Knowing Me – Week 7 Meet your past self

Do you know your past self?

This week 7 of Knowing Me, I invite you to look at your past and play a game testing your memory. Getting to knowing your past self can be fun and enlightening! Would you know yourself at 12? What advice would your 12 year old self give you?   

As you may already know, out  memory plays tricks. We mis-remember and add meaning to events long after they have occurred, fully believing that our later version of events it TRUE.  This fascinating blog explains some more.

Regardless of their slight unreliability, memories can serve you well. They are an important part of your reflection on the present. They help you to understand better the place you now stand and the choices you will make. 

21 questions to start your thinking! 

For this week’s exercise, first ask yourself the questions listed below. Some are things you may not have asked yourself in a long time. They may  remind you of things you love, or are proud of, that you had forgotten about. They may leave you puzzling about the younger person you who has become a stranger.  

When you finish, pause for thought and make some notes.

What has this exercise thrown up for you? How do you feel having completed this exercise?

1. What did I like to do best when I was 12?
2 What was my favourite holiday memory?
3 What was my favourite food ?
4 What are some chores that I had to do when I was growing up?
5 What did I like most about my best friend at school?
6 Have I ever performed on stage?
7 What did I want to be when growing up (more than one?)?
8 What did I play most when growing up?
9 If I met my 10 year old self what impression would I get?
10 What are 3 places that I have been to and would love to visit again?
11 What key words would you use to describe them?
12 What does my closest friend like best about me?
13 What are/were my parents greatest personal strengths?
14 If I was given a forced vacation for three days tomorrow what would I do?
15 What is a key skill that I have that most people don’t know?
16 What gives me greatest pleasure in life?
17 If I order a meal in a cafe, what will it be?
18 What is irritates me  more than anything?
19 What would  my best friend say are the four most memorable things about me when describing me to a stranger?
20 If my sixteen year old self met me now, what advice would they give me?
21 What is one thing that I wish I was better at?

Do it with friends

If you have friends or a partner you have known a long time and whom you love and trust, the questions can be a great round-table game of mutual discovery. Maybe you could adapt to use in the workplace too. Have fun and please contact me to share the experience!

If this or other exercises have provoked some questions. To find out more about coaching CONTACT ME and we can discuss your ideas.

Please let me know how you got on or improvements you would make to these posts. See you next week!

If you are here for the first time and wonder what its all about, you can find out here. You can follow the exercises of being a blob, meeting your future self in a dream, considered your role models , understanding patterns in our thinking, considered your language and questioned your  values. What?!!







Knowing Me – Week 6 Values

Get to know yourself a little be better every week! If you are here for the first time and wonder what its all about, you can find out here. You can follow the exercises of being a blob, meeting your future self in a dream, considered your role models,  meta programmes! This week we are talking values. Its the real deal. 

Week 6 – Your values are what matters most

What are values?

This Week we are thinking about Values. These  are concepts that can guide our behaviour. Words like trust, honesty, or fun or others like caution, patience or seriousness all describe values and things that might matter more or less to different people.

In the British comic gangster movie Snatch, a trail of dead bodies litters the screen. For Vinny – the hardened gangster –  killing the dog that’s swallowed the diamond they need is a step too far! In other words, his values won’t allow it.

Things get tricky when we try to interpret these words. No assumptions can be made about what people mean when they use them. So, even if we both agree that fun is good, your idea of fun might be very different from mine.  And yet, even with this ambiguity, exploring our values is very useful in getting to know ourselves better.

Values are at the heart of many a misunderstandings, conflict, anger and hurt. They are also central to building relationships, the basis for reconciliation and understanding. 

So what are yours?

This 5 step exercise is a start to exploring our values and reflecting what it might mean in the workplace or at home.  BEWARE! Most of us lie to ourselves when doing this exercise! We get caught up with what we think we should feel rather than what we do. Try to avoid this – and enjoy noticing it when you do!


The list in the table below contains a jumble of many words commonly used to describe values.  As you run down or across the list, choose and write down every one that is truly important as a value to you. Do not overthink your selections and spend long on it. You may think they are all important but this exercise is to pull out your 20 or so top list.

As you read through the list, simply write down the words that feel like a core value to you personally. If you think of a value you possess that is not on the list, be sure to write it down as well. You may have quite a long list!

BenevolencePowerAbundanceEthics; CommitmentEnthusiasmCalmness
PassionIndependenceGenerosityJoyIndividuality; Preparedness; Dedication
Punctuality; ConsistencySelf-ControlZealCaringVersatility; Trustworthiness MindfulnessServiceQualityUniquenessSecurityFriendshipsInclusiveness
Responsiveness; Appreciation; Intuition; Achievement; Cooperation; Fun; Empathy; Inspiration; Autonomy; Resourcefulness;  Credibility; Safety; Individuality; Proactive; Carefulness; Thoughtfulness; Professionalism; Teamwork Reliability; Daring; Fairness; Security; Well-Being; Curiosity; Understanding Dependability; Perfection; Challenge; Stability; Expressiveness; Contribution; Charity; Open-Mindedness; Popularity; Family; Creativity; Happiness; Development; Kindness; Cheerfulness; Balance; Compassion; Traditionalism;Grace; Peace; Warmth; Stability; Playfulness; Love; Freedom;  Knowledge; Honesty; Attractiveness; Resilience; Spirituality Encouragement; Success; Optimism; Diversity; Advancement; Wisdom
Advocacy; Performance; Adventure; Boldness; Leadership; Cleverness; Learning Recognition; Innovation; Risk-taking; Healthy; Usefulness; Acceptance; Responsibility; Decisiveness; Collaboration; Simplicity; Selflessness; Humility; Relationships; Recognition
Ambition; Excellence; Brilliance; Humor; Community; Growth; Intelligence; Loyalty
Flexibility; Originality; Thankfulness; Wealth


Look at your list and group all similar values together  Group them in a way that makes sense to you, personally. Create a maximum of five groupings. If you have more than five groupings, you will need to make a further choice and drop those least important.


Underline the one word in the group that is for you the most important one. Keep this to one side


Now think about your experiences. Explore them to answer the following (you might need to close your eyes to remember!) making some notes as you do:

      1. When have you been angry?
      2. When have you been most satisfied? 
      3. What do you consider my best experience (when you performed at your peak)?
      4. What types of environments inspire your best work?
      5. What aspects of my personality are most admired by others?
      6. What, if I had my choice, would I never do again if I didn’t have to?
      7. What have been my key reasons for leaving a job?


Look at the five groups and underlined key words from STEP THREE.  Do you see any connection between what you have enjoyed, disliked, succeeded in etc and the values you have identified?  What might this reflection tell you about important aspects of your life, such as work, family, community or friendships? How might they affect the choices you make?

If this or other exercises have provoked some questions. To find out more about coaching CONTACT ME and we can discuss your ideas.

Please let me know how you got on or improvements you would make. See you next week!



Knowing Me Week 5 – mind your language

Mind Your Language

Welcome Knowing Me Week 5!  Knowing your language preferences is a key part of knowing yourself. Have you ever listened and wondered why certain words mean more or less to you?

The language that you use and like can tell you a lot about how you perceive and react to your environment. This usage has been affected by our culture and our upbringing (see this fascinating BBC article to know more on this)

Our journey of self-discovery continues this week with an exercise to look at the words we like and might use to express our feelingsFind a quiet space with a pen and paper and join me.

If you are here for the first time and wonder what its all about, you can find out here. You can follow the exercises of being a blob, meeting your future self in a dream, considered your role models and now its time for meta programmes! What? Read on..
  1. Read the 21 sentences below and mark 7 that appeal most to you. Try to do this as swiftly and fluidly as possible so you tap into your learnt intuition. 
  2. Once you have marked them look to the table below and mark the table with your 7 preferences.
  3. You will then be able to see HOW MANY As, Bs, or Cs you have
No. Sentence
1 The tinkle of the wind chimes tells me that the breeze is still rustling outside.
2 All dressed up and ready to go out she was a vision of glowing confidence
3 The sounds soared throughout the room, while the rhythms echoed in their heads
4 The house seemed to sigh as she turned off the light and felt the crisp sheet rustle
5 As I ran, I could feel the breeze on my back. My feet pounded along the path.
6 On a cold night, I like to relax by a warm fire in comfortable room with a cup of smooth, warm cocoa
7 In the long distance I can hear the whistle of the train.
8 The panorama of the green countryside stretched out clearly below us in the bright sparkling sun
9 There were flashes in the night sky as they drove north on the clear road
10 After a lot of revision she felt she grasped the essentials of  her work and could get a grip on her responsibilities
11 She was bitterly disappointed by losing this opportunity and felt she had been punched in the stomach
12 The shadows danced on the wall as she went up the stairs with the candle
13 The crowd cheered with a thunderous applause as the artist entered
14 With constant practice he was able to put pressure on his fitness and gave a solid performance
15 The crowd of brightly coloured roses around her door always gave the house the appearance of a painting
16 I was very comfortable at work and felt I was on the same wavelength as others in my team
17 I want to create an atmosphere in which they feel free to think and feel and be anything they desire
18 The water in the meadow glistened in the autumn
19 I was alert to the change of his tone. The blood raced through my veins, and I felt prepared for a confrontation
20 It seems crystal clear that if we don’t take steps to save the environment the outlook may be uncertain
21 Their steps were pounding on the pavement as they made their way home as fast as possible


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21  

Mainly As – indicates that you have a visual preference (seeing)

Mainly Bs – indicates and auditory preference (hearing)

Mainly Cs – indicates a kinaesthetic (or feeling) preference

 Questions to ask yourself:

  1. What does this exercise tell you about the language you use?
  2. What does this exercise tell you about how you listen to others?


When working with others and needing to build rapport sometimes this is increased to great effect by noticing their sensory preference.

Have fun on this exploration! Nothing is right or wrong, better or worse –  although we may feel it to be so. A key part of becoming self-aware is to think about how you respond in certain contexts. Consider others you work or live with, notice their language. Does it shed light on why you might find it easier to persuade some people more than others?

If this or other exercises have provoked some questions. To find out more about coaching CONTACT ME and we can discuss your ideas.

Please let me know how you got on or improvements you would make. See you next week!




Knowing Me Week 4: Patterns in our thinking

Knowing Me Week 4: Patterns in our thinking

Welcome back to our Knowing Me zone where you can get to know yourself better in the privacy of your own home!  

This week, we will explore patterns in the way we think and behave and the words we typically use. Noticing them can help us understand our working or living relations with others. Once we know them, we have new choices. We can live with them or change them! Find a quiet space with a pen and paper and join me.

If you are here for the first time and wonder what its all about, you can find out here. You can follow the exercises of being a blob, meeting your future self in a dream, considered your role models and now its time for meta programmes! What? Read on..


So which is it? Half Full or Half Empty? 

Of course, it depends on you!

Researchers Bandler and Grinder identified patterns of thought. These describe the ways in we are instinctively pay attention or filter out information. They are usually in opposition, for instance the TOWARDS/AWAY FROM pattern.    The patterns are called Meta-Programmes. Meta means at a higher sub-conscious level and programmes because they can occur routinely. As you will see from the table below our typical behaviours, the words we use and our emotions reveal these patterns.

Although there are many such patterns, in this week’s exercise we will consider only four.  You can have fun exploring more by looking for Meta Programmes here.

So, are your seatbelts, fastened? Here we go…

First – Take a quick look at the table below. In it, you will see a column listing Patterns. In the two other columns are listed the behaviours and words that are typical of people with a preference for one or the other side of the pattern.   

Second – Choose a context (e.g Workplace, Home, Community). Write it down and think about yourself in that context. Take a long breath in as you create a mental picture of it noticing what you see, hear and feel in your interactions with people and activities there.

Third – Using the table below ask yourself two questions, making a note of your answer: 

    • Which of these describes your responses and the words you might use?
    • How might these habits affect your relationships in the context you have chosen?



You like goals and achieving them

Words you typically use: get, attain, target, have

Away from

You solve or avoid problems

Words you typically use: avoid, get away from, prevent, solve



Internal – You like to set own standards and decide for yourself

Words you typically use: I’m satisfied; only you can decide; I’ve nailed it

External – You want to use external standards

Words you typically use:  I need feedback; so and so thinks; others say; lets check



Options – You enjoy possibilities to try a different way; make and break rules; you start new projects not always finishing them Procedures: You like to follow set ways; believes in a right way; finishes what you start; you stick to rules


Sameness – you look for mutual interest and links

Words you typically use:  basically the same; we have this in common

Difference – you emphasise change and newness;

Words you typically use: fresh approach; new concept; innovative

Fourth – do the exercise in a different context. Was your selection different? 

Thinking ahead. These are patterns that can change if you choose to recognise them, notice the behaviour and work to adjust it.  

Have fun on this exploration! Nothing is right or wrong, better or worse –  although we may feel it to be so. A key part of becoming self-aware is to think about how you respond in certain contexts. Consider others you work or live with, notice their language and behaviours. Does it shed light on why you might find some people difficult?

If this or other exercises have provoked some questions. To find out more about coaching CONTACT ME and we can discuss your ideas.

Please let me know how you got on or improvements you would make. See you next week!




Knowing Me Week 3: My Role Models

Knowing Me Week 3: Role Models

Thanks for joining me again for 10 minutes as we continue using small pauses in our day to get to know ourselves better.  Today we are thinking about formative role models

Find a quiet space with a pen and paper and join me.

For 5 minutes or so, give yourself permission to stop what you’re doing and think.  Bring to your mind someone, who was not your primary carer and whom you trusted and loved being with when you were younger (perhaps this is a relative, a friend, a friend of your parents, etc)

Spend a moment remembering your time with that person, visualize your interactions. Listen again inside your head to your exchanges and think about how you felt when you were with that person.

What was it about that person?

Make two columns one titled DO and the other FEEL. Answer the following two questions, thinking as you do about their behaviours and attitudes:

What did they do that you liked so much?

How did you feel?

Now you have two lists. Re read them and make sure you have written the most important things.

What about you?

Once you have your lists ask yourself: 

  • Who are the people in my life who need to trust and rely on me in some way?
  • How much do I mirror the behaviours I have valued in my lists?

In studies on role models (see John Whitmore, Coaching for Performance) the same words are often repeated: 

DO?  The person: Listened to me; Believed in me; Challenged me; Trusted me; Respected me; Gave me time and attention; Treated me as an equal

Feel? Special; Value;  Confident; Safe/Cared for; Supported; Able; Fun/enthusiasm; Supported

The Way Forward

Compare your list with those from the research. Are yours similar? How well do you offer this to those who look to you for guidance and support? What is ONE THING you could do to be even better?

To find out more about coaching CONTACT ME and we can discuss your needs.

Please let me know how you got on or improvements you would make. See you next week!

Knowing Me! Week 2 Your Future Self

Knowing Me! Week Two: Your Future Self

Welcome to Knowing Me! This is your space for  private thought-provoking fun. This week I invite you to meet your future self. You will notice what you notice and choose your direction! 

Its Week 2 my friends and its all for free.  For more about this journey read the intro and check out Week One

Last week you were looking at blobs and wondering which one might be you. This time we have something that my clients have called more challenging, but fun.  

As we get started, please make yourself comfortable in a place where for 10 minutes or so you will not be interrupted. With your feet firmly on the floor and with a pen and paper nearby, let’s get started!

Visualising Your future self…

Read through these instructions to get yourself set up and to enable you to run the exercise quietly and thoughtfully. Note DONT WORRY if you don’t have strong visions, let your imagination work in whatever way you like. This is meant to be fun!  Remember to consider the final question.

As you can see, I have recorded the exercise because then you can spend the time thinking instead of checking what you are meant to do next.  



Switch off your phone if it might disturb you. Sit comfortably with your feet on the floor. Notice how the ground feels. Roll your shoulders deeply to feel relaxed and ready to explore. Take three or four nice long deep breaths and as you breath in imagine you are breathing in FRESH AIR & CLARITY. Lift the corners of your mouth. You might want to close your eyes.

NOW…Imagine you are walking down a road. It is a sunny, warm day. Look around you and notice what the place looks like and how it feels to be walking along. In a moment you are going to meet someone coming towards you. This person will be you in the future: your future self. Your future self is living their dream, achieving their best doing what they want. Watch them come towards you from a distance. Allow yourself to really look at them carefully. What do you notice?

Your future self reaches you and greets you. How do they greet you? How do they behave? What do you notice? Do you have a question for your future self? Ask it, and listen for the answer.

Thank this person and say goodbye. Thank them for coming to meet you. Breath deeply as you return to the present. Be aware of how you are sitting. Wriggle your toes and fingers. Open your eyes

Write down anything you wish to remember from the encounter. What did you see? What did you notice? What did you hear? What did you feel?

As we end, consider this question :- In what way has meeting your future self made you think about your present self?

Thanks for this exercise go to “Coaching For Performance”, Sir John Whitmore 2002 from which it was taken

If this or last weeks exercise has provoked some questions. To find out more about coaching CONTACT ME and we can discuss your ideas.

Please let me know how you got on or improvements you would make. See you next week!



Knowing Me! Week 1

Welcome to Knowing Me!  Week 1

As promised in the intro, in his Knowing Me Week 1, I am offering you some private, thought-provoking FREE fun.  

So my friends, get a pen and paper, follow your nose and let’s get started!…

Which blob are you?

First, look at the Blob Tree picture below and take a moment to think about the different characters and what they might represent for you. What do the positions in the tree say to you? What are the expressions of the blobs?

Now you’re in the mood, let’s think some more.

Consider where your life happens and reflect

Maybe you think about home, or the workplace, school or social gatherings.  Choose one of these and then ask: In that situation, which one of these blobs reminds me of me?

(Helpful hint: You might want to make notes as you answer these questions. If you find it hard to answer for yourself, trying thinking of a colleague or a friend first, before answering for yourself)

Now ask: Which blob would I most like to be? Is there a different one?

If it’s the same, what makes you think that? Make a note

If it’s a different one. What would you have to change to get there? 

Are you always the same blob in this situation? If not, what makes the difference?

Now consider different parts of your life, and ask the same questions again….and breath!

Reflect some more

So in this first week of self discovery you have thought about blobs in trees! What did you notice? Were you surprised? Was your mind open or closed? Did you make assumptions about the tree and the grass and the other blobs?

Credit for this exercise and thanks go the amazing: Pip Wilson and Ian Strong at Blob Tree (

Feel free to play this with friends, kids in school or colleagues in teams. Printing and numbering the blobs can help. It can be printed and coloured in. Please note, he may look interested but your cat will only pretend to be joining in.

To find out more about coaching CONTACT ME and we can discuss your needs.

Please let me know how you got on or improvements you would make. See you next week!


Knowing Me, I mean You! – 9 weeks of discovery

Knowing Me, I mean You!

How well would you say you know yourself? Are you part of the 90% who think they do or the 10% who actually do (see this HBR article).

Knowing yourself is at the heart of emotional intelligence and paves the road to success.

Here are 9 weekly games for you to try as you investigate the answer to the question of who you are.  They are fun. They can be shared or kept private.

To find out more about coaching CONTACT ME and we can discuss your needs.

Each week I will add another:

Week One – Which Blob are You

Week Two– Meet Your Future Self 

Week Three  – Your Role Models

Week Four; – Patterns in you thinking 

Week Five; Your Language

Week Six; Your Values

Week 7;  Your Past Self

Week 8; Be Do Have

Week 9– Dream for some magic

Some will jog your memory of your past, others will prompt you to imagine the future. I hope some of them make you laugh as well as think afresh about who you are and what you want. 

TopHat coaching clients are with me on a road of self discovery as they unlock their best. We turn dreams into plans and to confront barriers that affect success.  Self-exploration and reflection is key to deciding on the sustained changes, you want to make.

Where I have knowingly borrowed and adapted I will provide links and references for you to follow. If I missed any, please let me know so I can put it right.





My Plastic-Free Month that might have worked out for an Orang Utan

Inspired by the news around plastic pollution I answered the rallying cry of the Story of Stuff to forego plastic this July.

Not all my friends agreed with the decision. There are the Whats-The-Point crew who argue the simplicity of arguments are misleading. Their views are echoed here. The Go-For-It crew however say that everything is worth trying. Encouraged by their enthusiasm, I went for it.  As its 31st July, I thought I might reflect and share  how I got on.

As a starting point, I bought milk in glass bottles. This is pleasing, but no easy matter. In my case it involved buying a lot of vegetables – all delicious – from Farm Drop.  I got very excited reading that Waitrose had organic jersey milk in bottles. After an exuberant cycle over to a shop I found the bottle was plastic! What???

Farm Drop calls itself the greenest supermarket. I’m not sure. Most of the veg comes plastic free with some mad exceptions, like baking potatoes! I was disappointed to discover that meat is all plastic wrapped so after a first attempt I decided not to buy it. Apparently the issue is regulation re health and safety. So we will all drown in the dying earth, but at least we won’t have food poisoning which is a comfort. The service is great and prices OK given the small producers and  provided you take advantage of special offers.  And yes, before you comment, I know dairy is a questionable industry but I am not there yet.

I am fortunate in Clapham Junction having two great plastic free shops nearby: Hetu is small, friendly and well stocked and even has “alternative” milk in glass bottles; The Source is part of a larger group and feels like it. This has meant for pasta, flour, pulses and oils everything is easy and its amazing how all those cloth bags that are now the rage as freebies come in handy for purchase and storage.  On a recent trip to France I was surprised at how much more widespread plastic free shopping seems to be.

It is easy to wash and clean the house without plastic. Soap Nuts are generally miraculous, plastic-free shampoo bars and homemade cleaning  products are pretty straightforward.

Overall I have thrown away significantly less trash – I haven’t yet filled a bin this month, and only a very small proportion has been plastic. I have also realised how much plastic there is on things when you are thinking about it. Supposedly this is keeping our food fresher, but, while a cucumber might last for two weeks in plastic, does this makes us so much less likely to waste it that the plastic is justified?

And what about the Orang Utan? I hear you ask. Half way through the month  I was talking about plastic free and bemoaning the loss of cracker biscuits, as a result of having to avoid the wrapping. A kind companion pointed out that these should be out of bounds anyway as they contain palm-oil. This led to further research that showed: first, that this oil – or rather its cultivation and harvesting – is probably speeding us towards our doom faster than plastic and is in everything. It often masquerades as “vegetable oil”.  You can also download a PalmOilScan App to help you check.  This conversation led to the marvellous discovery that cracker biscuits take less time to make than to go and buy. Who knew? This  is fast becoming a favourite recipe with a full range of mad flavours possible. Hard not to eat them in one go right out of the oven.

So the upshot of the month? I have cooked more from scratch and enjoyed this. I am not a telly person so cooking bread, biscuits, all those veggies, and  other delights is done with the radio or a spotify selection.  A glass of wine helps too. Making enough to last several meals gets around the extra time and serves my need to fill pans. I have challenged myself to find things to do with the very last veg in the fridge even though it was begging for freedom. I will continue.

And of course as I consider beauty products I have to remember the palm oil: because the Orang Utan is worth it.

Credit: The picture is from Cartoon Brew, produced by Amid Amidi for Greenpeace



Is a team improved without a leader?

Does a team always have to have a leader? I asked this question at recent team coaching workshop. The reaction from fellow participants was thoughtful if generally negative. Some said that the team would be rudderless. Others said all groups need leaders, how else would you get anything done?

This interesting article from the Drucker Foundation 2001 explores the impact when an orchestra – the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra – chose not to have a conductor.  Obviously in a team the conductor is the equivalent of the usual business leader, carrying the responsibility for output and performance on his or her broad shoulders so the experiment excited the interest of greats like Drucker. In the article, members of the orchestra observed that the results were surprising. Far from losing direction, turn over, engagement and performance all remained good in spite of the absence of the leadership role.

Further, in 2007  Wiki notes: March 2007, [that] Orpheus became one of the first winners of the Worldwide Award for the Most Democratic Workplaces sponsored by WorldBlu, Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based organization specializing in organizational democracy.

Now in 2019 the leaderless orchestra is still going strong. Some argue that their music is better for not being beholden to the over-ruling decision-making of the conductor’s interpretation. You can make your own mind up with some of these clips of their performances on the BBC.

Would your team be better if it were a bit less led?