4 Tips Guaranteed to Increase Productivity

increase productivity burning midnight oil

Sleep – increase productivity

You simply cannot take getting enough sleep for granted.  Without enough sleep you will, literally, slow down. Whether you work shifts, or 9-5 you need enough sleep if you want to increase productivity. Forget about our concept about time – the minutes and hours we stipulate as day and night.  The human body has its own internal circadian clock (which happens to be roughly 24 hours, just over) which, when factored into our routines, keeps our bodies, minds and organs functioning at optimal levels.  We are, of course, able to over-ride these natural rhythms (paying more attention to external clocks) however, over a period of time this will affect our ability to perform at peak levels and decreases our productivity.

Sluggishness, irritability, feeling unwell, compromised immune systems are just a few of the effects of becoming sleep deprived and can lead to serious and long term mental welfare problems if left unaddressed.

There are plenty of articles, advice and tips online about how to get enough sleep (approx. 6-8 hours) and it’s important to know what your individual body needs. Proper attention to knowing what you require and then doing everything you can to ensure you get it, is the easiest way to guarantee your ability to perform at your peak level and increase productivity.

Meditation and/or Mindfulness to increase productivity

Managing stress can sometimes be easier said than done, especially if you work in a highly challenging environment.  However, to mitigate some of our stress levels meditation and mindfulness definitely help. If your mind is over busy, your body slows down, and everything is a struggle. To increase productivity, you need to help your mind regain focus.

Both meditation and mindfulness are terms bandied about a lot these days.  In simple terms they are both used to calm our frenzied minds.  Meditation is an umbrella term, which can include mindfulness, and denotes acknowledging your mind and self-regulating it.  Mindfulness is the act of focussing in on the present whether that be drinking a cup of tea, peeling vegetables or concentrating on your breath.  You are so present in whatever you are doing you can banish any other thought or worry from your mind and only be aware of the act you are doing.

Again there are plenty of exercises in both meditation and mindfulness online, find the one that works for you.  Starting your day with at least 10 minutes has been proven to improve brain functionality for the rest of the day.  Where possible repeating the exercise when you get overwhelmed will also help as it will with sleep if done before going to bed.

Daylight – nature’s way to increase productivity

Going back to the body’s natural rhythms, daylight plays a large factor in our overall well-being.  Before time or clocks were invented we would rise with the daybreak and sleep when night fell.  Today, we are cooped up in buildings with artificial light or in transport travelling to and from our occupations so we get little opportunity to get natural daylight.  This does inhibit some of our bio-chemical messages which in turn affects our productivity.

Standing outside, even on a cloudy of rainy day, with our faces turned up toward the daylight for at least 15 minutes a day gives a boost to our bio-chemistry. By looking into natural daylight your eyes take it in and produces the hormone Serotonin which helps us feel calm and focussed.  It also boosts our vitamin D levels which helps our bones, staves off anxiety and depression and is speculated to assist in fighting off some forms of cancer. So, daylight is nature’s easy boost to increase productivity.

Move More – yes, it’s true, our bodies need exercise to increase productivity

I can hear the groans from here.  We all know that exercise is beneficial for us yet so many of us don’t do it.  ‘Too busy to fit in’, ‘hate the gym’, ‘I don’t want to get sweaty’, we can spend an inordinate amount of time thinking of ways not to exercise.  However, it needn’t be that regimented.

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise when done briskly and in the fresh air.  Taking stairs, cycling, swimming, doing yoga.  It doesn’t really matter what the exercise is just find something that you enjoy or don’t mind doing and doesn’t interfere with your daily routine too much – you’re more likely to keep it up.  Check out my stress busting exercise tips here

The trick is to make sure it puffs you out a bit and gets your heart pumping.  That oxygenates your blood which in turn helps your little grey cells and eliminates nasties from your system at the same time.  If you can find 10/15minutes a day to get a coffee you can substitute one of those times to get a bit of exercise.

If you’re in a sedentary job then get a standing desk at the very least.  You’ll be surprised how much energy you burn when you stand regularly and work at a standing desk, plus it improves posture.

With so many days of productivity being lost to stress as well as back and neck pain, these 4 simple, easily implemented, non-onerous tips really will help you feel better and get some positivity back into your work. Rather than burn the midnight oil trying to cram more work in; try these 4 tips to increase productivity.

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Unlock the creative brain – try being a southpaw

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a study I found intriguing with some interesting findings around the brain and its function with creativity. I decided to try an experiment to unlock my creative brain.

Your brain has 2 hemispheres, left and right.  Your left hemisphere functions  with things such as logic, practicalities, reason etc. and the right is where our more creative impulses lie; creativity, imagination, dreaming, artistic leanings.  In normal day to day life we tend to use our left hemisphere most of the time and the right remains somewhat under-used (unless you are an artist of some sort or lucky enough to be left handed). Are we denying our creative brain?

Our right hand communicates towards out left hemisphere and our left hand towards our right.  The study suggested that encouraging more use of our left hand would ignite more synaptic pathways into our right hemisphere and lead to more creative thinking – which we could all do with in this day and age.

Experiment for the creative brain

I decided to give it a try by practising writing left handed, every day, for 10 minutes at a stretch for a month. My very unscientific experiment found some surprising outcomes.

I believe it did indeed unleash more creative thinking for me.  I found that, whereas I might have had to stop and think about one problem or one thing at a time the ideas started to flow with ease.  In fact they started to flow so fast and often I had a hard job keeping track.  It was like a grasshopper on speed!

Others noticed it too.  I didn’t realise at first that when I was speaking to someone, I would be verbalising ideas, thoughts, solutions as fast as they were popping into my head. They would sometimes spiral from immediately obtainable to possibilities and then eventually away into fantasy that would need a few more inventions to make reality. Those listening to me found it difficult to keep up with me and my thought-flows.

Warning, the creative brain can need controlling

I have had to make a concerted effort to rein it in.  To consciously re-introduce my left brain thinking so I can explain my ideas slowly and deliberately to those around me so they can grasp each portion before we move on to the next.  I’ve also lessened the amount of time I spend cultivating my left-handed writing to calm my excited thought processes. My creative brain needed a little more discipline.

I would therefore surmise that there is some truth in the study’s findings I read.  If not injecting you with some sudden creativity chemical I would speculate it at least breaks down blockages and opens avenues in your brain that have been under-utilised before.

Don’t just take my word for it – give it a go for yourself, after all who couldn’t do with more creative thought processes in this day and age? Try unlocking your own creative brain by writing left handed, 10 minutes per day.

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Resilience and being tested

being tested and surviving

Some time ago I wrote an article around resilience as I am asked so often how I find the resilience to keep doing what I do and then something happened recently that highlighted what I had tried to explain in a simpler and more human way: It was an example of being tested.

Though I catch the train into London again I try to avoid rush hour commutes as it is just too frenetic, crammed and stressful for my PTSD condition (a legacy from the crash) However, I was on a 3 day training course in London that necessitated peak hour travelling.

Arriving at the train station on the third day I found (along with thousands of other commuters) that some electrical lines had come down just outside of Paddington which had closed the routes into and out of Paddington.

Rather than give up on the day (I hate not finishing anything I start) with the rest of the masses I traipsed off to the Waterloo stopping train that would take hours to reach London.

Being tested can occur at unexpected moments

There was standing room only and, as more and more people squeezed on, I found myself crushed into a corner near the far door, unable to move or hang on to much, mainly held in place by other bodies. My resilience (and PTSD) was being tested and it was a thoroughly unpleasant experience.

As we set off, I could feel the panic rising in my throat. I began to sweat profusely, mouth went dry and the nausea rose from the pit of my stomach. I bit my tongue hard in an effort to ward off the crying out I could feel welling up in me as the flashbacks began again, coming ever thicker and faster. Alongside all this the arthritis in my legs began to flame with painful heat making standing excruciating but there was no way I was ever going to find anywhere to sit.

I was literally stuck in a corner with no visible way out, feeling absolutely terrible and in pain…and this is where resilience all stems from.

Resilience - Being Tested

When you are being tested you have choices

You have, at that moment a very simple choice. 1. Give up – give in to your doubts, fears, circumstances and let them wash over and engulf you. There is nothing that can be done to help or alleviate your immediate predicament so find the nearest or soonest escape route and take it.

Or 2. Fight back – accept whatever is happening to you but search for a way to cope with the immediate discomfort however rotten you feel, think about ways you might be able to improve the situation for yourself (in my case squirming around until I could reach my painkillers), and then work out how you will do it differently if circumstances were ever to repeat themselves. For the entire time know and appreciate that it will not last for ever and will, in some way, eventually be over. “This too will pass” is a mantra I use a lot! It is all about how you deal with your resilience being tested.

being tested triumphing

Assuming, like me, you always choose option 2 then you are resilient-proofed pretty much for the rest of your life.

I did get to my course eventually. After 30 minutes of pulling myself back together in the ladies I was able to re-join the rest of the group and carried on with no-one else the wiser. Oh, and I passed the leadership training accreditation it was teaching me so option 2 always trumps option 1.

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Don’t be too proud to ask for help

Ever had one of those days when your decision to be an entrepreneur seems like a mistake? Do you ask for help? It can be tricky, especially if you are a solopreneur. Everything seems to have gone belly up and you are soldiering on trying to ignore the feelings of doom and gloom. To quote a well-known phrase, “no man/woman is an island”.

Build a network and ask for help

If you are just starting out I cannot stress the importance of building a network of support. Those early days of a business can be terrifying. If you are an established business going through change you may need to extend your network to include new skills and different contacts to help manage that change.

Nobody is good at everything. My area of expertise is finance and change disruption. I was reluctant at first to tackle marketing, so I enlisted experts. I found social media at best irritating, at worst overwhelming. That was until I understood that I didn’t have to be EVERYWHERE, just where my potential clients were. My marketing expertise is growing because I found experts who were willing to educate me as I went through the process.

Sometimes you need to ask for help on a personal level

You may be awesome at your job, but you are only human. Life can derail the best of us and that is when we need to ask for help. If you have others depending on you, don’t struggle on regardless, it could jeopardise their wellbeing. Ask for help and admit that, today, you are not handling things well. You would be amazed at how people step up when you ask and may even find an employee who could share the load in some areas. When you ask for help you often empower others and get to see the best of them.

I am reminded of several friends who used to joke that their partners would never ask for directions, preferring, instead, to get hopelessly lost. I wonder if that is the case nowadays with Sat Nav? If you are unsure of the direction your business should be going and it is giving you sleepless nights, then get some guidance.

Ask for help to get back on the right track

The UK and the USA have a huge variety of business networks, advice centres, professional associations and consultants out there all whose sole purpose is support and help. It is arrogance to think you can do everything. As an entrepreneur, solopreneur, business leader, whatever your position; you are not the fount of all knowledge.

Great business consists of great teams and your teams’ expertise is there to be used. Great business makes connections and knows where to ask for help.

Great business leaders have friends and colleagues who willingly offer support and who are happy to help. So, if today is not a great day, reach out, ask for help, share the load. Tomorrow will be better.

Interdependence vs independence; the argument for cooperative working

In today’s workplace I hear a lot of verbalisation on giving employees ‘independence’ in their jobs to promote greater productivity. Is independence the right route to follow?  I believe not. I would argue that interdependence is the way forward.

Independence isolates, interdependence brings together

Independence is the ability to live your life without being helped or influenced by other people. This sounds good on the face of it however, if taken in the work sense, it suggests working on tasks without support or assistance which does not promote a team environment nor a sense of ‘us’ which is where productivity stems from.


Although employee independence is bandied around by employers as being a reality in their organisations I was reading with interest a recent FT article which seems to contradict this;

“It was found that the proportion of people who have a lot of discretion over how they do their jobs has declined, from 62 per cent in 1992 to 44 per cent in 2012 and to 38 per cent in 2017. There is a strong correlation between people having control over their work and enjoying their jobs.”

(the findings come from the 2017 Skills and Employment Survey, a government-funded study of about 3,300 people conducted every five years).

So it would appear that independence is not actively promoted as much as is claimed and the old command and control mechanism is alive, well and being invoked.  This is a tactic of the scared.  Things are changing so fast that it appears upper management are defaulting back to archetype because they don’t know what else to do and, as history has shown, command and control structures will ultimately fail.

What they should be looking at is an Interdependence structure.

Interdependence is where two or more things are dependent on each other.  A subtle differential however it makes a massive difference and surely makes sense?

If employers and employees recognise that they are dependent on each other (without both the other fails) then combined business strategies automatically follow.  Allowing for both sides of the equation means everyone is invested in the same goals and, just like an equation, aiming for exactly the same result beyond the = sign.

interdependence and AI

AI has its role to play but in what way makes a huge difference too. In the command and control structure its main focus is to watch and monitor employees illustrating the heightened lack of trust that change seems to have created in management.  In an interdependent culture AI’s focus switches to becoming one of the team, something employee and employer can both use for productive outcomes without the ‘big brother’ attitude.

Interdependence allows for autonomy but when structured correctly provides support, advice, and feedback when and where required.  It brings both parties closer into alignment with each other which, in the very few companies I have witnessed it, provides a far more enjoyable and harmonious workplace.

Are you feeling isolated? We all need human connection

Isolated leader

When talking to prospective clients one of the things I try to do is delve a little into their personalities and their wishes for their work.  I ask questions such as ‘what makes you happy at work’, ‘what would you ideally like to accomplish’, ‘what do you think is your biggest challenge’, ‘how do you feel now’.

Some of the common words that have been cropping up recently in answer to the last question; ‘how do you feel now’ has surprised me.  “Lonely”, “Isolated”, “Alone”. Why would this be? Most companies I deal with still have offices teeming with people, many working in teams on various projects so how is it possible to feel isolated and alone?

Isolated Workplace

Leadership loneliness and being isolated at work

Exploring a little deeper I am finding that quite a few of the leaders have the idea that they cannot show any vulnerability as that will be seen as a sign of weakness.  They feel that they have to tread a lonely path so that they will be respected, be seen as the authority figure and have their orders obeyed.  I would suggest that idea of what a leader should be like is a misnomer.

When talking to team members it appears that many are using these words in terms of their tasks.  Some work from home the majority of the time and are feeling less connected with the rest of their team and office.  Some are given their task and then expected to go off and just get on with it with very little, if any, support. This leads to a sense of being isolated from the rest of the team.

As a solopreneur I am quite used to working on my own, it suits my personality.  However, I know that there is a danger of becoming isolated, separate from other people.  To stop this happening I make a point of arranging and going out to physically attend meetings.  My work, of course, means I am constantly meeting and mixing with new people and with new connections I encourage 1-2-1 coffee meetings so I can get to know them as people.  I would say I have a 50/50 balance between working alone and being with and around other people.

I can see that the newer, faster paced world of work requires people to concentrate on their job in hand and doing so alone negates unnecessary distractions, however, are we not in danger of forgetting a core essential for any high performing productive team? Is it healthy for people to feel isolated?

Feeling isolated is contrary to our DNA

Isolated & Alone

Social interaction is one of our basic human needs.  It is within our DNA and has been since the beginning of Homo Sapiens roaming the earth.  Whilst striving for more productivity we need to ensure that this fundamental need is catered for.  We need to be more genuine, authentic and open so that other people can relate, listen to and talk to us.  We should encourage and facilitate areas, events or times when people can get together and have a good old chin wag and we need to get better at asking others questions as to how they are feeling.

Everyone needs someone to lean on occasionally whether they are the very top executive, somewhere in the middle or on the front line.  Feeling isolated is not a necessary part of leadership or 21st century working, People are, first and foremost, people after all.

Are you genuine and authentic?

genuine and authentic

Being genuine and authentic are much under rated qualities in the modern workplace however they are the foundation and essential to everything that underpins every success story.

I recently had the pleasure of delivering a keynote talk, the remit for which was to inspire people to change, create change and be open to change, in the field of inclusion and acceptance of others.  The fact that such a talk was required highlights the realisation that such humanity is required but perhaps has been given lip service before without much action to bring it about.

genuine and authentic connections

Throughout my adult life I have been unable to act in any other way.  Yes, it has sometimes left me exposed to machinations or being taken advantage of by others however I still prefer to remain the way I am.  I treat everyone I meet as though they do too and are being genuine and authentic with me in return.  It is with some sadness that I admit perhaps this is not always a universal truth.  However, what does gladden my heart is that there appears to be a shift back towards these ideals and the honest desire to now promote individualism and caring towards people as human beings, certainly within the financial sector I work in.

As one of my audience members put it: “The sharing of your experience has been truly authentic and this is not something that people can fudge. You have to be an authentic caring individual to have the desire to put your personal experience at the service of a wider community, to give people reassurance, strength, and hope. You have made me smile and cry in short distance and I felt very much alive!”

Being genuine and authentic is a strength

And there is the crux.  Revealing your genuine and authentic self is not a weakness, it is a strength.  It is not something to be feared but something to be celebrated.  Humanity comes in all shapes and sizes and exposing your true self can be scary but the more you do it, the more ‘human’ you are, the easier it gets and the more people will respond positively towards you.

The next time someone asks you; ‘how are you’ don’t just reply ‘fine’.  If it’s a good, or indeed bad day, tell them and why that is.  More importantly if you are the person asking listen to what the other says and if it’s appropriate perhaps offer a cup of coffee or a shoulder to lean on.  Take the time to appreciate each other as people and see them as a fellow human being with the same feelings, problems and desires as yourself.

We all want to be ‘successful’ (however you may measure that term) but sometimes it is forgotten that being genuine and authentic is actually a short cut towards that goal.

Using the right brain functions

right brain creativity

Becoming more creative as a person, a skill that is going to become more and more vital to our survival in the workplace, seems to hinge around us exercising and developing our right brain functions.

Most of us are right-handed and neurology has shown that our right handedness is closely connected to our left brain hemisphere.  Our left brain circuitry commands our verbal communications, analytical functions and logic.  This makes sense as our left hemisphere thinks and our right hand acts (as well as our mouth).

Your right brain taps into creativity

In contrast we do not use our left hand, which is connected with our right brain hemisphere, that often.  This is where our intuition lies, our emotions, feelings and creativity.  It was no surprise to me that many of our most famous artisans such as Da Vinci and Beethoven were left handed. For the rest of us this means that our creative hemisphere is more or less dormant but abundant with untapped creative resources.

For generations left handedness was educated out of people.  Society and education did not like people who were out of the ‘norm’ and tried to correct left handedness by forcing people to use their right hand thereby strengthening the neural pathways in the brain’s left hemisphere whilst weakening the pathways in the right.  Not all together a great success but none the less on some it was effective and, even today, right handedness is considered usual. Thus, our right brain may, for many, have gone to sleep!

If you are left handed then I am guessing, you are a fairly creative person already and if you are ambidextrous then you must have the best of both worlds.  The trick for us right handed people is to spark off the right side of our brain to unleash the creative pathways that are undiscovered and under used.

Unlock your right brain potential

I am predominantly right handed.  After the crash though my right hand took the brunt of the burning and I have been left with hardly any feeling in it.  I can no longer trust my right hand to enact what I ask of it without watching it carefully and telling it precisely what I expect it to do.

Luckily, the body being such a wonderful mechanism, I began to gradually default into using my left hand, which does have feeling, a lot more.  I trust my left hand because of the sensory feedback I get and I allow it to take the lead role when enacting my mental commands.  Perhaps it was this that has helped me to discover and utilise my creativity more?

Apparently, this can be replicated to great effect.  Research suggests that if you practice and teach yourself to write left handed this opens the avenues into your right brain and begins to lie down the new pathways that unlock the flow of creativity.  5 minutes per day is enough though as you get more proficient you may want to extend the time.

How simple does that sound!  Will it work?  Well, I’m going to give it a go each day for the month of October and I’ll report back as to how or what difference I notice.  In the meantime why not give it a go? Using your right brain and being more creative can’t be a bad thing and will definitely be a positive for the future.

Can You Learn to Become a Creative Person?

creative person

As automation and AI develop at an ever-increasing pace what role can humans expect to play?

It is not going to be long before many of the more mundane, formulaic and processes where a programme can be extrapolated will be done by machines.  It is already happening in many industries including the financial services sector with the markets, banking and investment houses replacing a huge number of people in traditional roles with computers that can do the same tasks in a fraction of the time.  They are autonomous, never sleep, don’t require rest or holidays and, after the initial outlay, are pretty cheap to maintain. So in this technological age do we still need a person on the workforce?

There is still one thing that the machines cannot yet do.  They can only follow a set of instructions and, however complicated these instructions may be, they cannot act or react creatively.  Us humans are still very much the driving force in that regard and that is where our productive future lies.

creative person brain

A creative person is very employable and creative thinking is a valuable skill

It therefore seems logical that we should concentrate our efforts on developing and enhancing our creative thinking processes and creativity in general to remain relevant to our workforce and job market well into the future.

Not all of us are gifted in this area.  The way we are educated and grow up, conforming to the   requirements of modern industry as it stands now, means that a lot of our natural talent and creativity are stunted.  Our ability to day dream, speculate and not be bounded by the status quo play havoc with what is expected of us at work and are therefore not encouraged.  We weren’t educated to develop this skill as it is the current education system’s job to churn out more of the same types of people to fill the jobs that exist currently and not really concern itself with what the future might look like. If you are not naturally creative can you learn to be a creative person?

There are a few that manage to keep their creativity intact.  Great artists, composers, ground-breaking scientists, inventors – people who refuse to accept the norm and use their inquisitiveness and curiosity to keep exploring, pushing the boundaries and developing the most amazing results and objects.  However, most of us can only watch, hear of or see what they produce and are in awe of their gifts and, in some cases, jealously think ‘why couldn’t/didn’t I think of that’.

I believe we can.

creative science

Being a creative person is a skill we can develop

Think back to when you were a child. We were all one once and I’ve written before about how we should try and recapture some of our wonderment from that time to help us in adulthood.  We weren’t concerned or worried about the rules, what others would say, what our limitations were.  We were happy to daydream, invent, explore and investigate whatever was in front of us or popped into our heads.  Despite a few bumps, scrapes and bruises we carried out our experiments, probing what was possible and what wasn’t (unless or until our parents stopped us).  I was always fascinated by how things worked inside their casings and was forever taking things like clocks apart to find out (never managed to put them back together the same way, always had ‘spares’ left over and they often didn’t work again).

And it is the memory of this that haunts me still.  I have been doing a lot of reading and research recently into how we might safely re-ignite our own creativity spark and in my next article I’ll share what I have discovered thus far.

The good news…it would appear that it wouldn’t take very much effort and can be achieved. Being a creative person starts with a willingness to believe it is possible…read more next week.

Celebrating success, however small, is good for your health

celebrating success

We are very good at running ourselves down or being critical of our achievements however, how much effort do we put into celebrating success however small?

If, like me, you lean towards perfectionist tendencies, then you can be very hard on yourself.  Though you may allow yourself a fleeting sense of accomplishment it is not long before you are wondering what you could have done differently or what you could improve on to make it even better the next time around. Why are we so reluctant to enjoy celebrating success?

Celebrating success doesn’t mean ignoring improvements

Being analytical after the event is not altogether a bad thing.  There is no such thing as perfection and things can always be improved upon but maybe we should learn to relax more and take more time to celebrate, revel in and enjoy our wins.

I was reminded of this recently.  For the past 18 years I have had PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) which whilst understandable is a right, royal pain in the bum.  One of the facets of PTSD is depression episodes where I cannot function, move, talk or operate in any way.  Over the years my psychologist and I have worked hard on getting these episodes down from every other week, to once a month, to every 3 months and then thought we had plateaued at every 6 months.  I had come to accept this was just the way of my new life and have tried to look at the positive side – that it may happen twice a year but that left me with 50 weeks of the year when I was fine.

This year has been different.  I have just celebrated the fact that it has been a whole year since my last depression episode.

Believe me this is a huge milestone for me.  To have successfully negotiated the trigger points, allowed myself to rest when symptoms were beginning to emerge and just generally being kinder to myself by being aware of my own welfare are new habits that seem to have worked and I will continue to implement.

To mark this ‘first’ I took time out with some friends who have been with me and supported me ever since the train crash, and we had a barbecue with a few libations along the way.  It was truly enjoyable and I relaxed properly and revelled in the success for the first time I can remember.

Celebrating success is an opportunity to share the positive

Since then I have acknowledged how much nicer it was to celebrate this small victory in my health than to worry about the ‘when’ of depression hitting again.  Unfortunately I know that there is a strong likelihood it will rear its ugly head at some point but I’ll not concern myself with it until it does.

With this acknowledgement comes the determination to make sure I apply the same sense of joy with every future success I have, however small or trivial.  I have also decided, because it is such a nice feeling and one I personally would like more of, I will also take genuine joy in the successes of those around me too. Celebrating success need not be limited to my own triumphs.

Why not join me.  Start with yourself – relax, revel and allow yourself to truly celebrate your wins.  Then celebrate the wins of others.  Believe me, if I know or am connected with you, I’ll be doing so on your behalf.