Tag Archives: success

Getting out of the box

For a long time I’ve had the terrible habit of putting myself, and others, into boxes.  Not physical boxes, but mental boxes, boxes that carry labels.  Oh I’m just a techie.  Or, he’s just a teller at the checkout counter.  Perhaps you have done the same at some point or another in life and can relate.  Recently I became acutely aware of this rather disappointing habit.

What happens when we put ourselves, or others, into boxes?  I have come to understand that by labelling, by putting into boxes, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to get to know and understand each person, including ourselves, as individuals.  Each of us has hopes and dreams.  I believe we all have hidden and uncovered talents.  I believe that labelling ourselves, and others, puts us at a distinct disadvantage in our interpersonal relationships.  It doesn’t matter if we are applying this to the relationship we have with ourselves, or the casual encounter we have with the person at the checkout counter.

We can take this one step further.  Have you ever had somebody introduce themselves using this as the opening part of their introduction:  “I’m just a…..”  Now how’s that for a label?  “I’m just a….” do we even hear what comes next or do we subconsciously place that person into the insignificant or unimportant box?  Can we honestly say that we take the rest of the conversation with that person seriously, or do they remain in our mental box?

Perhaps it’s time we start dismantling the boxes, removing the labels along with their negative connotations, and get to know each other as people, as individuals, and see the incredible wealth of talent in each other.  We all bring something unique to the table.  I firmly believe that the only way to do this is by removing our own labels first.  To label is to hold onto pre-conceived ideas.

I recently victimised myself and sabotaged my own performance by placing myself in a box and assuming a label – I am a technical support engineer.  I fix technical issues, that’s what I do.  The challenge facing me was a training workshop for sales people.  I wore my label and lived in my box, subconsciously telling myself that I would not pass the final grading let alone excel at it.  I wore my label so stubbornly that other delegates put me into the same box with the same label.   To my surprise I got more than just a passing grade.  It surprised the course facilitators too as I had let them subconsciously accept the box I’d placed myself so firmly in.  What if I had kept a more open mind going into the workshop?  What if I had more readily embraced the opportunity to learn and grow in uncharted territory?  Instead I trapped myself and hampered my own growth.  All my own doing.

So this brings me full-circle in this article.  I start with myself.  I need to consciously step outside of any box I may want place myself in.  I need to break down those mental labels I apply to myself.  If I don’t do this I will forever hold myself back and hamper my own growth.  If I don’t stop labelling myself how can I expect others to stop?

Getting out of the box

Yours in lifelong learning,


Passion – Turning Challenges into Success

I am passionate about sharing knowledge.  I love investing in the training and development of people from all walks of life.  To see another person grow whether personally or professionally is incredibly rewarding for me.

I am blessed to work for a company that recognised this in me.  They tailor-made a position for me within their structures to afford me the opportunity to follow my passion.  As the old saying goes:  “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work another day in your life.”  I don’t have a job, I have a calling.

The challenge I face is often this role requires me to present training programmes to a wide audience and that involves public speaking.  How many of us are comfortable with public speaking, standing in front of an audience and doing a presentation?  I find it downright nerve wracking.  Performance anxiety and I are old friends.

As a youngster I attended speech therapy lessons for a few years.  I had a speech impediment to overcome.  Something I never quite mastered.  When saying the word “Rubbish” it still sounds like “Wubbish”.  The “K” sound sometimes comes out as “Kkkk…”

Added to that reading aloud is somewhat of a challenge too.  Words and letters move around and run into one another on the page.  The result – I can’t read my presentation or my notes to my audience.

So why on earth am I in a vocation that involves public speaking?  The odds seem stacked against me.  Short answer – I’m passionate about sharing knowledge.

How can one share knowledge without speaking about it?

I was determined not to let the challenges facing me stand in the way of me fulfilling my passion. I learnt to compensate and turn these challenges into my favour.  Nothing worse than sitting through a presentation where the presenter reads the slides to you.  Since I cannot do this I find my audience less bored and glassy-eyed as I actively engage with them.  To compensate for challenges in speech I slow down just a little and pronounce my words a little more carefully.  I find myself better understood.  Am I saying that I am an outstanding presenter?  Far from it.  I am, however, saying that I am fulfilling my passion.  I believe I am successfully sharing knowledge.

Every one of us face challenges in our lives.  No one is excluded from this on our journey through life.  It is what we do with the challenges we face.  We can use them as excuses for not conquering what life throws at us, or we can use them as opportunities to grow. I choose growth.

Passion is what I have.  Challenges are what I seek.  Success is what I deliver.


passion challenges success


Yours in lifelong learning,




Perception Defines Reality

Too many years ago to mention here I resigned from a position I held.  A senior member in the organisation made a rather public statement along the lines that I was a broken person incapable of dealing with the reality of life! Hmmm… seriously?  Yes, seriously.  In my young naivety I created a negative internal dialogue I would constantly repeat and rehearse, and thus live out subconsciously.  I, without being aware of it, embraced this as the reality of who I was and I started to believe this to be a true reflection of me.  I subconsciously believed that I was a dysfunctional member of society simply by being who I was.

People generally form a perception of who we are and, I believe, this is based on the perception we have of ourselves and thus the one we project.

So what impact does our internal self-perception have on our outward reality?  I believe that how we perceive ourselves internally influences how we project ourselves to others in society and how we ultimately function in society.  Chances are that if we are convinced, not necessarily at a conscious level, that we are a failure, we will act out accordingly and project that message to the rest of society.  Chances are that we will be perceived as a failure, be seen as such, and treated as such.  There’s an old saying that goes:  “Perception defines reality.”

There is a famous statement [attributed to Stephen R. Covey]:  “I am not a product of my circumstances.  I am a product of my decisions.”  The circumstance was a negative statement, as misguided as it may have been, made about me.  My decision, conscious or otherwise, was to let that define my perception of who I was.  The end result was not pretty.  I walked around as a young-adult with a chip on my shoulder.  I was angry at the world blaming everyone for the challenging situations I had encountered.  This in turn led me to become a negative person to interact with.  I become a product of my decision.  The actual circumstance was irrelevant.  It was my decision that defined the outcome.  I allowed my immature decision define the reality of who I was.

As I continued to walk along my journey of life I pondered on the statement:  “I am not a product of my circumstances.  I am a product of my decisions.”  I started to challenge the decisions I made due to challenging circumstances encountered.  I eventually realised that only I have the power to make new decisions.  Only I have the power to rewrite my internal scripts, to adjust the perceptions I have of myself.  By working on creating a much more positive self-perception, based on new decisions, I soon created a far more positive perception of who I am in the minds of those whom I encounter in life.  It is my experience that we live out, and project ourselves in society, in the same manner in which we perceive ourselves.

Now I challenge each decision I make for each circumstance I find myself in.  I challenge myself to make the best, and most positive decision possible –  to turn each situation into a learning opportunity and grow from it.  Only we have the power to make, or change, our decisions and define how we perceive ourselves.

Perception defines reality!

Yours in lifelong learning,