The relationship we have with ourselves is based on a number of things, our genetic makeup and hormonal and chemical balance – (nature), how we are bought up – (nurture) and on our interpretation of all our experiences both positive and negative, throughout our lives.

Every experience we have is filtered through our senses and through the set of principles by which we measure any experience. Let me give you some examples.

You are in a park. It is a beautiful day. A large hairy dog comes galloping up to you, tongue lolling out. Do you think “What a great dog, isn’t it friendly?” or “Oh no, that great brute is coming for me, look at its huge mouth …!”

You are in the same park sitting on a bench enjoying the sunshine. A stranger comes and sits next to you on the bench. They say “Hello” and try to start up a general conversation. Do you think “Friendly person” and make general conversation with them or think “What do they want? Must move away as I feel threatened”.

Neither response is better or worse than the other but how you respond to outside experiences with make a huge difference to what you expect out of life, the way you live and enjoy your life and the sort of relationships you create with others.

It is important to understand that you can radically change the relationship you have with yourself if you choose to do so. Patterns of belief which have run the way in which we behave can be changed quite radically. It is actually a matter of conscious choice. We can create our dream life or live a nightmare existence or anywhere between the two.

To exercise choice you need to be very clear about what you believe and the impact that has on the way you behave. To do that you need to audit the status quo honestly and to decide which parts are serving your needs well.

Once you identify the things which are working well you can protect them and use them as a model for other positive beliefs and behaviors.

Once you identify those old beliefs and patterns of behaviour which do not serve your best interests you can face them, deal with them and create more positive and productive beliefs and behaviours in their place. You may think that the process sounds simplistic and unlikely but I guarantee that it can be done by anyone who has a real desire to improve their life and their relationships. You may find it easier to have the support of a life coach to help you navigate through any stormy waters.

The relationship you have with yourself has a huge impact on your relationship with others.

Any partnership is really a combination of three relationships. The first two being relationship which each individual has with themselves. The third is the relationship the two people have with one another. Whilst I am going to focus on personal relationships the principles hold true for us in a professional context too.

At its best, a truly loving, interdependent relationship makes us more than we would be as separate independent people. It is based on the principles of win-win. Both parties have a commitment to look for the best way for both parties – they will look for solutions which facilitate growth and trust. The relationships are built on mutual trust and respect and communication is open and ongoing.

At its worst, a relationship can be destructive, where power and control play a major part and where there are always winners and losers. Partners constantly strive to get their own way and see giving in as a sign if weakness and defeat. Communication is often sparse or built on misunderstanding. People use the same words but mean entirely different things.

For many people their relationship exists somewhere in the middle ground. There are times when it is great, but that at other times tensions surface and difficulties are experienced usually around particular themes.

Common ones are money, the way one partner treats and values the other, life style and health, work life balance, trust and fidelity (perceived or otherwise). This list is not definitive and often couples have issues around multiple themes which are interrelated.

An example would be concern about work life balance and health. Partner A feels that they spend too much time alone because partner B spends too much time at the office. They feel neglected and unloved. At the same time they are worried about how stressed their partner is and the fact that they drink too much and are carrying too much weight.

If you want to truly understand the relationship with your partner and understand how to make it work even better, you need first to understand the relationship you have with yourself and then need to be open to understanding the relationship your partner has with themselves.


So what sort of relationship do you have with yourself? Think carefully about the following questions. Be as honest as you can. There is no right or wrong answer. The questions are designed to help you understand yourself and your approach to life even better than you do at present.

  • How do you introduce yourself when you meet someone new at work?
  • How would you introduce yourself if you were at a party?
    Do you still introduce yourself as what you do? 
    “I’m a financial advisor” or “I work in insurance”
  • How would you introduce yourself if you were not able to use what you did professionally as part of your description?
    Do you find that more difficult?
  • When you look in the mirror when no one else is about. 
    Who do you see? 
    What sort of person are you? 
    Think about how you would describe yourself to others?
  • You could start with describing the values you live by:
    I’m kind, 
    I'm hardworking
    I have a strong sense of integrity etc.
  • What are your unique abilities?
    What are you good at? 
    What do you enjoy doing?
  • How would you describe yourself physically?
    How do you feel about yourself? 
    Do you like yourself as you are?
  • How highly do you value yourself? 
    Do you esteem yourself?
    What gives you your sense of worth?
    Is just being you - enough?
  • Do you rely on the opinion of others or on what you can do for others to give you a sense of who you are?
  • When do you feel the best about yourself? Do you ever feel great about yourself?

Take some time out to think about the times you have felt really good about yourself during your life to date. Are there any common patterns?

Consider the following statements and decide if they are:
Always true? Sometimes true? Never true?

  • I feel best about myself when I’m at work
  • I feel best about myself when I’m in social situations
  • I feel best about myself when I’m in private situations at home
  • I feel best about myself when I have drunk alcohol
  • I feel best about myself when I feel I’m in control of the situation
  • I feel best about myself when I feel I am needed
  • I feel best about myself when I am doing something for other people
  • I feel best about myself when I am winning
  • I feel best about myself when other people notice what I am doing and say well done
  • I feel best about myself when other people notice what I am doing and say thank you
  • I only believe I am doing a good job if other people notice and tell me
  • I always feel physically attractive and good about my body
  • I believe in myself at all times – I don’t need others to tell me I’m doing well
  • I believe in myself in the work place – I don’t need others to tell me I’m doing well
  • I believe in myself socially – I don’t need others to tell me I’m doing well
  • I believe in myself within my special relationship – I don’t need my partner to reassure me all the time
  • I’d really like to have a special relationship but I’m not attractive / good enough

The way in which we see ourselves may be very different to the way others see us. We may feel very confident and know our worth in one situation yet feel incredibly inadequate and of little worth in another.

If our sense of self-worth is generated more by external verification than by an internal sense of self-worth then there is a constant need to be recognized, praised and thanked. When this is achieved it feeds the need for more recognition because it gives us pleasure. When it is not forthcoming it creates a sense of failure and lack of self – esteem which is potentially destructive.

Like all things, we need a balance between the extremes. If you are entirely self-absorbed and consider yourself perfect in every way it is highly unlikely that you will be the perfect partner, employee or boss. 
It offers no scope for self-improvement or personal growth.

Creating a strong sense of self-worth and confidence with a desire to be even better is the ideal. Determining our strengths, learning to love ourselves for who we are – wobbly bits included as a fantastic starting point to creating a wonderful life. If you feel your sense of worth could do with an overhaul – a rebalance, you may find working with a life coach helpful as there are lots of approaches which are tried and tested and could save you much time and effort.



Done well – delegation can free managers to lead and think strategically with a positive impact on productivity and efficiency. It offers a wonderful opportunity for professional growth and the best use of time and resources.

Many managers talk about delegating to their staff but in reality delegation can often have very mixed results.

Managers approach delegation in a wide range of different ways.

There is the:

  • “Its quicker to do it yourself – at least you know its done properly” style of management
  • The dump the whole thing and blame them when it goes wrong – I delegated it to you! version
  • I’m going to delegate but I don’t quite trust you so I’ll constantly check what you are doing alternative
  • I’ve delegated to you but I can’t quite let go, so I keep interfering form of delegation
  • I’ve dumped it on you with no clear view of what is required, no success criteria, no time scales, foggy budget and often changing goal posts sort of delegation
  • Delegation to someone with inadequate skill base and no training – ( Delegated to someone with time to spare rather than the right skill set)
  • Delegation without any autonomy or authority so every decision requires someone higher up the chain to sign everything off

And so many more. Is it any wonder why managers have little time for strategic thinking and management and why time is wasted, stress levels grow higher and staff feel demoralized and de-motivated in some organizations.

If you would like to improve the delegation within your own team you will find How YOU Can Manage Your Staff More Effectively (And Pave The Way To Your Next Promotion) sets out the principles of effective delegation in a clear, jargon free way. By following the process you can be sure that delegation will be done in a positive and empowering way freeing managers up to manage more effectively.

Create a Life You Love

We are running a course for senior managers at IBM this month. It combines a one day course with a series of three coaching sessions. The focus is on managers managing their personal work-life balance. There is no suggestion that they need to be workaholics indeed it is designed to ensure that they create a life where they work hard and live well. By modeling good practice they will, in turn, promote a healthy work-life balance for their team. 

Recommended Reading

"How YOU Can Manage Your Staff More Effectively (And Pave The Way To Your Next Promotion)" by Gina Gardiner

Offers lots of practical strategies for managers to help get the very best of their staff as individuals and as a team.

Everything in the book has been tried and tested in a variety of organizations; it is a distillation of over 30 years experience of developing leadership at every level.

The book does not attempt to teach grandmothers or grandfathers to suck eggs, but offers tried and tested principles, strategies and ideas which have been proven to work.

Time, energy and money are all very precious resources and all three seem to be in short supply for most busy managers.

How YOU Can Manage Your Staff More Effectively (And Pave The Way To Your Next Promotion) Can help! Dip into it if you are facing specific issues or use the comprehensive approach to underpin ongoing and sustained individual and team development.

It has relevance for experienced managers who want to share good practice and for aspiring leaders who want to develop and deepen their leadership skills.

The book covers a wide range of issues including

  • Developing strategic vision
  • Creating your dream team
  • Creating a ‘Can Do’ culture
  • Effective delegation
  • Holding people to account
  • Developing a solutions approach
  • The power of anticipation
  • Giving positive feedback
  • Having those “hard conversations”
  • Managing stress for you and your team
  • Creating a good work life balance

How YOU Can Manage Your Staff More Effectively (And Pave The Way To Your Next Promotion) will stand alone but you will find it useful to use it in conjunction with the companion book Kick Start Your Career.

This book is designed for new initiates into the business world and graduates who are ambitious and want to create a successful career for themselves. It is a no nonsense, jargon free manual, full of practical ideas and strategies to support the development of leadership from day one.

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