Working at a time that feels right that’s like what?….. Going with the flow

Sheryl Andrews Founder and author of this blog

It was like a blinding flash of the obvious when I woke at daft o’clock this morning to write this article. Funny thing is that this seems to be the best time for me to write, having gone to bed about 9pm I am able to wake in the early hours of sunday morning with all the inspiration to write my blogs and of course the peace and quiet of a tranquil home. I find I only do this during the holidays or weekends so it is like my mind knows that when I finish I can go back to bed and sleep for as long as I like.

I have learned over the past few years to notice what is happening when I am at my best and work with it. Now that I know that I write at my best when I have had a sleep then I can almost plan to let that happen. Sometimes if I have to write an article mid-week or at a time I am under pressure I will have a half hour power nap just before. On the whole though I book my diary out with no appointments for every school holiday meaning I have a writing opportunity now every 6 weeks and of course most weekends as I generally keep them free to relax and be with my family and friends. My children being teenagers would rather stay up till 12 midnight and sleep in Sunday morning, my husband is more like the teenagers so for one night at week it works. So the question is have you worked out your own pattern your own rhythm for working at your best.

Whereabouts in a day or a week are you working at your best?

Do you fully understand what you need from yourself and others to work at your best?

One of the reason Mark my husband and business partner decided to join the business and give up doing IT full-time on an employed basis was because the hours they work meant he was not able to work at a time that ensured he was at his best. Mark actually works better if he can get up when he wakes up, go for a run and then work solidly until the job is done. Getting up at 5.30am or 6am is completely against his natural body clock. He is a natural riser at about 8am (he is doing an 4 month IT contract again now helping his old company out and he has really noticed the difference) With the knowledge of what he needs to work at his best he has ensured that despite the early starts he has maintained his fitness and has allowed himself the ability to stay up late and sleep in at the weekends but soon this project will be 7 days a week. Luckily he knows it is only for 4 months so he can manage it successfully. But I wonder how many of you are working at the time that is best for you? It might sound like a tall order, you maybe thinking too many other people and factors influence it, however in my experience pretty much like Mark when you know what you need to work at your best you can adapt your environment to be more suitable than not. Mark can’t change his start time, well actually he can but he worked out that maintaining his fitness levels was the most important factor to maintaining working at his best and therefore it was better to get up early and come home in time for our circuits class at Bishop Waltham at 7.30pm with Belinda Butler every Thursday, to find time to run at least twice a week, than to go in later and come home later. He worked out that if he got home at 6.30pm he could run before dinner but found it hard to manage a run before work even with the later start. There is often many aspects which is why our unique facilitation process is so powerful at helping you unravel all the elements focusing your attention on what matters right now to you.

At Step by Step Listening we work with clients to help them understand what is happening when they are working at their best, of course there are a number of different aspects of working and we do work with a full range from sole traders, small business owners and even parents. Clients often start with a different outcome like when I am running a meeting at my best or when I am parenting at my best or when I am managing my team at my best. The great thing is that when you do this consistently the iterative learning means you can really begin to understand how you work at your best. You will begin to notice patterns that are the same in lots of different environments that is when you really start to know yourself and can play to your own patterns, strengths and natural way of doing things. Life becomes so much easier when you do that, you will gain a sense of going with the flow instead of feeling like you are trying to row up the rapids.

Can I invite you to take a moment and write what ever comes to mind down on a sheet of A4 paper and keep writing without really thinking too much just let the thoughts flow for up to 3 pages. If you find yourself struggling to find anything else to write then look back over the words and select a couple of words you have repeated or that stand out to you and ask yourself:

What kind of …… that………? and is there anything else about…….? and then write your thoughts down.

Please do share your experience below I love to hear what is happening.

Thanks for Listening


P.S If you are interested in a certified facilitator working with you to explore this further  we run:

  •  Power Journey Retreats (the next one is 30th Mar to 1st April)
  •  Power Groups in Hampshire UK face to face and by phone
  • The Listening Post (the next one is 20th January 9.30 to 12.30 at our home office)
  • Leadership Retreat Breaks (16th July to 20th July and 13th August to 17th August)

We would love to work with you and we are happy for you to book a FREE 30 minute consultation to see if we are the right people for you or if you live locally you can attend the first session of The Listening Post for free simply book by emailing and Billie-Jo and Lisa will be happy to book that for you.

Posted in business, Business Facilitation, Business support, delegation, Focus and Goals, High performance, Parenting at your best, relationship building, Selling at your best, working at your best | Tagged | Leave a comment

When you look in the mirror what do you see?

Sheryl Andrews Founder and Extreme Listening Facilitator

At Step by Step Listening we are actively helping our clients hear their own thoughts, helping them to understand themself which in turn can help them make decisions that feels right for them.

Being human many of our decisions are influenced by others opinions and thoughts. The only problem is, that sometimes this information takes us off track or steers us away from what instinctively we know to be right for us, right now.


How often in your life have you made a decision that just didn’t feel right?

Do you know the kind I mean, when every bone in your body is saying that something is just not quite right, but because someone else or society or parents or children or significant other have implied something your own confidence in the information is blurred. Then you lose sight of why and you are just left with this niggle, a doubt that something just does not quite add up. We spend time with our clients effectively adding up the niggles until they can see the logic to them and understand where they came from. sometimes they discover that the decision is the right one, they simply had to remind them of the steps they took to get there and other times it is not right for them but it might be right for someone else.

That moment when they realise what is happening and why has been called everything from:

  • Light bulb moments
  • Eureka moment
  • ah ha moments

I have at times quite literally watched the weight lift off their shoulders, dissipate into thin air leaving them with new-found clarity and focus, to do what is right for them right now.

The challenge comes when what is right for you is not right for someone who affects either your happiness (say a teenager or a partner) or perhaps someone who affects your success (say staff or your boss)

There is the challenge and that is why we do what we do, we hold the mirror up for you to have a really good look at yourself, and then we get you to have a look in the mirror to see it from the perspective of others. Cool eh!!

Lynda Nel our Social Media Admin Partner discovered the funny video below which sparked off the inspiration for today’s blog. As I watched this I am thinking to myself. These people absolutely know they can’t see themselves and the fact the other person says they can. There is instant bafflement and doubt. Now in this case some doubted the mirror. You will notice the gentlemen was more matter a fact about it.

How do you respond when things don’t seem right?

Are you confident enough to say weird mirror, it is not right or do you take your glasses off and start to doubt your own vision?

You never know someone may simply be telling you what they see from their perspective and although that view-point is valid, it does not necessarily make it right for you.

Enjoy this video

Thank you for Listening

Sheryl Andrews

Struggling with feeling settled about any decisions you have to make or have made then call us now for a FREE 30 mins chat to see if our process could benefit you.

Posted in best, Business Facilitation, Business Growth, Business ideas, Business support, Focus and Goals, High performance, relationship building | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where does your peer pressure come from?

I have been just astounded recently by the pressure my teenager daughter 16 is under to drink alcohol. People keep telling her she is not a normal teenager. Who do you think this pressure is coming from. You might be surprised to hear the adults. Every time we go out and she just wants coke they make a meal out of it. Last night she went to her first Christmas work do and came home a little tipsy. I asked her if she liked the bitter Shandy she was still drinking as she got in the car and the nose went up. She through the remains away when she got home. You see the sad thing is she loves coke (equally bad for you) and she does not need alcohol to feel great about herself. However quite innocently after a few drinks apparently an adult was asking come on are sure you don’t want something a bit stronger.

So it got me thinking where does your peer pressure come from in business or even in the home?

Like the adult who has had a drink and is trying to persuade another to have a drink, it is not always the right thing for you, just it makes them feel better that you follow their lead.

Now getting drunk might be a slightly easier thing to define, but in business I see this all the time, people saying things like:

I should …. or others say …… it is great to listen to other people’s point of view so long as you can take the point of view on board, reflect and really understand what you would like to have happen and then make an informed decision that is right for you.

One of the things that I have really loved about this year is hearing our clients finish the year saying I am doing my business, on my terms and my way. They feel, in line with the business because they have worked out what they love and how they love to present it and they have often done it in less time, often with less money and less painfully learned some valuable lessons

One client when we started working last year was about to invest in a £3000 marketing strategy. Through the sessions he soon worked out that most of the campaign was not going to really work for his business and by the end of this year, all be it a year later he is now launching a much sleeker system for the new year, that he has every confidence will work. Where as he had doubts about the other one from the start.

What has happened this year while he developed the right marketing strategy he has also increased is day rate, increased his turnover and increased his time off with his family.

So many people waste and/or lose money in business because they don’t listen to themselves well enough.

Others have ideas for solutions but they rarely have YOUR SOLUTION. Only you have the key to the solution that is right for you.

Do you have a clear path to reach your destination?

Do you know when you are de-touring?

How do you know when you are on track or off track?

With a clear plan and someone else watching the map with you, you are more likely to get to where you want to be, in less time and with less expense. But so many people find themselves being pulled from one place to another, they come to a grinding halt not knowing which way to step next.

Are you finding yourself listening to others and then overwhelmed and unsure which way is best? or

Are you listening to yourself with a co-pilot that is just checking your map with you?

Every session with Step by Step Listening allows you the opportunity to really hear your own thoughts, you will begin to trust yourself and make decisions faster and with more confidence.

What would you love to have happen in 2012?

Thanks for listening


Posted in best, business, Business Growth, Business ideas, Business support, Focus and Goals, High performance, Managing Business Growth, Uncategorized, working at your best | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are you a Manager or Leader?

For many of our clients they have to be both at the same time, and if you are naturally a leader or naturally a manager you will have to learn new skills. Our extreme listening sessions enable people to develop both roles with ease. The article below has been provided by Allison Galbraith our Leadership Specialist Extreme Listening Facilitator  I hope you enjoy.

Allison Galbraith

How to move from Manager to Leader

The key difference between a Manager and a Leader is that the Leader sets the vision, then the Manager manages the journey towards that vision by controlling the processes and people necessary to make the journey a success.

For a leader to create a vision, they need to have vision, to see what comes after the thing that comes after the thing that comes after today. And in order to have vision, they need to challenge the norms and challenge the now. To understand why we do what we do today and what needs to be different to make change happen – Mikhail Gorbachev, for instance, who introduced ‘perestroika’ and ‘glasnost’ which changed the world.

So if you are a manager looking to move towards leadership, my suggestions for starting are:-

–           create a vision for your own area of responsibility (this could be your business or your family) – one that you and others can follow

–          empower others. By self-definition, a leader has followers. And if the vision is to be achieved it needs to be shared effectively, which means empowering your followers. And the way to empower is to listen and trust

–          build relationships with others which will result in them believing in you and your vision and make it easy for them to follow you. Building those relationships can include:-

  • being open, let them see your vulnerability
  • be fair, they might not like your message sometimes, but they will accept it better if it is coming from the heart
  • filling up the bucket of goodwill between you. When you need to ask for extra effort or have bad news to deliver, the success of your delivery will be easier if your goodwill bucket is flowing over. And the way to make that happen? Give praise when due, celebrate success, listen to people, show them you understand and care and give them what they want when they want it as far as possible

–          look for ways to influence the vision created by the leaders in your community/business – get used to challenging

–          have robust processes and procedures in place that ensure the smooth running of your business.  In his book ‘Coaching High Performance Teams’, Grant Ledgerwood quotes one of Nelson’s Trafalgar Principles – ‘Practice and drill can turn every challenge into fluent strength’.

In other words, the more stable your operational base, the more you are freed up to be pro-active. And pro-activity is a key element of leadership.

have courage. One of our best known leaders, Richard Branson, says “My phrase over the years has been – Screw it, just do it, because to succeed as a business leader, you must have the bravery to give it a go. One needs resolve and conviction to overcome hurdles and give people confidence to follow you.”

I would love to hear if any of those statements made you think, yeah right it is easier said than done.

Thanks for listening


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OMG I did not realise that people thought that about me, how interesting!!

For a number of years I have worked with teams, parents and business owners I watch them:

  • unravel the key to doors that have been locked for years
  • pull down walls that have blocked them, for as long as they can remember.
  • take huge leaps of faith and land safely.

The whole process never ceases to amaze me.

But the most amazing feeling is when you can take a moment to look at yourself and have one of those BFO moments. You know when you go, oh!!! I get it, I have done this before, this is how I do me in that given situation.

I love those moments because when I learn something about myself  it can and does change the way I interact with others, it improves my ability to learn, it enhances my relationships and the experience other people, have when they are working with me.

All of which increases the success of my family and my business.

Recently I have been observing how I learn. I have been taking sometime out to notice what is happening when I am learning at my best and what I require to be able to learn.  With this new knowledge and understanding of myself I am keen to explore new things and learn even more in 2012.

This new thinking has resulted in me exploring new skills and training I would like to experience in 2012. But the BFO I want to share with you today is around a conversation I had with a trainer and friend of mine. I had indicated an interest in one of her new programmes and she said “I would rather I you didn’t attend my training session because I have a fear you would take over.”

I was fascinated and interested. Eventually I felt this, at first I was hurt, then I thought it must be her lack of confidence. Then it hit me, I remember thinking OMG I have had other people say this to me before. They would say things like: they would feel uncomfortable if I was there.  This was a light bulb moment, I am growing a business and yet I do something that makes people feel uncomfortable when they are doing something new for the first time they don’t want me there. MMM blimey that means I am the common factor. I have had this with my own clients when they are exploring something about staff issues and they say, yeah and my wife says the same or I don’t praise my kids either or I don’t like being talked to like that from anyone. You start to get a realisation that this is not all about the other person it is something you are doing to invite this response.

I therefore had to question what was I doing that made her feel that way.

I talked to my mentor and trainer luckily she was able to offer me some feedback on this given matter. Interestingly she had seen me do a ‘behaviour’ that could be interpreted by others as taking over. I had attended one of her training sessions many years ago and aligned my chair with the trainers, interesting in itself. I have no idea why I had done that, I thought I had selected the seat that was most suitable for my back. This way may well be the case, but I have noticed that I work/learn at my best at the front of a room where I can see everyone and I can hear clearly. So it would seem that I had positioned myself where I needed to be to learn at my best.

The really interesting part though is that despite this being my first day on this training and being a complete novice. When the other delegates asked questions it would seem I answered them.

How interesting as I explored this with my mentor and coach I realised that I have done that in many meetings and some of the responses I had from other people all make sense now.  So I decided to explore this a little more. I soon began to understand that if someone in the audience asks a question. I try to answer it to see if I have understood the content myself. I am expecting the trainer to correct me if I have not. What I had no awareness of, was the impact that this behaviour had on other people’s learning or other people’s ability to present or train. There was also something about me hating the thought of someone else not getting the training and wanting to help clarify in another way that might make it easier. So I come from a place of good intention to help others and a fearful place of wanting to be sure I had understood it correctly.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank every one who has ever trained me for their patience and care to let me, be myself and learn how I needed to learn, and I am truly sorry if I made your job any more difficult.

Now that I know how I affect others, I can choose how I want to be in the future. I can also ask them how they would like me to be.

I can either explain in advance to the trainer and or group that is how I learn at my best or I can develop the skills to listen and ask those questions in my head or direct them to the trainer by asking,  can I clarify my understanding here please. Wow such great learning.

Simple stuff but stuff I was so unaware of and in the past I have known that something did not feel right and I had known some people felt threatened by me. I made the mistake of thinking it was simply their lack of confidence.

When we take full responsibility to look at ourselves, we can then take on the feedback that others give us by the way they respond to us and we can learn about ourselves rather than blame them. It can be a really frustrating time when you keep realising that it all comes back to you and that is sometimes why people chose not to work with me. They want it to be other people’s fault or responsibility. They want others to change so they don’t have to. People who work with me and the rest of the team have the courage to look in the mirror and say what am I doing that is affecting this situation and what would I like to have happen. It is not easy but it is powerful.

You can really make a difference to your own performance and those that matter to you if you have the courage to take a moment and listen to your own thinking. Combined with the evidence of the responses you get from others.

Top Tip:

Take time to understand what you, as an individual need to work at your best. Once you have clarified and understood what is happening when you are at your best then you can draw on the resources you already have. You can then enhance these strengths and create/invite the right environment to be conducive for that to happen more often.

When we formed the new Step by Step Listening Team we all explored what we need to work at our best. Each one of us now takes full responsibility for ourselves and can invite the others to give us the required resources/information/space or maybe time we need to work at our best.

By helping you recognise what you CAN do and what you need means that you increase in self-confidence,  ability to think more independently and  ability to take assertive action. ( We love these sessions as our clients start to take control, truly understanding themself and being able to manage themself is the first step to being able to manage others)

Are you in the trap of blaming others for poor performance?

Thanks for Listening


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I’m a business owner get me out of here!

As Dougie and Mark leave the jungle they acknowledge that when the going gets tough it is great to have someone to talk to. They talked about overcoming their fears and how great their experience has been. That meeting people they would never have met, has been life changing.

You achieve great things if you have someone to talk to when you have a BUM OUT

As the news broadcast daily about how bad the current climate is, it can often feel like you are about to step into another part of a dark dense jungle. It is like every step you attempt to take, to raise confident children and develop your businesses something attempts to hold you back or block your way.

Some say as we go into 2012 it is likely to be one of the toughest years ever. Imagine though if you could step into that jungle only to discover a strong group of people around the camp fire who are determined to overcome all that fear and to make their lives and their businesses a success. A group of people who would allow you to be yourself, show your weakness and highlight your strengths. A group that would not let you give up.  Imagine that same group if they could hold a space for you to get your own thoughts straight, to develop the resources within.  Imagine not being held back by fear but being inspired by creative thinking.

At Step by Step Listening this month as we asked out clients that had attended the Power group and one to one support programme in 2011, what happened this year?

They said things like:

  •  I am stronger and more able to weather the storm
  • It has been great to be part of a group of amazing people where you can be yourself
  • I have overcome my fears such at networking or letting go
  • I discovered calling people is not so scary after all
  • I have begun to understand who I am and what I need to work at my best
  • I am more able to explain to others how they can best support me
  • I am looking forward to taking more scary steps next year in the confidence I have the correct support around me to make it happen.

As Mark said in his interviewed Saturday when leaving the jungle, it was great to have someone to talk to when you are having a BUM OUT.

We all have them, but do you have ‘a Dougie’, a Mark , a Fatima or a Willy to help bring you back. Do you have the resources to change your mindset to one of success rather than defeat. As we watched the programme you can notice how they have to change the way they think to withstand the rats and the bugs. It is just the same in business you have to change your mindset about the future, the economy and it can be achieved. You just have to decide to make a conscious decision to do so.

We have some new exciting 3 day and 5 day programmes for 2012 with easy monthly payment plans that start in January.

We have monthly Power groups and confidential one to one sessions.

If you are a Business Owner and you want to get out of the jungle call us now 01329 286648

Thanks for Listening

Ps We don’t film and or broadcast it around the world, the space we hold for you is a private and confidential space just for you.

Posted in best, business, Business Facilitation, Business Growth, Business ideas, Business Start up, Business support, Uncategorized, working at your best | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Motivational Monday … (or motivation to perform at your best!)

Step byLeadership Specialist. Step Listening’s aim is to help you Perform At Your Best!  Whether in business or family life (it’s all related – isn’t it?)  So today our blog is from one of our team – Allison Galbraith and founder of Macintosh Wright who gives us a peek into what motivates her to perform at her best …


As I look to perform at my best, I often find myself looking for inspiration from others who have risen above seemingly impossible hurdles, met challenges head on and come out the other end much better people.

People like Jamie Andrew who continues climbing mountains despite losing both hands and feet in a climbing accident in 1999. Or Victor Frankl, Auschwitz survivor, who lived a full live following his liberation, establishing himself as a world renowned psychiatrist and writing many books including ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’.

And whilst I agree that these achievements are to be applauded and we can most certainly all learn from them, I wonder whether in looking at such a distant and high level we are missing inspiration which might lie closer to home. From amongst those we know and love. Whose achievements, whilst perhaps not in the same superhuman league, nevertheless because they involve someone we care about can have more of an impact in inspiring and motivating us to greater things?

What prompted this thinking was a phone call from my sister Susan about her husband Graham’s mishap. Graham had a nasty fall on the ice the week before Christmas and dislocated his knee – his leg was strapped up and he was given crutches as a temporary measure and told he would be in for an operation as soon as a slot could be found. And true to the hospital’s word, the operation was carried out before the year end.

Graham knew that his recovery is going to be long and painful but what he wasn’t expecting was to be back in hospital within a few hours of being discharged. It seems there was a problem with the wound which resulted in excessive bleeding, bad enough to prompt a ‘999’ call and, as Susan said, ‘the room looked like it was in the middle of the Battle of the Somme’

Now all this would be bad enough but Graham has had more than his fair share of problems in recent times. Firstly, there was his heart problem which necessitated a number of stays in hospital, an operation and continuing daily medication. Then he was diagnosed with testicular cancer – another operation and regular hospital visits for the next five years.

Having gone through all this, who could blame him if he became overwhelmed by the bad luck which has dogged him over the last few years? If he took it out on his family or became even the teeniest bit depressed?

I certainly wouldn’t but that’s not Graham’s way. His way is to find a joke and an upside to everything. And there is always an upside to be found. This time it is that, once they have patched his leg up again and discharged him, once he has sorted out with his boss some work to do from home, it will still leave plenty of time to get some extra guitar practice in. For playing the guitar is a recently discovered passion and the chance to give a boost to this newly acquired skill is just too good to miss.

And I find that …………truly motivational. To be able to rise above this latest setback and see the positive is a lesson for us all.

Graham’s story is an inspiration to me – who do you know who has done something which can motivate you to perform at your best? What needs to happen for you to perform at your best?

Thank you Allison for this great example, if you would like to be inspired by local everyday people just like you, that are overcoming the stresses and strains of this present economic climate please. People that strive to take their business from sole trader to small business or maybe are a small business with ambition to expand please do call us today about our Power Groups. We run them monthly in Havant, Fareham and Gosport Hampshire, and we have telephone sessions too. Call 01329 286648

Sheryl Andrews


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