How to be a more confident expert

Wonder Woman figure

I currently hold the rank of purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I graded about a month ago. It’s taken me over 10 years to get this far. For those who don’t know, I still have a few years to go to get my black belt level. Yes, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is tough and it doesn’t give away belts easily. The grading system is white, blue, purple, brown, black, red and black, and red. It our art attaining a black belt is quite an achievement, in fact attaining blue is too.

Purple belt
Receiving my purple belt

Recently, I had the honour of teaching a class at a local BJJ school. It was my first time officially teaching. Although I have coached for years in the fitness industry and have instructed Kung Fu, I had my doubts about what I could share. Then I remembered a point of importance regarding instructing and coaching:

Expertise is relative.

The class I taught was mostly white belts. Relative to these students I had a wealth of knowledge to share. It didn’t matter that I was not a black belt. All that mattered to these students was that I could assist them learn more about BJJ. They had questions and I had answers.

If you are in a position whereby you coach or teach remember that you are in the position of the expert for a reason. Even if you only know a little bit more than the person you are teaching you can still provide value and service.

Doubting yourself is not helpful. Preparing yourself is. If you feel that you need to know more, then search for your own teacher. If you feel that you could deliver your teachings better, then learn how to do that. But don’t doubt yourself.

One last example: when I was at university studying computing, I tutored a subject the semester after I passed it. That’s right, I tutored my peers in a subject I had only just completed myself. And it worked, most of my students passed (in fact only two cheats didn’t). My expertise was greater than that of the class and so there was value in what I taught. Looking back it was a ballsy move on my part.

To grow your confidence as the expert you must believe in yourself.

There is a reason people come to you for guidance and instruction. There is a lot you can share. Understand that your value is important to those that you can help. And always seek to improve yourself, that way your confidence can only grow further.

Pay attention – your body is talking

Dog With Headache

As I write this I am struggling with a fairly brutal headache. If the throbbing hadn’t inspired me to write, I’d be taking a rest right now. Mind you, this is quite a busy day for me. So, why am I writing? Well, I’m going to suggest that you do exactly what I am not doing and that is listen to your body. (I promise I’ll listen as soon as I finish writing.)

Your body is always talking to you. It’s sending signals to inform you of what’s up. Your digestive system sends signals to say, “Hey! You ate the wrong thing…again.” Your shoulders send you signals saying, “Dude, you gotta relax. The stress is getting a bit much.” The trouble is we often don’t listen to what our body tells us. We just, well, soldier on.

The hustle is important. Without that determination and drive it’s hard to achieve anything of note. Yet, we need our rest. And our bodies tell us exactly when we need it. So, are you listening?

Sometimes the best thing you can do is take a step away from your work. Sometimes the best thing is to do nothing at all.

There is magic in stepping back. Inspiration has a way of finding you when you’re not chasing it. Ideas and solutions come to open minds, not cluttered ones. And you body, your beautiful body, it needs rest too. You can’t redline it forever.

So, if your body is telling you it’s time to rest then do so. In fact, I’m going to do that right now.

Habits – the good and the bad

Yoga Female

Face it. We’re habitual creatures. We wake, we race to the coffee machine, we check our email, we exercise…and all following some kind of arbitrary schedule that just kind of, well, happened.

Our habits aren’t so much created by us as they are created in spite of us. We start doing stuff regularly and then it just becomes something that we do. Like driving in the same lane. Like going to the same cafe. Like popping a bottle of red at the end of the day.

Habits can be good and bad.

Let’s look at the bad. We’ve all heard about drug habits, gambling habits, and other not so savoury habits. All things in moderation they say. Yet when things get out of hand and become a crutch then it all starts to get a little tricky. How about that chocolate bar after dinner, or that TV show when you should be exercising? We’ve all got habits. And often we don’t even recognise them.

So, what about the good habits? Well, you go to the gym right? At first it was a struggle. Then you committed to a schedule and after a few weeks it just didn’t feel right when you didn’t go to the gym. Or perhaps you started meditating and at first it sucked to sit still for 20 minutes. But soon, you grew to almost need your quiet time in your own head.

Aristotle Habit
Aristotle knows

Habits are interesting. They can cause us grief or help us achieve what we want in life. You can develop new habits, break old ones, even alter habits and improve them.

Here’s a process you might like to try:

  • Be mindful of what you do and why you do it
    • Are you on autopilot?
  • Identify your bad habits
    • How can you break or modify them?
  • Identify the new positive habits you want to develop
    • Commit to a new daily habit for 40 days
    • Check if the habit sticks
  • Don’t let your habits control you
    • Change the way you do things, just to mix things up (assuming it’s safe to do so)

What new habit will you develop?

Don’t forget your health

Meditation on the beach

Do you ever get that feeling that something is missing?

For a lot of us folks on the path to greatness there is one thing that we neglect: our health. We put a whole heap of effort into growing our business or improving our knowledge or connecting with people. We spend our energy and time getting things done. And at the end of the day we curse ourselves for not working out or not eating as well as we know we could.

The tragic irony is that without our health we really won’t be able to enjoy the fruits of our labour to the fullest. I, for example, know that living by the beach but not having the strength to swim in the crushing surf will be devastating. So, I know I have to focus on staying strong.

We tend to forget the things that we don’t do regularly. (Check out my recent morning ritual post for some ideas in this area.) And if we are out of practice it’s hard to get back into it. You know what I’m talking about.

Boost your health. Enjoy your greatness.
Boost your health. Enjoy your greatness.

The first step is to commit to improving your health. Once you’ve improved it, then commit to maintaining it. No yo-yos please.

Now, let’s say you get keyed up and start exercising and eating properly. How long will that last? Think back to last year or the year before. I’m a motivated guy but I know that last year I really dropped the ball in regards to my own health and fitness. Now, I’m pretty fit compared to most but I know that I could have done better. I hope you compare your efforts to your potential not to others, that’s your truest measure.

Speaking of measures, there’s a great business saying, “what gets measured, gets managed.” You can apply this to your life. Your attempts to maintain a regimen of health and fitness will be boosted if you keep track of what you are doing.

Grab yourself a notebook and pen. Now, start to record what you eat. And record what you do each day to improve your health and fitness. The act of recording this stuff means you will be more mindful of your health and fitness. The more mindful you are, the more likely you are to get to the end of the year and know you’ve done right by yourself.

Now, go forth and unlock your true potential and remember to stay healthy!

The morning ritual revisited

Sunrise woman

Habits generally get a bad wrap. This is due to the fact that when we talk about habits we generally talk about the more unsavoury ones. A spot of nose picking anyone?

Habit can of course be positive too. So, we can look at forming positive habits rather than solely removing bad ones. Sometimes replacing one habit with another works a treat too.

I firmly believe that we humans are addictive creatures. Each of us is addicted to something. Our addictions feed our feelings. We see people addicted to substances but there are other addictions as well. It’s this addictive nature that I believe results in habits being such a strong influence in our lives. Habits make us comfortable and we like feeling comfortable. (I’ll admit this is speculation on my part and I cannot prove my theory. Some further investigation is required.)

Once we form a habit – it takes about 40 days – we get the benefits of acting almost automatically. Think about how you drive from home to work. No doubt you follow the same route, even staying in the same lanes and looking for the same parking spot. We can take advantage of this.

Start your morning just right.

It being the start of a new year, most of us are looking for ways to improve what we do. One of the most powerful things you can do is create new habits. One of the best habits you can improve it what you do each morning.

I like to call this the morning ritual. I detailed my old ritual in the middle of last year but I’ve updated it and I think you might get a kick out of creating or updating your ritual too.

The morning ritual consists of the few things that you do each morning that set your day up to be the best it can be.

Creating a morning ritual can be tough. As mentioned earlier it takes about 40 days to turn a habit into something automatic. But it is massively rewarding when you have a ritual all of your own that just happens every morning.

So, what could you do each morning to start your day off just right?

Here’s my ritual:

  • wake at 5:59am (I use an alarm but would love to rise without it)
  • make a coffee (grind the beans, brew the coffee, savour the ceremony)
  • stretch (gently move my body after a night of rest)
  • exercise (a gentle run or walk followed by more stretching and a short kettlebell circuit or yoga)
  • meditation (preferably outdoors, either following a guided mindfulness meditation or something that resembles zazen)
  • drink fresh cold-pressed juice (appreciate the flavours and goodness of the drink)
  • shower (enjoy the feeling of the water on my skin)
  • breakfast (eat healthy)

There is some flexibility in my ritual, for example if one of my children needs something they take priority. Otherwise I try to keep it fairy standard each day.

So, what will your ritual look like? (Feel free to comment below.) Start thinking of what your day is missing and go from there.