The MAGIC Formula – Connecting to Yourself – Exercising in Nature

The MAGIC Formula - Exercise in Nature

The MAGIC formula:

Moving
Attuning
Giving
Inspiring
Connecting

It applies to:

Yourself
Your clients
Your team
Your prospects 

Right Royals

I am currently enjoying The Crown on Netflix. Say and think what you like about the Royal family, you have to admire their commitment to getting outdoors for some good healthy exercise.

Happy Paddler

Those who know me will know that I have a kayaking habit. I take out my sit-on-top kayak once a week for two to three hours. I paddle around, stop halfway for lunch on the riverbank.

It’s not a fast boat, but I love it. Over the last few years, I have seen some amazing things on these trips: pairs of kingfishers chasing each other across the canal; a deer swimming across the river just metres behind me; a fox racing me along the riverbank as I paddled along; a stoat coming and sitting a few metres away as I cooked up my baked beans. Special moments, unlikely to be repeated, which have become treasured memories.

Why am I so committed to kayaking every week, even when it’s freezing cold? It’s not just a nice thing to do, I believe it is essential for my work. Why is this?

I think we should all aim to do some exercise regularly in the great outdoors because:

– it is good for our mental health,
– It’s good for our physical health and fitness,
– It is intellectually stimulating and challenging, and
– it’s great thinking time.

Mental Space

Getting outside for a walk, cycle, or kayak gives you great headspace time. Your horizons literally get bigger, your eyes open to the wonders of nature, you get time to think. And time not to think.

I would encourage you to take off your headphones. Allow yourself to hear the birds, the rush of the wind, the patter of the raindrops. Let your brain slow down a bit. Get some perspective.

Better Body

Exercise is good for your body. I realise that is not a groundbreaking statement. But worth repeating nevertheless. It is an excellent antidote to sitting at your desk all day. Sitting a lot makes your muscles ache – I’m sure you’ve experienced this. Some vigorous exercise can help to alleviate that, to dispel some stiffness.

Muscle strength is also crucial for good posture and maintaining balance, particularly as we get older. I think decent strength and stamina reduces our risk of picking up annoying injuries as we go about our daily lives.

And I find that the change in focal length is refreshing. Staring at a screen all day means our eyes are always focused at one distance. Going outside to bigger horizons gives them a rest.

Health-wise, the benefits of vitamin D are well known. As well as being beneficial for your bones and joints, there are reports that it might even help to prevent  COVID-19.
I’m a big advocate in getting out in all weathers. I love the Scottish maxim that there is no bad weather, only the wrong clothes. Wim Hof might seem slightly extreme with his ice walks and ice swims, but it has been demonstrated that exposing yourself to a bit of shiver-inducing cold each day could help to improve your immune system.

Get out there so that the sun, rain and wind can hit your face. You’ll feel better. And you’ll look healthier, in person and in all those Zoom meetings.

Brain Boost

One of the reasons I love kayaking is the problem-solving and challenging situations it throws up. Maybe there’s a tree down across the river, and I have to get past it. Maybe a strap has snapped on my kayak, and I have to improvise.

If you have been camping, you will know that this involves all sorts of problem-solving situations. I find this very stimulating and a welcome change from the everyday computer-based thinking.

Nature itself is also intellectually and creatively stimulating: the beauty, the intricacy, the ingenuity. You can derive all sorts of inspiration from observing plants and animals. I like to explore natural environments with different degrees of human management: carefully managed parks, slightly wilder farmland, and occasionally wilderness – although that is hard to find these days.

Pondering and Percolating

Taking some time go for a walk or engage in some other sort of outdoors activity is also wonderful thinking time. Even if you don’t consciously focus on a particular problem, your brain will be percolating ideas in the background. There are countless times when a breakthrough, an epiphany or a moment of inspiration has come to me while walking the dog. It is always worth having a notepad or phone handy, so you can make a note of these flashes of inspiration.

Now, where are your coat and boots?


Download my free eBook “Be Kind to Yourself” and learn how to:

  • Adapt to new ways of working
  • Harness the power of habits
  • Optimise the use of space in your home
  • Use clothes to boost productivity
  • Focus on what matters
  • Plan for the future amidst uncertainty

The MAGIC Formula – Moving Yourself – The Power of Music

The MAGIC Formula - The Power of Music

The MAGIC formula:

Moving
Attuning
Giving
Inspiring
Connecting

It applies to:

Yourself
Your clients
Your team

Your prospects 

The Power of Music

I step off the bus at the central bus station in Heathrow facing a long walk with two wheelie cases to Terminal 2: Endless corridors, lifts and travellators.

But then the transformation.

I put on my noise-cancelling headphones and fire up Forty Licks, the best of the Rolling Stones

A smile comes on my face.

With “Street Fighting Man” in my ears, It’s all I can do to stop myself strutting like Mick Jagger, with a spring in my step. And the tedious journey suddenly becomes a pleasure. I’m a rock star!

I get to the queue for check-in. A big grin on my face with my feet tapping. I have to reign it in a bit, so the other passengers don’t think I’m mad.

Music is a marvellous thing.

All humans have loved it since time began. It has magical power to change our moods.

Why not use it intentionally?

I suggest that you can use music to improve your work and life by using it to:

– put you in the right mood for the activity at hand,
– inspire yourself
– help you to concentrate, and
– help you connect spiritually.

Getting In the Mood

Five minutes before chairing a challenging Zoom meeting, I put on my headphones and crank up “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’Roses, and dance around my office, juggling and jiggling like a crazy thing. Suffice to say, I begin the meeting energised!

When entering a national speech competition, I realised that my speech needed to hit a higher tempo in the rhythm of my words. I wanted to get more energy into it and to make sure it lasted precisely the right amount of time. I discovered that the beat I needed was exactly the same as “Staying Alive” by The Bee Gees. So I played that to myself before I went on.

I love cooking. I love cooking even more when I have Radio 2 on in the background. Chop, stir, dance, sing, chop. I’m showing my age, you will have your own special music and favourite station.

Music can energise you, it can motivate you. It can change your mood.

Let the Choir Inspire

Music can be inspirational. If you listen to lots of different music, especially music with lyrics. It will give you new ideas, new poetic phrases that may inspire your work and your life. I encourage you to listen to music outside your typical tastes. It will give you an insight into how others think and feel.

I love all sorts of music and make a point of listening to a wide range: heavy rock cheesy pop, folk, 80s hip hop, and even a bit of classical in extremis(!)

Concentration Now Begins

It seems counterintuitive, but much of the time having music in the background actually aids concentration rather than splitting our focus. I found this intriguing article in The Guardian, which explains why.

I have indeed found this true from experience. Putting some music on enables me to focus on a task when I would otherwise be demotivated or vulnerable to distraction.

Spiritual Connection

And finally, music can help you to connect spiritually. You may or may not be religious. If you are then you will be familiar with worship music, and how this plays a massive role in both personal and corporate devotion.

But, even if we are not religious, we all have songs that mean something to us.

And we all know that certain songs can de-stress us and calm us down. Some pieces can move us to tears, others can inspire us.

Think about how you can use music intentionally to improve both your work and your life.

Music may be the food of love, but it is the food of so much more as well. Play on.

Download my free eBook “Be Kind to Yourself” and learn how to:

  • Adapt to new ways of working
  • Harness the power of habits
  • Optimise the use of space in your home
  • Use clothes to boost productivity
  • Focus on what matters
  • Plan for the future amidst uncertainty

The MAGIC Formula – Moving Yourself – Values

The MAGIC Formula- Moving Yourself - Values

The MAGIC formula:

Moving
Attuning
Giving
Inspiring
Connecting

It applies to:

Yourself
Your clients
Your team
Your prospects 

Value Added

Values are incredibly, well, valuable. They are fundamentally important.

Many thanks to Michelle Mills-Porter for reminding me how important they are. She is an expert on personality types, she can profile someone at a hundred paces (sort of). She is passionate about tools like DiSC. Still, she emphasised to me that, even before you start looking at personality types, you need to think about values. They are the building blocks from which everything else is constructed.

Uncovering Hidden Values

How do you discern your values?

It is worth taking some time to think about what is really important to you. Some aspects of this may be obvious, others less so. How do you discern this?

If you’re not sure, think about what gets your emotions going.

For years I was confused by myself. I’m not an especially emotional person, I don’t cry very much, and I hardly ever get angry. But every time I watched the musical Cabaret, I found myself getting really angry and crying.

My emotions were stirred up.

I reflected on it and realised that this showed me that I value people having freedom. And I hate to see it when they have that freedom denied.

I also tend to cry whenever I see any piece of good theatre. It doesn’t matter if it’s sad, happy, or even just silly. If it is excellently done. I will probably start crying. I’ve been known to do it in theatre adaptations of toddlers TV shows, just because the production was so good! Why is that? I realised that I value creativity, and I love people being able to express themselves in their own creative ways. Again, I think it’s to do with freedom.

What’s Your List?

Early on in our marriage, my wife and I talked about what was important to us. We’re both Christians, so our initial stab at establishing our benchmark values had God first, family next, and work third.

After further thinking and more years, I realised that self-care has to be up there as well. You can’t help others if you are in pieces yourself, so you have to look after yourself to be able to serve them. Consequently, my priority list now looks like this:

God,
self,  
wife,
family,
work,
other stuff.

Your list will probably look different. That’s OK, the important thing is that you think about it.

Decisions, Decisions…

Once you have established your priority list, it makes decision making, easier. Every time you have to make a life decision, you can measure it against your list: What will be the impact on myself, my partner, my family, etc.?

For example, a work assignment that would take you away for six months from your family may not be an option. Or it may be. It depends on your value list.

Valuable Reflection

It is a good idea to build in regular reflection time just to check that your life and work are still congruent with your values. It is so easy to drift.

If you do unconsciously drift, you will probably notice a dissatisfaction and unease in yourself, because what you’re doing is not aligned with your values. Regular reflection should help you to identify this and think about whether there is anything you can do to put it right.


Look at your values, reflect on your values regularly and check each decision you make against them.

Values are so, well, valuable.

Download my free eBook “Be Kind to Yourself” and learn how to:

  • Adapt to new ways of working
  • Harness the power of habits
  • Optimise the use of space in your home
  • Use clothes to boost productivity
  • Focus on what matters
  • Plan for the future amidst uncertainty

Be Kind by MAGIC -Attuning to Your Clients

Being Kind is your business super-power.

How do you Be Kind in Business? By applying the MAGIC formula:

Moving
Attuning
Giving
Inspiring
Connecting

It applies to:

Yourself
Your clients
Your team
Your prospects 

Attuning to your clients is all about understanding them, and then modifying how you serve them as a result.

There are three steps to attuning:

Look and Listen

First, you have to look and listen. Observe your client, ask them questions, find out about them and their situation. Spend some time on this; ask the follow-up questions. Note both what they answer and how they answer. Do any questions make them excited, any make them uncomfortable?

Understand

Next, you need to understand what you have found out.

  • Who are they? Get a take on your client’s personality. Maybe a tool such as DiSC , MBTI  or the Enneagram would be helpful here? You won’t be able to do a full analysis, but you should get some interesting pointers and insights. This will help you to work out how much to affirm and encourage, balanced against how much you can challenge them without frightening them.
  • Where are they? You have to understand their situation. What are their problems? Could you help them solve them? Can you see the issue from another angle and reframe it? Or maybe you can see that their perceived problem is not the real problem in the first place? Perhaps the answer they think they want is not actually the answer that they need?
  • What makes them tick? This is probably the most essential aspect in understanding your client. What are their core values, what is important to them? They may well be different to yours, but you need to understand them so that you do not slip up and offend them, or appear to be driving them in a direction which seems wrong to them.

Modify

Finally, once you have understood your client, you can work out how best to serve them. You can decide how you will modify both the style of your presentation and the content of what you provide. In other words, what you say and how you say it.

  • What?
    Think about the most appropriate content for the person or audience in question.
  • How?
    What is the best way to present it? Will they respond best to didactic teaching or participation, to words or pictures, to visual or audio? Or maybe a mixture? And what tone and language will work best? Formal or informal? Lively and bouncy or more restrained? 

Tricks and Schtick

When I’m performing magic, the way I perform the tricks will vary depending on my audience. Often I may use the same tricks but presented very differently. For example, I have a rope trick that I perform at both children’s parties and corporate drinks receptions: same mechanics, very different presentations. And, of course, there are also some tricks which only work in kids’ parties and some that only work in corporate settings.

It is the same when applying my MAGIC formula to help teams and individuals to improve their working relationships. I present it in a slightly different way to a nonprofit manager’s audience than I will, to the leadership of a bank. It’s the same fundamental material, but with a slightly different approach.

How can you modify your offering to those you serve to make it a better fit for each one?

Think about how you can attune to your clients.

Remember:

Observe, Understand, and then Modify.

—Download my free eBook “Be Kind to Yourself” and learn how to:

  • Adapt to new ways of working
  • Harness the power of habits
  • Optimise the use of space in your home
  • Use clothes to boost productivity
  • Focus on what matters
  • Plan for the future amidst uncertainty

Be Kind by MAGIC – Connecting to Yourself

Being Kind is your business super-power.

How do you Be Kind in Business? By applying the MAGIC formula:

Moving
Attuning
Giving
Inspiring
Connecting

It applies to:

Yourself
Your clients
Your team
Your prospects 

I’m Back

Sorry that I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks. Many thanks to those of you who noticed – it’s nice to be missed 🙂

I’ve been on holiday. This has given me a chance to connect to myself, to think about life a bit.

Connecting to yourself is the subject of today’s blog.

Why Connect?

Why should you connect to yourself?

Think about bank statements. Remember paper statements? Some of you might still get them! We all know that you have to open the envelope and look at the bank statement, even if you don’t want to. There is no benefit in denial. It will only make the situation worse.

In the same way, it is vital to connect to yourself so that you are aware of where you’re at, and why you are doing what you’re doing. If something is not right, there is no point living in denial and carrying on regardless. It would only make things worse.

It is so easy to go through life on autopilot, never stopping to ask ourselves why we are doing things. This is how we get stuck in a rut. This is how we lose energy and become listless.

Once you have given yourself the chance to be self-aware, you need to listen to your mind, you need to listen to your body. 

What questions should you ask yourself? What answers should you listen out for? How do you make time to make sure connecting to yourself happens?

The Question of Which Questions?

I have been reminded recently about the importance of connecting with our why. I was talking last week to Amy Rowlinson, who has the fantastic podcast “Focus on Why.” Simon Sinek is also famous for encouraging us to “Start with Why”.

Ask yourself, why you are doing what you are doing? Or, maybe, why you are not doing what you want to be doing?

Once you have worked out your motivation, ask yourself, “Is this working?”

Am I enjoying what I’m doing? Could I do it in a different way to make it more enjoyable? Most of the time, most of the agency for making changes to our working habits lies with ourselves. Work out what needs to change and then make a concrete plan to change it.

Am I working towards my goals or just marking time? It is so easy to fill your day with “busy work” that achieves little and does not move you forward. Could you make any changes to keep you on track?

Body Conscious

Listen to your body.

Am I tired? Am I aching? Feeling sharp? Energetic? Could I make any changes? Revised sleep patterns, change of diet, new office chair….?

Maybe you need to go and see the doctor? Again, there is nothing to be gained by denial.

Life-Saving Routine

Last week, I watched the fantastic David Blaine’s “Ascension.”

I’m a fan of David Blaine as a magician, but he also does these amazing stunts. In this one, he had a bunch of 52 helium balloons. He held on to it as they took him to 23,000 feet, and then he skydived off. The whole thing was live on YouTube. Incredible.

What was very apparent is that he had a strict routine for checking, every step of the way.

At 23,000 feet, held on by a cable to the balloons, he had to put on his parachute. He put it on, and he checked the straps and buckles in strict sequence, at least twice.

It was drilled into him. He had a checking routine. If he hadn’t done it, He would have been risking his life.

Do you have a checking routine for your life?

I would recommend it. If you don’t do it, you are risking a fulfilled life.

What do I mean by this?

Love Your Reflection

I am a huge advocate of building and reflective practices into your life, daily, weekly, and periodically.

Each day, I recommend journaling. A journal can be in various forms. Years ago, I used to do the “artists pages”, recommended by Julia Cameron in the Artists Way (#ad). Two sides of A4 of a stream of consciousness freeform prose, whatever comes into your head. It’s amazing what you write down! You get a real insight into your inner workings.

These days it is more structured and quicker. I do a bullet point journal inspired by Michael Hyatt. It’s a systematic way of reflecting on yesterday and planning for today.

I also walk the dog each day and make a point of not listening to music or podcasts while I’m doing this. My mind is then free to process stuff, to think about life.

Weekly, I do a more involved journal entry every Sunday morning. And I also have a kayaking trip where I take myself off for three hours by myself in nature. Again a chance to process stuff, to think, or even just to zone out for a change. I stop for lunch on the river bank, cook it up on a little stove. It’s a great chance to lie on my back in a field, watch the clouds scud by and ask myself how I’m doing.

And periodically. It’s good to take yourself away on holiday, or maybe even a retreat where you take a deep dive into what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and what you plan to do next.

On reflection, are you reflecting enough?

Be kind to yourself, connect to yourself.


Download my free eBook “Be Kind to Yourself” and learn how to:

  • Adapt to new ways of working
  • Harness the power of habits
  • Optimise the use of space in your home
  • Use clothes to boost productivity
  • Focus on what matters
  • Plan for the future amidst uncertainty

Be Kind by MAGIC – Inspiring Yourself

Being Kind is your business super-power.

How do you Be Kind in Business? By applying the MAGIC formula:

Moving
Attuning
Giving
Inspiring
Connecting

It applies to:

Yourself
Your clients
Your team
Your prospects 

Self-Inspiration

How do you inspire yourself?

It’s all about asking questions.

Questions about:

– your dreams,
– people you admire, and
– the situation or the task at hand.

Dream on, Dreamer

Give yourself space and time to ask yourself, “What if?” 

Do you have a dream? What do you want to do? What do you love doing?

What would you love to do if you could?

Why can’t you do it? Is there a reason why not?

Think about what you love doing. Could you do that as a business? Would you want to? If you can, talk to people who do it as a business already. Find out if it is as much fun doing it for a job as it is in your spare time. Maybe you just want to keep it as a hobby?

But if you wanted to take it further, what would have to be true to make that happen? Could it work? What would have to change to make it possible?

Interrogate the Pedestal

I’m sure that you have people that you look up to, role models. People you look at and think, “I wish I could be like them.”

Maybe you know them personally? Perhaps they are famous? Ask yourself, “How are they different to me?” And, “How are they the same as me?”

“Could I do what they’re doing?”

“What would I have to do so that I could do what they are doing?” Maybe the answer is just some training, a bit more experience and/ or a bit more self-confidence.

If you know them, talk to them. Ask how they got there. How did they get to do what they’re doing now? If they’ve written one, read their autobiography. Ask yourself, “Could that be me?”

Everybody’s story will be different, but you may find inspiration for your own journey. Would you really like to have the life that they are having, or your own version of it?

What Is and What Could be

Asking ourselves about possibilities for our work situations can inspire and motivate us.

In leadership, ask, “What could the future look like, what might be possible? What would have to change to make that possible?”

In sales, ask, “What would be made possible by closing this sale? What improvements will be made for my company, or my life?” “What difference will this make to my prospect, how will their life be better as a result?”

If you work with clients, ask, “What difference will my action make?” Picture your clients’ lives being better as a result of your involvement.

Allow yourself to imagine these things, and it will inspire you.

Goal setting

Once you are inspired, you have the emotional fuel to allow you to achieve your goals, but first, you have to set your goals.

Michael Hyatt  is insightful on this. He observes that we could set goals in

– our comfort zone,
– our discomfort zone, or
– our delusional zone

Goals in our comfort zone are too easy. They don’t stretch us, we won’t make progress. Goals in our delusional zone are unachievable. We will never achieve them, and we will get frustrated and discouraged if we try.

He advises setting goals in our discomfort zone.

Stretching ourselves slightly, going slightly beyond what we’ve done before. Achievable, but not easy. Set goals in the discomfort zone, and you will grow.

Once we achieve them, we will feel great.

How will you inspire yourself today?

Download my free eBook “Be Kind to Yourself” and learn how to:

  • Adapt to new ways of working
  • Harness the power of habits
  • Optimise the use of space in your home
  • Use clothes to boost productivity
  • Focus on what matters
  • Plan for the future amidst uncertainty

Be Kind By MAGIC – Moving Yourself

Being Kind is your business super-power.

How do you Be Kind in Business? By applying the MAGIC formula:

Moving
Attuning
Giving
Inspiring
Connecting

It applies to:

Yourself
Your clients
Your team
Your prospects 

Today we look at the power  of MOVING yourself.

Live and Kicking

When I watch a live performance, it moves me. I get set free from day-to-day preoccupations and taken somewhere else. Maybe you are the same?

When I am performing, and I see my performance producing a similar experience in others, it feels great. I feel like I’m in my groove.

Live performance makes me emotional because I know its power.

Our feelings are enormous motivators. Most of what we do is motivated by emotion. Sometimes we like to think we’re mainly rational, but actually, our feelings are way more powerful.

It is important to remember this.

Jaded and Faded

You come across some close-up magicians who are jaded. They’ve been doing the same thing for too long, they’ve lost the joy and the spark. You can spot it a mile off. It contrasts so hugely with those who are loving every minute of it and bringing joy to those they entertain.

They’re just not feeling it anymore.

If you feel like you are lacking energy or motivation, find a way to reconnect with the feelings that got you going in the first place.

What started you off?

What is the bigger picture?

Paper Tigers

On the flip side, it may be that you had a feeling that stopped you doing something: nervousness, apprehension, fear of failure. Can you examine it, work out where it came from, test its validity? Once these negative feelings are recognised, many of them go away. Others can be worked through and conquered.

Connecting with our feelings is essential if we want to make progress, grow and continue.

Environmental Friendliness

How do you do this? How can you reconnect with your feelings, so that you’re always motivated and energised?

Think about your working and living environment. Surrounding yourself with stimulating or comforting pictures on your walls and objects on your desk can help. Watching films and theatre, going to particular places may well excite emotions that will motivate and inspire you.

Day-to-day and in the moment, music can also be a great energiser. I like to listen to AC/DC, Guns N’Roses or Led Zeppelin just before a big meeting, just to get my energy up and my mind into a faster rhythm. I’m then more energised and alert.

Similarly, exercise, nature and pets can help to lift my mood. Sometimes a change is as good as a rest: do something creative, go for a walk, phone a friend. Change your mood state, be moved, connect with the emotion that is driving you.

Feel the magic, because feeling is magic.

You may find my free eBook helpful.
18 pages and easy to read: “Be Kind to Yourself: Six Magic Insights to Transform Home-Based Working”
Get your copy here: https://www.work-life-magic.com/be-kind-to-yourself-free-ebook/
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