22 Mar

If you had balance in your life, how happy would you be?

Work-life balance – a phrase we hear all too often. But some people will roll their eyes, put the thought of balance into the “too hard” box and carry on with the juggling act they call life. Sound familiar?

When the topic of work-life balance comes up in a coaching session, and it comes up often, people have a range of opinions. They either believe that it’s too selfish on their part to have a balance in their lives, in other words they are not worthy of balance; or they don’t believe that all components of their life carry equal weight. For example work is seen as more important than spending time with family and friends or exercise.

The funny thing is, is that no one in your life is going to create balance or happiness for you. You have to make it happen for yourself. Stop waiting for permission, stop waiting for someone to make you happy and take control of your own balance and happiness.

Here are two questions I would like you to think about.

  1.  If you had balance in your life, how happy would you be?
  2. How are your personal goals aligned to your work/business goals?

If you think your life is unbalanced and you are unhappy in your current situation because of this, either working too hard or playing too hard. Think about if you changed your current situation, how happy would you be or how much happier would you be?

We cannot separate our personal lives from our working lives, so are your goals in alignment, or do you try and live two separate lives? How’s that going for you?

One tool which you can use to help you reflect on all areas of your life and to create a starting point for change is the wheel of life.  After you have rated yourself on each of the eight areas, think about a goal that you would like to achieve for each of these areas. Let each goal be as important as the next. Then put your thinking cap on and come up with a way to achieve these goals.

Remember, no-one but you is going to create balance for you.

03 Nov

Bullying or wearing blinkers?

If you were in New Zealand in the 80s then you may recall the “unfortunate experiment” which cast a very dark shadow over the National Women’s Hospital at that time. Last week I attended an incredibly inspirational talk by Dr Ron Jones, author of Doctors in Denial: The forgotten women of the unfortunate experiment, which spoke about the doctors and women involved. It is a painful reminder of what happens when people in power allow their egos to get in the way of sound judgement and good decision making. This “experiment” caused thousands of women to lose their lives from cancer that could have been cured. Dr Jones was one of the very few whistle blowers in this story and it is his mission in life, aside from a tribute to the women who passed away in this experiment, to educate New Zealanders about the truth of this outrageous and very preventable disaster.
Dr Jones’ story highlighted a number of characters who played significant roles in this experiment and at some point it sounded more like a horror fairytale than a true event. As Dr Jones spoke I realised that the characters he referred to in this story are also ones that we are all very familiar with and may engage with in our work and personal lives on an ongoing basis. Two main characters really stood out for me.
1) The “EGO character” – Dr Jones spoke of two main individuals in his story who were driving this experiment from the beginning. He called them bullies. Bullies with big egos are probably the most dangerous and destructive character trait I can think of. It doesn’t matter how wrong these people are, they will always dig their heels in and never admit failure. For these people self-preservation will always trump the will to be honest and prevent others from suffering.
2) The “BLINKERS character” – The blinker wearers in Dr Jones’ story, were highly qualified, world renowned and respected individuals at the peak of their careers. They did absolutely nothing, except turn a blind eye to what was going on. By not getting involved they allowed the bullies to take over.
So what can we learn from this horrific story? What can we do to prevent this type of behaviour from sneaking into our lives?
One thing that I have learned over the years, is that it is not about trying to control other people’s behaviours. It’s all about being aware of our own behaviours and controlling how we portray ourselves in the world. Learning from these stereotypical character traits will not just help us become better human beings, but by having a strong self-awareness it will positively influence our immediate environment and the people around us. Lead by example and keep the following in mind.
1) No one is perfect, we all make mistakes. Learn to be humble.
2) Never let your ego get in the way and cause you to develop tunnel vision.
3) It’s okay to be wrong and to admit your failure.
4) Use your voice and stand up against bullies when others cannot.
5) Leaders are responsible and accountable for their teams.
To be safe, how can we double-check that we are not turning into bullies or blinkers? We can learn to develop “self-checking-in” systems. Just like jumping on a scale to check on our weight, we can jump on the self-awareness scale and actively check behaviours and habits by asking ourselves questions, or if need be, ask a trusted colleague or friend to provide some honest feedback.
1) Did I listen to the other party?
2) The decisions that I am making, do they align to my business values?
3) Am I respectful in my approach?
4) Do I display ethical behaviour?
5) Will the decision that I am making benefit my business or just my personal needs and desires?
 These lessons are not new and we hear these statements all the time, but how often do you really apply these lessons? Perhaps today is a good time to start.
15 Sep

Two common questions I get asked as a coach

When people ask me what I do for a living, I often get one of three reactions from them after I tell them I am a professional coach. They either glaze over and have no idea what coaching is; or they comment vaguely that they know what the profession is, but actually they don’t know (which is perfectly okay); or they have a good idea and most likely have previously experienced some form of coaching in their lives or business.
Depending on their response the conversation will either move onto their coaching experience or something completely different as people will either buy into the concept of coaching or not, that’s just the way it is, and I am happy with that. I would probably be totally blank too if someone told me they were a Dendrochronologist.
However, what I do find fascinating is the regular barrage of questions that get asked by people who are toying with the idea of  utilising the services of a coach. Here are the two questions I’m asked most often.
My favourite question is “How long will my coaching process take?” For me, asking this question is quite similar to asking, “how long is a piece of string?” It just depends on the person, their goal and very importantly how committed the person or business is to the coaching process. Some people are not ready to be coached as they do not have enough time or they are not mentally prepared and therefore their coaching may be incredibly drawn out and painful, for both parties.
There is no quick fix, no instant gratification or no magic bullet. There is however huge reward during and at the end of the coaching process when the goal(s) have been achieved. The clarity, focus and motivation that comes with working with a coach effectively and knowing that the hard work and dedication to the process has paid off, is undoubtedly a huge win for everyone.
Another question I’m often asked is “How does the coaching process work?” Well when you work with me I am quite structured in my process and I believe any good coach would be as well. Our main focus is for you to reach your goal. Therefore, we simply won’t be sitting around drinking tea and having a chat. Every session has a format and there will always be a desired outcome for every session, which is usually work that needs to be completed in between the coaching sessions.  Yes, there is homework!
I can tell you right now that the coaching process doesn’t work if the coaching process isn’t taken seriously. There is an expectation that both parties are 100% committed to the relationship. So before entering into a coaching relationship consider these three things.
1) Is the coach a good match for me? Will I be able to work with this person?
2) What will I need to give up in my life or business in order to fit the coaching in?
3) Am I mentally prepared for my coaching journey? Am I able to step outside of my comfort zone in order to grow and develop?
There are many other questions, so if you wish to find out some answers please feel free to contact me. nicole@tikumu.co.nz or check out my website www.tikumu.co.nz for more information.
By the way, did you find out what a Dendrochronologist was?
01 Sep

Is work-life balance achievable?

Last weekend was a productive one for me, decluttering my kitchen cupboards. In our home we are avid followers of Marie Kondo’s philosophy of “If it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it.” Whilst decluttering and celebrating our new found space, I thought about her mantra and realised that one could apply the same philosophy to life itself, and specifically to work-life balance.

Finding work-life balance in our modern busy lives often feels like searching for the holy grail, completely impossible. However, unlike the holy grail, work-life balance can be found. It is achievable. You just have to know where to look.

Instead of trying to cram so much into our work and personal lives, and desperately trying to “make it work”, think about what you can remove. Ask yourself this question, “How is this task/job/action serving me?” If the answer comes back negative, then why are you still doing it?

How can you remove the task/job/action from your life? Do you need to delegate the task, apply for another job or stop performing a certain action? Whatever it is, if it is not working for you, if it is doing you a disservice, then find a way to remove it.

By removing “stuff” from our lives we start to create some breathing space. We start to create a balance. Making a choice to keep something in our lives also reminds us of its importance. We cherish it more.

Now here comes the trick. Once you have eliminated and decluttered unnecessary things from your life, be incredibly mindful of adding any new things.

When embarking on a new project or task ask yourself these questions:

  1. What joy will I get out of taking on this new task?
  2. Will this new task fit into my existing lifestyle and work-style?
  3. What have I removed from my life to make space for this new item?

Trying to achieve work-life balance is ongoing. It is not a quick fix, but something we are continuously managing in our lives. Remember you are in control of what comes into your life, so if it doesn’t serve you, get rid of it.

Need some assistance with finding your work-life balance? Why not take on the service of a coach to help you? Contact Nicole at nicole@tikumu.co.nz to set up a free consultation.

18 Aug


There was once an alcoholic man who had two sons. When the sons grew up, one become an alcoholic just like his father and the other became a teetotaller. When the sons were asked why they had chosen those specific paths they both answered. “You know my father was an alcoholic, isn’t my life path choice obvious?” 

I love this story, as it shows how we all interpret life so differently.

These two sons show me that life can be one of two things to us:

Firstly, we can have the mindset that life has already been mapped out for us, and we have to graciously accept the lot we are given, like the alcoholic son. His father was an alcoholic, so it meant he would be one as well.

Or, secondly we can chose to see life as a blank canvas, and what we make of it will define our success and happiness, whatever that means to us.

In life we have choices. No-one controls you, no-one tells you how to live your life, run your business or raise your children. There are lots of experts out there with great advice, but when all is said and done and the experts have gotten back into their boxes to preach another day, you stand alone with a decision to make.

You choose what’s best for you. Just you and no one else. How do you choose?

11 Aug

Stress, a love-hate relationship

“I’m just stressed, I’ll be fine” is a comment I hear all too often. I’ll even admit saying it myself from time to time.
According to a recent survey completed by Business New Zealand and Southern Cross Health Society, stress levels within the New Zealand workplace have increased by 22.9%. Something is seriously wrong with this picture.
Stress is a funny concept. In many ways stress can be a good thing in our lives. Good stressors motivate us, get us moving and achieving. Our thoughts become clearer and we become more focused in our decision making. The difference however between a good stressor and a bad stressor is that the good stressor knows when to stop pushing our buttons. It knows when it has over-stayed it’s welcome and graciously leaves us in peace. Unfortunately a bad stressor is like an unwelcome house guest, it just won’t leave.
The dangerous thing about bad stress is that it eventually becomes our “norm” or even settles into the culture of the business. We start tolerating it, we make excuses for it, we even take the blame for it.  Bad stress causes us to develop negative behaviour patterns which are not just dangerous for us psychologically or physiological, but negatively affect the people around us.
The sad and frustrating thing that I have witnessed is that most people think that they can manage their stress, or that their stress levels are not high enough to be taken seriously. They believe that by ignoring the stressors all will be right with the world in the morning. Sadly, the reality of the situation is that by doing nothing, we let the stress take over. It takes control and in many cases to the detriment of our health, happiness and wellbeing.
Reality check, stress affects all of us and it will never go away, therefore the secret is what we do with it.  Actively finding ways to properly control or remove it from our lives. Here are a few suggestions to start you thinking about taking back the control.

Acknowledging that you are stressed and that it’s not okay

Fobbing off your stress and saying it’s okay is not okay. Realise that you are risking your health and wellbeing and if you don’t get on top of your negative stressors it will get on top of you. Holmes-Rahe developed a stress test in the 1960s and it is pretty remarkable that when you complete the test you start becoming aware of how much or little stress you actually have in your life. That living in a negative stress bubble is not normal and can cause you serious harm.

Ask for help

Firstly, asking for help should never be seen as a weakness. It is probably one of the bravest things you could ever do. Help will look different in most cases, it just depends on your situation. You may need to talk to a professional therapist or councellor, a friend, a coach, a boss whatever the situation, ask for help. It’s okay to say that you don’t know how to solve an issue on your own. It’s healthy to ask for help.

Priorities, be selfish and learn to say “no”

Think about the negative stressors in your life and that includes your workplace. How many of these stressors are other people’s “stuff”? Learning to prioritise yourself as more important than others is key to learning how to manage and control stress. You are the most important person in your life first, then comes everyone else.

Be kind to yourself and take time out

Some stressors are not always in our control. So instead of sweeping them under the carpet, take some time out to actually deal with them. Take the time to process, think, mourn, whatever you need to do to clear your head, accept and move on.

Stress will always be in our lives. How you choose to manage it will be the key to how you successfully or unsuccessfully operate in the world.

27 Jul

10 truths I have learnt from being a coach

Recently I spoke at a business function. My brief was to talk about coaching and how being coached can open up opportunities for you. What an awesome brief, as I am usually asked to speak about more specific topics such as goal setting, prioritising or deadlines. This brief certainly was a breath of fresh air and also a  source of great indecision. There were so many aspects of coaching and it’s benefits that I could talk about! Where to start?

In the end I took  inspiration from Anne Lamott’s Ted Talk, 12 truths I learnt from life and writing 


“Anne Lamott has inspired me to speak this evening about the 10 truths I have learnt from being a coach. Hopefully some of these points may resonate with you and will prompt  some thinking on the way home. This being a big goal for any coach. Making you think.

Truth # 1 – Have your own goals – Make sure you are always working toward achieving your own goals. That is in business and in your personal life. These days the majority of us could be classified as borderline workaholics. It seems to be in our DNA to always be working hard and it seems to be the norm to always be busy. Don’t get to your deathbed one day and think, “oh gosh” I should have done my own thing. I should have worked towards achieving my own goals! Because by then it is just too late!

Truth # 2 – You can teach old dogs new trick – The dog just needs to be open to change. Once we realize that we are never too old to change, learn and grow, it is amazing how many opportunities we open up for ourselves.

Truth # 3 – If you fail to plan, you plan to fail – You can be the biggest visionary in the world, with the greatest ideas, but here is the thing; if you don’t draw up action plans and deadlines in order to achieve these goals, they will just stay visions and dreams forever with no results.

Truth # 4 – There is some truth in the saying “ There are 101 ways to skin a cat” there are 101 ways to solve a problem, you just need to be open to new thinking, new ideas and also other people’s opinions.

Truth # 5 – Learn to be more objective. In coaching terms this is what we call maintaining the coaching position. The next time you find yourself in a heated situation. STOP, BREATHE and STEP BACK, removing yourself from the situation helps to place things into perspective and allows you to think objectively about things. You’ll also find that this process can lift a weight from our shoulders. The weight of our EGO’s, righteousness and judgment.

Truth # 6  – Learn how to practise mindfulness – this is not about whipping out your yoga mats, drinking green tea and finding your centre. This is about learning to be in the present moment and to be happy and accepting of the present moment. We are constantly thinking about the “next project” the “next win” and this is good as it motivates us, however don’t let the future-focus mindset sabotage the opportunity to focus on the present. Learning to be in the present moment. Appreciating the here and the now only makes our lives richer.

Truth # 7 – You don’t need to wait for permission to start something – Your life is not like a collection of bus stops. You don’t need to be waiting around for the next bus. You don’t need to be waiting around for someone else to give you permission to do something in your own life or business. This sounds absurd now, but I see it often. The only person who should be giving you permission is yourself.

Truth # 8 – Who are your supporters, your cheerleaders? Who is your confidante, your shoulder to cry on? We cannot work in silos. When you make a decision to make a change in your life, make sure you have organised your support system beforehand.

Truth #  9 – Celebrate the little things and the big things – Take a moment to think about your past week and what you have achieved over this week? Did you celebrate those successes or were the successes too insignificant that they were forgotten about? Learn to celebrate.

Truth # 10 – You are making a decision, by not making a decision. Decisions can be damn hard work and sometimes procrastination seem to be the easiest thing to do. Just remember, that by putting things off and not deciding, you have actually made a choice.”

To be coached is an active choice. if any of the above rings true for you and you actively want to be coached, then why not give me a call to set up a free consultation. nicole@tikumu.co.nz

13 May

What I learned from attending a TEDx Event

I am a TED freak. You could go as far as calling me a TED groupie. I love the concept of sharing great ideas and being exposed to amazing people, great thinkers and industry pioneers. Recently I was lucky enough to attend the TEDx FlipSide conference in Auckland.

For two days I was immersed in new ideas, new concepts, interesting discussions and plenty of hearty debate. There were many lessons I would take away from this experience, but as a business coach there were two that stood out for me.

Jayne Bailey, the founder of Project Moroto spoke about the inconvenience of saying yes. That in order to change or move forward in our lives we need to say yes to the difficult things. We need to move out of our comfort zones and accept the fact that we need to give of ourselves in order to grow, develop and change. A concept she battled with prior to jumping in feet first, when developing her life saving and life changing charity.

For me this is the essence of what coaching is all about, and her talk was a perfect example of what happens when you do take the plunge out of your comfort zone and decide to disrupt your life by saying yes. To this day, she has not looked back or regretted her decision.

During the event breaks I heard a number of people say that they felt quite guilty that their lives seem so insignificant compared to some of the TEDx speakers. They started to question their purpose in life and how much value they were realistically adding to their personal and professional lives. These kinds of events can naturally make you question yourself, your path and your goals, but here’s the thing. Its not about having to go out into the world and start an orphanage, design a state of the art wheelchair like Samuel Gibson, join a presidential protection unit like Rory Steyn or even strip down to your birthday suit like Lizzie Marvelly in her campaign #MyBodyMyTerms.  If you believe this is your calling then be my guest and do it. Life is all about choices. But the lesson learnt for me from listening to these dynamic speakers is that its not about having to make big changes in our lives in order to be significant and add value. It’s really about noticing that the little changes we make actually make the biggest differences.

Right here and now we can start making subtle changes in our lives that will have a major impact on the people in our personal and professional lives.

Not judging, listening to others, being kind to our environment, accepting each other as unique, admitting that we are not perfect and being okay to talk about our challenges, testing the norm and being empathetic. These concepts don’t require us to shift countries or to spend thousands of dollars. These actions are free and can be implemented today. Just imagine the difference you can make.

31 Mar

Even coaches need coaches

I like to consider myself a runner. Not a very good runner, I am a realist, but a person who enjoys the freedom of being able to go for a run. I started off with a simple objective, I wanted to get fit and comfortably run a few trail runs. After two years of running I found myself no longer progressing, so I decided to get a running coach. I now attend a running clinic once a week.

Why am I telling you this? Well, as a professional coach myself, this role reversal from coach to client was a huge confirmation and reiteration for me, that good coaches are actually damn awesome and can add so much value to your life (personal or business). Everyone needs a coach!

Over the past couple of weeks Dillon, my running coach, has re-inforced a few coaching lessons I would like to share with you. Even though he and I work in different coaching worlds, the following principles would fit into any coaching practise.

1. Show up and be focused

Well done, you joined a coaching group or you signed up for one-on-one coaching. That’s just the first step and unfortunately change or improvement doesn’t just happen via osmosis. You need to show up to the sessions with focus and determination to change your unwanted behaviours. What you put in, is what you get out.

2. The coach cannot do it for you

The only person who can make the necessary changes is you. The coach can help you clarify goals, opportunities, ideas and perspectives which you may not have had before, but the only person who can actually implement the change is you. You’ve heard the saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.” 

3. Practice, practice, practice

The biggest change takes place between the coaching sessions, not during. Outside of the sessions you get an opportunity to mull over or process what you have learnt. To slowly start implementing certain changes and becoming comfortable with new concepts and ideas which you have discussed in your coaching session. If you are not putting thought into your change or actioning change between sessions, you will become frustrated and disillusioned.

4. If you think it’s going to change over night, you are mistaken

I’ve spoken about the dangers of instant gratification before, and I don’t believe I can over-emphasis the damage it can do. Change doesn’t happen over night. It takes time, patience, practice and determination in order to move forward, permanently. Get comfortable with that realisation.

5. Training your brain

This goes hand in hand with practice. By focusing on the new behaviours and mindfully putting them into practice you start training your brain to think and act differently. In the beginning you need to concentrate and put in a lot of energy to change your actions, but after consistently putting in the efforts, your actions will become automatic and new habits will emerge naturally.

6. Be ready for change

As a coach, this principle is probably the most important. By being ready, it means you have acknowledged that something needs to shift. You are not perfect and something needs to be improved and that’s okay. Once you let go of that “I don’t need to change, I am perfect just the way I am” or “ It’s not me, it’s them” mantra it becomes easier to open yourself up to different thoughts, suggestions, ideas and feedback.

So if you want to lift your game and become a more focused and motivated individual in either your business or personal life, try working with a coach, they could change your life!

16 Feb

The dirty little secret of goal setting

The need for instant gratification, I believe has become our worst enemy in the goal setting department. Consciously or subconsciously,  we tend to expect for change to take place overnight and when it doesn’t we become desponded and convince ourselves that we failed.

Once the goal has become clear in our minds and the decision to change has been made, we pop on our rose-tinted sunglasses and fall in love with the goal and the idea of success. We however tend to forget about what actually needs to happen after the goal-setting process. We fail to do a reality check and put things into perspective. We often under-estimate how hard we actually need to work in order to achieve the goal. This is where the love-hate relationship with our goals starts.

The message is not to not dream big and have goals. Please do and dream as big as you can. As Jim Collins says, have big, hairy, audacious goals. However, if you want to be successful you need to think and be realistic about how you to want to achieve your goals. Here are a few thoughts to consider when planning for your next goal.

  1. How does this goal fit into your current life? Yes, most of us  have extremely busy,  stressful lives. The reality of living in today’s world. So if you want to achieve something, how will it fit into your current situation and are you willing to give something up in order to make this goal part of your life?
  2. What is your action plan and how will you measure your achievements? A goal is wonderful to have, but if there is no action plan, their will be no success.
  3. What is your timeframe? We unfortunately give ourselves very little time or should I say we allocate a very unrealistic time frame to the actual “doing” part of achieving the desired goal. Think twice about your time frame to achieve, not just the deadline.
  4. What is your plan B? If your initial action plan fails, what is your fall back plan?  If you are hell-bent on only following one plan, one strategy, then what happens to your motivational levels and drive if it doesn’t go according to plan? Being able to review the failure, adjust to the situation and shift course will not only benefit you, but it teaches you to learn from your mistakes and to be open to change, new ideas and opportunities, which you may not have seen or considered before.
  5. How well do you deal with failure? How resilient are you? This is not about shifting course and moving to plan B. This is about how quickly you can snap out of the  “failure feeling”. None of us like to fail, but the reality is that we all fail at some point in our lives. So, what steps will you put in place to deal with bouncing back to continue pursuing your goal?

The reality of the situation is that you have to accept the good, the bad and the ugly of goal setting. Build reality checks into your action plans and walk into your goal’s action plans with your eyes wide open.