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a blog by Chris Barrow

The Perfect Imperfectionist – Step 4 of 11

When the late Thomas Leonard published “The Portable Coach” in November 1999, it was quickly devoured by the over 5000 coaches that he had helped train in the early 90’s. Thomas had a reputation for not just “thinking outside the box” – he just tore up the rule book and started again – a sheer inspiration to many, like me, who were building a coaching career. Take a look above at the first of his 28 strategies: Step 1 – Become incredibly selfish It jars the senses doesn’t it? Surely not? Surely “selfish” is the poorest of human characteristics – the stuff of expense-fiddling MP’s and Maserati-driving City louts? Thomas proposed an alternative definition. That we best serve those for whom we are responsible when we practice what he described as “extreme self-care”. I want you to invest 80% of your time in practicing extreme self care. It starts with the more obvious stuff:

  1. balanced nutrition (can I remind you – 80% – this morning we had a Macdonalds breakfast)

  2. flexibility and exercise (Marathons for me – Yoga for Annie)

  3. adequate average sleep (7 hours for me – 9 hours for Annie!)

But there are less obvious aspects of extreme self care

  1. all the points I’ve been making so far about moving away from and towards certain people

  2. feeding your soul with good music, literature, art, environments, media

  3. not being a slave to other people’s priorities

  4. no – you haven’t “got a minute NOW” but you will have a minute later today

  5. not answering an incoming phone call because it will interrupt your thoughts

  6. avoiding queues and call-centres

  7. changing your clothes if they don’t fit

  8. refusing to accept lousy customer service – and giving the direct feedback

  9. journalling – keeping a note of your small achievements on a week by week basis

  10. making sure you have the holiday weeks booked in your diary 18 months in advance

  11. delegation at all times (see yesterday’s post)

  12. having equipment that works – technology, cars, household appliances – a faulty machine eats away at your self-esteem

It’s a great exercise to sit down and think deeply about just how you can make your life EASIER in 2011 One of my greatest personal coaches has been Michael Myerscough – a friend and advisor for over 10 years. He taught me a wonderful question many years ago: “Ask yourself, is what I am about to do going to increase or decrease the level of confusion and complexity in my life?” If the answer is “yes” – walk away – no matter how tempting – walk away. Thank you Michael for ending my cyclical periods of self-destruction over 7 years ago. 80% of the last 10 years I have walked away, either personally or professionally. 20% I have ignored my own answer “for the sake of something” and it has ALWAYS cost me money, stress, time and well-being. I’m doing a lot less ignoring myself nowadays. Now, let’s conclude this with a quick reference to investing 20% of your time in being “selfless”. It’s not for me to lecture you on charity contributions or charity work – that’s a very personal choice. “Selfless” simply means using your time and talents to help somebody else, without the need for recognition or reward. It would be sanctimonious to list the ways in which I think I do that – but I know there is a part of my soul that hears other people castigate me occasionally for my performance or behaviour and I’m able to hold an internal conversation along the lines of “you know what, I bet you don’t give your time and talents up the way I do.” It’s a very private and personal place – a place that I hope you inhabit as well.

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