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   Thoughtscape: Thoughts and Tips from Mike Clayton


Issue 12

  Banish Rage:
Five things to do if your cork's about to pop
    News and views



Dear %1

National Stress Awareness Day is coming up (2 November).  This is a chance to think about how to help your staff develop greater resilience to the stresses and strains of work.  I am busy updating my talk: "It ain't the Stress that does the Damage" which focuses on how to regain a sense of control in a stressful environment and build your personal resilience. 
More details in the column to the right.

When the pressure builds up, you can move, inch by inch, closer to to an outbreak of rage.  The Zen teacher Bankei was asked by a pupil how to cure rage, so he asked the pupil to show it to him. The pupil said that he could not - the rage came unexpectedly, at any time.  Bankei concluded that, since the pupil did not have it when he was born, and could not summon it when he wanted it; it could not be a part of his true nature.

You can usually spot the warning signs of anger or rage as it starts to build up in you.  It's time to act before it's too late and your calm Jekyll becomes a raging Ms or Mr Hyde.

1. Breathe Deeply
It is amazing how powerful this simplest of actions is, and there are two very good physiological reasons:

  • First, when you get agitated your breathing becomes shallower and faster.  Deepening and slowing your breathing sends signals to your brain to indicate calm.

  • Second, the deep breaths bring more oxygen to your brain.  It starts to work better and you get a truer perspective on events and your options.

2. Smile
This is another way to send a signal to your brain that all is well.  If you literally put a smile on your face, you will find it physically harder to be angry and your brain will further damp down the fires of rage.

3. Get some Perspective
It's easily said, but essential to do.  Rage is triggered by a feeling of hurt or injustice, but these things are rarely one sided.  Use the SCOPE process to make an objective review of the situation.  Compel yourself to gather the facts and start to analyse them.  This will divert attention from the emotional parts of your brain to the rational parts.

4. Change your Shoes
Not literally, of course - although I suspect that taking time to do that would indeed calm your rage; especially if you are a shoe-lover.

If your rage is directed at another person, or you think that someone else has caused it, step into their shoes for a while. Try and see the world as they see it, and you may start to understand that their motivations are quite reasonable.

5. Activate your Monty Python Organ
If all else fails, look for the absurdity in the situation. Much of the humour in Monty Python, for example, was predicated on the absurdity other people's rage.  Use your imagination to see how anger is not just unconstructive, but absurd. 

Defuse your rage by imagining the people around you as clumsy clowns.  Picture  them with red noses and green hair, in baggy trousers or spotty underwear.

You Know how important it is
Sitting calmly reading this, you know how futile anger can be and how destructive rage is.  Practice thinking of something that gets you mad and then take a deep breath, and smile.  Practice visualising others in a ridiculous way and start to make a habit of seeing situations, not just from your own point of view but from two others - an objective fly-on-the-wall and from other people's perspective. 

Think how powerful it would be if your knee-jerk response to an insult, a stupidity or a crass action were to breath deeply, smile, and remain calm.

Brilliant Stress Management is out now,
and selling fast on Amazon and in bookshops.

See www.brilliantstressmanagement.co.uk for details, or buy from Amazon.

"Risk Happens! Managing Risk and Avoiding Failure in Business Projects" was also published over the summer and is essential reading for anyone managing a project.


Vic is a project manager who contacted me via the Brilliant Project Leader website, to say:

"I am just halfway through reading "Risk Happens!" and I would like to say what a great book it is! Compelling reading and I can't put it down (between contracts at the moment).

I am am a PM of 10+ years standing and I have never found such a concise read on risk management that provided so much valuable information."

Thank you Vic.

See www.riskhappens.co.uk for details,
or buy from Amazon.


Shift Happens! 
Recent highlights from my Change, Project and Risk Management Blog

Brilliant Project leader - due out in November - is already picking up advance sales, so I thought I'd highlight some recent posts from my Shift Happens! blog.


Time Management Articles on
Top Business Sites

I am pleased that my articles on time management are starting to appear on some of the most prestigious business websites:

  • smarta.com has
    "How to Conquer Procrastination"

  • SMEweb has "Overcome Overwhelm"

  • bytestart has "How to successfully manage your time via the OATS method"

If you know of any high quality site that would like an article, do let me know.  Perhaps these are, in part, responsible for the excellent sales of Brilliant Time Management over the summer - currently my best selling book.

See www.Brilliant-TimeManagement.com for more details, or buy a copy from Amazon.



Stress Management

Brilliant Stress Management is selling well.  I was pleased to see it at eye level in the entrance to WH Smith at Waterloo, and more pleased still to see fewer copies the next day. 

I was less pleased a week later to see they had sold out and not replenished stock.  Amazon's supply chain never sleeps!

Brilliant Stress Management
Order Here

Brilliant Stress Management grew out of a seminar and keynote called:  "It ain't the Stress that does the Damage"This seminar is not available as an open event, because promoters find that few people are willing to go to their boss for funding to go to a seminar about stress. 

So it is only available as an in-house seminar - in 90 minutes to 3 hour formats.  The focus is on building the resilience to thrive in a stressful environment.  Contact me for details of how to book  "It ain't the Stress that does the Damage" or its companion seminar: "More than just survival: Thriving in times of Change".


Top Tip for Authors

If you are an author, you can track sales of your books on Amazon (drop me a line and I'll show you an app for that - works on your PC or iPhone).  But you can only do it once a copy has sold. 

So, thank you to someone for being the first to pre-order Brilliant Project Leader.  The current publication date is 18 November, and Amazon has a healthy pre-publication discount, with their pre-order price guarantee.

Brilliant Project Leader
18 November

This is an amplification of my Practical Project Management Seminar.  It is a great complement to...

Risk Happens!
Managing Risk and Avoiding Failure in Business Projects

Risk Happens! is accessible to new project managers, yet has tools and resources that will give experienced hands new ideas too.  It includes 60 invaluable tables and checklists, and 57 figures and diagrams. There is a full list on the Risk Happens! website, along with free downloads of risk management tools.


The Three-hour MBA

"Effective, promising, challenging and
downright useful"

I have been rolling out my new seminar, The Three-hour MBA, in London and Manchester - and am off to Birmingham on Thursday.  It's been a great success with some cracking feedback, and I am now taking bookings for in-house seminars.  There are more open dates in November, too.

"A lot of information in a short space of time but
delivered superbly that
made it manageable."

November Seminar Dates
 The Three-hour MBA (afternoons) along with
Brilliant Time Management (mornings), in November:

  • 17 November:

  • London
    RIBA in Portland Place

  • 22 November: Manchester
    Renaissance Hotel

  • 23 November: Birmingham
    Copthorne Hotel

Practical Project Management (morning) and
Risk Happens! Control Risk and Avoid Failure in Organisational Projects (afternoon), November:

  • 1 November:
    Renaissance Hotel
  • 2 November:

    Copthorne Hotel

  • 3 November:

    Reading Lake Hotel

  • 10 November:

    RIBA in Portland Place

you can book onto any of these events by calling 01227 252100. There is a calendar on my website, where you can see all of the dates.


Stronger Impact
Colleague Angela Marshall of Appearance Management and I are disappointed that a number of last minute cancellations have forced us to cancel this seminar.  Thank you to everyone who booked, and apologies.


My focus this year ...
... is on writing, responding to press enquiries, and new speaking engagements.  If you know a conference organiser who is looking for an engaging speaker with great testimonials, please do send them to my website: www.mikeclayton.co.uk.  If you need a speaker now, just contact me using the links below, or the contact form on my website.  You can download my speaker pack here.

Best regards


I recognise you get a lot of email and I don't want to add unwanted inbox clutter.  I intend to give useful tips and thoughts, but if you don't wish to get any more, I will understand, so just click the "no more emails" link and they'll stop.

Many thanks

    Please contact me ...
... mike@mikeclayton.co.uk
... Tel: 08456 441349
... www.mikeclayton.co.uk
... on Twitter @mikeclayton01

no more emails
Mike Clayton, 2011