Where did that time go?!

My graduation picture
My graduation picture from 1994 – just months before my professional career started (with my very proud Mum!)

On 1st November 1994 a fresh-faced, newly-married young man, with a full head of hair, reported for his first professional job, thrilled to have found an opportunity within his passion – the environment.  Years before David Attenborough and Blue Planet, he set about trying to reduce plastic waste and to increase recycling.  That was me, 25 years ago.

As I look back on my quarter-of-a-century of working life, it is interesting (to me, at least) to think about what I learnt in each role (I’ve only had three!).  So, a brief career resume:  that first job was at a consultancy (Babtie), providing waste regulation and recycling promotion services to the people of Berkshire.  I was headhunted from there to Biffa, a leading waste management company, to work in the emerging field of packaging waste producer responsibility.

I ended up running a small team with a big financial turnover under a great boss and with amazing colleagues.  After four or five years there I was getting bored, and tired, and I heard of this new profession called coaching.  An opportunity came to work part time in sales for a coach training business, and to build my own coaching business part time.  I started that in 2002, and 17 years later I’m still doing it (and still writing newsletters every month!)

If I were to meet my 22-year-old self, what advice would I share, based on what I have now learnt?

It’s all about people – be connected

Whether that be mentors who share their knowledge and develop you without you realising, or whether it be the teams you work with, the customers you get to know or the wider network who provide support and opportunities for you, it’s about people.  I am indebted to two bosses (both called Phil) for the starts they gave me, and am then indebted to hundreds of others who have helped me over the 25 years.  The coach training school I worked for had a mantra that “People Grow By Connection” and I have always believed this.

When I mentor young people growing their businesses, or just developing their careers, I am always keen that they create, maintain and develop their personal network – within their firm, within their marketplace or within their support community (other professionals, suppliers and even competitors).

How well connected are you?  What could you do build your network more deliberately?

Make every day a school day

I am reminded of my school days every morning, having married my teacher, but in those 25 years I have always been learning.  My professional field has always been developing, my management and self-development skills have always benefitted from polishing, and we’re routinely exposed to new situations that we can learn from: if we choose to.

Some of the value I bring to clients is the range of other clients I have talked to: the diverse spread of industries, belief systems, methods of working and management theories that I have seen and experienced.  They didn’t all work, but they all provided feedback and intelligence on what might be worth a try next time.

How do you learn every day?  What opportunities do you have to work smarter, be better, have more impact?

Inputs are important, but success is about outputs

One of my pet frustrations in my career is that professionals are often judged by how many hours they put in, not by how many outputs they create.  When I was at Biffa my business unit made more per head than most of the units managed by my peers.  But they would judge me on whether I worked an 8, 10 or 14 hour day, not by the profit I produced (or the brand value I created from great customer service).

Don’t get me wrong, throughout my career I have put in a shift when it’s been required.  But a business that requires key personnel (or any personnel) to work 50 or more hours a week isn’t successful, it’s broken.  As a coach I am forever stretching business owners to build a business that is sustainably successful – and that isn’t true of a business where people have to work long hours.  If you can’t make money working 45 hours a week or less, charge more or stop faffing about…

And if you require your teams to work those sorts of hours, you’re out of touch with the modern workforce and will hamper the progress of care-givers and others, who may be your brightest talent.

What’s your own relationship between inputs and outputs?  Are you getting out what you want?  Are you putting in a sustainable amount to get it?

Slow and steady wins the race

At school, I was a long-distance runner.  Not for me the 100 metres, I much preferred the cross-country or the 1500m.  Business, or a career, is much the same – it is rarely about short bursts of pace but more often it is about gradual, determined, planned progress towards a goal.  I have worked with some very financially successful people, and none of them got there overnight.  For one or two there was a “hockey-stick” of sales or profits where it suddenly jumped, but that was always after many, many other nights building up to it.

My interest in personal investing has meant I have come across all manner of get-rich-quick schemes, stock tips or “overnight-millionaire” ideas.  Yet the person I worship in the field is Warren Buffet, who has spent decades quietly and determinedly building possibly the largest personal wealth in the world.  Small, repeated steps over a LONG time, allied with the power of compounding, delivers unbelievable results.  Whether that be in building a career, investing for retirement or in growing a business.  So, I would tell my 22-year-old-self always to have patience, always be moving forward and always keep an eye on the long-term goal.

What’s your long-term aim?  What slow and steady steps do you need to take action on to get there?

What about your career lessons?

These are my thoughts after 25 years.  What have you learnt in your career?  I’d love to hear! I

If I Could Turn Back Time…

Many friends and colleagues will know that I watch very little television.  I am blissfully unaware of the comings and goings on the latest celebrity Dance/Bake/Jungle Off.  Mrs Butler and I do like settling down in front of a movie however, and I watch hundreds a year.

Some are inspiring (try Hidden Figures or The Upside, for instance) and others stop and make you think about life.  Sometimes the ones that make you think are not the ones you expect.  This week we watched the Richard Curtis film About Time – a soppy rom com featuring Rachel McAdam and a range of great English actors (including one who looks spookily like one of my clients!).

Without stumbling over a spoiler, the story relates to a guy who can travel in time – and so has the opportunity to practice wooing the love of his life (think Groundhog Day or 50 First Dates).  Of course, he also has the power/responsibility of changing other things in life, and changing the path of his personal history.

Which got me thinking about what any of us would change if we could go back in time.  Would we choose a different course of study, would we take/not take specific jobs?  Would we have another go at managing that difficult conversation with a colleague?  Would we make smarter hiring or firing decisions?  If you could change one thing in your business life, what would it be?

Even more powerfully, I woke this morning and thought “what do I need to do today to ensure I wouldn’t want to come back and change anything?”  What an opportunity, to be able to consider what standard my future self would hold my current self to, and seek to emulate that.

For over six years I have kept a daily gratitude journal, so that I reflect each day on good fortune in my life.  At the same time, I reflect on whether I have taken the daily actions that will take me towards my goals – whether fitness, health, relationships or in business.  I also reflect on whether I have lived to the standard I have set myself.

Unlike the time traveller in the film, I cannot go back and change what has already happened, but I can use the reflection to determine how I will be tomorrow.  And I believe that has helped me better honour the standards I have set for myself.  Most of the time.

So, how will you live tomorrow, to ensure that you would want to change it afterwards?

As you reflect, feel free to channel your inner Cher:

If I could turn back time…

If I could find a way…

I gift you that ear-worm. You’re welcome.

Who Is Your Scrum-Half?

Players playing rugby

This month we are in the midst of Rugby World Cup 2019, and it is hard to believe four years have passed since I attended the opening ceremony of the last World Cup at Twickenham: a lot has happened to me since then!  It is hard to believe that the hope and expectation as an England fan at that opening ceremony could be so quickly and comprehensively crushed with our early exit.  Luckily, we are already guaranteed to progress further than we did in 2015!

As an England fan, it is far nicer to turn one’s mind back to 2003, when Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal secured the extra time victory against Australia in their own back yard.  Happy days.  Reliving that passage of play in the final moments of the game reminded me of just how much it embodied team play: the forwards ground out the extra yardage to bring the drop goal into range, Jonny was hanging back, ready to do his job; the whole team, indeed the whole country, trusted him to execute the play when the moment came with his reliable right foot: but at the centre of it all was scrum-half Matt Dawson – standing just off the back of the ruck, watching the field placings, choosing the moment and distributing the ball at just the right time.  For him to orchestrate that cup-winning move, he needed the time and space to make the right decision.

I believe this is a useful metaphor for business owners and managers (or indeed any of us in our private lives).  We are too often drawn into the hurly burly of the ruck, with all those big, heavy forwards crashing into us, buffeting us and overpowering all our senses.  It is hard to make cool calm decisions with over 20 stone of Australian meat sat on you.

Alternatively, business owners can be drawn to being wingers – standing safe and away from the action, ready to pounce and take the glory and the accolades.

Instead, business owners need to be like Matt Dawson at scrum half.  Close to the action but not embroiled in it, with the vision of all the possible plays and with the mental freedom to pick the right pass.  My job as a business coach is often to drag them out of the pack, or bring them in off the wing, so that they can add value to their team by orchestrating the correct play.

I recognise the challenge for business owners to take that role.  I have been, and sometimes still am, in that struggle myself.  I also recognise the value in stepping into that position, which is why it so often comes up with clients.  Of course, the 2003 rugby metaphor doesn’t suit all clients (some are not interested in sport, and some wouldn’t even remember it as they’re too young!), but the concept applies to most.

How could you step into the scrum half role more yourself?

Step back from the ruck – schedule time in your diary to think strategically (and honour it)

Read the play – have the data (not just your feelings) on what is happening in your business, so that you can clearly judge what the state of play really is

Pick from the playbook – once you know what is really happening, draw on your experience, your colleagues, your trusted advisors and your coach to decide what you need to do

Execute – take action and see each step in the plan through (don’t be half-committed!)

React to events – if it goes well, celebrate (and repeat if appropriate).  If it doesn’t (LINK), dig in until you regain momentum, then step back again and repeat these steps.

If you want a top-quality, experienced business coach to be with you through the process, making you honour the time set aside, helping you to properly assess what’s happening, and provide a sounding board as you choose the play you want to make, I’m here for you.

Champion result!

Success - go get it (written on a blackboard)

Congratulations to Katarina Johnson-Thompson on her World Championship medal.  As I watch the footage of her amazing two days of events, and of her setbacks in the past, her story resonates with me in terms of the life of small business owners.

She has had major implosions in previous championships.  She put herself out there, and things went wrong.  Lesser people would never have tried, but she took the risk and felt the pain of failing but then got back into gear and finally reached the rostrum.  I see the same in business (my own and other’s).  We have good and bad years, good and bad ideas, we might take a job that doesn’t work out and we leave after a few months.  But somehow we don’t let that define us and we come back for another go and mostly, it seems, it works out.

Watching KJT’s face as she ran down the final straight of the 800m, I sensed a feeling of determination and resilience.  There was no Bolt-like showboating, no agonising diving for the line to win by a whisker.  Just steady, determined, resilient completion of the task at hand.

In those last few seconds, KJT knew that she just needed one foot in front of another, to calmly get the job done.  She also knew that she didn’t win gold in those last few seconds, she won them in the years of training, of failing at other championships, of learning hard lessons, and correcting the source of failure.  Her lack of adrenaline and drama was telling – she just quietly (it seemed to me) got on with the job.

I am in no way a world champion like KJT.  I have neither the talent, athleticism or drive to achieve what she has done, which is why I admire her.  But I feel I know how that final straight feels.  I’m in my own now.  The years of dreaming, planning, spreadsheeting, working, investing, organising and talking are all slowly coming to fruition.  I know that if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other my dream will come true (24 weeks for those who are counting with me).  The final straight still feels long, and something unforeseen could knock me off the path (not sure what that would be in this metaphor – a track invasion or tripping over a stray dog?!), but I trust that my past performances have now put me in the best position to get over the line.

What’s your equivalent?  What actions do you need to keep taking to reach your world championship gold?

And KJT is already thinking of “what next?”  She knows the Olympics are next year, and she needs to do just as well in 12 months to secure her next place in history.  I have huge adventures to look forward to on the other side of my current finishing line too.

What will you be aiming for on the other side of your current big goal?

Just Keep Swimming

Dory fish

Some readers may remember Dory the fish in Finding Nemo (and may be frightened to hear the film is over 15 years old!).  As well as being slightly ditzy, her strength was in her cheerful persistence in the face of adversity, hence her catch-phrase “Just keep swimming”.  Over the years, I have known many business owners who have had to remind themselves of that maxim from time to time.

As I was pulling together my thoughts for this blog (yes, I do actually think them through!), and the theme of keeping swimming was coming to the fore, a friend in the business world, Mike Foster, posted on LinkedIn reference to an analogy based on Snakes and Ladders.  In life, as in the board game, we encounter events which takes us backwards and opportunities which propel us forward.  Whatever these random ups and downs, what gets you to the goal (such as the top of the Snakes and Ladders board) is the repeated act of rolling the dice.  Some may get there faster and others will travel more slowly, but consistent, repeated action, combined with a bit of luck, will get you there.

Recently I wrote about the importance of knowing your purpose – what the point of any undertaking is.  Once you know that big picture, you can contextualise any action in the light of that purpose or aim.

As I near the end of my working career, I can see how I have had snakes and ladders in various parts of my life, but because I have been persistent in rolling the dice or, like Dory, I have just kept swimming, I am in touching distance of the bigger goal.

Let us assume that you were moved by my recent blog to consider your own purpose or point in life (either overall, or at this specific juncture).  Once armed with that knowledge, how do you move toward that goal?  Here’s a simple four-step process:

Goal         Clearly define where you are headed.  You may not know the exact route, but at least be clear on the destination.  It may be one large life goal or a number of smaller goals that add up to your desired ideal life.

Plan         Knowing where you are now, and where you are heading to, come up with a plan that will start to take you there.  Again, you may not know the exact route, or every step, but at least have a plan for starting to put things in place.

Action     Good things only come to those who wait in Guinness adverts.  For the rest of us, we have to take action to move towards our goals.  In my experience, these are often small steps that just need repeating regularly.  Which brings me to:

Repeat    Einstein said that compounding was the eighth wonder of the world, and he was a clever guy.  After over 20 years of saving and investing, of building businesses and planning my future life, I’m inclined to agree with him.  If you know the actions that are part of your plan to get to your goal, and they work, you need to keep doing them.  Not for a week or a month, but for many months or years.  Keep rolling the dice.

What’s your bigger goal?

How do you plan to reach it?

What action will you take to start the journey?

What will you put in place to make sure you keep doing those actions? 

How will you just keep swimming?

What’s The Point?

Don’t worry, I’m not questioning whether it is worth carrying on now that the country is potentially being lead off a cliff by BoJo and his Bullingdon friends!  Instead I am focussing on possibly the most common question I have asked in my coaching career.  In a whole range of situations, it is worth stopping and asking ourselves why we are here.

When you are holding an internal staff meeting, ask yourself what is it meant to achieve – what is its point?

When you are meeting a client or prospect, ask yourself what you want out of it – what is the point of talking to them today?

When you are ploughing through emails, updating your work social media or getting bogged down in administrative trivia, ask yourself what the purpose of each activity is – what is its point?

When you are poring over spreadsheets, generating voluminous management reports and over-analysing the data, ask yourself what value it is adding to the business – what’s the point of doing it?

When you are watching Love Island or box sets of Killing Eve, ask yourself whether it is taking you towards your life goals.  What’s the point of those hours on the sofa?

If you don’t know your life goals, how will you know the point of anything?

One of my business friends, Hayley Monks, is inspiring in many ways but especially so on this topic.  She has had a very successful career in the utility sector, managing big teams and bigger budgets.  When we talk about business meetings, what to do in certain conversations or how to move a project forward her first question is always along the lines of “what’s the point?”.  I am sure it is one of the factors in her success and impact.

Another business friend recently discussed with me the Japanese concept of Ikigai.  This is a Venn diagram of four circles representing the following:

  • What you love doing
  • What you are good at
  • What the world needs
  • What you can get paid for

The philosophy of Ikigai is that if you can find something where these four interests overlap, you will have found Ikigai (which roughly translates as “reason for living”).  There is some research which suggests that this leads to longer life.  As business owners, we should be looking for business ideas that achieve this, and we should, where possible, be looking for team members who can find Ikigai in their roles and careers in our businesses.

If we are going to do that, we are going to have to understand the answers to those four key questions:  what do we love; what are we good at; what does the world need and what can we get paid for (profitably).  If we truly know the answers, then we will have discovered what the point is.

And if we know what the point is, we will know how internal meetings, client interactions, email traffic, projects, spreadsheets and our leisure time all lead us towards it.

Then we just do the things that have a point, and don’t do the ones that don’t.  Simples.

So, where does Ikigai lie for you, and what’s your point?

The Naked Truth

Channel Four have recently aired a series called Naked Beach, a reality TV show centred on the premise that if you spend time around people comfortable being naked you will become comfortable with being naked yourself.  In each show, three guests with body confidence issues are hosted by a group who are very body confident (despite not having supermodel bodies).

What limiting beliefs prevent you revealing the naked truth (on a beach or otherwise)?

I recommend watching the programme, some of the psychology is fascinating.  As I watched I wondered whether it was something other than the nakedness of the hosts that had an impact on the guests.  The hosts, as well as being comfortable with their bodies, were unfailingly positive in outlook.

To see the guests’ reactions to the exercises emphasised the importance of this outlook – those guests that had positive mindsets (growth mindset as Carol Dweck would call it) seemed to respond more quickly to the challenges.  In fact, seeing the guests undertake the same exercises and react differently reminded me of the maxim:

Two people can experience the same thing but have very different experiences.

The impact of what happens to us is as dependent on how we react as it is on what happens.  Our mindset determines our experience.  To see the power of our preconceptions, watch this excellent video from camera manufacturer Canon (and thanks to Chaz Snell for introducing me to the video).

I believe our experience is our choice.  Of course, to quote Forrest Gump, “Sh.t happens”, but how we experience that happening is our choice.  We can choose how we react.

How do you generally react?

Are you positive or negative?

Are you a multiplier, increasing the positivity, or a Death Eater, sucking the energy from a room?

What do you choose to be going forward?

Most of us face limiting self-beliefs of one form or another.  Many may hold beliefs that would stop us having the confidence to be naked – literally and metaphorically.  Yet we are brighter than we realise, and can achieve more than we can dream of.  Face up to the naked truth of how great you are, and be free to realise it.

When The Path Is Unclear

This morning I was hiking in Coquetdale, in the Northumberland National Park.  Whilst we were hiking across open heather moorland, there was a footpath.  But you wouldn’t have known it at first glance.  For much of our route the heather had grown closed over the path – we couldn’t see our feet or the path. 

When the path is unclear, we rely on waymarks.

As we hiked, I noticed some lessons that have parallels in our business lives:

  • It doesn’t matter if the immediate path is unclear, as long as you can see a waymark ahead.  When we couldn’t see our feet or the path, we had to rely on two things:
    • The occasional white-topped posts bearing the footpath arrows to give us our bearings; and
    • Faith that the trail was solid below the heather, so that we could put our foot down below the heather, out of sight.

Often in business the immediate path before us is unclear, so we rely on targets or key events in our business calendar as waymarkers.  We can’t always see that the steps we take today will take us to the goal, but if we keep moving forward we do know we will get there

  • The road to the top is rarely straight.  We were climbing to a cairn high in a ridge, but the route curved and chinked, following ridges and avoiding burns (the boggy bits).  In business we set linear plans and then can find that life takes us through some chinks and turns before we get there.  Staff, customers, competitors and ourselves are all complex parts of a large ecosystem, and the result of their interactions rarely provides a straight route to the top.  And this is fine, provided we are following our waymarkers.
  • Look up occasionally.  It is easy to get so intent on placing our feet carefully, so focussed on the immediate and the near-term that we fail to check we’re still on track for our waymarker.  It pays to look up occasionally and make sure.  And of course, it pays to take in the view from time to time.  At work we need to take time out of our busy days or weeks to make sure our activity is still taking us where we want to go, and to monitor progress and celebrate successes.
  • Beware false trails.  With a gazillion sheep in Northumberland, it is easy to deviate from the footpath and find you are just following a sheep trail through the heather.  Or a clear line through the heather looks like the path, and turns out to be a stream or bog.  We need to be able to recognise what is really taking us to our goal, and which is either leading away, or will transpire to be uncomfortable or dangerous terrain.  What do false trails look like in your business?
  • You walk faster near a waymark.  As we passed each white-topped post (and there were many) I noticed how we seemed to be more motivated and faster-paced, whereas when the way was unclear between posts, or we couldn’t see the next post in the distance, our progress was slower and more uncertain.  In business we need to make sure we, and our teams, have sufficient clear waymarks, at appropriate frequencies, to maintain momentum.  This is why I am a fan of daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly goals and targets.  It builds momentum.
  • Take small steps if the path is unclear.  When the heather was covering the trail, we couldn’t stride out like we could on the grassland.  We couldn’t be sure of a safe footing, and sometimes the bearing was unclear.  So we took sensible, smaller steps that kept us moving toward our goal, but didn’t place us in danger.  When the path is unclear in your business, what small steps will keep you moving forward, without undue risk?
  • Some things are harder when you’re small.  I noticed that it was hard work wading through the heather for miles at a time – with your shins are being continuously whacked.  When I commented on this to Mrs B I received some direct feedback that it is even harder when the heather is whacking your thighs.  We may each face the same challenges at work, but their impact will vary depending on our skills and attributes.  As leaders, we need to be open to the challenges our team is actually facing, and help them deal with them on their terms, not ours.  We may not fear presenting in public, or analysing a page of numbers, but a colleague might.
  • Don’t patronise.  I can tell you now that in the interests of team cohesion and a positive working environment, it isn’t wise to patronise an intelligent, independent woman just because she is a foot shorter than you…
  • Don’t multi-task.  Either keep on hiking to maintain progress, or stop to take notes on your phone for a blog that has just occurred to you.  Don’t try the two at the same time.  That’s how you step in a boggy bit and end up with a boot covered in mud.  At least I hope it was mud, there were a lot of sheep on that hill…

We reached our first objective and were rewarded with stunning views for miles in all directions.  We then achieved the secondary goal, and were rewarded with a pint of quality bitter, brewed on-site in a village pub.  I hope you can find a way to keep moving forward when your path is unclear, and will enjoy similar rewards when you reach your objective.

The Winner Takes It All – or do they?

It’s not just about winning, nor is it just about taking part.  So, what is it all about?

Long-term readers will know I am a fan of Liverpool Football Club, and have had somewhat of a journey in my forty years of following them.  Some success early on, but somewhat of a drought, in terms of a league title, for 29 years.

This season has been an exciting time as a Liverpool fan.  The team have played with style, suffered only one league defeat all season and have accumulated enough points to have won the league in 116 of the 119 years of the League (Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson won 13 Premier Leagues and never scored as many points).  However, Liverpool finished behind an even-better Manchester City and there are no prizes for second place.

Tyson Gay is the joint second-fastest 100m sprinter in history.  On 16th August 2009 Gay ran the 100m in 9.71 seconds – a personal best for him and, at the time, the third fastest time in history.  Even now, ten years later, only two other men have run faster than 9.71s.  Unfortunately for Gay, one of them is Usain Bolt, who finished the same race in 9.58s, setting a new World Record.  Gay ran a phenomenal race, but didn’t win.

Whether Liverpool, Tyson Gay, or any of us in our personal or business lives, sometimes we take part, break records with our effort, style and output but we still come second.  In sales, sport and business the winner often doesn’t take it all (thanks Abba for yet another blog title by the way). 

Urban myths suggest that modern children are protected from the winner-takes-all mentality and instead are rewarded just for taking part.  This seems wrong too.  Liverpool FC, Tyson Gay and me in a sales pitch last month didn’t just take part.  We gave our best, pushed our limits and set a new bar for performance.

That is what it is all about.  Success comes not only from winning, not just from taking part, but primarily from taking part to the best of our ability at the time.  Few readers of this newsletter are elite sports people, but in their daily lives they can:

  • Push for the win – however that is traditionally defined;
  • Always give their best – leave nothing “on the pitch” in any endeavour; and
  • Go for the win by always pushing to do one’s best – set personal records or reflect the best given current capabilities.

If you do this, you may sometimes come second, but you will always have cause to consider yourself a champion.

Let It Go

At Butler Towers, the last few months have been dominated by somewhat of a saga with dental pain.  A significant event within the saga was a wisdom tooth extraction, which is not something I would wish to repeat in a hurry.  In the painkiller-induced stupor afterwards my mind started wandering to how my errant tooth was an interesting metaphor for a pattern of behaviour most of us follow.

My tooth harboured an infection – something that slowly and perniciously was causing me harm.  The obvious solution was to remove the tooth, which I didn’t need in any way, and remove the source of the harm.  Yet my body was firmly attached to the tooth, and really didn’t give it up without a struggle.  The tooth had no use, was actually harming me, but my body couldn’t let it go.

Sound familiar?  Are there things in your work or personal life that serve no purpose and/or cause you harm, but that you won’t let it go?  How much pain is that causing?  What sort of harmful things do we hold onto?

Harmful relationships: many of us hold onto harmful relationships longer than we should or could.  These could be with staff, clients, suppliers or people in our personal life.  Which harmful relationships could you let go?

Harmful habits: similarly, we’re prone to hold onto harmful habits – distractions such as social media, insufficient sleep, consuming to excess toxins such as alcohol or caffeine, or even just holding on to tasks that others in the business could be doing.  Which harmful habits could you let go?

Harmful things: we are also able to hold on to way too much stuff.  What is cluttering your world – whether it be physical items in your home or office that cloud your personal space or products or services that make your offering to customers confused?  Which harmful things could you let go?

As I negotiated my wisdom tooth “journey” I noted a handful of steps – which you could adapt to help you let go of some of the things identified above:

  1. Recognise the harm – I easily spotted my toothache, but are you fully aware of the harm some relationships, habits or things are causing you?
  2. Treat the issue, if that is possible – I tried two courses of antibiotics before conceding that the tooth really had to go.  How can you address the harm you are facing, without resorting to removal?
  3. Use a pro – I turned to my trusted dentist, whereas you might want to turn to an HR adviser, a business coach (ahem, I can recommend one…) or an employment lawyer to deal with your harm.
  4. Anaesthetise – twice we tried stuff on the tooth without adequate pain relief, and twice I whimpered.  What work can you do to protect yourself from unnecessary pain in the process?
  5. Give it a good hard yank, and keep going until your done – my dentist needed a lie down by the time my tooth was out.  Make sure you show similar determination to see through the unpleasantness and allow for recovery.
  6. Medicate afterwards – I needed more painkillers and antibiotics for some time after the extraction and you, your colleagues, your clients will need tender loving care until the wounds are healed.

Please, just remember that the pain now is much less than the pain if left untreated.  Let it go.

I hope you can identify some things that are harmful but that you are still holding on to, and you find a way to let them go.  If you need further inspiration, there is always Princess Elsa:

Let it go, let it go

Can’t hold it back anymore

Let it go, let it go

Turn away and slam the door

Which reminds me of another tooth extraction when I was a child…