You Just Don’t Know How Strong You Are


Sometimes we just don’t understand how resourceful we are. In business the majority of us have focus, goals, aims and ambitions. Every now and again though life happens. These aims fall to the bottom of our list of priorities as we focus on other challenges that take place. It feels like we are fighting the battle every day.

I recently worked with a client who had been going through their own set of challenges. A hugely successful business owner had been stopped in his tracks by life events. Family problems and becoming over run with issues in the business had compounded to bring a unique set of challenging circumstances.

Our coaching centred on the business challenges and we’d meet regularly to discuss goals. When it became apparent he was becoming over run with other concerns it was time to get down to basics. It became apparent that his personal horizons were changing on a daily basis and so it became hard to do anything with the longer term in mind. Instead we worked on setting some short term goals; goals designed to get him from one month to the next, one day to the next.

Two days before an upcoming coaching meeting I received a phone call. “Paul, I’m really sorry but I think we should postpone, I don’t think I’ve done anything that we talked about last time and things have been very difficult this last month.”

“If you want to rearrange that’s fine but it might help just to have a catch up anyway. Forget the goals for now, let’s just meet for a coffee and go through what’s been happening in the business.”

So we met up and started talking. From the look on my clients face I could immediately tell he was actually relieved to be away from everything else and having a chance to unload. It’s always the job of the coach to provide non-judgemental listening with and empathetic approach, now more than ever.

I knew what the goals we’d spoken about previously were, so hidden into the conversation I happened to drop some questions indirectly related to these. I made a mental note of the progress.

As we came towards the end of the conversation I fed back my mental notes. “Do you realise that during the last month, without realising, you’ve hit all those goals that we discussed last month.” I then held the mirror up and repeated back what he’d told me. He was amazed.

We are a resilient breed. Programmed into many of us the ability to keep going when the chips are down. You’ll be amazed just what you can achieve even when you are struggling. It’s in our DNA, sometimes just some positive reinforcement is all we need to realise just how capable we are.

Have you ever beaten the odds to achieve a goal? Do you know someone who has carried on going despite challenges? I’d love to hear from you.


As a professional offering Leadership Coaching in Lancashire I would love to hear from you to have a no-obligation chat over coffee to discuss how we might work together on achieving more of your personal and business goals.


Growing Your Business


Let’s Not Over-Complicate It

OK, here’s a scenario of starting in business. Let’s use the age old example of widgets.

In month one you create 1000 widgets and sell them for £1000.

You want growth.

In month two you make 2000 widgets and sell them for £2000.

Between month one and two you’ve had growth.

In month 3 you sell £3000 worth and hey, growth again.

We live in an age defined by rapid growth. Nowadays someone can have an idea and before they know it they are getting seven digit sums of seed capital thrown in by wealthy investors. The problem is for many would-be entrepreneurs it gives the impression that you can’t have a business without such backing. I think this is especially true for young entrepreneurs.

We all have great ideas. These are the ideas that come to us when we are laid in bed a night, thinking before we go to sleep. You’ve been thinking about that problem you keep having. You hit on a solution. You realise you can make something to fix it. Hang on… you could make thousands of these things and you can sell them. Everyone will want one. You’ve just opened a factory. Now you’re exporting. Wait a minute, international blue chips are now looking to buy your business, your idea is about to make you a million…. No wait… a billionaire.

Then you wake up the next morning. Guess what? You don’t do it. You just go back to work. That great idea remains just that. An idea. You think it will never grow without some investment.

I was speaking to a friend last week, a motorcycle enthusiast. He’d made a part for his bike, a brilliant piece of kit, from scratch. He wanted to produce it but guess what… he said he needed too much investment for machines and materials.

“Why do you need investment? You haven’t even sold one yet?” I asked.

Don’t be put off by growth. Growth starts by selling one. Then two, then three and so on. It’s great to have the long term plan but break it down into small steps, otherwise you risk the plan being so big you freeze.

Remember the first step is the one most people don’t take.


I’m Paul Aisthorpe, a Business Growth Coach, Mentor and Trainer with Imaginative Coaching. I work with businesses in Lancashire and the North West on growth strategies and aligning your team behind those strategies. If you are looking for a Business Coach in Lancashire or would like to find out more about the benefits of working with a Business Coach please contact me at

Knowing Yourself for Leadership


Is self-awareness the most important criteria of becoming a leader? Possibly not.

Are all good leaders self-aware? Not necessarily.

Does self-awareness make you a better leader? YES.

Leaders who know themselves are better equipped to manage the relationships around them, grow their businesses and make effective decisions.

It takes grace, intellect and foresight to make statements like that of Steve Jobs (pictured) but above all else great self-awareness. In a commercial environment understanding what you are good at, but more importantly not so good at, can allow you the opportunity to bring in good people to support growth.

That’s not where self-awareness ends. We are all different. Having knowledge of your own personality and how you respond to people can help you to manage personal relationships more effectively.

I recently worked with an entrepreneurial leader in a rapidly growing business. Like most entrepreneurs his thought process was on a different level, always thinking of the next growth plan. However detail and day to day challenges were not his forte. Recognise this?

In an environment regulated by compliance he needed a highly focussed ‘details’ person who could support the company’s compliance. The only problem was this approach to detail could provide a stumbling block to his ‘act fast think later’ approach. Such issues could lead to a fractured relationship.

Fortunately we identified this before the recruitment. Subsequently we did some work to allow the leader to get to know himself and identify the attributes in others that he may need to develop new relationship management strategies for. The entrepreneur successfully adapted his management style and the way he approached conversations with his new recruit allowed him to bring the best out of that relationship.

Steve Jobs was right. If you want growth get self-aware and bring in the smart people who’ll do it for you.


I’m Paul Aisthorpe, a Business Coach in Lancashire working with some of the County’s Leaders of tomorrow. Please inbox me to find out how I can help prepare you for leadership. If you like this article please share it with your community.

How well do you know yourself?

Self Awareness

We can all stand back and be quite blasé about understanding ourselves. ‘I’d never do that,’ ‘That’s right up my street,’ ‘I’m such a good judge of character.’ They’re all things we’ve said and thought at one time or another. Perhaps its human nature to believe so strongly that we understand ourselves.

As you move up a career ladder, especially one that is characterised by successive promotions in early stages, it can often become natural to think that such progression will continue. I find it in sales and marketing in particular. People often start to think that they are almost invincible, that the sky is the limit them suddenly they stop. The career plateaus. Results don’t get better any more.

You’ve spent all that time believing what other people have said that you’ve not taken the chance to actually do the important thing – REFLECT ON YOURSELF.

The people I know that have been very successful consistently have had self-awareness; they know their blind spots. For those that have plateaued they have reached a point and stopped. Their performance today has been excellent but perhaps they’ve only concentrated on what they’ve been good at.

Companies will often pay lip service to personal development and why shouldn’t they? You are performing well, they tell you that you are great. Why would they tell you were your blind spots lie, risking upsetting you and you leaving? You are profitable in the here and now, that’s what matters.

And the truth is why should it be someone else’s responsibility? It’s your career. I’ve worked with a lady recently who had to do some soul searching as this had happened to her. Her career had stalled at senior management. She had worked in the role for three years expecting in internal promotion to department head. When the time came however she was overlooked by someone who the organisation thought was better equipped to be a leader.

In our conversations there was some deep questions and some regrets. She asked herself why no-one had told her previously about this lack of skills, and why she hadn’t done anything about it. Leadership was her blind-spot.

Once we realised this however it gave us the opportunity to realign her personal brand and her CV to make sure that in 12 months she would be ready for the move. Suitable courses were identified and a project came up at work to lead a dynamic team for a change initiative.

Understanding ourselves is the key to understanding others and what they think of us. Then we can start to take ownership of our own actions and fit them into the world around us. 

Believe me, your ability to be able to hold the mirror and reflect on yourself could well be the greatest skill you will ever develop.

Did this article help you to reflect? If so, feel free to e-mail me, comment on Linked In or get in touch.


I’m Paul Aisthorpe, a leading Business Coach in Lancashire working with Corporates, SMEs and one man operations to develop leaders of the future.

What Happens if You Dont?

As a Business Coach one of the most rewarding moments of any relationship is ‘The Lightbulb Moment.’ This is the moment when the coachee makes a realisation; suddenly the clouds have parted and the path is clear. You can physically see and hear the change. Body language shoots up, tone of voice changes, eyes widen and the coachee becomes alive. Sometimes it’s the simplest question that encourages this.

For the last three months I’ve been working with an Area Sales Manager* of a business that provides B2B support services. A rapid career trajectory stalled a few years ago as family commitments took priority however, as his children have started school and his wife has gone back to work he was ready to realign his career goals. He enlisted my help with this.

At first we discussed goals and how his relationship with his employer had changed. He felt he’d fallen behind some of the people he was competing with for promotion and his personal brand had suffered. He also talked about moving company to further his career.

As the coach though I felt something was missing, as if there was something that I hadn’t been told.

After our second session we parted with the coachee having some actions to look into opportunities elsewhere in the field. When we met for our third session I asked how he’d followed through with these. He hadn’t. I asked what had stopped him from pursuing this. His response was time and that he wasn’t convinced he wanted to leave. At this point I knew I needed to investigate this relationship between him and the company further.

As I asked a story came out. Ten months earlier a major prospect that he’d been courting for over a year had become disillusioned with their supplier. My client smelt a deal in the air. He set to work and within 3 months had signed the customer on a 2 year contract securing his company a hefty income. Everyone in the company celebrated the achievement and things were looking up. Just a couple of months later he’d applied for a promotion to a Regional Sales Director role. On the crest of a wave he felt confident in getting the job but was pipped to the post by an external. He received feedback but was very disappointed.

The conversations from the previous sessions, the goals we’d talk about all became a side issue. The real problem was how he’d been overlooked.

Do you recognise these feelings?

The focus of our conversation changed to this challenge. How would he get passed this problem? The emotional contract between him and his employer was suddenly fractured. No one else had tried to address it and he’d said nothing. I asked him what he could do.

“I’ve thought about so many things I could do. Some days I just want to walk in and tell them where to stick the job. Then I remember how good they’ve been in the past and I’m self-critical so I think maybe it’s my own fault. But maybe I need to say something to my boss.”

At that point I referred to one of the most challenging yet simplest questions in a coach’s locker:

“What happens if you don’t?”

The moment of clarity. The clouds started to disappear.

So what would happen if he didn’t? He’ll continue to feel down. He’ll amble through a job search trying to find something different. He might get to a point of asking ‘what if?’

Take a moment to think. Have you got a key challenge coming up? What will happen if you don’t take action? Can you remember having a challenge and taking no action? What happened when you didn’t?

After that my client and I worked on how he could present a case to his manager to help further his cause. We established goals and identified a win-win situation which made him feel far more comfortable and started to repair the relationship with the employer. Sometimes just having the objectionable view point of a third party coach can be the catalyst to help you take action to achieve your goals.

I’ve worked with this client successfully and many more like him and I want to work with you to. To find out how I can help you to achieve your goals get in touch today. Alternatively you can follow me on Twitter @ICoachingLTD.

*Identities are protected for client confidentiality purposes.

One Small Step for Woman….

Last Sunday was International Women’s Day with the theme of Make It Happen. The day in particular honours the work of the Suffragettes all those years ago who earned the right to vote for women. Of course the right to vote has long since been achieved and today the fight for equality comes in the corridors of power in the commercial world. There is no doubt that there is still a long way to go but is the world starting to take note and do you feel a wind of change?

Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook is one of the most inspirational women in business across the World. As well as a formidable career studying at Harvard and working for the Democratic Party, McKinsey Consulting and Google, Sandberg has launched her own book Lean In advising women on how to be more confident in their careers and pursue their goals.

In the UK we have prominent women who have led the way with entrepreneurial flair. Karren Brady, Martha Lane Fox and Michelle Mone are inspirational role models who have led incredibly successful careers against the odds.

There is more good news in that some prominent male leaders in the corporate world are starting to speak out in favour of women moving into the boardroom and finding equality in industry. Richard Branson wrote an article recently about the importance of note taking throughout his career and pointed out the lack of other men taking notes, particularly in meetings. He highlighted the assumption that such tasks were often seen as ‘Office Housework’ and therefore left for women to pick up. He himself proceeded to take minutes in meetings and recommended other males in the business to do the same.

At the weekend Vodafone announced new policies in the way it addresses maternity support for its female staff across the globe. Women account for 35% of the overall staff team in the company however only 21% make it to senior leadership positions. In a bid to retain more female staff in the business Vodafone has increased its support through maternity leave by offering women full pay for the first 16 weeks as well as allowing women to return to work on full pay with reduced hours and part time work following maternity breaks.

In the modern day Vodafone are really leading the way with their treatment of female staff to ensure that working conditions benefit life stages rather than seeing maternity as something that should be a hindrance to career development. Adjusting their policies to suit the families of employees is refreshing.

Closer to home, as a regular networker it’s always great to see more and more women in attendance at networking events and becoming involved with a wealth of new business and start-up activities. According to Prowess Women in Business women make up about a third of all self-employed people in the UK but since the recession represent over half of all new start-ups. This is great news for enterprise in general and the UK’s economic prosperity. In the North-West networking groups such as Pink Ladies are managing great events and underlining the important role women play in our region’s growth.

It’s a shame that we still have to refer to women in business as still being an ‘issue’ and change may take more than instigating new policies in the boardrooms and networks of the country’s businesses. Indeed such issues still permeate our culture in general but acknowledging as the Suffragettes did all those years ago helps us to move forward. If the winds of change continue to gain momentum then hopefully soon equality and parity in the boardroom may become the norm.

If you are a business owner looking to support more women to develop leadership skills in your business why not give me a call to see how coaching can help harness leadership qualities.

Creating a Commercially Aware Sales Force

Imagine the scenario:

The Sales Rep has completed a great new order – a long term rental agreement for some office equipment. The new client that’s come on board brings a significant amount of income and the achievement is celebrated across the team. The regional manager is impressed that the rep has brought in such a long held target which they’ve been courting for a while.

The paperwork is transferred to the administration team who upload details of the new client to the company CRM. Services are paid for over a number of months but whilst undertaking some standard credit checks there are some issues flagged up. Fortunately the Regional Manager overrules them and continues with the new client’s application.

An order is passed to the warehouse who send product out to the new client. Upfront payments are taken through customer services and a direct debit set up for ongoing services.

The Sales Rep gets a very healthy pay check that month……. then disaster strikes.

The company goes bust a few short weeks later. The direct debit fails after the first month. The company goes into administration and all the product, agreed on a long term credit basis is lost as the property is stripped of all assets. The sales rep commission is clawed back by the company, the man hours utilised add up to the thousands of pounds and people’s reputations lie in tatters.


All too often I’ve seen similar scenarios take place in businesses I’ve worked for and with. Sales and cash income are the lifeblood of a business. Like the company that went bust once the source of cash is gone the house of cards can collapse overnight.

Bearing in mind the sum total of all the assets expended on capturing that sale it is so often the case that you would be better off not chasing the target at all. How would a sales rep know when and how to chase the right targets?

Commercial Awareness

Commercial awareness or business acumen are terms which are abundantly used these days but quite often misunderstood. Individuals with commercial awareness have a strong understanding of how and why a business makes (or loses) money, and understands the factors that contribute holistically to this. The stronger the commercial awareness the better placed you are to make informed decisions on sustainable customer relationships.

So many great sales reps are driven towards income, often focussing more on the potential short-term returns rather than long term sustainability. To this end ensuring that you organically create a sales team that brings in the commercially astute business could mean reflecting on the culture of your business. Does it support or gravitate towards sustainable business? Is the focus on quick wins or long term relationships? This is a start point for developing the sales force.

There is also a long term question of personal development. Becoming commercially aware is not something that will happen overnight. Commercial awareness takes time to build up and can only come from training and experience. How might a job be designed to support developing sales staff to become more commercially astute?

The rest of the business relies on the sales revenue to keep the company above water and drive success. 21st century changes in consumer behaviour and choice mean that sales and relationships have to become even stronger to ensure sustained success. A big part of that is making sure you are doing business with the right people.

What are your thoughts on raising the standards of commercial awareness in business? Do you think it is an overlooked quality or have you seen similar circumstances? I’d love to hear from you.

Do Great Salespeople make Great Sales Leaders?

**Over the next few weeks I’ll be looking specifically at some of the challenges faced by sales teams. By understanding some of these challenges leaders can make better informed decisions regarding staff teams and personnel.**

Let’s face it; working in sales can be a tough gig. Perform well and you are the superstar but others can get jealous. If you don’t perform well enough your job is under threat and you get micromanaged. You are sometimes seen as bullish or boisterous and your colleagues in different departments might think you get away with cutting corners because you bring the income.  

There can be a lot of pressure on sales people from the company though. I’ve seen numerous instances of great sales people getting promoted to line manager and leadership roles as a result of their incredible sales achievements. However the toolkit for being a great salesperson is different from that of a great leader.

It’s easy to see why successful sales people are promoted in such a way. It’s a bit like professional sport. The guy was a soccer star so should be a great manager or coach but as we know that isn’t always the case.

Have you seen this happen in your business? Did the move succeed or fail?

That said there are challenges at the opposite end of the spectrum. For example, what if you are promoted into a leadership role in a competitive sales environment but you have no track record of personally having sold. Is your potential capability as a leader enough? Would lack the credibility to line manager a group of hungry sales reps if you personally had never sold?

Once again using the sport analogy; just because you never played top class sports does not mean you won’t make it as a coach.

Have you seen examples of people promoted to lead sales teams and questioned their track record of closing sales?

One of the things I alluded to earlier was a tendency for great sales people to be promoted due to their success. Therefore when it comes to developing a team they themselves become the mould for which other sales staff should fit into. For people who adapt this approach it can become frustrating to see other sales staff not behaving the way that you want them to which in turn can cause challenges. “We’ve tried it your way and it wasn’t working well enough so now I want you to do it my way and see how it goes.”

How successful is this approach? Is it a short term fix unsustainable in the long term?

The reality is that one of the key components for success and great leadership comes from the ability to be able to empower people. Do all salespeople sell in the same way? There more than one way to skin a cat. The ability to accept that people do their jobs differently and empower them to be the best they can be in their own way shows real character in a leader.

If you are a top sales performer or a business leader with great sales staff earmarked for future leadership roles, it is worth planning early what personal development needs to take place to make the transition from sales staff to sales leader. A track record will help to provide credibility but the rounded skill set will ensure you have wider leadership capabilities.

How do you ensure great sales staff make the transition to great leader?

Are you a business owner looking to develop your sales staff organically to become future leaders but unsure where to start? Get in touch for a one to one on how to make the transition happen.


Understanding Your Relationship with Money

In last week’s blog we looked at how different people approach their relationship with money and split them into four different categories; spenders, savers, wealth planners and idealists. Extreme approaches can be challenging and seeking a balance is advisable. However if you have more of an understanding of your natural tendencies it may be easier to make career decisions that help you to achieve harmony.


It’s easy to advise, like a parent, how someone should approach their relationship with money. That’s not what I want to do here. However what I do want to do is look at how, for each of the different types of people, career decisions can be made to support intrinsic value.




We identified that spenders are the people who like the latest gadgets, fashions or spend on living a life of good times without worrying about the bill. If this is you the challenge might be living from month to month with little to fall back on. You’ll run the risk of spending before the month ends and God forbid you lose your source of income.


How does your career plan match your spending? Are you working in a job that supports your outgoings? If not it’s worth considering a plan that can help you to achieve more money. As a coach I believe in the value of identifying, setting and achieving goals. The important thing is that you understand how spending money ranks in importance to all the other things that are going on in your life. There are industries and jobs out there that can provide high incomes. Understanding and formulating a plan to get such a career will perhaps provide you with the harmony you need.


Alternatively you could look at how you might spend less and save more. Working to understand your motives and goals and you could find the pitfalls of being a spender can be eradicated. This will allow you to concentrate on seeking fulfilment in your career.




Over the last few years hoarding has been highlighted in the press with various TV shows about people with compulsive conditions. Those with extreme hoarding disorders should be directed for professional support.


The people that have an inclination towards saving, rather than a compulsion, may find that they have a fear of spending due to the risk of having nothing. From a career point of view the amount of money you earn may not play as much of a factor as the security of knowing you have a constant income. How does your career currently match up to this?


Temping and project based work may provide you challenges due the risks of losing your job so focussing on permanent roles would be preferable. How much do you enjoy the job that you do? When we don’t enjoy our jobs it can show and longer term become unsustainable for you and the company. It’s a good idea to look at the career options that may be available which would make you happy, and in turn improve your longer term prospects.


Wealth Planners


Last week we talked about wealth planners who believe wealth will be the cure to many of their problems. As we mentioned though this can often be something that covers other issues in establishing harmony in life and work.


It’s easy to mix wealth and spending. Quite often when we think wealth we think flashy cars and big houses but how often do you hear about millionaires and billionaires that spend frugally in order to retain their wealth. Does your spending align with your desire for wealth?


In order to attain wealth in assets or money are you willing to make sacrifices elsewhere and what are those sacrifices? Is it really wealth that you want or is the freedom that wealth could bring? If so which other areas of your life could you adjust to start providing you with more freedom today? At what point in your life will you have wealth and how will your career path help you to achieve the wealth that you are looking for?




Finally we touched on idealists, those people who rebel against money and the system to such a degree that they almost seek to live a life completely off the grid. The issue is that no matter how hard we try there are always things to be paid for. What happens when you constantly become reliant on other people to supply that money for you?


As an idealist what are the things that motivate you and where do you achieve this in life? Do you barter, grow your own food and use other ways of ensuring that harmony in your life is being fulfilled? In your job are you working towards a charitable goal or working in a company where profit is the bottom line?


Next Steps


A balance between your career goals and relationship with money is certainly achievable. It may take some time to identify a plan and start to work towards it but persistent endeavour will ensure you reach your goals. By understanding how changes in your life can impact your overall harmony you can reach a point where money is well and truly the slave and you are its master.


If you want support in your quest to make money your slave give me a call today.

The Relationship with Money

“Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants.” – Benjamin Franklin

We’ve probably all heard somewhere in the past that money doesn’t create happiness and some studies have suggested that increased wealth does not always result in increased happiness or wellbeing.

For anyone who reads the Sunday Times business section they have a weekly interview with various glitterati from the Boardrooms of the country. One question these people are often asked is whether or not money motivates them. Invariably the answer tends to revolve around money being a barometer of success rather than a motivating factor.

However many people looking at those role models can be forgiven for thinking, “That’s ok for you to say on your six figure salary with bonus but my council tax and lecky (sic) bill isn’t going to pay itself.”

There is no avoiding money and unless you have gone off the grid completely income and expenditure are facts of life. That said the relationship you have with money does not have to be something that constrains you. By understanding more about yourself and the relationship you have you can make decisions about your life and career which will ultimately lead to a more rounded sense of harmony.

Our relationships with money often come as a result of conditioning throughout life. The types of environments we grew up in, our families approach to money, competitiveness with friends and colleagues and other factors all contribute to our approach to money. There are some common approaches to relationships with money:

Spenders/Thrill Seekers

Spenders are the type of people for whom money is a vehicle for buying things that they believe will make them happy; a new car, latest television, a night out for themselves and friends. Quite often they will live from month to month awaiting the next pay check.


Extreme savers have a tendency to focus very much on stockpiling money to provide safety and security financially, often out of fear of uncertainty. They could be fearful of the implications of having no money and therefore limit their spending significantly, preferring to live as if poor.

Wealth Planners

Some people see the amassing of wealth as the be all and end all, focussing on money for the sake of building assets. Underneath this is perhaps the feeling that wealth will solve all their problems. This in itself can become obsessive and something that is there to cover up inadequacies elsewhere.


Idealists often rebel against the monetary system and hate the impact that money has on society in general. Quite often these people will sacrifice wealth or money in general to live a life with less focus on material possessions. Their enjoyment may come from non-material happiness in life however living this way could means foregoing very basic possessions due to a lack of money.

Of course we don’t all fit exactly into one box or another and our habits can be different dependent on circumstances and life stage, but by having some idea about the types of relationships people have with money we can start to reflect on our own habits. From this reflection it becomes easier to see how money fits into the wider picture of our lives and we can start to balance it with other motivations to achieve harmony. Next week we’ll look at some questions that will help us discovery the motivations behind our spending habits and other ways we can address these fundamental needs.

Has this made you think about your relationship with money? How do you see money in the grand scheme of your life and what role does it play? I’d like to know more on your thoughts so please comment.

In the meantime if you want to know more about how you can achieve harmony between your career and your relationship with money then give me a call.