Authors Posts by J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren


By Julie Ferman, Legendary Matchmaker & Dating Guru.

Are you hoping that your online dating adventure will “net” you a keeper? You’re not just fooling around – you are really looking to find and attract and enter into a relationship with one special person? Excellent. Here’s your short, punchy guide for how to set yourself up for success.

  1. Tell The Truth. Let no fib or untruth sneak onto your profile page. Have a trusted friend review what you’ve written and invite that person to help you embellish, slash and reword what you’re choosing to share about yourself.
  2. About Those Photos… You simply MUST have current, clear, high quality photos on your profile. A sharp, smiling face shot and the ESSENTIAL full body shot – THIS YEAR’s version of you. Skip the shirtless selfie in the bathroom mirror, lose the shot with 6 other bridesmaids, ditch that sunglasses and cap shot. Toss the photo with your ex blurred out. Seriously, folks… if you want to have second dates, you’ll want to have as few surprises as possible on the first date. Next time you spend any quality time in the mirror to look nice for an event – take THAT opportunity to have a friend shoot a bunch of photos, to capture a great one for your profile.
  3. Spin Positively. Let nothing negative fly off your fingertips. Frame everything you say in a positive light. Rather than saying “No couch potatoes” … say that you’re a good fit for someone who enjoys regular workouts and a healthy diet.
  4. Look For What’s Right. It’s OK to have a long wish list. But the key is to get VERY clear with yourself about what really matters most. Whittle your oh-so-long list of Ideal Mate Qualifiers down to Your Top Five. These are the qualities, characteristics and attributes that you would be unhappy without. You’d rather be alone for the rest of your life than choose a partner who wasn’t made up of these five elements. Hint: Height and hair don’t usually make it to the top five… When reading profiles (Yes, dismiss fewer based solely on the photos) look for your Top Five Critical Criteria. Resist the temptation to veto someone for not having item number 7 or 17 on your list. THIS will change everything for you. I promise.
  5. Say Yes. When in doubt, when a candidate is knocking on your door, if this person appears to have your coveted Top Five Critical Criteria, practice saying Yes. Remember – the way you’ve been doing dating hasn’t yet delivered the intended result.  Right? The nature of blind spots is that we simply can’t see our own. The great likelihood is that you’ve been dismissing, vetoing, and discarding plenty of potential candidates for what really are silly and superficial reasons. The ones that jump out at you as being the most delicious and desirable – well, guess what? EVERYONE notices that one, and so that “IT person” gets lots of attention. The best catch in the room is usually NOT the best looking, the tallest, the most charming or the wealthiest. Trust me on this. Look for the gems hidden just below the surface. Look just a little bit deeper than you have been. You don’t want to be overlooked for a minor flaw, or for not being the brightest star in the sky, do you? So don’t make that mistake when you’re trolling online profiles.
  6. Have The Courage To Be Vulnerable. Yes, it takes guts to put yourself at risk, to reach out, to say Yes, to call or to answer when the phone rings for you. How to bust through that fear is to focus on bringing a smile to this person’s face. It’s just an email. It’s just a text message. It’s just one date. Do dating one moment at a time, and if your intention is simply to contribute to this person, to brighten this person’s day and to lift spirits with each communication and each encounter, you simply can’t fail. In other words, make dating less about you and more about contributing to these other souls along your journey, one touch at a time. 
  7. Be Present.  Give the person in front of you (on your iPhone or in person) the gift of your presence. Resist the temptation to compare this person to a former love or to the fictitious ideal mate that you have lodged in your mind. Give this person the benefit of a fresh, open-minded perspective. Just as you want to be considered.  Do unto others…. When asked about anything sensitive regarding your past, share a positive 30-second response.  Don’t go down dark tunnels, and if your date is falling into that trap, rescue the conversation by offering a positive spin and bring the focus back to the present.
  8. Have The Courage To Initiate. If the right ones aren’t knocking on your door, see what happens when you reach out. Save your Favorites and send one thoughtful, concise, playful email every day.
  9. Be Smart.  Catch the creeps.  There are predators out there. Count on it. Keep private your last name, residential and work addresses. And use an email address that doesn’t reveal your last name. Be smart. Take your time before inviting someone into your home. Keep your pants on – hold off on sex until you are both ready to focus exclusively on each other and until you know that you share the same purpose for dating.
  10. Practice Kindness. Express appreciation. Say “Thank you.” Be kind to each other. Be honest with each other. When it’s not a fit, wish each other well and burn no bridges. As a wise grandmother once said, “Always be nice. And don’t turn down a date with anyone – you never know who his friends might be…”

By Julie Ferman, Legendary Matchmaker & Dating Guru.

Meet Julie at for free coaching on video – visit her profile at for more information.

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By Life Coach and Author Carole Ann Rice

You know how it is – you’ve tried just about everything but nothing’s working.  A course of vitamins, the latest self-help book and even a little judicious retail therapy but you are still feeling as flat as a supermodel’s tum.  Sometimes a fragrant oily bath or a bit of chocolate mouth-entertainment just doesn’t cut through the feeling that someone out there is living the life you ordered.

We can look to others for some emotional rescue but find the Closed sign up as they can neither see or hear us.  Other times a holiday, or something lush to look forward to on the horizon, is enough to drag us through the grey days and the gloom.  Still… it all kind of feels like your killing time, sleepwalking or enduring life rather than enjoying it.

I used to work as a feature writer in a newspaper office and the coffee machine used to digitally count down the seconds until a grey cup of mud was dispensed.  I remember then thinking it was like some portentous millennium-style clock ticking off moments of my life I wasn’t enjoying and reminding me to shape up and ship out.


These are precious days we will never have again so why are we just crossing them off as though they were something to suffer and then discard until what we perceive as the main event comes into view?

So if life is currently showing up in black and white and you want to switch it back to full Technicolour with wraparound sound you may need to start having a love affair with life.  I know this is easier said than done when you feel like a big grey damp duvet is wrapped around you one doesn’t feel flirty or even vaguely interested in Life even when it is wearing tight jeans, crooking it’s finger at you and giving you the cutest “come on” smile.

But one has to coax out that vital feeling by finding things that nourish and restore from the inside out, like a sort of spiritual hot choc and marshmallow totty that will light you up and keep the home fires burning even when you feel like your pilot light’s gone out.

Here are some suggestions I guarantee (oh and I do like a guarantee in life – there are so few) will start to get you plugged in once again to the mellifluous heart beat and rhythm of life and put a Gene Kelly glide in your stride.

  • Start smiling at people or striking up conversations with folk you see regularly at the station, in the corner shop or grocers, the rubbish collectors, security guys, neighbours, check -out staff, road sweepers – feel the connectedness  in your daily community.  It feels good to belong and it’s such a buzz walking down the street and waving, smiling and greeting folks you know.

  • Exercise often.  My daily tonic is a run around the park with the sun bouncing off the frosted grass, the fog in my hair and the gnats in my teeth.  Nature provides its own natural Prozac and feel-good vibes. Birdsong, noticing the subtlety and magic of our seasons and the great sense that you are but a small speck in a vast universe tends to keep things in perspective.

  • Wearing your best stuff.  Get your killer heels, finest lingerie or pulling pants, sharp suit, jewels, perfume and body products out of tissue paper and storage and wear it right now.  This time, right here right now, is one to celebrate.

  • Be generous and practice random acts of kindness.  Buy the guy behind you a coffee or a colleague their favourite snack bar.  Send thank you notes and compliment your friends and make them feel good. It comes straight back at you like a big karmic boomerang.

  • Do less.  We are all doing far too much and we are not building in enough down-time treats to restore ourselves.  Create daily habits which nurture and lift the heart from speaking to old friends, reading a good book, playing music or eating good organic food. Make time to honour yourself.

  • Don’t worry about getting out of the comfort zone – be terrified you’ll never get out of it.  Regularly scare yourself silly by trying new skills, speaking up, meeting new people or committing to something that will stretch you.  Give your soul a shake up.

  • Act “as if” you already had everything you are aiming for. Manifest it right now by being the person with the big promotion, 6 figure income, sashaying like a love bomb and broadcasting the success you have always craved.  Just watch how people start to respond.

  • Make a list of 100 things you are good at/ like about yourself or others like about you.  Read it regularly, believe it then own it.

  • Remember that your life and all that is in it could well be on somebody else’s wish list.

  • Give yourself a hug.  Show yourself unending, unconditional compassion, be gentle and embrace your own humanity.

  • Don’t walk strut.  Chin up, swing your hips, loosen the shoulders and smile.

  • Look in the mirror and say “Who loves ya, baby?” and know the answer

Carole Ann Rice is one of the UK’s top coaches. Find out more

Get coaching on video from Carole Ann Rice live at on her profile


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Road, Arvind Devalia, Goaly Blog

Overcoming the Pain…

Trauma is something nearly universal to humanity.

We talk a lot about trauma on Goaly because, as we gathered the step-by-step strategies from our coaches, we realized many of them had to deal with some level of trauma in their life before creating their successful coaching pracitces.

Trauma is something nearly universal to humanity.

What fascinates us most about these stories is the redemption involved in the trauma. How did they overcome the devastation they experienced? What mentality did they have in order to overcome?

We recently talked about trauma with Arvind Devalia, founder of Make It Happen, author of the Amazon bestselling book “Get The Live You Love” and writer behind the Make It Happen blog.

What, in your opinion, is the factor in a person’s life that makes them able to cope with trauma better than others?

Everyone is different and has different ways of coping with stress and trauma. Some people are just able to switch off as if nothing has happened, whereas others go to pieces.

A number of factors can make a difference here – such as past experiences of life, cultural and family background, spiritual beliefs and personality.

Man, Triumph, Arvind Devalia, Goaly Blog

Having a strong family-and-friends support network is a key factor — the person suffering knows he or she is not on his own and can fall back on the love and support from those close to him or her.

Sharing your feelings and thoughts with your loved ones will really help.

Share with us a traumatic moment you experienced. How did you overcome it?

Many years ago I had a number of life changes happen to me in one concentrated season of life.

The dot com start-up I was involved in with some friends ran out of cash and went bust, and at about the same time my wife and I separated. Also, the apartment I was living in was coming to the end of its rental agreement.

“It felt like I had lost everything I had strived to build in my life.”

The day my wife and I separated was the most traumatic experience in my life up until that point. It felt like I had lost everything I had strived to build in my life.

What helped me cope that evening was this: I sat down in the apartment which now felt so empty, and reflected on the question, “What’s the worse thing that could happen?” Though my heart felt like it was broken, I still had my faculties, my drive, my intelligence.

In that moment, I told myself  I would get through this and I realised that, logically, the only thing I could do was to focus on getting a new job and a new direction in life.

“I took each day one at a time and I slowly got my life back together again, day by day.”

And that’s what I did – I got myself a new job within weeks and was soon living in a new rented apartment. I took each day one at a time and I slowly got my life back together again, day by day. Those days soon became months and years -and the rest is history.

What are three things people need to remember as they work through a traumatic experience?
  • Ask yourself, “What’s the worse thing that could happen from here on?” Focus on things improving and remember that things are never as bad as they may appear.
  • People around you are willing to help – just ask for help and let them support you.
  • Take great self-care and remember to sleep and eat as well as possible – your body needs optimal support at this time.
What are three benefits of addressing trauma and attempting to work through it?
  • You grow and it makes you a better person.
  • You realize just how resourceful and clever you really are.
  • Your experience gives you new perspectives on life – and stops you from worrying about things you can’t control.


Desert, Leadership, Aboodi Shabi, Goaly Blog

“The only definition of a leader I know is someone who has followers.” – Peter Drucker.

U.K. coaching and leadership guru Aboodi Shabi brings his wisdom to the Goaly blog once again today, giving us some insight into his philosophy of leadership. He challenges us to ask ourselves a question we hardly ever hear in leadership circles.

How Unavailable Are You?

When I work with leaders, I often ask them this question: “How are you unavailable as a leader?” What do I mean by this?

The Drucker quote suggests that it is your capacity to engage with others in such a way that they are willing to follow you that marks you as a leader.

For all of us who work as leaders, or who take on a leadership role in life, that capacity for engagement is an on-going process of learning.

A Way of Being

Leadership is not just about technical ability, or about a skill-set – it is about a way of being. We are talking about the ontology of a leader, if you will – what is it in our being that impacts how others perceive us as a leader. How do we show up, and how does that affect whether or not others are willing to follow us?

“How available are you for relationship?”

So, to come back to that question, I am asking leaders to reflect on those aspects of themselves which get in the way of their being someone people will want to follow.

Of course, this isn’t only applicable to leaders – even if we are not in a formal leadership role, we will need to relate to others and to be seen as someone that others will want to engage with.

Leadership, Aboodi Shabi, Goaly Blog

The question could be made more general: How available are you for relationship? What aspects of yourself get in the way of being someone that others will want to engage with?

Here are a few examples of things which can get in the way of your availability for relationship:

  • You like to always do things your way
  • You need to be liked
  • You are very results-focused
  • You don’t take time to really connect with others
  • You might find it hard to ask for help
  • You’re uncomfortable with not knowing all the answers.

While all of those things might be useful at times, they can also negatively impact your availability for relationship.

Relate More, Engage More

If you want to become more available for relationship, or you want to engage more in life, then one of the first steps will be to identify where and how you are unavailable.

The best way to find this out is to ask others. Sometimes you might not even need to ask – you might simply have to listen to what others have been trying to tell you all along!

Take some time to ask, or listen to, people around you. How do they experience you?

Some of these conversations may not be easy, but try to listen from a mood of openness and willingness to learn rather than trying to defend yourself. If you want to relate more to others then surely it’s worth trying to find out how they experience you

“If you want to relate more to others, then surely it’s worth trying to find out how they experience you.”

Note that this isn’t about you becoming what others want you to become – it’s not an either/or situation, but a chance to reflect further on what it might require for you to be more available in your relationships with others, and to participate more fully in life.

© Aboodi Shabi – 2015 -

Sunglasses, Summer Weight Loss, Goaly Blog

Skinny is Better Than Sex

Chances are you’d give up sex this summer to make sure you don’t gain 10 pounds.

According to weight-loss experts Nutrisystem, 52 percent of women in America would drop sex to avoid gaining a 10-spot.

With summer fast approaching, our waistlines are giving us that menacing stare that makes us want to stop eating altogether in order to slim down for our next trip to the beach.

There’s no way were going to give up food for the summer, but Nutrisystem says there’s a lot of other things (including sex) to which we’d say “Adios” if we had the chance to get a flat tummy:

  • The majority of Americans said they think they need to lose 23 pounds in order to feel sexy.
  • One in four men would give up sex for the summer if they could avoid gaining 10 pounds.
  • More Americans would prefer to shed 10 to 20 pounds this summer than get promoted at work
  • About three out of four Americans are willing to give up television, their cell phones or their computers for a  flat tummy

The Secret To Success: 4 Life Coaches Offer Awesome Insight

Finding the motivation to shed pounds is easy enough — we want to feel amazing when we strip down and dig our toes into the sand.

However, Nutrisystem says that as much as we want to lose weight, many of us are just too stubborn. We don’t want to give up the pound-producing foods that add inches to our waists.

Measure, Summer Weight Loss, Goaly Blog

Now before you whip out the tape measure and read those fateful numbers, take step back from your pre-summer enthusiasm and make a plan of attack which includes the advice of some of the best life coaches in the business.

4 Ways to Make Your Summer Weight Loss Plan a Success

1. One Change at a Time

Julie Ferman, a popular dating coach in Los Angeles, said the key to keep the weight off this summer is to narrow down your strategies to a single, focused objective.

“Pick ONE THING that you are wanting to change and that you are willing to change,” Ferman said, “and just DO IT.”

She gave us four great examples of single goals you can start doing today:

  • Work out: Thirty minutes of exercise that you’re currently not doing
  • No booze or sweets: Eliminating be eliminating alcohol or sugar six days a week
  • Adios to late-night snacks: No eating after 7 p.m.
  • Go healty: Change the nature of your snacks

2. Make the Trade

Financial coach Michelle Tascoe is an expert in numbers and investment. Her dollar sense carries over pretty easily to the weight loss world: sometimes it’s better to cut out the short-term profits for the long-term wealth.

“How you do anything is how you do everything,” Tascoe said. “What are the short-term gratifications that you can trade for long-term success?”

Snacking, Summer Weight Loss, Goaly Blog

Yes — if you want to look good this summer you’re going to have to give up the glorious short-term deliciousness of, for example, McDonald’s, six packs of Sierra Nevada, all those amazing pastries you devour for breakfast and hallowed halls of your favorite neighborhood pizzeria.

Of course, these aren’t the only short-term gratifications you have to give up. Each person is an individual. For you, your short-term mistress may be the bag of Skittles you have stashed in your desk at work or the growler of IPA tucked away in the back of the fridge in your man cave.

If you want long-term change, you’ll have to start making some hard choices about your short-term habits.

3. Feel It Out

For New York Times bestselling author and Law of Attraction coach Christy Whitman, succeeding with summer weight loss doesn’t start with a waist measurement, I-will-abstain-from-chocolate pronouncement or a Facebook post promising all your friends you’re going to be OMG-skinny! by July.

“Focus on how you want to feel in your body. Spend as much concentrated time as you can basking in this feeling.”

“Focus on how you want to feel in your body,” Whtiman said. “Spend as much concentrated time as you can basking in this feeling.”

As you let this feeling encapsulate you, you’ll be empowered to change the way you approach you goal.

“Allow this feeling to become dominant in your energy field,” she said, “and soon it will influence your thoughts, your beliefs, and your choices.”

4. See the New You

Big changes rarely come without thinking big.

If you’ve become trapped in a self-image in which you can’t see beyond who you are in the moment, it will be very difficult to reach the goals you want for the summer. You have to see the possibility of a trimmer body and believe you can change your reality in order to get there, said Lisa Read, a U.K. parenting coach.

Walking on Beach, Summer Weight Loss, Goaly Blog

“In my experience, people tend to live up to their own self-image, meaning that if they see themselves as overweight and unable to change that, this is the result they’ll get,” Read said. “If this is the case, the first step is to work on creating a new self-image, by visualising what you want and imagining it has already happened.”

Once you’ve seen the new future you, you can put together a compelling plan for success. But not without asking yourself the hard questions first, Read said:

  • What makes you think you want to lose weight?
  • How determined are you to make a change?
  • How much do you really believe it is possible for you to lose weight?

Adding to You Summer Weight Loss Plan

Losing weight, sticking with your goals and succeeded in areas where you normally fail are the realm of self-development. Each of the coaches who helped us with this article have years of wisdom, experience and expertise to share with you.

Take a look at the videos below to get to know them a little better!

Christy Whitman

Lisa Read

Michelle Tascoe

Julie Ferman

Headphones, Aboodi Shabi, Goaly Blog

Ever wonder why coaching — whether for business, career or life — is so effective for so many people? U.K. leadership developer and coach trainer Aboodi Shabi joins us today to talk about why listening is such a crucial part of the relationships between coach and client.

Are They Mad?

Towards the end of her life, my mother, who grew up and lived in Baghdad until she was in her late thirties, developed Alzheimer’s and started to forget herself during her conversations. Whenever we spoke on the phone, or when we met, she would ask me what I did for a living, and I would try to explain.

“She would look at me with a slightly astonished expression on her face, and say “They pay you? To talk to them? Are they mad?”

It’s never been especially easy for me to quickly sum up just what it is that I do, but explaining coaching to someone whose English wasn’t fluent and who couldn’t remember anything anyway, was especially trying.

Occasionally, however, she would get it.

And then, she would look at me with a slightly astonished expression on her face, and say “They pay you? To talk to them? Are they mad?”

A Solution to Every Problem?

The story about my mother and I is one I often tell, and it points to something at the heart of why I do what I do. We live in an increasingly rational culture, one that believes, in its rationalist way, that there is a solution to every problem.

“If self-help books work, how come we need more than one?”

This has penetrated our culture in ways I couldn’t have imagined as a child. Go to any bookshop, and you’ll find rows of shelves devoted to “self-help” books; look on the internet and you’ll find advice on how to deal with any problem you can imagine, and some you can’t.

And yet, despite the mass availability of good advice, information on how to deal with our problems, workshops on how to make money, find or maintain relationships, live powerfully, etc, we are still seeking something.

Rationality, Aboodi Shabi, Goaly Blog

Something else that I often say is that “If self-help books worked, how come we need more than one?”. It’s not that the information out there is bad or that the courses offered aren’t any good, but it seems there is something missing. Something that people will, despite my mother’s protestations, pay for and which they value.

The Answer: Listen + Listen + Listen

That something, I think, is listening. Sounds simple, but it’s almost as if the more solutions there are out there, the harder it is to simply be listened to.

When we talk to our friends or our colleagues about our challenges what we often get is advice – “Read this book,” or, “Do this course.” Or, worse, we sometimes get told we should “Just deal with it,” or “Get over it.”

“We don’t really get listened to. We get information and advice.”

In other words, we don’t really get listened to – we get “fixed”, or “told what to do”, but we don’t get listened to in the sense of being legitimised in our own experience. We don’t get seen, we don’t get witnessed and we don’t get that connection. We get information and advice instead.

For the Dogs?

Those of you who have dogs will know that, if you throw a stick for a dog when you are out walking with it, the dog will run after the stick, bring it back to you and drop it at your feet for you to throw it again. The dog doesn’t simply want the stick; it wants the connection, the relationship.

Information and advice are a bit like the stick. It’s not that we don’t need advice or solutions to our problems – of course we do – but often  what’s needed in addition to these things is simple listening.

Dog, Aboodi Shabi, Goaly Blog

In fact, I’d say listening is something that’s so vital and so rare.

Sometimes we miss the obviousness of simply giving someone the gift of listening. I know, from my own experience as a coach and also from the experiences of the coaches I have trained and worked with, that often the coachee will say that, in coaching (and also in counseling), they have been able to speak of things they have never spoken about before. The simple act of being able to speak those things was sufficient.

In the excellent book, “A General Theory of Love” , the writers Amini, Lewis and Lannon argue that one of the main benefits of counselling (for which you could also read “coaching”) is the connection between the counselor and the client – the limbic connection between them is the healing, not the content.

To Be Heard, To Be Seen

In summary, I think we can say that the human soul longs for, perhaps more than anything else, the chance to express itself and be heard or seen. It doesn’t need to be fixed, told what to do next or given a solution. It simply longs to be witnessed.

“The human soul longs to express itself and be heard or seen. It doesn’t need to be fixed. It simply longs to be witnessed.”

This need has been around since ancient times. Writer Joseph Campbell used to talk about “sacred space” – a space where people would gather to speak of their important matters and where the act of speaking would in itself be transformative.

I think it’s that space that people are seeking – the space where they can hear themselves and be witnessed. And, for that, no, I don’t think they are mad to pay.

© Aboodi Shabi – 2015 -

Woman on Cliff, Arvind Devalia, Goaly Blog

Fear is that powerful menace which haunts many of us from the time we are children to the moment of our last breath.

For life coach, psychotherapist and strategist Terri Cole, however, fear isn’t as terrifying as you’d think. Through a few simple, serious steps, you can start to dismantle the walls of fear which have been confining you.

Taking the Terror Out of Fear

1. Fear is just a feeling

We’ve been lulled into believing fear is more than just a feeling.

However, it’s just that: a feeling, an emotion. In the same way that you can be happy, sad, joyous or contemplative, you can be afraid.

“Fear is just like every other emotion, but somehow, in this world, it’s gotten this elevated status,” Cole said. “Start thinking about fear as you would other feelings. You have the power to change the way that you feel.”

“If fear is just a feeling, you have the power to change it.”

Recognizing that fear is just an emotion is a very good thing, Cole said, because it opens you up to be able to control your fears as you would other emotions.

“Imagine that fear is just a feeling and not a fact, how would your life change,” Cole asked. “Unless you live in an active war zone, 98% of the time the fear that you are feeling is just a feeling. If fear is just a feeling, you have the power to change it.”

2. Create a sacred space

Think of the first step in conquering fear — that fear is just a feeling — as the tool you’ll use to start working on your relationship with fear.

You’ll need a workshop to get the work done, and that’s where a “zen den” comes into play.

“This is a sacred space in your home where you can do the work we’re talking about, where you can meditate, to think and to expand,” Cole said.


Decorate your space with calming accents which inspire you, whether they’re candles, pictures of loved ones or leaves and flowers.

“All you want for a zen den is a place for you to take a nice, deep breath and exhale,” Cole said. “This is going to be a place to meditate because this work is best done in a space where you can create some stillness and silence internally.”

3. Relax

Your zen den is the workshop where your work will get done.

In order to get that work started, you’ll need to be relaxed. Calm. Focused. Centered. Getting to that point is a difficult one. For many — Cole included – a state of relaxation is best achieved through mediation.

“You need to have an open mind to see what it is you need to see.”

Once you reach this meditative, relaxed state, you’ll be ready to ask some hard questions in the next tip.

“You need to have an open mind to see what it is you need to see,” Cole aid.

4. Ask Yourself the Hard Questions

“I hope that you’re sitting in your sacred space so that you feel expansive and you’re brave enough to look the real answers for you so you will be able to decode your relationship to fear,” Cole said.

Questions about your family of origin are a key element in confronting your fears and getting to the root of their power over you.

Many times, Cole said, the influence of fear on your life is a direct result of the environment you grew up in. Terri’s “Conquer Your Fears and Find True Freedom” free video strategy explores this environment with a series of probing questions.

We’ve included three of those questions here:

  • What was your family’s relationship to fear? Was there a lot of superstitions? How was your family origin when it came to fear?
  • What was your parents’ view of the world? Did they see it as a generous benevolent place or did they see it as a scary place?
  • Did your parents suffer in their own relationship to their own fear? Did they have anxiety, difficulty sleep or were they always afraid something was going to happen to you?

Bidding Farewell to Fear

As we said before, Terri Cole’s “Conquer Your Fears and Find True Freedom” free video strategy is a tremendous resource for your self-exploration and personal development. Her video also includes a fantastic meditation exercise. Check it out!

In the meantime, you take a look at Terri’s introductory video for her free series on fear:

Silly Guy, Aboodi Shabi, Goaly Blog

“We sit here stranded though we’re all doing our best to deny it.” – Bob Dylan (Visions of Johanna).

Our blog series with Aboodi Shabi, one of the U.K.’s leading coaches and leadership developers, continues today with the topic of incompetence. It’s hard for us to admit our mistakes and break out of our comfort zone, but Aboodi will do just that with the following post.

Declaring your Incompetence

I learned to drive more than thirty years ago, but one thing I never quite mastered was parking. Of course, I could sort of park, but I always struggled with parallel parking and would often give up on a parking space because it was too tight for me to get into.

I just put up with this and the frustration it caused. I didn’t think to ask for help, partly because I didn’t know that help would be available, but mostly out of embarrassment – parking is just one of those things one “should” be able to do.

Parking Your Pride

And then, a few weeks ago, I was visiting a friend for a walk. As I pulled into the car-park, she greeted me with “Gosh, your parking’s really awful, isn’t it?” Fortunately, I was in a good mood and was able to simply respond by agreeing with her,  saying that I’d always struggled with parallel parking.

Parking, Aboodi Shabi, Goaly Blog

Having acknowledged my incompetence, I was able to receive her offer of help and she set about teaching me the basics. Half an hour later, I understood something I’d never known before, and have been practising ever since.

It sounds like no big deal, but I think it touches on a fundamental aspect of human learning.

Help Me! (Or Not)

In my years of working with people, I have consistently come across one huge obstacle to learning that shows up for people however sophisticated, competent, or clever they are – the inability to admit the need for help, or more bluntly, the inability to admit their incompetence.

Even when people come for coaching or to one of my learning programmes, their starting point is often that “everything is fine” – to which my response, whether it’s spoken or not, is to reflect on why they have called me if nothing is wrong or if there is nothing they are struggling with.

Stop sign, Aboodi Shabi, Goaly Blog

It’s very hard for people to say “I’m lost, can you help me?” Just like the cliché of the guy who refuses to stop and ask for directions when driving, we live in a time when individuals are supposed to be able to help themselves and overcome any challenges alone. Any admission that we don’t know how to do something is a sign of weakness.

Where is Your Incompetence?

So, if we substitute other things for parking, where might you be just putting up with something you’re unable to figure out? Where are you sitting with frustration, embarrassed to ask for help, or not believing that help could be available?

Maybe you’re frustrated by the expectations of others at work and feel unable to do anything other than trying alone to stay on top of things. Maybe you feel unable to change some aspect of your personal life – you might drink too much, or feel unable to stop fighting with your spouse. Maybe you can’t find a way out of your financial difficulties.

In almost all of these kinds of situation, there is a way out of our difficulties. Support is often available to us, but, until that admission is there, until we declare that we can’t manage something or that we need help, real change is not possible.

“The hardest part of the learning journey or of making changes is the admission of the inability to do something or of the struggle.”

People are often willing to help us,  offer us new perspectives and ways out of our difficulties or provide comfort in our struggles. However, if we are unwilling to acknowledge the difficulties we face, then we are not going to be open to such support.

What I find time and time again in my work with people is that the hardest part of the learning journey or of making changes is the admission of the inability to do something or of the struggle. Once that step has been taken the process is usually simple, if not easy.

Surrendering to the learning journey by declaring one’s incompetence is the doorway to beginning to change.

Questions for Reflection

  • Where are you frustrated or struggling with a lack of progress in your professional or personal life?
  • What might be your learning challenges or areas of incompetence?
  • What stops you from admitting those challenges and asking for help?
  • What help might be available to you, once you begin to ask for it?

© Aboodi Shabi – 2015 -

Boy, Aboodi Shabi, Goaly Blog

“We shape ourselves to fit this world and by the world are shaped again.” David Whyte

All of us have behaviors shaped by factors outside of ourselves.

Leadership developer and founding co-president of the U.K. chapter of the International Coach Federation Aboodi Shabi talks with us today about how we can identify and transform our learned behaviors. Enjoy!

From Apartheid to Great Expectations

In the introduction to Peter Senge’s book “Presence”, there is a powerful story from a leadership workshop Senge was running in South Africa in 1990 during the last days of the Apartheid system.

During the workshop, which was for both blacks and whites, the participants were shown a video of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which had been banned in South Africa, and which many of them had never seen before.

After the video was shown, one of the participants, a white Afrikaans businessman, turned to one of the black community leaders, Anne Loetsebe, and said to her: “I want you to know that I was raised to think you were an animal.” And then he started crying. Anne just held him in her gaze and nodded. (You can read the full story here.)

Similarly, Estella, the adoptive daughter of Miss Havisham in Dickens’ novel “Great Expectations”, is depicted as being unable to love because she was brought up by a mother who had hated men after being jilted at the altar.

Learned Behavior: It Can Change

Stories like that illustrate that people aren’t “racist” because they are fundamentally evil or bad, nor are they “unable to love” because they are inherently unemotional. We are the way that we are because that’s what we have learned. And the things that we assess as character “deficiencies” might simply be things we have or have not learned.

“We are the way that we are because that’s what we have learned.”

When I work with people, in all kinds of contexts and situations, I frequently hear statements like “That’s just the way that I am,” “I’m really bad at asking for help,” or, “I’m never going to be any good at leadership.”

On further exploration, we usually discover that, at some point in their early lives, they were trained to be a certain way, or not trained in a particular competency.

Suddenly, what initially seemed to them as a character flaw becomes simply a recognition of a lack of learning or training, and then a different kind of possibility occurs – the possibility to train in a different way, to learn a new way of being.

“What seems a character flaw can become simply a recognition of a lack of learning or training, and then a different kind of possibility occurs.”

Of course, as with the stories above of the Afrikaner businessman or Estella, this realisation can bring with it a lot of pain, regret over what we might have missed or sadness over not having realised this earlier. There are so many things I wish I’d known when I was twenty, rather than having to wait until I was thirty or forty or fifty, to discover!

Feeling Freedom

Once we realise those things, there’s a new kind of freedom as well as a compassion that sets in when we realise that we’re not intrinsically flawed, but that we have been trained to live, think, or be a certain kind of way. Then, we can be available for learning – for re-training – in a way that we were not before this understanding.

Girl Running, Aboodi Shabi, Goaly Blog


That awareness can bring about a powerful shift in our mood – we’re not doomed to be the way we might have been all of our lives. We can learn something new – in much the same way as we are not doomed to only being able to speak our native language because that’s what we learned growing up, so we are not condemned to being unable to love, or to not being able to ask for help, etc.

Simply put, once we understand that who we are is, to a large extent, who we have learned to be, we can learn to be something new.

Questions for Reflection

  • You might like to take a look at “who you are” – at your characteristics and personality, and reflect on how you might have learned to be that way.
  • If you have aspects of yourself that you see as ‘flaws’, can you see them as simply ‘things you have learned’?
  • What do these reflections open up for you?

© Aboodi Shabi – 2015 -

Talking into can, Aboodi Shabi

“The secret of tango is in this moment of improvisation that happens between step and step.” – Carlos Gavito

Today,  Aboodi Shabi, a transformational coaching expert and founder of the U.K. International Coaching Federation, offers his wisdom about the art and skill of grabbing someone’s attention with just the right amount of vigor and restraint.

How Do You Grab Someone’s Attention?

How much is too much? How little is too little?

When I did a somatic coaching course a few years ago, one of the exercises during the workshop consisted of literally grabbing someone else – by the arm – in order to get their attention.

“Whether we are acting in a designated leadership role, or simply taking the initiative in life, we need to get the attention of others throughout our day.”

As we worked on this, we were asked to pay attention to the question of how much is too much, and how little is too little. If I grab someone too hard, then I risk overwhelming them or putting them on the defensive, and if I don’t grab them hard enough, then I risk being ignored.

This question is a key territory for learning in the work I do with leaders. Whether we are acting in a designated leadership role, or simply taking the initiative in life, we need to get the attention of others throughout our day.

Listen to Me!

The exercise above focused primarily on the physical aspects of grabbing someone’s attention, but in our everyday life we grab others’ attention in all kinds of ways.

We make requests, for example, by speaking or by emails and gestures. We issue instructions or make interventions to make something happen or prevent something else from happening.

“The key aim is to get the other person to notice – to hear our request, for example, and to respond.”

This can be anything from asking our manager for a conversation, to calling out to stop a child from running out in front of a car, to bringing a staff member’s attention to some concern about their performance, or even when leading someone in tango.

Of course, the key aim is to get the other person to notice – to hear our request, for example, and to respond. This requires calibration.

Calibrating Your Technique

Make the grab too little and the other person might not even notice that we are trying to communicate with them – our requests go unnoticed; they don’t hear us; or, if they do hear us, they may not take us seriously. Make the grab too much, on the other hand, and we could alienate or overwhelm them or we might be dismissed as “too aggressive.”

We all tend to have a default style when it comes to trying to get someone else’s attention; we need to learn how to adapt to each situation in order to make the desired impact – there is no “one size fits all”.

Each situation, each conversation, requires a different approach.

“In any relationship, whether personal or professional, there is an ongoing need to calibrate, according to the situation, according to the context.”

How, for example, do you get the attention of your colleague to ask for their help on a project, or of your teenage child who’s ignoring your requests for help in the house, or of your team to address a crisis at work, or of someone you want to invite to a dinner date?

In each of those situations, it’s clear that there are different strengths of approaches needed. Not only that, but in any relationship, whether personal or professional, there is an ongoing need to calibrate, according to the situation, according to the context.

What worked today with your boss might not work tomorrow, for example. You might greet a friend with enthusiasm, only to notice her crest-fallen face, and need to adapt your approach.

Using Intuition to Dance

A way to look at this is to see each step in each conversation as an opportunity to calibrate, to be present to the question, “How little is too little, and how much is too much?”—not in a mechanical way, but more in the sense of being present to the conversation and to the other person, so that you are able to “dance” with them and “know” the right level of approach at an almost intuitive level.

Tango Dancers, Aboodi Shabi, Goaly Blog

Like anything else – like the tango, for example – at the beginning this may feel mechanical until we are more practiced in it.

Center Yourself, Find Your Balance

One of the ways to support this practice is by centering. When we come from a centered place, it’s much easier for calibrate and know how little or how much is needed, rather than just operating from our default style, or from our eagerness to get the point across or our concerns that we won’t be listened to.

Here are some reflections that might help you explore this for yourself:

    • What is your default tendency? What impact does this have on others – do you find people backing away? Not hearing you? Responding?


    • What conversations have you had recently where you might have been “too much” or “too little?” What was the cost to you or to the other person?


    • What conversations do you need to have this week? How can you make yourself more available for connection by centering and calibration?


There is nothing to “get right,” only consistent practice and learning about yourself and about how you show up in your business or personal relationships, consistently checking in whether you are being too little or too much in each interaction in the conversation.

© Aboodi Shabi – 2015 –