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"Failing" on the Fourth Day

I hate failure. Always have. Now I'm accepting that it is happening regularly in my attempts to make a significant change.

I'm realising that awareness is the first step and so I'm learning to be patient but persistent.

I've taken on Will Bowen's challenge to go 21 days without complaining. Last Saturday I got to 4 days (furthest I'd managed in a month!). Then I blew it and quickly knew it.

Jane and I were in the supermarket. We sometimes argue over what goes in the trolley.

I strive to reject unhealthy foods in the supermarket, partly because I find it harder to say "no" to them at home (where I think "I want it ... I shouldn't have it ... but we've bought it now so we'd better not waste it")

Identity is More Effective than Willpower

I made it!

At 51, it was my first ever attempt to give something up for Lent. I chose sugar (which essentially meant no sweets, chocolate, biscuits, cake, desserts or drinks containing added sugar) which I thought was a good challenge for someone with a sweet tooth.

At the end of the 46 days I was able to enjoy having the Green & Blacks Dark Chocolate Easter Egg from my wife, but I didn't feel the urge to binge on sugary foods. I've returned to having most sweet things ... but perhaps not as much as before.

As mentioned in a previous blog, I found it interesting that I didn't need a lot of willpower.

Most of us would recognise that having to apply a lot of willpower suggests an internal struggle between aspects of ourselves. I've recently learned that this has been proven to deplete our mental, emotional and physical reserves.

Go on ... Nobody would ever know!

Lent Day 4.

Some friends come over for dinner. Dessert looks great but I'm able to calmly refuse it in line with my commitment to giving up sugary foods including chocolates. Our friends bring over a box of beautiful chocolate truffles and my wife suggests that perhaps I could have "just one". I say "no" to demonstrate my commitment.

And then some hours later, I find myself all alone with the opened box ....

The voice of temptation starts up: "Those are really good quality truffles, you love them and you've been really good so far, so go on just have one. Nobody need know!"

Now I have to admit that I went very close to "sneaking" one!

But who am I trying to fool? And why am I doing this whole Lent thing anyway? Nobody else really gives a damn whether I do it or not.

The whole purpose is to demonstrate to myself that I can rise above the temptation.

If I "cheat", then the only person I'm really letting down is me!

The Power of a Decision

It's only early days but I noticed something very interesting yesterday.

Having made the decision to give up sugary food for Lent, I experienced the power of clarity and it was very liberating.

Normally, I would have had a brief tussle between two internal voices.

One would be like a small demanding child saying, "I want to have that!"

The other would be the controlling parent saying, "I shouldn't have that and I don't really need it"

More often than not, the needy demanding child within would win the battle.

Can you resist temptation? Can I?

At the age of 51, I'm about to do something I've never done before. Join me on my journey to see how hard or easy I find it...

I grew up in a family that followed the tenets of Christianity. I recall my dad once giving up meat for Lent (a big step for an Australian farmer who had a plentiful supply of quality fresh beef and lamb!).

Happy Birthday Crowdcube!

With catastrophic failures in the financial system and diminishing trust of big business it is hardly surprising that people are looking at other ways of borrowing, lending, investing and raising capital. Today is the first birthday of Crowdcube, the world's first equity based crowdfunding platform.

If you want to know more, take a look at http://www.crowdcube.com/infographic I love the way they've made investing and raising capital much simpler for people and I hope they go from strength to strength. I say that because I love the concept (and also because I have invested in them myself!)

Two Words to Help You Do Amazing New Things!

Last week, we took our 10 year old, Matthew, to view a secondary school that he might go to. When we saw a beautifully drawn picture of a human hand done by one of the art students, Matthew declared, "I couldn't do that" and, feeling inadequate, immediately left the room.

Instead of seeing his possibility, he saw his inability. He completely missed the exciting point that this was a place where he could learn to do things like that!

When marvelling at the skill of another (e.g. in singing, drawing, dancing, writing, or technology), have you ever made the mistake of thinking, "I could never do that"?

Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck noticed the difference between a "fixed mindset" and a "growth mindset". Now people may vary in their innate abilities and potential, but which of these mindsets they choose can have a huge impact.

People with a fixed mindset assume their capabilities are already set. They therefore place a limit on themselves and will miss opportunities.

Those with a growth mindset recognise that application and experience enables them to achieve more in life. And so they usually do!

Getting More Women into the Boardroom

On Wednesday evening I attended a private reception in London with many business leaders for an open discussion about the future role of women on boards. The discussion centred around the best way to implement the recommendations of the Davies Report (http://tinyurl.com/5tuws26).

But one thing puzzled me about this event: where were all the men?

At first I thought not many of us had been invited which I felt simply reinforces the problem of a lack of shared understanding and lack of commitment to change. It turned out that many men had been invited but hadn't turned up.

Does that suggest they are less concerned? After all, it doesn't impact their lives.

Or does it?

The Forces For and Against Change

Following an email from Neil Croft of Authenticis, I found myself looking at the websites www.positivemoney.org.uk (a campaign to "fix the banking system so that it works for society and not against it") and www.bendyson.com. Ben Dyson (not bendy son!) is driving a campaign to bring change in the way our banking system operates. We may desperately need change, but bringing it about will requires an understanding of the powerful forces AGAINST change and effectiveness in mobilising the forces FOR change.

Dyson convincingly argues with powerful data that the banking crisis and government bailout has serious implications for society and for the next generation. It is interesting that legislation around control of the printing of money was created long before the digital age. Most money today is digital, not paper and metal. This means private banks can legally produce more money at an accelerating pace and create instability as we've seen recently.

If you don't ask ...

Last week, my eldest son, James turned 16. Just six days later he got his first paid job. How? Well let me first tell you how he nearly DIDN'T get it.

If you have teenage children you know that they can start to get more expensive.

We were keen to see James start doing some part time work. Not just to give him some extra money but to help him: (1) gain experience working with others to create value in exchange for payment (2) appreciate the value of money (3) build confidence in his capacity to go out to work.

James was interested in getting some part time work (especially as some of his friends have started part time jobs while they study) but was perhaps a little fearful of the unknown and/or rejection, like many of us are.