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The things we don't like in others are often the things we don't like in ourselves. The things we react to in others can tell us something about ourselves if we take the time to reflect. It is from this perspective that I'm writing this blog. I understand that my reflections and observations are a lot about me – like most people I know, I don't take enough time to reflect and this blog will help.

I'd love to hear from you if any of these reflections resonate with you please do get in touch.

Pay attention to the power of your mind

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you”

These are the words of James Allen, a British philosophical writer and pioneer of the self-help movement.  Although he died in 1912, I believe his words are as relevant today as they were during his lifetime.

How we think has an enormous impact on how we live our lives.

A few years ago, I was listening to a radio show in my car. A lady was sharing her view about how awful things were – she was going on and on about how depressed all her customers are “you see it in their faces”. This was at a time when the world economy has collapsed and there was doom and gloom in abundance.

Around this time I had also voluntarily left my permanent pensionable job to setup my own coaching business.  Some said I was crazy, others said I was brave (euphemism for crazy).

I was really positive about my decision –  I knew it was the right one for me.

However as I listened to that woman, I noticed my throat contsricting slightly, it was an “omg what I have done?” moment  I began feeling physically uncomfortable and quickly changed the radio station. Beyonce’s voice boomed out and I felt happy and relaxed again.

So what had happened there?

The facts of my situation had not changed in those 5 minutes yet I’d gone through this huge emotional rollercoaster.  What had actually changed was how I was thinking and this in turn impacted how I felt.

We all do it.  More than each of us probably realise.

Coffey & Murray in their book ‘Emotional Intelligence (EQ) A Leadership Impreative!’ tell us that psychologist estimate we have an average of 50k thoughts per day, the majority of which are focused on the past, the future, are negative and are a repeat of what we were thinking yesterday and the day before – our very own groundhog doomsday!

The negative thoughts Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS) just pop into our minds and send us off in all sorts of directions. Any of the following sound familiar?

  • I’m always forgetting things
  • I know I won’t pass the exam
  • He must think I’m useless
  • I won’t get a job like that
  • She’s much funnier than me

Which then spirals into inaction on our part: ‘Ah there’s no point in trying…. complete waste of time.’

People may think this is the way our brain is programmed to work. Wrong!  That’s a another classic example of an ANT – taking a supposed fact and leaping to a precarious conclusion.

So what can we do to counteract this?

For a start, pay attention to how you are thinking.  Yes, it’s that simple.  Ask yourself: what story am I telling myself? How is this affecting how I feel about myself? What excuses for inaction am I giving myself? And turn those ANTS into Confidence Affirming Thoughts (CATS).

It really works.  I urge you to give this a go and have some fun with it –really pay attention to your thought processes and notice how often you deal in facts as opposed to your own interpretations.

We need to audit and regulate our own inner voice and ensure we’re being kind and supportive to ourselves.  After all, If you don’t own your thoughts, they are going to own you.


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Filed under: Business Coaching

Being a good leader is all about you

At the moment I’m working with a client who’s going through something which parallels a situation I dealt with when I was a manager. She asked what I would have done differently, and without needing to think about it, I said I would have put better support systems in place for myself.  Granted, at the time I did have a right hand person, without whom I would have been have lost, however the support systems ended there.

I took everything else on myself because it didn’t even cross my mind that I should consider anything else!

Now, several years later, this is a topic of conversation that I am repeatedly having with my clients, as well as peers and friends.  How well are we supporting ourselves?  As managers, we are so busy getting things done we lose sight of priorities – the most fundamental of which is our own wellbeing.

If I was to rate myself on how well I supported myself when I was a manager, I’d give myself a 2 or 3 out of 10. Today, I’d give myself an 8.

Some might consider this selfish behaviour– there’s so much to do – quit focusing too much on yourself! This thinking is all wrong.  Let’s think about what organisations are looking for.

When’s the last time you read a job description looking for a manager who was ‘required to bully the team into submission – ideal candidate will be highly stressed and irritable with poor listening skills and ability to make team members feel alienated and unappreciated a distinct advantage”.

Really, who wants a burnt out martyr?

And so back to my original question: how do we get to that elusive 9 or 10?

The answer is quite straightforward.  Ironically the better we support ourselves, the more we can challenge ourselves and the more we can actually achieve. It works along the same lines as the support / challenge matrix I blogged about previously

If I don’t take care of myself, I can’t give my best to others – it’s as simple as that.

I think about wellbeing in terms of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual (by spiritual I mean a sense of purpose/meaning).

Some questions to think about: Are you eating well? Do you exercise regularly? Are you getting enough rest? How do you ‘switch off’ from work and clear your head? Do you have a network of people that you trust that you can call on to talk depending on the situation at hand (friend, colleague, mentor, coach)? Do you have a strong right hand person? Do you have or are you developing a team that requires direction and support rather than command and control?

Here’s a nice exercise to try:  In four quadrants (physical etc) list all the things you are currently doing to support your wellbeing. Then rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 in each quadrant (1 is low, 10 is high).  Identify one thing you can change or one activity you can add to each quadrant that would move that rating towards 10. Commit to taking on at least one of these changes and make a plan to make that happen.

Good luck!



Filed under: Business Coaching

The importance of support and challenges in the workplace

What is your leadership style?  Do you challenge and really stretch your teams or is it more a softly-softly supportive approach?

Some kind of feedback mechanism is vital for teams and individuals to flourish in their roles, however the balance between support and challenges is an essential component in this.  As leaders, there are distinctive styles, all of which impact on employee behaviour.  As you can see in the Support vs Challenge matrix below, which is commonly used in performance coaching, there are four approaches, each of which cause varying results within an organisation.

Read the rest of this article »

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Filed under: Business Coaching

Do you Snooze? Are your morning habits impacting on your effectiveness?

Up to a month ago I wouldn’t have even thought of asking that question because I assumed it was the way everyone everywhere started their day. Over the last number of weeks I have discovered, to my absolute amazement I might add, that many people get out of bed as soon as they turn off their alarm. Imagine that! Well not only am I imagining it, I actually doing it. For 3 days straight I have got up as soon as my alarm rings because I want to, not because I have to. Read the rest of this article »


Filed under: Business Coaching,Change,Goals,Snooze Academy,Workshops

What can the world of sport teach organisations and the people who work for them?

I heard Dr Mickey Whelan speak at an EMCC event on the subject of ‘Coaching High Performance Sport’. He is a former Dublin Football Manager and Selector with a long list of sporting achievements (Bio).

He also has many academic achievements not mentioned in his Wiki bio. He attained his primary sports education degree in the 1970’s. At the age of 68, he returned to education to do a PhD.  Of all his achievements, I think this impressed me the most. It’s a true testament to his drive and passion for sport and his own development.

I know very little about GAA or any other football for that matter. This is not something I’m necessarily proud of given that my grandfather, Ned Murphy, was a founding member and first chairman of Ballyboden St. Enda’s GAA. If he were still alive today I imagine he would be very disappointed by my lack of interest in GAA and he might have hoped that my interest in the event was based on a desire to learn more about Gaelic football.

Alas, this was not my motivation. Sports coaching is one of the many disciplines that organisational coaches draw on. Having seen the German team decimate the English team during the 2010 World Cup through superior team co-ordination, I have no doubt that organisations have a huge amount to learn from the principles of high performance sport.

This was my motivation; I wanted to learn from Mickey’s experience of facilitating high performing individuals and teams, and I certainly was not disappointed.

Here are some of the key areas he covered and my own thoughts on them. Read the rest of this article »


Filed under: Business Coaching,Business Strategy,Change,Teams

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