How do you come across?

The law of the picture

It’s a painful realisation when it comes, but the truth is that with one noticeable exception the world consists of other people! It is so easy to be so preoccupied with ourselves that we forget this simple, but important truth. It is human nature to automatically assume the way I see something is the way it is, rather than there may be at least one other perspective. Getting married often brings that truth home!

So how do you come across? How do others see you? What kind of example do you set? That picture you present to the world is what will govern your leadership and influence. Just having good intentions is not enough.

The pictures below are more illustrative of paradigms and paradigm shifts (for more on that see here), but they also illustrate the issue of differing perspectives. We look at ourselves one way and others can see us in a completely different way.


So how do you come across? How do others see you? What kind of example do you set?

These are the kinds of questions that come from John Maxwell’s 13th law of leadership – people do what people see. Another way to put that is, “I can’t hear what you are saying, because who you are is speaking too loudly.” What we say is on audio, but who we are is on video. In organisations and companies when there is an obvious disconnect between what is publicly espoused and what is actually lived out, there is the potential for cynicism and disillusionment. The greatest leaders are aware of this and ruthless with themselves and their organisation to ensure that gap is as small as possible.

The story is told of a woman coming with her husband to Mahatma Gandhi, saying “Tell my husband to give up sugar as it is not good for his health.” Gandhi is reported as replying, “Come back to me  in a week.” The couple duly returned a week later and Gandhi said, to the man, “You must give up sugar, It is not good for you.” They were somewhat puzzled and asked, “Why did you take a week to tell us that?” Gandhi is reported to have candidly replied, “I stopped taking sugar a week ago myself!”

Here are 4 implications of the The Law of The Picture that people do what people see:

  • The way we live sends a message out to others. 
    Is it the message I want them to hear? The truth is consciously or unconsciously people are always watching to see if there is congruity between what we say and what we actually do. Companies and organisations proudly have vision and mission statements displayed on walls for all to see. But the most important thing is what happens behind closed doors when no else is watching.
  • It’s easier to teach what is right, than do what is right.
    Ouch! That is painful to hear, especially when you are writing a blog post aiming to teach others important principles on life! In many ways words are cheap, but it is how we live that counts.
  • We should work on changing ourselves, before trying to improve others.
    That is why the example of Gandhi is so powerful. The other important truth is that the one person in the universe who I have the most amount of control over is myself.
  • The most valuable gift you can give to others is to be a good example.
    Others are not so much looking for perfection as an authenticity to who we are as people. When my life and my words do not match up (which sooner or later they will do), am I willing to be honest about the gap or do I deflect by looking at the other person’s failings? (For more on this see How Do I Deal With My Ego?)


What thoughts, questions and comments does The Law of The Picture raise for you?

Podcast #014 Filthy Rich

The property tycoon who struck real gold

Manoj Raithatha is a man who does not live life in small measures. He has been an English teacher, a BAFTA award winning and Emmy-nominated TV writer and a successful property entrepreneur – so successful in fact that his business at its height in 2007 was turning over £70 million a year and in 2005 he was able to buy 220 off plan appartments for £30 million. However, his life changed dramatically after the financial crisis of 2008. Also in that same year his 2 year old son became critically ill.

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Manoj has written an autobiography entitled “Filthy Rich: The Property Tycoon Who Struck Real Gold.”

Do join us on this podcast conversation with Manoj as we discuss his life along with the consequences that led to – the good, the bad and the ugly.

It is a story that spans generations; British, African and Asian cultures as well as radically changing world views.

We look at how financial success and spirituality have been competing areas of focus in his life. It was coming to the end of his own resources, financial, emotional and spiritual that opened him up to what really matters in life.

Manoj’s publishing community at Instant Apostle is here.

A podcast and further articles on money are here.

A podcast and articles on finding true success are here.

What questions, thoughts and reflections does Manoj’s life story raise for you?

What am I learning about you?

Analysing our 2015 reader survey

Thank you for taking the time to contribute to my recent reader survey. This is only the second time I have undertaken such an exercise. I have found it a useful way to understand you, my readers. I think in the long run you will also benefit as it will help me improve my blog and writing. I intend to repeat it at least yearly so as to keep what I write about and present as relevant and helpful to you as possible.


In December 2015 we had 35 responses from the 368 email addresses in our database. Although these are relatively low numbers (9.5%) they do provide a baseline from which we can build on to develop an understanding of who is reading and how to improve content. Summarising the results gives the following ‘reader profile’:

How do I deal with my ego?

Untangling ego and pride

We talk of someone having an ‘ego’. When we say it we are not just stating a fact and we’re certainly not offering them a compliment! The truth is, however, we all have an ego. But what do we mean by the word ego and why can it cause such great problems in our own lives and the lives of others? Is there such a thing as a healthy amount of ego?


William Law back in the 18th century put it well when he said:

“Every good thought that we have, and every good action that we perform, lays us open to pride and thus exposes us to the various assaults of vanity and self-satisfaction.”

Those words are just as true today as they were then. To further illustrate this reflect on the following 10  contrasting statements. Do you see any of the following tendencies in yourself:

Podcast #013 How to grow in resilience

An essential life skill

“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger,” so said the German philosopher Frederick Nietsche. Its a great quote, but I have to say that it is not necessarily automatic! As I have got older I have found my need for resilience has grown greater. And I am convinced that experience is not unique to me. Developing resilience in a world that is getting increasingly volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous is an important life skill for anyone anywhere at any age.

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The need to master change, thrive under pressure and bounce back from setbacks is something we all need to continue to develop and grow in to handle the ever increasing complexity life can throw at us.

On this podcast do join my co-host Andrew Horton and myself as we discuss:

  • What do we mean by the word resilience and why do we really need it.
  • The dangers of a lack of resilience.
  • 8 principles that can affect your level of resiliency.

For more articles and blog posts on the subject of resilience do look here.

Andrew and I also discuss personal challenges and setbacks, as well as strategies and thinking patterns we have found helpful and unhelpful.

What have you found helpful in your own life in developing your own resilience?


7 Questions to ask yourself at the start of 2016

So here we are in a new year! What will the blank canvas of 2016 hold for you? What are you looking forward to or maybe even dreading? What did you learn from this last year?



The start of a new year gives a natural opportunity to appraise how the last year has gone and make preparations for the months that lie ahead.

Søren Kierkegaard has a helpful quote that says, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.”

Those who do not learn from the past are invariably doomed to repeat the same mistakes or find themselves getting stuck in their relationships or other areas of their life. It is so easy to reach a lid to your potential. As someone has said, there is a world of difference between 30 years of experience and 1 year of experience repeated 30 times!

Here is how John Maxwell puts it in a recent blog post of his. It is a long piece, but I found it so helpful I couldn’t leave any out:

It’s the most peculiar time of year

A guest post by Chris Goswami

December is different
If you are reading this you are probably over 7 years old. I read somewhere that 7 is the average age at which boys and girls stop believing in Santa. More interestingly some studies show that although children have positive feelings on learning the truth about Santa, parents are predominantly sad and even feel a sense of loss when their child discovers that Santa isn’t really coming (…and worse, was never going to come). Traditions are important to us – they bring a feel-good factor — traditions enrich our lives.

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And there are loads of traditions around Christmas. Christmas gives us permission to wear our heart on our sleeves with jollity and stress in equal measure. It’s an excuse to connect with neighbours, colleagues and random people in the street as we engage in similar activities (the same ones we did last year). Carols, shopping, decorating, cooking, complaining. Christmas is also a great leveller, many of us light up our houses on the outside and decorate them on the inside whatever we happen to believe. We give ourselves permission to talk with people we never met before in car parks and supermarket queues. Lights, trees and cards engender warm fuzzy feelings and there’s something about all of this that brings a sense of cordiality to strangers and security for ourselves.

I’m not saying it’s all hilarity and cheer, for some it can be the opposite but for most people most of the time Christmas makes us feel good about the world and good about ourselves. Our problems get put on hold.

January is different
January stands in contrast to December. January can be a dark and difficult month. Whereas in December we just don’t have time to stop and think, January can bring an excess of self reflection, too much thinking time. The lights get switched off, TVs are restored to pre-Christmas schedules, and we are back at work in the same old job – or worse, gazing into another year with no job. I know people not prone to depression who nonetheless experience an immense lack of motivation in January. For some this can continue in some form until “the great lifting” at the end of March when we are routinely surprised and delighted by our old friend, the daylight.

If we know this is likely to happen to us, there are a few simple things we can do to help ourselves…

Can You Afford To Miss This Christmas Gift?

In the busyness, hustle and bustle of Christmas it is so easy to miss what really matters. It is incredibly easy to get distracted (not to mention stressed out!) by the food and festivities, as well as gatherings with family and friends – good and enjoyable as those things can be. We give and receive all sorts of gifts, but can so easily forget about the greatest gift of all that Christmas is pointing to.


The familiarity 0f Christmas, the cute baby, the manger and nativity scene seem so commonplace and yet behind those events are matters of deep significance and importance. 

Here are four important truths that Christmas teaches us:

1. The birth of Jesus Christ was an actual historical event.
When we think of the nostalgia, fun and joy of Christmas, we forget that this was a historical event with all the stress, confusion and unpredictability of life. Luke’s Gospel account tells us in chapter 2:

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.”

Jesus’ birth was not some kind of fairy tale or made up story. His birth and life are well documented and verified historically. Caesar Augustus ruled from 27BC to AD14 and ordered a census requiring all Romans and Jews to register in their hometowns. The census was a way to get a registration list for taxes. That was the important news of the day and a painful reminder to Jews of their Roman occupation. Mary and Joseph had to travel the 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. By foot it would have taken at least 3 days. (For more on the historical authenticity of Christ see here.)

I need your help!

This week’s post is relatively short, but that’s because I need your help! I really do appreciate the time you take to read my blog. It has been just over three years since we started. I have found it an amazing and truly rewarding experience, but I really need your help!

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I would like to make my blog and the podcasts much more relevant to your needs and to what interests you. In order to do that I need to know more about YOU! I have created a Reader Survey and I’d be very thankful if you were to spend just five minutes to answer the questions in it.

There are only 10 questions, and the results will feed directly into how I write my posts and the podcasts that I do. So my intention is that what I write will benefit you directly. The results are completely anonymous and I cannot tell who has written what.

I promise you it is very short and will not take much of your time. Although if you have detailed responses that too would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you once again!

Click here to take my reader survey

Podcast #012: On turning 50!

Reflections and lessons from the road

2015 was the year I turned 50. On this podcast discussion with my co-host Andrew Horton we think about ageing in a world and culture that tends to celebrate youth and ignore wisdom. Having said that getting older per see is not the issue. Its not experience alone that counts, but rather evaluated experience. Or as someone has eloquently put it, “There is a world of difference between 50 years of experience and 1 year of experience repeated 50 times!”



As we explore these life lessons, we have been able to crystallise our discussion down to 6 main statements on life. Having turned 50 I very much doubt whether I would change any of these. No matter how much the world changes I believe these principles will be timeless.My purpose in sharing them is to hopefully spare you some of the pain and discomfort I experienced in not getting them earlier:

1. I’ve been learning to be comfortable in my own skin and context.

2. While being content with who I am, there is a place to appropriately strive and grow into all who I am called to be.

3. Life only really makes sense in the context of love and friendship.

4. Remember the video is playing and you are never really alone (even if it feels like it!)

5. The importance of right thinking and what we say to ourselves.

6. your life is a whole movie and not just a single scene.

You may also enjoy the following blog posts that build on this theme:

Life Lessons On Turning 50

3 More Life Lessons On Turning 50

What thoughts and questions do the principles and discussion raise for you?