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

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

This Week Has Entirely Not Gone as Planned – and I’m Thrilled About How!

Sometimes (most of the time?) things don’t work out exactly as you had planned. This week was a fine example of it.
Instead of launching full on into the business building plans I’d made, I ended up spending nearly the entire week helping a friend with some repairs in his house.
Which kept going wrong and wringer (not because I have two left hands, but because building in Spain is sometimes done very, very badly indeed).
Pro tip: if ever you want to buy a property that was built either for tourist or for expats relocating: get a surveyor to check the state and quality. Get the most expensive one. You’re very welcome.
Anyway: what was meant to be a one-day affair ended up taking a full three, and I barely had time to write my dailies.
As for today: it was meant to be a relaxed day of preparing for a dinner party I’m hosting (and if we’re lucky, I can just publish this article before guests arrive).
And as luck would have it, right in the middle of the day, my kitchen tap broke and started gushing water onto the floor.
So I had to rush out for a replacement, just before siesta-closing time, hoping fitting it would work in one go and be a smooth affair.
Exactly what you don’t want when you’re expecting 12 guest over for dinner.
And yet.
Looking back – on the week and on the day – I’m actually really pleased with how everything went.
Not because it went well, but because the tension never turned into stress.
Tap breaks: oh well, get a new one. Chop chop.
Install a lamp fitting for my friend, trip the breaker – oh well, let’s do some testing and analysis and figure out how to fix the problem. (This is one area where Spanish builders show their evil side: how on earth do you mix phase (live) wires with neutral ???).
Cancel all business plans aside from the session I had booked in? Sure, no problem. Next week is another chance.
Tons of tension, yes.
But stress?
Well no, why would I want stress?
Stress is, but only always, the result of a choice (one that you made, or didn’t make).
And no matter the pressure, or how much tension you’re under, you can always choose to not be stressed.
If you do, everything gets better.
Unless you somehow believe that being stressed out makes things better, but then you’re just fooling yourself.

Tuning the Human Machine

Spoke to a friend about my CRD training today, and he remarked: “The value you bring is [amongst a few other things he mentioned]… tuning the human machine”.

Which is effectively what a coach does – I just never looked at it that way.

But it’s true.

You’ve got this utterly amazing apparatus called you – the thing you are as a human being – and it can do staggeringly impressive things.

But like any machine, it works better the more you optimise it for performance.

And that’s where most people don’t really seem to bother.

We put fuel into our body that shortens life span and causes excessive wear&tear.

We surround ourselves with people and places and habits and things that choke up our engine (i.e. the mind).

We let all kinds of damage get done to our inner state of focus and/or well-being.

And worst of all?

We blame ourselves for not performing better, when we actually don’t take the time to optimise and tune ourselves for better performance.

And that’s why a coach can have such a powerful effect on you.

Just like when you buy a car and get aftermarket tuning.

Suddenly your stock machine runs smoother and faster, becomes amazingly powerful.


When you start tuning yourself, and especially if you get a coach to help you, a similar thing happens.

You tap potential you only dreamed of having, become more focused, perform better, become happier and more fun to be around.

In a sense, it’s like become an upgraded version of yourself.

Sometimes with even one coaching conversation.

So, want to see what you’re like when you’re tuned better?

Hit reply and let’s set up a time to talk.



Breaking Things That Work (and the hidden dangers of learning)

Years ago, I used to love Twitter.

Met so many awesome people. Made friends (the real-world kind, not just digital connections), got introductions, ended up with a mentor who helped me at no charge, and even became ‘internet husband’ to a fairly famous gal.

Good times.

But then I read some teachings on how to curate the people you follow, and how to create specific lists of followees based on certain criteria.

So I set about overhauling my lists, moving people around from one list to the next, and…
In one fell swoop, I completely destroyed my Twitter experience.

Where it used to be fun and I would see the updates from people I liked, leading to all kinds of conversations, I now could no longer find my way. Stopped being fun, and I didn’t use the platform for years.

All because I thought it would be a good idea to improve something that was working splendidly, because someone said so and I thought they were right.

Instead, I broke the thing that used to work well.

I see this a lot around me:

People who have a good thing going, things are working (relationships, business, sales, hobbies, you name it) but then some ungodly idea comes in saying ‘rework, redo, overhaul’, and instantly that what worked flips on its head and breaks.

Another example?

In my tailoring days, I used to be known as one of the ‘old boys’, in that I made suits the traditional way by hand.

And I’d get high-ticket customers calling me up for fancy suits, all because I blogged and I was very active on specific forums.

In other words: I was on my way to building a pretty damn profitable business.

But then someone persuaded me to stop spending so much time online, and the whole thing crashed, losing me a total of $150K.

When things are working, you must be very careful with the changes you make.

Especially in business, which is a huge machine of many moving parts.

One change, one tweak – even a small one – can cause the entire machine to grind to a halt.

This is one of the reasons I created CRD – my system for better thinking, and making more outcome-aligned decisions.

Some decisions will only reveal themselves as sensible in retrospect, but most others can be assessed before you make them – if only you give it proper thought first.

If you want things to improve, remodeling that what works is rarely the solution.

Instead, do a thorough analysis of what works, and why, and identify one, two, or at the most three tiny changes you can make to try and make it work better.

Measure the results, and if you see a positive effect, double down your efforts on that tiny change.

The only time to do a complete overhaul is when things are already broken, because otherwise you’ll likely break what isn’t broken at all.



Knowledge, KNowing, and How Not to Use the Mind

Ever tried to reach a conclusion, insight or decision about something – and no matter how much you bang your head against it, you just can’t seem to get there?

Yeah… in a case like that, maybe try something else?

Thing is, the mind is powerful but it’s limited. It can only get ahead if it has sufficient data.

And any time you find yourself stuck up in your head, going round in circles, it means your brain simply doesn’t have enough info – i.e. data – in order to advance.

The default reaction in such cases is then to go and put more data in.

Watch another webinar, read another book, take another course, etc etc.

But that rarely helps, because more knowledge isn’t what the mind needs.

It needs more data, but not the kind that you put in from the outside.

Instead, what would really help is using the data you already have, except you can’t get to it.

And the reason you can’t get to it, is because mind is a binary thing (something is or isn’t true, we agree or disagree, we approve or disapprove).

So when you try hard to *think* your way through something, you focus your attention on a thought process, thereby excluding the insight you already have, and which you could notice if you wouldn’t be
doggedly keeping it out of sight by focusing on rational thought.

See I’ve been interviewing people to get feedback on my CRD system (the thing that helps you create clarity and make decisions that are more aligned with the outcomes you want) and some of the feedback has been that it’s all very rational and thought-based.

But that’s not how the system works.

Calibrate Reality Dojo isn’t about thinking more – it’s about thinking better.

And that means stepping away from (overthinking) in a narrow focused way, and letting your subconscious lend you a hand.

Instead of narrowing down, laserlike, on your thoughts, it’s about widening your mental perception, so as to include information, ideation, and creative insight that hides below the surface of your conscious thought.

That’s how you go from dryly analysing knowledge and data, to creatively processing knowledge as well as insight.

That’s how you use the mind the way it was intended.

After all, your subconscious is vast, but the mind is a fairly small box. Make sure you don’t get stuck in it, but instead let your intuition and creative resourcefulness help out.

That’s how you go from unsatisfying dead-end thinking on knowledge, and enable yourself to reach the insight you can call *knowing*.

Because knowledge and knowing are two very different things and shouldn’t be confused.

Analysing knowledge is pretty boring.

But to reach *knowing*?

Not that hard, and dramatically more fun&useful.



Why Do I Keep Doing This to Myself?

A few years ago, my first ever paid public speaking gig was for the local government – and I was petrified going onto the stage. It felt awful, right up to the moment I went on.

A few weeks ago, I ran my first ever webinar, and I felt pretty much the same.

Yesterday I ran the first CRD training module, and yep: at little less intensely, but still the same.

And last night, I auditioned to sing in a band, when I’ve not been in a band or sang anything into a mic except for the odd song at open mic nights, for 25 years.

And yep: shivers, shakes and probably a bunch of nervous twitches.

Another example?

When a wedding planner friend asked me to officiate (i.e. marry two people together) a few years ago, because the couple wanted a humanist celebrant and not a religious figure.

In each of those cases, and there’s a lot more of them in my life, I feel nervous, stressed, insecure, doubtful, and generally as if I’m about to drive off a cliff whilst jumping out of an airplane without a parachute.

Putting on an international group art exhibition whilst showing my artwork for the first time ever? Yep, did that. Nervous as hell.

In all such cases, I always find myself asking:

Why, oh why… do I keep doing this to myself?

Why do I keep putting myself into situations like these?

Yesterday I figured it out:

Because I thrive when I’m forced to bring out the best in me.

And the more challenging the situation, the more pressure, the more I can lean into whatever abilities and performance I can muster up.

It’s not that I’m an adrenaline junkie, but I sure like my shot of it every now and again.

Now you might be thinking that this is yet another ‘get out of your comfort zone’ articles, but nope: it goes deeper than that.

Putting yourself into scary situations, the kind where there’s something at stake and you risk some kind of failure, is the best way to tap into your unused potential.

And I’m a potentialite: I KNOW that I, and you, and everyone on earth, can do more than we think we can.

We have far more potential as individuals and as a species, than society and common narrative would have us believe.

And to me, a life lived in the confines of our known abilities is a life not lived.

It’s when you dare to venture into your unknown and/or untapped potential that you get to shine, thrive, and do things that surprise or even amaze you.

If you’re one of my entrepreneurial readers, you already know this to some degree.

As a business owner, you can never rest on your laurels, your work is never done, and you’re never not at risk. At any time, something can happen that threatens your sales or cashflow.

So what if you were to lean into that?

What if you would make it a point to regularly seek out challenges that scare you, that *could* lead to some sort of failure, but that could equally likely bring out something amazing in you? (pro tip: do make sure you bring a parachute – it’s scary enough when you’ve got one, or: stupidity and daring are two different things).

What would happen to your potential, if you’d put yourself into ‘do or die’ situations?

Yes it’s scary. Yes it’s threatening and yes there’s risk.

But never doubt the power of your lizard brain to protect you and drive you to excellence.

So, have you scared yourself lately?

If not, what scary thing is there for you to try?



P.s. The audition went well. Woot, I’m now in a band!

Comparing Yourself: The Wrong Way and the Right Way

Comparing yourself to others is a futile and often self-destructive exercise.

There’s always someone more successful, more famous, better connected or wealthier than you.

And when you compare yourself to those others, you give yourself all kinds of ways to feel inferior, or jealous, or insufficient.

But there’s one person you can always (should always?) compare yourself to:

The person you were yesterday.

But that’s where it gets tricky, because we’re prone to always look at what we have and have accomplished.

Is there more money in the bank today?

Do I have more prospects than yesterday?

Is my list bigger than yesterday?

Did today’s Facebook Live get more viewers than the one I put out yesterday?

This is almost as destructive as comparing to other people.

The thing to compare with isn’t what you have, or have built, or have achieved.

Because all those things are outcomes, they are the result of attitude and action.

And between the action and the outcome is a gap. Things take time to add up and yield results.

And the longer that gap is (often it’s very long) the easier it is to get disheartened.

If you’ve ever thought ‘why isn’t this working better?’, you’ll know what I mean.

The feedback (outcome and results) from your efforts takes time to show up, there’s no way around that.

But attitude and action will, eventually, bridge that gap.

So compare your attitude and actions today, with those of yesterday.

That will give you direct feedback, and it will help you keep going, regardless how long the actual results take to manifest.

Comparing yourself is good, but be very VERY careful who you compare yourself with.

As always: choices, choices. Life is made up out of choices.

Ain’t it grand?



Are You Cooking the Books? No but, Seriously?

Obviously you wouldn’t.

Your invoicing, your tax declarations, your profit&loss balances, your budgeting, your insurance claims: why on earth would an ethical, honest and sensible person falsify the data?

You wouldn’t, because you know that a) it will likely be found out at some point, and b) because it’s unhealthy to act against your values.

And yet… there’s a good chance that in a sense, you are cooking the books – that is, where it comes to what you tell yourself about yourself, the world, and your place in that world.

And sure, I cast the first stone unto myself: it’s humanly impossible to not create a doctored version of reality. Can’t be otherwise.

At any moment in life, there’s millions of impulses coming at you and our brains would melt or explode or both, if we were to perceive it all.

So our subconscious conveniently and automatically filters a small set that our minds can handle, and then that’s what we call reality.

We take a slice of life, and we get to work using just that tiny bit, in order to make sense of the world and to move through it.

But the part does not equal the whole: it only represents it, and inaccurately at that.

So in a sense, we’re all, at any moment, ‘cooking the books’ of life. Automatically and subconsciously.

Smart people know that, and are weary of confusing a slice of life with life itself.

And the best failsafe, to protect you from inventing a reality that pleases but isn’t accurate?

Question… everything.

Perception is an assumption.

Question every assumption.

Try it. You’ll be positively amazed at how much more malleable life becomes.

You’ll discover that yes, you too can calibrate reality.

But only if you’re brave enough to challenge your belief about reality. Brave enough to consider literally everything an assumption.

It’s a fun exercise, and it’s a powerful framework for coaching.

Want to give it a try, see what changes in your world?

Then let’s talk…



Unavoidable Entropy? Here’s the Antidote to Chaos in Life

In the world of science, there’s a notion that everything ultimately reverts to entropy.

Meaning: everything that’s ordered will at some point turn into increasing disorder, until there’s only chaos left. I’m not a scientist, but if I understand correctly, the idea is that ultimately the universe itself will be nothing more than a chaotic uniform distribution of molecules. Correct me if I’m wrong (but only if you’re an actual scientist ;)

Anyway, whether you’re into science or not: you too know that things in life always tend towards chaos.

Your todo list grows to the point of caving in on itself.

Your attic fills until the roof lifts and the floor sags.

Relationships dilute until you’re rarely in touch any longer (hello, old friends whom I know are reading this).

Plans well laid-out get disrupted the moment you start to implement them (as in: no strategy survives first contact with reality).

And your carefully planned schedule for the day? That’s the one that gets blown to smithereens the moment you check your inbox and see something urgent&important has shown up.

Any of this sound familiar?

Entropy, a state of chaos in life, seems unavoidable.

Like George Braessens sang: “Le vent qui vient à travers la montagne me rendra fou.” (The wind blowing down the mountain will drive me crazy).

Put differently: Any influence borne long enough, will have an effect.

Water is soft, but a couple of billions of drops will eventually cut through granite rock.

So are we then relegated to seeing our lives gradually disintegrate into chaos, just like a planet has no choice but to eventually dissolve and a sun can’t do anything but explode at some point?

Nope, not at all. Humans are different.

You and I, we have agency. We can control things, move things around.

Groups of molecules from here to there (hello, car).

Ideas into the minds of other people (see what I’m doing here?)

And most importantly: we can move our own understanding, thought, and insight.

And that right there, the ability to influence the way our minds work, is the antidote to entropy in your life.

Having insight into – and some control over – how we handle our minds, is the secret to keeping things in order, and avoiding chaos and confusion.

In that sense, you’re an agent of order.

Question is, do you want to take control?

Or would you rather do what most people do, which is to turn a blind eye to the actual agency, power and control you *could* have…?



Outcomes, Decisions, Agency – and the Problem With Learning

Now that you’ve seen how the 9 pillars of Calibrate Reality Dojo go together, I need to point out something:

It’s all academic and fairly useless – UNLESS you put it to use.

Any theory, or framework, or system… whatever it is that you learn, it won’t do you much good unless you put it to use.

A fact of life which is conveniently (and unethically) exploited by many publishers of information products.

Always telling us that we need to read their book, watch their video, buy their course – because, so they try and convince us, without this extra knowledge, you’re not complete and don’t know enough and will unavoidably end up bankrupt, paralysed, living under a bridge, and generally suffer the quality of life that a medieval impoverished peasant used to enjoy.

But learning is for the mind, and the mind by itself doesn’t really do much.

It’s US doing things that causes change.

Which is why CRD comes with instructions on how to make the theory actually work for you, and it comes with two tools:

Decisions, and journaling.

Journaling in order to reach decisions – decisions that are designed to create a specific outcome for you, whether that’s in business, relationships, or life in general.

And, decisions that position you to take action. The bigger action, the better.

And how to journal in that particular way?

It’s real simple.

Pick an issue that you want to resolve or improve, and turn it into:

An outcome-aligned, agency-based question.

In other words: the question needs to ask how to get to a particular, specifically designed outcome.

And, the question needs to position you as the agent of change, the single responsible party for making something happen.

It’s remarkable how quickly writing your way through questions like that can get you clarity, can get you to a decision that has you take action.

Example: “Why isn’t this working better?” won’t help much.

But “What action can I take in order to make [thing X] work better?” will trigger a completely different process of discovery in your mind.

Or “What decision can I make about my focus, so that [thing X] will work better?”

Or “What can I eliminate so that [thing X] will work better?”

See the mechanism here?

You define an outcome. You ask yourself what YOU can do (or not do, in case of overwhelm or ineffective busyness) and then you let your subconscious speak up, make it’s way out through your pen.

Have you tried?

(Betcha you haven’t – and I’ll bet that if you do, you’ll be amazed at what’s hiding just below the surface of your mind…)

I routinely give coaching clients a writing prompt or exercise during sessions – and so far it has never failed to create clarity and lead to sensible decisions.

Want to try for yourself?

You now have the instructions to do it… and do it the right way.

Unless of course, you’d rather keep things as they are… That’s a decision too.

What decision will you make today?



Are You Using Your Genius? (CRD Pillar 9)

Before we dive in: this isn’t about *being* a genius – I wouldn’t want you to tune out because of insecurities or healthy humility.

What it’s about is a *zone of genius*, also known as your unique ability.

That thing you do in such a way, that there’s nobody in the world who could copy it.

(For deeper insight into Zone of Genius, read Gay Hendrix ‘The Big Leap’ – highly recommended). Short version: there’s 4 zones in which we operate: Incompetence, Competence, Excellence and Genius. Hendrix’s point is that the more we eliminate the first three and operate as much as possible in the genius zone, the better our lives, results, and business will be. And I concur.

For example, back when I was a fancy-pants bespoke tailor, I was rather skilled at making the clothes. I’d get comments like ‘magnificent’ and ‘you’re an artist’ and so on.

But I wasn’t a genius at making. In tailoring, my zone of genius was communicating with a client, and then designing a pattern and fit that they’d fall in love with.

Where it came to making, I was often excellent, but not genius. Didn’t have the experience to get it right every time, inside a normal timeframe.

Which meant that the more fancy and expensive a garment was, the bigger my loss on it was.

Had I outsourced the making process and focused only on comms and design, I probably wouldn’t have burned through the inheritance my good ole’ dad left me.

But it’s so easy to fall into the trap of trying to do it all.

Doing our own design, our own copywriting, creating our own ads and marketing strategy… whether we believe we can’t afford to outsource, or because we think our own skills are good enough…

We often end up doing many things, of which many get done either badly, or reasonably well, or good at best.

And that’s a problem, because the average of all the things we don’t do stellarly, is somewhere between mediocre and reasonably good.

Meaning, if we don’t carefully curate what we do and don’t do, the majority of our activities add up to average.

And you’ll agree that’s no way to run a life or a business.

This is why the final pillar of Calibrate Reality Dojo is Zone of Genius – and since elimination is one of the core tools of the system, today I invite you to spend some time thinking about how you spend your time.

Here’s a few instructions to help you:

1: List out all the activities you spend time on during the week

2: Mark each of the 1, 2 , 3 or 4, where 1 is stuff that’s your zone of genius, and 4 is incompetence.

3: Write them all down again, each in a separate column, marked 1 thru 4.

If you’re brave, step 4 is deciding to no longer to anything that’s in column 4. Just delete it, no matter how much you want to tell yourself that it has to be done.

Why? Because if you’re doing it in an incompetent manner, the results it gets you amount to little and you might as well stop wasting time on it.

Column 2 and 3, ask yourself:

Should I continue doing these?

Or should I outsource them?

Or, should I improve my skills, and bring them closer to my zone of genius?

As always, insight and clarity help you to make better decisions.

And to not make a decision on what to eliminate is also a decision.

Final thought: the way you operate in the different zones is what got you here.

If you want to get better results, something’s got to give – and moving more into your zone of genius, as much as you can, is the easiest way to start building better results.



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