My new book: #BeBetter: A book about productivity and life systems

After 4 years in the making, I have finally decided to publish my new productivity book.

Whilst there is a price tag associated with it, you can download it for FREE until this Friday.

For any questions or ideas, please feel free to reach out to me at any time.

Best wishes and I hope you find the book useful.


PS: This post was first published on my personal blog.

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NLP And Personal Development (5 of 5)

Last week’s post got a bit longer than anticipated but I hope you enjoyed reading it to the end. I didn’t want to break it up.

Examining yourself or your state of mind or when evaluating options, there is a very simple and very effective way of doing so: watch yourself from an external perspective. Visualise the situation you are in, or use your actual situation in the now, and look at it from a 3rd person’s perspective. Imagine your ‘eye’ is sitting in the left upper corner of the room, watching you how you interact with people and how you use gestures. Sounds freaky, doesn’t it? Consciously watch yourself and adapt your behaviour. See how you build rapport by mirroring people, and how they react to you mirroring them.

When mirroring people you pretty much do what they do: they scratch their right ear, you scratch your right ear; they cross their legs, you cross your legs. Try not to be too obvious doing it and try it out over time. Once you can do that, you can try to play around and lead them (pace and lead) by changing your position in order for them to change theirs. That means they either consciously but most probably unconsciously feel more comfortable looking at a mirror image and are tuned into what you do. The same is true for language. Start using some keywords like ‘you know how that feels’ and they might answer to ‘I feel the same’ rather than ‘I can see the same’. You start using the same lingo (auditory, visual, kinaesthetic) to describe what you are talking about. This makes it easier to get along with someone. Using questioning techniques, open or closed, you will be able to direct people easier once this rapport has been built.

I guess that is where the misconception comes from that you can influence anyone with NLP. Whilst you can, it is not that you can brainwash someone by just sitting there and talking to a stranger. So do not worry.

I suppose NLP gives you a lot of tools, and you can choose when to use them. Whether it is to evaluate a situation, a behaviour, your values, priorities or how you interact with others. NLP seems to have a lot of things for whatever situation. However, NLP is one of many tools out there and I believe that a combination of good tools works better than one tool on its own.

Bandler, one of the founders of NLP, combines it with hypnotherapy. Others never speak about NLP but use it on a daily basis, solely based on common sense. And I use it unconsciously conscious 😉

NLP for me is a tool kit. Similar to transactional analysis (TA, which I studied a while back to look at communication patterns. Another big part of my tool kit is Emotional Intelligence (EI) on which I wrote a paper for my MBA.  The paper examined a lot of books and essays on the topic and whether the idea of EI is new to management and leadership theories.

I concluded, and still would, that EI is more or less common sense and that any leader or manager should be aware of their emotions towards themselves and others. Another outcome was that EI would have an impact on staff morale and working environment, but to my mind the term is a bit overhyped as emotional awareness is nothing new. A competitive advantage can only be achieved in combination with other techniques like NLP, TA etc.

Please pick and choose whatever works best for you, adopt what is important and helpful for you and apply daily.

I truly hope you enjoyed the chapters and publications over the past almost 2 years.

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NLP And Personal Development (4 of 5)

Let’s look at values a bit more granular.

You might want to consider identifying your values in life. That is an exercise that can be or should be done on a regular basis as life changes and your values might change. Events like having children, getting married or moving house change your perception of the world (your map of the world) and hence can result in you changing your values. To find your values sit down and think about what you enjoy doing, what is important to you, when were you happiest etc. to identify maybe that you are a family person with a strong sense of belonging or you are a career person.

Some values would have been there from birth, some will be adopted based on life’s experience. Try to prioritise the ones that are most important for you, like honesty, family, fairness, teamwork, and career. Again most people would find it most useful to search for questionnaire resources online to establish more details.

What is important for you?

Balance your life and provide security for your family?

Being the person at work that works very hard?

Giving it all for the charity run? Always giving 110%?

You can do research for instance by using the wheel of life ( where you will examine different areas of your life in order to establish which areas need some improvement. On the web you will find plenty of guidance and recommendations on how to do it. Areas to look at are Health, Family, Finances, Personal Development, Career, Recreation, Spirituality and Goals.

From my blog: Wheel of life

26th February 2009

As a coach for personal development I am very interested in all sorts of theories. In the recent issue of the Saturday Financial Times I found an article about the perfect small home and this guy in Iowa who lives in a very small trailer.

However, looking through the website I found a life map which got my attention. It plans out what your focus in life is and why and how….. – really it is a “wheel of life”.

It examines certain areas of your life and analyses where you are happy with, e.g. in this example from Dave where the family part of the wheel is almost 100% in terms of achievement and happiness, whilst the money part still needs development. Anyhow, the wheel of life focuses on: career, money, health, partner, family, friends, learning and environment. You can add or remove categories, e.g. if you study “studying” or if you do a lot of sports it could be “basketball” for instance additional to health.

Now, the other wheel I found at a different source has very similar categories: Lifeways (equivalent to “way of life”), Health, Career, Finance, Relationship, Activism and Effectiveness. I like that split (

The reason I like it, is the way it starts with Lifeways and the determination about your belief system. Like me being a Buddhist. It then takes you on to health and career as well as finance like the “normal coaching wheel”. However, it then splits more into relationship in general, taking into consideration the relationship in general, e.g. family and partnership.

I find the category of “activism” very interesting: Something you would die for, something you are passionate about. Exactly, how many people just live and do not know what they really like? What they want? What makes them tick? Wow, how can we go ahead and become passionate about something. What gets you up in the morning and gets you going? What is your biggest achievement today? How can you change things today to make a better tomorrow? That is great stuff!

Effective Living is the last category. Reminds me of Buddhism in terms of letting go of material value. How can you achieve more with less?

I am sure you come across all different life maps and wheels. And, giving our lives, each wheel will be different and every map and category means something different for everyone. However, it is good to take some time, sit down and draw your own map. And, think about the passion and your lifestyle. Anything you can improve? It is not all about finance and career. Or, can you integrate your activism and effective living into the career and finance category? Get what they call a holistic living system.

Whilst the above example of a holistic life is about Gregory’s life and approach to a “small, simple, sustainable” life I would like to take the idea a bit further.

The holistic life approach and your areas of life that map out your life should really aim at your personal life. It should identify areas that are important to you, and most likely family/relationship, career and finance would be. However, holistic means that you need to integrate all parts in the “full circle”. It is your life where each part is dependable from the other. Means you need to have a holistic view of your life.

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NLP And Personal Development (3 of 5)

Questioning and how to phrase questions to understand motivation, are a key component of NLP.

In my NLP training I learned a lot about questioning:

– What is happening?

– How is that happening?

– Why is it happening?

This way you can identify the specific situation and find a solution. The solution itself can often be found the other way around:

– Why is something a problem?

– How is it a problem?

– What can be done to solve it?

Again, looking at an example you would try to find out the details (what), then the sequence (how) and the actual reason behind it (why). Then, in order to find the solution you look for the pattern or principles (why), the process and policy (how), and then the procedure and protocol (what). You look at patterns and how you can change those and why they exist.

Your motivational direction, why do you want to do something: you want to either move away from something or towards to something. Like you might want to move away from feeling lonely towards having a relationship. Usually a ‘towards to’ motivation is stronger and longer lasting. Again have a go and try it out, you will not learn without trying. This questioning can also be used to find underlying motivation in yourself or a behaviour you have.

If you want to go further into personal development, you would try to find your true inner values. You would try to find out what motivates you, interests you and what you like to achieve in life. What is really important? The best thing to do is to find a coach that is trained in NLP in order to do some personal development work.

For instance there might be a part of you that is pro something and another that is against something. Both parts inside you are having their own motivation for the better for you. Accepting those parts and integrating them is another helpful thing to do.

Whenever there is an inner conflict, it is because you have two opinions in your mind, and they both try to work in your favour. So if you are brought up to not bin food, then there is a value and behaviour that stops you from binning any food unless absolutely necessary.

If you have another value of not overeating, this could conflict. Both values are important, and they are good rules for you: don’t bin food and don’t overeat. In conjunction they don’t work and you can use part integration to make them both feel good, for you to feel better if now and then you bin a bit of food but this eat a bit without feeling guilty on either side.

Let’ s look more into values next week!

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NLP And Personal Development (2 of 5)

So NLP is looking a lot at learning, how habits work but also how habits “unwork”. You might have a bad habit like smoking or gambling where you go through a pattern and you need to rewrite your internal coding, e.g. going back to question why you doing something and then relearn a new pattern to improve the overall process. Time line therapy, often used with NLP, is helping to reframe certain experiences.

Does that make sense? Similar to understanding your inner needs, you might have to dig down deep to understand your motivation or habit. So whenever you learned a certain process, be unconsciously aware of ‘how to smoke’, you work the steps backwards. We cover some questioning techniques around that further on.

A simple exercise is reframing where you reframe a situation or a fear or an association by picturing it. You picture it, change the colour of the picture in your mind to be colourful, black and white, bigger and smaller until you are comfortable with that picture which also associates your feelings with it. So for instance if you are afraid of dogs you can picture them in a big colourful picture but then you might want to make it smaller and see how your feelings change. Or you want to change the picture to black and white or from a barking dog to a puppy. Experiment with it until you feel comfortable with a situation.

Role play for instance can help also if you are dealing with fear. Making the person you are working with aware of the actual situation, taking on the other person’s role, or the dog in case of fear of dogs.

NLP for me is a bit like playing with your mind and motivation. Anything you enjoy or do not enjoy is in your mind and, funnily enough, you are the one controlling your mind. So you are the one deciding how you feel. Remember the exercise I used before, smile and try to think negative, it is not going to work!

When reframing a situation, there are techniques like time line therapy where you move, usually with the help of a practitioner, along a timeline and change (traumatic) past experience. You can also walk through a SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats), or FADS (fear, angst, safety, development) analysis.

When I say walk, I mean to put signs onto the floor and walk through a situation physically, again connecting your body with your feelings, and then change the associations with it. It is what some refer to as anchoring. If you associate a physical connection with a state of mind, e.g. someone pressing your right shoulder making you smile, then every time someone presses your shoulder you will smile! Sounds crazy? It works. Read up on how to do it and try it.

You can anchor quite a lot of feelings and over time can make you laugh or cry by triggering a certain pressure point for instance.

Hopefully this makes you more curious of what is there to come and understand more of what you can do with NLP. Off to the questions next week.

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NLP And Personal Development (1 of 5)

This is the final chapter of my book I will make available on the blog. It is split into five parts to give you a chunk size reading each week.

A very common ‘communication tool’ is NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming, O’Connor, Joseph and Seymour, John (1990), Introducing NLP, Psychological Skills for Understanding and Influencing People, Harper Collins Publishing). A theory developed to help schizophrenic people in the seventies, it soon became standard for personal development and an add on to psychotherapy.

I have (self) studied NLP since 1998 and in 2003 obtained both my Practitioner and Master Practitioner course in line with a course called DBM (Development of Behavioural Models, Sensory Systems Ltd., Glasgow, focusing on hands on, helpful NLP techniques.

Now the book by O’Connor and Seymour which I referenced is probably one of the best beginner books I have read so far. The basics of NLP are around your perception of the world. You would as an individual have a map of the world which overlays your senses. A classic example is if you start looking for beetle cars, you soon will see beetle cars all over the country as you filter them out.

There are no more or less cars around after you decided to focus on them, but by filtering them, you decide on making them stick out for you. The same happens for positive or negative words, if you want to hear only the negative then you will filter that out, start an argument and be in trouble.

You are the only one that can decide what you focus on.

You decide what you want to do in life.

How do you want to see the world? What is important to you?

The stages of learning, now commonly known, are one of the basics of NLP:

1. Unconscious Incompetence

2. Conscious Incompetence

3. Conscious Competence

4. Unconscious Competence

With anything we do in life, in my case selling a product, we go through this process. We start by not being aware of our incompetence, then being aware of it, then improving it to being aware of our competence and then it becomes a routine and we are not even aware of our competence. Driving a car is another good example, selling a product for years, anything you just become good at.

Can you think of other examples that spring to mind. Cycling, building, crafting, running, exercising…..

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Spiritual Balance (4 of 4)

How was the week? Did you walk in someone else’s shoes?

Another one of the eight steps is ‘Great Compassion’, showing our feelings towards the ones that have less than we do. Understanding or having empathy for the ones that suffer and helping them to come out of the suffering. If that is a homeless person or your child or a friend or a complete stranger, if they are in misery try to help them feeling better. And my suggestion would be to do that before you help yourself.

Maybe an example could be a rough flight in a plane and you and others get scared. Try to calm down others first and show them that you protect them before fighting your own fear. By doing so you already fighting your own fear and calm your mind automatically. This might sound selfish but helping others means you help yourself at the same time. Giving to charity makes you feel good about yourself whilst still helping others.

Samsara, the constant reborn cycle in Buddhism, does not allow for any true happiness, e.g. enlightenment. Buddha (Gyatso, 2000, page 123) compared living in samsara to sitting on top of a pin – no matter how much we try to adjust our position it is always painful, and no matter how hard we try to adjust and improve our samsaric situation it will always irritate us and give rise to pain. True happiness can be found only by attaining liberation from samsara. By developing a desire for all living beings to experience pure happiness, we attain liberation. 

Another one of the great philosophical pieces in Buddhism is about the victory and accepting defeat. What I mean by that is simple: let others win. Whether this is the argument at work or someone insisting on being right in something, just accept their opinion and let them move on and you move on. No use to actually fight over something, let them win and in your heart you can feel like the winner. I once had that with a co-worker who did not seem to be too keen on me and tried to make me feel really bad. So I let him speak and he started shouting as I did not react in the same way he expected me to react. However, when I calmly accepted some of his points he made but questions some others, he still continued trying to win a battle he already lost. He was aggravated, not happy and wanted (!) to be right. I did not. I agreed and moved on to more important things, and he walked away feeling proud to have won an argument but being empty inside. I was smiling all day long for him being so foolish. Besides I saw his true face, something worth more than trying to claim victory.

All this comes down to giving rather than receiving things, arguments or energy. I am prepared to give to others in order to help them. I get satisfaction from doing so.

Bodhichitta is the word for the mind striving for enlightenment. For me it is an open mind that lets thoughts of others in, gives others and put others above themselves. A good human being you could argue based on a Buddhist philosophy. I do not mind what you call it, for me this is a way of living and dying and imagining that we are only a small part in the greater game of the universe, being reborn into new lives. A fascinating thought, an endless circle of suffering.

Whilst most examples I used were from Buddhism, a lot of cultural similarities can be found in other religions. I grew up to be a Lutheran Protestant (Christian) and never really understood the differences in Christianity, including Catholicism, when fighting for the same cause. Religion has always had a bad taste with wars being fought over which religion is right. This is not my discussion to have, but I see Buddhism as a philosophy rather than a religion with the same ethical principles as most other religions, however yet somewhat deeper inside, more neutral and more helpful in regards to personal development.

I hope you found this chapter useful. I could probably write a whole book on it…maybe later in life.

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Spiritual Balance (3 of 4)

We came a long way. Accepting those challenges and being open for the universal signs of spiritual development is important.

As I believe only with a complete unity and fulfilment of all of Maslow’s levels, you will be able to be a happier and more complete person. Finding sanctuary in meditation, dwelling on problems and then letting go and asking the spirits and energy for solutions, will make you a more content person.

However, it is not only about the analytical way of seeing it but about the spiritual path and inner acceptance of things and letting go of your analytical mind. Let the mind flow and believe, in yourself and your destiny, from deep within.

I believe that the purpose of you in life is a lot bigger than you could imagine. The inner satisfaction and growth you get by looking beyond the first four stages of Maslow’s pyramid and going beyond will make you a more rounded person with more energy to give to others. It will result in a bigger and better you in all aspects of life. It takes awhile to develop though; do not expect anything over night!

I read a lot of Buddhist books, including Eight Steps to Happiness (Gyatso, Geshe Kelsang (2000), Eight Steps to Happiness, The Buddhist Way of Loving Kindness, Tharpa Publications). The challenge of reading a lot about a philosophy or religion is that you can have the most profound knowledge but it is down to the application of theories, practising meditation for instance.

Within the eight steps, there is one called ‘learning to cherish others’ which I see as a basic principle of mankind. We should cherish all other human and living beings and be happy for them. That might sound difficult when you just lost your job to someone else or did not get the position, but you should be happy for the person as I believe things meant to be. So if someone else wins a race against you then this is because for whatever reasons the universe decided that this person should win, most probably because s/he was better in something or for you to learn a certain lesson. You should be grateful for that person being able to win and be so good in what they do.

The law of attraction would suggest that if you are happy for them, you will attract happiness into your life. The same is true for love. The way we love a child or a partner or a close family member, we should love all human beings and share our love with them. would not it be nice for us all to share the love with everyone else? It sounds Bohemian or Hippie like but that is how the world comes together by sharing the love and cherishing each other. It is about letting go of ourselves and our self-concern. The universe is not made to circle around us. We are part of it. We are part of the universal love.

Imagine the universe as an energy system. Any negative energy you send out will be balanced with a negative energy same or greater as yours. Same with positive one. The more you send out, the more you receive. The forces in each system are equal.

As part of our spiritual development we should think of walking in someone else’s shoes. We need to understand other humans’ point of view and work towards exchanging ourselves with them and their situation. By doing so and cherishing love, putting others on the priority list above ourselves, we will learn to live a happier and more fulfilled life, attracting more and more love from others too. It is really a win/win situation.

Try it this week, walk in someone else’s shoes this week and see how you got on.

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Spiritual Balance (2 of 4)

From last week we defined that spiritual balance is one pillar of productivity leading you to higher purpose, or giving you a higher purpose in general. This is key to understanding, balancing your life and being able to have a spiritual balance, is life changing – life enhancing.

A common question is about what influence did your family, in particular your mother/father, have on your decisions in life. Did you respect your father as a person and see him as a mentor? Did he beat you as a child and was he an alcoholic beating up your mother?  Was he a great, caring dad and home a lot, be there for you after school?

Answers to those questions can give you a great insight why you are motivated one way or another. You are going deep inside you to identify what drives you on. Finding those answers, identifying those unconscious drivers in a most non analytical way is key to finding your inner purpose and motivation. And some could be a lot more positive!

I am personally of the opinion to not worry about every little detail here. For me I believe that I failed a lot of times in life because I did things for others who I thought had a certain expectation of me. This was for example my parents expecting me to go to university and do a recognised degree. But I failed that and only when I chose to go to the school I chose with the right environment and started doing things for myself, I realised I was not failing anymore. For me it was not about intellect but about attitude and inner support. If you do not believe you can swim, you will ultimately drown! No matter how hard you try, there needs to be a force that pulls you to want to, having “swimming” as a purposeful goal.

Nevertheless, I also believe that things are happening for a reason and are predetermined. Failure just helps you to get off the ground and look at things differently, makes you stronger and in the long run succeed even more. It can lead to total failure but that is down to you. You are the master of your thoughts, your attitude and your mind. However, failure helps to succeed, if you learn from your mistakes.

Building a positive belief system is key. Being able to project yourself into a given situation and being both confident and analytical at the same time, analysing both your outcome and the impact that situation has on you and others is key. Then wanting to grow your impact and grow your inner peace by increasing your footprint on the outside, your influence, will make you a better person. This is of course based on the assumption of you having positive things in mind.

How does spirituality fit in? Old wisdoms from any religion have suggested exactly that. Finding the inner attitude and spirit before riding into battle in the name of God. The prayer for you and others gave you the focus and activated positive energy towards people – and still does. Thinking of people in a positive way causes them to do better and if you are a believer of yourself you can climb the highest mountain.

Spirituality for me is about self awareness, inner peace and self analytics on a deep down level. Asking the universe to send you the right thought or job or person that comes into your life and can help you to just adjust a bit of direction for you to do better. Or the person that is sent to give you a greater challenge and you having to cope more than you normally would have to. To challenge you. To make you grow.

So to summarise week two, we are looking at a pillar that gives you strength and allows you to find purpose in what you do. Giving you energy and will power to succeed in what you want to achieve.

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Spiritual Balance (1 of 4)

This chapter of my book becomes more important as we mature with our research in terms of underlying principles of productivity. So to publish this, it is an in depth discussion on one of the pillars of productivity. How you achieve spiritual balance though, either via religion or any other spiritual practise, is entirely up to you.

As discussed previously, the term work life balance has long been used for people to separate work and life. However, more and more people working longer hours. Hence experts in that topic realised that the term should be changed to life life balance, as you actually balancing two parts of your life. And work seems to be the bigger one in terms of waking hours and security, e.g. money. Also, the boundaries, with always connected mobile devices, are blurred.

However, I believe in order to balance your work, life, yourself, partner, family, etc. you need to have a very holistic approach. There might be individuals that just go to work, 9-5, and then head home to their TV or hobby and do that every day. These people are probably not reading my work either.

But to life there is more than just work. I am a believer to make work part of life and fulfilment as otherwise I waste about 40-60 hours each week to progress with my personal development, and ultimately life fulfilment. That would be a shame.

Maslow’s well known hierarchy of needs talks about 5 stages:

– Physical needs: food, drink, sex

– Safety: family, income, employment

– Love/connectedness: belonging to a group, being married/partner

– Esteem: self-esteem, confidence, respected by others

– Self-actualisation: being worthwhile, achieving what someone wants

If we look at most people’s situation, we are looking at someone that is in employment, has enough food to sustain oneself, either is part of a group or is married and is confident about what she does, and gets respected by others. Latter might be something that is not the case and if so, I suggest getting a coach or good friend to help you to improve your self esteem. You are worth it and sometimes it is just a matter of pulling a few levers, changing a few things on your attitude to realise the impact you have on others and for others to acknowledge the positive impact you have on them.

So from my point of view, if you have a job and a social life outside Facebook, you are in a good state to find fulfilment of the first four stages. Now you could argue that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a bit old, having been established in 1943. I would agree somewhat but for illustration purpose I believe it is still very much relevant. On top of the pyramid sits the purpose and self actualisation. Spiritual Awareness in my eyes. Like the Eye of Providence ( on the Freemason’s pyramid, but I do not want to drift too far.

For me spiritual awareness is not about a religion per se but about you finding yourself via spiritual means. Finding a purpose beyond earning money and feeding a family. A purpose that is only yours. Your personal reason for life, answering the very one question of “Why am I here on Earth and do the things I want?”. I will not be able to supply you with those answers here and I believe for everyone there is a different reason for being here. Life is about finding those answers that dwell deep inside yourself.

Life is about finding your own purpose, answering your why, and one of the pillars leading to it is spiritual balance.

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