Category Archives: Case studies

Putting Happiness First – Not Food: A Soul-Centric Approach To Waving Fat Goodbye

‘Seek first to become thin within, thence to become thin without.’ – Anon

I wanted to write a blog about my recent weight-loss success. Overweight and eating issues are such a major source of misery and hopelessness, I hope my personal experience may inspire some people to transcend the dogma of magazine ‘pseudoscience’ and take charge of their own personal destiny.

As I said, this is a personal blog, not a research paper. Although weight/eating issues can be life-threatening, this is written in a casual, light-hearted style for reasons of brevity and readability. Each little paragraph probably deserves its own book – even library. If you want to know more, get in touch and it will be my pleasure to direct you to some of my source material.



My decision to relaunch my coaching brand as ‘happiness first consulting’ coincided with the shock of being described by a client as ‘a burly Englishman’ and seeing a picture of myself confirming the description.

Several years of avoiding some difficult feelings at the cost of my health, wealth and happiness was officially over.

One of my core values is to go beyond the integrity call of ‘walk the talk’ to the greater challenge of ‘canter the banter’. I never offer any programme to a client that I do not personally validate.

Could I canter my own banter and validate the mantra ‘put happiness first’ in one of my toughest problem areas? If I did, then it would not only reward me with losing a ton of unwanted, harmful, adiposity, not only transform me into living proof that my new positioning really does work, but also give me the unshakeable experience and self-confidence to back up my new level of work with my clients.

First step – assemble the key ingredients of a successful, life-changing project. I treated myself as if I were my own client. These techniques apply to all goal manifestation strategies that take you out of the comfort zone into the destiny galaxy:

  1. Spiritual attunement, guidance and protection
  2. Understanding your ‘payoff’
  3. Homoeopathic support for the hypothalamus
  4. Tracking systems
  5. Inner child work and reprogramming
  6. Behaviour modification and rewards
  7. Exercise
  8. Self-forgiveness
  9. Acceptance
  10. Affirmations
  11. Visualisations
  12. Support network
  13. Acting as if…
  14. Journal work
  15. Law of return
  16. Next steps

Spiritual attunement, guidance and protection

This is too easy, really. Anyone can do it. Very few do. All you do is ask inside ‘for the ‘Light’ for highest good to take place’ and as you let go and let Spirit do its thing, it’s time to awaken to the intuition, coincidences, and serendipity that come into your life. The Light is universal spiritual energy that, way below conscious awareness, regardless of belief, sustains all life, and is freely available to all who ask. Check it out for yourself!

At a deeper level, the axiom of ‘happiness first’ is that you are already happy. Who you really are is a soul. The nature of the soul is joy, fulfilment, and happiness beyond measure. This means it’s not that you need something or someone to ‘make’ you happy, you need to identify and eliminate those things that rob you of the happiness that’s already present. Asking for ‘the light’ automatically initiates a soul-attunement and allows space for the action of grace to participate.

Understanding your ‘payoff’

If you ask, ‘why do I keep doing something (e.g. overeating) when I know it makes things worse?’ the answer is usually because at a deep, unconscious level you are making a choice in the belief it will give you something you need (e.g. comfort, security, approval, etc.). You are always making the best choice available to you in the moment, so it follows, like the night the day, that to make a more effective, empowering choice what you really need is an effective choice to satisfy that need.  A good coach should be able to help you discover this for yourself.

Homeopathic support for the hypothalamus

In cahoots with a startlingly low calorie regimen, I used homeopathic HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin) that tells the hypothalamus to access deep layers of stored fat to burn to replace the missing energy. Instead of feeling hungry and ratty, you just feel normal energy levels and a surprising loss of cravings for food.

If you drop down to a strict ‘no fat, no carb’ regime of 500 calories a-day, you can lose around 1lb each day. This makes the transition to the maintenance phase quite a jolt. I just cut down very significantly without becoming obsessive and was well happy to lose around 4-5 lbs-a-week. I eliminated 90% of the alcohol, carbs and saturated fats I used to indulge in. This helped build in a new preference and habit for a diet that, with slight modifications, I can enjoy as a long-term lifestyle change. True success is all in the sustainability. Now, if I have a big bowl of pasta and a few glasses of Beaujolais and stray up into a few extra pounds over my new baseline weight, it’s no biggee to downsize for a day or so to rebalance.

Inner child work and reprogramming

My inner child – me at 6 yrs

Call it the inner child, lower self, subconscious mind, basic self or whatever you like, but this is the ‘lower’ level of sub-consciousness that is a kind of ‘inner 5-year-old me’ who is programmed from birth to hold onto beliefs, habits, and compulsions. To lose weight permanently, and/or release compulsive patterns and change lifetime habits, you have to understand what ‘payoff’ (symbol, compensation, hoped-for reward) you get from the self-destructive behaviours, and enrol the basic self into the game. This habitual drive is the auto-pilot that holds you on course, if you don’t change this deep level, you’re just going on holiday – soon enough you’ll be back home in Glutton-on-Avon, South Pigshire – overeating for England.

I was an only child and had to spend a lot of time on my own. I also learned to love food and cooking at a very early age. Cooking and eating delicious food became my ‘best friend’. To this day, whenever I feel alone or abandoned I look in the fridge or the pasta jar for my old pal.

Thus, armed with this conscious awareness I could make more effective choices when that urge came up. Of course it’s not easy. But, every day I listened to a wonderful, deep, guided meditation called ‘Body Balance’. This ‘talks’ direct to the basic self in a caring, loving way and gives it positive new direction and beliefs with which to replace the old strategy. You ain’t going to change unless you have something of greater value with which to replace the old pattern, is you?

Tracking systems

One essential way to keep the basic self in the game is to track progress regularly. Like achieving any goal, you have to know where you really are now, and where you want to be. It’s then easy to just take one small step in the direction of the goal. And feel good about it. If you slip up, it’s no big deal, because you’re living so much more in the present.

I used two tracking systems. One was a simple graph of weight loss per day versus my target line.

The other was more creative. I filled a suitcase with books weighing the amount of weight I wanted to lose. As I lost the weight, I’d take out the books and pile them up on the dresser. It’s horrifying how heavy 2 stone feels. It’s wonderful to feel it on the outside and know I’m not schlepping this around with me any more. Notice the well-deserved smug expression on the right here. That pile of books had been under my shirt for 3 years!

Behaviour modification and rewards

The major behaviour change I made was ‘putting happiness first – not food’. Whenever the urge to go off-piste came up, I’d stop, feel the feeling, see if it had useful information for me, and consciously and deliberately choose ‘happiness first’. in this case, a sense of control, and the deep desire to be wearing my ‘skinny clothes’ gathering dust in my wardrobe. Each time I achieved a short term weight loss I’d give myself something special:

A nice riding lesson, new riding gloves, a movie, long hot bubbly baths, watching TV in the morning, all kinds of ‘basic self stuff’ to keep my energy positive and up. And to celebrate my 2-stone lossage, a Greek Island holiday for two!


I am blessed to naturally enjoy exercise. This protocol does not require or advise upping the work the sweat glands have to do. I carried on with my 3 fundamental exercise things: a short daily yoga/ calisthenics and press-up/sit-up routine I’ve been doing for decades; riding 2-3 horses a day (as you do) and swimming 1/2hr+ every week.

If you don’t do any exercise at all – now is a great time to build something enjoyable into your life. It is so important for moving energy, releasing toxins, relaxing, and clearing stuck emotions and depression. Magic!


When we have self-judgments, regrets, painful repressed memories, or resentments, etc. surface they can make us feel very uncomfortable. The easiest way to get rid of those feelings can be found in the fridge, or in a bottle, cigarette pack, or a needle! In choosing to put ‘happiness first’ I committed to sit with those feelings and forgive them as they came up. If it doesn’t work the first time, I just keep saying ‘I forgive myself for judging myself for…’ until it stops plaguing me. This can be a lifetime’s work! But the less emotional weight we carry around, the more agile we become in dealing with the slings and arrows of life.


As I said before, when I first saw my ‘burly’ picture, I hated how I looked. I realised I was hating my image every time I saw it in the mirror. This is not helpful. It drives you down the plughole of hell. The worse you make yourself feel, the more you need to eat to feel better!

The challenge is to love yourself just as you are now – unconditionally. If you say ‘I’ll love myself when I stop this behaviour and lose weight’ then you’ll never get to love yourself. Accepting ‘what is’ and self-loving are the greatest healers and change-agents on the planet.

Affirmations – energy follows thought

Part of the re-programming and goal-achievement is the use of affirmations. (Affirm-actions). Like mind-muscles, they get firmer and more effective the more you exercise them. They must be positive, present-active, and empowering. Getting them spot on is an art. I had a dozen or so I would read through and say every day. But the one that really made me tingle is ‘I am wearing my skinny clothes’. It just popped up. And I think it was given to me by my basic self because that was the thing it really wanted. It’s no good ‘moralising’ or filling it with scientific reasons why you should eat healthily – the basic self doesn’t necessarily give a shit about that. Those reasons are also important – but more for the adult self. You have to build a fun, loving relationship with the basic self as well – or you are doomed.


Visualisations are the other side of the coin to affirmations. If you’re a visual person you must be able to ‘see’ the new body image you want to have. For me I need to feel it, see it, and hear the admiration and acknowledgment from my support team, in my own mind.

Support network

I am often much more effective when I have a group to support me. But this time I chose to enlist the support of my wife and my own steely resolve. I must confess, since moving to the countryside with my horses, I can easily slip into feelings of isolation and loneliness. I love hanging out with my horses, and they challenge my comfort zone beyond all measure, but the conversation is a tad one-sided. Nevertheless, I had so much of my own inner support with this DIY programme, it was rather fun to suddenly show up and shock people with the new me.

Acting as if…

Acting as if…is a powerful supplement to any manifestation process. As soon as I could, I would squeeze myself into my skinny clothes and ‘pretend’ they fitted. Sure enough, before I knew it, they did. Again, this supports the affirmations and goal-setting and keeps the basic self feeling involved in the game.

Journal work

Writing stuff down is a great way to get clarity and clear out unconscious crap. I love to write down my wins, and things I’m grateful for. I am fascinated by dreams and adore contemplating them at my leisure. I relish the interpretation of symbols though in-tuition. Journal work is brilliant – especially for looking back on progress and finding more and more reasons to be grateful – just for being alive.

The law of return

From a soul-centred perspective, all our habits, patterns, fixations, compulsions, etc. are perfectly designed for our individual soulic learning and evolution: balancing past-life actions and having new experiences. An aspect of this idea (that is empirically verifiable) is that whenever we overcome a negative pattern, the urge to return to the old familiarity will cycle back on us. Therefore in around 3 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and a year, we can expect to be strongly lured back into the old pattern. If we can overcome this temptation for a long-enough period we can eventually step free.

Remember, the cell-level memory will still store the neural and sub-atomic pathways for 7-11 years. As the masters say, ‘perfect freedom is perfect discipline’. And ‘the price of freedom is eternal vigilance’.

Next steps

The confidence I gained with this life-changing project has inspired me to apply the same levels of intent and commitment to my brand relaunch. To rebuild a client base and ‘following’ from scratch at age 70 is going to take even more determination and support. I am investing in myself, and building renewed levels of health, wealth, and happiness (yes, that’s an affirmation, btw). You’re welcome to join me on my journey.

Get in touch – let’s talk

Paul Hunting horseJoy by Ineke Pitts, Regional Director, South Asia MDF Training and Consulting

[av_one_half first min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_display=”]

[av_heading heading=’Paul Hunting‘s horsejoy – “You changed my life” ‘ tag=’h3′ style=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=” custom_font=”][/av_heading]

[/av_one_half][av_one_half min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_display=”]

[av_video src=’’ format=’16-9′ width=’16’ height=’9′]

[/av_one_half][av_textblock size=’14’ font_color=” color=”]
“You changed my life.” – by Ineke Pitts, Regional Director, South Asia MDF Training and Consulting

Four words, said with sincerity and a beaming smile, a standing ovation from an apprentice life coach.
It was the end of a fairly intensive four days of HAT (Horse Assisted Transformation) the ‘train the trainer’ programme created by Paul Hunting. Paul is author of: ‘Why talk to a Guru? When you can whisper to a horse’ , his original, unique approach to ‘horse-assisted learning’.

I was on cloud nine, my practice client had come to a very deep understanding about her true self, her fears and limiting beliefs. She was preparing to take the next step in her life with a powerful affirmation to anchor her strength. Through Paul’s quite unique process, she had reconnected with the unlimited power of her authentic self – all in one day.
It all sounds to be good to be true. As a management consultant and leadership trainer of 25 years international experience, alarm bells were ringing and bullshit radar working in overdrive. I know, it sounds incredible, tacky even, but it really, really works!

As part of our own learning, the budding equi-coaches are required to experience the transformational process first-hand and directly from Paul: it is immensely powerful. It is fundamentally, a one-day experience with an optional follow up process. At the end of the process, I felt changed; three months later the change has stuck and the experience inspired me to sign up to become an apprentice of a transformational process requiring multiple skill sets including natural horsemanship, soul-centred coaching, and development of personal soul awareness.

There are three factors that make this process so effective:

1. firstly there is the process which Paul, a spiritual psychologist, has formulated, tried and tested over 20 years and thousands of clients;

2. secondly there is the horse, a perfect mirror of authentic and inauthentic behavior, un-burdened by ego the horse instinctively responds to us according to our level of authenticity: how we show up either as ego-self or
as true self;

3. the third factor is the coach. Paul; a master of nuance, picking up the true meanings hidden between the words, the minutest of signals, hesitations, eye-movements, body language and the tell-tale words which reveal what is really going on. The combination is unique and defies explanation; this is something that needs to be experienced first-hand in order to understand it.

I feel honored and privileged to have had the opportunity to learn from the master. Paul has a brilliance about him that is uncommon, a diamond in the rough of a brusque and burly English countryman with a sense of humour on the bawdy side and a rare gift to intuit the mysticism in hidden places.

I enjoyed an intense but deeply spiritual four days with Paul, his five beautiful, well-bred, well-loved horses and the patient and generous hospitality of his lovely wife Geri.

In April this year, Paul and Geri came to visit me in Sri Lanka.

Working with an unknown herd of untrained horses and naïve and untrained assistants, he conducted workshops in natural horsemanship and several horse-assisted, executive coaching sessions, including with me. He rounded off the week with an impromptu explanation on ‘join up’ to the Sri Lanka Mounted Police (who spoke no English!). Rising to the challenge, a spontaneous charade ensued which involved his ‘cantering’ around the lecture room, making horse-like noises, the memory of which will stay imprinted for a lifetime in the hearts and minds of those fortunate enough to witness it.

There is real magic in Paul’s work which taps into ancient ways of knowing. He reminds us of who we really are and helps us tap into the unlimited power of The Soul that we are and the God within us that is perfect and omnipotent.

I’m not sure what to do next with the knowledge I now hold. This is too important to ignore, or pass off as just another life coaching method. Paul’s work is important; it holds a special relevance in the god-forsaken world we find ourselves in, plus I know from first and second-hand experience that it really works. My task is to convince others that this is important work and to persuade my own company to support me in pursuing this new line of work towards creating better people and ultimately a better world for all of us.

[av_heading tag=’h3′ padding=’10’ heading=’Hello’ color=” style=” custom_font=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ custom_class=”][/av_heading]

Happy ending – new beginning

[av_heading tag=’h3′ padding=’10’ heading=’Happy ending – new beginning’ color=’meta-heading’ style=’blockquote modern-quote’ custom_font=” size=’34’ subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ custom_class=”][/av_heading]

[av_textblock size=’14’ font_color=” color=”]

‘I don’t think I really came into the equation. I’d got so used to putting everyone else before me I’d lost touch with what I wanted’. 

‘Can you feel the gratitude I feel towards you? don’t you see what a difference you have made? Can you imagine what probably would have become of me without you? It truly has been a momentous experience. Thank you. it has been inspirational.’ – Caroline Peters

Caroline came to me as a personal (non-corporate) client. She’d sat next to a guy on a plane who was still raving about his day with me and the horses. She knew she needed to experience the magic for herself.

She is an intelligent, talented English woman, married for over 20 years to a German, with whom they had one 17 year-old daughter. They were all living in Germany. She flew over for a day – ostensibly to ‘restore her self-confidence’. She wanted to go full-time as a translator and felt worried about handling it all after having been a home-based mum for 17 years. Fair enough.

I’m now sitting here leafing through the 9-page, hand-written letter of gratitude she sent me after 6 months of intensive coaching on Skype.

(N.B. that ‘divorce my husband’ was in no way the stated reason for the session.)

‘Paul, you are the first person I can remember who has spent time with me, wanting something for me. You were very present, but not opposite me like most people. You were next to me. Sometimes it felt you were me, only a few steps further ahead in understanding. You let me be me and I hadn’t been just me in years. I’d always played a role, always doing what was expected of me. I could not imagine it was ok to stand my own ground with Serendipity. I felt great joy and I hope she enjoyed it as much as I did. I don’t want ‘authority’, I want ‘gegenseitigentet’, ‘reciprocation’.

The first hour or so of the ‘horsejoy’ day is about looking at how to transform ‘deep existential fears into positive outcomes’ in a key relationship. In particular how we generate ‘perfect reasons’ for settling for a quality of happiness way below what we deserve and what is possible.

When I feel the client is clear on these vital parameters, I design an exercise with one of my horses that acts as a metaphor for working through the real blocks relationship. The outcome of a session is profound existential learning. You learn ‘who you really are’ and how to choose to be your true self continuously. You also learn to recognise ‘who you are really not’ so you can empower yourself when your ‘false self’ undermines you. These two key reference points open the way to the ongoing, advanced work.

I asked Caroline with whom did she have a key relationship that she would most like to influence more effectively. What she said seemed incongruent with her body language. She hesitated…her breathing rate went up a tad, her eyes went a little pink and darted to-and-fro. She chose the guy she was doing part-time work for – it hardly seemed like a momentous relationship. I could have challenged her right then. , but my motto is ‘let the horse do it’. So I let it go and waited for my ‘co-facilitator’ to do it more effectively.

This being Serendipity, my gorgeous, 16hh 2”, dark bay, thoroughbred mare.

When a horse has a free choice about whether or not to follow your directions, they will only do so if they respect you as an authentic leader. They will ‘test’ the clarity of your intention and congruence of your energy – if they can ‘lead you around’ then you are left holding a limp rope and the familiar feeling you get in the chosen key relationship.

This feeling showed up for Gillian almost immediately. Her word was ‘helpless’. I asked her who it reminded her of being with and she said sheepishly, ‘Stephan, my husband!’.

Her outcome soon morphed into an emotional desire to ‘save my marriage’. But no matter how much she tried to sell this idea to Serendipity, she was not buying it. This told me Caroline did not really want it in her heart. It turned out she was hanging on for several key reasons: she felt ‘the promise I’d made when I married him was really important. Keeping it (no matter what) was a virtue’. She also felt that ‘there was too much to lose’ if she split up. Number one concern was the impact on Greta, her 17-year-old daughter who idolised her father.

‘Perfect reasons’ indeed!

The sobering reality was, based on his behaviour, Stephan had already divorced her – a long time ago! As soon as she announced her pregnancy, he had become a virtually absent father.

‘I couldn’t for the life of me see why Stephan constantly wanted to be away from us. He had a reputation for going on more (often unnecessary) business trips than anyone else. There are people around me who don’t even know I’m married or that I live with Greta’s father.’

The other reality was that Serendipity would not engage with her until she really stood her ground and put her intentions first. Inside her this meant putting her own happiness, well-being, and fulfilment ahead of taking responsibility for everyone else’s happiness. Only when she authentically claimed her personal leadership strength would Serendipity take any notice. As she took this risk and expanded her ‘comfort zone’, the horse entered into a willing, enthusiastic partnership. She was not a horsewoman, but by the end of the day she was experiencing something even lifelong horse-owners never do.

The question remained: from this newfound place of strength and clarity, could she still rebuild her marriage and family? We began a series of regular Skype coaching sessions.

As they progressed, understandable feelings erupted of betrayal, anger, resentment, and regret at having ‘wasted’ twenty years of her life with a man who did not reciprocate her love. She was livid (and you know what they say about a ‘woman spurned’).

We were in danger of sliding down the helter-skelter to hell. A bitter, acrimonious, lose-lose, revenge-laden divorce with a devastated Greta was looming. I suggested that if she went this way, she really was going to be a victim – big time. Would she be up for transforming the whole scenario into a win-win-win for all three of them?

Over the ensuing 6 months, this remarkably brave, evolved, woman took continuous risks in taking responsibility (not blame) for having ‘allowed’ this situation to fester for 17 years. She worked on forgiving herself and her husband. She risked difficult, direct, honest, open communications with Greta and gave up trying to protect her from the truth.  She supported Greta in looking at and dealing in a mature way with this reality of life.

But the biggest ‘healer’ was in reframing the regret of what she felt she lost, into gratitude for what she really had gained.

‘If I hadn’t worked with you, I would have ended up bitter and twisted. You said ‘tell me what you’re grateful to Stephan for’! I thought it was an impossible task. But it wasn’t. there is so much I’m grateful for and doing the exercise completely changed my perspective. I’m letting go my marriage with a feeling of love and gratitude. I don’t want to be married to him anymore but I do care for his happiness. I want him to be happy again. I want to feel happy again (and I do!).’

Last time we spoke she’d got everything she wanted for herself, Stephan and Greta. And, as a bonus, was several months in to a new relationship with a man that really did promise to be ‘the one’!

All relationships end. Life is like that. But it doesn’t need to be the end of your happiness – it really can be the beginning of something new and enriching.

You can have a happy ending and a new beginning with any key relationship. You can have this now.

Ask me how.

The price you pay for harbouring resentment. The rewards you get for letting it go

[av_heading heading=’The price you pay for harbouring resentment. The rewards you get for letting it go’ tag=’h3′ style=’blockquote modern-quote’ size=’34’ subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=’meta-heading’ custom_font=”][/av_heading]

[av_textblock size=’14’ font_color=” color=”]
When I first met Bernard, the MD of Huthwaite, he had trouble getting his head round the concept of putting ‘happiness first’. I asked him if he’d ever seen an anxious or depressed baby. No. because when we are born all we really are is a bundle of joy. In our life, first comes happiness. Happiness is who (and how) we really are. The tragedy is how so rapidly, and effectively the pure, original state of happiness gets covered up – or as Shakespeare puts it ‘sicklied o’er with the pale caste of thought’. This, as you’ll see, planted a seed in me for the intervention I was about to be briefed on.

As it happened the Shakespeare reference was apt. Bernard surprised me by openly declaring he was not interested in increasing sales revenue or profitability – business was really good. He actually said he wanted things to be ‘happier’ around the place.

The problem was really about how ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. The partners had been together for over 20 years. Irritations, squabbles, disagreements, and personality clashes had all been ‘sicklied over’ in the interests of ‘getting on with the job in hand’. Unresolved and unforgiven, the detritus of relationshipping had accumulated into a massive pile of submerged crud. AKA ‘resentment’. It was making them all scratchy, impatient and miserable. They were all paying a high personal price for delivering work and making money.

The board had already agreed in principle to having a 5-day retreat in a nice hotel near Chester. They were looking for ‘the right person’ to design and lead the event.

I’d got in front of him because I had already been a client of their famous ‘SPIN’ sales training work. I’d become close with one of the trainers who had also come to one of my ropes-based leadership workshops in the days before horses. (No, not 65 million years BC, but before I had discovered the extraordinary power of working with horses on leadership.)

We definitely clicked. He asked me to submit a proposal. I said ‘no’. Proposals might look like the professional thing to do first – but they can so often be the kiss of death. The first step for me was to spend a couple of days with them in Yorkshire and gently tenderise each of the participants for an hour or so. Then I’d do a design, but probably would not tell them much about it.

Did he trust me enough to go for it? Did he trust himself enough to trust me?

The big smile on my face as I drove home said ‘yes’.

I put together a short questionnaire, gave them each 5-10 mins on the phone, and when I arrived at Huthwaite it was a warm-ish encounter. Just as well. I was still greeted with a fair degree of suspicion, hostility and ‘prove-it-to-me-ness’. Of course, one guy in particular (nicknamed the ‘Rottweiler’) was minus-five on the ‘willingness-to-participate’ scale. There’s always one, isn’t there!

The trouble with resentment is it makes us feel ‘righteous’ – by virtue of ‘them’ being ‘wrong’. Righteous indignation is a major-league addictive drug. It slowly kills you while making you feel like a holy martyr – ‘I’m dying for a good cause – making you feel guilty for all the evil deeds you’ve done!’

It was a very tough couple of days. I felt I’d underestimated the depth of the problem and undervalued the height of my consulting fee. However, a few weeks later, with a couple of trusted co-facilitators, we all met up in said 5-star hotel in Chester.

Ever since I began coaching Top Teams in 1985, I have been unfailingly guided by the same 2-selves (TRUE-FALSE) model of consciousness. The development strategy roughly involves the following steps:

1. First acknowledge the FALSE, the negative feelings, thoughts and self-talk.
2. Drill down to the core self-beliefs driving the negative behaviours and evaluate their verity.
3. Take a risk and break through the comfort zone protecting your false self-image where the original state of happiness resides.
4. Anchor the newly realised state.
5. Expand, challenge and stabilise it.
6. Determine practical next steps.

With the luxury of 5-days to play with, I mixed ingredients including: a ropes course to bring the fears and self-doubts to the surface; a day of psychodrama where they all shared their true selves through personal stories in a dramatic form; and a visit to a nearby children’s ward so they’d have to risk bypassing their minds and inhibitions to communicate authentically with kids in dire need.

When people are given a safe space, a workshop like this becomes an extraordinary, life-changing crucible of understanding and support – resentment and petty differences simply dissolve. One man had acted out and began to heal the moment he witnessed his wife’s fatal skiing accident. A colleague shared an equally moving event when she rescued her dying child and took him to A&E – and yes, this was the same hospital to which I had (unknowingly) arranged the visit!!

This is what some of them said about their experience:

‘I rediscovered parts of myself I really liked. Paul’s programme surpassed all my hopes and expectations for the relationships in the team. And back home I also found myself relating much better with my children! You, the facilitators are beautiful and remarkable people. I feel fortunate to have met and worked with you.’ – Bernard Midgley, Managing Director.

‘We rebuilt our sense of community here. I feel relief at actually being me again. I have gained a broadened perspective of my own choices and personal accountability – and learned to be more realistic in my expectations of others and my own commitments. I can now let go and risk a lot more. You (the facilitators) have great courage and caring for the real selves we weren’t seeing too clearly.’ – Simon Bailey, Director.

‘I experienced release. Renewal. Insight. Closeness and connection with my friends and colleagues. Compassion. Less judging, and lots, lots more. I’ve learned ‘I can and I will’.
It was a powerful experience that has released new possibilities for the team. An di had a magical conversation with my daughter, Rachel, assisted, I’m sure, by my heightened sense of awareness. Thank you Paul and your team for truly serving us and showing great strength and wholeness.’ – Val Bardsley, Director, Management Skills Division.

‘I saw the way to finding my true self. You were great.’ – Nick Anderson, Open Markets Mgr.

Case study – David Wheldon

[av_heading tag=’h3′ padding=’10’ heading=’How David Wheldon put his own happiness first – and found his winning edge’ color=’meta-heading’ style=’blockquote modern-quote’ custom_font=” size=’34’ subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ custom_class=”][/av_heading]

[av_textblock size=’14’ font_color=” color=”]

I would definitely recommend working with Paul. I thoroughly enjoyed it. He gets me to improve and achieve major goals whilst remaining tolerant and understanding. I learn a lot about myself and find great strength from overcoming my weakness. In our first week, one of his suggestions saved the business over £50,000. The value he brings is outstanding. I want more.’ – David Wheldon, Managing Director, Lowe Howard-Spink, 1990.

It is now twenty-seven years since I was David’s executive coach at Lowe’s. He later left Lowe’s to become Worldwide Marketing Director of Coca Cola in Atlanta. Now, the Royal Bank of Scotland has just hired him from Barclays(where he was brand and marketing chief) to join its executive committee as its first ever Chief Marketing Officer.

David had spent the previous three years at Barclays as Managing Director of brand, reputation, citizenship and marketing, during which time he steered the bank through the damning Libor rigging scandal and implemented a strategy to rebuild trust among consumers.
Prior to this, he was Global Director of Brand at Vodafone for nearly six years. Testament to his impact at the company, David joined Vodafone when it was struggling to make a list of the top 100 most valuable brands in the world; when he left it was 5th.

I was David’s executive coach way back in 1989, when no one had ever heard of ‘Executive Coaching’. He had just been headhunted for the job of Managing Director of the ad agency Lowe Howard-Spink, the visionaries who created the ground breaking Heineken campaigns, and the Stella Artois tennis tournament synonymous with ‘Wimbledon Warm-Up Week’.

I’d first met David when he was a high-flying Board Account Director at Saatchi & Saatchi. Not bad for a man who, 5 years earlier, had been a school teacher! When he called me saying it was ‘time’ (for us to work together) there was a definite touch of trepidation in his voice.

As we gazed out of his new office window with its magnificent view of Hyde Park and the horse guards’ barracks and stables (a foreshadowing for me!) he looked at me as a newly-enthroned king might. Bemusedly, he enquired, ‘how the hell am I going to manage this lot?’ Breaking a slight sweat, but not a stride, I came back after a few seconds contemplation with, ‘You can’t! But you can manage yourself.’

This was just as well. Life at the top of many companies can make Richard III look like Mary Poppins, and the politics at Lowe’s was no exception.

For about a year, we worked on pretty much one key thing only. You’ll see in his testimonial he says ‘I learn a lot about myself and find great strength from overcoming my weakness’ – as is true for most of us, our weakness is often an overdone strength.

In David’s case, this strength showed up as an extraordinary, intuitive talent for understanding at a very deep level what it is you (other people) really want. This is the essence of being a great brand person and a great leader. Being with him was a bit like being with King Solomon – as if he had the power to grant any wish you have. The ‘weakness’ aspect was that, even if he didn’t say so specifically, it was easy for people to assume that their wish would be granted.

Sometimes, he did have the power to do this. But when he didn’t, of course, people would resent him.

Our focus together, then, was on sharpening his awareness of how to use his strength more courageously. Building the sanctity and inestimable value of his word. How consciously giving and keeping one’s word brings great inner and outer rewards, and how giving it away unwisely (as did Antonio in Merchant of Venice) can visit automatic erosion of self-trust, self-respect, self-confidence, and deep lasting happiness. It simultaneously causes corresponding damage to key relationships – people want to trust us, but they cannot!

I work on this ‘winning edge’ a lot with clients. It’s so important that we make it crystal clear to others when we are and when we are not making a promise. Of course, we’re not at all responsible for the assumptions and unstated expectations people run on us – no matter how ludicrous they can be. But that’s not the way it’s played out.
Rather than taking responsibility for their own expectations, so many people have the knee-jerk reaction of blame and resentment. Resentment can so easily become one of the greatest cost factors to never end up on the balance sheet. Avoiding this dilemma through accurate, communication that hits its target is not easy – but so worth the effort to become skilled with.

Another paradox of happiness, is that it rarely shows up by first doing what’s automatic, easy, and comfortable – but in taking that risk to be truly honest in difficult situations – that’s what leads to authentic self-respect and trust from others.

Want to hone your winning edge and put happiness first?

Let’s talk.