Friday, September 28th, 2012

Focus on your strengths


We often take our ‘natural knacks’ or gifts for granted, however the skills that are easiest for us can provide a good clue to areas we are most passionate about. Sometimes others have a greater awareness of our strengths and areas of passion than we do!

Leonardo da Vinci had a tremendous talent for observation and capturing in paint the emotions and longings of the soul. He was also extremely talented when it came to painting faces and his knowledge of human anatomy was unparalleled. Numerous people seek to copy his work, at times to pass his works as their own, yet no one has come close to replicating his genius.

Most recently, for example, some are claiming to have discovered a Mona Lisa that precedes the one in the Louvre. Yet senior art critics don’t agree. As Martin Gayford says: “I’m not convinced, and I doubt many Leonardo experts will be either. She just doesn’t look “right,” as they say in the art world. Her hands look boneless, her face strangely flat and the landscape, even if unfinished, is nothing like any other Leonardo. If it weren’t for that scientific evidence of age, I might have suspected that Hugh Blaker had painted her himself at home in Isleworth.”

I don’t agree either. Leonardo was far too talented to have created such a poor rendition of her face and hands and such an emotionally dead palette.

Leonardo was well aware of his talents and passions and pursued them with ardent vigor. Yet many people focus on what their weaknesses are and walk through life unaware of the rich vein of talent they possess.

What skills and talents come most naturally to you?

What strengths do others notice and admire?

What are the other skills and strengths that give you a buzz?

Write these insights in your passion journal.  Add to it and review it regularly.

Passion flows, it can’t be forced. Don’t underestimate the things that come easiest for you.

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Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Career Make-Over Workshop

Fed up with work?

Lost your job?

Time for a career change?


Then our workshop is for you!


Mid-life career make-over


Discover your ideal career, and

build a future doing what you love.


Join former DomPost career columnist Cassandra Gaisford, and career coach Rob Reid, for our one-day career-planning workshop. We’ll help you:

  • Gain clarity about work choices that make you happy

  • Feel inspired, motivated, and supported

  • Create a plan of action to achieve your goals

  • Find the courage to change careers and live again!


Driving back from Wellington yesterday my head was swirling with excitement.   I felt light and enlightened.   A feeling I haven’t felt for sometime. Sharing with other participants was also a plus for me and I felt privileged to be a part of the openness and honesty. Passion is a great attribute and you display it beautifully –  just loved it.

An enlightening and wonderful experience, please accept my deepest gratitude for what was a truly inspiring workshop.”

One day workshop Saturday 20 October 2012, 9:00 – 5:oo pm, in WELLINGTON at the brand new ASB centre 

For details and to book your place click here>>

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Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Pursue your passion not your pension


“Without passion you don’t have energy, without energy you have nothing.” Donald Trump, businessman

A healthy obsession can be a liberating and clarifying catalyst to your true calling and career direction. This is particularly the case for people in the mid-life zone, who find that with maturity comes renewed confidence and determination to pursue the things that truly interest them.

New Zealand motorcycling legend Burt Munro proved that passion is the key to success. “All my life I’ve wanted to do something big,” he said.  In 1967 Munro achieved something huge.

At the age of 68, against all the odds, he set a world record of 183.586 mph with his highly modified Indian Scout motorcycle. To qualify he made a one-way run of 190.07 mph, the fastest ever officially recorded speed on an Indian.
Like so many inspiring people the road to success was not an easy one – it involved much personal hardship and numerous setbacks, but armed with his passion and a compelling desire to “go out with a bang,” Munro mortgaged his house and set out on the greatest adventure of his life.

His truly awesome achievements have been bought to life in an inspiring and uplifting film. The World’s Fastest Indian not only gives movie-goers an inside look at Munro’s passion but it also gives them an idea of New Zealand film maker Roger Donaldson’s overwhelming desire to tell the story. “This project has been a passion of mine since I completed a documentary about Burt Munro back in 1972. I have been intrigued by Burt’s story for many, many years; some would say my obsession with this film matches Burt’s obsession with his bike.”
Donaldson’s passion for his subject has won him international acclaim from Academy Award-winning actor Anthony Hopkins.“I thought it was a terrific movie. It is a unique script… it is just so well written, very well written, beautifully written, and so refreshing. I’ve worked with a lot of great directors, Steven Spielberg and Oliver Stone, and Roger Donaldson is there with that lot, you know. He really is,” Hopkins said.

Obsessions Boost Health
A healthy obsession can lead to many things, including:
1)     Life niche – creating a breath of air for those in its path and giving a competitive edge
2)     True bliss – leading you to your vocation where being paid is the icing on the cake
3)     Your point of excellence – unleashing dormant talents and natural gifts
4)     Your life purpose – spreading seeds of joy and inspiration and benefiting others.

Passion’s Pay Cheque
By discovering your passion you will tap into a huge source of potential energy. Pursuing your passion can be profitable on many levels:
•    When you do what you love, your true talent will reveal itself; passion can’t be faked.
•    You’ll be more enthusiastic about your pursuits.
•    You’ll have more energy to overcome obstacles.
•    You will be more determined to make things happen.
•    You will enjoy your work.
•    Your work will become a vehicle for self-expression.
•    Passion will give you a competitive edge.

From Sales Manager to  Visual Merchandiser
Jane wanted to change her profession from a background in retail sales and management to something more creative and hands-on, and which was less management and sales focused. She was struggling to identify her transferable skills and how her passion for fabric could be combined into a new career.
After focusing on all the facets of her passion, including her natural gifts and talents, she successfully transitioned into her dream job.
“I have just got the position of visual merchandiser for a furnishings chain. This job is going to enable me to use all those key skills that I have and a huge bonus is that I also get to work with fabrics which is just perfect. I know I came across with confidence and the right attitude thanks to you reminding me that I need to ‘blow my own trumpet’ and allow my passion to shine.”

Fully Alive
Being passionate is a vital part of being human. Passion is about emotion, feeling, zest and enthusiasm. Passion is about intensity, fervour, ardour and zeal. Passion is about fire. Passion is about eagerness and preoccupation. Passion is about excitement and animation. Passion is about determination and self-belief. Passion is about being willing to change. Passion is about following your heart’s desire. Passion is about doing something you love.
Passion is not an intellectual thought. It is a feeling, an emotion. Western society tends to value thoughts, reason, logic and clear thinking more highly than feelings, intuition and soul.

Perhaps because of this, people have become desensitised to the clues and callings of their own passions.
If it is your desire to be the best that you can be, then the integration of your mind, body and spirit is essential. However passion can be difficult to find – and many adults fail to discover it altogether. In the absence of any encouragement they give up searching for it, or at least rediscovering it. If you are serious about being happy make a commitment to working and living with passion – I’ll show you where to look!

Finding Your Passion

Real passion is more than a fad or a fleeting enthusiasm. It can’t be turned on and off like a tap. Here are some questions to help you clarify the things you are most passionate about:

1)     When does time seem to fly? When was the last time you felt really excited or deeply absorbed in, or by, something? What were you doing? Who were you with? What clues did you notice?

2)     What do you care deeply or strongly about? Discovering all the things that you believe in is not always easy. Look for the clues to your deep beliefs by catching the times you use words such as ‘should’ or ‘must.’

3)     What do you value? What do you need to experience, feel, or be doing to feel deeply fulfilled?

4)     What pushes your buttons/makes you angry? How could you use your anger constructively to bring about change?

5)     Which skills and talents come most easily or naturally to you? Which ones give you a buzz or a huge sense of personal satisfaction?

This is an excerpt from Happy at work for mid-lifers+  An inspiring and practical book guaranteed to rekindle your passion for work and life. Order a signed copy here:

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

What love, passion, addiction, you name it, any obsessive emotion, can mean for you

“Without passion you don’t have energy, without energy you have nothing.” ~ Donald Trump, businessman

Many of you know I’m passionate about passion. Recently I’ve been thoroughly enthralled by actress Adrienne Corri’s remarkable quest to unravel the truth behind a portrait she, and at the time, no other believed to be the authentic creation of mater painter Thomas Gainsborough. Pursuing her passion lead her to find her life purpose.

“I knew without doubt what love, passion, addiction, you name it, any obsessive emotion, meant to me. Everything else in my life up to then had led to that moment. All the mistakes, the stupidities, the failures that nay person goes through – had they been in one event different, I would not have been in that car with that picture. I could never say again, ‘I wish I had not done that.’

To have all regrets swept away in one afternoon, all reservations and doubts wiped out, all mistakes vindicated, is an extraordinary feeling, but that is what the discovery of young Thomas Gainsborough had done for me. One perfect achievement had made sense of it all – and if nothing else happened it was enough” ~ Adrienne Corri, author of The Search for Gainsborough

You can learn more about Adrienne’s personal quest here:



Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

It’s never too late to become what you might have been – but why wait?

A recent post by a blog I subscribe too  reminded me of the time I was at university, aged 27, and a lecturer told me that people tend to pursue the things they loved when they retire.

At the time I was struggling through economics papers and quantitative analysis (I’d heard on Kim Hill that this was the way to go!)

I started to wonder, why wait? In fact it strike such a chord with me that after I finished by Commerce Degree  I began to study design.

Sometimes there are so many obstacles in the way. For me, I was raising my daughter (then aged 4) on my own, money was super tight, and my family were extremely discouraging of creative careers.

As it now happens, I’m hired by companies and individuals for my creative approach to business issues as well as enjoying creative success in painting and creative writing:)

What I learnt is obstacles don’t have to stop you. That being said, the post from thedaybrightener  illustrates it’s never too late to become what you might have been. The main thing is to begin! Get inspired here:

Grandma Moses

Posted on September 7, 2011 by

“It is never too late to become what you might have been” George Eliot

Today is the birthday of not only of a much loved artist, but a truly amazing woman.  Her name is Grandma Moses, and she is an inspiration, and shining example of how it is never too late to do what you love.

She was born Anna Mary Roberston in 1860 in Greenwich New York, and lived a hard life.  She married when she was 27 and bore 10 children, sadly five of which died in infancy.  In addition to caring for the children and running the house, she also worked on the farm with her husband.  She lost her husband when she was 67, but continued to work the farm with her eldest son into her late 70’s, when arthritis made the work unbearable.

The arthritis also made her beloved embroidery difficult, and so Grandma Moses turned to painting in 1936 when she was 76.  She used whatever she had around, including masonite boards and house paint, and did it to help her reminisce and show others the way things used to be.  She gave the paintings away as gifts to her visitors, and sold others in a local drug store.  Two years later a New York engineer and art collector, Louis J. Caldor, who was driving through her home town saw some of her paintings, priced from $3 to $5, depending on size. He bought them all, drove to the artist’s home at Eagle Bridge and bought ten others she had there.

The next year, 1939, Grandma Moses was represented in an exhibition of “contemporary unknown painters” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She did not remain unknown for long. Soon her exhibitions were breaking attendance records all over the world, and her works were being captured on stamps, Christmas cards, tiles and fabrics. She was celebrated with awards, honorary doctorates, and regularly invited to functions by the President.  On her 100th birthday was recognised by NY Governor who proclaimed the day “Grandma Moses Day” in her honour.  In 2006 her painting Sugaring Off sold for $1.2 million.  All this from a painter that was completely self taught!

What people love about her paintings is their simplicity, both of subject and style.  They take us back to a time when we lived close to nature, and enjoyed simple pleasures.  The bring people a sense of hope and comfort.

“There emanates from her paintings a light-hearted optimism; the world she shows us is beautiful and it is good. You feel at home in all these pictures.”

Grandma Moses painted just for the love of painting and the joy of creation, but her love brought brightness to many, and still does today.  She is a true inspiration and a reminder that it is never too late to do what you love, and to make your life exactly what you want it to be.  So, in tribute to Grandma Moses, start painting, exercising, writing, cartooning, meditating, horse-riding, dancing or whatever your passion may be.  Find a way to do it, and enjoy the wonderful things life has to offer.

I look back on my life like a good day’s work, it was done and I feel satisfied with it. I was happy and contented, I knew nothing better and made the best out of what life offered. And life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.”

A Beautiful World – Grandma Moses

For more inspirational artworks go to: The Day Brightener Gallery

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Challenge your fears


I’ve heard it said that when you face your fears the death of fear is certain. Getting up close and personal with a snake while in Fiji recently has certainly gone along way to helping reduce the anxiety these reptiles produce. I think the anticipation and catastrophizing I did prior to picking it up was by far worse that the actual event itself. Which fits nicely with psychologists views on the nature of fear – fantasised experiences appearing real.

Of late I’ve been meeting alot of extremely passionate and talented people who are virtually crippled by fear –  fear of success, fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of what others may think of them and many other fears.

 In our culture, we often spend more time thinking of ways we could fail rather than ways we could succeed. People also don’t back themselves enough and give themselves permission to make mistakes or to learn.

To succeed in any new endeavour you have to learn how to feel the fear and act courageously anyway. So much of what we imagine will go wrong never comes to pass, and if it does, in the end we learn important things to help us succeed in the future.

Fear isn’t always bad. Whether this is the fear of change, fear of failure or something else frightening, being afraid can often tell you what you need to do to make yourself safe or to prevent something going wrong. But left unchecked your doubts can become your traitors.

When I look back at some of the positive changes I have made in my life, almost always they have begun with much agonising. Diligent pre-planning helped me build confidence and overcome many of my fears, and then a huge leap of faith helped me commit to change. As I look back on my achievements I recognise that the thing that has made the difference is my ability to stare fear in the face, and persevere anyway.

I have discovered if I spend too much time looking at all the ways I could fail, worrying too much about what others will think of me or trying to keep everyone happy, I stay stuck. Stuck, frustrated and ultimately depressed, because deep down I know my soul is yearning for more. I have always known I could be accomplishing so much more with my life.

During the moments of fear-induced darkness I always draw strength by imagining that I am in the hands of a far greater power, and reminding myself that ultimately everything works out for my highest good. Even when life turns to custard, I believe it is all part of a greater plan for my personal growth and that happiness will prevail.
Think and Grow Positive

As I’ve said before, an acronym for fear that I find helpful is ‘fantasised experiences appearing real.’ So much of what we fear originates in our mind. The more we dwell on the possibility of a negative outcome, the more likely it is to occur. By focusing on unexamined fears you are more likely to make them come true. The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wrote, “Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts.” If you want to achieve a positive outcome then you have to think and grow positive.

All this positive thinking doesn’t happen by itself – it’s something you have to work at constantly. The Dalai Lama sums it up well when he says, “Negative thoughts are like weeds, they grow unattended. Positive thoughts are like flowers – they have to be nurtured.”

Reality Test Your Fears

A great way to nurture your positive thoughts is to reality test your fear-based assumptions.

When I was considering making the move to self-employment my fear-induced thoughts read like this: “I’ll never make enough money.” “The only way to earn decent money is to get a proper job.” (Worry. Worry. Moan.) Not a great way to get off to a flying start, right? Friends and family added their fears to the mix and soon I was drowning in doubt.

Fear left unchecked can keep you from ever reaching your true potential. Reality test your own and/or others’ beliefs or fears. How realistic are they? Look for examples of people who are already earning an income from pursuing their passion. I recently read Richard Branson’s inspiring biography – who said you can’t make a good living having fun!

Talk to people already working in areas they are passionate about or doing the job you want to do. Who could you talk to? What ‘facts’ or assumptions do you need to check out? How could you test your fears and desires safely? Go to the media page on my website and listen to the Happy At Work interviews  – be inspired by people who have made a change toward more passionate work.

Let’s look at some common fears and some ways to challenge them:

Allow No Doubt

Attitude is everything. Be a guard for your words, thoughts and feelings. Don’t let self-doubt be the thing that pops your balloon. Be your biggest fan – back yourself 100%. We all have doubts, but it’s amazing how your doubts will disappear once you are doing the things you enjoy. Are you your biggest fan or worst enemy? How can you stay positive, confident and optimistic?

“If you let your fears keep you from flying you’ll never reach your height.” ~ India Arie, Singer


 Challenge Your Fears:

Listed below are some typical and effective ways to move from fear to faith.

1)    Remind yourself of past successes. Think of something you are fearful of, and recall a time you experienced similar concerns and worries. What did you do back then to help you feel the fear and do it anyway?

2)    Affirm for what you want. Thoughts become things so it’s important you don’t allow negative thinking to become a reality. How can you put your mind on what you do want and not what you fear?

3)    Reframe. List your worries and under each write a positive counter-statement. For example, “It’s hard to make a living as an artist” could be framed as, “Some artists make an excellent living – Mark Rothko’s painting recently sold for $78 million.

4)    Get a parachute. Make sure you are prepared for the worst-case scenario. Keep your eye on your desire for success and work proactively to minimise things that may go wrong.

5)    Analyse your fears. Are they realistic? Do the things you are worrying about really matter? Ask yourself, “What’s the worst possible thing that could happen? And what else? And what else?” If all your worst-case scenarios really happened would it kill you? How could you minimise or overcome the chances of your worst fears occurring?

6)    Learn how to meditate. Control your mind and meditate your way to success. Studies consistently reveal that people who meditate worry less, and achieve more. Meditators are calmer, more optimistic and better able to bounce back from setbacks. Meditating also helps to foster creativity and strengthen intuition.

7)    Stomp out your fear and dress for success. What could you pull out of your wardrobe to help empower you? Perhaps it is a jacket that makes you feel confident when you put it on, a special piece of jewellery, a smart business shirt, a lovely smelling cologne or racy underwear? Kathryn’s handmade Western boots with pin-quill ostrich vamps and lustrous goat leather outsoles, decorative stitching and cowboy heels empowered her to feel the fear and do it anyway. “Immediately they bestowed power,” she said. “Here was the version of me who pulled herself up by her bootstraps. In the years since I brought them I’ve called on the woman with the red boots to stand up in business meetings and show up for root canals.

8)    Make a commitment. Sometimes the fear of letting others down can be a wonderful motivator. Set yourself a goal and then tell as many people as you can about your plans. Make sure they are people who believe in you!

9)    Whip procrastination and fear into shape. Whatever you dream of doing – just do it! Even baby steps are better than no steps. Take a leap! If things don’t work out just see any setbacks as teaching moments. Pat yourself on the back for having the guts to try.

10) If you suffer a setback avoid the blame game or despondency. Be self-critical in a positive way. You can do this in three steps. The first is to accept that you made a mistake. The second is to figure out why you made it. The third is to make sure you don’t repeat it. The fact that you are willing to try again already means you are one of life’s winners.

11) See problems as opportunities. Donald Trump used fear to fuel his ambition and courage. At a time when most people were losing confidence in the property market in Manhattan he took a gamble and followed his dreams anyway.

12) Look after yourself. Give yourself a good foundation for success by ensuring your mind, body and soul are in peak condition. Exercise, eat well, make room for fun in your life and only think positively about yourself.


Fear of Failure?

Many people don’t give themselves permission to make mistakes or to learn. When was the last time you gave yourself permission to fail?

If you felt the fear and failed what’s the worse that could happen? And then what? Would that be so bad?

Look for and collect examples of people who have turned ‘failure’ into success.


Fear of Success?

Some people don’t pursue their potential because they are afraid of success. Success can bring unwanted attention, criticism and the risk of failing later. Success can also be threatening to others who haven’t achieved their potential – even your best friends can become your worst critics. Are you afraid of standing out or are you prepared to be a tall poppy even though others may seek to cut you down? How could you use your own success to inspire others?

At school John used to be a champion runner. Hating being left out on his own, he deliberately started losing races so others would feel better about themselves. Now 40 years on, he realised not only was he doing the same thing in his career but that his daughter was picking up the same messages. He realised that by becoming more comfortable about soaring beyond mediocrity he could inspire his daughter to do the same.


Fear of Change?

People often put more energy into resisting change and preserving the status quo than they do in embracing change. Changing can be hard work. It means taking a risk and stepping into the unknown. Some people fear change because they believe that they might lose what they have – even though what they have may be nothing at all. For many people change means taking responsibility and ending years of blaming others, being a victim, or living in denial or in a state of apathy. How can you embrace change safely?


Fear of Disappointment?

Some people die with their music still inside, preferring to cling to the hope of their dreams rather than the reality of a possible disappointment and the risk of a shattered dream. What’s worse – the disappointment of a few setbacks or the disappointment of a life spent unfulfilled and a life of regret? All life arises out of choice – what choices are you making now?


Freeing Yourself from Fear

1)    Write down four successes that you are proud of achieving as a result of feeling the fear and doing it anyway:


2)    Remind yourself of the actions, thoughts and beliefs you held that helped you achieve those successes. Recall any fears or anxiety you may have experienced at the time:


3)    Reflect upon and list the qualities you developed as a result of your successes:


4)    What other good things came about as a result of these achievements?

5)    How could you apply what you have learned in this exercise to move toward a new goal in your life? What or who else would support you?


Quotes to inspire:

“Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning to the funeral.” ~ Kahil Gibran, Writer

 “Winners are too busy to be sad, too positive to be doubtful, too optimistic to be fearful, and too determined to be defeated.” ~ Anon

  “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” ~ Dale Carnegie, Author

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in that gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt, Political Leader



The above was an excerpt from Happy at Work for mid-lifers +  – An inspiring and practical book guaranteed to rekindle your passion for work and life $55 NZD + pp

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