Have We Forgotten How To Be Cool?

Have we forgotten how to be cool?  And no, I’m not talking about being able to wear a beard, an ear stud and a mandigan all at the same time without appearing to be the unsuspecting victim of some sort of haute couture drive-by shooting.

I’m talking about the ability to hide razor-sharp elbows behind a winning smile and effortless charm and appear sufficiently interested to be engaging, yet aloof enough to not be threatening.

Think Steve McQueen in The Great Escape. Cooler King cool.

The reason I’m banging on about this comes hot on the heels of a conversation with a good friend of mine after we’d both been on the receiving end of a particularly brutal hard-sell.  

As we recovered from the ordeal, he said: “People have forgotten how to be cool’. And it got me thinking.

Although he and I were discussing business, the abandonment of cool is evident in all aspects of life; it’s that distinct whiff of Eau-de-Desperation which invariably has the opposite effect to its intention. It’s also known as The Law Of Reversed Effect.       

If we look around we see evidence that we have become a nation striving intensely for success, recognition and validation in every area of our lives all of the time. Baring buffed up body-parts on Instagram de rigeur on an almost daily basis.

How did this creep in? More to the point, how did it come to be considered ‘cool’? 

There is, of course, nothing wrong – and indeed many things good – with wanting to do our best. But when that healthy desire to achieve tiptoes into the murkier territory of ‘convincing’ mode, it gets out of whack. 

We become so obsessed with what we’re chasing that we no longer have the room (or perhaps the perspective) to listen to the natural ebb and flow of checks and balances that help us to determine if whether what we’re chasing is actually right for us.     

The hard sell is still employed in business but I think one of the problems with it is that it involves trying to make a sale without considering what the individual wants or needs.  

They can feel pressured to join, without having their concerns addressed. And of course inherent in the sharp-elbowed sale is the danger that if they don’t buy right then, their experience has been so negative that it’s a near certainty they won’t come back. Worse still, they’re also highly unlikely to refer either. 

And just as it’s true in business, so it’s also true relationships. Seriously, when was the last time you felt yourself drawn to someone wearing Eau de Desperation? Exactly. This is where the hard sell is a sure-fire self-esteem corrosive. 

The romantic hard-sell, whether in the context of an existing relationship or one we’re trying to get off the ground, puts us firmly in the love danger zone.

Nonetheless I’ve worked with people who have wasted months and even years because they acted as though the object of their desire was the last man or woman on earth and it was their personal ‘mission’ to win them over without considering what the other person wanted or needed.

When it comes to love, I truly believe in the maxim If it doesn’t flow, let it go …  

Yet we continually ‘kick the can’ in terms of our happiness. We convince ourselves we’ll be happy when we secure the partner, buy the new car,  close the deal, get 30,000 instagram followers. We’ve become a nation of ‘chasers’ and forgotten the beauty and power in the inherent simplicity of letting go and being cool.

Yes, we should work hard. But we also need to know the difference between ‘giving up’ and knowing when you have had ‘enough’. We need to be able recognise that sometimes, and in spite of our best efforts, it’s time to just let it go and take stock. 

But we chase and we chase and we chase – never stopping to wonder whether the problem might actually be the intensive chasing itself. We chase the goal and when we reach it, we upgrade the chase and go for the next level. Trying can get really trying and the whole thing gets rather … well, exhausting!    

And the irony is that things will never be perfect. But they can be great. There’s a difference between knowing your limits and accepting second best – but moving towards your dreams and goals in a steady and focused way allows you to identify and address what’s unsatisfactory in your life.

Emotional self-flagellation over what you’re not is a sure-fire way of keeping you stuck where you don’t want to be.     

Most things in life benefit from being seen as ‘long game’. Be easy with yourself and believe that what’s for you won’t go by you. Life isn’t a series of one-shot deals – there are always more opportunities.

And herein lies the paradox:  the more relaxed and cool you are with who and where you are right now, the more the things you do want begin to flow towards you.

So the next time you find yourself wanting something badly, remember that Eau de Desperation has never been the fragrance of success. Self-acceptance and the personification of happiness will always be the smells that sell.

What’s Your Definition Of Power?

Power is often a misrepresented word. A powerful person is usually defined as someone with money and status who can exert his will and control over others; considered smart, strong, lucky and perhaps more than a little ruthless.

But you can think of Power in two ways: Positional Power & Personal Power.

Positional Power is the authority you wield by virtue of position in an organisation’s structure and hierarchy.

This notion of power is more about what you ‘do’ rather than who you ‘are’. And it’s much more about your perceived power over others than the power you have over yourself.

Personally I’m much more interested in the concept of ‘Personal Power’, which I consider as power over yourself, your actions, your thoughts and your responses.

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Do You Want To Be More Magnetic?

Magnetism; that tangible yet often indefinable something that certain people possess.

They may not be the best looking person in the room nor the most powerful, rich or influential but there is just a certain something about this person that is especially engaging.

Think about the most magnetic person you know. Our guess is they’re charming, interesting and they make you feel special; wouldn’t we all want to be perceived that way?

So how then do we become more magnetic?

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If You Can’t Ace It, Face It

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be ace-ing all areas of your life?   What would that look like?   What would it feel like?   Most importantly, does it seem possible to you?

I write this because of the enormous amount of conversations I’ve had over the years: many people making statements along the lines of ‘I always have great friendships but I really struggle with romantic relationships, I’m just not meant to meet someone’, or ‘I’d love to move forward with my career but I don’t have what it takes to get up and present to a room’ or ‘I’m awful with money, I’m not the sort of person that is any good at business, I can’t ask for it’   These sort of statements are often delivered as ‘facts’, there is a certain resignation that this is ‘just how things are’.   These statements are extremely limiting to personal growth and expansion.   Said enough times, with enough conviction they become self-fulfilling prophecies, a belief after all is simply a chronic thought.   These kind of statements are the antithesis of magnetic, indeed they are repellent to you attracting your hearts desires.

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It’s Alright For Them……

“It’s alright for them”.

How many times have you thought that? Whilst resentfully side-eying someone’s career / body / relationship / financial situation / life?

More importantly how’s that working out for you?

The truth is whenever you compare yourself to anyone you are doing yourself a massive disservice as well as making an enormous assumption on his or her behalf.

The truth is, unless we know them intimately, we just don’t know what battles other people are fighting, no matter how glorious and glossy their lives appear from the outside.

I’m not saying, however, that envy is devoid of any usefulness, in fact envy can be an excellent window into desire and an opportunity to think ‘that’s inspiring, how could I inject more of that freedom / success / joy / love into my world?’ What I do hold contention with, however, is when envy is regularly presented as internal evidence that because they have what you want, you can’t have it too.

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Whatever The Mind Can Conceive, The Mind Can Achieve

“Whatever the Mind Can Conceive, it Can Achieve.” Napoleon Hill

This is a wonderful quote, and one that might ring true for some and not others. Many of us may want to believe that we can achieve our dreams, but after years of concerted effort could well be airing on the side of despondency, frustration and disappointment. We all have dreams, often big dreams, but may feel deep inside that we don’t have what it takes to reach them, that we lack that magic ingredient that successful people have naturally cultivated.

How many of us have been taught in our younger years to dream big, to go for what we want, to fulfill our deepest desires? Not many. Some of us may have been fortunate enough to have very positive parents, but sadly most of us didn’t, for some this has created more of a legacy, than a life. This is not to caste blame, merely to recognize that our parents were doing the best they could, with what they had been taught. How could it be otherwise? However, that awareness didn’t stop us internalizing everything we experienced at a subconscious level, every word, abusive action, and put down. But the most devastating outcome was that as our mind soaked up all the negativity, this is what ultimately determined our level of self esteem, self worth and self belief. We became a product of our past, now merely existing in this present moment rather than living to the fullness of our true potential. From this place of existing, trying to create a happier and more abundant future will prove very challenging, if not impossible. As Einstein said “The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.” Using our conscious mind to move forward in life, as we hold deep seated negative self beliefs, is like having your foot pressed firmly on the accelerator of a fast car and the other one on the brake at the same time. Yes, we may have big dreams, but our past experiences will directly determine if we believe in ourselves enough to actually achieve them. In reality, all that really stands between us and our dreams, is us. It has nothing to do with intelligence, education or talent. There are hundreds of inspiring stories of people achieving incredible success in spite of immense odds, simply because they believed they could do it, they were determined and steadfast and refused to let anyone ‘steal their dream.’ They utilised the power of their minds, rather than let their mind and beliefs run their lives by default.

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How To Reclaim Your Confidence

Most of us desire to be more confident in a certain area or areas of our lives. Many clients that walk into Zoë Clews & Associates, looking for freedom and resolution from their problems in life, are confident in some areas but lack it in others: they may be confident in relationships but will do anything they can to wriggle out of public speaking, or they may find it relatively easy to excel at work but are riddled with self doubt when it comes to intimate relationships. Saying that, we also see clients who are lacking confidence in all areas and that’s when life really does get pretty painful.

Because self confidence is such a natural and basic resource, lack of self confidence is often one of the reasons for lots of other presenting problems and difficulties, therefore when I see clients for phobias, weight loss, anxiety etc I will often start by working with their confidence.

Confidence is not only essential in life in helping you survive and manage daily challenges, but it also means you’ll have a better relationship with yourself. Life is considerably easier if you like and accept yourself. Let’s face it we’re pretty much stuck with ourselves so we may as well learn to be our own best friend…and you’d want a best friend that championed you right?

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Additional Credits

Video by Weeks360.

Photography by Liz Bishop Photography.

Production by Mark Norman at Little Joe Media and Joanne Brooks.

Hair by Jonny Albutt.

Make up by Olly Fisk and Nabeel Hussain.