Not another bloody self-help guru.
And this one’s expecting me to be ‘be more punk’, is he?
Oh, do F-off…
Yeah, that’s pretty much my reaction, too, whenever I see another book, growth strategy, or ‘fresh approach’ to the same old pungent corporate or personal development bullshit.
It’s especially irritating when you find out that prior to their slimy spiel on social media, the guru of the hour was in fact a pretty soulless marketing executive in some pretty faceless corporate organisation. Since then, they’ve merely read a couple of books (or at least the blurbs) yet apparently enjoyed somewhat of an amazing epiphany as a result. This event usually involves some sort of ‘standing at the top of a mountain/ swimming with dolphins/ staring longingly into the sunset’ scenario (don’t worry, they took pictures to prove it) at the point when they realised that their purpose in life was to “help others”.
Whilst helping themselves to those people’s cash, naturally.
So, what makes me and my ramblings any better than that, other than the fact I once saw a dolphin at the top of a mountain?
Nothing, really. Good on those folk if they genuinely want to get out there and help people and make some cash along the way – providing they do it ethically and don’t become pathological con artists, obviously.
So, why keep reading what I’ve written?
I’ll give you two reasons in hoping to make my case, but after that, it’s up to you…
The first reason is that you can maybe relate to me because I’m normal (ish).
Sure, I’ve got loads of tattoos, have an obsession with skulls and the colour black, and listen to music that allegedly conjures the devil. But outside of that, I’ve lived a normal life like nearly everyone else. I’ve worked hard, had fun, raised a family, got things right, and got some things spectacularly wrong, too. I’ve been good, kind and loving, and I’ve also been a dickhead – sometimes doing all of those things at once. It makes me human, and being a decent human being can be hard sometimes. Lots of things can get in the way, and I’ve got the t-shirt for most of them. Yes, they’re black.
And the second reason to keep you reading? Easy. I’ve been passionate about the personal development of people for over 20 years. No flashes in inspirational pans, here!
Okay, that might sound cheesy, but it’s true. Since 2004, I’ve dedicated all my working time and energy to helping others. This has taken the form of coaching, training, team building… and I’ve successfully done it all in locations all around the world. I’ve had lots of ‘proper’ jobs, been an employee, served as a manager, taken charge as a leader, and I’ve run my own business – twice. And what does that mean for you? It means I’ve experienced pretty much everything in the world of work and business – success, failure, friendship, promotion, arguments, idiots, and redundancy. That was in just ONE job, now I come to think of it!
Both of these reasons or aspects have made me who I am. If I knew then what I know now, I may have done things differently. I’d have been more Punk, for starters – just like I want YOU to be, too.
But what does the titular ‘Be More Punk’ even mean?
People Using Nous & Knowhow.
My business is called Punk Incorporated. I work with high-growth businesses who want to explore and develop the skills, capabilities and emotional intelligence of their people. Why? Because they know it pays HUGE dividends for everyone involved. Everyone benefits.
When we learn to harness and sharpen the things we are good at, and adopt the right attitude and behaviours to what we do, a lot of good things start to happen. And the brilliant thing is that we can ALL do it. You already have so much experience and people power around you to learn from, so you don’t have to be a superhero, or a spiritual leader, or a Jedi, to pull this off.
But you do need to Be More Punk.
Chapter 1 – Be Yourself
Easy for you to say!
It’s taken years for me to build the confidence to (more or less) do, think, act and say what I want. And of course, I still have days where I question myself and let the dreaded imposter syndrome creep on in. I don’t think this is a bad thing, though. It keeps me grounded and stops me turning into an arrogant arsehole – or worse, a ‘thought leader’.
I’m not going to tell you how to be yourself, because that’s too simplistic, arrogant and unfeasible for someone who’s not you. What worked for me might not work for you. Instead, I’m going to start by sharing with you how I’ve personally done it, so that you can use that information to figure out what you could do in your unique situation. I’m here to help if you need me, obviously.
Here’s a few things that have made me who I am:
- Enjoying great friendships
- Being bullied (at school)
- Nurturing strong relationships
- Fucking up strong relationships
- Being in – and out – of love
- Creating a safe and loving family environment
- Immersing myself in music
- Working hard
- Having lots and lots and lots of fun
- Having the shit kicked out of me – in all senses and on many occasions
- Making tonnes of mistakes
- Experiencing total abject failure
- Serving under good bosses
- Serving under bad bosses
- Achieving big – and little – wins
- Going through a divorce
- Being a dad
- Working for other people
- Working for myself
- Accepting when I’ve need to seek counselling
None of those things are particularly unique, are they? I bet you’ve experienced a lot of them yourself. So, if the good, bad and ugly worked for me, there’s at least a chance they can work for you, too.
But HOW did they work for me?
Let me chuck a few buzz words at you just to get them out of the way.
Resilience. Confidence. Bouncebackability (not even sure that’s a real word).
All that stuff I’ve experienced in my little list has helped me build those three buzzword qualities. I’m now at a point in my life where I feel rounded, capable, worthy and happy… but most importantly, I’ve accepted that I’m not perfect – nor will I ever be.
That’s the bloody point! No one, NO ONE, is ever the finished article. We have to remember and learn EVERY SINGLE GODDAMN DAY to be a little bit better.
So, if we actually DO things that help us learn every day, guess what? We learn more about ourselves, we MOVE FORWARD, and we become the version of ourselves that we actually recognise and respect when we look in the mirror.
Suddenly, being yourself isn’t that hard because, well, it’s just you, being you.
Come on then, prove it! What have YOU done, Punk Man?
Just Simon is fine, really…
Well, in order to answer your question, I had a good, hard think about everything and have realised that the two main things that stop us from truly being ourselves are:
- dealing with the past
- dealing with the every day.
Here’s what I do…
DEALING WITH THE PAST
You’re big and ugly enough to know that you literally CANNOT CHANGE THE PAST, but what you can do, is LEARN FROM IT.
- NO regrets – regrets eat away at you like a cancer. They serve no possible or positive purpose. Even if they’ll not always sit well with me, I have accepted my mistakes and learned from them.
- NO negative thoughts about the past – I remember and I reflect, but I never follow that evil bunny down its dark bunny hole. It only ever leads to somewhere even darker.
- NO shoulda/coulda/woulda second-guessing – What if I hadn’t said that? What if I’d chosen that other path? What if I’d not left my partner? ‘What ifs’ change nothing. Don’t do this to yourself.
- Say YES to remembering the good things that have happened and feel proud of what you’ve achieved, experienced and deserved. Not in a ‘I’m the king of the fucking world’ twattish way, but in a ‘yeah, go on, I did that, and I deserved it’ way.
This thought process and mantra stuff hasn’t necessarily happened overnight. Sometimes it’s taken 5 minutes, sometimes it’s taken 5 years. Sometimes it’s painful to look backwards at your mistakes, especially if you’ve hurt someone or it makes your head, heart or nether regions twinge in embarrassment, but we can’t do anything about that, except TRY our hardest not to make the same mistakes again.
DEALING WITH THE ‘EVERYDAY’
I don’t get up at 5am, I don’t meditate, I don’t even go outside every day. I’m not particularly spiritual, pensive or ‘mindful’.
For any of you reading the above who actually do any of that stuff, I’m glad it works for you. I’m just pointing out that I’m happy, healthy and successful without doing any of those things. Horses for courses.
Here are some things I actually do each week:
- Drink some beer or have the odd glass of wine
- Exercise a bit
- Other physical activity (nudge nudge, wink wink)
- Eat fairly healthily
- Seek out hugs (virtual and actual)
- Watch TV
- Walk the dogs
- Play video games
- Do things for me
- Do things for others
- Not act my age
- Take anti-anxiety pills if needed
Wait, what? You take HAPPY pills? Why the flippin’ heckity heck am I listening to you?
I’m just trying to show you that you can’t judge a book by its cover (or the person by the car, their watch, or their social media profiles), and that sometimes, we all need a little help.
Too many of us are afraid to be vulnerable and ask for professional help. I’ve had my blokey moments (stiff upper lip, refusal to show weakness, inability to show emotion, etc). It doesn’t work. You need to be proactive, and if that leads you to a professional for help, so be it.
Here’s a simple strategy for dealing with the ups and downs of daily life (no pills required):
- Experiencing a win (no matter how small)? Embrace and celebrate it. Feel worthy – because you are.
- Doubting yourself? We ALL do that, just don’t get lost in your own head.
- Something rubbish happening in your life? Check your head, understand and accept what emotions you are feeling, talk to people, and think about what you can learn from it.
The key in all of this is self-awareness, reflection, learning and BACKING YOURSELF! I’ve learned to see all of the good and bad experiences as making me who I am, and I quite like the guy staring back at me in the mirror.
That’s all great, Simon, I can try to do that OUTSIDE of my work, but what about AT work? If I tried half of this stuff in the office, I’d probably get fired or lose my business!
OK, OK, that’s understandable, so this is my response…
Whatever the situation, don’t compromise your personal or work values. Full stop.
Once you begin to feel aggrieved or not listened to, and you disagree with something fundamental, this will change the way you feel, think and ultimately behave, causing a lot of negative impact. This has happened to me a lot. I’m an emotional beast, and I always have been, especially when it comes to standing up for what’s right and calling out bullshit in the workplace.
This emotion and tendency to ‘tell it like it is’ has led me to do, say and act horribly – and nearly always to the detriment of someone else. And often myself, too.
Here’s what I’ve learned to do:
- Question your assumptions and facts – a sense of injustice is a powerful thing, but make sure you are seeing things from all angles and perspectives, not just yours (or the one that has sparked the most rage).
- Pick your battles – you can’t win every fight, and there has to be balance in order to be gracious in victory.
- Accept that you can’t change everything – but know that you can make things better for yourself and others thanks to your influence.
- Don’t take anything personally – believe it or not, some things really aren’t about you.
- Understand that it’s part of life that you’re going to have to work with dickheads at some point – and remember that if you’re not working with one, there’s every chance that role might be getting filled by you…
So, what if none of that works and you still feel miserable at work?
Suck it up and just stick with it, you’ve got bills to pay…
What?! Seriously?! That’s your answer, you Punk Pr*ck?
Of course it’s not! Get the hell out of there, people. There are thousands of jobs, but you’ve only got one life. Get out.