How to accept others

One of the biggest problems we can face as business owners and is judging and not being accepting of other people. We’ve all done it at some time or another and it’s probably happened to us too.

We have different personalities, different morals and ethics and we often have a different outlook and approach on many things in life, but how do we put those things to one side and become more accepting of each other to work towards a more common and positive goal?

In this episode, I am going to tell you how. 

Whether in business or in life we learn through or own experiences and we are shaped to become who we are as a result of what we have been through. The trouble is it’s not always the best thing for us and just because we do things that way it doesn’t mean it’s the only way.

If at work you’re all action and don’t suffer fools lightly, but you find it hard to switch that off and become accepting and more open when you’re at home then it can lead to problems.

Having a sharp and direct approach with people may work in the boardroom but not with your friends and loved ones.

Too often we take the expectations and values we hold ourselves accountable too and put them onto others, expecting them to behave as we do and failing to accept anyone different.

If that’s something you struggle with try my top tips to help you become a more rounded and welcoming and more accepting of others for who they are.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat

Possibly one of the hardest things we can do is to be honest with ourselves and to take a long hard look in the mirror, admitting that as much as we may think we do, we don’t know everything.

There is, after all, more than one way to skin a cat.

When I think of my own sporting experiences I can think of two coaches that I had who employed very different coaching styles but with the same goal in mind and who achieved very similar results.

One of them was a kind, caring, nurturing type of coach that put his arm around you as a player and helped to get the best out of each individual. He focussed on skill development, team cohesion and putting it all together to achieve the end result.

The other coach was the polar opposite, focusing on hard work and being mentally tough, employing some very questionable tactics to get us to function as a team.

He would shout, swear and throw things to get his point across and he wanted us to humiliate the opposition every time we played.

He would light a fire under any player that he felt wasn’t giving maximum effort and he had no time for players that weren’t meeting his standards.

The same can be said of business and the leadership styles of people like Steve Jobs at Apple who by many accounts, despite being successful, is cast as a Tyrant, whereas Tim Cook who is now at the helm, is referred to as charismatic and thoughtful with a very different leadership style.

Accepting that you don’t know everything and that there are different ways of achieving the same result is one of the first steps to making you more accepting of others.

You can only change yourself 

Unless you are actively involved in trying to change and become better people (as you are now) it is not often that people actually change for the better.

Despite our best efforts people are always going to revert back to what they know and their default settings, therefore it’s worth remembering that all you can really do is show others the way but ultimately you have no control over what they do, you can only change yourself.

By adopting and modelling positive behaviours you can hopefully highlight the right path but whether or not they take it is up to them.

It’s also worth remembering tip 1 (you don’t know everything), so rather than focussing on trying to change others, focus your energy on self-improvement.

Look for the positives

This was something I learned as a coach when trying to deal with different players on my team and different personalities.

People respond differently in different situations and although some people may like the straight-talking, cut to the point, blunt analysis of their misgivings, most people do not.

Instead of focussing on why someone is different, or the negative things you don’t like about them, focus on their positives and what you do like about them.

Not accepting others is often a result of solely focussing on their negatives.

Stop judging a book by its cover

It’s easy to silently judge people that you meet without even thinking about it. Instead, fix your mindset and your thought process to stop doing this. Start to change your thoughts to a more accepting view and move away from judgemental thinking.

Avoid right/wrong 

In today’s world it’s easy to see the world as binary, you’re either right or you’re wrong and there’s no other option but that’s not the case and not how life works.

If you stop accepting your actions as right, and taking everyone else’s as wrong, then you will soon start to see that there are more ways of looking at things and other ways of doing things.

Put yourself in their shoes

This is a key aspect of accepting others and can take many different forms.

Reverse the situation and put yourself in their shoes.

How would you feel if someone was judging you and not accepting of you?

How would you feel if someone got on your back for no apparent reason?

How would you feel if someone were constantly focussing on your negatives and looking past your positives?

If you’re going to be more accepting of others its time you started to put yourself in their shoes and looked at it from the other side of the coin.

Final thoughts – Start with yourself

When it comes to accepting others it often comes back to accepting yourself first.

If you can learn to stop judging yourself and to let go of the past, focussing on the now, you can start to become more accepting of others for who they are and what they can offer.

Remember you’re not always right, you don’t know everything and other people have valid points too.

With that in your mind, you can start on your path to becoming a more accepting and caring person.

8 Tips to Increase Your Productivity

We can always be more productive, more energetic, and more focused. Having a plan and practicing daily management is key to optimising your productivity and winning every day.

The following is adapted from The 4 Keys.

We can always be more productive, more energetic, and more focused. Having a plan and practicing daily management is key to optimising your productivity and winning every day.

Fortunately, there are eight simple tips you can follow to increase your productivity that will leave you feeling empowered rather than drained:

Identify Your Productivity Style

The way you schedule your day and attack productivity may be affected by the type of person you are. You may be process-driven, results-driven, consensus-driven, or image-driven, and the corresponding traits can help you in some cases and hold you back in others when it comes to managing your schedule for maximum productivity and goal management.

Whether you’re motivated by concern about how you appear to others or purely focused on achieving results, a procrastinator who spends too much time on process without taking any action or is so reflective that you’re stuck in the moment or is mostly concerned with the impact you have on other people, your style may or may not serve you.

Set Small Business Goals

Each of The 4 Keys—business, body, relationships, and mindset—plays a role in your productivity. For your business goal, you can start your day by learning something new that’s in line with your vision for your work. Listen to a podcast, read a post, write a blog, or create a video.

Stay in Shape

For your body key, get your heart rate up early in the day. Whether you’re training for a triathlon and you need to practise high-intensity endurance training, you’re brand new to trying to get in shape, or you’re somewhere in the middle, find the training that works for you.

It could be 20 minutes in the gym or on a run, or it could be a five- or ten-minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT) session. If you have a stationary bike, hop on for five or ten minutes and get your heart pounding before you jump in the shower. All the research shows that getting your heart rate up in the morning is good for your cognitive function and your mental health, as well as the physical benefits. Don’t forget nutrition too. Make sure you eat a healthful breakfast to fuel your body properly for the day ahead.

Maintain Your Relationships

Healthy relationships make you feel more secure and supported, which in turn can help you be more productive. You can hit the relationship key by being present with your partner and children. Be thankful and loving towards them and let them know how much you value them. Pitch in and do your fair share regarding housework and parenting. Send your loved one an early morning text or leave a note to let them know you’re thinking of them.

Keep a Balanced Mindset

For your mindset key, get into your calm, pregame state. Spend five minutes or longer deep-breathing or try a five-minute meditation – whatever works for you. Be aware of what causes you stress too. If a certain part of your commute causes a lot of frustration, see if there’s another route you can take. It may take longer to get to the office, but leaving a few minutes earlier each day may be worth it if you arrive in a calmer state of mind. Get calm, clear, focused, and mentally prepared to face your daily challenges.

Develop a Routine

We’re all different, so develop a routine you can stick to that fits your lifestyle. Once this routine becomes habit, you’ll do it automatically. Try it for 21 days and you’ll see it gets easier as it becomes habitual, and you’ll also start seeing the benefits. If you hold on to the idea of hitting your four keys daily, you will move forward. If you take care of the days, the years will take care of themselves.

Work Within Productivity Periods

Chunking your day into ‘periods’ helps you stay organised, makes it easier to stay on task with your objectives, and increases your productivity. I split my day into four periods. Period 1 is pre-8 a.m. During this time, hit at least one of The 4 Keys before you leave the house and then follow through with the rest of your morning routine.

Period 2 is 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. This and Period 3 comprise the prenoon chunks when you should focus on non-urgent tasks.

Period 3 is 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and, like Period 2, is reserved for important but non-urgent activities. This is where the hard work is.

Period 4 is noon onward. During this time, you need to identify what things you need to do, and by what time. Period 4 is reserved for urgent tasks that have to be completed. It’s also for those things you really enjoy doing or get the biggest sense of achievement from.

Add Apps to Your Toolkit

Productivity apps are great. I used Minimalist for writing my book, following the Pomodoro method. Evernote, Asana, and Basecamp are useful project-management apps, particularly if you’re working collaboratively. They help keep you and your team on task and your projects well organised. For personal productivity, there are a range of apps that can help, like those that let you chunk your time into 90-minute intervals, or the 25/5 Pomodoro method, which involves working for 25 minutes, then taking a five-minute break.

By working these tips into your daily routine, you can enjoy a productivity boost with little extra stress.

For more advice on career performance, you can find The 4 Keys on Amazon.

Andrew Sillitoe is a business psychologist, author, and speaker. His innovative approach to leadership and work-life balance has earned him invitations to work with a range of global companies, including Pfizer, Nationwide, Virgin, and the BBC. Today Andrew runs the UK’s number-one training company for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to succeed in business, health, relationships, and mindset.

The 4 Keys on Amazon

How Your Stories Shape You

The following is adapted from The 4 Keys.

In 2014 I was hired to coach a team of about 17 people in the Middle East, and a man named Ajay was the team leader. My first task was getting everyone on the team to open up to one another. It was a cultural melting pot of a team, with Palestinians, Swedes, Germans, English, Americans, and Jordanians. I told Ajay that I had an exercise that would be useful to get people to start talking, but he said, ‘No, no, no. I’ve got this exercise. I’ll start by talking about my family, and we’ll all do it, one by one.’ He stood up and reeled off facts about his family, like he’s got two children, a wife, and so on. All 17 of them then did this in turn, and I did it too. It was incredibly awkward and impersonal. The exercise fell flat, and I went on to do the day’s team coaching.

Then we did a psychometric evaluation with Ajay and all the members of the team to try and learn more about each other. Later, I had to meet Ajay in an Istanbul hotel to go through his psychometric results and the feedback from his team, moving this to an executive coaching role. Ajay hadn’t booked a meeting room, so he upgraded his hotel room to a suite, and the two of us sat in his suite and went through the feedback, none of which was new or surprising. Ajay was a seasoned team leader, and I thought the conversation would go nowhere. This was before my TEDx Talk, so I’d never really opened up with a coaching client, but in an impromptu moment, I said, ‘Ajay, let me explain why I do what I do.’

I told him about my dad, and as I finished, Ajay looked down at his feet. I knew it was random to sit in a Turkish hotel suite, telling a client who I had formed a good relationship with this personal story about my dad. During an awkward silence, I thought Ajay might be thinking it was inappropriate. He went very quiet. Then he told me about his father and why perfection, resilience, and working hard were so important to him.

Ajay’s father migrated during India Partition and survived the genocide. He was forced to hide beneath a pile of dead bodies until the mass killings stopped. He managed to escape across the border, where he met his wife. As Ajay talked, he started to cry, then said, ‘Andrew, I don’t do this. I don’t cry.’ He left the room for the bathroom. When he returned, I told him that he had to tell his team this story. They needed to hear more than dry facts, and they needed to see behind this polished exterior of the man who pushed them to complete their work without ever making a personal connection with any of them.

I coached and prepped him, helping him relate the extraordinary tale in a real way that let him express the depth of emotion and let his audience connect with it. Once he voiced his story to the team, the dynamics changed. They changed completely. There had been distance and a degree of uncertainty from his team, but on hearing why he strived so hard for perfection, why he behaved a certain way, and why delivering brilliant service was so important, they understood him and bought into him.

It took me six months, two trips to Dubai, and two trips to Turkey, but I eventually got all 17 team members to share their own stories, passions, and motivations.

Getting clear on the stories that shaped you and how they shaped you is crucial for business leaders because it helps others understand you, connect with you, and ultimately, believe in you. Stories still deliver data and facts, but they do it in a deeper, more meaningful way. Our stories make sense of what we have become as we can make the necessary changes that will have a positive impact on our lives and the lives of those around us. By doing so, you’ll experience a shift in how people respond to you.

For example, I have noticed a direct correlation between improved client engagement and my TEDx Talk. The best talk I ever gave happened when the technology wasn’t working, so I couldn’t show my 10 slides. I had to describe them through storytelling. Now I never use slides. I just tell the story, and people connect with it.

For more advice on career performance, you can find The 4 Keys on Amazon.

Andrew Sillitoe is a business psychologist, author, and speaker. His innovative approach to leadership and work-life balance has earned him invitations to work with a range of global companies, including Pfizer, Nationwide, Virgin, and the BBC. Today Andrew runs the UK’s number-one training company for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to succeed in business, health, relationships, and mindset.

The 4 Keys on Amazon

8 Steps to Break Your Negative Patterns

Living by the foundations—do the work, no excuses, always ready, and speak the truth—gives you the power to break the negative patterns that restrict you and impact those around you. You’ll be able to develop new habits and behaviours that serve you much better.

Follow these eight steps to replace your negative patterns with positive alternatives:

Don’t Project Your Negative Experiences

My dad was a great cricketer at one point in his life. If he’d wanted to, he could have at least played at county level. One day, when I was about ten, I said to him, ‘Dad, I really love cricket. There’s a local club I’d like to join. I think I’m pretty good at this.’ He turned to me and said, ‘Yeah, you’ll never play cricket.’ This stung, more so because it was so out of character for my usually optimistic and supportive father.

Years later, after my dad died, I was watching pro ice hockey on TV with my granddad. I said, ‘I’m going to play in that league one day.’ He turned to me and said, ‘You’ll never play in that league.’ It was like a lightbulb went on. I asked Granddad about Dad’s cricket, and he was dismissive and negative, focusing on the times my dad misbehaved or didn’t show up. All those years ago, my dad had simply been repeating a pattern. He was projecting onto me the very same experience he’d had with his own dad.

Make a Conscious Effort to Be Positive and Supportive

To break away from that negative cycle, I’ve always made a conscious effort to be positive and supportive with my children because I don’t want to recreate that pattern and project my negative experience onto them. This is a prime example of letting go of things that don’t serve us and also of how we can use negative experiences to shape ourselves in a positive way. There are still times when I try to justify my behaviour because I think my dad would respect it or encourage it. Then I realise that if I’m having to justify it to myself, that doesn’t sit comfortably with me and doesn’t fit with my values.

Make Choices Based on Your New Values

When you’re starting to make changes, there’s a tension between your ingrained, hardwired behaviours based on instinct and experience, which take over when you’re in the moment, and the pre-frontal cortex that engages with values and thought-based decision-making. But as you get used to making choices based on your new-found values, those values become more habitual and instinctive, so they will become your go-to, in-the-moment behaviours. The brain is plastic and malleable, and it’s this neuroplasticity that allows us to make these changes.

Instil Action and Real Change

Run-of-the-mill coaching, whether it’s in sports, business, or life-coaching, can get a little bit stale and wishy-washy. It’s often all style and no substance, just empty words that sound great but don’t instil action and real change.

Find Out What Works and What Doesn’t

My philosophy is that we’re all here, all experiencing life, so let’s be honest. Let’s speak the truth about how we feel and behave. Find out what’s working and what isn’t. Identify the change we want to make.

Consider How You Make Others Feel

On a deeper level, living with proper values that drive you isn’t so much about what you do or say, but more about how you make other people feel. I don’t remember a lot of details about that conversation with my dad about me playing cricket. What really stands out for me is how he made me feel. He made me feel like I just wasn’t good enough. If my dad were still alive, I doubt he’d even remember that conversation because, as adults, we often don’t think about what we say. A flippant comment like that stays with a child and can have a huge impact as they mature.

Has there been a time in your life when you experienced a similar event? Do you think it’s affected the way you behave or the core values you adopted? Would you like to redefine those values to better suit your vision? You can do this. You are not wedded to old values that hold you back.

Earn People’s Trust

Adopting the foundations will make the people around you feel better because they will know they can trust you. Think about it: if you always do the work, make no excuses, are always ready and completely honest about how you feel and what you want in life, the people around you will come to know you as a person they can rely on who won’t mislead them or put them in uncomfortable or precarious situations.

This goes both ways: if the people around you also live by these values, you will feel better because you’ll be able to trust them and be better prepared to predict your day-to-day outcomes with them – no unwelcome surprises. Those feelings are what hardwire the brain and shape who you are, especially as a growing child; but you can change your brain, remember? And if your way of thinking is holding you back, you need to change your way of thinking.

Don’t Hold Grudges

One last point I would like to make here is that I don’t hold a grudge against my parents for anything they did to shape me during my upbringing, especially anything that didn’t serve me as a child or later as an adult. Being a parent is hard, and I believe most parents want their children to be happy. My mum gave me the power to be a free thinker, which has had an incredibly positive impact on my life. She has been completely non-judgemental and allowed me the freedom to learn from my own mistakes. She very rarely held me accountable, and whilst this instilled some poor behaviours, I wouldn’t change it all.

I also see the positive impact she has on my eldest daughter, Izzie, who is 19. My mother is the strongest person I know, and she continues to empower me. She survived all the tough times of my early years, lost her husband, my dad, and she lost an eye to cancer. We love each other unconditionally, and that absolute love is a pattern I chose to repeat with my own children.

Empowerment and free thinking are also essential qualities in business leaders. Not only must you be strong and mentally agile, but to be truly successful and build the strongest teams, you must be able to empower those around you, encouraging rather than stifling ideas, independent thought, and creativity.

For more advice on career performance, you can find The 4 Keys on Amazon.

Andrew Sillitoe is a business psychologist, author, and speaker. His innovative approach to leadership and work-life balance has earned him invitations to work with a range of global companies, including Pfizer, Nationwide, Virgin, and the BBC. Today Andrew runs the UK’s number-one training company for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to succeed in business, health, relationships, and mindset.

The 4 Keys on Amazon

4 Steps to Reset Your Life 

True change takes time, but you can get a powerful start by following a personalized 90-day plan. There isn’t one right way to create your plan, but you can begin your own 90-Day Reset with the following steps.

Step 1: What is the Single Biggest Challenge You Are Facing Right Now?

It’s likely that you have many challenges, but I’m asking you to focus on one per key. This may be difficult for you to decide, but I encourage you to choose the one challenge you believe will have the biggest impact within each key in the next 90 days.

If you’re like most entrepreneurs and business leaders, there are many things that keep you up at night. This is often referred to as the ‘3 a.m. club’. They lie wide awake, wondering how the hell they’re going to fix some of the challenges they face…sound familiar?

It’s no wonder we don’t have the headspace for the other facets of our lives when running a business. I sometimes think it would be much easier to get a nine-to-five job with a boss telling me what to do and avoid the stress of leading a team or running a business. But, like you, I appreciate the upside of working with my team and running my own business.

You won’t be able to fix everything in your life and business, but you’ll be able to focus on the other problems you’re facing in your next 90-Day Reset. One reset at a time, and you’ll experience dramatic progress. Take on too much at once, and you could be overwhelmed.

I started my first coaching business at 22. It was called Let’s Get Rolling. I specialised in roller-hockey tuition, and I organised hockey schools throughout the UK. I loved it. The problem was scaling the business. All the work was on weekends, apart from school holidays.

The business was built around my name, and the clubs and players wanted me to run the camps. It was impossible to scale. I would lie awake at night thinking about creating a tutorial video which would help me reach more people and scale the business, but I never did. It was an idea that never turned into action. Like many entrepreneurs, I was focused on urgent matters and letting the opportunity to tackle non-urgent projects that could make a vast difference in my business slip away.

Fast-forward 20 years, and I found that I had the exact same problem with Get Fit To Win. I realised I would never achieve my purpose of enabling one million business owners to live the lives they want if I couldn’t scale the business. This had other implications, such as time away from home and staying healthy on the road.

Step 2: What Is Your Desired Outcome in 90 Days?

In this step, you will start to think about your desired outcome. It doesn’t need to be metric-focused at this stage; it is about what you want to improve in your business and life. You may focus on how you want to feel or make others feel.

Step 3: What Are Your Options and Ideas?

What options and ideas do you have that will help you achieve your desired outcome?

This is where you get creative by giving yourself five minutes to come up with as many ideas as you can to achieve your desired outcome. This time limit keeps you from overthinking and motivates you to think and write. This is a brainstorming session, and there are no bad ideas at this point, so don’t second-guess or judge yourself. At this stage, you are not committing to anything. Capture the ideas you think will help you achieve your desired outcome in a journal.

Then, follow up on some of your ideas. Do some online research, get some feedback from friends and colleagues, or speak with someone you know who has already achieved similar goals.

Step 4: Turn Your Ideas into SMART Targets

By now, you have identified your single biggest challenge in each of your four keys, and you have also identified your desired outcomes and brainstormed ideas for each one. Now it’s time to commit and go all in. You may find this part easy, or you may have found the process frustrating. Well done for being patient with the steps! Or you may find this part difficult, as now it is time to get results-focused so you can pull the trigger and make your desired outcomes a reality.

You may also be thinking, I can’t choose one idea. I need to do them all.This is where you get disciplined and choose the option that will move you forward the most in 90 days. Remember, you will be able to focus on others in your next 90-Day Reset. Be patient with yourself. If you think you have the capacity to take on more SMART targets in each key, then go for it.

You need to decide on the best ideas and turn them into SMART targets, making each one specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant, and giving each target a time frame. Once you’ve got all those ideas, take a step back and review them. Identify which one, in each key, you want to commit to for the next 90 days. Then make it a SMART goal:

  • Specific. This involves establishing how you’ll accomplish your desired outcome. What steps will you take? What will you focus on? What are your deliverables? Don’t be vague.
  • Measurable. How is the target measurable? How will you know if you’re winning? Can you measure and track your success?
  • Attainable. Is your goal attainable? Do you have the resources? The capacity? The skills? If you haven’t got the resources, where will you find them? It is about making it happen, not making excuses. Time is also a factor here, but I’m going to arm you with some brilliant productivity tips, so you’ll be able to find the time to achieve your desired outcome.
  • Relevant. Are your specific targets and choices relevant to your vision and purpose? Do they fit with your why? Will it get you closer to that vision in 90 days?
  • Time frame. What will you achieve in 30 days and in 60 days so you know you are tracking to achieve your target in 90 days?

Be realistic but ambitious about your 90-day plan, and it will serve as a powerful jumpstart as you pursue your long-term goals.

For more advice on career performance, you can find The 4 Keys on Amazon.

Andrew Sillitoe is a business psychologist, author, and speaker. His innovative approach to leadership and work-life balance has earned him invitations to work with a range of global companies, including Pfizer, Nationwide, Virgin, and the BBC. Today Andrew runs the UK’s number-one training company for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to succeed in business, health, relationships, and mindset.

The 4 Keys on Amazon