The worst and most unhelpful quote you’ll ever read

I don’t get annoyed so much these days. My road rage is a thing of the past and I gave up stressing about the state of my daughter’s bedroom years ago. But a quote a friend posted on instagram recently did annoy me. It went as follows:

‘What does it feel like to be so weak that mere words hurt you?’

You see, I don’t subscribe to the motto ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.’ Try telling that to someone being bullied at school, home, or their place of work.

Words are powerful. Words change worlds. They can damage and devastate, but equally they can inspire and motivate.

Please don’t fool yourself that they don’t matter. They do.

I had to have a rather dodgy looking mole on my body checked out recently. My doctor was worried about it. Imagine how I felt when I heard the words of the consultant after the examination.

‘It’s not malignant.’

Even though the words were positive I still felt emotional hearing them.

So be more mindful of the words you use, not just with others but also with yourself. Of course we need to challenge and be critical when necessary, but allow space for kinder, more compassionate conversations too.

Words matter. Massively.

Until next time.


The SUMO Guy

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The game you’re guaranteed to lose

Now if you’re an England football fan reading this, you’re probably already thinking you know the game they’re guaranteed to lose.

When England play Germany.

And it goes to penalties.

But I was thinking of a different one.

It’s when you play the comparison game.

That’s the one you’ll always lose.

Perhaps rather than comparing ourselves with others (which the influence of social media seems to exacerbate) we’d be best served by focusing on being the best version of ourselves instead.

And that’s it.

Be the best version of you and make sure you’re having some fun in the process.

That seems a far more worthwhile game to play.

And it’s one you can win.


Enjoy the summer if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, have a good winter, safe in the knowledge that it’s still probably warmer than an English summer.

Not that I’m comparing.

Have fun.


The SUMO Guy

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Ever encountered a TOAT?

I’m sure most people don’t wake up in the morning and intentionally think ‘Who can I annoy today?’

To some people it just comes naturally.

An individual who I can find to be particularly annoying is what I affectionately call a TOAT. They’re people who Talk Only About Themselves.

You rarely have a conversation with a TOAT. It’s more like attending a one man (or woman) show, where the spotlight is solely on them and you are merely the audience. You end up knowing a lot about them – but it’s unlikely they know much about you.

Now I understand that for a lot of people their favourite subject can be themselves. But perhaps it would benefit our relationships with others if we at times withdrew from centre stage and allowed someone else the spotlight.

You see, TOATs have one big problem. They lack self awareness. Maybe they’re blessed with friends who are good listeners, or whose lives are less exciting than theirs.


But I’ve yet to come across a relationship that wouldn’t have benefitted from some mutual sharing, and where listening isn’t just simply waiting for your turn to talk.

Maybe we’ve all fallen into the trap of being a TOAT at times. I know I have. But hopefully it’s only occasionally.

I don’t want to make a career of it.

What about you?

Remember to share the spotlight.


The SUMO Guy

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A foolproof way to avoid criticism

A bit like my physical stature, I’ll be fairly short this month (clearly my physical stature is fairly short every month).

The more I experience life (nearly 53 years on the planet now), and whoever I work with, in whatever country, I’ve come to the following conclusion.

If you want to avoid criticism it’s simple. Be bland. Be boring. And blend in. If you want to stand out and make a difference, be bold. 

Whatever time I have on this planet I’ve decided I don’t want to skim over the surface of life, pussyfooting around in the hope I don’t offend people. What legacy is that?

Give me living life boldly any day.

Of course I’ll mess up on occasions, and maybe upset (however unintentionally) a few people along the way. But hey, it’s better than the alternative.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Until next time, remember to be bold.


The SUMO Guy

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Is it time for the Drama Queen to abdicate?

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Ever heard phrases such as these?

‘It’s a total nightmare.’

‘I’ve had the day from hell.’

My guess is that if you have it wasn’t because you’ve been working in a refugee camp or delivering foreign aid to a war torn country – you’ve simply been eavesdropping on conversations at work.

It does seem that increasing numbers of people have developed a taste for the melodramatic. But so what if they have.. it’s not doing them any harm is it?

Well, actually it might be.

Creating mountains out of molehills can make us lose perspective. Our internal and external conversations can actually fuel our anxiety and ultimately disempower us.

Life throws enough challenges at us as it is, but if we’re not careful, how we frame these challenges and talk about them can weaken our ability to tackle them.

Yes, I realise there are days from hell, and nightmare scenarios, but thankfully for most people these are rare.

So let’s not create a drama and a crisis out of a situation that, at worst, is probably only tricky or challenging.

And if you are going to abdicate from the role of drama queen, perhaps take up the part of the hero. Most plays only have one hero… but I prefer David Bowie’s take on this:

We can be heroes.’

You see, it’s the small daily actions and decisions each one of us make that will ultimately make a positive difference. And no rehearsals are required.


Looking for a speaker for your next conference or event?

Do check out my website: to discover the impact my services can have on your organisation. Especially this page.

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Are you suffering from the effects of passive moaning?

A friend once said to me, ‘I don’t know why people moan – it never changes anything.’

I was inclined to agree. Whilst having a moan can help get things off your chest, perpetual moaning without actually ever taking action never results in any change.

And on one level I still believe that.

But I’ve also come to realise this.

Continual moaning does change something extremely significant.

It changes you.

You see, what I think and talk about on a regular basis will affect how I feel. That’s why recalling a positive memory from the past can cheer you up in the present.

Likewise, thinking and talking about something negative will also affect you.

The reality is that in some cases we can be the biggest sources of our own misery. And all because of what we choose to think and talk about.

And moaning doesn’t just change you. It can affect those around you – the people you live and work with.

We’ve become aware of the dangers of passive smoking, but be aware we can equally be affected by passive moaning.

So a good old moan occasionally is probably healthy and helpful. But when it becomes a daily habit you’re not just damaging yourself, but others around you too.

Until next time.


The SUMO Guy

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Ever been crushed by criticism?

I was once running a public seminar and a small group of attendees approached me about a particularly tricky member of their team. In a nutshell, they wanted my advice on how best to deal with this person.

My first question was ‘Well what have you done so far?’

Their reply staggered me.

‘Well we’ve tried the obvious.’

‘The obvious?’ I enquired.

‘Yeah – we’ve tried humiliation. But that didn’t work.’

Just think for a moment. I wonder what it was like to be on the receiving end of such an approach?

Giving feedback is a skill, particularly if it needs to be challenging and could be labelled ‘criticism.’

I’ve certainly had my fair share of criticism over the years, and I’ll be honest – it’s never easy to receive.

However, the danger is that when we receive criticism we react in two extremely unhelpful ways.

Either we simply choose to ignore it and dismiss it immediately, or we obsess about it to the point that it can become debilitating.

In my book Self Confidence I offer some advice on some questions to reflect on when you receive criticism. I appreciate a lot depends on the context of how and when the criticism is given, but I hope at least one of the following proves to be of value to you:

  • What were the other person’s motives for giving it?
  • Can I understand their perspective?
  • Which, if any, of the criticism was valid?
  • How defensive was I when receiving the criticism?
  • What can I learn from both the criticism and how I responded to it?
  • Would it be appropriate to thank my critic for their comments?

Giving challenging feedback is never easy. And some people do an appalling job of it.

Likewise, it can be hard to be criticised no matter how well intentioned it may be. But simply dismissing it or obsessing over it can be equally damaging.

Remember, criticism could be one of the greatest gifts you receive. Just make sure you handle it with care.

Until next time.


The SUMO Guy

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Twelve Nuggets of Wisdom For 2017

If you’re like me you get bombarded with information. But I realise it’s not more information I need – it’s wisdom.

Between Christmas and New Year I took time to reflect on some of the lessons I’ve been learning over the last twelve months. I shared them on social media and had a huge response. I’d now like to share them with you, in the hope that one or two of them will prove helpful in the coming year… and beyond.


  1. A sense of entitlement is your enemy. Focus and hard work are your greatest allies.
  2. Some people’s biggest fear is not getting it right. My biggest fear is not having tried.
  3. Rejection, setbacks, and heartaches can hurt us. But don’t allow a temporary bruise to become a permanent scar.
  4. A great question to sometimes ask yourself would be ‘How would the best version of me handle this?’
  5. Some people can be full of crap. But they can also be full of valuable lessons to teach us.
  6. The messenger is important, but it’s the message that really matters.
  7. It’s easy to become blasé about life. To be unimpressed or indifferent because we’ve seen or experienced it so often before. So you have to make gratitude a conscious choice.
  8. Remember, it’s a big world. And it doesn’t revolve around you. Sometimes we need to get over ourselves.
  9. Quit getting caught up in the minutiae of life. If you stare at the window you see finger prints and dust. If you look through the window you see the world.
  10. We all wrestle with demons and doubts. So show some compassion to people – starting with yourself.
  11. Some people spend too long staring at screens and not enough time engaging with life.
  12. Showing appreciation matters more than you think.


Do you know anyone who would benefit from reading these twelve nuggets? Feel free to forward this email to them.

From myself and the SUMO team I wish you every success for the coming year.


The SUMO Guy

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Please don’t play this game at Christmas

What games do you tend to play at Christmas? If you asked my mum if she fancied playing a board game at Christmas she’d run a mile – which is pretty impressive considering the state of her knees.

I’m up for most games, although I might not always follow the rules. Some people call that cheating. I just think it’s being creative.

But there’s one game I will no longer play.

Past experience has taught me it’s not fun, it leaves me feeling miserable, and I never win.

What’s the game?

The comparison game.

Here’s the deal.

‘When you play the comparison game, you always lose. Instead, focus on being the best version of you that you can be. And sod the rest.’

You see, a phrase I often hear at this time of year is ‘Peace on earth.’ Well I’m not sure how realistic that might be right now, but if you want ‘peace of mind‘ then take time to focus on all the good things going on in your life.

Do what you can to help others.

Quit playing the comparison game.




Every day from the 1st of December until Christmas Day we’ll be giving away some SUMO goodies. There’s still time to nominate someone – just email with a couple of sentences about somebody who makes a difference to you, whether that’s in your personal or professional life (or both). Our winners so far have included teachers, football coaches, partners, and a couple who set up a Donkey sanctuary – and they all have a parcel of SUMO prizes winging their it’s way to them. The reasons for nominating can be anything, from doing something amazing for charity to simply being there with a cuppa at the right time.


Keep your nominations coming in to Good luck!


Wishing you well at this special time of year – and here’s to making a difference in 2017.


The SUMO Guy

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Is it time to get a grip?

Ever watched a formula one motor race? I’m not a fan particularly, but I once heard that, after the start, the most stressful part of the race for a driver is…

…the pit stop.


Because they’re not in control. They’re relying on others.

You know at times life can seem like one giant pit stop. We’re not in control, and we’re having to rely on others.

The only problem is the people we’re relying on aren’t necessarily as skilled and well trained as a formula one pit stop team.

Politicians are trying to navigate through some of the most uncertain and complex times in modern history. And the so-called experts are in danger of growing fat based on all the humble pie they’ve been eating recently.

In times like this it’s understandable that people can feel disorientated and anxious about the future.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

There is hope.

But how much hope is dependent on where you choose to focus.

You see, we’re not always in the pit stop are we? We’re in the race. And there are two crucial things we do have a large degree of control over.

Our thoughts and our actions.

Now more than ever it’s essential we develop what I call ‘Fruity Thinking’ (check out my 7 questions to do this by clicking here). It’s time to start seeking some solutions and look for new ways to meet the challenges we face.

And be encouraged. History actually shows that as a species, despite our flaws and failings, we’re pretty good at doing that.

You might not agree with what’s happening politically around the world. But our future isn’t solely based on decisions politicians make. We’ve got our own part to play. If we choose to.

Perhaps in the words of an old Chinese proverb, we should do more of the following:

‘Don’t curse the darkness. Light a candle.’

So get your hands back on the steering wheel of your life and take back some control.

Until next month.


The SUMO Guy

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