Building your Confidence Muscle

Do you feel great when you feel confident?

Do you perform well when you feel confident?

Would you like to consciously build you own confidence?

You and I both know that confidence is an asset.

Yet how often do we doubt ourselves and feel inadequate?

If your answer to building confidence is “Fake it till you make it”

Know this – that’ a myth. It may help you through one or two situations but is does not build confidence.  Why? Because its inauthentic, it feels out of integrity and it fuels your self-doubt.

Another myth is that confidence is innate. We are not born confident. We become confident as we learn and grow.

Confidence is like a muscle.

Feed it properly and exercise it well and it will grow strong.

Yes – we can build our confidence muscle and here’s how:

Step 1: Take action.

Remember – confidence is a muscle and you build muscles through practice. Confidence is linked to what we do. I grow; you grow – by doing and learning.

Do you think I was confident when I started coaching? No, I was terrified. The best thing about the course I did was that we were “forced” to coach. We had to have a certain number of hours under our belts before we could qualify. I lacked confidence when I opened my practice, so I have away 2 free sessions to everyone. Everyone came for 2 free sessions and then disappeared. I stopped the free sessions and continued coaching. By coaching I became a better coach.

By doing we develop mastery.

How do we learn? My making mistakes.

Confidence comes from building mastery through practice and learning through feedback.

The first step to building confidence is being in action.

What stops us from taking action?

STEP 2: Build a positive mind-set

Our tendency towards the negativity bias stops us from taking action.

Look at the talk around every dinner table, in every school car park and every conference room:  it’s all gloom and doom about our beloved country.

I’m surprised you’re still here!

When things go wrong in our lives we blame.

When we fail we criticize ourselves more harshly than razor wire wrapped around a new-born baby.

Does any of this build our confidence?

We need the second step: be vigilant about developing a positive mind-set.

Instead of blaming, ask yourself – what can I do to make a difference? How can I learn and grow?

Instead of seeing failure talk about feedback and focus on implementing what you have learnt.

Instead of problems see opportunities. How can I use what I am going through as an opportunity for growth?

Years ago I was on a course that taught me something precious: every night as you lie in bed falling asleep, think about where you are winning in your life. This simple exercise has helped me to feel motivated and inspired to carry on , to do more and to learn more. I still do it, almost every night. If I forget for a while, and the negative bias creeps back (it does because it’s easy to focus on where things are going wrong) then I simply go back to this mind-set practice again.

Focusing on where you are winning is a mind-set that sets you up for success and confidence building.

If you’re not good at focusing your thoughts, write about where you are winning. As you fill your journal with wins in your life, you’ll be able to look back at all you’ve achieved . The confidence muscle will grows and develop.

Making sure your mind-set serves you rather than hindering you smoothest the path for growing that confidence muscle.

Part of this positive mind-set involves Step 3.

Step 3.  Choose to believe in yourself.

Believe that you are capable, believe that you can learn, and believe you can grow.

You are capable of learning and growing, aren’t you?

A belief is a merely a thought.

Here are two thoughts: 1)  I am capable.  2) I am not capable.

Choose one thought and put it in your head now. Say it to yourself.

Which one did you choose?

What are the implications of the thoughts you choose to believe in?

If you chose “I am capable”: You are much more likely to take take action.  You take action. You practice, you get better and stronger. You make a mistake. You take the feedback you learn and take more action . Hey! Your confidence muscle is growing!

If you chose “I am not capable”:  You don’t take action.  Why would you? You don’t learn, you don’t grow. You become incapable. What happens to your confidence muscle? It shrivels.

Choose to believe in your capability, your capacity for learning and growing and grow that confidence muscle.

Three steps will have you glowing with confidence:

Step 1: Take action – become a master through practice, learn through feedback

Step 2: Develop a positive mind-set:  Opportunities not problems; Growth not blame; Feedback not failure

Step 3: Choose to believe in your self – your capacity for learning and growing, your capability for success.

Confidence is a muscle. Confidence grows by building mastery through practice and learning through feedback.

Go now and grow your confidence. Glow with confidence.

With confidence,
you have won before you have started.
Marcus Garvey

Image courtesy of stockimages at


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To be significant – what does it take?

A coach of 22 years, Ronald Chapman wrote in a recent copy of Toastmaster:

Nothing of significance can be born
without major discomfort and disruption.

Read it again!

I recently asked a group of people what they thought their life purpose is.

The majority wanted to be significant in one way or another

They want to leave their mark on the world.

I found a life vision for myself through the Personal Growth Journal of Coaching Culture Clubs and the group coaching of Bryanston No 1 Coaching Culture Club.

A vision is just that, a picture. To become the significant person I envisage myself to be I have to expect ‘major discomfort and disruption’.

I find it rather ironic that I read this quote the day after telling everyone at Bryanston No 1 Coaching Culture Club that in order to achieve my vision I expect a lot of discomfort, but that I allow my saboteur to rule my life because I’m comfortable as I am right now.

How about you?

Have you answered the question for yourself: what is your life vision?

If you are not already living your life vision, do you have a picture – a vision – of what your life could look like?

How will you get there?

Post by JP Gernaat

Some journal questions to get you started.

About John-Peter Gernaat

Owner of Fourways Coaching Culture Club, John-Peter Gernaat is part of world-wide culture shift to incorporate coaching as an essential partnership in life. With a background in training, mentoring and managing people, John-Peter has turned to coaching to help people achieve the highest potential they possess. Coaching Culture Clubs offers a structured coaching programme accessible to everyone as it spreads into every suburb and community. Follow @jpgernaat on LinkedIn or visit

Picture by Sam Burris

Posted in Goal-setting, Life Mastery, Make a difference, Visualizing | 3 Comments

Joy Unpacked by Experts

In our Coaching Culture Club meetings, we each make a commitment towards the end of the meeting.

At the beginning of the next meeting, we tune into accountability by giving one word that describes how well we kept our commitment.

At our December meeting we made an annual commitment to an action that would serve us well for 2017.

Mine was to rise early and spend up to an hour meditating, visualizing, reading and journaling.

My accountability word right now is “Going strong”.

OK, OK I know that’s two words! Stop being pedantic.

The reason why I am going strong is because I am getting so much out of these early mornings.

My most favorite activity is reading

– because it ties beautifully into a strong value of mine – learning.

The book I am reading right now is a delight. I can’t wait to get to it every morning and read a few pages.

It’s a story of two elderly men who spend a week in each others company for the younger man’s 80th birthday. They bring along an accomplished author to write the story of the week.

The humor brings the delight almost as much as the learning. Mainly because the three men are a Buddhist, a Christian and a Jew. As the author says…. imagine them walking into a bar!

The whole week is dedicated to unpacking JOY: what is joy?; how do we “get” joy? how do we experience joy during suffering? what are the building blocks of joy?

What I love about the book is the simple unfolding of the learnings – and today’s pages reminded me how stuck we can get in our own suffering. We think about how unfair life is, how awful everyone is to us, how we are not coping, how miserable we are, how we wish things could be different. When it is all about “me, me, me” it’s is even more difficult to shift the misery.

These wise men suggest that selfishness is important to the extent of taking good care of yourself, but after that, turn your focus outwards rather than inwards and the misery will shift.

Help others, care for others, think about others.

I know this works, because I have been in the pity pot myself, and experienced the power of shifting my focus outwards. I have worked with clients who have wallowed in the pity pot, and found joy by moving their focus outwards.

Where are you today? Are you inward focused? Are your thoughts obsessing about how tough your life is? Are you all about “me, me, me” ?

I challenge you all, no matter where your focus, to a 24-hour outward focus.

Do for others, care for others, help others.

Share with us what you experienced by commenting below.

Two last things before I close!

The book – have you guessed what it is? If not…

The Book of Joy – His Holiness Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams

Lastly, special thanks to the man in my life who created joy by giving me this book for Valentine’s Day. You may think it’s an odd gift for Valentine’s day – but my Valentine really gets me!

Be Joyful.

Too much self-centered thinking
is the source of suffering.
A compassionate concern for others’ well-being
is the source of happiness.
The Dalai Lama

Photo from Flickr

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Deconstructed cottage pie


The kitchen was full of energy: pots boiling , food processor slicing and grating, steamer steaming.

I had started dinner very late and cottage pie was on the menu.


There are a number of steps to cottage pie:

Cook the mince, using grated carrots and other veg to make it healthy and allowing you to serve a  one pot dish. Cook and mash the potato. Put the mince in an ovenproof dish, spread potato mash on top, making wavy patterns with a fork. For extra decadence, sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake in the oven until top is browned and dish is piping hot. Serve.

Instead of yummy potatoes, I was steaming cauliflower – cauliflower mash makes for a healthier dish.

Phew, I stressed, it really is late and I’m still busy with the mince.

My husband came in from work, starving.

“What’s for dinner?”, he asked.

Quick as a flash I answered, “Deconstructed cottage pie!”

Somewhere along our adventures in Johannesburg restaurants and conference venues, we’d seen a trend towards deconstructed food – deconstructed apple pie, deconstructed cheese cake, deconstructed salad and many more.

Strange word. To my mind deconstruct means the thing was constructed and now you’re undoing it and offering the food in separate piles. I certainly wasn’t going to construct the cottage pie and then deconstruct it again.

In honour of the lateness of my cooking, I was merely going to put the mince and mash separately on the plate and skip the 20 minutes in the oven. This I decided in the split second it took to answer my husbands question.

In that moment I realized the simple truth!

When you see deconstructed food on the menu the chef, unorganized and running out of time,  is using a fancy word to distract us from the truth.

It worked well for me too!

Now I’m wondering how else I can use this neat trick…..

“How did it get so late so soon?”
Dr. Seuss

Posted in Life Mastery, Managing Stress, Time management | 1 Comment

The Craziest Competition of All

I walked out this morning at 6:30, hoping it would be cool. My dog was, as usual, beside himself with excitement.

As we (my dog and me) rounded the bend, I noticed a young man with the biggest mop of hair  strolling along in front of me. He reminded me of Mogli from Jungle book. He looked like he had just woken up – rubbing his eyes and stretching.

A strange thought slid into my head: I’ll overtake him easily.

He was relaxed and strolling; I was walking as fast as I could.

After about 10 minutes I realized I wasn’t making much progress.

Interesting, since he was relaxed and not in a rush and I was focused on competing with him. (Is it a competition if the other person knows nothing about what is happening??)

Grumpily I conceded that youth may have the edge here.

As we (my dog and me and the young man) walked up the road, a couple, very smartly dressed, walked out of a home. They were much older than the young man, maybe around my age. I chatted briefly to them as I glided past.

Well that was easy, I thought and then relaxed and zoned out as I got lost in my own world of thoughts.

A few minutes later, as we (my dog and me and the young man and the old man and the old woman!)  neared the gate of the suburb I realized that I had in fact caught up with the young man.

Haha, I thought, I do still have it in me.

Perhaps all I needed was to calm down and have patience.

I do know this. I often forget.

In my experience when I am calm and relaxed I perform way better that when I stress myself out with panicky thoughts of time and competition.

It seems like this is a good theme for me for the year: be calm, be patient, be grounded.

Have you thought about a theme for your year? It’s better than setting New Years resolutions.

And if you do select a theme for the year – how do you stay focused on it for the whole year?

Here’s what works for me:

3 steps to keeping focus on a theme for the year:

  • Use notes on your phone to record your self observations
  • Set a weekly reminder to record your observations
  • When the reminder goes off, jot down how well you have lived your theme, what’s not working, what is working.

It’s important to keep the notes short and sweet and honest, so that the task doesn’t become laborious and take lots of time.

Doing this once a week is not to onerous. It also brings your awareness back to the theme – as the weeks go by your awareness grows and you will be able to catch yourself in the moment and make a  change if necessary.

From a relaxed and calm me, to you and your dreams for 2017, have an awesome year!!

Being relaxed, at peace with yourself,
confident, emotionally neutral loose, and free-floating
–these are the keys to successful performance
in almost everything
Wayne W. Dyer

Photo from flickr

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Warning: huge losses due to busyness

id-10034823What I read this morning led me to answer a question in my journal, and this sparked an awful realization for me.

My busyness could be an issue.

One of my closest and dearest friends often calls me “Busy Bee’. I believe its a term of endearment. I hope. I do tend to be busy, often feeling frantic because there is so much to do.

This morning I spent some time reading and writing in my journal.

The book I am reading is called “Success Intelligence” by Robert Holden.  The first chapter is all about busyness – it’s quite an eye-opening read. At the end of the chapter he includes a “Busyness audit” – naturally I decided to do it on myself.

The first question was not pleasant.

What do I lose when I am permanently busy?

I’m not sure I liked my answers, but one has to be truthful when doing these exercises, don’t you agree? Here they are, in the order they came up for me.

The awareness of what I am losing by being permanently busy has emphasized the need to continue with my morning practice mentioned in the last post.

How often do you tell people you are so busy? That things are so hectic? That you don’t have enough hours in the day? That you’re so tired? You need to sleep more? (another friends told me she needs to sleep more just this morning – you know who you are!)

Perhaps you are suffering from permanent busyness?

Take a quiet moment to reflect and answer this question: What do you lose when you  are permanently busy?

“I am too busy not to pray”
Charles Wesley

Image courtesy of photostock at

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What you do today defines you tomorrow

img_0001Every now and again I read something that makes a light bulb go off in my head – it’s that elusive “aha” moment that we all enjoy.

I’ve had a mad and crazy year. I have made more mistakes in this year that I’ve probably made in my 10 years of working for myself.

 I know why.

I said YES, as I often do, to too many things. One was to launch a new business  – Coaching Culture Clubs, and the other was to take a year-long course that enables me to apply for an Honorary Ranger position with North West parks.

Around September this year, I was thoroughly mad at myself for messing up an email I sent with an incorrect attachment.

I stopped and thought about what was going inside me that resulted in too many mistakes.

I realized that I’d stopped all the best practices I’ve used for many years.

I had told myself I was too busy to take half an hour in the morning to meditate, journal and read. I choose to wake up every day in a frantic state and jump right into busyness.

Fortunately I came across a book called “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod. It’s a quick and easy read and it reminded me that the way I start my day has an impact on how the rest of my day goes.

Start your day in a frantic and panicked state, you will have a frantic and unproductive day.

The “aha” moment in the book was a paragraph called “isolating incidents”. Hal explained how we have a tendency to make an inappropriate choice in the moment, writing it off because just this once won’t matter.

Let’s say you’re wanting to loose weight. You reach for a biscuit, and tell yourself one won’t do any harm. Keep doing this and you become an overweight person.

We do not realize that what we choose in the moment defines who we are becoming.

That’s  the statement that had a huge impact on me. Now I understand where I was going wrong.

Every day when I woke up and said to myself, “I’ve got too much to do, let’s just jump straight into work”.  I was in the process of becoming a person that is rushed and frantic and makes mistakes.

The choices I was making in the moment were determining who I was becoming.

I know I still have lots of inner work to do.

I know the kind of person I want to become.

Which means I have to consciously make choices now which allow me to become the person I want to be.

The question to ask is this : ” Who  am I becoming by taking this action now?”

Thanks to Hal for the inspiration. I’ve gone back to rising early and grounding myself for the day.  What a difference it makes to a day. I am on the road to becoming a better version of me…

My past does not equal my future

Hal Elrod

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7 Steps to Improve your Emotional Intelligence

id-100349673What exactly is EQ (emotional intelligence)?

Emotional intelligence is the ability
to identify, understand and manage
your own emotions
and the emotions of others.

This intelligence includes your ability to be aware of your own and other’s emotions and using emotions effectively to make decisions.

Having worked on my own EQ for many years, I am much more aware that times when I am feeling anxious have much more to do with me that the other person/ event. I am even beginning to understand how I come to have these ‘buttons’ that can so easily be pushed. I am slowly getting better at communicating this as well.

However, I still make mistakes. Like the other day when I sent an email whilst angry. It has backfired on me –  a good reminder that reacting rather than responding is not constructive or effective.

So I continue to work and research. Some of the books that have opened my eyes tremendously are “The Four Agreements” by don Miguel Ruiz, as well as “EQ: Emotional Intelligence for Everyone” by Stephanie Vermeulen.

From my research and my own practise I have experienced that these 7 steps go a long way towards improving EQ.

Steps to Improving Emotional Intelligence

  1.  Get in touch with your own emotions. Look up how many words there are for emotions – and keep a list handy. Once or twice a day identify the emotions you are feeling and, if possible, link the feeling to an event. It is useful to keep a journal handy in which to jot this down. For instance, if you are feeling upset, try to identify when the feeling began. Was it when you walked into the office? Or when your colleague told you they were engaged? Or when your boss sent an email asking to see you later? Getting in touch with your emotions like this helps you to understand your own values and drivers.
  2. Identify your stress triggers (step 1 can help with this). Reflect back on when you were really angry or flew off the handle. Can you pinpoint what happened. What might your stress triggers be? How did you react and what is a better way to respond?
  3. Respond rather than react. Stephen Covey put it this way: Create a gap before you react. When you experience high negative emotions, resist the temptation to react straight away. Tell the person/s involved you will get back to them. Now let off steam in a safe space. A great way is to write in your journal, or better some scrap paper – In writing you can shout, swear, scream, call the person all the names you like. Keep writing until you are calmer and have more clarity. It’s a good idea to destroy the scrap of paper. Now go back and sort out the issue.
  4. Develop the skill of embracing arguments. If your response is to get defensive, yell and scream or run away (like me – and I am working very hard on this one) then you have some work to do. A person with a high EQ encourages the angry person to speak more. They listen . They respond with statements like: “You seem so angry; what happened that upset you the most?” They listen for long enough that the other person feels heard and understood.   Then together they find a solution. So powerful!!
  5. Open you mind to other people’s ideas. Low EQ people tune out when someone has an opinion they disagree with. They close their minds. Instead of labeling people as stupid or ignorant and withdrawing, the high EQ person listens and looks for common ground. They are not hooked by the opinions of others. They listen to the opinions of others in an open-minded fashion, then question whether their own opinion is still valid. The high EQ person holds onto their opinions unless they hear convincing logic that another opinion is better, at which stage they are willing to let go of their original opinion. The high EQ person does not change their opinion based on the emotions that are flying around.
  6. Get into their heads and emotions. If someone is angry, pretend you are them; feel what they are feeling; picture what they are seeing. This can help you to truly understand what is happening.
  7. Keep your eye on the  body language of others. Become more observant: look at their eyes, the way they hold their bodies, their shoulders, their breathing, their hands, their colouring. These bodily manifestations  give you a much greater clue as to what is going on inside the other than just their words.

Don’t try to implement all these steps at once. Start with the one that feels the easiest to you. Work with it for a month or two, then tackle another step.

Improving your emotional intelligence is not done with a click of the fingers. It requires slow and steady work. Practicing and experimenting over time leads to automation of the new skill.

Each small improvement you make opens the way to healthier and more stable relationships – at work and at home.

Let me know how it goes;  share your success stories and your difficulties.

When dealing with people,
remember you are not dealing
with creatures of logic,
but creatures of emotion.
Dale Carnegie

Image courtesy of nenetus at

Posted in awareness, Feelings, Life Mastery, Relationships | 1 Comment

The role you play in a bad relationship

cute-18864_1280If I were to tell you that you have   played a role in your bad relationship, you will probably get all defensive. More so if you play the blame game: It’s all your partner’s fault.

Bear with me.

If it’s your partner’s fault that you have a terrible relationship
then if can only get better if your partner changes something
and you are powerless to do anything to improve the relationship.

So get off the blame wagon and let’s do the Perspectacles exercise:

Think about putting on a pair of brown sunglasses. At first everything you look at has a brown tinge, and after a while you get used to it, and everything looks normal.

Now imagine putting on a pair of blue sunglasses. At first everything you look at has a blue tinge, and after a while you get used to it, and everything looks normal.

Changing sunglasses (spectacles) is like changing your perspective.

Step 1:

Write a list of 10 things you love about your partner. If you struggle go back to the days you met and write about what you loved. Picture this person doing all these wonderful things and notice that your feelings are ‘good’ feelings. Write down the colour of the sunglasses you could be wearing when looking at your partner like this. We’ll call these the Love Spectacles.

Step 2.

Write a list of 10 things you hate about your partner. Picture this person doing all these irritating things and notice that your feelings are ‘bad’ feelings. Write down the colour of the sunglasses you could be wearing when looking at your partner like this. We’ll call these the Hate Spectacles.

When you put on the Love Spectacles, you experience positive feelings about your partner. You are more likely to treat your partner in a loving manner when you wear the Love Spectacles. Now your partner feels the love, and treats you in a loving manner, and so the spiral goes…

When you put on the Hate Spectacles, you experience negative feelings about your partner. You are more likely to treat your partner unkindly or badly when you wear the Hate Spectacles. Now your partner feels un-cared for, and tends to treat you in a way you don’t like, and so the spiral goes….

Who is choosing the colour spectacles you are wearing???

You are. It may be unconscious (but not after you have read this blog), and you ARE choosing.

If you are choosing which spectacles to wear – then you are choosing how you feel about your partner, how you treat your partner and ultimately you are choosing the kind of relationship that you have.

Yes, YOU play an important and powerful role in creating the kind of relationship that you have today.

You are responsible.

You may not like it. If you defend and blame, then you can’t fix the relationship. If you understand the subtle, yet powerful role, you play in creating your relationship, then you can start making changes right now.

Before you see your partner later today, decide, consciously:

Is it going to be the Love Spectacles or the Hate Spectacles?





Posted in Choices, Feelings, Life Mastery, Relationships | 1 Comment

Shhh, don’t tell anyone

When I teach goal setting in prisons, which I do about 10 times a year, I am acutely aware that inmates already know how to set goals.

After all, planning a crime includes all the steps to goal setting – conceiving of what you want, calling in the resources, working out an action plan and a contingency plan if something goes wrong, then going our there and doing it.

When I point this out to the prisoners they often look a little embarrassed.

Secret 1

Humans naturally set goals.

You do it often. I do it often. Inmates do it often – even when in prison. Some examples:

  • I’ll finish this work, then make a cup of tea …
  • I’ll talk to XYZ in the break, and see how we can sort out the mess …
  • I’m gonna play golf on the weekend. mmm who shall I invite? …
  • I so want to go to Thailand next year. When can I go? How much will I need? …
  • I’m going to apply for the Heart-work program so I can increase my chances of parole…

Yes, you and I are already natural goal setters.

I have had a few clients who are not interested in setting big, huge, life-time goals.  These are successful people I am talking about.

Most goal setting programs tell you to have a hairy, huge, audacious goal otherwise your life is meaningless.


Secret 2

You do not have to have hairy, huge, life-changing goals.

You don’t have to have any goals.

Unless you want them.

Some clients who come to me are still working on goals, just not huge, out-there, extraordinary goals. Unless they want them.

Mostly, these clients are working on far more important goals which  bring more meaning to their lives.

These are goals of how they want to BE in life.

It can be hard work changing who you are. The rewards?

The rewards are growing self-esteem, liking yourself more, feeling good about yourself.

Who doesn’t like to feel like that?

What kind of person would you like to be? How will you show up in the world?

Secret 3

Feelings have a HUGE role to play in goal-setting.

Feelings are your guide as to whether it is worthwhile to pursue the goal or not.

Secret 3 is what prisoners, natural goal setters,  are missing.

razor-wire-1417465_1280Imagine planning a crime. See yourself holding some-one up. See yourself ransacking a room. See yourself in a mad escape. See yourself enjoying the fruits of your labour –  looking over your shoulder all the time, feeling fear when hearing police sirens. See yourself being caught.

Feeling anxious, stressed, afraid, guilty, nervous?

Now imagine the kind of person you want to BE in the world.

Imagine being more assertive, for example. See yourself saying YES and being pleased you did. See yourself saying NO and being pleased you did. See yourself speaking up in meetings. See yourself taking control of your team. See yourself standing up for yourself. See people treating you respectfully. See people coming to you for advice.

Feeling good, contented, grounded?

castle-gate-1022177_1280How about you?

Goal-setting comes naturally to you, even if you were not aware of it.

Now that you are aware, is it going to be a BIG goal or a BEING goal? Or NO goal(which is a goal in itself)?
Now picture yourself living that goal. What feelings do you experience? Does it shift the goal? Does it excite you? Do you feel good about yourself?

If it’s still worthwhile get out there and take action.

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird;
it would be a jolly sight harder
for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.
You are like an egg.
You cannot go on indefinitely
being just an ordinary, decent egg.
You must be hatched or go bad.
C. S. Lewis

All Images from



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