Turn Off Self-Doubt, Turn On Success | Stephen Bates


Stephen Bates was working as a physical therapist in the UK in the mid 90s when he began to realize that almost half of the patients he was seeing were holding themselves back from recovery. He began to see that people everywhere – and in all situations – hold themselves back from achieving what they know is possible. In 2002, Stephen founded Certain Change and has gone on to work with business leaders and entrepreneurs across the globe who are under-performing but don’t know why.

Stephen calls this condition, “driving with a foot on the brake” and in this episode he explains to listeners how they can take that foot off and achieve more. His insights include:

  • 3 signs you may be holding yourself back 

  • How to turn off excessive self-doubt 

  • Common next-steps successful leaders take 

  • And so much more!

The work Stephen is doing with highly successful leaders has altered the trajectory of their success. Don’t miss out on the chance to alter yours. Listen now!

Mentioned in this episode:


Stephen Bates: To make a good decision, we’re meant to stop and think, is this the right thing? So that is good use of self doubt and good use of loss of confidence.

Voiceover: You’re listening to The Build a Vibrant Culture podcast with professional speaker, coach and consultant, Nicole Greer.

Nicole Greer: Hey everybody, its Nicole Greer. They call me the Vibrant Coach and you are listening to The Build a Vibrant Culture podcast and today I have with me none other than Stephen Bates. Stephen Bates is a British business coach that helps ambitious business leaders and entrepreneurs who know they are underperforming, but don’t know why. He has helped 1000s of clients across the globe for over the last 20 years since founding Certain Change in 2002. He is the creator of the Alpha Programme and the Certain Change Programme and Co Founder of Tech Leaders and Retention Booster. Welcome to the show, Stephen. I’m so glad you’re here.

Stephen: Yeah, thank you so much for having me, Nicole, really appreciate it.

Nicole: Yeah, we’re excited to hear all about it. I spent this morning looking at your YouTube channel, go check out his YouTube channel, everybody. Lots of great information there. And looking at your website, and I’m excited to talk to you because I do think that leaders underperform and they’re trying they’re scratching their head, what’s wrong with me what’s going on. But before we get into that, I want to ask you one very important question. I want to find out what your definition of leadership is. How would you define leadership?

Stephen: Wow, that’s a that’s a question and a half, there’s so many different versions, and you get and I think you can get a lot of pretty standard answers all about direction as someone inspires culture. But the one that I tend when I’m working with my leaders is I tend to say, be somebody that somebody else wants to follow. Because it, it takes the emphasis on them, and what they’re meant to do and where they’re meant to go. And these visions and plans and goals and missions and everything else and actually say, yeah, how do I how do I get my people to want to work with me, for me and do the things that I say we should be doing. So it just pivots it around completely, and makes them somebody is paying attention to their people, not just the direction of the business. Because the people that you hire that you work with are the ones that are going to get you to your goals. So I suppose that’s the one nice, that’s the one I tend to use be the be the person that other people want to follow.

Nicole: Yeah. And so this takes a great deal of character, right? So people have to have an incredible character, they have to be likable, they have to be able to connect with people. I think all of that is very, very true. Well, one of the things that you talk about with your leaders is you ask them this, this really powerful question, which is, you know, how are you holding yourself back? So will you talk a little bit about your focus on helping leaders stop holding themselves back?

Stephen: Yeah, can I tell them a little bit of a backstory? 

Nicole: I would love your backstory, please. 

Stephen: Yeah. Okay, so, 20 oh, crikey, 28 years ago, I started my first business. It’s quite scary when I say that. No, not quite 26 years ago, and I nearly aged myself a little bit too much. 26 years ago, I, I started my first business as a physio therapist in the UK or physical therapist. So people are often very confused. Why do I suddenly now work with people on leadership and business. But I started my first what I thought was a business. But actually, obviously, I work for myself. So basically, I created a job. And that’s a whole nother thing. But what I noticed is, I was good at what I did. People were happy, I got lots of referrals. I was busy, I was happy, I had money, I had control of my life, and all the things you’re meant to have. And after years of training, I thought, this is fantastic. 

And then I noticed something that completely changed my world. And it was this, it is very simple. When people came in, and they got sprained ankles, and their necks were hurting, and they had headaches and their backs had gone and they couldn’t pick the kids up and they couldn’t work. And people were in real physical pain, real, real physical pain. When I gave them advice, coaching, in other words, stop doing this, do these stretches, do these exercises. Don’t sit in front of your computer for how many hours. Really simple stuff that cost them no extra money, that 40% of people didn’t do them. And when I asked them, well did you do those things? And the answer for the people who did do them, yeah, I did. I can feel better from it. And then they got better faster. So they were happier. 

They gave me less money, didn’t have to come as many times but they referred more. It was great. But the 40% when I asked them, they said I was busy. I did them a bit. And my favorite answer was simply, uhh, and they didn’t know why they hadn’t done it. So when someone’s in acute physical pain, they can’t pick the kids up, they can’t earn money, they can’t drive. Things you think a highly, highly motivating, they still didn’t do the things to help themselves. And I noticed it was a lot of people and then answering about leaders holding themselves back is if we do that when we are in real physical pain, when and where else do we do it? The answer is everywhere. And the number about 40% of people, and I’ve worked in different niches and experimented worked on this the last 20 years, is that it’s just something that about 40% of people do when they stop themselves doing what they could do, or know they should be doing. 

So it’s driving with the foot on the brake. Knowing that this is where you want to take your business, you know, it could be, you know, you need to stand up and present to that in that important meeting. But then you hold yourself back and you get really nervous or you or in some cases, I’ve known people who’ve gone sick, to prevent themselves from having to do it. So the first level of it is, there’s a lot of people who just walk around with amazing knowledge, amazing skills, even some amazing results, who over doubt themselves, over fear failure, overly fear criticism, and have excessive self doubt. And it’s the excessive, it’s the over fearing it’s the problem. 

And this hits leaders and entrepreneurs just as much as it does anybody else in any part of life. So it stops them doing what they’re capable of doing. They have the drive, they have the ambition, they have the skills, they have the knowledge, they have the brains, but they just don’t use them. And people hold themselves back, knowing that they are, but they keep stopping themselves from playing full out. And that’s, that’s who I like to help. So did that, I didn’t answer your question.

Nicole: Yes. And I couldn’t agree more. And that people do hold themselves back. And it’s based on two things. You said doubt and fear, which are, they’re cousins, right? Fear and doubt, are cousins of each other. So that’s that’s your specialty, you help people figure out how they could change this about themselves. So my listeners are dying to know because I bet you there’s they’re out there listening going. I do that. I’m guilty. So so how do you help people overcome excessive self doubt, and the fear of doing well?

Stephen: Okay, so this could be the fear of doing well. It could be the fear of being judged and criticized. It could be earning too much money, being too successful. So a lot of the time you see coaches and people saying, you know, you need to have bulletproof confidence, you need to smash through things. Well, the first thing I want to talk about is the fact we are meant to doubt, we are actually meant to doubt on a very regular basis. And what often happens is we think we’re meant to be as leaders, people who know all the answers, or at least on the surface. You know, we’re up on this pedestal, we don’t want to be up. And they just, I’ve got to be bulletproof. Well, to actually make good decisions, you’re meant to doubt, every major decision. We actually doubt every decision, because if we didn’t doubt the decision, and most importantly, lose our confidence at that point, we would just have a great idea and then fly into it and sign on the dotted line and take big action. And then five minutes later think, why did I do that?

So to make a good decision, we’re meant to stop and think, is this the right thing. So that is good use of self doubt, and good use of loss of confidence. So the other thing about confidence to help your listeners is, confidence is not something you should try and build, it’s actually the default state of a human being. We walk around all the time being confident. But because it’s a default state, we don’t notice. We do lots of lots of things very confidently. But because we’re just being confident we don’t notice. It’s when we lose confidence, that it’s the problem. But sometimes meant to lose confidence, because it’s meant to stop us and say, hey, is this a good thing to do? Yeah. So that’s the mechanism we’re meant to use. And if we’re using that, well, life gets better because we make great decisions. Hey, I have had a brilliant idea. And then five minutes later, you think actually, no, that’s not a good idea. That’s that’s actually it’s a bad idea. 

Go and think it out again, you know, reject the idea. Then you move forward when it’s ready. What happens is, we get another part of our brain, our thinking, that decides over excessive doubt, overly being fearful is going to help us. So too easy to diagnose yourself as if you have an argument with yourself, not just an argument, oh, should I do this? Or should I do that? Should I have Chinese for food tonight or Indian food tonight? That’s just normal debating, when you have an excessive argument, when you are saying, I can do this, I can bind prepare to take the risk. But no, that’s too dangerous. When you have that argument, which is excessive, and you’re frustrated with yourself, because you won’t take it, all you’ve got is another part of your brain. 

That’s probably many years ago, learnt being excessively fearful, or excessively doubt, doubtful is a good idea. Lose your confidence excessively because if I don’t speak up in that meeting, if I don’t go for that new position, I don’t, whatever it is, you know you’re capable of doing, then I won’t fail, I won’t be criticized, I won’t be judged. And that’s all it is. It’s just an excessive use of the same system. And all you need to do is discover exactly what it is you’re trying to do for yourself at an individual granular level, because it will be about trying to help you stay safe. And this is the epiphany I had about 10, 15 years ago. It’s actually not there to protect you. It’s not trying to protect you from failure. It’s not trying to protect you from embarrassment, or looking stupid, that’s just the first level. Everyone knows that. That’s, that’s, that’s the first level. It’s the benefit of not failing, and not looking stupid, that makes this part of the process not to want to stop. 

Because if you don’t fail, you don’t lose your money. You don’t have to admit to your spouse that you’ve messed up, your kids can still go on holiday, you can still buy the car, you can still have security for your family, you can. So the first level of protection, which most people understand, I don’t want to make a mistake, is only the first level. If you keep going, it always be to try and help you be happy and successful. It’s just a system that never works, because it’s excessive. So when my clients discover that, they just wonder why they’ve been doing it for many years, because it’s trying to do the same as the real you is doing, which is to help you be happy and successful. But it’s just in the process that will never work. So it’s actually quite easy to turn off. And that’s what I mean, you turn it off. You just choose not to use it.

Nicole: Tell us how to do that. How do we how do we turn it off?

Stephen: So the first thing is, you’ve got to find out exactly why you’re wanting to do this. So I’ll give you an example. There was a client I worked with, he had his own business. And he got to a certain amount of money in earnings every month. And the moment he started to hit that level, that ceiling, he started to sabotage his sales calls. He wouldn’t let himself go over a certain amount of money. He didn’t know why. So we dug in, asked a few questions about half an hour. And he found out that is, if he earned too much money, then he will be greedy. He’ll be a bad boy because he’ll be greedy. And as soon as we found this, it was about him not being greedy for earning too much. Now the interesting thing is, I’ll say the number 10,000 pounds. It wasn’t that, but just protecting his anonymity. He had a number 10,000. But he didn’t even know consciously he had picked that number. Could have been nine could have been 11. 

But anything over that, it switched into that’s greedy. So he had no idea. He knew he was doing the behavior. But he didn’t know why. And then soon as we uncovered it, it was I’ll be a bad boy, because I’ll be greedy. I said bad boy? How old are you? He’s in his 30s, and said bad boy, and he just went, that’s my mum. And it was all down to not being too greedy at the dinner table when they’ve got guests. So it didn’t embarrass her when he was a kid. So one of the biggest things that stops people’s performance is what we’ve learned in our past. And something in your past is now running your leadership, your your sales strategy, your your, your company, it’s got nothing to do with it. But he would cap himself at this amount this amount every single month, and actively sabotage himself because going over that means he’s not a nice person. And being a good person is better than earning the money. Soon as we got that. Sorry, please.

Nicole: Sounds like he had a relationship with money early in life or got messages from his parents or somebody like that, that you know he was fighting against. And the reality of it is is that the more money you have, the more you can give away, the more good you can do in the world. You know, it’s just a matter. It’s a matter of reframing right. So I know that’s one of the techniques I use with my clients is when we do discover one of these like little weird mental models that’s floating around in there like you said, I mean, like, he didn’t even know it was there, he knew the behavior was there. But he had to dig a little deeper, find the mental model, badboy. Right. And then you help them see something higher and better, because there’s nothing more fun than giving money away. And you can’t give it away if you don’t have a lot, right.

Stephen: And that’s, and that’s what confused him. He was incredibly, he had an incredible passion to help his clients. And he couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t let himself grow his business and hire new people to hire more people. And actually, it was not about money. It was about roast potatoes. So years later, it was about him not eating too much, taking too much food off the table. And it had nothing to do with money at all. But years later, he turned that into money and being a bad boy. And, and and I just call it an oops moment. Because one of my clients many years ago, when they realized what they were doing. They just went oops. And it’s just a mistake. It’s like, ah, but they just don’t know what it is. But it doesn’t take long to find it. 

But and then it comes back to your question of advice to your, to your listeners, if you’re doing the behavior, there’s always a reason. Because if there wasn’t a reason you wouldn’t be doing that behavior. We do nothing by accident, we always have a reason, maybe a good behavior, maybe a bad behavior. But there’s always a reason. So therefore you can always find it. But the question is, why do you not want to turn it off? So answering the second part of the question, if that’s okay, you find what it is. But then you realize that you’ve had massive changes in your life. You know, perhaps you in a relationship. You met this person, and you fell in love with them, they were the best thing ever. And then they did something. And one day, you said, I don’t love them anymore. 

Before they did that thing, you think you’re going to go on with them forever, you’re never going to change your thinking. But then one day, you just change your mind. And you’ve seen people who smoked for 40 years. And then one day, they’ve tried to quit, they’ve done all the patches, they’ve done all the all the different ways. And then one day, they have a big enough reason just to change their mind. So we can do that on any topic. So changing beliefs is very easy. You just need to know why you don’t want to change it, and then find a reason to, and then we can change anything. We’ve all done it 1000s of times.

Nicole: Right? Right. And it’s the matter of sticking with your brain long enough to get it changed, you know, is reverting back to the new thought that you want to have. There’s a excellent YouTube out there. And I’m going to try to pull up the guy’s name here in my brain. But he talks about how when we have a thought pattern that stays in place for a long time, parts of our brains, literally the dendrites connect together. And we automatically have automatic thinking, and you know that what becomes habit. But then after a period of time, you know, we can like you say change your mind. 

So we slowly pull those dendrites apart. And then we rewire things a different way. So I smoke, I don’t smoke. So it can be done. It just takes the period of time for the physical brain to to kick in and to create the new passageway. But it absolutely can be done. So that’s fantastic. Well, you know, the thing that I found on your website that was so interesting is you said that there are three signs that that you’re holding yourself back. So you know, for your for you listeners out there, you might be thinking, well, I don’t know if I’m doing that. I don’t know if I excessively doubt. Well, there are three sure signs that Stephen has on his website. And they are underachieving, having a pattern of success and chaos. And then of course, the third one.

Stephen: Boom and bust.

Nicole: Boom or bust. Yeah. So will you kind of take us through those three things so we can see if maybe these are patterns that we’re doing to ourselves?

Stephen: Yeah, so the first one, the most common one is under achieving. And that’s literally when you know you’re capable of more. You have the drive, you have the ambition. You have the skills, and you know that you can learn the next level of skills, possibly where you want to go. But you’re driving with the foot on the brake, and you stop yourself from taking the action you could take. So I had a client who for many, many years, one of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with, she she blew me away, she was so clever. But she would never allow herself to go up to the CEO position. Totally possible, but that’s an example of she was holding yourself back because of what she believed. So that’s the conflict. I want to do it. I’m not allowed. I want to do it. I’m not smart enough. I want to do it. But what happens if. The chaos is when you have almost that same process but jumping backwards and forwards. So I’m doing something. Now I do something else, now I’m going to do something else. 

So you live in chaos, because your motivation is going in one direction. Now the next direction. Now the next direction, now the next direction. So you absolutely live in chaos. And the other way of living in chaos is, you focus on one thing, because you think that is where you’re going to get success. So this is what I call missiles, people who say, when I get my money, when I get my business to this level, when I get everything absolutely perfect, then I’m going to look after my relationships, and my health and my family and everything else. And so they are often the ones we look at in the media, these people who are incredibly successful, but they often live in absolute chaos, and the rest of the life is falling apart. Because they see success only in one area of their life. 

And I would say to people, the vast majority of people who consider success want to be successful in many areas of their life at the same time. So in the Alpha Programme, I challenge people to be successful in many different areas, not just one, because that stops the chaos and stops your third relationship, your third marriage breaking down or you whatever. And then the boom and bust is usually a little bit more to do with, I can make money, I’m not allowed to have it. That’s the conflict. So they almost, they almost give it away. They have to, they have to lose it. They don’t deserve it. It’s not right for me to have this. So as much they, I had one, one person I knew many years ago, they were blowing up businesses just before the big payday. Because when I asked him what you’re going to do with all this money, we’re talking serious money. This is set yourself up for life money. He said I’m going to give most of it away. 

Now it sounds very noble. But at the time, they’re living in hard times, and had been for years. But as soon as they got the money, they’re going to give 90% of it away. I said why and dug down, he’s like I don’t deserve to have that money. So they kept damaging their businesses, snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory, time and time again. And they were they had all sorts of belief mechanisms to support why that was true. But actually, it wasn’t. Deep down, I’m not that person at that level, I’m not allowed to have it or I can’t go above the ceiling of being that successful. Because my parents were never that successful. Amount of times I’ve heard that or what will my friends think? Will I lose friends if I’m that successful? So hard as a lot of really good leaders and entrepreneurs sometimes work, they don’t let themselves actually keep it. So that’s the boom and bust. That’s one the most common ones.

Nicole: Yeah, and I think what you were talking about earlier, when you said that they have success in one part of their life, the success in chaos one. I want you to go back to that one for just a second. Because I think that’s absolutely true. You’ve got to have habits in all those different parts of your life, so that you can maintain the quality in your business life. So I’ll just quickly share with the listeners, I think there’s, there’s there’s several parts. First thing is you have to have like intellectual or mental wellness. Right, you know, so thinking about how you’re thinking metacognition, which is exactly what you’re talking about. Getting your belief system correct. And there’s a lot of things that you can do to get your belief system correct. 

So I’ve actually gotten an instrument called the energy audit. And I think there are there are six energies. One is intellectual, then there’s your emotional health, your spiritual health, physical health, your social health, and then the health of your finances, which I keep hearing you bring up. I think people have a terrible relationship with money sometimes. And it’s because they were they were born with too much of it, too little of it, or they were never taught that money is just simply an energy that you manage, you know. So I think all of those are really, really huge, to to have more success and less chaos is if you have that kind of model of those six energies, and how to work on them. So when people work with you, and they have, like a poor relationship with money, which you have mentioned several times, what are some strategies that you could share with the listeners that they can do to get their head in the game around money?

Stephen: So they, usually they come to me because they’re in a conflict. So they usually are okay with money. But then another part of their thinking is not.

Nicole: Right, some sort of a disconnect or something going on.

Stephen: There’s a disconnect. So there’s the conflict. So that’s when people say, oh, yeah, I keep arguing with myself or you know, I you know, and this is why I talk about this. I like to talk in processes, because I don’t like labeling people. I don’t like calling people you are this or one of these people. I say, tell me the process of how you think about this, which then gives the behaviors which then gives the results. Because if you take it into a process, strip out all the jargon, and just look for, you did this behavior, what was the reason? Dig deep find the reason. Now they understand why they made that choice. They did that behavior, they got that result. So I’m, you know, I like logic in that respect. And the, when people come to me, for example, they don’t value themselves, so they won’t, they won’t go for a job and, and at the right level, for their own, you know, their abilities. 

But they come to me because they know they’re capable of doing that. So I don’t have to fix them, then they don’t need to be fixed, they already know they’re capable of doing that job, or starting that business, or balancing their time better. Yeah, you get better at it, you know, in terms of technique and a bit of discipline, you know, in terms of everyday life. But they know, they know that because that’s why they come to see me. Because if they didn’t have that inside of them, they would just quite happily sabotage themselves, there wouldn’t be a conflict. So I actually look for the conflict is the first thing. So if you’re arguing with yourself, hallelujah, brilliant. Because the real you is fed up with it. The real you just wants to get on in a much healthier way, you know, I need to I need to, you know, like I said, when the person has hurt their ankle, they come to me, or they did, they came to me, they want to help, they want to be fixed. 

They wanted my advice. They knew what to do. But then another part of them, sabotage them and stop them doing what could do to make it easier and faster and get back to back to nice life. So I never actually tend to, I don’t fix anybody, I just help them find the reason why they’re sabotaging and turn it off. Then the fun happens, because now they’ve taken the brake off. And now they can move forward and learn new skills and apply what they already know. So to me, it’s a, it’s a very simple thing. If you’ve got a conflict, and you’re frustrated, that’s the real you saying, I can do better than this. I can do this, I’m smart, I’m able, I’m capable. Let me get on with it. And this is just this part of the process that just sticking the brake on. Take the brake off. That’s all that’s the vast majority of what I do when I start working with people. Then the next bit is, now you’re taking the break off, where do you want to go? And 90% of people, their goals get bigger, they get more defined. 

And this is the really important bit, they become their own goals. Because most people when they have this conflict, they have a conflict between this is who I am and what I want to do, compared to what I’ve been told, I should be doing. And Tony Robbins, this is one of my favorite Tony Robbins quotes, I’m pretty sure it’s his. I should do this, I should do that, I should do the other and end up shoulding all over yourself. And as soon as you turn off the shoulds, people just go. But then they start to move forward. Use what they know. And then they let their ambition take them forward, their goals become more solid, they become bigger. But most importantly, possibly for the first time in their life their goals become their own. And what they should do.

Nicole: Yeah, there’s another fellow coach out there, and her name is Brooke Castillo. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with her or not. But I’m gonna just insert something real quickly here because what Stephen is saying is absolutely huge. And she talks about coaching yourself. Because if you can continuously look at the result you’re getting, you will quite possibly wake up. So she calls her little formula, c t f a r. So when this conflict comes up that Stephen is talking about, and he said, that’s that that is a wonderful thing that’s happening to you. So I don’t want you all to miss what he said the minute you go, why do I have this constant, you know, rub going on inside me? That is fantastic that that’s happening because the real you is fed up. That’s what Stephen said, and I love that line. 

Okay, so you can sit down and you can write down the C in Brooke’s methodology, which is what are my what is what are my current circumstances right now? Like what is happening to me right now. And write that down, write it as plain as possible without opinion, just like the facts give me the facts. The second thing is what is the thought that keeps coming back around? Right? And then when I think that thought, what feeling do I get? What action do I take? And what result do I get? Oh, I lose the deal. I lose the money. I make my wife unhappy? Whatever it is, right? 

Then you can say okay, well, here’s my circumstances. What new thought can I put in there to get a new feeling, to take a different action to get a better result? So I love her little ctfar. I say seat far is what we call it. But I absolutely love her little methodology because you can kind of look at I’m getting this result, how do I get a better result? And I think what we’re, that’s what we’re all after. And a business cannot stay in business, unless the leadership is trying to get better themselves. Right back to where we started when we opened this up and Stephen said the leader has to has to be better first, right?

Stephen: Yeah. And so if you’re using that methodology, great methodology, and you’re thinking, where do I want to go, you know. If you’re holding yourself back from using that methodology, that’s the problem. That’s, that’s the first thing I look at, that’s the problem, because you know, I want to get a different result, but I won’t let myself. So turn that off, you launch forward. And then you can use that methodology for continual increase, but you’re no longer fighting yourself on this very large, emotional scale. And then and then what you do is you just break through boundaries and barriers of just normal self doubt, because, hey, we’ve gone from a 1 million business to a five million business. 

I’ve never run a 5 million business before. What does that look like? Who do I need to be? How do I need to run it? Then you go to 15 million. Who do I need to be? How do I run it? Because that’s just normal. That’s progression. And that’s when you’re allowed to doubt that’s normal. But I say welcome to being human. But if you’re, you’re putting the brakes on, this is the thing that I found. This is why I have the passion. Turn this off, see people fly, because they have that drive to move forward. And then you learn methodologies and new skills, you know, to go where you want to go. But you’ll let yourself use those skills. You’ll let them you know, you’ll learn them and use them.

Nicole: Well, I’m wondering if you would share a story of somebody that you’ve worked with that maybe went through your Alpha Programme, or one of your specialist courses, where they were they you know, did one of the exercises, or they did one of the you know, like, I’m thinking about your physical therapy part of you, you know, it’s like, move your ankle like this 20 times that way and 20 times that way. You know, that’s how you get your ankle better. So I’m wondering what the actual activities are. Or you could give us a high you the highlights of the things that people might experience in your program that we might get started right now. So to just say, turn it off is hard. Okay, turn it off.

Stephen: It’s hard to get. And that’s the problem. And I always say to people, people say, oh, you know, changing beliefs is one of the hardest things. And I say, no, it’s not, they don’t exist. When was the last time you actually fell over a belief that someone left a bottom of the stairs, you know, they don’t actually exist. But what we do is we have, the reason we we say it’s hard to change is because we’ve been told by people that, they’re hard to change. But actually, the reason they’re hard to change is because we don’t know what those beliefs really are, because they’re so buried. And it turned out it was from when you were five years old. And there’s one of my clients had, she thought she was dumb because her brother at the age of five was better at reading than she was at the age of five and their dad called to face and she thought, ahh, I’ve disappointed by dad. I’m not very smart. 

And that was it. That was the turning point, silly is that. So we don’t necessarily know where they are. So the first thing in the Alpha Programme is we spend two hours and we will find exactly what it is in that two hours. So you for the first time the whole of your brain knows what the argument is, perhaps you’ve had it for 30 years, 40 years. But you’ll know in the end of those two hours exactly what the argument is, and why you’ve been wanting to keep it. That’s the other important thing. Beliefs are hard to change. Because one, you don’t know what they are. Two, you don’t know why you’re keeping them. So that part of the brain.

Nicole: There’s got to be some little weird payoff right?

Stephen: Big payoff. No, it’s got to be, yeah, it’s a big payoff. And the big payoff is, and this is the thing, it’s not an enemy. It’s not, you know, the devil on your shoulder, even though it’s possibly causing chaos in your life. And people do all sorts of painful behaviors, and they sabotage relationships, they blow money, they mess up, you know, starting a business or whatever, they do all sorts of crazy stuff. But the intention is always positive. I have worked with 1000s of people, every single one of them who came in and fed up with a destructive behavior. In that two hours, we always find out what it is, but also, they prove to themselves, the intention is positive. 

When you finally get that every single part of your brain is trying to help you be happy and successful, whatever that definition is for you. All of a sudden, that’s not the enemy anymore. Because that’s just a process that your brain has accidentally constructed that doesn’t work very well. Causes problems. And that’s the oops moment. So it’s not it’s not just finding it it’s when they prove and I will say, you will get, I guarantee you, this behavior, which is destructive and painful and horrible, and they’re ashamed of and all these horrible feelings, always 100% guarantee every single person is positive in intention.

Nicole: Right? Like, we need to make peace with this, this thought we’re having right? Like greet it, give it a big hug, say thank you for for trying to be positive, right? Instead of resisting it or trying to get right in there and get close to it right?

Stephen: Trying to ignore. Yeah. So with a with a with somebody I was speaking to working with this week. They are a physical training instructor, they have the body of a God, they have knowledge. It’s amazing. They inspire their clients, but they over drink. They didn’t know why. Why, because over drinking is because when they need to get some friend rounds to have get together, well, let’s go down the pub, let’s have some drinks, let’s have some fun because they hate being lonely. And that’s right back from their being when they were a child, when their dad was in the military, and they were absent. So they hate being on their own. They hate being lonely. 30 years later, they’re just using alcohol, or it could be food or anything else, just as an excuse to get the people they needed together. So they didn’t feel lonely. So it’s always positive intention. 

So what we do is, we try and say we can’t have the food, we can’t have the alcohol, we can’t go to the gym. Because people get addicted to these things. Because they’re solutions. We say that the you know, I you know, over drinking is a problem. It is, the damage it causes. But it’s actually a solution to something else more important. So we take away the solution, we then crave not being lonely. So as soon as he realized that it was like, that’s ridiculous. So sometimes you need to give a hug and be compassionate to yourself. Sometimes people just shrug their shoulders. The behavior I love to see the most is when they people just literally look up in the air they go. Ohh. They do that. 

That’s when they know they changed it. Because they just go oh that’s ridiculous. Right? That’s the click is the click. And that’s the behavior. If I see that behavior, I think they’ve got it. So they just understood for the first time, what it was, why they’re doing it. It was them trying to help themselves, doesn’t work very well, causes chaos. And most people say, oops, or that’s silly, or I can’t believe it’s about that. Oh, wow. And they shrug their shoulders. And when they shrug their shoulders, that’s when that change happens. And so that’s the first that’s the first that’s the first part. Sorry, please.

Nicole: No, I just was having a little epiphany over here. Because you know, you’re talking several times now you’ve referred to like somebody’s past when they were a child or they were younger. And so it’s almost like, what’s happening is like a maturing, like, I’m going to get a more grown up way to think about this, right? And, you know, we, we get a higher thought, right? So this thing I’m doing is serving my need. But what if I go to higher ground, what’s a better way to not be lonely?

Stephen: Okay, so here’s the thing, the real them, that had the conflict is already that grown up. That’s why we’re talking about it, that the grown up is already there. That’s why they don’t need fixing. Now, they may need some new ways of doing it in the physical world, because they used to doing this bad way. But the grown up them is already there, having the argument with themselves and getting frustrated. So the the growth so I say to people, you don’t need fixing. Because the fact that you have the argument and the conflict means you already know there’s a better way.

Nicole: Right. Then it’s oh, happy day. Right.

Stephen: Yeah. And then you can move on and have a you know, learn better skills and whatever else. And this is the same for leaders, because we’re talking about leaders, and we’re talking about, you know, this stuff, but this is the thing that holds people back more than anything. And then you can learn leadership skills and you apply them you become the confident leader. You do you know, you actually let yourself be the person that you know you already are. And that’s what I love. That’s why I love helping people, people lead themselves, be the leaders of their life and then lead their companies and help them do do amazing things. Whatever that happens to be.

Nicole: You mentioned leadership skills. And so let’s say a leader, you know, works with you or figures out, you know, what, what that need is. They figure out a higher way or a better way, they’re, they’re a mature adult that’s already with them arguing with them, says, you know, here’s a better way to not be lonely. And you embrace that. Now it’s time to work on your leadership skills. What leadership skills do you find are really necessary to move people forward in their leadership to grow their business, to engage their people, to make more money, etc, etc. What are the key things you think leaders need to be working on?

Stephen: First thing I do is I teach them how to understand people in the same way. Without theory, without labeling, just understand. If you can understand people, you’ve got six people in your team, they all think differently, because you need them to think differently, because we need different people.

Nicole Greer: The highest diversity you can get right.

Stephen: Exactly, yes. So yeah, if you can understand them, you understand their thinking, and the way they approach things, then you can adjust your methodology for that person to get the best out of them. So the first thing I always teach is just how to understand other people, just the framework. And once you know, the framework, you see it everywhere. And I had a client recently, senior person in a big company, you would know. When they got the framework, they said, this is easy, isn’t it? You know, it’s everywhere. It’s, it’s like, it’s like an ABC, you need to learn the ABCs of people, but the mechanics almost, not, not the labels. And then the next thing I usually start with is the difference between leadership and management. 

And also, they go together. And there’s a lot of crossovers, but some people are natural leaders and terrible managers, some people are more natural managers, and some people in management positions are not managers at all. So finding out are they leader, manager both or not at all, then you can start to train them and guide them on the skills depending what they need. And I promise you, I’ve worked with so many leaders, who and you know, leadership is a sexy word management is not a sexy word. People want to be leaders, usually not managers. But knowing the difference and knowing for leaders how to manage your managers, so you can get on with being a leader. That’s I work with a lot of senior people and, and the relief they have when they realize they don’t have to manage as much, because they’re not natural managers, they don’t think like a natural manager does. 

But if you are a natural leader, and you do not think and most entrepreneurs are not natural managers, they’re more leaders. But then the breakdown happens is because they go off and having all these crazy ideas, 20 a day, and I will do this, then we do that, and they’ve got huge energy and they drive forward and everyone’s going wow. And then the bigger it gets, the more it falls apart, because there’s no structure and systems and control and processes and scalability and efficiency. And they get frustrated for the managers slowing everybody down, and slow my company down. So when they realize that, they go, oh, I don’t have to manage. It’s a debit, let’s get some people who like to manage, are natural managers in. 

And they have the skills because almost hardly anybody nowadays is trained properly as a leader and a manager. It’s actually quite rare. That’s my, that’s my other passion. If you have good skills, then you create leverage with your team. Team stays, retention problems go down, people take on willing accountability, they take on responsibility, because they enjoy it. Because they know they’re being supported. And it just gets easier. So people first, leadership and management the difference between who are you naturally, what do you need to do? And who do you need in your team to balance you, so you can stay the leader will be the manager or whatever is the right variable, variation for that particular company or team.

Nicole: Fantastic. Thank you so much. I love that list. Alright, so I have two more questions for you. My next question is, you know, you work with people all around the globe. And so as you have like, kind of this bigger picture of what’s going on out there in the world, what what are the common things that leaders are doing? And what is it they need to do to take a next right step? Maybe we can’t get through the whole solution. But like, here’s some common problems that leaders are up against. And here’s a strategy to get get yourself going in the right direction. What do you think’s going on out there that here here in America, we’re talking about the great resignation.

Stephen: I was about to say that. 

Nicole: It’s probably all over. Okay. All right. So tell me tell me, tell me what a leader does to, you know, hire, retain, you know, get the best people? What’s your thought there?

Stephen: Right. So that’s my very first answer. My very first question, be the person that people want to follow. And there are certain things that actually everyone knows you need to Google them. Give someone recognition and doesn’t necessarily be money. Actually, a lot of people if you do these, they don’t ask for money straight away. You know, they ask for money when there’s they’re not getting any of the other things. So recognition, career pathway, support. So what do leaders need to do? They need to be the company, them, and then the company that wants to stay there. And to do that is train your managers to focus on this. This is a, this is something that leaders should make sure the managers should be doing, because it’s the managers that do it on a day to day basis. 

And the managers are too busy hitting projects and tasks and timelines, deadlines and everything else. But build a strategy of, we need to actually put in retaining our people retention strategy, and it is looking after your people understanding them. If you do that retention gets a lot easier, because why would they leave if they can see a pathway, they can feel good, that there’s flexibility in the workplace, all these things that they need. So leaders need to put in a strategy for that. And they need to train their managers and task their managers to make sure their managers know how to do and are doing it every day. Guarantee you that makes a big difference.

Nicole: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. All right. So here’s my last question for you, Stephen. And so I’ve, you know, we’ve got listeners out there, and they’re like, oh, I think I’m one of these people that I hold myself back. I’m not sure if I’m a manager or a leader. You know, they’ve got questions. But if you wanted to give like one more serious nugget, one more serious piece of advice, what piece of advice would you give them? 

Stephen: Hmm, that’s a big question. 

Nicole: One more little Stephen nugget. Certain change.

Stephen: You can change your thinking. If you, if you learn how to change your thinking, which you can do, because people do it all the time, then you can change your outcome of your living. And most of the time, we’re frightened to look that deep. But actually, you don’t need to be frightened. Because if you are compelled to want to achieve more, that’s the real you trying to get out. Not you trying to force yourself to be something. So when you have that, when you have that argument, it’s the real you that says, I am valuable, I can do more. I can achieve there. That’s the real you. Not that fearful guilt. Guilty feeling. That’s, that’s the accident, is learning to realize the real use the one that’s positive and believing in yourself is already there. So just got to re engage that bit by turning this bit off. You’re already there. You don’t need to be fixed.

Nicole: Yeah. And I love what you’re saying that, you know, I had a master coach, when I went through my first coaching program back in the day, 2007. And I wrote about this, it’s on my blog, everybody, it’s called stepping over the line. And I think that what Stephen is saying is that you just need to step over the line. And so I’ll share it with you real quick, Stephen. So he said to us on our phone call, the master coach, he’s like, I want you to all have a piece of masking tape in a line on the floor before you get on the call today. And we’re all like, you know, okay, and he, you know, it was a very fun, fun loving, very wise person, Dave Cowen, give Dave Cowen a shout out. And so he said, you know, we got on the call, he’s like everybody got their, their masking tape on the ground. And you know, everybody’s like, yeah, we got it on the ground. 

He’s like, okay, so I want you to think about something you want to change about yourself, you know, anything, anything you would change about yourself. Just pick something, you know, he’s like, now write it down. Does everybody have it written down? Yeah, yeah, we got it written down, Dave. He’s like, Okay, now on this side of the line, you’re somebody that has this issue that is holding you back in your words that you want to change. Now, I’m going to invite you to step over on the other side of the line. Now, on the other side of the line, you’re a person who’s changed. You don’t do that thing anymore. You don’t experience life that way anymore. You’re just a brand new person on the other side of the line, with all new thinking, you’ve got everything you need to succeed. So are you ready to step over the line? And we’re all like, oh, I don’t I don’t know if we’re ready. Yeah. That’s the thing holding you back, right.

Stephen: Exactly. And when you step over the line, you no longer care about all the things you thought you should be caring about. Absolutely.

Nicole: Right. And so he’s like to step over the line. You’re, you’re a different person now. So just be different.

Stephen: Yeah. Exactly. That’s it. And the real you should be on the other side of the line already.

Nicole: That’s right. Let’s go meet, just go meet them, right? Rendezvous. Oh, yeah, absolutely. That’s fantastic. All right. Well, Stephen Bates, it’s been absolutely a delight to have you on The Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. All my listeners are delighted to find out that they already have a wonderful mature adult person inside them that can do the right things. And when they have that conflict, celebrate, it is time to just dig in and figure out the why. Did I get that all right?

Stephen: That’s pretty spot on. Well done.

Nicole: All right, fantastic. Well, everybody, you can go out and you can get a hold of Stephen, he is available to you. And like I said, he has got a ton of stuff on YouTube. So if you want to go and I want to listen more you can do stop right now. Turn off the podcast, run over to YouTube. Listen to Stephen. Stephen, we can find you over on the web. We can find you at certainchange.co.uk. Correct?

Stephen: Yep. 

Nicole: All right. And then also we can find you, where can we find you on social media?

Stephen: Best place is LinkedIn. Yeah.

Nicole: Alright, so check him out there and I’ve got it pulled up right here. Oh, and also he’s on Twitter at certain change UK as well. I had all of that pulled up. All right. 

Stephen: Cool. Thank you. 

Nicole: All right. Thank you. Have a great rest of your day.

Stephen: Thank you.

Voiceover: Ready to build your vibrant culture? Bring Nicole Greer to speak to your leadership team, conference or organization to help them with her strategies, systems and smarts to increase clarity, accountability, energy and results. Your organization will get lit from within. Email Nicole@nicolegreer.com. And be sure to check out Nicole’s TEDx talk at nicolegreer.com.

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