Email Liberation – How to Free Yourself

Do you get lots of emails?

So do I. So does everyone.

Some years ago, I devoured the loads of information out there on how to handle email effectively. I’m a big fan of the ‘Inbox Zero’ approach and I like Tim Ferris’s article on ’Ten Steps to Become an Email Ninja’.

HOWEVER…

What I want to share with you today is NOT a technical hack.

What I want to share with you is a different way of thinking about email that will liberate you from email.

Up until last year, although I had integrated all kinds of hacks to get my email under control, there were still a lot of emails from people – important emails – that were waiting to be replied to and hanging over my head.

One day while walking down the street in London, I had an insight that instantly reduced this by about 90%.

What I realised is that of all the emails that are waiting for replies, only a very small percentage of them (less than 10%) were from people who I had an explicit AGREEMENT with to which I would respond to their emails.

In my case, this included pretty much just my clients and my small team of two people.

The rest of the emails that were waiting for replies were from people who DESIRED or EXPECTED a response.

I realized that even my mother and my wife don’t have agreements with me that I’ll respond to their email!

I choose not live my life at the mercy of other people’s expectations or desires.

I also choose to live in integrity with the agreements I make with people.

As an experiment, I thus created two folders:

1. Agreements

2. Expectations / Desires
I then moved ALL outstanding emails into one of these two folders.
The change in my EXPERIENCE of email was immediate.
Suddenly, I was able to first reply to ALL of the emails in folder 1 in very little time (because there were a lot less of them). After doing this, I felt COMPLETE. I had fulfilled all of my agreements.
What remained was folder 2, which was full of emails from people who expected or desired a response from me. Many of these emails I WANTED to respond to, but that was not something that needed to hang over me. I could simply do what I wanted to do whenever I felt like doing it.
Very often I will open up folder 2, not because I have to, but because I want to. When I do, I don’t ask myself ‘who must I reply to’, because that would only apply if the email was in folder 1. Instead, I scan through and I choose to reply to the emails that I WANT to reply to. And I stop doing that when I don’t want to do it anymore.
As long as folder 1 emails have been responded to, then I am living in integrity with my agreements and I am NOT living my life at the mercy of other people’s expectations or desires.
This is true email liberation.

 

Create Coaching Clients by Coaching People – Coaching Jude

People make the whole ‘client creation’ thing so difficult by putting all sorts of stuff between themselves and actually having a client.

My method for creating clients in my coaching business is simple. I do just one thing: Coach

In this video, I show Jude how coaching clients are not something she has to get or attract, they are something she can create. Furthermore, she can create coaching ‘clients’ by simply coaching ‘people’.

All one needs to do is decide what time in their week they will be providing the service they provide and then PROVIDE THAT SERVICE to different people every week during that time.

If you do that long enough – and your service is something people will want more of – then people will start asking for more. When they ask for more, tell them your fee and that ‘person’ will magically transform into a ‘client’.

Can it really be that easy?

I wouldn’t say it’s easy. I’d say it’s simple, but not easy.

What’s not easy is committing to serving people day in and day out without getting anything back at first.

It takes faith and commitment to serve with consistency.

It’s not easy, but is simple and it can be done.

No slick slogans or flash personal brands needed.

 

 

Talk is Cheap. Integrity Creates – Coaching Jude

I didn’t tell Jude this when I was coaching her, but she and I had something in common.

Up until this coaching conversation, Jude and I had both been talking about writing a book for ages.

We thought about doing it.

We had said we would do it.

But we hadn’t done it. Or even seriously started working on it.

In this clip of me coaching Jude, you’ll see us create the insight that her book isn’t getting written because she is lacking integrity around the idea of it. In the weeks following our coaching conversation, it became clear to me that I also didn’t have a book for the same reason. Upon this insight, I brought the project into conversation with my own coach and I have since started working on it with regularity.

One of the perks of coaching inspiring people is that by helping them to create something in their own life,  I often become more able to create something new in my own life.

Thank you, Jude! I’ll race you to publishing. 😉

How to Find Speaker Opportunities – Coaching Jude

I like the idea that a vision is not a place to get TO, but a place to come FROM.
In this short clip of a coaching conversation I had with Jude, she tells me how she wants to be doing more public talks. Certainly one could explore all the different strategies to creating such an outcome. What I typically find though is that ‘strategy’ and ‘how to’ are typically NOT the thing people are missing. What people are missing is a willingness to simply DO THE THING in their vision right now. With Jude, that meant that if she wanted to be doing more public talks, the thing to do was TALK…right now.
What to talk about?
Talk about doing talks.
Speak about speaking.
This seems obvious, but most people spend their time trying to do everything BUT the thing in their vision in order to get to their vision. To come FROM a vision, fill your days with that vision – fill every day with that vision.
If you want to be a speaker, then speak every day. Speak about speaking. Do it enough and you will end up on stages speaking to more and more people.
If you want to be a massage therapist, massage people.
If you want to be a coach, coach people.
If you want to run a business, then figure out what the thing you want to do in that business is and start doing it…right now.
Watch me create this insight with Jude here:

 

 

And then ask yourself: If my vision were a place I came FROM, what would I be doing?

 

How to Present Yourself Well

Do you want to present yourself well?

Have you been considering how to present yourself well at your next job interview, sales meeting, first date, funding pitch or networking or social event?

I won’t suggest that being concerned with how we present ourselves is all bad.

At the same time, because of the general insecure nature of human beings today, our focus on how we present ourselves is more often an obstacle to achieving our outcomes than it is an aid.

When I am concerned with how I am presenting myself, I may think…

How do I look on video today?
Do I sound smart?
Was I talking too fast?

When I hear myself thinking things like this, I notice it as a feeling of concern with how I am ‘presenting’ myself.

I have taught myself that this feeling is a flag – a reminder – of a distinction I would like to share with you:

Presenting vs Present

These are choices I can make.

I can either be concerned with how I am ‘presenting’ myself.

Or I can be concerned with how ‘present’ I am being with others.

And I cannot do either of these at my best at the same time.

Going back to my Physics roots, in 1927 Werner Heisenberg stated that the more precisely the position of some particle is determined, the less precisely its momentum can be known, and vice versa.

In this same way, in any particular moment, the more one focuses on ‘presenting’ their self, the less ‘present’ one can be with others, and vice versa.

When I notice the flag – when I catch that I am unconsciously focused on presenting myself – I have created a choice.

When I create this choice, I always choose being present over presenting myself.

This is because I value presence with others over how I present myself to others.

I am not saying you should value the same, but I do want you to have the choice.

COACHING QUESTIONS:

  • Where in your life are you concerned with how you are presenting yourself?
  • How is that concern stopping you from being as present with others as you could be?
  • Will you choose to instead focus your energy and intention on being fully present with others?

How to Connect With Potential Clients

The challenge of ‘connecting with potential clients’ reminds me of when my friend James once said to me:

“John: Your solution is the problem.”

I don’t remember what it was about when he said it, but the concept stuck with me and I see it often now.

In this situation though…

The desire is to grow your business.
The challenge is that you need more clients.
The solution is to connect with potential clients.
The problem is that you find it difficult or don’t know how.

What I am suggesting is that the problem of you finding it difficult or not knowing how to connect with people arises because your solution is, specifically, to connect with ‘potential clients’.

You are putting your desire to have more clients and your desire to grow your business inside the act of connecting with people.

Having self-interest as part of your intention while connecting with human beings makes connecting more difficult.

In other words…

Your ability to connect with human beings is inversely proportional to your desire to acquire from them. 

When you are trying to ‘connect with potential clients’, you are inadvertently carrying a desire to acquire and thus making it difficult for yourself.

You may post rationalise this difficulty as ‘not knowing how to do it’ or ‘having fear’, but really this is BS.

You already know how to connect with people and you do it well when there is nothing you want from them.

A metaphor I like that has me completely disconnect from any desire to acquire when connecting is to think of it as untangling and repairing an old box of Christmas lights (fairy lights).

When I think about who I want to reach out to, I like to think of it as looking for the next knot to untangle in the fairy lights. I’m just exploring. Just looking for the easiest NEXT place to loosen things up.

When I connect or re-connect with someone, I like to think of it as pulling out an old bulb and replacing it with a new one.

I keep doing this until every knot has come loose and every person on the string is lit up – until every relationship is glowing.

The light of these now active connections provides me with a whole new perspective. Just like a string of lights does, having that many relationships active in my life at one time also gives me a magical feeling.

Being connected creates a deep sense of wholeness.

Finally, with all that new light, I am better able to see where and how I can serve.

COACHING QUESTIONS:

  • Where are you making it difficult to connect with people because you are doing it with a specific intention in mind?
  • Are you willing to just plug bulbs in – are you willing to connect just for the sake of connection?

Be the Creator of Nothing

A few weeks ago I posted a video titled ‘Be the Creator of Everything’.

This is a way of being that I absolutely love. It is incredibly empowering and when I see the world in this way, the experience of crafting my life feels as blissful as painting or writing a song.

In a Facebook comment on this video, my friend Phil challenged me that it was a dangerous idea to think we make it rain; something that I had claimed to create.

I stopped myself from going down the philosophical tangent as to how – through a systemic, non-separate worldview, one could argue that I did make it rain – and instead considered the true essence of what he was saying.

Essentially, this was that believing we create everything can lead to an inflated ego. He rightfully pointed out that this is something we see a lot of in the ‘spiritual’ and ‘self help’ worlds.

Though I reminded Phil this is why I called ‘being the creator of everything’ a ‘delusion’, in hindsight, I did not focus enough on how important knowing this is a delusion is.

To explain, let me share another way of seeing the world that I equally value – being the creator of nothing.

When I sit in silent meditation or when I am alone in nature is when I experience this as most true.  In these moments, I begin to witness how everything on the outside world and the inside world is essentially happening all by itself.  When I sit long enough, I notice that even my thoughts are not something I am doing, but something that is happening to me.

With this way of experiencing reality – being the creator of nothing and instead simply being a guy along for the ride of a universe unfolding around me and inside my head – my attachment to outcome falls away.

Remembering this experience during my day-to-day living, I can then at any time choose the delusion that I am the creator of nothing. 

By being the creator of nothing, I create an unmatched experience of freedom.

Ironically, it is from this place of freedom – a freedom arising from a delusion – that I am then most likely to, once again, choose the delusion that I am the creator of everything. 

Like sitting down at a canvas or picking up a guitar, inside this new delusion, I then go on to craft something new in my life.

It is getting stuck somewhere in the middle of these two delusions that makes life difficult for me.

And it is swinging between them that makes it fun.

 

Coaching vs Therapy – What’s the Difference?

About ten years ago, when I was just getting started as a property developer, my SUV was making a clunking sound and there was some hesitation in acceleration.

I remember meeting Bobby, the mechanic. When we shook hands, his grip was tight and large around my hand. He asked me about my car’s history.

“What happened? When did it start? What makes it worse?” 

As I looked at Bobby in his faded Boston Red Sox cap, I told him about my problem and what I remembered from the past. I could see in his eyes that he was beginning to understand. He was seeing clues as to what caused the disorder in my car.

We took it for a drive. He wanted to see the problem in action. When we pulled back into his shop parking lot, I knew he’d cracked the case. Bobby told me it had to do with the transmission and would cost $1200 to fix. I smiled, nodding gently and then told him I wanted to get a second opinion.

I didn’t really want a second opinion. I knew he was right. What I was really thinking was, “Shit, I can’t afford that right now”.  All my money had  gone into a new project and I was running on fumes.

At the time, I had just gotten a ‘construction loan’ to buy a piece of land and build a house to sell. All the permits and lawyer fees to make it happen had drained my bank account.

Leaving Bobby’s shop, I drove out to the land for my next meeting. Jack, the carpenter, was sat in his pickup truck waiting for me.

He too was wearing a Boston Red Sox baseball cap. It was bit less faded than Bobby’s. Jack stepped from the truck and stretched out his hand. As I reached mine to meet it, I saw it was thick and strong like Bobby’s was.

Jack spoke loudly like Bobby did. He asked me about what I wanted to build.

“How big do you want it? What do you want it to look like? When do you want it built by?”

Through speaking with Jack, he and I both became more and more clear about my vision for the house I would build there. As we discussed what it would actually take for an entire house to be created, I got more and more clear of what it would require of me. I began to understand what I would need to invest financially, time-wise and energy-wise. I got that this was going to be a real commitment and that it was going to be a lot of work. I could also viscerally feel that it would be a real risk as to whether I’d profit from this. I’d already spent most of my money, was taking on debt and the market was peaking. I was scared, but I was also excited.

Fast forward six months…

On a blue sky afternoon of a cool day in October, I walked out of my lawyer’s office carrying a $104,000 check in my hand and a lightness in my chest. In my mind, I looked back on all the days of meeting people at the land and how the house that now stood strong there had come together, literally, piece by piece.

From there, I went straight to the bank and made my largest ever deposit. When I pulled back out into the street, my SUV coughed and made a grinding noise.

I thought about how it had gotten progressively worse over the past six months, but how since I was so focused on building the house, I hadn’t let it bother me. I had essentially just ignored the problem with my car.

However, I didn’t need the problem anymore. Still not even fully up to speed, I checked my mirror, braked and pulled directly into the next parking lot – a BMW dealership.

They said they’d give me just $3K for trading in my SUV since it needed a new transmission.

“Deal,” I said.

An hour later I was sat alone in a slick, brand new M3. When at the exit of the dealership, I pressed the accelerator, the car leaped onto the road. The purr was deep and as I entered the motorway, I could feel the growl of the engine through the floor and on my back.

I thought of Jack & Bobby – how similar they were as people, how they both worked with their hands and how their hands had grown thick and strong from doing that work. At the same time, I thought about how different their work was.

It is when I think back to what Jack does and what Bobby does that I am most able to understand the difference between being a ‘coach’ and being a ‘therapist’.

Personal Branding is for Cows, Not People

When a hot piece of iron singes through the fur of a cow’s hide and then hisses as it boils off the moisture in its flesh, it leaves a permanent scar.

Putting aside for a moment the barbarism of it, the fact that the scar is permanent is OK. A cow doesn’t change. A cow is a cow until it becomes a steak or a jacket.

However, for a person, the moment a ‘personal brand’ is applied, it becomes a lie. This is because people are constantly evolving.

I am NOT suggesting that we don’t speak out about who we are and what we do.

What I am saying is that the idea of a brand carries with it an essence of static-ness. This essence is what causes conflict for many people when trying to figure out their ‘personal brand’.

People aren’t permanent and deep down we know it.

To make it easier, and to stay in integrity, what we ‘speak out’ about who we are and what we do should be free to always evolve.

Also interesting is that many people (unconsciously) reference their past when speaking out about who they are and what they do. Not only are they singeing hot iron into their own flesh, but they are doing so with the mark of who they were instead of who they are becoming.

Forget branding yourself.

Speak out about who and what you are becoming and do that differently every day.

COACHING QUESTIONS:

  • What if instead of speaking out with the story of your remembered past, you spoke out with the story of your created future?
  • And if you allowed that story to evolve every day, what would that story be today?
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