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Posted by: In: Blog 25 Jun 2015 0 comments

One of the most consistently liberating processes I facilitate for senior leadership teams, is to get the leadership team to stop doing what they don’t want to do and only do the aspects of the business they love doing. Once we’ve got the leadership doing the work they love doing, we then move on to everyone else in the business, at all levels.


all you need is loveIt’s an incredibly powerful, transformational process, that brings many benefits and it can turbo-charge effectiveness and performance throughout the business.


The first step towards doing this is for the senior leadership to make a commitment to only doing the work that they love. This (doing work that you care passionately about) is one of the 5 key elements to finding your ‘Flow’ at work (see my blog here for more about ‘Flow’) and it’s this that drives the performance gains.


Recently I’ve been working with the leadership team at Thornton’s Budgens to help them find their Flow, uncover the work that they love doing, as well as retaining all of the benefit derived from their unique skillset and work / life experience. We’ve had some truly illuminating sessions in which each person in the senior team has admitted what they really dislike doing at work, but were maybe too fearful to admit before. And by letting go of what they dislike doing, they’ve made room for doing more of the work they authentically love doing.


Make no mistake; this transformation doesn’t happen overnight. The process of identifying the work you love doing takes time in itself. Thereafter it takes a further period of careful planning and a transition period in which to handover what you don’t love doing to others in the business. I’m here to say it’s well worth taking that journey!


Here are some of the key benefits of only doing the work you love:


1) Show, Don’t Tell

Once the leadership is doing the work they love, we will move on to everyone else in the team. They will follow if they see you lead and when they do, the benefits will be magnified throughout your business.


2) Motivation And Purpose

People who are happy doing their work perform much better than those that are not. And the process of uncovering what you love doing also shows you why that work matters to you – it uncovers your purpose. A workforce that knows why their work matters to them and loves doing it, is intrinsically self-motivating.


3) Delegation

The work you don’t enjoy doing represents work that someone else will love doing; delegation becomes an empowering process that supports authenticity at the workplace. People work best when they don’t feel the pressure to conform to a stereotype and are encouraged to be themselves.


4) Quality

The quality of performance rises as a result of us working on activities that we care passionately about doing. The amount of time spent managing quality control is slashed when everyone is only doing the work they love.


Yes, it’s not always straightforward to get this done. Sadly some people may need to leave your business as you discover that your business can’t provide the work they would love to do. But wouldn’t you rather know about these issues and deal with them, than have them lying unnoticed and affecting performance? It’s incredibly important to handle these issues compassionately and if you do that, you’ll be helping an individual find work elsewhere that provides the deeply satisfying opportunity they crave. Over time, they’ll probably thank you!

How will you know if your business is in Flow?

A business in Flow is one where everybody in the business, from the CEO to the rawest newbie, is fully immersed in their role, with a feeling of energized focus. They feel full involvement and enjoyment as they work on business activities that they care passionately about. And everyone involved has a deep level of understanding about the purpose of their business; they know exactly how their business serves the needs of their customers and clients and at the same time, how it makes a positive contribution to society.


A great example of a team in flow

A great example of a team in flow


Here are the 5 elements that must be present for a business to be in Flow:


The business understands it is in service to the community. And it works to satisfy the needs and the greater good of everyone. Everyone working in the business gets out of bed knowing that they are making a positive difference to the lives of everyday people. This goes beyond creating an innovative brand, and putting a mission statement on the wall, it’s a willingness, for example, to raise quality standards in an industry sector, higher than anyone has done before, driven by a desire to give everyone in the world a better, long term future. These are the places we love to spend our money in, because we know helping ourselves is helping others too.


The business cares passionately about what it is doing. Most importantly, everyone that works in the business feels supported (by management and co-workers alike), to work in a way that reflects their unique abilities and personal passions. It’s profitable too; customers notice and spend more when they connect with businesses full of people whose roles reflect their strengths and who love their work.


These next 2 elements need to be considered together:


Everyone in the business is appropriately challenged by the role they have to fulfil.


An appropriate challenge is a level that stretches each person, just enough out of their comfort zone, so that they’re never bored, but not so much that they ever give up. Also, it is vital that the challenge and skill levels are constantly being raised, in order to avoid stagnation.


When these two elements complement each other in this way, it creates a culture of ‘how to’ throughout the business, rather than ‘can we?’.


We all need a framework of rules within which to operate, however, a business in ‘Flow’ goes further and empowers its people to set their own rules. These rules might be embodied in targets, goals or ways of behaving in the business. The point is that every person has engaged with the process so that all goals, targets or rules, carry the authority of a shared decision.


What are the results of a business being in Flow?

Put simply, they are great places to work; seriously fun places to work. Nothing less than full committment and everyone having fun along the way.

Imagine a place with no need to motivate the staff, everyone knows why they are there and they love it.

Everybody takes responsibility to deliver nothing less than their best and feels fully empowered to give it. Which means everyone is now working together to protect the reputation of the business and the quality of the output.

Management and owners’ time and energy is freed up (for example, from troubleshooting issues of motivation and quality control) to spend more time providing effective, creative leadership. More energy can be committed to dreaming, thinking big and harnessing what is learnt into practical value for the business.

This is a place where you care passionately about your work, you feel excited by fresh challenges and happy and empowered to meet those challenges. The culture of the organisation, from the top down, is to support everyone to be the best that they can be.


Is it time you got your business in Flow?

Posted by: In: Blog 09 Feb 2015 0 comments
Posted by: In: Blog 09 Feb 2015 0 comments

Each month we get comfy on the Flow Couch with someone passionate about their work, to find out what living their life in flow means to them. These people are our ‘everyday leaders’, and they’re here to share their secrets to doing business in flow, living with purpose and making money from following their passions.shutterstock_183925997


This month it’s the turn of Lesley Carter to sit with us on the Flow Couch. She’s a wonderfully empowering woman and the owner/editor of Bucket List Publications, a travel and adventure blog that portrays the beauty and limitless possibilities of this world. She says this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt; “The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences” describes her goals in life, perfectly. We say this amazing mum is a brilliant example of a life lived in flow.


1) Please introduce yourself and give a summary of what you do?


Skydive FijiTraveling and adventure have encompassed my life; from white-water rafting, skydiving, paragliding, bungee jumping, rock climbing, piloting a biplane, a helicopter, a fighter jet, and a jetpack, dog sledding, swimming with sharks, whales, manta rays, and sting rays, base jumping, kayaking, surfing, rappelling, and caving, I’ve tried every bucket list item I could imagine. Rock climbing and a trapeze act were even part of my wedding day in Jamaica. I’ve been to 55 countries and I envision 100 more.


With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Advanced English and History, a Bachelor of Education degree in Secondary Education, a Masters in Literacy, 8 years of teaching, and a vast imagination, I decided to put my writing and editing skills to the test. Bucket List Publications is the accumulation of all of my wildest dreams come true.


2) What is it you love most about what you do?


I dream about the most unrealistic, crazy travel adventures that are possible and I find a way to make them a reality. If that’s not insane enough, I’ve made it a lucrative career.


3) Do you believe it’s possible to follow your passions and still earn enough money to live well?


I believe it’s only possible to live well if you follow your passions. What’s endless amounts of money, if you have no time to spend it? What’s infinite financial wealth if you aren’t living your dreams? Find what you love and make it your career. You’ll never be richer.


4) How did you get to where you are now? Did you experience a pivotal moment that led you to doing more of what you love at work?


I was a high school teacher living in New Brunswick, Canada and my husband said to me one evening, “If you could have any job in the world what would it be? If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?” It took less than a month from that moment for us to quit our jobs, sell all of our possessions, and move to Southern California. That’s when I started blogging full time and I made it my career. It all may sound impossible but we weren’t in the ideal situation and it didn’t fall into our laps. We made our dream life a reality.


When I graduated from university, I owed more than $60,000 in student loan and I worked two or even three jobs at one time to pay it off. I lived in one of the most remote, northern parts of Canada to gain experience and pay my debts. International travel was restricted to the summers because I was working full time. I did take the summers, though, to volunteer, teach, and work in others countries. I learned that travel was as much a part of my life as family and friends.


Most people don’t know this about me, but this is my second marriage. I married young and while my ex-husband is a wonderful person who deserves all the happiness in the world, we were not right for each other. After spending a decade together, we finally separated and it was at that moment that I decided living a “regular” life was not for me. Being ok with the ordinary was no longer acceptable. It was then that I realised that the more unrealistic I am with my dreams and goals, the more I’m able to achieve.


When I met Darren, my husband, I saw life with new eyes. We decided what was important in our lives and found ways to make it happen. We don’t spend money on the typical things that eat up a large part of an income. We rarely buy new clothes and when we do, it’s usually second-hand. An evening of entertainment is a movie at home, homemade popcorn, and if we really splurge – McDonalds. I don’t wear make-up and I even cut my own hair. We could easily go an entire week without spending a cent. We do this because those things are not important to us; what is important is travel and adventure so we put our money toward the things that make our life full.


We are constantly re-evaluating or dreams and goals and applying that new knowledge to our daily life.


5) What is your personal ‘golden nugget’ piece of advice you can give to others looking to follow their passions at work?


Don’t make excuses! Don’t wait! Decide what is most important in your life and make it a reality. The more unrealistic we are with our dreams and goals, the more we are able to achieve.


Website – www.bucketlistpublications.com

Website – wwww.lesleycarter.wordpress.com

Twitter – @LesleyMCarter



Posted by: In: Blog 19 Dec 2014 0 comments

Ever seen someone wearing a rucksack get onto a crowded train, tube or bus? More often than not, what I’ve witnessed is that the bag stays on their back while the owner appears blissfully unaware of the result; passive aggression builds up in the other passengers standing behind them, as the bag is wedged into their faces, arms or bodies, compromising the already cramped space they are in.


The most extreme example I’ve seen was a man wearing a double bass on his back – squashing the person stood behind him into the corner!

IMG_3104Resentment builds towards the offending passenger and everyone just sucks up the aggravation until they get off the train. It’s not as if it’s a tricky situation to resolve. In fact, there’s a really simple solution to all this unnecessary aggravation – take the bag off your back!


Wearing our past on our back, like an invisible backpack


If we’re not careful, it’s easy to do the same with our past. We can get weighed down carrying the issues that remain unresolved from our past. Most of the time we’re not even aware of the weight we are carrying around because, like wearing a rucksack, it’s behind us. And if we don’t do something about it (more on how to do this in a bit), our bag can soon get full, weighing us down, energetically knocking into the people around us.


How holding onto the past affects our future


It is only when we live fully in the present, I believe, that we are able to take full responsibility for ourselves, creating optimum levels of success, wealth and happiness for ourselves. If we let it, our past can constrict our ability to flow and create the best possible future for ourselves, because (without us even knowing it) we’re living in our past.


When we’re sitting in our past (‘if only ‘X’ hadn’t happened, I’d be successful / wealthy / happy now”), we miss all the amazing opportunities that are open to us today. Similarly, we can make our actions today dependent on the future (“if I get ‘X’ then I will be successful / wealthy / happy”) and miss the same opportunities.


We can only ever create our future (and be in flow) by being present in the ‘now’ and taking action in the present.


The past is gone, it’s history; we can’t go back and change anything, no matter how much we’d like to. And until someone figures out how to build a time machine (Einstein did after all tell us that this is possible!), we can’t do anything in the future, no matter how much we might worry about it, because it’s not yet happened. We have just one way to create our future; to become fully aware of all of the opportunities that surround us each day, by being fully present in the moment.


Effect on individuals and organisations


If we don’t take our past out of our backpack (clean out our past) then our future happiness will become blocked, just like the commuters on the tube were blocked.


I remember how it felt for me before I started cleaning my past; no matter how much effort I put in, or how inventive I was, before I cleaned up I was blocked from achieving my full potential. I never felt satisfied. It was as if my path ahead was clear, but to get onto it I had to pass through a door, and a bulky bag on my back that I wasn’t even aware of, wouldn’t let me fit through the door. It all culminated in a feeling of being blocked, that life wasn’t flowing for me, a feeling of running to stand still.


These downsides also show up with potentially disastrous consequences for organisations. If you manage a team or run a business, you might find that some in your team are not as motivated as they once were, or maybe you get ‘cliques’ developing within the organisation, creating communication ‘silo’ issues that weren’t there before. An inability to clean up the past can also lead to missed targets, disengagement and low motivation, all of which means much more time spent managing the business, rather than getting on with business.


A healthy team socialises together to celebrate hitting targets and discuss how to do more going forward. A team that hasn’t yet cleaned the past (individually and collectively) will focus on who was to blame for the missed targets and how the past behavior of others makes it “impossible” to get things done.


How to clean up the past and regain your flow


So now for the good news. It’s actually a really simple process to clean up the past, however, it’s vital to bring awareness and responsibility to the process, or it can backfire, in a big way. FlowCoacher are experienced in facilitating cleaning up processes with individuals, teams and organisations.


How you take the bag off your back and clean it out is important. Imagine if you were on a crowded tube and a stranger took off their rucksack and threw it at you! So here are my key steps to a successful clean up:


1) Get help to facilitate your clean up

Get someone experienced to help you. It means you can focus on the work you need to do on yourself without having to worry about process and you are much more likely to achieve a successful outcome. This is definitely something that we at FlowCoacher can help you with.


2) Create a safe space to clean up

If you suspect you are holding onto ‘stuff’ that happened in the past with someone else, the first thing you need to find is a safe space to share your ‘stuff’ with them. By safe we mean a confidential space in which you can share (without any interruption) where you are at, without fear of recrimination or judgment.


At first, it may sound challenging or fanciful that such a space can exist, however, creating this space is one of the foundations of the work that FlowCoacher does. Over four years of practice, I’ve never yet failed to create a space for a client that wasn’t trusted. Ensure you get a commitment from everyone in the cleanup space to uphold the integrity of the space, during and after the sharing.


3) Actively listen to each other

People need to be heard to clean up their past, and they also need to feel heard. I create processes for businesses (across industry sectors) that ensure that no matter who you are, whatever your role in the business, you will actually be heard.


4) Stay on your side of the fence

This is not a ‘blame game’, nor is it an opportunity to attack anyone for what they might or might not have done in the past. Each person needs to take responsibility for their own stuff, not throw it at each other. Share how you feel, what affect it’s having on your life, rather than stating things like “you made me do X” etc.


5) Get it all out

Empty the bag, take it all out so that you can go forward free of the weight on your back. I know that for some this can be very scary to do and it can feel overwhelming; I’ve felt this way myself at times, however, I guarantee it will be worth it! Trade a big pain (of a future laden down by the past) for a small pain (felt taking the bag off your bag and emptying it out) to regain a life in flow.


6) Learn from the past!

Cleaning up does not mean you jettison the learning! The whole point of cleaning up is creating a foundation from which to create your best future. By cleaning up you will take every bit of learning you can from the past and be able to use it to make the best decisions for your future, no longer weighed down or affected by your past. Now you will fit through the door to your pathway and you’ll feel in flow.


7) Clean up regularly

For teams, businesses and organisations, have regular clean up meetings. As a minimum, a monthly meeting and if possible, make it a weekly meeting. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of time, it simply needs to be effective!


As for individuals, I recommend a daily five minute self-analysis session every morning. Ask yourself the questions; “how was my behavior yesterday, was I the best that I could be in my relationships with others, is there anything I need to take responsibility for, were my needs met, do I feel that anyone crossed my boundaries?” etc. Take a moment to note down if any further action needs to take place (i.e. a clean up conversation and with whom) and then get it done.


Living in the present, in flow


Anyone who has run, cycled, hiked or done any other kind of physical activity knows it hurts to do these with a heavy bag on your back! Maybe we can never take the bag off, but we can choose whether to fill it or not. Unresolved past issues take a lot of effort to carry around and they limit our capacity to flow, to take advantage of the opportunities all around us in life. After your clean up the past, managers and business owners can spend less time managing, while individuals are better placed to make their dreams come true and climb to heights they’ve never dared think was possible.


Isn’t it about time we all took that bag off our back?!

Posted by: In: Blog 18 Dec 2014 0 comments

Each month we get comfy on the Flow Couch with someone passionate about their work, to find out what living their life in flow means to them. These people are our ‘everyday leaders’, and they’re here to share their secrets to doing business in flow, living with purpose and making money from following their passions. shutterstock_183925997




Sophie Radcliffe runs the blog Challenge Sophie, sharing her love for exploring the adventures of life to challenge her limits IMG_7990[2]through climbing, cycling, running and Ironman racing. Sophie believes that it is through challenging ourselves that we stretch our limits, break down barriers and realise we can achieve far more than we think. We raise the bar of what we expect from ourselves, develop confidence, resilience and drive and go out to achieve more across all areas of life. This is what has happened to her and she’s on a mission to give you the inspiration and tools to be the very best you can be and get the most out of your life.


1) Please introduce yourself and give a summary of what you do?


My mission is to challenge myself, my limits and to question life’s possibilities and through doing so, to encourage, support and inspire people to do the same. I use adventure and endurance sports as a means to challenge myself and to drive this movement in motivating others. On a day-to-day basis I’m a writer, blogger, motivational speaker, model and events organiser.


2) What is it you love most about what you do?

I love that it’s totally me. No-one else could be Challenge Sophie or take it away from me. Previously in my career running business development teams, I always felt as though I had to fight for my position, respect, progression and recognition. Now that I work for myself on building my own brand, everything has an outcome that I am responsible for and pays dividends to me and the people I aim to serve through what I do. I love it because every day I can help people and because it makes me happy.


3) Do you believe it’s possible to follow your passions and still earn enough money to live well?

Absolutely. It’s 100% possible, look around and you will see people doing it. There is nothing special about them, they don’t differ to you or I in any way, the only difference is that they made decisions and took actions to make it happen.


4) How did you get to where you are now? Did you experience a pivotal moment that led you to doing more of what you love at work?

It’s been a transitional process over many years. First of all, I started doing what i loved in my spare time. I worked and built my professional career and at the same time, I went on adventures in my weekends and holidays. When I quit my job and decided to begin forging a new way in life, I launched my blog. This was January 2013 and since then everything has grown and developed extremely fast. Since building a platform I have realise how much people love what I do and have I’ve established a need. Over the last year, I’ve retrained and established myself to be able to make money from Challenge Sophie. During that time, I built a consultancy business to help startups grow and that gave me the foundation and freedom to build Challenge Sophie whilst still doing work in an area I was more established in.


5) What is the one ‘golden nugget’ of advice you can give to others looking to follow their passions at work?

Baby steps. It’s all about building momentum and taking it day by day. Dream big and have those audacious goals set out, but realise that everything you do is a small step towards achieving your goals. Some days it may feel like you’ve made huge leaps and others none at all, but when you look back you’ll realise every day counts, it was all a step in the right direction.


Website – www.challengesophie.com

Twitter – @ChallengeSophie

Facebook – facebook.com/ChallengeSophie

LinkedIn – www.uk.linkedin.com/in/sophieelizabethradcliffe


Posted by: In: Blog 18 Dec 2014 0 comments



It’s my ambition that in my lifetime, everyone in the UK goes to work each morning loving the work they are doing. I don’t believe this is too much to ask and just thinking about the kind of society this would foster makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up!


Now I suspect, strongly, that many of you out there doubt that this is possible. I’m basing this assumption on the fact that not so very long ago, I was one of these people. I was working in a job that was sucking the life out of me and I was justifying it by telling myself that it was a justifiable means to get the money I needed to do the things I wanted to, outside of work. Five years ago I would have told you it’s irrelevant whether you love your work all the time; as long as you get paid to have holidays, hobbies and experiences that you love, it doesn’t matter if work doesn’t engage you.


But there was one big problem with this; the ‘hobbies’ were actually anaesthetic. And over time, I needed more and more of my fix to ignore the pain of having to do work that was not fulfilling my needs, was not my passion and was not from the heart.


I appeared to be highly functioning, very effective and was well rewarded for what I did. I could hold an intelligent conversation with anyone on pretty much any topic. But I was actually running to stand still, or rather, to go backwards, by the end of this stage of my life.


In fact, I was what I now refer to as a “Sleepworker”. I had taken no conscious decisions about my career up until that point. Yes, I had chosen my subjects at school, my degree course and university, to train and work as a lawyer and latterly to be a highly paid partner in an investment banking headhunting firm. But I can tell you honestly, at none of those decision points did I consider asking myself about:

i) My personal needs from my work,

ii) The activities I love doing,

iii) The environment I love being in, and

iv) Who I love being around.


Like me, other Sleepworkers have never considered these questions; instead, a Sleepworker asks “which job will pay me the most money doing something I know that I can do?”


A Sleepworker analyses job opportunities in the following way:


1) Headline – is this job within my working experience?


2) Money – is the pay high enough?


3) Criteria for the role – can I do the job, or at least, do most of it well enough to buy time to learn what I don’t know, on the job?


Corporates love employing Sleepworkers because they turn up nearly every day (even though they’re miserable), paying them a little bit extra now and then keeps them docile and providing them with just a few other perks (holiday, pension, travel expenses etc.) keeps them hard at work at their desk. It strikes me this is a ‘time for money’ trade not far removed from the employment conditions in the factories of the industrial revolution. I call these corporates “Factory Corporates”.


Sleepworkers are content to work for Factory Corporates and sit in what I call the “CAN DO” space. This is where their experience to date matches what is expected of their role. They look enviously at the people working in the “WANT TO” space; they see a lucky few who never experience work as, well, ‘work’. Sleepworkers often feel like the WANT TO space is unobtainable; it feels like a million miles away from the CAN DO space.


Here’s how a Sleepworker sees these two spaces:


Money is the primary motivator for the Sleepworker in the CAN DO space. There is little perceived purpose in the role (apart from self-interest) when in this space. The challenge of the role, pretty much, remains constant. It’s running to stand still. There’s no feeling of flow.


The WANT TO space is where productivity flows from a sense of purpose and feeling passionate about the detail and the bigger picture of the work being done. This is a space where the challenge of the role is always steadily increasing. Not so much that we can’t cope, but enough so that we always remain interested. This is the space that is tailor made to our desires and needs, not the other way around.


In order for Sleepworkers to wake up and find the work they love, they will need to embrace the following:


1) Uncovering your “Career DNA” is the foundation for all future career success.


First of all, discover your own Career DNA, your own unique building blocks to a career you love. This is your own personal checklist of what matters to you most. Each person’s Career DNA is different and unless someone has invented mind reading, only you will know what it is. The good news is that I can help you find out what yours is! Essentially, it comes down to us working through (to the point of searing authenticity) these four questions:

i) What do I love doing?

ii) What environment do I love being in?

iii) Who do I love being around?

iv) What am I truly great at?


2) The Career DNA of the individual matters more than the criteria of the role.


Once you have uncovered your Career DNA, assess every possible career opportunity against it. Seeing how the work matches up to your Career DNA is the clearest way you will find to predict your future engagement in a work role.


As a general rule, if any given work role fulfills 70% or more of your DNA, it’s worth exploring further because it has a good chance of fulfilling your needs. Ideally we should be aiming for an 80% to 90% match. But if the match is less than 50% don’t bother to apply for the role, it will soon have you back to Sleepworking.


3) Trust that the money will follow.


Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that we all become hippies and go off and build mud huts in Tibet for work. For starters, there’s probably not enough spare land left in Tibet for us all to go around building mud huts there.


What I’ve noticed (personally as well as in my clients’ experiences) is that the money will flow to us far more readily, when we are doing work that we love. At the very basic level, I’ve noticed that we are far more likely to pay, for example, suppliers, who appear to us to love what they do. Catering staff have known this for a long time; who wants to leave a tip for miserable waiting staff?


I’m suggesting that placing ‘making money’ as our absolute priority actually damages our earning capacity because it prevents us from identifying our passions and purpose. Of course we want to be paid to the maximum, according to the value we deliver. It’s just that I believe that this is most likely when we sit in the space where the CAN DO (experience) circle bisects the WANT TO (passion and purpose) circle.


The Sleepworker might feel that the CAN DO and WANT TO spaces are far apart, but in actual fact, they are not; what I have found is that for everyone, there is a significant overlap. Only by waking from Sleepworking and consciously putting ourselves in the overlap do we leverage our experience in a role that we care passionately about and are most motivated about fulfilling. It’s so beautifully simple and in my experience, it works!


When the individual is working in a role that mirrors who they are, with total authenticity, the CAN DO and WANT TO spaces completely overlap. It is at this point that our personal, unique experience, not just in work but everywhere in life, equips us perfectly with everything we need to be productive in our chosen role.


What can I do if I think I’m a Sleepworker?


Phew! If you’re asking this question you’re on the pathway out of your factory!


Follow through the ideas I’ve written about in this article. Don’t listen to the Sleepworkers who tell you it’s unrealistic and work is always going to be hard. In fact, you can tell those people from me, that work has to be challenging for it to be motivating but it never has to be hard!


If you’d like to wake up from being a Sleepworker, we’d love to help you – get in touch with FlowCoacher today for a free 1 hour session to learn how we can help you.

Each month we get comfy on the Flow Couch with someone passionate about their work, to find out what living their life in flow means to them.

These people are our ‘everyday leaders’, and they’re here to share their secrets to doing business in flow, living with purpose and making money from following their passions.



iPhoto LibraryRichard Owen is a marketing specialist who has worked on branding and commercial development with a range of companies, from small technology start-ups through to major financial institutions. He is a co-founder of web-based e-learning platform Compaso and has also recently released an electronic dance music album with the group ArtFanDelay.

1) Please introduce yourself and give a summary of what you do?

I lead a deliberately diverse work life. I’ve been self-employed for the last six years and currently split my week between being a marketing consultant at a large pensions company, helping to run a new e-learning start-up business and writing and producing an electronic music album with a singer I’ve been working with for the last six months.

2) What is it you love most about what you do?

I enjoy the flexibility of running my own show and the fact that I largely have control over my own destiny. What I do also brings together both my analytical and creative sides. I find the balance is quite important – I’m one of those people who needs to be using both sides of my brain in order to find my “flow”!

Being self-employed is not for everyone – it has its ups and downs and I never know precisely what the next six months will bring. However, I find the ups are better when you’ve created them yourself and the downs are no worse than I experienced when I worked as an employee in larger organisations.

3) How did you get to where you are now? Did you experience a pivotal moment that led you to doing more of what you love at work?

I worked in the City for fifteen years and had quite a successful career working with some great people on very challenging and interesting projects. But I always had this nagging thought in my head that I wanted to do lots of different things, such as making music and creating new businesses, and that’s quite hard to pull off with a demanding job that requires all your attention.

The pivotal moment for me was about ten years ago when I received my company pension statement and realised I had 30 years of pretty much the same thing day in and day out ahead of me. That made me seek out roles where I could work towards a clearer “end in mind”. Cutting a long story short, a company I was a part of was sold in 2007 and due to a sellers covenant I couldn’t work in the same industry for a while. So I was in the fortunate position of having the resources and motive to try my hand at other things.

Since then, I’ve been involved in projects as diverse as rebranding a financial company, helping to build a social media business, producing music with a singer in Belgium, through to setting up a film production company with some well known media personalities. Some opportunities I have to pursue – others, such as the film company, pop up out of the blue. But they have a common theme of drawing on business experience whilst requiring creativity of one kind or another.

4) What is the one piece of ‘golden nugget’ advice you can give to others looking to follow their passions at work?

I don’t know about the ‘golden’ part, as following your passion generally involves recognising that you’re not just in it for the money! There is a mantra that seems to have had lasting relevance for me, and that keeps me going during challenging times. This is: “fill your days with life, not your life with days”. For me this means seizing the moment, trusting your instincts and following your passion by taking a leap of faith and not being too concerned about the prospect of failure. It’s easier said than done, especially in these risk-averse times. But the upside is the potential for fulfilment and success and often the only downside is an experience you can learn from if everything doesn’t go to plan.


We’d love to hear from you if you’d like to join us on the Flow Couch – please get in touch here


The way I start my day will often have a huge influence on how I behave for the rest of the day; begin the day well and the rest of my day will flow. I’ll get loads done, and my creativity and awareness levels soar. Start it with the snooze button and all day long I feel like I’m struggling to catch up.


It can be really tempting to hit the snooze button, especially in winter

It can be really tempting to hit the snooze button, especially in winter


I’ve noticed that the most successful people are usually early risers; time after time I hear the most successful entrepreneurs, sportspeople, salespeople, adventurers, and managers making best use of the early hours of their day. They set clear intentions for the day ahead, take responsibility for self managing their laziness and get out of bed when the alarm goes off, rather than hitting the snooze button.

How, and why do they do it? I know it’s not easy, I’ve been there many times myself (I used to be a snooze button addict), and so I’m sharing my 8 practical steps to start your day in flow:



The night before – get the rest you need to wake feeling your best


1 Create certainty
Before the end of every day, get clear on what tomorrow has in store for you. Enough clarity so that you can switch off, knowing you are clear on exactly what you are going to do the next day. The brain needs certainty to be at ease; all of my meetings, client sessions, networking tasks, calls, etc. (the ‘who, what, where, when and why’ details) are input into my calendar.


2 Tell my brain to sleep well
I used to believe that listening to self-hypnosis recordings was a load of mumbo jumbo, until I started to use them regularly about 3 years ago. The brain listens. If I fill my brain full of negativity (watching the news or reading a newspaper is a very effective way to do this), then my experience of life becomes negative. Self-hypnosis is simply telling the brain there is a better way of experiencing life and I often use a very simple 10 minute recording by Tom Fortes Mayer of the Freemind Project to help me have a great night’s sleep. No matter how little I’ve slept, when I use this recording I wake up feeling rested, energised and ready to engage with my day.


3 Go to bed when I’m tired
Sure, I know this is obvious, but in the past I’d ignore my tiredness and stay awake, wasting time vegetating in front of the television. Listen to your body because it’s more intelligent than we sometimes realise; go to bed when you feel tired and if possible don’t watch television at all, or turn it off at least one hour before you usually go to sleep.



Each morning – spend 20 minutes improving your performance


4 Review your previous day’s performance
Take some time to sit down and notice your behavior from the previous day. Just 5 minutes is enough and you don’t have to be on your own; I often do my 5 minute review when I’m sitting on a train into work in the morning. Write down 1 or 2 brief sentences into the notes section of your phone, or a notebook if you prefer. Where did I do my best? What can I improve on? The point is simply to notice, just doing that will lead to improved behavior and performance. Your best will get better!


5 Meditate
Don’t worry if you’ve never done it before, it’s much easier than you might think. You don’t have to know how to mediate to start, that’s why it’s called a meditation practice! Only 10 minutes is perfect, or longer if you have time. Search on YouTube for “Alan Watts – Guided Meditation (Awakening The Mind)” for a great place to begin. If you’re still stuck after listening to that, get in touch with me here and I’ll be happy to help. Meditation will help you to become more present, more aware, less stressed and much calmer. Mindfulness has become an integral part of many business leaders’ lives and meditation techniques have long been used in the US military.


6 Exercise
If you can, put some music on and find a space to dance, even if it’s just for 1 track. Dancing is a brilliant way to start the day and I often do it – with headphones on. Yes, I look crazy, but no one can see me and afterwards I feel unstoppable! If dancing is not for you, go for a run, a walk, a bike ride; do whatever you need to get you body moving first thing in the morning.

[NOTE: The previous 3 activities I’ve recommended, can take as little as 20minutes each morning. Notice if you’re resisting by telling yourself that you don’t have the time. Make time! Now you’ve got things to do, get out of bed 20 minutes early, before the kids need you or you have to start work!}


7 Don’t turn on your phone
Keep your phone on airplane mode until you leave the house. You can access the internet for guided meditations without having to take it off airplane mode. It’s so easy to let 20 minutes fly past while checking emails and texts that can easily wait until later. Gift yourself this time!


8 Make a plan
Write down and make a simple plan for what you’re going to do and the time you will do it. Remember, the brain loves certainty and so will you each morning because with a plan, you won’t have to think about what you’re doing to start your day in flow, happy to be alive and brimming with energy.

“All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.” John Kenneth Galbraith

One of the secrets, I believe, of great leadership is to make time for your people to help them with their challenges at work. In the context of small businesses, I mean spending time with your staff and working with them to empower them. Or put more simply, taking the time to help them to help you. This is crucial for small business owners and managers who want to grow their business and increase productivity (and profitability!).

However, I often found it felt like I got a relentless barrage of questions throughout the day and I never got any momentum going with the work that I had to get done. I was constantly reacting to the challenges of my staff and not doing my own work. They loved it because I was always there for them but it was an unbalanced and unproductive arrangement because I couldn’t spend any proper time doing what I really needed to do, i.e. winning the business for them to work on.

If at times you feel like this as well, here’s 3 simple ways you can be a better leader:

1) Set Times
First I made it clear that there were set times in the day that staff could come and speak with me; moreover, they had this time from me EVERY day but these were the ONLY times they had with me.

I chose first thing in the morning and in the evening after work. This way I could help them at the beginning of their day, so that they had no delay getting done what they needed to do that day. And I was available for them in the evening after work so that they could discuss anything that had happened during the day and couldn’t wait until the next morning.

Making this time available in your staff’s ‘private’ time means they will choose for themselves if it can wait until the next day; this is a really effective ‘important / urgent’ filter that takes up none of your time and works for you. Your people will manage their time for themselves, and more effectively, because you made it in their interest to do so.

2) Limited Time
Second, I limited the time that I spent with each employee. I set a timer on my phone so the alarm went off after their set time. And I always stuck to the times no matter where we got to in the discussion.

Pretty soon you will find your staff happy to take responsibility for presenting their challenges to you in a way that allows you to find solutions together in the time you set aside. They will understand that they have to help themselves to get what they want from you. After a while you will got most of your morning meetings down to as little as 5 to 10 minutes per person.

3) Systems
Third, I implemented systems, as far as possible, that directed the employees on what to do. I urge everyone to read Tim Ferris’s book ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’ to find out more about how to do this.

If you implement systems you will proactively answer 99% of the questions your staff might have on any task (so you didn’t need to spend time during the day telling them what to do). It also means that your people will only bring you quality questions that really needed your attention.

Empowerment Produces Results

Create an empowered, creative and resourceful workforce

Making time for your people creates a happier, more resourceful and creative workforce

If you put these changes in place (empathetically and over time, of course!) you will get a happier, more productive, more engaged workforce.

They will be happier because they always know what it is they are supposed to be doing (we all love this feeling and we hate not knowing what we are supposed to do). They will love being left to get on with their work (they will feel trusted and capable) as long as you have given them a system to work within, so that they always know where their boundaries are and feel supported by you.

If you can do this your people will feel free, within their boundaries, to do the work the way they choose to do it. You can trust them to do it their way (it will be different to your way but not necessarily better!) because you have a system that ensures they get done what needs to get done.

If you can do this, if you can direct your people clearly and then trust them to get on with it, they will do amazing things for you. They will lift you up to heights that you could never have got to on your own. And they will be proud and happy to do this for you.