Martin Stellar - Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth

Martin Stellar - Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth

Hidden in the Depths… Demons and Monsters?

Hey, I’m not into Halloween. In the past few weeks I’ve seen enough pictures of pumpkins to last me a lifetime.

So the topic and title of today’s missive are not about present festivities… but, as always: about you. Your mind.

See we have several kinds of narrative, different stories we tell ourselves about the world.

On the low end, there’s the negative self-talk. Criticism, recriminations, judgment and all that dark stuff.

On the far other side, there’s the nice bits. The things you’re proud of, good at, the things you like about yourself.

If you’re a sensible person, you try to deal with the first class best as can, and increase the second one. Think less bad thoughts, think more good ones.

So far, so good.

But what about all the stuff in the middle?

What about the grey matters? (Which is, incidentally, the title of a book I’m planning to write at some point).

What about all the thoughts and stories and opinions that we do think, but they’re automatic because they aren’t all that bad, and so we don’t really notice?

Those are the devious ones. Those are the secret saboteurs. They are the sly, conniving, energy-draining and grit-dissolving  destroyers of self esteem and forward momentum.

Because while those narratives may run unchecked, they have a big influence. They either strengthen the positive stories, or the negative ones.

And in many cases, they reinforce the negative stories more than the positive ones.

There’s probably science behind the reason why, but I’m not a scientist and besides: I prefer action over analysis.

So if you have a feeling that there’s something dark hidden under the surface, if it seems that no matter how hard you consciously try, you keep getting tripped up and falling back into self-sabotage or procrastination (those two are cousins, btw), maybe try this action:

For the next week, resolve each morning to pay attention to your own internal monologue. To get clarity on how you talk to yourself at those moments when you’re not listening.

I bet you’ll find that there’s a lot you say to yourself, that you wouldn’t dream of telling someone else.

And when you find those thoughts and stories, don’t try to fight it. Don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s a normal part of you, and so is getting the clarity.

When you have that clarity and you uncover the stories, here’s what to do:

Tell the voice “thanks for the information” (i.e. you acknowledge instead of reject part of yourself) and next:

Put your mind somewhere else. Don’t fight, just dodge.

Your mind is a masterfully powerful tool, and it works brilliantly with whatever you focus it on.

So discover where it focusses, and then give it something more useful or uplifting to play with.

In the end, solving negative self-talk doesn’t have to be hard to fix.

All it takes is the courage to truly see, and the repeated action of turning your mind to something else.

It gets easier over time.

If you’re the kind of person who has that courage and is willing to put in the effort to change, I can help you create the best possible story to tell yourself.

And I can help you create a method of ongoing practice, especially fit for you, your personality and your life/work circumstances.

Just hit reply, let’s have a conversation.



Protect the Asset

What’s your default… hustle till you drop, and sleep is for suckers?

You might not think that’s you, but are you really protecting the asset?

As in: the single most important asset you have, the one without which you couldn’t do anything… the asset called “you” ?

You might eat really good food, and get your eight hours of sleep a day… but is that enough? Is that all you need to do to take care of yourself?

For many of us, taking care of self is an afterthought.

Something we do when work and life allows us, and only then.

We plan our work, and in the time that we don’t work, we get to do other stuff. Like cleaning, buying food, eating, sleeping, playing…

Well, that’s the wrong way round.

A healthy and sensible entrepreneur starts by planning recovery time: rest, play, food etc – and in the slots that aren’t recovery time, that’s when you plan your work.

I admit that in the last few months, I’ve let things slide.

Used to be, every day had a three-hour siesta, as is tradition in Spain.

That siesta is the time for cooking, eating, reading, taking a nap, playing with the kids or the cat, seeing a friend… the things that fill the well.

But gradually my siestas got shorter and shorter, and I realised that lately I’m putting in 10 to 12 hour days, with barely an hour midday to eat and take a catnap.

And the effect isn’t good: loss of focus, more procrastination, and a decidedly foggy feeling in my head as to what decisions to make for my business.

And that just won’t do. So today I’m going back to sanity:

Normal working hours, a normal siesta, and my work hours planned around my free time, instead of the other way round.

So if you feel under pressure, if your work feels frenetic to you, or if there’s never enough hours in the day… maybe do the illogical?

Maybe, work less, and dedicate more time to yourself… to protect the asset?

Remember, there’s only one you. And you’ll agree that you do your best work when you are at your best.

The modern myth purported by people like Gary Vaynerchuck and others who preach the doctrine of 24/7 hustle? I don’t buy it, and maybe neither should you.

When you’re at your best, you feel better and perform better – something which both you and your clients deserve.

Protect the asset, people.



Reduction and Essentialism as the Cure for the Entrepreneurial Hamsterwheel

Looping back to Gay Hendricks excellent book The Big Leap and his concept of the zone of genius…

(For anyone who missed my email about it the other day: the zone of genius has nothing to do with being an actual genius, but instead describes your personal unique ability. The thing that you do exceptionally well, in a way that nobody can copy. According to Hendricks, the more time we spend on activities in that zone, the better things get).

Now that the girls in the Cabal and I are reading this book, it’s causing all of us to ponder.

And what I’ve figured out is that my zone of genius is where I shut up, listen, listen more, and keep shutting up until my intuition forces me to say something.

That’s something I’m quite good at, and in an ideal world it would be all that I do.

No social media, or networking, or tweaking my site – outsource all that stuff.

Get Martin his appointments so that he can focus only on coaching and enrolling clients.

Except for all of that to be outsourced, I’d need a company with several employees, and that’s not what I want.

So, what do you do when circumstances force you to also do the things that are merely in your zone of excellence or competence?

You reduce.

Here’s the deal:

In every day and every business and every career, there’s a 1000 different choices you can make each day.

And because we’re constantly afraid to miss out on opportunities, we end up saying yes far too often.

To people, to projects, to demands… yes yes yes.

When in reality, the more you say no, the more you eliminate non-essentials, leaving you more free to work on the essentials.

I don’t think it’s easy, maybe not even possible, to work in the zone of genius 100% of the time.

But it’s a good idea to look at the choices and activities that are outside the zone of genius.

Because if you give it a close look, you’ll find that there’s all kinds of things that shouldn’t be in your life.

Things that you don’t enjoy, or that others expect of you, or that don’t significantly contribute to your primary goal…

And so, what if you strip those away, remove them from your life… so that you can focus on a few things that get all your attention – the things that move the needle forward on your business?

I know, it sounds scary. Because all the things are important!

Of course. But some things are more important than others. Have a bigger impact.

And seeing that, and having the courage to choose a priority and eliminate all things that do not contribute to that priority, that’s exactly the difference between an entrepreneur (or regular human being, for that matter) who runs like a hamster in a wheel and gets burned out, and a person who is in control, building success, and has enough time for everything.

It may be scary, but I dare you to face up to any over-extended mess of activities you may have, and rid yourself of anything non-essential.

If you do, I know you’ll find it massively beneficial. And once you discover how much, drop me a line.

I’d like to know what your experience was and what changes it caused for you.



Choices, Decisions, and All Those Good Things

The gent who used to be my abbot has a saying: “Life is made up out of choices”.

Which is so self-evident, it might as well go without saying.

Except that in many cases, we make decisions that don’t serve us (or others).

In which case it makes a lot of sense to stop and consider what the decisions we make actually are.

Learn more when sales are lacking? Might not be the best choice.

Unless you don’t know how to find prospects and create clients. In such a case, it makes more sense to learn more about psychology and communication (which is what sales are made of – pushiness not required or appreciated).

Other examples: Fritter away time on social media, thinking that we’re ‘networking’ when in reality we’re having random conversations that have nothing to do with the actual work we’d like people to buy. In such a case, it’s a useful decision to “only engage in conversations where I get to help people and demonstrate the value of my work”.

Or, here’s a decision that I tend to fall prey to: get involved with projects and people because I see a chance for future payoff… when in reality it means a long-term investment of time, without any guarantee whatsoever.

So, to cut through the clutter and make decision making easier, try this:

First, ask yourself what is your ultimate, most important goal.

Very likely, this will be big and seemingly impossible to achieve.

If so, break it down into milestones.

If your ultimate goal is, say, “Buy a villa and start an academy”, you can’t get there from here.

But if you break it down into steps, one of the milestones will be “create 1000 true fans”.

Far more attainable, right? But still big.

So, break it down further: “Create 100 clients”.

Easy? Maybe not. Doable? Of course.

Ok, so your first ‘most important’ goal is 100 clients. Check.

Next, the fun part: decision making.

Use the goal as a benchmark for your decision.

With every opportunity, activity, task, or project, ask yourself:

Does this directly contribute, in a measurable way, to reaching my 100-client goal?

If so, go for it, and go all in.

If it doesn’t?

Then I challenge you to boldly say no.

Because when you choose various things that are interesting but don’t directly contribute, you’ll disperse your energy, you’ll see little progress, and you’ll end up frustrated. Or worse: you might end up feeling you’ve failed.

And failing is not an option or a reality.

One person will close bankruptcy a failure… where another will call it a priceless learning experience.

And you get to – wait for it – choose how you perceive things.

Because yes: life is made up out of choices.

And I’d take it one step further: everything is a choice. Even not making one.

So… what can you eliminate, in order to have every task, conversation and project… be aligned 100% with your primary goal?

Let me know if you want to talk and create clarity on making the best choices.



(Sometimes You Need to) Choose a Side

There’s an interesting phenomenon here in Spain – or at least, in the Andalusia area where I live.

And it’s a phenonemon that clearly spells the difference between who will go places, and those who will very likely stay stuck.

The difference is in accepting the status quo. Settling for. Resigning to what is.

When the economy started to fall a few years ago, I was amazed to see how flat so many people were.

Flat as in: resigned, overcome, powerless.

“Well of course business is bad. The economy is in the tank. We just have to wait for it to fix itself again. It always does”.

And yes, in the end there’s always ups and downs. A downturn never lasts.

But why on earth would you just resign to it and wait?

Don’t these people know that if a) you make smart decisions and b) you take massive action, you can actually solve problems?

In a sense, it’s one of the charms of the culture here: a non-stressed, accepting, why-bother-getting-mad attitude.

It’s one of the reasons I like this area so much. It’s free of pretence and there’s tons of genuinely wonderful people here.

But many of those people are still in trouble. Many companies are closing down. Houses and cars get repossessed.

And the only thing people in those situations need, is a simple shift in thinking.

A shift to “Yes, I can take action to fix this”, instead of “It’s an external problem, I need to wait”.

This difference, between those who resign and those who get busy, is important.

And you get to choose which side you’re on.

Me, I know where I stand. I’m the kind who takes action.

And this is why when selecting who I should or shouldn’t work with, I look for the markers.

Is this person switched on? Taking action? Looking for ways out, or forward? Willing to discard dysfunctional self-talk?

Because unless someone fits that kind of profile, I can’t coach them.

Coaching isn’t magic, and even the best coach in the world couldn’t help someone who isn’t coachable.

Maybe there’s no difference between Andalusia and other parts of the world, where it comes to the percentage of people who believe that patience is the only solution.

Even so, I’ve given up trying to tell others that yes, there is a way out.

Someone who is stuck in that kind of thinking isn’t going to listen to reason.

The only thing that can possibly help, is to lead by example.

Because when you try to explain and convince, you’re battling somebody else’s reason. And reason is smart, it will always find a way to argue its way to being right.

Much better to simply show what can be done – because you can’t argue with results.

But, maybe you don’t need no convincing. Maybe you already know that smart decisions and massive action will work.

If that’s the case for you and you want to be sure you make the right decisions and take the right actions, that’s when you talk to a coach. Hello.

Just reach out if ‘n when you’re ready.



How to Not Put Such Enormous Pressure On Yourself

A client wrote in yesterday, asking about nervousness and perfectionism when performing live.

“I’d just like to be great in all of it. Not just good but unforgettable. Not putting big expectations on my self, just a great impact, you know? Am I being too hard on myself? I can’t tell.”

Woah, yeah. Definitely too hard on ye olde selfe.

Just consider: if a teacher would talk like that to your child, would you put up with it?

Of course not! You’d give that teacher a firm talking to, and put them in their place.

That kind, that amount of pressure?

Totally out of order.

And yet, it’s how many of us talk to ourselves.

And I have my own troubles in that area… but where it comes to showing up live and delivering a good performance, I’ve found a few tricks.

In the context below, we’ll deal specifically with showing up live to an audience, but if high expectations and pressure of self are a problem for you in other areas, then you’ll find that the attitude described is a very effective cure for that too.

Behold how I avoid that high-demand problem for myself:

(and get pretty nice performance results, too boot)

I resolve beforehand to prepare as best as can.

I resolve to not fret, but to focus on preparing instead. This includes practice, dressing for the occasion, eating well, getting a good night’s sleep, and everything else that makes me thrive.

Important: conscious breathing. Nerves and performance anxiety are on thing, but physical tension and shallow breathing make everything worse, INCLUDING performance.

Finally, I resolve: to show up as the best possible me that I can be in that moment.

Then, just before it’s curtains up, I tell myself the secret word.

Under my breath: “It’s showtime!”

And with that, I let go of all demands, worries or nagging thoughts, and I plunge myself into the moment.

Because, after all, it’s showtime. I’m here to do a stellar job and fretting sure won’t help.

I give it my all. That’s the only thing I can control.

Whether it’s good or not, whether people are blown away or not, I can’t control that. All I can control is trying to be my best self.

This by itself gives me enormous satisfaction afterwards, because I know I did the best I could.

And, it frees me from self-doubt and recrimination, and that opens me up to taking in feedback, and learning how I can do better next time.

And as for that feeling of nervousness?

Here’s a fun and effective hack for that.

Because (courtesy of Paula Mould) there is no difference between excitement and nerves.

It *seems* like there’s a difference, but that’s only in perception.

To the brain, there’s no difference between nerves and excitement.

So when you’re overcome by nerves, tell yourself:

“Man this is exciting! I’m so excited about all of this!”

And with that, you go in and face the crowd.



How to Solve the Upper Limit Problem

A couple of weeks ago, the girls in the Cabal coaching group came up with an idea: what if we all read the same book at the same time?

I thought it was an excellent idea, so I suggested The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.

A brilliant book, and highly recommended.

One of Hendricks’ core concepts is what he calls the Upper Limit Problem.

Which works like a thermostat of sorts: it’s a maximum level that we have set in our subconscious – for wealth, happiness, fullfilment… it can be anything.

And, if that thermostat is set too low, there’s a good chance that as we reach that (arbitrary and false) upper limit, we start sabotaging ourselves.

Just so that we don’t go above or beyond what we subconsciously believe is the maximum allotted to us.

And as is to be expected: within a few days, Upper Limit Problems started to show up.

And not just for the girls:

I too have my own upper limit problems.

So I asked my coach about it, and it quickly became clear where my own upper limit originated.

So many experiences in my childhood, where I’d be ‘put in my place’ by authority figures.

Teachers saying that I might as well drop out of school since I’d never graduate anyway.

Another teacher bullying me in front of the classroom, telling me and them that I’ll never amount to much.

My dad, even: “Hey do you see those chords Paul Simon is playing? I know I can play that song too!”

“Son, I wish you’d focus on getting better grades instead”.

Gee, thanks dad.

Now, I’m not saying this to elicit your sympathy. I’m no different from others, and we all have our upper limit problems.

The question is – to quote Paul Simon – what are you going to do about it, that’s what I’d like to know.

For me, the solution is simple:

To forget about me.

Because in the end, the upper limit problem I have is about me. The feelings I have, the subconscious convictions, the limiting experiences from the past… me me me.

And that just won’t do.

Because as anyone with some sense and some ethics will tell you, life gets better the more you make it about someone else.

And for me to navelgaze and be involved in my own problems and limitations… well, that just won’t help anyone.

Instead, I turn the Martin-now, with his insecurities and upper limit thermostat setting and everything, into a baseline state.

This, today, me, is the new normal.

And so from this new normal, what do I want to create?

What can I do or say that isn’t about me?


Each of us, we have some sort of upper limit. You too.

And the more you run into it, and get annoyed by it, the more energy and power you have at your disposal in order to run right past them.

Make your work and your life about the other, and you will benefit automatically, and so will the other person.

AND you’ll be running right past your upper limits.

Want me to run along with you?

Then all you need to do is get in touch…



Are You SURE You’re Wearing the Right Suit? (This One REALLY Matters…)

Ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut, and the tools and attitudes you have at your disposal for dealing with life and work are ‘just not right’?

Well, then why not wear a different suit?

After all, we’re the ones who get to chose how we show up in the world. Today, this afternoon, tomorrow… at any moment, we get to decide how we will be.

Most of the time though, we simply default to what we’re used to.

But you get to choose, you know?

It’s like wearing a suit. You can wear the suit of the warrior, or the worrier, or the helper, or the victim, or the creator, or the spiritually minded, or the CEO…

All these are actual and chooseable attitudes, and each of these will bring its own unique consequence in your day.

And that way you can steer your life and day and business in a specific reaction.

But only if you’re deliberate about it. Only if you choose.

Which many people simply don’t.

We default to what we’re used to – be that the worrier or the chief or the confused puppy or whatever.

But for every not-positive attitude that you might ‘suffer from’, there’s another one that works around that. And all you need to do is choose.

If your default is to worry, then why not wear the suit of massive action? Good chance that being hard at work will reduce your worries. Or at least take your mind off them.

If your default is to be confused and indecisive, then maybe more learning will help.

If your default is to be indecisive despite having learned so much, then maybe the berserker suit will help you: make a choice however arbitrary, and then run with it.

If your default is to think top-level and not get into action, then maybe the worker’s cover-alls are what you need to wear.

If your default is to fret when money is low, then why not wear the suit of the salesperson (where I must note that ‘selling’ is not a matter of being pushy, but of connecting with people, and inviting the right people to buy. In case ‘selling’ would cause you to wrinkle your nose etc. We all like it when people buy our stuff, and when we’re not pushy, people tend to like buying from us).

If your default is to blame others, what would happen if you wear the suit of responsibility (i.e. “I’m the one to make change, I own the situation, I’m taking charge of what I can do and I’m going to bypass whatever someone else did or didn’t do”).

If your default is to observe others and feel like you got the short end of the stick, then maybe wear the suit that says “I’ll act as if, and do the work to get to the other person’s level”.

What matters is this: we’re all used to going with a default attitude.

So when you notice things ain’t working or running smoothly, ask yourself:

As who am I showing up? What suit am I wearing here?

Next, realise that you can wear any suit you want. Remember, we’re talking about attitude here. Attitude is something you can adopt, experiment with, and get better at.

Finally, pick a suit – an attitude – that will move you forward.

Don that sucker, and wear it with pride.

And watch how your state and day and results change, the more you practice this exercise.

Sounds like fun, right?

I tell you, it is.

Want this olde former-tailor help you create a suit that will make a true difference in your life?

Then all you need to do is reply, and I’ll give you a complementary discovery session.



Learning as a Way to Procrastinate

Learning is never bad.

But, learning is not always helpful.

Quite often, when we want to see different results in our lives, we resort to learning.

Techniques, strategies, skills… All very useful.

Except that in some cases, the thing we need most is to apply what we’ve already learned.

Especially when there’s problems, a lack of money, or a messy situation that needs cleaning up.

Yet somehow, we’re being pulled back to learning more.

Part of the reason is the way online marketers talk to us: “Don’t miss out, because without this thing you’ll never make it” and similar fear-driven marketing ploys.

Another part of the reason has to do with feelings, especially feelings of inadequacy or inferiority.

We don’t believe we can fix this or that problem, and so we decide to learn more – to upgrade ourselves.

And again: that’s always useful, but not always the most useful.

If a guy sees that his house is on fire, should he learn how to operate a fire truck?

Is that really the quickest way to solve the problem?

There’s no sense in learning Photoshop if what you need is a simple method to resize photos.

Learning the ins and outs of LinkedIn marketing is pointless, if you need clients fast and you have a list of previous clients that you haven’t contacted in a while.

Much more useful to simply step up and take action: talk to those people.

Or, one of my own examples: Learning how to change stuff on my website in order to improve my systems, when what I really need is to meet more inspiring people.

Again: learning is never bad.

But always ask yourself: should I put more stuff into my brain right now… or should I choose an action and launch into it full on?

In many cases, you’ll get more results from doing than you would from learning.

Never let learning be an excuse to procrastinate on doing those things that really move the needle for your business.

And if you don’t know which things those would be?

Well, then you can talk to a coach. Hello.



Yes. Your Story Also Deserves to Be Told

A reader wrote in, after reading my article about the lady in the UK who stopped waxing and feeling depressed, and who now sports her beard with pride.

In her words: If you’ve got it, rock it.

Says my reader: this lady has an interesting story to tell.

And yes, that’s true.

But don’t ever let stories like that stop you from telling your own.

The fact that there’s a blind painter in our world, and a paraplegic mountaineer, etc etc etc is no reason to not tell your story.

Becaues it’s not about how big or impressive your story is.

This was my reply:


Good point, but I’d like to quote the guys at the Content Marketing Institute:

We all have a story to tell – tell it well.

And that really is all there is to it. Because what matters is not how big the story is, or rare, or filled with past or current hardships: it’s about telling any story in such a way that it connects with another person.

And however humble the story: there will always be people who are just waiting for that story to show up and change something in them.


It’s not about the type of story: it’s about impact.

And even if your story is simple or humble,  your telling it might just be the kick in the pants that somebody else needs.

It’s never about the kind or size or type of story: it’s about finding the person or persons who will resonate with it.

And just like the truth: they’re out there.

Your job as an entrepreneur is to find them.

And I can help you do that, if you want.

Just reach out, and we’ll talk.



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