In my blog post on New Year’s Eve, I asked you What Change Have You Made In Your Life This Year?

I also left you with some questions to reflect on as you begin the new year.

Today I want to give you some further inspiration for 2016 – the latest edition of the e-book Expect More From 2016 – Strategies for Success from 22 Leading Experts in Personal and Professional Development.
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Every year Gihan Perera brings together a group of experts and invites them to write an article that may inspire people in the new year. It has been my privilege to be involved now over many years.

This year my article is : Be An Empowered Leader – Even If You Are Not The Boss.

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We will open the book.
Its pages are blank.
We are going to put words on them ourselves.
The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter
is called New Year’s Day.

– Edith Lovejoy Pierce (20th Century American poet).

What words are you going to write on the pages of the book of your life in 2016?

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My daughter had discovered that the only way to get some exercise with 2 young children was to put an exercise video on the TV and get her 4 year old to exercise with her while the younger child slept. While only 4 years old, she stayed with the program for a whole half hour until she heard Michelle Bridges say she wanted her participants to “dig deep for this last 10 minutes”. At this she grabbed her mother’s hand and pulled her to the door: “Mum,” she said, “we have to go and dig.”

She’s was only 4 years old and didn’t understand what Michelle Bridges meant when she asked them to “dig deep”, that she wanted the participants in her program to “dig” right down into the bottom of themselves and draw on every resource within themselves. She wanted them to push past their pain and tiredness to discover an energy and resilience they never knew they had to do this last exercise – even though she had worked them very hard already and they were very tired. It’s the people who can do that when they exercise that achieve the best results.

Thinking about this I wondered how many of you reading this would know what I mean when I tell you that if you want to achieve success in what you do, you have to learn how to ”dig deep”.

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If your answer is “Yes”, this blog is for you because if you become a “morning person” you won’t need it to start your day. I can hear some people reading this already crying out: I am not a morning person! I’ll never be a morning person!

If you start your day, with time to have a good breakfast, shower, get dressed and get to work on time, AND you feel energised to face the day, AND you feel you are achieving the goals you have set for yourself, then you don’t need to read this. You are well on track to being the best version of yourself.

BUT, if your mornings are rushed and stressful, you don’t get time to have breakfast, you get to work tired, it takes you half an hour to get down to work even with that triple shot of caffeine you bought on the way, and you never seem to achieve much in the day even though you have your head down all day, and that 3.30 p.m. feeling is hard to push through……….YOU NEED TO CHANGE SOMETHING!

And becoming a morning person is the way to do it. Here is a strategy for making it happen.

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Procrastination is usually identified as a time management problem, but recent research from Stockholm University has shown it to be an emotional strategy for managing stress. For many it is a chronic problem. It causes them immense stress and mental anguish. It keeps them awake at night. It overwhelms them with a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness. It can even trigger depression. In other words, it causes significant emotional stress and it is at this level, it needs to be addressed..

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Hand-written notes need to be written immediately after the experience or event about which you are writing – within hours, or the next day or as soon as you hear or become aware.

Write a thank you note to the person who interviewed you for the position you just applied for.
Thank the business that provided excellent customer service to you; especially mention any staff member in person who was very helpful.
Thank the journalist who wrote a story about you.
Follow up with the new contact you made at the networking event, saying how valuable, or important or relevant or stimulating the discussion you had was.
Send them something that was relevant to the discussion – something further about your business, or an article or report, a book, CD or DVD.
Offer to make an introduction for them to a contact that may be able to help them.
Invite them to accompany you to an event which could be valuable for them to attend.
Congratulate a colleague who won an award, got a promotion or a new job, is elected to a key position in a community organisation or achieved any other success at something.
Congratulate an organisation that won a big contract.
Always thank the people who do business with you for giving you that opportunity.

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It is because so few people write hand-written notes today that they have such impact. In fact, very few people send anything today in hard copy – letter, note or card. Many people don’t even have a postal address on their business card anymore. Can you even remember when you last received a hand-written note?

If you do, however, collect mail from your letterbox, what letter do you open first? Do you open the one with the window, or the obvious advertising mail, or the formally typed addressed one, or the one with the hand-writing on the envelope? Yes, you open the one with the hand-written address. Why? Because you just assume it will be a personal message to you. It will be from someone who cares about you enough to sit down and personally write to you rather than send an impersonal digital message by email or a text message. It will probably say something to you that will add some value and meaning to your day.

That’s why had-written messages make a difference. They have impact value. As the writer of the note, you will be remembered.

It takes time to find some note paper or a card, sit down and write and then go and post it. It costs more to write and send a hand-written note. This is what makes it so important to the person to whom you write – that you took time out of your busy day and placed this much importance on them.

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If you’ve ever worked out with a personal trainer, you’ll know what it’s like to stretch yourself to the limit. A business or leadership development coach can help you do that for your career, stretch you to where you discover untapped potential that you never knew you had. They believe in you more than you believe in yourself. Every time I have pushed my VIP coaching clients to the edge of the precipice, in spite of their protests and fear, they have always flown! No one yet has crashed into the valley below, because I, their coach, believed in them, believed they could fly. You can also stretch yourself beyond where you are now and achieve more than you ever thought possible.

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Empowerment is about lighting your fuse. I really believe that we all have something special and unique inside us. The reason why some are able to develop it and show it to the world is because they light the fuse. That’s what it means to empower ourselves. No one else can empower us. We have to do it ourselves. Others can encourage, support, motivate and inspire us, but only we can take that final step and light the fuse. When we do that, we take off. All those talents and all that potential we have inside us is activated and released.

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This is for all you empowered, pro-active and glass-half-full people as you move into 2015. You are the people who have a mindset that automatically gears you up to EXPECT MORE FROM 2015. After all, why would you want to stay where you were in 2014 and be a photocopy of your 2014 self?

I have an e-book here to help you on your way, called Expect More From 2015.

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