Where Do You Find Grit – How Do You Develop Tenacity?

Anchor Picking yourself up after a setback and having the will to keeping going takes tenacity. It demands grit.

Where do you find it?

Where do you go to when you need to dig deep, shoulder the load and move forward?

You see, even though it may be tempting to search for answers and wrack your brain for clues, a quest for answers may make it worse.  What if your analysis of the past is thinly disguised self sabotage?

What if you’re berating yourself for past mistakes and, instead of taking action, you’re worrying? You worry about worry. You worry about worrying about worry. Worry becomes a cycle, a pattern that keeps you inactive. Every solution seems like another mistake in the making. Sometimes, a desperate attempt to find answers only leads to more problems. Worrying about weaknesses creates a frantic ‘patch the hole’ exercise. The problem deepens. You try to plug the gap, only to find a fresh leak somewhere else.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

You can tell a different story. You can change the reality of NOW. You can re-focus your thoughts and face the problem by turning to look at the outcome.

What is it you want?

What do you yearn for?

You see, often a solution starts with a different set of question.

To find grit and develop tenacity, focus on what you are good at and devote attention to the destination. What do you want? Why do you want it? How can you use what you have in your hands right now, to move in that direction?

The aim is to determine what you want so you can figure out where you want to go.  This is a strategy that takes responsibility for now and focuses on action, rather than worrying about weakness. What you need is a system that reaches for an outcome rather than looping and procrastinating through endless scenarios to find reasons for past failures. Concentrating on what went wrong may send you down a path you’ve traveled before.

Perhaps an analogy will help.

Imagine driving a car on wet Friday evening. It is windy and the rain lashes the road in wet sheets. A dog crosses your vision. You slam on the brakes. You slide. The car skids toward toward an embankment. Desperate to regain control you wrench the wheel. What does your head do?

Where are you looking? Where's your focus?

If you're looking at the embankment, that’s probably the direction you’ll go. However, if you focus on the road, looking where you want the car to go, maybe you’ll stay on track.

What’s the purpose of this story?

Like the golfer who needs to look at the green and the basketballer who needs to look at the hoop, this story illustrates, what we focus on is where we’ll go.

So, I challenge you to stop worrying about what has happened and start focusing on the desired outcome. Look at the solution rather than worrying about the problem. Of course, you need to be aware of potential hazards. However, once you’ve identified them, plot the path around, over and through them. Move toward your goal, move with purpose, use your strengths.

What'll keep you going?

Knowing why. Knowing where you’re going, knowing what you'll achieve by going there and valuing it. This is up to you. Tenacity, grit and determination builds internally.

It you want to start now, try this quick exercise.

Grab a pen and piece of paper - and yes I know, you could simply tap it in your phone, but for the sake of this exercise try the physical sensation of putting pen to paper. As you write, think about the words and how each letter combines in harmony to create a meaningful utterance – a word. Be entirely focused in the now, in the feel of the pen, the texture of the paper and how the two meet under just the right amount of pressure to collaborate. Answer these questions,

  1. What do you want?
  2. Why do you want it?
  3. How can you use what you have in your hands right now, to move in that direction?

Now start moving. Use what you have within reach and do something. Take a action toward your destination.

Find Grit, Develop Tenacity. Focus on your talents and step into your strengths.

Learn how to unlock your innate talent using the Clifton Strength Finder. Develop the relaxation and mindfulness habits that allow you to manage your mind. If you’d like to know more about improving your communication skills or gaining a greater awareness of your innate patterns of thought, feeling and behaviour. Contact Nicole today. 

e: nicole@isthismystory.com | m: 0425 209 008

Focus | Engage | Inspire

Communicate Effectively

CommunicateHave you ever Googled ‘How to communicate more effectively’? Maybe that’s what brought you here. Perhaps you’ve been wondering how you can share your ideas in meaningful ways to inspire others. More likely you’re tired of arguing, you’re sick of being misunderstood and you’d simply like to know how to communicate better with the people you love.

I’ve been in your shoes.

My partner Danny and I love each other dearly, yet there’ve been times when we lost sight of what mattered. We focused on all those things that irritated us and we picked at it. Niggled away, found fault and doled out blame. It seemed nothing was good enough. At least, that’s how it felt. Yet, when we finally hit pause and looked beyond the words we hurled at each other, we found despite the differences, we felt the same way. We were even thinking the same things. In most cases, it was poor communication (rather than opposing ideas) that was driving a wedge between us.

But we were supposed to know better.

As coaches, trainers, teachers, effective communication is part of our job - we base our career and professionalism on our ability to share our message. And when we’re at work, we do a great job. Why did we have so much trouble at home? Perhaps even deeper was the fear that if we were having so much trouble home, maybe we weren’t doing a good job at work either. Perhaps we weren’t good enough.

Enter a downward spiral.

Thankfully we are coaches, trainers and teachers. So, we recognised the spiral. We saw the pattern, we looked at our thoughts, we identified our emotions and examined our behaviours. Then, we acted.

We realised, like any skill, communication muscles vary according to context. You may like to think of it this way.  A person who is fit and runs everyday, may find themselves using a different set of muscles when they swim. Although they are physically fit, they may experience fatigue as they flex the new muscles. For this reason, a person who wants flexibility in their fitness may choose to cross train, mixing swimming, running, cycling and weight training.

In essence what I’m suggesting is that recognising context (the situation) is an important part of the communication process. When we recognise context, we can choose a communication style that matches. We also need to be aware of who we are communicating with and why we are communicating. Then we can apply the words, tone and body language that have the best chance of success.

But we can go even deeper. We can recognise the patterns within our communication and see the interplay of thought, emotion and behaviour. The challenge is to know ourself - our internal relationship and inner space. Then we can look at our relationships with others and our place within a wider world.

Successful communication requires us to understand ourself. We need to become aware of

  • our thoughts and emotions
  • how our thoughts and emotions effect what we do
  • what we are actually doing
  • what we say about what we’re doing

We also need to be aware of how thoughts and emotions influence the behaviour and words of those around us.

When we understand the interplay between our relationship with ourself, and our relationship with others, we start to appreciate the nuance of interdependent relationships. This is when we communicate most effectively. Put simply, when we recognise our position in relation to ourself and others, communication improves.

This is what Danny and I realised. We needed to tap into our thoughts, emotions and behaviours. We needed to find a way to identify and manage them. We needed to be aware of our innate yearnings and see how our instinctive view of the world was influencing our perspective. We needed to see how our perspective influenced the way we communicated with each other.

So, before asking, 'how can I communicate my ideas more effectively’, perhaps you could ask yourself;

  • What am I thinking?
  • How am I feeling?
  • Why do I want to share this message?
  • Who am I sharing my message with?
  • How is my message affected by my current thoughts and feelings?
  • How may my message be influenced by the thoughts and emotions of the person with whom I’m speaking?

Of course, effective communication is an exchange. To effectively communicate, you also need to listen effectively.

Perhaps I’ll leave that post for next week.


Learn how to unlock your innate talent using the Clifton Strength Finder. Develop the relaxation and mindfulness habits that allow you to manage your mind. If you’d like to know more about improving your communication skills or gaining a greater awareness of your innate patterns of thought, feeling and behaviour. Contact Nicole today. 

e: nicole@isthismystory.com  m: 0425 209 008

Welcome to a World of Expression

Becoming a Better Writer – Write to Engage Your Reader.

Why do you write? Do you write for yourself or because you want to be read. Perhaps it’s a bit of both. For example, in this post I’m writing for you; to help you improve your writing. However, blogging also allows me space to practise writing. The key to becoming a better writer is to write; write regularly, write frequently and create a writing habit. Of course, the most important partner in this process is the reader. We can practise all we like but if we’re writing to be read, we need to engage our reader.

 How do we engage our reader? Perhaps it's time for a story.

 It helps to remember that most readers like stories more than bland facts or  authoritative instructions. They like to immerse themselves in the words and  feel connected. In other words, your words need to matter enough to inspire  your reader. Your reader needs to want to keep reading.

  Imagine meeting George at a party. George likes to talk about himself. He  rambles on and on about where he’s been, what he  does and how well he does it. Luckily tonight, he is feeling generous.  

George asks “what you do?”

You mention you’re thinking of starting a new venture. 

George’s ears prick up. He sits forward in his chair, rubs his hands gleefully and says, “I know all about that. You know what you need to do, you need to …” 

Then, for the next hour, George keeps telling you. He tells you and tells you and tells you. George tells you all the reasons you need to listen to him because he knows best.  

How would you feel, has George inspired you? 

Maybe he has, especially if you can use his story to improve your writing. Think about it. Do you listen to your audience? Do you allow them time to think, speak and share their ideas. Can this even be achieved?

The simple answer is yes; ask questions. Ask questions within your writing and leave your reader the mental space to discover an answer. You may like to look at something you’ve written recently. Read the questions below and ask yourself, “have I engaged my reader?’

1. Does your writing have a clear purpose that is obvious to, and resonates with, your reader?
2. Will the reader understand how reading benefits them?
3. Are your words written in clear, plain English?
4. Do you offer instructions in an easily recognisable, step by step format?
5. Have you used stories, metaphors or analogies to create a personal connection?

Another useful tip for creating connection is to share some of your own vulnerability. Many readers like to feel they have something to offer. Many like to help. They are happy feeling sympathy or empathy. Why? Because when we feel sympathy or empathy, we don't feel alone. We don't feel inferior.  We don’t feel as though we’re the only ones with a problem. We don’t feel like we’re being judged. Instead we believe we have something someone else needs. We have answers. We have something to give.

Of course, many of these feelings swirl deep within the reader’s unconscious mind.  In all probability, most readers aren't consciously aware of their emotions. But you are. As the writer, you 'get' your audience and tap into their emotion. As a result, your readers will believe you understand them.  You understand their position, you share their perspective and you acknowledge them as an individual. This is when your writing matters.

So, think about your reaction to what you read. What resonated with you? Did anything frustrate you? What could you do better? 

Here’s the challenge, take what I have offered and improve it!

First, you may like to think about this. As human beings, we tend to be competitive  (even when we don't think we are). We like to prove ourself, we like to be better. We also like rewards. We like to be reassured that what we're doing matters. We like to add value (think about our friend George). We also like to be part of something, we like to belong.

How can your writing, your words, add value and create a sense of belonging?

Challenge yourself now, re-read something you wrote. Compete with yourself; write it better. Then, very importantly, validate what you did well.

If you’d like more tips, editing or coaching, write to me: nicole@isthismystory.com


Too Much Screen Time

Teenagers today spend too much time in front of a screen! Are you nodding your head in agreement or shaking it in despair? Are you slumping your shoulders in helplessness or raising your hands in frustration? Do you think this is a ‘new’ problem caused by mobile media or is it simply a transferral of old habits?

 My daughter 13, and son 18, both have smart phones and lap tops. They use  them in the bedroom, family room, car, bus, library and playground ... I think  you’ll see where I'm going with this. They look at screens a lot. They use  technology to remain connected to their social and learning worlds. 

 But ... 

 My children also lead active, physical lives. They play sport, go out with  friends and study using pen and paper. We even talk. We chat over dinner, in  the car, watching TV,  while reading, when walking. This is what we, as a  family, do. We discuss. We exchange ideas, we talk about what we’re doing, why we are doing it and how we feel. Even though my children look at screens, they are not inert, nor are they missing real interactions with friends and family.

The same can be said of my students. Discussions in class, recounts of  weekend sport and observations in the playground reassure me - children today may seem to spend a lot of time looking at screens but that doesn't mean technology is depriving them of meaningful social, sporting or learning opportunities. 

I remember the media criticising the amount of time my generation spent watching TV. I remember my parents yelling at me to get off the phone and jerking the cord from the wall. I even remember my mother telling me to get my nose out of a book and into fresh air. 

So have teenager pursuits really changed or is it just that they are doing the same things using different media?

Perhaps its time to look at the question of screen time from a different perspective because I have seen a shift in teenage wellbeing. These shifts aren't necessarily the result of too much screen time - but they may be a consequence of a teenager’s need to find connection. 

As a teacher, I have seen too many students who are terrified of exam results; they believe their self-worth is determined by numbers on a page. I have seen too many teenagers recount facts rather than evaluating the ideas supporting them. I have seen creativity stifled by a belief that there is only one ‘right’ answer. I have too many young adults disconnected from their future.

Is this the result of too much screen time? 

It could be, or it could be the result of a high a cost of living. Maybe too many of us are time poor. How often do we recognise the moment? Are we attentive to those around us?

Rather than worrying about too much screen time, rather than imposing rigid rules, rather than counting all the things that could go wrong, maybe we need more talk. We need meaningful interactions. We don't have to 'take things away'. Instead, we could enrich the experiences our children enjoy. We can encourage our teenagers to actively and consciously, communicate. 

Perhaps this way our children can learn to self regulate and manage their own screen time.


Welcome to a World of Expression


If you would like some personalised study coaching contact Nicole, nicole@isthismystory.com


Would you like to help your teenager develop self-regulation and personal responsibility? You can learn more about our workshops and coaching sessions here


You can get a copy of Nicole’s e-book here and paperback here (or for a limited first edition contact Nicole: nicole@isthismystory.com)

What’s Your Backstory?


Has anyone ever asked “what’s your story"? Maybe, you’ve heard someone say "this is my story". Or, perhaps you’ve asked, "what's their story?"


 Why do we look to 'back story' to explain our present state? Why do we look  to the past to understand today? Why do we judge a person on what’s  already happened?

 There are many answers to these questions and while you should take a  moment to think about them, the answers are not what I'm looking for.  Rather, I'm asking you to recognise the effect and implications of backstory.

 Stay with me, there’s a point.

Recently I was discussing the novel The Outsiders with a year 7 class. We were looking at the character of Johnny and evaluating how Hinton (the author) foreshadowed future complications. This is what storytellers do. They thrust readers into the middle of the action and then, as the narrative progresses, they slowly reveal the situations and events that brought their characters to this point.


More importantly, how does it help us? What does it teach us?

In Johnny’s case we learn that his nervousness is a combined result of being abused at home and attacked by the Socs (a rival gang). This brutal bashing provides a context for later events. It is not my intention to explore the novel. Rather I use it to illustrate a point. I use it to encourage you to think about the power of the author. I use it to show how you how the author controls the story through the experiences of the characters.

What would you do if you had the author’s influence? What could you do if you had the power to manipulate your ‘story’, could you influence the future?

While it is true you can’t go back to alter your history, it is possible to shift your perception. You can look back to understand something you didn't before.

You may be wondering, how can this shape my future?

This is the arena for hopes, dreams and the tangible reality of goals. If you have a clear vision - a target to aim for, you can focus your actions toward that goal. In other words, you become the author shaping a backstory for your future.

Think about it, what is your backstory? How has it influenced the choices you make? Now, use those thoughts to project yourself into the future. What choices can you make today to influence the backstory you’ll tell in a years time? Where would you like to be?

It’s a good idea to write these ideas down. Writing makes them tangible and gives your mind time to digest the thoughts and emotions. You may even like to try this MyStory Reflection activity.

MyStory Reflection Activity

1. Ask yourself, what is my backstory? How has it influenced the choices I make?

2. Use these thoughts to project yourself into the future. What choices can you make today to influence the backstory you’ll tell in a years time?

3. Write these ideas down and put them in a folder or envelope.

4. Date the folder / envelope and put it away in a safe place.

5.Write a note in a calendar to remind yourself to open the envelope or folder in a years time.

6. Repeat this process each month.

In a years time you will have an envelope to open. Be patient, wait the year. After a year open the first envelope and read your thoughts from a year ago. How does it relate to the life your living now? Be positive, recognise what you have learnt and use your thoughts to write a new reflection.

Repeat the process for another year. Each month you will have an envelope to open and a new story to create.

I wonder what you’ll discover.


Welcome to a World of Expression

If you would like some personalised study coaching contact Nicole, nicole@isthismystory.com

If you’d like to join our mailing list and receive a MyStory Reflection reminder email each month contact Nicole, nicole@isthismystory.com for more details.

You can learn more about our workshops hereYou can get a copy of Nicole’s e-book here and paperback here or contact Nicole: nicole@isthismystory.com for a limited first edition.