It’s not just the Millennials who have an issue with technology

There’s a clip on YouTube of Simon Sinek talking to Tom Bilyeu about millennials in the workplace which has been viewed over 9 million times. If you haven’t seen it before, here it is – and it’s well worth watching:

(You can also read a transcript here if you’d prefer that)

The talk is about why millennials aren’t happy at work and Sinek talks about the missing piece – or the missing four pieces – that he sees:

  1. Parenting
  2. Technology
  3. Parenting
  4. Environment

It was his words on technology which particularly struck me – here are a few key sentences:

‘An entire generation now has access to an addictive, numbing chemical called dopamine, through cell phones and social media, while they are going through the high stress of adolescence.’ 

‘…because we are allowing unfettered access to these devices and media, basically it is becoming hard-wired and what we are seeing is that they grow older, too many kids don’t know how to form deep, meaningful relationships.’

‘Deep meaningful relationships are not there because they never practiced the skill set and worse, they don’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with stress. So when significant stress begins to show up in their lives, they’re not turning to a person, they’re turning to a device, they’re turning to social media, they’re turning to these things which offer temporary relief.’

‘These things balanced, are not bad. Alcohol is not bad, too much alcohol is bad. Gambling is fun, too much gambling is dangerous. There is nothing wrong with social media and cell phones, it’s the imbalance.’

As I watched it and thought about the conversations I have with my coaching clients, I realised that Sinek’s comments don’t just apply to millennials. My client list ranges from those in their twenties to those in their fifties and that imbalanced place of technology in our lives comes up time and time again. Sure, the older clients may be digital immigrants rather than digital natives but the lure of the screen can be just as strong.

Just before the recent UK half-term school break, a client – let’s call her Megan – and I came up with a list of actions order to help her step away from her devices and step towards more face-to-face interactions.

Be pragmatic

Megan’s phone has a ‘screen time’ feature which tells her how much time she spends doing what on her various devices: that made sobering reading! However, going ‘cold turkey’ and locking away all her devices wasn’t going to work for Megan. For a start, she no longer owns a stand alone camera and she didn’t want to miss out on taking photos of her family on holiday.

Megan decided that she didn’t need access to her laptop or her tablet at all for a week so she would leave them in a drawer at home.

We then went through her phone and reviewed her apps. Megan decided to temporarily deactivate most of her social media accounts. On reflection, she decided to permanently delete Twitter on the basis that it seemed to lead her into having – or ‘listening in on’ – unhelpful conversations with strangers: conversations she’d never have had in real life.

Rather than temporarily remove her work email app from her phone, Megan decided to allocate 15 minutes each morning and evening to review and if necessary reply to any messages. She decided to have her phone set to ‘do not disturb’ using the feature which would allow calls from selected individuals to come through.

Having realised from her screen time analysis that she was going to have about 90 minutes extra free each day over the week, she asked her family how she should spend that time. Board games, cooking dinner together, playing outside, watching a film together, making a kite, and going window-shopping all went on the activity list. Megan also asked her children to be in charge of taking photos with her phone and at the end of the day, they reviewed the photos together and selected one photo to post on her social media account.

As the holiday is now over, I asked Megan how it went. She admitted that she’d gone over her 15 minute limit a couple of times with work emails but apart from that it had been a success. ‘The first couple of days were quite hard – I kept reaching for my phone whilst watching the children play – but then I made a conscious effort to put the phone down and go and play with them. My husband and I have decided that we’re going to start putting our phones away on Saturday nights and not picking them up again until Monday morning. We’ve had to go and buy an alarm clock though!’

Simon Sinek would be very happy to hear that.

Today’s pebble for your thoughts: is it time for you to audit your use of technology and make some changes?

I’m not immune to the lure of technology either so I’ve decided to take a step back for a fortnight: I’ll be back on the blog on 23 November.


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.

If you’d like a coach to help you succeed and make the most of your potential,
why not email me to see how we can work together?

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Want a different outcome? Choose how you respond

Last week, one of my clients – let’s call him Paul – was telling me about how frustrated he becomes when certain things happen.

‘What really irritates me is that the end result is always the same. I’m annoyed, stressed and distracted. I can’t snap out of it. It’s like an equation: this particular event always equals annoyance, stress and distraction.’

When he said ‘equation’, I had a lightbulb moment where I remembered something I’d read by Jack Canfield.

‘What if we could change that equation by adding another element?’

‘Sure – can we subtract something so it all just goes away?’ Paul laughed.

‘Not this time – we’re going to add something,’ I said as I grabbed a pen and wrote out this equation:

E + R = O

in full, Event plus Response equals Outcome.

Canfield shows us that the event doesn’t always have to produce the same outcome. In other words, Paul can change the outcome of an event by adding in a response.

You’re probably asking the same question Paul did – how do I do that?

Someone* wrote ‘between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

*Often attributed to Viktor Frankl, the origin of this quote is uncertain.

So the key to changing the outcome of a particular event is to use the space to choose a response rather than going with an automatic or conditioned response.

Step one

Recognise that we have the capability to choose our response. The fact that we reacted a certain way in the past doesn’t mean we always have to react like that.

Step two 

Make sure there is a space! We need to give ourselves time to formulate a better response. The time you need may be dependent on the nature of the event: the response to being interrupted by a colleague in a meeting will take less time than choosing how to respond to the fact that someone’s just driven into the back of your car.

Step three

In that space, step back from the situation and look at it objectively. I took Paul through the emotional body scan technique which he will use to help him clarify his feelings. A third-person perspective can also be helpful. Once we can see what’s going on in our minds, we’re ready for the final stage.

Step four

What’s the outcome you’d like to see? Whilst we cannot control events, we can influence outcomes by choosing a response that will lead to that outcome.

Paul is now equipped with more understanding about the fact that he has the power to choose his response and some techniques to help him do so.

Today’s pebble for you to ponder: will you use E +R = O to help you create a better outcome? 


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.

If you’d like a coach to help you succeed and make the most of your potential,
why not email me to see how we can work together?

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Do you ever talk yourself out of opportunities?

When I was a child, I used to get myself quite worked up before going to events. I was shy and felt awkward walking into a classroom, a birthday party or a family celebration. What’s interesting about this is that it happened even when it was something I really wanted to do. However much I’d been looking forward to it, I’d tend to make excuses as to why I shouldn’t or couldn’t go.

Thankfully, my mum knew exactly what to say to me: ‘you’ll be alright when you get there.’ She said it to me so frequently that it became a bit of a joke and before she even said anything, I’d say to her ‘I know, I know, I’ll be alright when I get there.

In the interests of full disclosure, I still feel like that sometimes. Whenever I find myself talking myself out of something and making excuses for myself, I say to myself ‘I’ll be alright when I get there.

In coaching sessions, clients sometimes tell me about instances where they talk themselves out of things. They say things like:

  • it’s not practical
  • it’s not realistic
  • it’s too expensive
  • I’m too old
  • they’ll laugh at me
  • it’s not thoroughly justified
  • I’m not ready
  • it’s too risky
  • I’m not good enough
  • I’m too young

Frequently, these limiting beliefs are excuses based on fear and they stop us doing things we’d like to do. We can dispel these limiting beliefs by asking ourselves ‘is this a fact or is it an assumption?

What might happen if we pushed through those excuses and did them anyway? We know what my mum would say. Author of ‘How to win friends and influence people’, Dale Carnegie said:

‘Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.

If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.’

dale carnegie fear confidence courage

Every time we are presented with an opportunity, we can make a choice. We can choose to believe our excuses and stay at home or we can get out of our own way and get out there. I see my clients practise this with small decisions so that they are ready to take on bigger decisions, decisions based on fact and not on assumptions, and decisions that will allow them to do what it is they truly want to do.

It’ll be alright when you get there.

Today’s pebble for your thoughts: is it time for you to take action in order to breed confidence and courage?


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.

If you’d like a coach to help you succeed and make the most of your potential,
why not email me to see how we can work together?


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Do you need to say no?

Many of us struggle to say no. Without being specific about a particular question, I conducted a quick poll to see how people felt about the word ‘no’ – here are a few responses:

‘No is literally such a negative word.’ 

‘No implies ‘lack’ – no money, no fun, no time, no friends.’

‘People look disappointed when you say no.’

‘No is always about stuff you don’t want rather than stuff you do want.’

Type ‘the power of saying yes’ into a search engine and you’ll find lots of links to inspiring talks and motivating articles. There are 377 million results.

Type in ‘the power of saying no’ and there are 733 million results: almost twice as many!  Does it mean we need to say no more often? Does that suggest we find it difficult to say no?

Referring to acting roles he was offered, Tom Hanks said

‘I realized…that I had to start saying a very, very difficult word to people, which was ‘no.’

The odd lesson for that is, I figured out that’s how you end up making the favorable work you do…. Saying yes, then you just work. But saying no means you made the choice of the type of story you wanted to tell and the type of character you want to play.’

Talking about products they’d dropped, Steve Jobs said:

‘… we had to decide: What are the fundamental directions we’re going in? And what makes sense and what doesn’t? And there were a bunch of things that didn’t. And microcosmically they might have made sense; macroscosmically they made no sense.

…When you think about focusing, you think, well, focusing is about saying yes. No. 

Focusing is about saying no.’

So it seems that if we want to do our best work, to focus and to be our best selves, we need to say no sometimes.

How do we say no?

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

Earlier this week, I had a conversation with a client who has come to the conclusion that she needs to turn down an opportunity as accepting it will take her away from her long-term goal. ‘I just don’t know how to say no to them though,‘ she explained.

We used Cartesian Questions and ‘saying yes and saying no‘ to help her work through her thoughts and I shared with her some advice from entrepreneur and author, Seth Godin:

You can say no with respect,

you can say no promptly

and you can say no with a lead to someone who might say yes.

But just saying yes because you can’t bear the short-term pain of saying no is not going to help you do the work.

Today’s pebble for your thoughts: is there something you need to say no to?


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.

If you’d like a coach to help you succeed and make the most of your potential,
why not email me to see how we can work together?




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Should you be flying in formation?

Over the summer, I was talking to a client who was feeling exhausted. Robert (not his real name) excels at his job and is a team leader. He has been working on a long-term project which still has another nine months to go.

‘I’m running out of steam,’ he said. ‘I really believe in the product but I just can’t keep up this pace. I’ve got a great team but I don’t feel I can delegate: they’re all so busy.’

If they weren’t so busy, what would you ask them to do?’ I asked.

‘Well, I’d ask them if we could rotate leading the group.’

‘What are the potential benefits of that?’

‘I think the project would be improved as they each brought a focus based on their own skills and interests to it. It could help with collaboration as they each see that their voice matters. It would give them a chance to try out their leadership in a supportive environment. It would give me a break and a chance to contribute from within instead of out at the front.’

When Robert said ‘instead of out at the front’, I was reminded of geese in flight.

Photo with kind permission of Lara Watson of

As shown in this great photo taken by Lara Watson, geese fly in a V formation. Scientific studies show that this really does save energy for those geese flying behind the leader – just as it does for cyclists drafting in the peloton. From time to time, the lead goose falls back in order to regain its energy and another goose will take its place. Flying in the V formation allows the geese to stay in visual contact with one another – literally looking out for one another. It’s suggested that the geese also honk at each other as a means of staying in contact but also to encourage one another.

Robert and I talked about geese in flight and whether a similar approach could help.  He decided to take the idea very literally and created a V formation of his team using sticky notes on the wall of our meeting room. We discussed how he would rotate the team members to the lead position and would ask them to take particular care to encourage the ‘goose’ in front of them and behind them. He went back to his team to present his idea.

It’s been a few weeks now and Robert has moved to the back of the formation and a colleague has taken up the lead position. Robert reports that it’s working well and that the team has improved its efficiency without any extra effort. The team is intentionally taking time to offer constructive criticism and encouragement to each other and relationships have improved. Sounds good to me!

Today’s pebble for you to ponder: can you learn a lesson from the geese? 


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.

If you’d like a coach to help you succeed and make the most of your potential,
why not email me to see how we can work together?




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Are you consciously opting in?

Action for Happiness is an organisation committed to building a happier and more caring society. They want to see a fundamentally different way of life – where people care less about what they can get just for themselves and more about the happiness of others. Their website offers many hints and tips on how to do this: one of which is their series of monthly calendars, all with a different theme: Mindful March, Joyful June, Altruistic August and so on. September is all about Self-Care and I was struck by the entry for Monday 10 September:

Give yourself permission to say ‘no’ to requests from others. Self care september

Give yourself permission to say ‘no’ to requests from others.

Earlier this year when the new GDPR came into force, most of us received a lot of emails asking us to confirm our mailing preferences. Rather than making an assumption based on our past behaviour, organisations asked us to confirm that we still wished to hear from them by actively opting in.

If you’re like me, you took this opportunity to ask yourself whether you still wanted to hear from these people. Maybe you’d signed up for a one-time special offer, a discount or a competition entry. Perhaps a cause had been relevant to you once but that was no longer the case. Maybe you’re receiving so many emails, you delete them without even opening them.

The fact that we had to decide whether or not to opt it to receiving emails gave us the chance to consider the appropriate course of action in our current circumstances.

A client – let’s call him David – is working his way up through his organisation. When we last spoke, he mentioned that he was feeling rather swamped with work – ‘I just don’t like to say no. I want to be seen as a ‘can do’ person.’

‘How’s that working out?’ I asked.

‘I feel like I’ve got too many plates spinning and that any minute now, one of them is going to drop. There’s a new project on the horizon that I’d love to be involved with – it’s so relevant to what I hope to do in the future – but I’m bogged down with this other stuff where, quite honestly, I’m not adding a great deal of value.’

David realised that he needed to actively opt in to projects at work rather than take everything on, no matter what. By taking time to consider where he could make the greatest contribution, which projects would give him the opportunity to develop new skills and experience, and whether there was someone else in the team better placed to fulfil a particular task, he could choose to opt in and be fully engaged. He gave himself permission to be more discerning about the requests made of him. He was clear with others about his current priorities, objectives and areas of focus and, where he wasn’t able to take on the task himself, helped them to find the right person.

Today’s pebble for you to consider: will you give yourself permission to say ‘no’ or ‘not yet’ to requests from others? Will you choose to actively opt in?


PS  I am actively opting in to a couple of weeks away from screens – I’ll be back here on the blog on 5 October.

Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.

If you’d like a coach to help you succeed and make the most of your potential,
why not email me to see how we can work together?

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Is September the new January?

There’s a hint of autumn in the air here in the UK. As I walked to a meeting this morning, I noticed that leaves are starting to turn yellow, hedgerows are laden with blackberries and tiny children swamped in new school uniform were on their way to their first day at school.

Despite not having any children and the fact that my academic years are long gone, September always feels like a fresh start to me and that change is in the air. It seems I’m not alone – only last week, a coaching client said to me ‘well, September is the new January, after all.’ Google that phrase and you’ll get about 1,160,000,000 results so this clearly isn’t a new phenomenon. (Question: what’s the Southern Hemisphere equivalent? Is March a second January?)

new season new start september is the new january

For me, there are definitely a couple of advantages to setting new goals and taking on new challenges in September:

1  Start now and it gets 2019 off to a flying start

Working on new goals and acquiring positive habits now means we are already gearing up for the New Year. Nail those challenges now and on 1 January, you’ll be ahead of the game. It can also help you stay on track if you have any time off over the Christmas period – no need to resort to ‘I’ll look for a new job/sign up for a 10k run/put the house on the market/enrol on a marketing diploma course in January’ as you watch the next episode of your favourite box set whilst still in your PJs at 3.30pm in the days between Christmas and New Year.

2   Shorter time span than January’s New Year Resolutions

We’re two-thirds of the way through 2018. We don’t have a blank twelve month wall planner staring down at us. That shorter timeframe can seem more manageable than a twelve month commitment.

Gretchen Rubin talks about the strategy of the clean slate – a time where a change frees us up to make other changes. In The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald writes, ‘Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall‘  and I think this makes September, with its ‘new term’ feeling, the perfect time for a clean slate.

But wait! It’s now 7 September – the month is already a week over. Yes, it is, but there’s another thing I really like about September: on 22 September, there are one hundred days left until the end of the year. A couple of years ago, I proposed to my clients that they take the One Hundred Day Challenge: pick a goal and commit to work on it over the next one hundred days. For some, it was a work-related challenge; others chose a personal challenge, some even roping their families in too. By the end of the year, I’d seen an array of results from the acquisition of new jobs and new skills to improved fitness and more regular family dinners. If you start planning now, you have just over two weeks to create your action plan so that you’re ready to go on 22 September.

Today’s pebble for you to ponder: are you ready to make some changes? Will you commit to the One Hundred Day Challenge?


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.

If you’d like a coach to help you succeed and make the most of your potential,
why not email me to see how we can work together?

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