How to change a habit…The #21days Challenge

How to change a habit…The #21days Challenge

It’s that old saying that comes to mind…if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got… yet we find it so difficult to break the habits we’ve become accustomed to and still we believe that tomorrow might just hold something different – why is this? Are we all stark raving mad? :)

Whether it be your business or your home life, I know you’ll have been wanting to make changes (probably for years). You’ll have thought about it time and time again but probably never got round to it. Let me guess; you’ll start tomorrow or perhaps New Year would be a good time or you’re going to start when someone else starts with you? Sound familiar? Before I go any further – I’m no different and this is the reason for this post!

A week or two ago Robert Pickstone (whom I know through Twitter) wrote an excellent post on his blog about the #21days challenge and created the hashtag for people to follow. He had read the book by Jack Russell , a Devon based motivational speaker, ‘Don’t tell the bumble bee’ (affiliate link) in which Jack explains that to successfully break a habit or make a change, a consistent period of 21 days of change is needed. Robert decided through social media, to pull people together and see how many he could get to take the challenge.  He now has a good 50+ people committing to start the #21days challenge from this Monday (28th June) and I will be one of them.

I met Jack Russell about 7 or 8 years ago and he inspired me too.  I’d not heard much about him in the last 5 years (he travels the world so it’s not surprising really) until I saw Robert’s post. I was genuinely excited. I commented back and started to help spread the message to my followers on Twitter.

I’m an open an honest person and am more than happy to share my challenge. I’m planning a two-parter which ties into both business and home life. I plan to address the work life balance first by changing my (somewhat ridiculous) working hours to make sure I’m in earlier in the morning and leaving no later than 6:30pm. I work late most nights which is not particularly healthy for anyone. With these new working hours I intend to change the first part of my day (the first hour before anyone else gets into work) into ‘marketing time’ – I will concentrate purely on the marketing of my business. I will not open up email or tweetdeck – it will be pure marketing time….let’s see how it goes. I’m quite excited!

Just before I submitted this post, I thought I’d give Jack a quick call to let him know what was going on and luckily I managed to get him on the phone. He’s about to go off for a couple of weeks running courses but was absolutely thrilled to hear about this challenge. He wished everyone taking part the very best of luck and hoped to be able to drop into Rob’s blog post to say hi to everyone when he was back. :)

So are you up for changing anything? If you are why not join us on the hashtag #21days. Get yourself over to Rob’s blog and tell everyone what your plan is, I hope to see you all there and good luck :)

Who do you surround yourself with? Oh and p.s. Happy New Year!

Who do you surround yourself with? Oh and p.s. Happy New Year!

Who do you surround yourself with? Have a think about it for a while – in business and your personal life…never underestimate the power of the connections you have both in and out of work and how these have a huge impact on your own life.

The people you interact with on a daily basis will change your perspective on the world, if they are negative people they could bring you down with them, if they are positive they will no doubt bring you up. Think of someone you know who is really positive and the feeling you get when around them – pretty good hey?

How are your relationships with others – what impact do you have on the people around you? Do you leave them with a happy feeling?

I’ll give you a secret, if you want to succeed or at the very least have a good life then surround yourself with successful and fun people and don’t spend your time with negative people who constantly try and bring you down. Now obviously this is not the easiest thing to do when so many of our relationships are carved out for us through work and life. For example, you probably can’t just get rid of that tricky client who always seems to be moaning, whatever you do or move away from the person you’re sat next to in the office because you don’t get on with them. However, there are some things you can do to help these situations, because ultimately, if you let them get you down then it will affect your work and life outlook and that’s not a good a thing.

Here are a few quick suggestions for how you can move towards a more fulfilling and successful career/life by surrounding yourself with positive people.

1). At Networking events don’t get stuck with people who simply spend their time selling ‘at you’. Politely move on and find people who are interested in your business and who have interesting businesses themselves. Spend your time cultivating these relationships.

2). I mentioned tricky clients and co-workers earlier in this post. Now some people just can’t be changed but quite often it’s simply a clash of personalities that drives a divide between people. Just for once, put pride aside and carry out a random act of kindness for the ‘tricky’ person in your life – buy them something – a good book or something else they’ve perhaps shown an interest in before. They won’t be expecting this and if this doesn’t change the relationship to a more positive one, maybe its time to consider leaving them be.

3). Pin point successful people as connections you want to make and work out how you can do so. Spending time with people that have already made it in business is one of the very best ways of learning – act like a sponge when you get these opportunities, soak in everything they tell you and try and use the time with them to learn as much as possible. I may well have built a couple of businesses from nothing in the last 10 years and be writing this blog from my experiences but when I recognise someone I could learn from, I’m quite literally, all ears.

4). Start a Master Mind group – I’m part of a couple of business groups which are essentially mastermind groups. The idea of these groups is different to networking – they work on the premise that more heads are better than one – if you sit down with other successful people and talk about your businesses you will learn more from what other people think about your business than you realise – It’s amazing what fresh set of eyes will see. I strongly recommend getting involved in a group like this and if you don’t know where to find one, start one (I did!).

5). Start a lunch/diner club with your best friends. The feeling you have when you’re out with your best friends is one of the best you can get so why not do it more often. As I’ve got older, my friends have all grown up, moved in with spouses/had kids and moved away. We have a group which meets up every quarter (generally in London) for a lunch/dinner at one of the best restaurants in town. It might not sound like anything special but its all in the setup – everyone has to pay in a set amount of money each month on DD and if they miss the event, the money stays in the fund. This eradicates most excuses believe me. We have one that flies back from Malta and one will soon be coming back from New York for this amazing day out. I hope that at least one person reading this blog sets a similar thing up – I promise you its worth it.

That’s just a few suggestions for living a more positive life through better connections and relationships. If you have some suggestions yourself that I’ve not listed then please do let me have them as I’m always keen to learn :)

Use a mirror not a magnifying glass

Today I have the pleasure of another fantastic post by Rachel Willis. As you read this, don’t sit there and think you’re an angel that never acts like this – I’m sure if we are all honest, we’re all guilty of it. I’ve been working a lot this year on positive, or in Gitomers language, (YES!) attitude because I understand, just how much a bit of negativity can spread – especially if you work in an office with lots of people. Just think how different the atmosphere at work is when everyone is upbeat compared to those days when everyone has a ‘screw face’. I’m certainly not perfect, but I’m working on it and know that if everyone is positive then it’s conducive to a far better working atmosphere – leading to more efficient teams and workflow. A large part of this attitude is about how you relate to other people – enjoy Rachel’s post and more importantly – ACT on it today!


How often do we find ourselves wound up by a colleague, partner, family member, friend or even stranger? And how often do we rant, rave and blame that person for what they said or did? Going over and over it in our heads or with an unfortunate friend, building a watertight case for the prosecution?

In these situations, we could most likely list – in minute detail – all the things that are considered wrong with what they said or did, and we lay the blame firmly at their door.

We have looked at them with a magnifying glass and found every conceivable speck of dirt.

However, rather than viewing these situations as a bothersome conflict in your life, we can instead see them as a valuable learning exercise.

The next time you find yourself getting annoyed with someone, why not use a mirror rather than a magnifying glass, and see exactly what it is about what this person said or did that irritates you?

We often like to blame others rather than see the less-than-perfect parts of ourselves. It is easier that way. But by avoiding looking in the mirror, we miss the opportunity to evolve and uncover our hidden desires in life.

It may be that your boss asks you to get a report finished ahead of an already tight schedule. The magnifying glass shows them as demanding, unfair and selfish. However, the mirror shows us that we don’t like being told what to do and part of us yearns to be our own boss and not have to take orders.

Or it may be that you find yourself irately watching TV when your spouse returns home late from a night out with colleagues after work. The magnifying glass shows a thoughtless, disrespectful and insensitive partner. The mirror shows us that we don’t like sitting at home alone and would actually value a wider circle of friends to socialise and have fun with.

Therefore, conflict shines light on important areas and unmet needs that will only disappear when addressed directly.

So next time you find yourself about to launch an attack on someone – whether silently or out loud – consider which of your buttons they are pressing, be grateful to them for highlighting these unmet needs, and instead take a step towards fulfilling them.

Rachel Willis

5 Excellent Experiences

Not enough people write/talk about excellent experiences in my opinion. It seems its much easier to write negatively about poor quality & service than it is to praise people. This is such a shame – if you read and hear negative comments everywhere then its going to have a negative impact on your own attitude. Today, I want to tell you about 5 excellent experiences I’ve had recently – perhaps you and your business can learn from these and maybe even implement some changes which will see real positive impact for you.

1). Apple Shop – Exeter – Ok so it doesn’t need to be Exeter but that’s the one I go to regularly. From the moment you walk in the door you are greeted by two members of staff, this makes you feel welcome and in the mood for buying…how easy is that for a retail business!  Then, if you’ve not been to a store before, on your first purchase, you find that you can pay for your goods with any of the roving shop assistants – yes you don’t even have to walk to a till anymore (and they email you your receipt)! I’d urge anyone that’s not been to an Apple shop, even if you’re not an apple fan to go in and experience the whole model – I believe that any business owner can learn a lot from Apple and the store model is really quite something.

2). Reiss – Exeter – I popped into Reiss the other day to look around. Admittedly there were only a few people in the store but the member of staff gave me his full attention and rather than the boring, typical, ‘are you ok there’ and getting the just as typical ‘yeah I’m just looking’ response he started to suggest what might look good on me and what goes with other things I’d shown an interest in. He asked what sort of thing I was looking for and then helped me with suggestions – needless to say, he made a sale! It constantly amazes me how many staff in retail shops are from the same mold – if you want to make sales, differentiate yourself and watch your numbers go sky high. In this case, I was so impressed with this guy that I purposely asked for the manager of the store and told her about how well treated I’d been and how good a member of staff that guy was – I just hope it made it back to him.

3). Appliance Care – Exeter – Some say that if you take your broken TV to a centre like this then you expect to have it repaired :) Yes, I agree, but it was the circumstances around this visit that amazed me. Samsung suggested I used this independent company. They didn’t know I was turning up. I arrived at about 9:30am on a busy Monday morning and they asked me to leave the TV with them. To be honest I thought it was likely to be gone a day or two but at 11am I had a phone call saying, ‘Mr Banks, your TV is ready’ – Awesome.

4). The Georgian Townhouse – Newark – When I’m travelling on business I’m not fussy about where I stay – generally I’ll get to my destination late, be up early and off again. All I need is a clean place to put my head with breakfast in the morning and decent parking. I travelled up to Newark this week to see a client near Nottingham and Linda, my PA, booked me into a Georgian townhouse. It was absolutely lovely! All the little details had been thought of: outstanding quality beds, amazing linen, spotless/minimalist decor, a breakfast fit for a king with a choice of everything you could imagine, a communal room for working/reading in (which I used in the morning), bottles of mineral water in the room when you arrived, good quality soaps and shampoos (not that cheap tat you often get) and lovely hosts. That night (B & B) cost me just £65! I will now tell everyone I know going to Nottingham/Newark to stay there and all because of the small details….look out for them in your business, they can mean the difference between someone passing your name on or not.

5). Giraffe – Exeter (and other outlets) I enjoy dining at Giraffe in Exeter – Its one of my favourite choices for coffee if meeting people and the food is great if you want to eat as well. However, its not so much the experience of the outlet I want to mention today – its the experience of the marketing that Giraffe’s (obviously clued up team) carry out. They have embraced the power of the web for one – They have a great website and twitter feed (where they actually engage with their customer base). They understand the power of email marketing, regularly sending out offers for dining – two for ones are not uncommon. Most of the guys in my office subscribe to these updates and when the offers come in, the guys are out the door and down to the local outlet for a spot of lunch – that’s what its all about. I tell you what, there are not very many places doing this kind of thing out there, lets hope more wise up to this clever and cost effective marketing soon. Well done Giraffe :)

I hope you’ve found my top 5 excellent experiences fun and useful – I would strongly suggest that you see if any of these ideas can be rolled out in your business and one day, someone like me, might just blog about you – After all, if you have a website you want to get listed in the search engines, you’ll know its all about the link juice baby! :)