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The Greatest Problems Often Hide The Greatest Opportunities


I’m back!

Dear Lovely Loyal Readers how I have missed you!  In the last but one blog I laid before you I wrote:  “Usually if I don’t manage to sit here and write about life it’s because I’m too busy living it!” and little did I know how predictive that comment would be.   Life indeed got so intense that I was compelled to lay down my keyboard and actually concentrate on living.  My apologies for my absence.  Now I shall be getting back into the swing of things, ready to pass along to you any inspiration that comes my way and it’s lovely to be home!

Well here we are, just into Thursday, at least from where I’m sitting, and I’ve just come back from Toastmasters.  Toastmasters is a speakers club where we all take turns to stand up and speak, and then we help each other work on our speaking technique.  It’s all quite formal and very organized, and for me because I often find myself in front of an audience, it’s a great way of ‘sharpening the saw’ and making sure I can get my message across clearer and better each time I present – see how much I love the people I work with?

This week I got home earlier than from the last meeting a fortnight ago, due to the fact that this week I didn’t find a dead-but-still-warm-maybe-it’s-not-actually-dead-I’d-better-call-the-RSPCA-oh-shame-it-actually-is-dead-and-oh-dear-now-it’s-2am-hedgehog in the middle of the road, so I’ve arrived back home with a certain amount of gumption still available to me, and I’ve decided the time is now – time to jump back into the blogging pool with a splash!

I thought I’d tell you all about my inspirational evening at Toastmasters tonight.  This week I’d volunteered/been talked into being the General Evaluator for the evening which is a formidable role, and one I’ve never done before.  You have to sit at the back of the room for the whole meeting, assess everything that happens, notice the good stuff and give recommendations for improvement.  At the end of the meeting you stand up for 10 minutes or so and report all this back.   I’ve always avoided this role because it means so much to so many people that I wasn’t sure how well I would deliver what was needed.

Tonight when I got there, I skidded in at the last minute, really wasn’t very organized when introducing my team of evaluators, and when it came to informing the audience of what I was there to do, I actually ended by showing them ‘fingers crossed’ and telling them “I’ll do my best”.  Not what you’d call the strongest of starts.  I was nervous.  Throughout the meeting I sat there at the back, making notes and hoping I could serve the room as I needed to when the time came to report back at the end. I decided I would simply go through my notes, in order, and not try any high shenanigans, just deliver the information.

Eventually I was called to the stage.  I don’t know what happened to me.  I’ve recently noticed it actually that when I have inspiring content to deliver to an audience that it’s almost like something takes me over and the job just gets done – it’s almost like I become an observer and the information just comes through me.  And it happened again tonight.  I was on fire!  You wouldn’t think a general evaluation could be that interesting, but somehow it came out funny and engaging and above all useful.  When I finished I got one of the biggest claps I’ve ever had, and the whole energy in the room had gone up a notch.  Several people congratulated me, and the president of the club said that whatever I was on, she wanted some! To cap it all off, a colleague from the club whom I greatly admire for his splendid speaking skills told me that my report was ‘jealousy inducing’, that he himself wouldn’t be able to do the report in that style, and he’s happy that our club has someone that can!  You can bet I flew home this evening, drunk on having done a splendid job.

Why am I telling you all this?  Certainly not to brag.  As I’ve said, I don’t know what came over me, only that I surrendered to something and the report came out brilliant.  I just think there’s a great moral here.  How often do we think that we can’t do something and we’re so convinced that we never even try?  I was actually afraid to be the general evaluator, which is quite silly considering that I life coach for a living, and that I’m regularly up on my feet in front of an audience. But when I accepted the role, something in me stepped up to the mark.  In fact I think all I had to do was step out of my own way and let my unconscious higher inspiration get on with it!

As regular readers will know, I am Jewish and occasionally share with you little things that inspire me from inside Judaism.  Well in the Jewish calendar we are currently in a period of communal mourning called ‘The 9 Days’ which will culminate this year on Sunday 29th July in a day called ‘The 9th of Av’, the saddest and most unlucky day in the Jewish calendar.  To me the energy during this time period is palpably heavy, and quite honestly every year (along with lots of other Jews, I’m sure) I can’t wait for the 9th of Av to pass, and take all the heaviness of spirit with it.  And yet there is a flip side.  Somebody told me the other day apparently we have a tradition that the dawn of an enlightened world age will begin on the 9th of Av one year and that all the mourning will be turned to a corresponding amount of joy and celebration forevermore.  Stand by on the 29th July … it’s 2012 after all … it could be this year!

I was thinking about all this in a wider context as I drove home tonight, and I was thinking “Isn’t that pattern true generally?”  It brought to mind a quote I recently heard, I’m not sure who said it.  It goes something like: ‘Pay attention to the problems in life because the greatest problems often hide the greatest opportunities’.  It’s just so true, isn’t it?  The bigger the problem that you solve, the more potent and positive the result.  That’s why the 9th of Av has such great potential.  Because it’s such a terrible day, when it gets turned inside out, it can only ever be absolutely brilliant.  In the wider context, it’s such a great way to change our thinking to realize that problems are actually positive things, because once you push through them, the result on the other side is more than worth the effort.  For this reason, the thing you are most afraid of doing is probably the thing that will benefit you the most if you just jump in and get on with it.  Additionally it is often the case that once you do break through to the other side, the so called problem often just crumbles away, as if it was never there in the first place.  Perhaps the problem was just an illusion all along, it’s only purpose being to get you to step up to the next level in your life.  Once you’ve done that, of course the problem vanishes – it has done it’s job!

Most of all, tonight I got a timely reminder that to push yourself beyond your comfort zone is a fantastic and rewarding thing. To quote Tony Robbins: “Everything grows or dies, contributes or is eliminated”.  What a compelling quote! Dunno about you, but I’m gonna keep growing and contributing, pushing through any challenges that come my way, and bringing you anything I learn in the process 🙂

Have a joyous week, get out there and be you!


What Tony Robbins Shouted in My Ear, Dodgy Shaped Clothing and Opening Up Financial Abundance

He's got money coming out of his ears!!!!


It was 2001.  After two very difficult years, I had just emerged from university with a Masters in Psychology, and miraculously had managed to get my bank balance back up to exactly zero at the same time.  I didn’t have too much else – I had no idea what I was supposed to do with my life in so many arenas.  It was like I was stepping off a shaky platform and … into a black hole.  Then onto our doormat fell an advertising postcard for a Tony Robbins event.

Several years prior to that my NLP trained driving instructor who also doubled as my unofficial mentor at the time had put a copy of Robbins book ‘Unleash the Power Within’ in my hands.  The book really spoke to me, so when I saw that this guy does events too I thought to myself “I wonder if he’s really the same guy he portrays himself as in his book”.  I really didn’t know what else to do with myself at the time, so I put myself back in the red by £650 or so (which I later learnt is WAY too much to pay for one of those tickets) and went along to Unleash the Power Within – the event.

I have a principal in life that if I’m going to do something, then I do it thoroughly.  I had just paid a huge sum of money for someone coming out of university to be at this gig and was investing a long weekend so I really took part!  I scribbled down everything the man said, I yelled out the answers to all the questions asked from the stage and I fully engaged in every activity he lead.  By the end of the event I was enlightened and exhausted.

There comes a point towards the end of these things where they try and sell you further amazing events for lots more money.  So Tony had told everyone about his ‘Mastery University’ and said something like “so if you want to experience all that and you want to get it at this and this fantastic price then go, go, go!”  and perhaps 3000 of the 5000 people in the auditorium streamed out of the doors to go and find out about getting on to the next stage.  The stands started to empty out.  There I stood, the lines of the tears I had cried in the last exercise still drying on my face, knowing I could never afford to travel all over the world to all these further events and yet desperate for more inspiration in my life.  And I suddenly thought “I have to speak to this man”.

I made my way down from the stars, pushing against the crowd and to the front of the stage where Tony was talking to a few people.  In just another five minutes or so crowds of people would return to the auditorium with the same idea but absolutely no hope of getting to the front.  I only had to wait for a couple of people in front of me and I was talking with the man himself.  I started to pour out my story.  Trouble was, with all the crowd in the background I couldn’t hear a word he was saying, even though he was sitting on one of the huge speakers at the front of the stage. Like a two way mind read I reached up and he reached down and he pulled me up on to the edge of the stage so that we could talk into each others ears and have some hope of being heard.  He has this story he tells about how before he started doing what he does his biggest worry was whether his car would hold together for the journey to work.  I told him that my car was exactly the same!  I told him that I had no money and no idea what to do with myself and was desperately unhappy.  That I really wanted to go to the next series of events he was running, but there was no way I could afford it.  And this is what he shouted in my ear (I might be paraphrasing a bit):

“I have a feeling that you have a problem with money.  You think money is bad in some way.  But actually money is very good.  Look at all the things we have achieved with money.  We do a lot of charity work – we wouldn’t be able to do that without money.  You need to change your attitude to money and then everything will change for you. And if you really want to go to Mastery University the money will come”.

I thanked him and got down from the stage.  I did actually go to Mastery University, which involved a lot of world travel and sleeping in cars etc and it was paid for by a whiplash injury I got, but that is another story in itself!  Tony Robbins is one of the reasons I got into what I do, and I don’t know who gets more out of it, my clients or I.

He was absolutely right about the money thing.  I had grown up skint.  And it seemed to me that anyone around me who had money was full of themselves, and lorded it over the rest of us peasants.  In my community I felt like a little nothing because I had nothing to show for myself.  That people didn’t talk to me because I wasn’t wealthy enough for them.  Indeed there was a big part of me that felt that ever getting money and any form of financial stability would make me into a horrible person.  I think I mentally chose rather to be poor than horrible.

I am happy to say that over the years my attitude to money and people with money has changed considerably. As I traveled and widened my horizons I met many people who had loads of money and were still really nice!  I learnt that money is far more of a blessing than a curse – if you know what do to with it.  My bank balance has also changed somewhat though there is still plenty of room for improvement 🙂

Back to now … I’ve been having a financial sort out in the last few weeks.  An old school teacher of mine once compared what you have in your life to the water inside a big tea urn.  He said “if you want more to be poured in from the top, you have to let water out from the tap at the bottom.”  I truly think he was on to something there.  For the last few years every time someone gave one of my children a tenner or whatever for a birthday present I was lazy to put it in their account for them, and have been stockpiling the envelopes.  Then every time I didn’t have cash to pay the cleaner or whatever I’d end up borrowing the birthday money, so these envelopes had IOU’s written all over them.  Well I’ve sorted it all out. I worked out what I owed and I’ve paid everybody back, or will do shortly.  Also, being Jewish, I have a law (or maybe a custom) that tells me to give 10% of everything I earn to charity.  I owe a bit of money that way too.  Now I’ve worked out exactly what I owe, and I’m going to pay that back as well.  You see if you want it to flow in from the top you do have to let it out at the bottom!  The two other things I remember that teacher saying was that he reckoned I’d hold some form of communal responsibility when I grew up (right again, Sir) and some reference to receiving a giraffe-shaped jumper as a gift!

So how are your finances?  What is your attitude to money like? – be honest now.  These are tough financial times for all.  The rich are suffering along with the poor – some of the wealthiest individuals have taken some of the biggest tumbles.  It isn’t easy for many people.  In the midst of all this, changing your attitude to money can be challenging … and yet it’s essential if you want more to flow your way.

All together now (in the words of The Secret, I believe): “Money flows freely and abundantly into my life” say it like you mean it and say it often.  Think rich, feel rich, act rich and talk rich.  Remember, your reality follows your FEELINGS.  Do what it takes to feel great and feel abundant and your reality is obliged to match that.  If all else fails, remember the best things in life really are free, so we’re all rich anyway.

Here’s to your wealth and mine!