keep going because you already invested so much money – think Concorde…

Solution: Make sure you are not in a situation solely because you made the investment in the first place. Unless you can do something that changes the expected outcome. Cut your losses and move on!

2. We fear “looking foolish” as if cutting losses is admitted a mistake, if not in public, at least to ourselves. 

Solution: Reframe that quitting is not failing (actually, it might precisely be the opposite).

3. We feel emotionally attached to what we committed to. And the bigger the commitment, the harder it is to let go. 

It is a human bias to be overly confident that everything we set ourselves to do will pay off. (This is known as overly optimistic probability bias.)

Solution: Be aware of the natural bias to stay on our current course of action. While considering other options, evaluate the status quo as if it was simply another option, rather than the only one.

4. We become so attached to the means and loose sights of the end and bigger perspective.

Solution: Always be mindful of long-term goals, purpose and values driving you. E.g. if you want to have fun, you might watch a movie that turns out to be a bad one. We could forget that our goal was not to spend two hours watching a movie, but to have fun. Or turn it off and go have fun, another way.

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Trap 2: Cost of inaction

In life and in business, when we have a big decision to make or need to have a difficult conversation, push ourselves to do something for the first time or expose ourselves, we might have a tendency to err on the side of caution, staying in our comfort zone and the “known”.

We are neurologically wired to overestimate the size of risks, underestimate our ability to handle them, and downplay the costs of inaction.

We are very good at thinking about how we will feel an hour from now. We weigh the potential cost of taking action, and that holds us back.

But we are less so good at stepping in the shoes of our future self – what might my life look like 1 year, 3 years or 5 years, even 10 years from now, if we avoid taking this action or making a decision?

And less good therefore at asking ourselves – What will I feel if I don’t? What is the cost of inaction today? How can I live today in a way I look forward to, tomorrow?

So we come up with these reasons to stay where we are. 

But here is the issue: Delay grows increasingly expensive.  Fear keeps many of us from reaching our full potential and living the lives we want.

Are you discounting the cost of inaction?


Think about what preserving the status quo will cost you 6 months, 1 year, and 3 years into the future. These can be emotional, physical, and/or financial costs. 

Think about the people in your life this will affect.

Understanding these costs will help you assess more objectively the future return of investment or loss opportunity linked to taking the uncomfortable action.

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Trap 3: Cost of inner peace

Anything that costs us our peace of mind and sense of aliveness is far too expensive.

How much are you REALLY making when you factor in how much that “success” is costing you?

When you make a wish list,

Do you choose 

Some “stuff” you want


A feeling, a state of mind … a Way of being? 

Because we can have the things we want … 

Without feeling the way we thought we would feel when we have them.

You know what I mean? 

Our extrinsic desires (wealth, money, status, fame, prestige, admiration), have no intrinsic value and are worthless if they do not contribute to happiness. They are a means to an end. 

They may only be desirable if having them or the thoughts of having them lead to positive emotions or meaning.


Inner Peace,









How we feel when we wear designer clothes, are in a dream destination in a luxury hotel or drive a sports car can’t be bought.

But it can be challenging for you to put a price tag on these intangibles.

Think about it – How much are you REALLY making when you factor in how much that “success” is costing you? 

How do you really KNOW how much it is worth to you to NOT be looking back at your life saying:

“I wish I lived a life true for me instead of what others expected of me” 


“I wish I hadn’t worked so much” 


 “I wish I took more time to enjoy it and have fun” 


“I wish I had spent more time with my loved ones”?

But to live today in a way you look forward to looking back.

It is hard to know that price. But we can try!

So you make $______________ per year.  

Now take that number,

MINUS what it is costing you in:

– Not having the depth of social connections / relationships you desire

– The amount of time you spend in overwhelm, fear, energy drain, stress or wondering when it ever gets easy. 

– All the moments trying to get there, the future, or fearing or hoping for something in the future, instead of enjoying here, the present moment rarely slowing down enough to simply enjoy life and all the things you can afford to have, to relax and make space for love and play.

– Feeling physically and mentally fatigued, drained from the workload piling and what feels like running a permanent race.

– Add on …

I challenge you to do the math … 

How much are you REALLY making when you factor in how much that “success” is costing you?

Remember: success without happiness, wellness and positive relationships is the ultimate failure!

Success and happiness is created when what you think, how you feel, and what you do are all in harmony with who YOU are.

Not living and working in alignment with our true self, can make us stressed, or even anxious, sometimes until the point of burn out.

Hereby losing inner peace. Our sense of freedom and fulfilment … and ultimately damaging our wellbeing, relationships, and happiness.

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The way the human brain works can sabotage the choices we make. 

Fear keeps many of us from reaching our full potential and living the lives we want.

Living even more fully … This is the promise I made to myself, after that unforgettable Boxing Day. To constantly endeavor to drink in every moment of life, and empower others to do the same.

For this reason, nothing gets me more excited than seeing people take action instead of sitting and waiting for the conditions to be right. 

Remember – Right now is when you have the most vitality to enjoy life.

To do something meaningful with your life.

To have an impact on this world.

To let your unique potential shine through.

So ask yourself, how do I really want to live my ONE LIFE?

How to reset our habits in line with those we want to keep and away from those we don’t?

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is therefore not an act but a habit.


Did you lose some good habits and picked up less optimal ones during the pandemic?

Some of what I hear again and again …

✅Using Deliveroo … even for breakfast

✅Finding it hard to switch off from work

✅Loosing motivation to train without the social energy from a gym

🤷‍♀️🙈Habits are formed by repetition until it becomes an automated, unconscious pattern:

✨Trigger (internal or external environment) ➡️ Reaction (habit) ➡️ Consequence (outcome)✨

When we are aware about the unwanted habit and its pattern (trigger, re-action, consequences) we can break it.

And when our usual trigger is disrupted, our reaction and the consequence might be too.

This is one reason the pandemic has been so unsettling. Coming out of the pandemic and back into our former environments and triggers will be yet another adjustment between old and new behaviours.

📈 How can we use the power of compounding with tips from behavioural science and biohacking to reset our habits in line with we want to keep and away from those we don’t?

💪🏻Getting 1% better every single day for an entire year makes you 37 times better than when you began.✨

1% daily improvement over 1 year ⇒ 1.01^365 = 37.8 ⇒ 37x better

STEP 1: Make a list of your daily habits and assess.

  • Once you have a full list, look at each behavior, and ask yourself, “Is this a good habit (“+”), a bad habit (“-”), or a neutral habit (“=”)?”. Identify unwanted habits and behaviors: What do you want to change and why? What have been the unwanted consequences of this habit so far? What will the consequences be in the future – if you allow it to continue? What triggers are leading to the re-action and consequence that you want to change?

STEP 2: Create new habits intentions.

  • After / before / when I [current habit – “anchor”] I will [new habit – “stack”]. e.g. After brushing my teeth, I will floss and use mouthwash; after I get home from work, I will take my sneakers out of the closet and put them somewhere I can see / bundle my workout clothes together so all I have to do is grab a bundle before a morning workout; after I wake up, I will meditate; when I feel stressed or anxious, I will close my eyes and take five deep breaths; when I finish work, I will ask my kids how their day went, and I will be present and actively listen to their answers.
  • I will always choose this, not that. e.g. always choose a salad [this] rather than fries [that].
  • Do this now, then that. e.g. I will start cardio exercise once a week this week [this now]. Then, after two weeks, I will add strength training [then that].
  • Make a specific plan for when, where, and how you are going to implement it. Set your habits intention: I WILL [Behavior] AT [Time] IN [Location].

STEP 3: Visualize how you will overcome obstacles.

  • “If [… happens] then [I will…]”.
  • Rehearse mentally / visualize yourself performing or behaving in a particular way in a particular situation and avoiding procrastination. The more you visualize yourself as if you already had the new habit, the more it will be accepted by your subconscious mind and become automatic. The same muscles are activated whether you are physically doing or mentally imagining a task (e.g. shopping for healthy food by writing a list beforehand, fitness by having a plan and visualizing the exercises before going to the gym). 

We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.

Carol Dweck

STEP 4: Hack your psychology and environment

  • Focus on progress over perfection. Focus on actions and consistency, not outcomes and deadlines. You will slowly start developing better confidence, willpower & motivation.

💪🏻Getting 1% better every single day for an entire year makes you 37 times better than when you began.✨1% daily improvement over 1 year ⇒ 1.01^365 = 37.8 ⇒ 37x better✨

  • Start with actions so small and easy you cannot fail or say no, with little mental or physical effort.

These compound into massive results over time. There is a “winning feeling” that comes with doing small actions. It reframes your mindset with a sense of self-efficacy – a belief that you can influence outcomes. Consider committing to “only [10] minutes” (choose whatever length of time best resonates with you). This tricks our brain into getting started because it thinks it won’t be doing it for long.

  • Make the new habit satisfying by pairing it with something you enjoy. You will reinforce the habit and start to associate, unconsciously, the pleasure of the pair with the habit. 

Give yourself an immediate reward after you complete your habit. e.g. can be as small as positive self-talk or savouring a delicious healthy treat after a work-out or watching an entertaining video after your daily priorities, or bigger such as a holiday once a big work project is over.

Pair an action you want to do with an action you don’t want to do. e.g. If going to the gym is a burden but you like catching-up with a friend, plan to work out with a friend.

Join a group where your desired habit is the normal behavior. e.g. If you want to have healthy habits, join a good gym.

Do something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit. e.g. If you like working out, work out and then work on your most important task.

  • Make the rewards of taking action more immediate.

Only do [thing you love] while, or after, doing [thing you procrastinate on]. e.g. only get a massage, facial or pedicure after processing overdue work emails or finishing to write a long article; only eat at your favorite restaurant after delivering a challenging presentation or working out.

  • Reduce friction. e.g. time and distance: choose a gym near to your house.
  • Try to do the same activity at the same time and in the same place every day.

This makes it easier to build a ritual and dedicate the right energy and focus to the given activity. e.g. where you work-out, where you work, where you meditate, where you eat, where you sleep.

  • Prime the environment.

Prepare your environment to make future actions easier. Add / remove exposure and cues of your bad habits from your environment

  • Try to do the same activity at the same time and in the same place every day.
  • Make unwanted habits unattractive and / or invisible.

Reframe your mindset to highlight the benefits of avoiding your unwanted habit.

e.g. eating mindlessly => remove tempting junk food from kitchen; watch TV mindlessly => hide the remote; scroll social media or emails mindlessly => turn off notifications; check phone before sleeping and during the night when waking up => don’t bring your phone in your bedroom.

  • Make the consequences of procrastinating more immediate.

e.g. if you commit to working out with your best friend or your personal trainer at 7am next Monday, then the cost of skipping your workout (the sense of guilt and letting your friend down or the cost of losing your session with your trainer) becomes more immediate.

  • Substitute unwanted habits with an alternative habit.

Write a list of these alternatives so you can get to it when you need to replace unwanted habits. e.g. mindless eating and TV watching ⇒  going for a walk, calling a friend, reading.

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Sustain …

  • Keep track of your habit streak and “don’t break the chain.”

Never miss twice until it becomes automatic. Get back on track immediately. It is not about the individual impact of missing once but the cumulative impact (i.e. if you miss one workout, you won’t suddenly be out of shape, but missing 3 weeks will make a difference). Stick to your schedule, even in a very small way (e.g. Don’t have enough time to do a full workout? Just do 5 push-ups or planks; Don’t have enough time to write an article? Write a paragraph). This also proves to yourself that you can get it done even when the situation is not ideal.

  • Beat procrastination.

Regardless of how many productivity and time management books, podcasts or videos we consume, we all struggle at some point with procrastination.In fact, procrastination is not new. Ancient Greek philosophers developed a word for it – akrasia – meaning “lack of self-control or the state of acting against one’s better judgment”. 

To prevent procrastination, consider:

Reminding yourself of the hard things you did in the past.

Focusing on the bad consequences of not taking actions.Thinking and acting like the best version of yourself.

  • Find motivation through discipline and start to take action.

Discipline leads to overcoming procrastination and starting to take action taking which leads to momentum and sustainable habit building which leads to motivation.

As Jeff Haden says in his book The Motivation Myth, “Motivation isn’t something you have, motivation is something you get, automatically, from feeling good about achieving small successes”. Motivation is not the cause of the new habit / behavior, but the result of that new habit / behavior.

⭐️What is 1 habit that you can improve by 1% every day this coming week?⭐️

How to get over overwhelm – 4-steps log and daily rituals

Constant work gives rise to a certain kind of dullness and feebleness in the rational soul.
The mind should not be kept continuously at the same pitch of concentration, but given amusing diversions… Our minds must relax: they will rise better and keener after a rest. Just as you must not force fertile farmland, as uninterrupted productivity will soon exhaust it, so constant effort will sap our mental vigor, while a short period of rest and relaxation will restore our powers. Unremitting effort leads to a kind of mental dullness and lethargy. Nor would men’s wishes move so much in this direction if sport and play did not involve a sort of natural pleasure; though repeated indulgence in these will destroy all the gravity and force of our minds. After all, sleep too is essential as a restorative, but if you prolong it constantly day and night it will be death. There is a big difference between slackening your hold on something and severing the link…
We must indulge the mind and from time to time allow it the leisure which is its food and strength.

Seneca, On Tranquility of Mind

Seneca’s On Tranquility of Mind is full of wisdom that remains more relevant than ever and closely aligned to what we now know about human potential, although it was written nearly 2,000 years ago.

Feeling overwhelmed is a natural part of life. 

Overwhelm is a temporary state of being, often affected by how you manage your time and energy. Simply, it is having too much to do and not enough mental space or energy to do it. We might feel flooded by emotions and things to do, as if we were submerged by a wave, but unable to ride it out.

We all occasionally feel overwhelmed by expectations, responsibilities, and a lack of time. 

Our work lives have become increasingly demanding, with complex challenges at a hectic pace, over-committed schedules and multiple competing priorities in our personal and professional lives. 

Symptoms of overwhelm often manifest during these busy phases of our life in the following symptoms physically and mentally: 

  • Stress – which, left untreated, can result in serious health conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure, shortness of breath and a weakened immune system
  • Brain fog and forgetfulness  – Narrow focus, attention and memory
  • Cluttered mind – Impaired creativity and productivity
  • Irritability – Lower capacity to connect to others, self-compassion and compassion
  • Difficulty sleeping – Fatigued and drained 
  • Lower decision making and self-control

Although it is natural to experience these symptoms every once in a while, they should not become the “new norm” for you.

Daily stress can become chronic, and can lead to burnout. Unaddressed job burnout can have significant consequences. Do not let overwhelm turn into burn out. If you are unsure whether you might be experiencing burn out, refer to the Mayo Clinic definition (“Job burnout is a special type of work-related stress: a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.’) and their their online resources on symptoms and causes. If any doubts, refer to a medical professional or therapist

Burnout is what happens when you try to avoid being human for too long.

Michael Gungor

Everyday overwhelm is different from burn-out. It happens all the time to most of us, and it is not (should not be) permanent. It is a temporary condition of your job and your life.

When we experience overwhelm, we may struggle to find solutions to our problems or may even think that there are no solutions. This makes the problems seem even more overwhelming, distressing and difficult to manage, having a further negative impact on our mood.

However, through well-being rituals and reviewing the causes of our overwhelm, we can regain control.

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Getting over overwhelm- 4-steps overwhelm log

This overwhelm log is cathartic (getting that overwhelm out of your head and on paper gives you a sense of control), actionable (as you start writing, your brain will come up with solutions), and empowering (stress becomes more manageable).

STEP 1: Log your overwhelm

  • Brain dump a list of everything that is in your mind and causing overwhelm, and write it down on paper. This is not about goal setting or creating priorities. It  doesn’t need to make any logical sense. You cannot get over overwhelm until you recognise where it is coming from.

STEP 2: Assess your overwhelm

  • Overwhelm can affect our ability to think and act rationally so it is important to take a step back and consider the cause of the overwhelm. Overwhelm makes everything feel bigger and more complex than it generally is, which can snowball into chronic stress and anxiety or burnout. 
  • Is your overwhelm just due to one tough week or has it been lengthening and might you be close to burn-out? If in doubts, check the Mayo Clinic online resources and consult a medical professional or therapist. 

STEP 3: Get over overwhelm with the 6 “A”


Audit your life and work and eliminate as much as possible. Make an objective list of all your activities – reassess what you do, how often and for who. Axe any non-essential or at least put it off until you have the bandwidth. 

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.

Steve Jobs

When you are feeling overwhelmed, you need to simplify your life, set boundaries and declutter your time. 

Stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone and everything.

Learn to say no to the trivial many so you can focus on the vital few things in your life.

Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Review your list of goals and what / who you say yes to. Think about what you need to change or add to your process to help you get there. You may want to use the following questions for inspiration: 

  • What is truly essential? What is important right now?
  • What can I eliminate / reduce (e.g. activity clutters such as unimportant meetings and emails)?
  • What did I resent spending time on recently? If you’re not sure what boundary to set, think back to a moment recently when you were resentful. It is often a sign that you are pushing past your limits in a way that doesn’t serve you. (e.g. Did back-to-back emails and calls prevent you from actually sitting down to eat dinner or getting to bed on time? Did you realize with bitterness after a long workday that you didn’t leave the room or move your body at all?)
  • Are my deadlines the real deadlines or the arbitrary preferential deadlines set by others for their agenda? If they are others’ preferences, how can I challenge these? (e.g. clients, colleagues, manager) 
  • How can I simplify how I spend my time to be more intentional and inject more joy?
    • What are the 20% of activities or people that are producing the 80% or more of results and positive emotions?
    • What are the 20% of activities or people that are producing the 80% or more of the pain or negativity?
    • What would this look like if it was easy? 
    • Does this give me pleasure (joy) now?
    • Will this give me joy and meaning in the future?


Reconfirm priorities and urgency. The overwhelm fallacy is driven by an extreme sense of urgency. This is actually a cognitive distortion. Get clear on what is actually really urgent. Every morning, write down the 3 priorities you want to accomplish that day. Refocusing on the present moment and relentless prioritization is critical to managing overwhelm. It means being comfortable with incompletions (e.g. unanswered email or non urgent / non important tasks) and taking the time to recharge, so you will return to work refreshed the next day. 


Assess what changes you could make: 

  • Define 1 or 2 small changes that you could implement yourself without asking for permission. If possible, focus on what is most energy draining but time intensive.
  • Define 1 bigger change for which you might need to ask permission (e.g. change frequency from weekly to monthly, upgrade to new system, work from home on Friday, delegate X to Y etc.)
  • Define how you could share resources rather than time to help others (e.g. do a Loom video to explain something to a team member rather than a meeting; send voice notes; suggest someone else who might be able to help; offer to introduce them to someone you know; share links to relevant articles or videos; suggest books you’ve read that might be useful; point them to any resources you’ve used yourself in the past.)


Delegate or hire. This may be hard to do when you are passionate about your work, but critical – whether it is delegating projects, requesting coverage for your vacation, or simply asking for help.


Adjust the challenge level or the deadline. One of the most powerful triggers for “flow” is known as the challenge-skills balance. Depending on whether the challenge level of the task is too far beyond or under your current skill level, it might lead to anxiety or boredom. So, the sweet spot for flow is when a task is just the right level of difficulty and stress-inducement. Being overwhelmed might be a sign that the challenge or stress level is too high. Adjust the challenge level by reducing your expectations or adjusting the deadline to a more realistic and less overwhelming one where within your control.


You might need to accept it is a hectic business period and reframe this period with a new story as temporary, and an intentional choice – so you do not resent or regret it (e.g. tight deadlines for strategic project or small businesses / high-growth start-ups at inception phase).

STEP 4: Take action: motion creates emotion and clarity + confidence comes from action not thoughts!

  •  Overwhelm can keep you stuck mentally and physically, so much so you feel unable to think clearly or take action and it can lead you to procrastinate.
  • For the micro-steps which you identified, specify when you will take action (deadlines, milestones), any accountability for taking action, and consequences for not taking action. Push yourself to take just that first step. Once we begin, we often feel much better, calmer and able to move forward. 
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Micro-steps to continue to prevent burnout at work through well-being rituals


With overcommitted schedules, it is tempting to multitask and be in a near constant state of partial attention. Answering emails while trying to get work done, browsing the Internet while eating, talking on the phone while driving. 

However, one Harvard study revealed that what we are doing is less important to our happiness than how present our minds are while we are doing it. 

Through mindfulness practices, whether meditation, breathwork or other, we can rewire new thoughts and condition the body into a new, positive emotional state to create a new reality and work on what we want to change in our life. 

When you focus on the present, you will train your brain to be less anxious, overwhelmed, and reactive.

Meditation is not just blissing under a mango tree. It completely changes your brain and therefore changes what you are … You don’t learn to sail in stormy seas. You go to a secluded place, not to avoid the world, but avoid distractions until you build your strength and you can deal with anything. You don’t box Muhammad Ali on day one.

French Buddhist Matthieu Ricard

Our brain is unlike any other organ: it’s designed to adapt constantly and form new neural connections throughout our life (“neuroplasticity”). Through meditation, your brain is effectively being rewired. As your feelings and thoughts morph toward a more pleasant outlook your brain is also transforming, and you more thoughtfully react to everyday life with that same sense of inner peace, compassion, and self-awareness.

Mindfulness and self-awareness are half the battle to prevent burn-out at work. It lowers cortisol and norepinephrine in the brain which cause anxiety and allows us to stay present in the moment and slow down. In the present, all potentials exist to change our internal state regardless of the outside world. We can’t do this by feeling guilt /judgement / anxiety / fear / stress, ruminating or regretting the past, or being anxious about the future.

  • Turn everyday activities in and out of work into mindful activities without meditating. When you find your thoughts wandering to the presentation you are sure you messed up yesterday or the work waiting for you tomorrow, take a breath and bring your attention back to whatever you are doing in the moment. Mindfulness can take place anytime during the day. It involves nothing more than focusing the mind on whatever is happening in the present moment, outside of the patterns and conditioned responses we have built up over a lifetime.
  • Have a regular mindfulness practice. It helps to have a regular time – ideally 15-20 minutes a day, and to have a quiet place to get a present. The more practice you have at going within, the less effort it takes. Like a muscle you exercise regularly, the mindfulness skill grows stronger and more reliable, both during and out of your sessions in everyday life. If you have never meditated before, consider guided meditations. You can use an App such as Insight Timer or Headspace or find a guided meditation such as Tara Brach, Binaural beats meditation or Goop YouTube channel
  • Try breathing techniques (“Pranayama” in Sanskrit, breath control) enable you to “drive the car” of your body, stimulate or relax it. You can consciously change your response from stress to relaxation and from rest to higher energy by changing the rate and the pattern of your breathing. 

There are many different techniques. Here is the 2:1 breathing as an example.

The key when you are first starting off with this practice is you want to start by finding a natural, calm place. Some people jump into too much too quickly, which can actually stress the body a bit more and create the opposite response. 

  • First notice your breath and count what a natural breath cycle of inhale and exhale feels like. Place one hand on your stomach and another one on the heart, taking a deep breath in and focusing on inflating the lower belly (to stimulate your vagus nerve).
  • Inhale through the nose, Exhale through the nose
  • Breathe in equal parts: breathe in the count of 4, breathe out the count of 4 … and do this 3 times, to match the length of your inhale and exhale. 
  • If you are naturally prone to anxiety you will probably naturally have a shorter exhale so you are going to extend the exhale. Try to make it a little longer step by step and get to a place where you are doubling the count for your exhale compared to your inhale. By doing so, we are activating the parasympathetic nervous system which is the relaxation response.
  • Choose any number – it can be 2, 3 or 4 – this is the number you would inhale with … but with the exhalation of the breathe, you want to double the number that you have chosen … say you chose 4, you would breathe in for the count of 4 (1, 2, 3, 4) and exhale for 8 (8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1). This is why it is called the 2:1 breathing technique! 
  • As an  extra tip, you can combine this 2:1 breathing and a mantra – for example as you inhale, you can say “I am calm” (3 syllables) and on the exhale “Let it go, let it go” (6 syllables).
  • Repeat at least 3 times. Allow yourself to rest in this worry free state, knowing that anytime you need, you can go back to the exercise, ideally multiple times a day when stressed. 

Next time you feel stressed – just know and remember that relaxation is just a few breaths away! Feel free to do it as long as you can and as many times as you want during the day to help you reach the relaxation that you need to operate at your best.

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  • Switch some video meetings to phone calls. This will give your eyes a break, and you can even pair a call with a short walk around the neighbourhood or even just around your room to introduce movement to your day. 
  • Schedule time to be unscheduled. Albert Einstein called this “combinatory play” – and he would often discover innovative ideas during his violin breaks. “Combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought.” 
  • Give yourself and your team permission to recharge and reset. We often feel overwhelmed when we are tired, fatigued or drained, unable to think clearly and make decisions, The key to resilience is recharging, physically, mentally and emotionally. Small breaks throughout the day are great for managing stress, recharging energy, bringing moments of perspective and reflection and returning to work with more focus and productivity. 

Every 90-120 minutes, your body has cycles called “ultradian rhythms” – a period of significant energy and focus followed by a period of fatigue during which it begins to crave a period of rest and recovery. Trying to work against your body’s natural rhythms is often a losing battle.

For daily productivity, you have to manage not just your time, but also your energy level. 

Based on your ultradian rhythms, transition from one 60-120 minutes time block to another by re-energizing and setting an intention and time limit for the next activity. 

It will optimize your productivity, performance, creativity and focus, and diminish overwhelm and stress. 

  • List what you can do during your 10-15 minutes breaks, that will generate more energy and focus (presence). Set an alarm or try using an online timer to remind yourself to get up from your desk

Microsoft’s Human Factors Lab released research using brainwave activity to prove that taking even small breaks is incredibly effective at countering virtual fatigue and stopping stress from becoming cumulative. It is less about better time management than redefining productivity

The best data we are using is ‘let’s not define productivity as output.’ The question really is, are people burning down a list or are they able to build that creative capital and exercise all they are capable of? Wellness comes with a broader understanding of productivity and leaders taking that empathy and care.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
  • Here are some suggestions but come up with ideas that work for you: 

Re-set your presence with a “mindful break”: 

  • Do a breath exercise. Try adding a mantra, such as, “There is enough time”, or “Let it go”.
  • Close your eyes and have a mindful pause, using your favorite mindfulness rituals (e.g. meditation to calm down stress and build resilience, to foster compassion and composure ahead of a meeting, to let go of what you have just finished and any emotions associated with it with “release” as a mantra – repeating this word over and over in your own head or out loud).
  • Use visualization and imagery to reduce stress and feel like you are experiencing something just by imagining it. Imagine yourself in a peaceful place, like a mountain waterfall, a forest, a tropical beach. Engage all your senses (e.g. sights, sounds, feel of the breeze on your face). This will stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system.
  • Use sensorial rituals such as a calming music or relaxing smell (e.g. candle, incense).
  • Remind yourself of your “brain tattoos” – who you want to be and the feelings you want to give (e.g. your top values and personality strengths, life principles or mantras, inspiring quotes, a word and an empowering image aligned with this word). Check in throughout the day with who you are being. If it is not aligned, then assess how to get back into alignment, so you can fully embody these as you transition onto your next meeting, activity or task. Set reminders on your phone if needed!
  • Have a power nap (short sleep to quickly re-vitalize). 
  • Set intentions ahead of your next time block activity.


  • Physically: e.g. Go for an energizing walk, Stretch, Bounce in place and breathe deeply, Put on one of your favorite songs and dance, Skip rope for 3 minutes, Do 5 x 2 minutes planks or 2 series of 20 squats, Foam roll, Spend 15 minutes outdoors. Being outdoors has a uniquely relaxing effect on our nervous systems. (e.g. 15-minute walk in the morning, outdoor lunch break, transition  times in your schedule). As an added bonus, leave your phone behind.
  • Nutritionally: e.g. Drink water with freshly squeezed lemon or a nutritious green juice, Have a healthy snack. 
  • Socially and psychologically: e.g. Step away from the computer to do something completely unrelated to work – like chatting with friends, family, business contacts or co-workers. Numerous studies show that true friendships offer a mental and emotional buffer against the daily pressures in our lives.
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  • Identify your top overwhelm (or negative stressors) sources, signals, and solutions. We are very good at managing our physical health in preventative ways. But not so good at checking for other aspects of our wellbeing. When we know the sources of our stress and overwhelm, and our typical “telling signs”, we can be better at noticing when our battery is running low (e.g. rapid heart rate, strong negative feelings, or difficulty focusing). Hence better able to take action to recharge this battery and manage stress before it builds up (e.g. taking a break, tap into mindfulness such as your breath or closing your eyes and thinking of a person, place or activity that brings you calm or other well-being micro-steps).
  • Interrupt  your negative thinking spirals and worst-case scenarios. Remind yourself that overwhelm is an emotion, NOT who you are … and you can control your emotions. Refer to the STOP technique for a simple and easy-to-remember approach to channeling resilience and controlling emotions, rather than escalating or prolonging moments of stress when triggered in business or in little annoyances and upsets from everyday life.
  • Clear the clutter. There is generally a correlation between the clutter in our physical space and our mental clutter. Clutter is more than just visually unpleasant. When in excess, it stops us from having clarity of thought and can weigh us down emotionally.
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If you manage a team (whether employed or self-employed with a team)

  • Check in with your team members about their workload. Remote work can mean fewer opportunities for the type of casual social interactions that happen every day in a physical workplace. It is hard to note signs of burnout, even more so when working remotely. This can spur feelings of isolation and disconnection, which add to stress levels and raise the risk of burnout. To mitigate this, check in casually with each team member throughout the week about how they are doing. Even an instant message to ask how they are doing and what support you can offer, can be a huge boost for someone who is struggling. Ask them to tell you when they are overwhelmed and also when they have bandwidth to help. Demonstrate empathy about how they are feeling about their work pace and volume.
  • Tell them how you are taking care of yourself whilst at work. Dare to make it an agenda item in your team meetings if you would like! Sharing your own habits will open and normalize the conversation. When you mention what has been challenging for you, or how you’re trying to balance work and home responsibilities, it can help employees feel like they can open up about those issues, too.  
  • Schedule individual weekly catch-ups with your team members even if you don’t have news to share. Hearing from leaders regularly matters to employees, especially at times of heavy workload, challenges or uncertainty. Ensure they make their well-being a priority and encourage them to take breaks within their days, take their vacation days and declare an end of the day when priorities and urgent items have been taken care of.  
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These are only a few micro-rituals which can help to manage overwhelm.

But remember that overwhelm is not a place you want to accept or be stuck in permanently … so do keep the pulse on how it evolves and how you feel, as well as those who might be impacted!

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4-steps to “spring clean” your home + work space for more energy and productive time in flow but less stress

Do you yearn to feel more energized, but live and work in a space that lacks lights or looks like a play room after a 4-year old children birthday party?

While decluttering may seem like an obvious problem to tackle around the house, we are all too guilty of accumulating clutter in our home and workspace. 

Feng shui is the Chinese practice of trying to create balance with the natural world in our interior spaces. It uses energy forces to create harmony between an individual and their environment. It is based on simple common-sense practices that make our homes healthier and more organized, and reveals how connected we are to our homes – and in turn, how they can affect our mood and well-being.

There is generally a correlation between the clutter in our physical space and our mental clutter. Clutter is more than just visually unpleasant.

When in excess, it stops us from having clarity of thought and can weigh us down emotionally.

Decluttering your mind will lead you to wanting to declutter your environment and vice versa – and overall it will lead you to feeling better and having more mental space to enjoy and focus on everything else in your personal and professional life.

For most people, order in our physical space leads to mental calm and focus. 

Many people do not realise how much the clutter is sapping their energy and contributes to keeping them stuck and mis-aligned.

Clearing the clutter gives you the energy to attract and respond to new opportunities: you are freeing up the energy attached to your belongings, allowing room for the new.

As you focus on what gives you joy in your physical space, by letting go of some things, it also is easier to let go of other  things (e.g. an unfulfilling job or relationship).

Re-vitalizing your home and workspace with minor changes can make a massive difference in how you feel and give you a burst of energy which you can use as you re-vitalize your personal and professional life.

And Spring is just right for this: it’s renewal, rebirth. The perfect time to refurbish our environment, make room for novelty, make space in our life! Spring, a chance to replenish and be reborn again. 

Here is a little 4-steps ritual to “spring clean” your physical environment for positive energy boosters, less stress and more productive time in flow.

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STEP 1: Clear energy drains in your home and work space through the “joy filter”  using Feng Shui tips

Declutter your physical space from all the things you don’t really need. While this may seem like an obvious problem to tackle around the house, we are all too guilty of accumulating clutter in our home and workspace. 

Marie Kondo in her book The life-changing magic of tidying up recommends to make deep clutter clearing a special, once in a lifetime event.

“Unbelievable as it may sound, you only have to experience a state of order once to be able to maintain it.”

Clear your home space

Go room by room, category by category, and only keep what gives you joy.

This is the “joy filter” of decision making, which is amazing as a skill to develop (e.g. wardrobe, decor, papers, furniture, jammed filing cabinets, overflowing shelves).

  • Don’t worry if you discard a lot, this is the perfect way to start re-designing your life in alignment with your authentic self, choosing only that which gives you joy in every area.
  • Ask yourself, Is this expired? Do I use this? Do I need this?” If not, get rid of it.
  • Make sure there is always space for the new (e.g. bookshelves for new books, closets for new clothes.
  • Put everything that is out of place into a basket – and take the basket into a room to sort through its content.

Give away any undamaged item.

A double positive energy booster by both decluttering and helping others. You can give away to charity or organize a gathering where you let all your friends can take-away anything they want from the things you are giving away.

Repair, replace or discard anything that is broken or damaged in your home or office.

Remove negative symbolism.

There are often emotional issues being displayed in our physical space (e.g. lack of clarity or overwhelm and stuff all over surfaces).

Declutter your work space

Declutter your phone and computer (e.g. contacts, backlogs of emails to reply to or delete, files to put in appropriate folders).

Declutter your desk space (e.g. paperwork, training materials, electronic documents, books, materials linked to “some day projects” that you never used in years).

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STEP 2: Revitalize your home and workspace to boost your energy and make it a sanctuary with Feng Shui tips

Revitalize your home space

Balance the five elements to re-align your state of being.

The five elements (earth, wood, fire, water, and metal) can be present in your home either physically or symbolically.

A lot of times, people are drawn to elements that they either need more of or that they lack in their lives. For example, personality types lacking energy should infuse more of the fire element in their homes to give them a boost – such as warm tones, like reds and oranges, or actual fire with a fireplace or a burning candle.

Maximize natural light.

Unsurprisingly, natural light can make us feel happier and more positive, and increase productivity.

Mirrors can be a quick adjustment when you want to expand a space and bring in more light. The key here is to be very mindful of what the mirrors reflect. When you hang a mirror, make sure it reflects more light, a serene view (vs. clutter), or a nice part of the room. 

Make sure you have good air circulation.

When the weather is good, try to open up the windows, and if you can’t, consider buying an air purifier (especially if your home office has no windows). 

Bring greenery into the room.

Add fresh flowers and real plants to enhance your office energy by naturally cleaning the air, reducing stress and injecting a sense of calm, and improving communication.

Surround yourself with happy and positive memories and replace clutter with your joy triggers.

Examples: photo or postcards frames; objects, paintings or other pieces brought back from holidays, an app like TimeHop to show you what you were doing [x] years ago today; hand-painted pictures from your children; a heirloom from your grandmother or pencils desk pot from your grandfather; a good luck charm; a painting you love. 

Revitalize your work space

Position your desk in a commanding position.

According to Feng Shui principles, that might mean having a solid wall behind you, as well as some plants (wood element) for support. This commanding position allows you energetically, and metaphorically to see and feel who and what opportunities are approaching. 

Use natural elements, materials and views.

A wooden desk (whether standing desk or not) is the best recommendation in Feng Shui. The material brings natural energy into your space. 

Consider a standing desk to have the option to stand up and move around, and a supportive office chair, especially if you plan on sitting for several hours in a day.

Curate your color choices.

For writing and analysis, consider colors in shades of blue, green, or even beige. For energy and creativity, implement touches of warm colors like red, yellow, and orange.

Nurture your goals visually.

Create an environment that reflects you professionally and personally. Your selection of décor on a subconscious level is an energetic extension of what you are attracting. Defining what you want to attract and visually displaying those goals in your space have beneficial psychological cues and can impact your overall motivation and subsequent success. Choose a new desktop wallpaper to re-align your energy with who you are and what you want to achieve (e.g. an inspiring or energy boosting photography, mantra or quote).

Get supported visually.

Including images of supportive family members or other individuals who inspire you is another great energy booster.

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STEP 3: Enhance your sensorial environment for greater well-being, performance and energy.

Intentionally sound design your environment, at home and in the workplace

Music has the ability to affect your energy level, both at home and in the workplace.

  • Different genres of music have varying effects on our brains. What boosts productivity for one may be distracting others, and likewise for relaxation.
    To ease stress and rest, choose what you find relaxing (e.g. check out YouTube or InsightTimer, for a lot of inspiration for relaxing playlists including some with the sounds of nature or sounds of rain mixed with classical music such as piano).
  • To boost your focus and productivity: Design a playlist that can work for you.
  • Experiment with “binaural beats”. When you hear two tones, one in each ear, that are slightly different in frequency, your brain processes a beat at the difference of the frequencies. This is called a binaural beat. Binaural beats are considered auditory illusions, and have been connected to potential health benefits (e.g. reduce anxiety, increase focus and concentration, lower stress, increase relaxation, foster positive moods, promote creativity).

Intentionally select what sound you want to wake-up to.

Find a song that has an upbeat melody or mimics nature (e.g. birds, waves), enables a slow transition out of sleep, and that brings out positive moods. You can find a lot on Spotify or iTunes. Consider renaming the alarm in your phone with an empowering and motivational message or quote.

Intentionally design your aromatherapy environment

Aromatherapy is a healing and relaxation technique that makes use of the scent of essential oils. Something as simple as breathing in a calming aroma can induce relaxation and soothe emotions.
There are several ways you can implement essential oils into your routine, such as sprinkling drops onto your pillow, applying them directly to your skin, putting oils in a diffuser, which has the added benefit of promoting quality air to help you breathe better.
When you are using essential oils, intentionally choose some associated with good memories or think of a memory that this oil induces for you (e.g. rose or lavender essential oil might remind you of a garden in summer; frangipani, coconut or ylang ylang might remind you of tropical holidays). Essential oils known to foster relaxation are: lavender, rose, peppermint, jasmine, rosemary and chamomile. 

Be creative to further enhance your olfactory environment (e.g. with incense, candles, fresh flowers, dried orange slides, dried lavender).

Get some panoramic view, perspective / somewhere where you can see the horizon 

Does just looking at the endless sky and open ocean make you relax a little? Do you even notice these? Or maybe you have had the experience of spending a long time indoors and then stepping outside to feel both your mind and body loosen?  This is not our imagination or the magical effects of nature. Instead, this is telling us something powerful about our autonomic nervous system and how it responds to certain visual stimuli.

Claustrophobia, the sensation of being suffocated, is not just about lack of oxygen or proximity to other people in subways or crowded spaces in your environment, it is about the fact that we cannot see very far, we are in a small visual box. 

In our Western society, we get used to what is known as “foveal’ vision”, where we concentrate on one point in front of us and notice all the details about that one point (e.g. watching TV, looking at a computer screen, reading, talking to someone) but ignore everything around it. We often get out of a meeting and rush straight to the subway, or walk whilst looking at our smart phone or talking to another person, slaloming between buildings.

Another kind of vision, “peripheral” vision, takes in the whole panorama of what is happening in front of us and around us. It uses different light receptors in the retina and different neural pathways in the brain.

Foveal vision is linked to arousal of the sympathetic nervous system (associated with adrenaline and stress) while peripheral vision is linked to the parasympathetic nervous system (associated with relaxation, calmness and healing). 

To the extent that you are truly in the “peripheral vision” state, you can block anxiety or stress: the two states are physiologically incompatible.

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STEP 4: Write down your Spring intentions

  • Which chapter do you close with the end of winter?
  • What renewal do you want to create in your life during this Spring / second quarter?
  • How do you want to feel in 3 months, when comes the Summer / third quarter? What do you want to have accomplished by then? (in your personal and professional life)
  • What is something new that you have always wanted to try but have not, that you could try this quarter?

For more inspiration and practical tips, check our Holistic Life & Work Assessment and other relevant articles such as

The magic power of gratitude in 5 rituals

After all, the great lesson is that no special natural sights that is more grand and more beautiful than the ordinary sunrise and sunset, earth and sky, the common trees and grass.

Walt Whitman

After a year of disruptions in our everyday life, many of us have realized to renew appreciation for the simple life moments we once took for granted. 

It can be difficult to find the positives at times of challenges. The great thing about keeping a gratitude ritual is that it nudges us to think about things we can be thankful for. These don’t even need to be big things!

Derived from the Latin word gratus, gratitude is the ability to feel thankful and show appreciation for all things good in your life, be it immaterial or material.

I cannot help but recall a London commuting moment.

It was a rainy end of afternoon in the London tube on a cold December month. I was commuting back from work, sitting down, and as often observing people getting in and out at each station where my journey would stop by. At one stop, a lovely couple of elderly Japanese jumped in, soaked with the English monsoon weather and trying to squeeze in the crowded carriage. I immediately stood up to let them my seat, which they were very thankful for. The old man took out a notepad from his bag smiling at me, and started scribbling something. I carried on miles away in my thoughts until my final destination. 

As I was about to get out, this old Japanese gentleman stopped me to hand me over a beautiful drawing calligraphy and bowed saying “Arigatou thank you” … His wife who spoke a little bit English told me he was an artist and wanted to thank me for the seats.

I was so humbled and touched by this polite and human touch in an often too impersonal commuting journey, that it reminded me how powerful gratitude can be in our everyday life.

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Benefits of gratitude

Since ancient times, philosophers and sages from every spiritual tradition have taught that the key to experiencing deeper levels of happiness, fulfilment, and wellbeing is cultivating gratitude. One of the earliest advocates of a daily gratitude practice was Dutch philosopher Rabbi Baruch Spinoza.

Now, through the work of leading researchers like Robert Emmons and Martin Seligman, we have science-backed evidence that gratitude virtue is more than just saying, “thank you.”

Numerous studies are demonstrating how gratitude journaling can increase one’s happiness.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. 

It is associated with improvements in mood, life satisfaction, and overall well being. 

Grateful people tend to be happier and show lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol … but higher levels of the “feel good” hormones, dopamine (pleasure) and serotonin (optimism).

The more you practice feeling grateful, the stronger that muscle gets.

In a white paper by The Greater Good Science Center titled, “The Science of Gratitude” (2018), several benefits to gratitude practice are outlined.

For the individual:

  • increased happiness and positive mood
  • more satisfaction with life
  • less materialistic
  • less likely to experience burnout
  • better physical health
  • better sleep
  • less fatigue
  • lower levels of cellular inflammation
  • greater resiliency
  • encourages the development of patience, humility, and wisdom

For groups:

  • increases prosocial behaviors
  • strengthens relationships
  • may help employees’ effectiveness
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5 rituals to reap the positive benefits of gratitude

STEP 1: Appreciative daily ritual

Research (from the University of Minnesota and the University of Florida) shows that taking time to experience gratitude can make you happier and even healthier. 

People who keep a gratitude journal and write down at least five things that they are grateful for and why, enjoy higher levels of emotional and physical well-being, lower their self-reported stress levels and get a greater sense of calm at night.

According to a study by researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Florida, having participants write down a list of positive events at the close of a day — and why the events made them happy — lowered their self-reported stress levels and gave them a greater sense of calm at night.

Each night for about 2-3 weeks, take 5-10 minutes to write down five things for which you are grateful.

Journaling is a great way to practise mindfulness and connect with your thoughts and feelings.

These five things can be little things (e.g. a meal you enjoyed or a meaningful conversation with a friend) or big things (e.g. a business deal or promotion, a loved one healed from a serious disease). 

The key is, despite the repetition, keep emotions fresh, imagine what each item means to you as you write it down, and experience the feelings associated with it. 

You can just write a word or short phrase, but as you write these things down, take a moment to be mindful of the things you’re writing about (e.g., imagine the person or thing you’re writing about).
You can do this exercise on your own or with a loved one (e.g. a partner, a child, parent, sibling, or closed friend). Expressing gratitude together can contribute in a meaningful way to the relationship, by telling one another what has made you happier in the past day, month or year. 

It doesn’t have to be a written journal. Lots of people journal visually, by drawing daily gratitude sketches or taking photos of things they are grateful for or using an app.

As a family, keep a “gratitude jar” where everyone puts in a little paper with what they are grateful for every day and you open these on the week-end.

Create visual reminders.

e.g. sticky notes, notifications to remind yourself of what you are grateful for throughout the day. 

Practise habits stacking.

If you find it hard to fit in time for a gratitude practice, try working gratitude into your life through habit-stacking. For example, when you wash your hands or teeth or take your shower, you have an opportunity to remember 3-5 things you are grateful for! It is an easy way of adding meaning to these routine moments – and without having to find any more time in your day. 

Use the following prompts if needed:

Gratitude prompts:

  • Who do I love in my life? Why do I love them? How do these people make me feel?
  • What am I proud of in my life?
  • Who has shown me kindness in my life? How have they shown me kindness?
  • What or who makes me happy in my life?
  • What material possessions do I have that I’m grateful for and why?
  • What challenges have I endured that I can now be thankful for?
  • What am I happy about right now? How does it make me feel?

Evening gratitude prompts:

  • What is the best thing that happened today?
  • What / who made me smile or brought me happiness today today?
  • What or who inspired me today?
  • Who or what brought me comfort and deep peace today?
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STEP 2: Replace “have to” with “get to”

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” (Abraham Lincoln)

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” (Dale Carnegie)

It is often a matter of perspective. When you shift the words you use, you change your entire perspective and therefore your approach around what you are looking to accomplish today. Think about all of the things you “have to” do today. Replace the phrase, “I have to” with “I get to”. It is a small shift, but it makes all the difference in your approach and your attitude. 

Aimee Mullins epitomizes the power of gratitude. She was born with a medical condition that required that she had both of her legs amputated below the knee when she was a child. She learned to walk on prosthetics, then to run and went on to achieving incredible athletic achievements. Her TED conference talks are amongst the most-viewed of all time.

“Part of me would have loved to have felt sand between my toes … But am I disabled because I haven’t? I don’t think so. Sometimes when I go to the beach with friends, and we are walking barefoot over pebbles and they are “oohing” and “ouching”, I think, “I’m really happy right now.” Life is about making your own happiness – and living by your own rules.” “Adversity is just change that we haven’t accepted ourselves to yet.”

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STEP 3: Be mindful of your 5 senses

Be mindful of your five senses. How does each enhance your life?

Breathe, pause, and be grateful for the air that is filling your lungs and making your life possible. Pay attention to your senses, to everything you are seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and maybe even tasting, and see how many things you can find to feel grateful for.  

Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. It lowers cortisol and norepinephrine in the brain which cause anxiety and allows us to stay present in the moment and slow down. In the present, all potentials exist to change our internal state regardless of the outside world. We can’t do this by feeling guilt /judgement / anxiety / fear / stress, ruminating or regretting the past, or being anxious about the future.

Take a “mindfulness gratitude walk”.

A gratitude walk is a powerful way to shift your mood. It is particularly useful when you are feeling down or filled with stress and worry. 

Set aside 20 minutes (or longer if you can) and walk in your neighborhood, through a park, around your office, or somewhere in nature. 

As you walk, consider the many things for which you are grateful for – e.g. nurturing relationships, your health and that of your loved ones, and the nature around you. 

“Life is made up of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of gray cement. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won’t happen. We have to teach ourselves how to make room for them, to love them, and to live, really live.

This is not a dress rehearsal, and today is the only guarantee you get.”

(Anna Quindlen, 2000 commencement speech at Villanova University)

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STEP 4: Share gratitude

One of the most fascinating facts about gratitude is the de-multiplied impact it has when shared with someone else. One of the best ways to be happier and to gain clarity is to make other people happier

When you care for other people’s fulfilment, your mindset widens and your own problems become less significant, which increases your inner peace and your own happiness.

When you forget about yourself and your problems, and you focus on helping others, your anxiety and fear lessen and you gain a better perspective on life. 

Kindness, like happiness, is contagious. There’s a name for it: “moral elevation.” When you feel this sense of moral “elevation”, not only do you say you want to be a better person and help others but you actually do, when the opportunity presents itself.

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” (Marcel Proust)

Give daily “thank you”.

Gratitude has profound effects on the happiness of both the giver and the receiver, and on the relationships. If you acknowledge people even for small favours they are also more likely to want to help you out in bigger ways in the future. 

Send 5 thanks a week.

One of the most effective ways to build powerful relationships (e.g. partner, family member, dear friend, business contact, client, mentor, manager, colleague) is to thank people for all they do for you, and acknowledge them. Make it one of your weekly rituals for 15 minutes a day, to send at least 5 thank you notes a week – whether this is a text, email or even hand-written note (e.g. beautiful postcards, card with inspiring quotes, photography) as it is more personal and will be more remembered and appreciated (particularly in this modern time!).  

The power of gratitude is also true in business (e.g. rituals, practices, appreciation programs, interventions, helping others) to empower and engage teams. 

Researchers from Wharton found that gratitude in the form of managers saying thank you to their employees for their efforts motivated them to work harder.

Doug Conant, who took the reins at Campbell Soup in 2001, is famous for having created a company culture of gratitude. The stock price was falling and it was the worst performer of all the major food companies in the world. By 2009, the company was ahead of the S&P Food Group and the S&P 500. Over the course of his 10-year career leading the soup giant, Doug Conant wrote at least 30,000 thank-you notes to employees and clients. In a 2011 Harvard Business Review article, Doug Conant explained that he sent handwritten notes because more than half of Campbell Soup associates didn’t use a computer. “Have you ever noticed how a pat on the back makes you feel great for days? If the praise comes in handwritten or email form, maybe you frame the note and put it on your wall so it can lift you up on a tough day or help you feel more engaged at work. Years of studies by Gallup and other research groups have shown that engaged employees are much more productive. Sadly, kudos from bosses are all too rare. Believe me, I know.” (Doug Conant)

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STEP 5: Savour

Savoring turns up the dial of our positive emotions. This is a great way to bring yourself into the moment, past focused, present focused, or future focused. 

Our days are the addition of the micro moments we experience. Our lives are an accumulation of little experiences. Why not savor experiences and dial up positive emotions?

Savoring involves mindfully engaging in thoughts or behaviors that heighten the effect of positive events and positive emotions. There are 3 types of savoring: Anticipatory savoring (looking forward to a positive event); Savoring the moment (intensifying and prolonging the enjoyment of a current experience); and Reminiscing (reviewing a past event to rekindle positive feelings). e.g. Did you have a win at work or do you just return from a wonderful holiday? Think about that and share it! Are you looking forward to dinner out with your significant other tonight? Take a few minutes and think about the delicious smells in the restaurant and what you will order.

It is a form of mindfulness practice and all about paying attention to the moment. Instead of multitasking and being focused on the past and future and on the present negativity all around, those of us who are most satisfied with our lives stop to enjoy the beauty and the small, amazing things in life.

Here is a fun video on savoring, of how Pixar’s Pete Docter got out of his head and savored the good in his life.


  • Practice the art of savoring by picking one experience to truly savor each day (e.g. a nice shower with an uplifting or relaxing fragranced shower gel, a delicious meal, a great walk outside, or any experience that you really enjoy). 
  • When you take part in this savored experience, be sure to practice some common techniques that enhance savoring. These techniques include: sharing the experience with another person, thinking about how lucky you are to enjoy such an amazing moment, keeping a souvenir or photo, and making sure you stay in the present.
  • Note: You can also recall a negative event, or all that have not happened / all the bad things that could have happened but didn’t. Doing this helps you appreciate your current situation.

When gratitude becomes your default way of seeing life, you become more aware of how much you have to be grateful for and reap the mood-boosting benefits! However you do it, it is a magical gift to give yourself that is available to all of us, all the time.

Forever get over the biggest obstacle to unlocking your unique potential in life and business

Raise your hand if you have a VISION for something you would love to DO, ACHIEVE OR CREATE! ✋🏻

Now keep your hand UP if you take step forwards without any fears of being “an imposter”? 🤔

🧞‍♀️ Did you ever watched Aladdin? 

When Aladdin finally gets the wish from the Genie to become a prince so he could marry Princess Jasmine, he doesn’t know how to act and he feels like an imposter. He tells the Genie that he can’t do it because he feels like a fraud. The Genie tells him, “You changed on the outside, but you didn’t change on the inside.”

❗️Spoiler alert: Most other people have felt this way too.

🙏 Imposter syndrome is a completely normal part of doing ANYTHING outside of your comfort zone. ALL of us get it, it is human. Unfortunately, a lot of people let fears and their inner critics stop them from taking action out of their comfort zone and achieving what they truly want. But the fears you don’t face become your limits 🙅‍♀️⁣

⁣⁣➡️ Self-doubt is a massive obstacle for high-achieving professionals, athletes, leaders and entrepreneurs. A big part of unlocking your potential is how much you can manage your own inner game and self-doubts – and empower others to do the same. 

⁣⁣➡️ The trick is to remember that our mind is our greatest asset as much as enemy (not to say something else starting with the same 3 letters as asset – excuse my French!). Whatever we desire in our personal and business life is only 20% strategy … and mostly 80% mindset. 

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STEP 1: What is imposter syndrome and what are its symptoms?

Imposter syndrome is a persistent inability to believe that our successes are down to our own abilities + a constant belief that we are not as competent as others perceive us to be.

⁣⁣Here are some common symptoms of how it might manifest:

  • Feeling like you are deceiving those around you, that you are not up to the task, and that you are the only one lucid enough to see it.
  • Comparing yourself to people who have already done the thing you want to do (thinking they never suffered from it).
  • Under-valuing your own self worth and uniqueness with an inability to savour your successes and to believe that they are due to your abilities. 
  • Learning and knowing but getting in analysis paralysis and procrastinating by fear of not being good / perfect enough (e.g. staying quiet in meetings although your expertise would add great value, accepting only one job interview even if you received 6 responses, procrastinating to the point of defeating yourself before an important meeting or milestone, not asking to be put forward for promotion even if your ratings consistently exceeded expectations).
  • Fearing that one day or another you will be exposed. This triggers a spiral of negative emotions such as doubt, fear, stress, anxiety, shame and guilt.
  • Setting impossible goals out of perfectionism and expecting mistakes and failures.
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STEP 2: Are you prone to imposter syndrome?

Test: How prone are you to impostor syndrome?

Answer yes or no to the following questions. If you hesitate, choose the answer that is closest to your feelings.

1. Do you have difficulty accepting praise or praise?

2. Do you experience anxiety during assessments or meeting situations?

3. Are you generally afraid of failure?

4. Are you often afraid that you will not be able to replicate a success that has already been achieved?

5. Are you worried that success will lead to increased demands and you won’t be able to keep up (and hence leading to failure)?

6. Are you afraid that people you care about will realize that you are not smart?

7. Does this sound familiar? “People think I’m better than I really am”; “Others think I’m going to cope, but I know I’m not up to it.”; “If I’m here (in this job, this responsibility) it was because I was at the right time in the right place, I was lucky: there was no competition.”

Test result

If you answered yes to 4 or more questions, there is a good chance that you at least occasionally experience the imposter syndrome. 

Use the “self-belief” journal prompts below to overcome negative self-judgement and imposter syndrome.

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STEP 3: How to manage your imposter syndrome … forever?

“You have to believe in yourself when no one else does. That makes you a winner.”

(Serena Williams)

All worries originate from one fundamental fear: “I will not be able to handle it” and something catastrophic will happen.

This exercise will help you install self-belief in your subconscious mind, and create new neural pathways to re-wire your mind with the belief that you have within you the resilience, power and ability to overcome what seems impossible. 

Go through it in a journal – whether in a notebook or a note-taking app.

Self-belief is like a muscle. The more you work out your confidence muscle, the stronger it will get!

Small incremental amounts of self-praise for who we are and what we do compound into greater self-compassion.

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Re-awaken to the cost of your imposter syndrome

The fear of making a mistake or failure stops you from making decisions, keep you from doing something you know is important to you.

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Believe that it is possible that someone can do what you want

List examples of others who have already done what you would like to achieve, or something similar. 

This includes ordinary people who decided they could accomplish what they wanted, did the necessary work, and became successful. There are great examples you might find in biographies, magazines, podcasts, YouTube videos, and others. When you see these examples, you will expand your belief of what is possible for a person to achieve. 

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Believe it is possible that you can achieve what you want.

Keep “self-belief booster lists”:

  • 1: List 3 top strengths, and anything you are proud or grateful for about yourself and your life. 
  • 2: List 3 top strengths, and anything you are proud or grateful for about yourself and your life. 
  • 3: List 3 top strengths, and anything you are proud or grateful for about yourself and your life. 
  • 4: List 3 top strengths, and anything you are proud or grateful for about yourself and your life. 
    • Record small wins (e.g. courageous email, positive conversation) or bigger ones (e.g. studies, promotion, recognition at work, amazing testimonials, new business deal, gym personal best), even if you have trouble taking the credit for them. 
    • Keep your weekly success log: Have a weekly ritual to write down retrospectively your accomplishments for the week – whether professional or personal. Often we are not fully aware of our successes and taking the time to remind ourselves what we have accomplished feels good!
    • Track personal disciplines: what you kept or progress (e.g. dietary, meditating, exercising, reading), temptations you overcame(e.g. sugar, social media or TV addiction)

What do these 4 lists tell you about your strengths, skills, qualities, values, or conditions for success?

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Install self-belief in your subconscious mind.

Repeat to yourself empowering affirmations to trust in your abilities to handle any situation that comes your way, based on your evidence. The more you repeat these, the more they will become like brain tattoos, and you will stop old mental loops from running.

  • Examples of statements to consider: 

“I will handle it” [“I have handled it before and I will handle it again”]

“If I can do this, then I can do ———-”

Why not” [me / possible…]”

“I am enough” 

  • Put your favorite statements in places where you can repeatedly see them. For example: mirror, fridge, car dashboard, phone alarms, screensavers, computer passwords, engraved bracelets, journal, calendar reminder. 
  • Repeat your statement in multiple tenses (“I am / I have always been / I will always […]”).
  • Counter your specific limiting beliefs with opposite statements (e.g. “I am not young enough” ⇒ “I am the perfect age to achieve my goal”; “I do not have enough knowledge in this field” ⇒ “I can learn anything I need to know how to achieve my goal and partner with the right people to help me”).
  • Update the language you use with more assertive phrases. e.g. instead of saying, “I feel this is the way forward,” say, “I think this is the way forward.”
  • Avoid comparing yourself to others. Focusing on developing your individual strength will be most beneficial for your career progression and your mental well-being. One person’s strength is another person’s weakness, and accepting that your skill lies elsewhere means you can focus on getting ahead in an area that you excel, whilst seeking growth opportunities outside of your comfort zone. Remember – “a lion who copycats a lion becomes a monkey” (Victor Hugo).
  • Embody our authenticity as your greatest super power. Check out Amy Cuddy Ted Talk on how our body language shape out thoughts 🙂
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Act. Remember that everything in life and business is an experiment! Remove self-doubts, fears and procrastination through consistent daily actions and engagement, with baby steps – not thoughts.

You have to do the thing to make sure the thing works or suits you. And if it doesn’t, it is simply feedback helping you to tweak and pivot. Detach yourself from the outcome and focus on the process. Remind yourself that there is no one on Earth without weaknesses and there is no such thing as failure or perfection, only learning and progress! You have to do the thing to make sure the thing works or suits you. And if it doesn’t, failure is simply feedback helping you to tweak and pivot.

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Take actions daily to improve your self-belief.

Menu of options to consider. 

  • Re-read what you have written in your journal every day or whenever you need a boost of confidence.
  • Improve on it by constantly adding details on it
  • Based on your “holistic life assessment” and what you want: Rate how confident you are that it is possible to achieve this goal, on a scale of 1-10 (1 = NO, I don’t believe it is; 5 = MAYBE; 10 = YES, I believe it is). Write little steps you can take to improve your self-belief within the next week or month. You don’t need to know HOW to reach your goals yet, only to decide that you can do it. 
  • Build your self-confidence daily in what you think you cannot do, by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone by baby steps – even in seemingly unimportant fields (e.g. in the gym or in social situations).
  • Regularly give your loved ones heartfelt compliments. It goes a long way in boosting someone’s confidence. Remember – “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” (Maya Angelou).
  • Do not strive for perfection and embrace failure!
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Self-doubt can be paralyzing. But now that you know how to recognize and deal with these feelings, you can make efforts to move forward instead of getting stuck in the cycle!

What can a lion and a monkey teach you about building a powerful and authentic personal brand? 4 Tips!

“A lion who copycats a lion becomes a monkey.”

Victor Hugo

Everyone has a personal brand.

The concept gained traction in the late 1990’s but really this is about what has always existed: your reputation.

The question is no longer IF you should have a personal brand, but if you choose to control how to define your brand or to let it be defined by others.

Branding is not anymore only for products, big businesses, celebrities or entrepreneurs.
Brands are a must for people as much as products and constitute a significant competitive advantage to articulate your personality and uniqueness professionally.
Personal branding is possible for any one who becomes intentional about how they want to be perceived, and what they want others to see and feel.

Human beings understand the world around them through stories, narratives we tell ourselves about what is happening and why. Many people remember stories easier than facts.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote in The Tipping Point that kids who are confused about the action they see on TV would turn away and disengage. Somehow, adults are not much different. Malcom Gladwell coined the term “stickiness” to refer to an idea or product’s memorability, catchiness, and overall ability to hold a person’s attention.

Your authenticity is your greatest superpower

Turn your personal brand into your most valuable asset and competitive advantage in your professional life – whether you want to advance where you are or to pivot in a new path.

Here are 4 tips to develop your personal brand!

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STEP 1: Get clear on how you want to be perceived

Once you understand how you wish to be perceived, you can start to be much more strategic about your personal brand.

  • What would someone you know say to someone who never met you when describing you?
  • What do you want others to experience about you?
  • What do people think of you? What do they say when you leave the room? 
  • What qualities and principles must you honor – or part of you dies and can’t be fulfilled? Select your top 3 values and define what they mean to you. 
  • What words would describe the best version of yourself? Select your top 3 personality strengths.

This is not about playing tricks or being inauthentic. On the contrary. It is about giving, adding value and service.

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STEP 2: Define Your Unique Value Proposition

To become respected in your company or industry, you need to be very clear on what unique value you provide and how to connect that to those you serve.

Your brand should be authentic to you – who you are, what you do, how you do it, what makes you different / unique and what you have to offer to employers and / or clients

Most often, it is a combination that makes us unique, rather than one element in isolation.

It can be a read thread to build a unique narrative across multiple passions, or, in the context of a reinvention, a powerful way to enable others to understand your journey across different roles and industries shifts.

Your personal brand identity combines:

  • Your values and personality strengths, skills and gifts, passions or curiosity.
  • Your purpose (or “purposefulness”).
  • Your academic, personal and professional background.
  • Your name, your physical appearance, your outfits and personal style, your voice and any accent, perhaps a brand color or type font or logo.
  • A specific experience you went through.
  • A career accomplishment, award or recognition you may have received.
  • Your dreams and aspirations.

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STEP 3: Ask For Feedback

Understanding how you are perceived, and identifying any gaps between the current reality and where you want to be in the future is critical to your professional life, including in the context of a reinvention.

Even when you think you already know how others view you, you might be surprised by what you find and the message you are giving to others may be very different from what you intend. Listening to the outside world can enable you to gain valuable insight.

So how do you get this precious feedback?

  • Write down 3-5 things you would like others to experience when interacting with you or know you for.
  • Ask a close friend, mentor or a trusted colleague to do the same.
  • Are the answers similar? If so, well done. If not – you have some work to do ro refine your personal brand.

I have a full “Do-it-yourself 360 review” in my RE-Vitalize and RE-Invent programs that I take my clients through!

gold-we live one life

STEP 4: Be Consistent

Everything you do offline and online ultimately contributes to your personal brand. Once you are clear on your personal brand, make sure that you embody it in all actions and interactions.

Remember what you want to stand for, by defining your “brain tattoos”.

  • Based on your values and strengths, create principles of how you want to live your life. Aim for 10 and pick your top 3 as “brain tattoos”. It is a creative way of distilling your core values and strengths. 
  • Reflect and meditate on these principles and how you can express these more fully in and out of work.
  • Create phone alarms at regular times, or screensavers.
  • Write them on post-it notes in places you see the most in your house, or on your to do list.
  • Remember them whenever you are about to enter a place, or to meet someone.
  • Revisit them periodically so your life remains aligned with them, and update them as needed as these would probably change over time.
  • Set daily intentions about how you want to “show-up” in the world and with others – what you want to be, do, feel, live and give.

Promote Your Brand Online

  • e.g. Blogging, LinkedIn, Social Media

Promote Your Brand Offline

  • e.g. Participating in industry groups, giving talks, or offering to lead a project that highlight your talents.

If you want to be successful, creating a personal brand is not just a nice to have but a necessity. 

Whether you aspire to accelerate your career, get that promotion or land your dream job, creating a compelling and consistent brand will help you meet your goals.

It will also be critical to showing up with greatest authenticity in your day to day personal life and remembering what truly matters to you!
Ultimately, whether in our personal or business life, what we want is connection.

“I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

People who are kind and giving vs. selfish and transactional, authentic and genuine vs. superficial, and full of positive energy vs.draining, curious and delighted to meet others vs. isolated, helpful vs. helpless.

Lions. Not monkeys.

Don’t try to live someone else’s life or wait for exterior approval. It is not about fitting in. It is about standing out and standing in what you truly want. Your life path is unique, and so is your personal brand and career.

And last but not least – Your personal brand statement is not carved in stone! You will and should continue to refine how you define and brand yourself.

How do you plan on levelling up or reinventing your personal brand in 2021?

Send me a message and let me know + If you want to go deeper … Get in touch! My intentional Living Method has at its heart to empower professionals to look inwards in order to create a more intentional life and career – whether by enhancing their current path or reinventing a new one. Defining first their authentic self and personal brand identity. Self-awareness and authenticity are superpowers!

Slow down to look within and better speed up

I was once heading to a dinner in a London cab  with a very nice gentleman in his late sixties, and probably because of my French accent we started speaking and discussing about life. He suddenly pulled out a piece of paper and said “look, I read this everyday”. It said:

Message from an old friend:
First I was young and dying to finish my high school and start college
And then I was dying to finish college and start working
Then I was dying to marry and have children
And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough so I could go back to work
But then I was dying to retire
And now I am dying …
And suddenly I realised I forgot to live
To make money we lose our health, and then in order to restore our health we lose our money …
We live as if we are never going to die, and we die as if we never had lived.

This made a lasting impression on me.

In modern society’s natural inclination to ensure that the next moment contains what this one lacks, we manage to become permanent fugitives from ourselves and our present.

Of course, the pandemic has forced many of us to stay in and mostly alone or with very few people for a long time. This kind of relative solitude is uncomfortable, and sometimes unsettling.

But what if this pocket of stillness was a nourishing time to confront who we really are and what we want?

This Ted Talk will inspire you to slow down, pause, reflect, and reconnect with your inner self.

gold-we live one life

Pico Iyer – The Art of Stillness 

At the age of 29, best selling author Pico Iyer gave up his glamorous life in Manhattan to move to Kyoto, Japan, in order to embrace a quieter life of contemplation. What we really crave, he discovered, is intimacy and kindness.

From the beaches of Bali to the Champs-Élysées in Paris, the outback of Australia to the mountains of Tibet, Pico Iyer spent a lifetime traveling the globe, landing his dream job reporting on world affairs for Time Magazine in 1982. 

So where does someone who has seen every corner of the world say is the best place to visit? Nowhere.

Going nowhere … isn’t about turning your back on the world; it’s about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.

This Ted Talk is a counterintuitive meditation, where Pico Iyer takes a look at the incredible insight that comes with taking time for stillness. In our world of constant movement and distraction, he shows us what strategies we all can use to take back a few minutes out of every day. 

In his book The Art of Stillness: Adventures in going nowhere, Iyer writes: 

In an age of speed, I began to think nothing could be more exhilarating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of  constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.

I often think we’re most happy when we forget the time.

They found surveys that when somebody is standing in a street with a hand extended in need and people are walking past or stopping to talk to that person, the one factor that determines whether they’ll stop and help the person or not is not income or background or race or any of that. It’s just whether they have the time or not.

If you don’t have time, you don’t have enough kindness in your life. You don’t have the chance to open yourself up.“Travel is how I make a living, but stillness is how I make a life. Travel is how I decorate the house of my life, but stillness is how I lay the foundation.

It takes courage, of course, to step out of the fray, as it takes courage to do anything that’s necessary, whether tending to a loved one on her deathbed or turning away from that sugarcoated doughnut.

The Covid period has been challenging for many, but for the fortunate few, who can emerge out of it with health, job stability and financial security, it is a reset that enables to look within – confront who we are, reawaken to what we truly want and revisit life choices.