Jacky Leonard's blog

Latest entries posted by Jacky Leonard

Have you got your finger on the trigger?

Categories:  Effective Communication, Being on purpose, Life Balance and Wellbeing

Change your behaviour and you change your world - (anon)


I consider myself a relatively sane, rational and tolerant human being. I have many examples of behaviour to back this up, yet it seems these characteristics fail me at the mere mention of the initials BT. I recently surprised myself at my speed of response from a calm, reasonable, grateful state, which I often occupy, to a semi crazed, frustrated sceptic.

Trigger (correspondence from BT), thought (oh no, what now?); Feeling (frustration, anger); instinctive response (grab my phone quicker than a gunfighter````` at the OK Corral and immediately call them to vent).

Then I paused...wow! What a reaction?

How can that happen? I had allowed myself no time to think, I stopped mid dial to process that and realised how easy our patterns of behaviour are developed, many without any conscious thought and little or no gap between a stimulus and your response.  I was experiencing the stress response of flight or fight, simply by receiving correspondence from an ex service provider.

Now, there’s a long history of wasted time and frustratingly poor service due to ineffective systems that I won’t go into here. Suffice to say, they have not been my communication company of choice for over 2 years. So how come they can still provoke such a quick, strong emotional response?

Learned behaviour is often hard to break.  You’ll have established patterns of unconscious actions or habits that generally work quite well for you, but at times may need to be challenged.  You’ve probably heard the old saying if you do the things you’ve always done, you’ll get the things you always got.  To get something different, you must do something different.

You will have triggers in your life, things that set a sequence of events in motion.  The ABC model can help you to understand challenging behaviour and develop suitable responses. 

A – Antecedent.  This is the thing that happens before the behaviour and what triggered it.

B – Behaviour.  This is what you actually did.

C – Consequence.  This is what happens after the behaviour.

Acknowledging your antecedents or triggers is a crucial first step in managing your response.  You have very little control over many things in your life and there will be a consequence to how you respond and react to situations that face you.  Identifying the controllables will help you manage yourself and your environment more effectively and better influence the other elements outside your direct control.

Here are the 3 things you can completely control, if you choose to…

  • What you think
  • What you feel
  • What you do

Seems simple, but sadly not always easy, because that gap between the stimulus and your response can often be small to non-existent.   So, here’s a thought…next time you feel yourself having a knee jerk reaction to an event or person’s behaviour try this.  Press the pause button, think about the trigger and decide whether what you’re doing is the best course of action. What strategies can you apply to help you avoid, minimise or take your finger off the trigger?

Rather than mind the gap, be mindful of it and see if you can extend it long enough to make more appropriate choices that result in better consequences. 


Categories:  Being on purpose, Life Balance and Wellbeing

One of my ex-army mates posted this on Facebook recently. It has an incredibly powerful message and I wanted to share it with you.  It’s written for all women who have been through hell, but could equally refer to anyone battling their own demons.


I’ve hated this woman. I’ve not loved her at full capacity. I’ve fed her lies and told her she wasn’t good enough and have allowed others to tell her she wasn't good enough. I’ve allowed her to be broken. I've allowed others to treat her disrespectfully. I’ve allowed her to run through brick walls and battle for others who won’t even stand for her. I couldn’t stop individuals from abandoning her, yet I’ve seen her get up and stand to be a light to the world and love others despite all that. I have stood paralysed by fear while she fought battles in her mind, heart and soul.

This woman has screwed up many times, as a wife, a daughter, or as a friend, because she doesn’t always say or do the right things. She has a smart mouth, and she has secrets. She has scars because she has a history.

Some people love this woman, some like her, and some people don't care for her at all. Some hate her. She has done good in her life. She has done bad in her life. She goes weeks without makeup. She stays in pyjamas some days. She is random and sometimes silly. She will not pretend to be someone she is not. She is who she is.

Every mistake, failure, trial, disappointment, success, joy, and achievement has made her the person she is today. You can love her or not. But if she loves you, she will do it with her whole heart, and she will make no apologies for the way she is. She will fight for you. She is loyal to you!

This Woman is a WARRIOR. She’s not perfect but She is WORTHY! She’s UNSTOPPABLE. Gracefully broken but beautifully standing. She is loved. She is life. She is transformation. She is BRAVE. She is ME!


For anyone reading this…man or woman, whatever your beliefs, values, sexual orientation or social standing.  Learn to be comfortable in your own skin, appreciate your uniqueness and be proud of who you are.

Do You Have An Attitude Of Gratitude?

Categories:  Being on purpose, Life Balance and Wellbeing

Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot ~ The Hausa of Nigeria

Switch on any channel and you’ll see many examples of individual, corporate and political greed. Power hungry people, driven by the need for more…more money, more possessions and more control.  Often, this is achieved at the expense of others’ needs, safety and wellbeing.  I’m all for striving to be your best, but how about doing good for others, as well as doing well for yourself.

I’ve been re-reading some interesting and compelling studies and publications about another G…Gratitude.

Studies by Professor Robert Emmons, world leading scientific expert on the subject, suggest you can improve your happiness by 25% by practicing being thankful.  It can also put you and others in the best position to perform and produce your very best. 

So, how grateful are you?  Sometimes you can be so busy driving toward your goals, you forget to glance over your shoulder, pause and appreciate how far you’ve already come.  Maybe you’ve begun taking your friends, family or colleagues for granted and failed to tell them how much you value them.

The pace of life can make it difficult to stay in the moment and appreciate all the things you have; to remember the important components of your world and acknowledge, cherish and enjoy each and every one.  Practicing gratitude is just another thing you will have to add to your already busy schedule.  Perhaps you’re already thinking, is it worth the effort?

According to Professor Emmons it most definitely is.  People who practice gratitude enjoy the following benefits:

• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness

• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated

That’s quite a list! 


If those benefits have given you food for thought, what next?  Where and how do you start being more appreciative of your life and all its component parts?

Here are some tips for making gratitude a habit, rather than an afterthought. 

1.      First decide why?  What’s are your reasons for wanting to become more grateful?  Usually the answer to this is linked to your values…those things that are really important to you, such as making a difference to others, being healthy, enjoying time with others etc.


2.      Next consider how you want to practice?  What tool or method might work for you?

There are lots of options, everything from gratitude apps to journals.  These are designed to make you stop, think and be thankful for the things you have, the person you are and the people you love.  The trick is to build in some time to do this consistently, so it becomes part of who you are.  Expect to go through the motions to start.  It can take a bit of practice to make it an emotive as well as a cognitive experience…and it really is something you have to feel as well as think.


Another thing you could try is to pay it forward.  Acknowledge the contribution from others and tell them just how much you value them, how important they are to you, or your organisation and outline the impact they are having.  Notice their reaction.  They may initially be surprised, a little embarrassed, or even a wary.  Don’t let this stop you.  Consistently try to spot people doing things well, or right and tell them.  A genuine thank you for a job well done, a positive attitude, or a helping hand, is an extremely powerful motivator and will make a positive difference.


3.      Lastly, just do it!  Practice, practice, practice.  Make it a daily habit by spending just a few minutes a day appreciating all you have, all you are and all you can do.

Try this simple activity:  At the end of each day ask yourself these 3 questions…

  • What did I do today that I’m grateful for?
  • Who, or what do I love and how do they enhance my life and make it a better place?
  • What do I hope tomorrow will bring?

Make this a regular activity, like cleaning your teeth, or having a shower and you’ll start to enjoy the benefits of a new healthy habit.


My good friend and colleague, Liggy Webb sums gratitude up beautifully in this poem:

Before I close my eyes each night, at the end of everyday

There is something very important, that I always like to say

Thank You

Thank you for the things I’ve learnt, they teach me how to know

Thank you for my challenges, they show me how to grow

Thank you for the good times and thank you for the bad

It helps me to appreciate what I have and haven’t had

Thank you for my family and thank you for each friend

You are so very special and all that matters in the end

Thank you for my experiences and thank you for my past

For the magic of the memories through my lifetime that will last

Thank you for my journey and the dreams I’m going to live

Thank you for my future and for the best I’ve yet to give

So, before I close my eyes each night what I really want to say

Is thank you for my life and thank you for today.


What will you do to practice gratitude, or show your appreciation going forward?


If you’d like to read more about the power of gratitude check out the books below:

Thanks! - How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert Emmons

Thank you - Your guide to appreciating life by Liggy Webb


Thriving in a VUCA world

Categories:  Being on purpose, Life Balance and Wellbeing

The term VUCA comes from US Military vocabulary and describes the world we inhabit today…Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.  Politically, economically, socially and environmentally we are having to deal with relentless change, which can be difficult to predict, challenging to manage and sometimes lead to physical, mental and emotional overwhelm.

There’s no doubt life can be demanding, so how can you survive, or better still, learn to thrive in a VUCA world?  Let’s turn VUCA into Bob Johanson’s prime model.  What if you had Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Agility instead?  How might that change your perspective and influence your approach to handling life’s numerous challenges?

Here’s my take on how a more positive version of VUCA can help you capitalise on your strengths and regain some life balance.

Vision – Time marches on.  People who have a vision of their future have something to aim for and can plan a route map towards those goals.  That doesn’t mean having your head in the clouds, a forward thinker will look back and learn from mistakes of the past, consider how that might influence their goals and strategy and make the necessary adjustments in the actions they take in the present.  Bringing the focus back to now, in order to take decisive daily action.  Success is a habit, resulting from consistent daily action towards what you want, whilst being mindful of what you don’t.


Understanding – I like to see this an understanding of yourself and others.  This requires taking a good long look in the metaphorical mirror and being honest about your strengths and shortcomings.  It means being willing and able to interact and build relationships with a diverse range of people, even those who may not share your opinions.  It means stepping outside your comfort zone, asking yourself challenging questions and accepting the feedback, even when it may be unpalatable.

Who are you, what’s your purpose, what strengths and limitations do you have?

Are you willing to stretch yourself, fail and learn from your mistakes?  Can you accept feedback from others and use it for continual improvement? 

Do you have positive relationships with other people and appreciate their contribution and worth?  How do you challenge, support and motivate people?  When did you last tell someone how much you valued them?

How can, or do you adopt the right attitude to continually improve?


Clarity – Once you have a vision of your future and a better understanding of how you and your significant others contribute, the picture becomes clearer.  This clarity of roles, responsibilities and resources provides you with a better understanding about what you can be held accountable for, and what is outside your control. 

Are you one of those people who give yourself a hard time by worrying about things you can’t control?  Having clarity helps you avoid burn out, take appropriate daily action and influence others successfully.

You can’t control your environment, other people, or circumstances.  Thinking you can, leads to unhealthy relationships, frustration and fatigue.  Here are the 3 things you can completely control, if you choose to…

What you THINK

What you FEEL

What you DO

That’s it!  On the surface, it looks easy doesn’t it, but as you know it’s not quite as simple as it might first appear.  Sometimes it’s easy to forget that you have control over these things because you’ve developed disempowering habits.  Often the gap between think, feel, do becomes smaller and your responses become triggered easily, making you quick to judge, anger and react.  

Habitual behaviour is necessary but can be detrimental without some mechanism to review and reflect whether what you do still works for you.  The truth is, the more you focus on the things you can control, the better you’ll be able to cope with demands around you and positively influence others.  


Agility – In the words of Alvin Toffler, this is about being able to ‘…learn, unlearn and relearn.’  To be, in flow and able to adapt and respond appropriately to the constant changes and demands placed upon you every day.

To be agile you have to adopt what Carol Dweck calls, a Growth Mindset.  To be willing to fail, learn from those failings and start again with renewed energy, enthusiasm and approach. 

How do you ensure you have the energy, enthusiasm and resilience required to begin again, more intelligently?  I think one of the main ingredients is kindness, particularly to yourself.  Take time out, rest, do something you enjoy, meet with friends, practice mindfulness and learn to be present. You’ll often return with renewed energy and a different perspective.


Life will always be challenging.  Balance requires perspective.  Sometimes you can be so busy comparing yourself with others and worrying about things you can’t control, you forget to work on the things you can.  How will you use this more positive version of VUCA to influence your behaviour?

What one thing will you commit to do today to capitalise on your strengths?

What are your goals for 2019?

Categories:  Being on purpose, Life Balance and Wellbeing

Happy New Year!

Well that’s another year flown by. Maybe you've already taken time to reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly bits of 2018.  I'm all for a regular review, providing there’s some learning from it, especially when you use those lessons to inform your plans.

To help you get a great start I’ve teamed up with Brian Mayne, to offer you the opportunity to try his powerful Goal Mapping system for free. Use the link here to sign up for your complimentary online goal map https://bit.ly/2OjpJk0 

Goal Mapping enables you to combine left brain logic with right brain creativity to produce your very own Goal Map for 2019 and beyond. There are also informative videos and tools to help you get in the right head space and get you moving with more purpose into 2019.

I have had excellent results by using this system and wanted you have a chance to try it too. 

Here's that link again https://bit.ly/2OjpJk0 

Enjoy mapping your goals and let me know how you go.

All the best for a happy, healthy and successful 2019.