The Garrulous Jay – Easy For You To Say

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As soon as I hear someone described as a “motivational speaker” or “lifestyle coach” it activates the bullshit detector in my head. Perhaps I am unduly cynical and suspicious, but I tend to be wary of people who have built their success on telling other people how to build their success. But not always.

The source of my instinctively sceptical approach is that I think it’s easy for many of these people to say what they say. But in the white heat of running an organisation and a personal life concurrently, from day to day, I wonder: would they actually be able to follow through on their own advice?

I would concede that even if the answer was “no”, one or two might still be worth paying attention to.

Stephen R Covey – arguably the ‘daddy’ of lifestyle coaching – built a publishing empire on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. With over 40 million copies sold to date (source: Wikipedia) the numbers speak for themselves.

Equally, if you want to know why you should listen to Simon Sinek, start with why!

Generally, though, I like my guidance to come from people who meet two criteria.

First, they have to have “put their money where their mouths are”. In other words, they’ve walked the walk as well as talking the talk.

Secondly, I like the lessons they teach to be so simple they hardly need saying, making them easy to remember and therefore to adhere to. (Is it embarrassing to admit I’ve forgotten five of Covey’s 7 habits since I read the book?)

I was therefore both delighted and impressed by the webinar I attended two weeks ago with Ellis Watson, as he ticked both boxes.

Mr Watson has a highly impressive CV spanning leadership roles in several industries. He has worked for Mirror Group Newspapers, Celador, Syco, Menzies Distribution and First Group. In the process he has globalised Who Wants to be A Millionaire?, turned around the Greyhound bus franchise in the US and ‘managed’ Simon Cowell.

And his ‘lessons’ are as startling simple as they are sensible:
•    Laugh…a lot. Every day. As he put it, “even if that means a little bit of wee comes out!”
•    Be the best you can be. In other words, go to bed each night feeling proud of yourself.
•    Be kind… It’s perversely selfish because it makes you feel good because you’re doing good.

So yes, it’s easy for Ellis Watson to say these things, but he did so with an authenticity and conviction that left even this cynic thinking, “fair enough”! And his success suggests that by and large his philosophy for life works.

I don’t believe that anyone could or should spend every day relentlessly adhering to all three of Watson’s guiding principles. Now, in particular, is not a time for uncontained laughter, for example. But as benchmarks by which to measure oneself go, I think they’re pretty good.