How to get over a crisis of faith

How to get over a crisis of faith

A personal development article

Let’s all be honest, sometimes positivity fails. Sometimes the bright new future that was being worked towards seems like a sham born out of optimism and foolishness and worse, entirely unobtainable.

So what can you do when you are overwhelmed and your faith falters? Here are some thoughts:

Talk to someone

This can perhaps be the hardest step to take, because it can feel like an admission of failure, yet I think in many ways it might be the most important and powerful step you can take. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be someone who you feel has answers or even someone who knows you that well. The powerful part of this sharing is being able to voice your fears, your mistakes and your anxieties.

Faith tends to wither in isolation and people, especially males, are too inclined when doubts arise to keep them to themselves. Sadly this just results in the doubts growing and building often far beyond their true stature.

The person you chose should ideally have three characteristics –

  1. be willing to listen to everything you have to say,
  2. be absolutely confidential (so you can share everything),
  3. be someone who cares.

Now with that last point they don’t have to care for you on an emotional level but they do need to care that a person is suffering and want to help. Which is why a stranger can fulfil this role – and that could be anything from a stranger in a bar to a professional business coach!

You might be thinking that actually the best  person would be someone who does know you emotionally – a partner or spouse but they might be too emotionally invested to listen clearly to everything you need to share and also you may not feel free to talk to them if you feel your doubts and concerns are going to upset them.

Take a break

There is that beautiful poem Leisure by William Davies which ends with the lines

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

He’s absolutely right of course and it’s also a message for the moments when your faith has been lost and all seems too much. Take time out to ‘stand and stare’. Go to a coffee house or out for a walk. Do something that relaxes you and is entirely unconnected with your situation.

Yes your situation will still be there when you get back and you won’t have done anything to change it – expect – you might just come back a little calmer and a little more relaxed. Also whatever has caused you to lose faith will not get that much worse in the space of a few hours (if it will then we are talking crisis management and that’s a different situation!) so realistically you can take some time to collect yourself.

Check your diet

The more stressed or hectic we get often the worse our diet becomes. We live off a diet of rushed meals or junk food. The problem with that is cumulatively it can literally alter your blood chemistry which in turn can affect your mood and mindset.

Make sure you are eating healthy food and enough of it. As Zig Ziglar brilliant puts it in one of his early books you wouldn’t own a million dollar race horse and feed it on rough grass. You’d ensure it had the best nutrition and diet possible. You are that million dollar race horse and if you don’t fuel yourself properly you will struggle.

 Plan and take action

So now you’ve talked to someone, taken an evening off and eaten a few health meals that means you’re in a stronger position to take some steps to change your situation. You see sometimes you have to continue your struggles even when you feel low. You don’t always have the luxury of getting your head back together first. 

So look at your situation and think about what practical steps you can take to change it. Five quick questions to consider are

  • What could you do more of?
  • What could you do that you are not doing?
  • What could you stop doing that isn’t really helping?
  • What has worked in the past?
  • What are other people doing in your situation that is working?

For example a young recruitment consultant, who was rapidly losing faith in his new role, expressed some doubts to me recently over how he was doing and also how his company was performing. We talked about some of the above points and the action advice I gave him was very direct and  focused – identify core prospects, approach them through multiple means, approach more prospects than he’d been doing, establish a firm sales contact pipeline etc.

I also said that such actions were what the rest of his company should be doing. If he consistently puts those ideas into practice then he should do fine. The challenge for this chap, and for anyone who has lost their faith, is to take those actions without visible results and keep taking them until the results come. Action will save him.


Loss of faith isn’t always a passing thing. Indeed the opposite of faith is despair and that’s a condition that can last for a while. If you are in that place then I do believe that the steps above should start you on the path back to a more positive place.

And a final thought, there is nothing wrong with suffering a crisis of faith, it happens to everyone at some point or other and as Hermann Hesse wrote

“Faith and doubt go hand in hand, they are complementaries. One who never doubts will never truly believe”

Until next time; have faith!


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Brian Tracy vs Zig Ziglar vs Napoleon Hill

Brian Tracy vs Zig Ziglar vs Napoleon Hill

So let’s say you are interested in developing yourself and the idea of reading some of the specialist literature on the topic appeals the big question is;

Who do you read?

It’s a big question and I can’t really answer it for you. What I can do for you however is review three of the most popular authors. It’s less about one vs the other and more about which one is going to be right for you. Although that said I will compare and contrast them a little!


My first introduction to his work was via his sales book Advanced Selling Strategies which I know I mentioned in my sales blog on Wednesday. It’s a great sales book and covers a range of personal development tips – after all if you develop yourself you develop the sales person inside you!

After writing that and a number of other business related books Brian moved more fully into the personal development field. I used to love his material. It was clearly laid out and had lots of ‘golden tips’ and ‘rules’ – such as the ‘rule of attraction’ which pretty much states that whatever you have in your life at the moment you have attracted to yourself. Consequently by aiming to attract better and more positive things into your life your life will improve.

It’s a great principle and a good example of the positive mindset style that Brian has. As one of the first authors to really help me change my life I have a lot of good feelings towards Brian however the more I researched and read in the field of personal development the more I disappointed I became. 

What I discovered with his work was that a lot of it had been said before. Now I realise that self development authors are influenced by other authors in the field but over time I found less and less of Brian’s material to be new and fresh. I kept having the feeling that I had read something like it in the earlier authors – W.Clement Stone or Napoleon Hill for example.

Had I not read so much I would have recommended him almost without reservation although he does also have the habit of saying that ‘this is the most important’ or ‘one of the most important’ rules/principles etc quite a lot; until everything seems to be the most important!

PRO’S Lots of ‘rules’ that you can take out and apply immediately; material clearly outlined

CON’S Not as original as he first seems 

RECOMMENDED WORKS Advanced Selling Strategies (if you are in sales)

BEST WAY TO ENJOY Reading his material


Zig Ziglar speaks at the Get Motivated Seminar...

Ziglar, like Brian Tracy, started out as a sales trainer and moved across to pure personal development. The topics of personal and career development are obviously intertwined and both authors have simply developed their work in a natural way.

Ziglar tells the best stories and the thing I really like about his work is that it’s based on things he’s seen or people he has directly talked to. He speaks about himself and his wife (the red-head) and he speaks from the heart. I know several people who will listen to Zig simply for the entertainment value. He might repeat his stories a few times over his different books and CD’s but you don’t begrudge him that given the quality of the stories.

Where he falls down a little is that his material can cover a wide range of topics and often in a conversation manner. Brian Tracy has a firm structure that he works to whilst Ziglar roams over his topics. When I put a Zig CD on in the car I often don’t know exactly what I’m going to be listening to – other than the broad topic heading and I find it hard to remember on which CD he gives specific advice. Which clearly makes it harder to look up afterwards.

Another challenge that some people have, although not myself personally, is that he has a strong Texan accent and I know some folks in Britain who just can’t get past it. Also his recent work has become very religiously based and, whilst I don’t have an objection to it, I know it can be off-putting to some people. The more personal the work the more you find him referring to religion. His autobiography was particularly strong with religious references. I respect that he feels that way but it won’t work for everyone.

For all that if you were to strand me on a desert island and make me pick an author to listen to I’d pick Zig without a moment hesitation – and if I had to pick only one story it would be his house buying story – although the alligators in the swimming pool story always makes me laugh as well!

PRO’S As entertaining as anyone could possibly be; memorable stories help his points stay with you

CON’S Very religious particularly in his later works; accent bothers some people; not as structured as he could be 

RECOMMENDED WORKS See You At The Top; any of his sales CD’s (if you are in sales)

BEST WAY TO ENJOY Listening to his material


English: American self-help writer Napoleon Hi...

Napoleon Hill is most famous for his book Think and Grow Rich which was the first of his books that I read. It is truly worthy of the accolade of a classic (although not my favourite of his works).

Napoleon had the almost unique advantage when he wrote his work of being hired to travel the world and interview successful people to try to identify what attributes or qualities had helped them become successful. As a result his work is full of references to long dead successful business people – some famous, some less so.

I absolutely love Hill’s work and despite its age I feel most of it is relevant to us nowadays. I do accept that some of his ideas and comments have not aged well and the fact that Hill was writing in the 1930’s does show through in places.

I mentioned above that I find Brian Tracy less original now than I first did and largely that’s down to the writings of Napoleon Hill. For me when I read Brian Tracy it is like reading an updated, rewrite of Hill’s work. Not all of it but enough that it makes me want to put Brian down and pick up Napoleon Hill.

The age of Hill’s work doesn’t bother me and that might indeed be the deciding factor for you. If you want something more up-to-date then Brian Tracy would be a better choice for you. If you can live with some almost naive 1930’s comments about business and technology then I’d recommending going with Hill.

PRO’S Original work and thoroughly researched; well structured and laid out

CON’S The material has aged and some appears out of date 

RECOMMENDED WORKS Napoleon Hill The Golden Rules, Lost Work; Think and Grow Rich

BEST WAY TO ENJOY Reading his material


Reading any self development author is better than reading none. Each author has their strengths and their weaknesses. My recommendation would be hire a couple of books from the library and see who you click with.

I still read, or listen to, all three of the above authors regularly regardless of any of their flaws. They are wise, dedicated individuals who set out to share their knowledge for the betterment of all. I respect that a lot and would encourage all of you to try them out.

Until next time;

Stephen Hart 

Motivational Monday #10 A conversation with the finest individuals

A conversation with the finest individuals…

“The read of good books is like a conversation with the finest individuals of the past.”


There are so many great quotes about learning and reading that I struggled to pick a single favourite. For myself reading has always been one of my biggest hobbies and its the only hobby that I’ve been totally consistent with – I can’t remember a time I wasn’t reading!

Nowadays I read a lot of material for work purposes. Whilst I’m experienced in the fields I train in there are far greater minds than I out there and some of them have written great books! I take the view that the moment I assume I know everything is the moment I cease to learn. And I will never cease to learn!

So I happily and regularly read books and other literature on marketing, sales, recruitment, management, social media and all the other areas I get involved in.

There have been, and there are, brilliant people in the world and by reading their work I get to share their considered thoughts and experiences. I believe as a result I can fast track my career and personal life. So for you reading this now I would say today is a great time to either continue that journey (if you are reading books in your field currently) or a great place start it. 

Personally I’m a great fan of the library for two reasons a) it’s free (that has to be a good thing right!) and b) many of these books will only contain one or two ideas that you will want to take and use. Being able to borrow as many as you like and just pull out a few pertinent facts is very effective. Also there is nothing stopping you subsequently buying a particularly book if you find it really useful. The library is a plan with no draw backs in my book!

The theme of the blogs this week is learning – and to that end I will cover the following topics this week:

  •  Tuesday – A step by step guide to sharing your own material via your LinkedIn profile
  • Wednesday – Three sales tips I learnt from books
  • Thursday – A management exercise (with management books)
  • Friday  – Some personal development authors reviewed
I’d like to end with two more book related quotes

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”


“It is better to read a little and ponder a lot than to read a lot and ponder a little.”

Denis Parsons Burkitt

Until next time; happy reading!
Stephen Hart
Photo curtesy of the talented Karolina – more of her work here

Three management questions of value

Three Management Questions of Value

 Merging the Action theme from last week and this weeks theme of Values and I have three questions that I would offer you. These questions cover the topics of your most valuable client, your staff activities and your own skill set –  I trust you will find the answers enlightening!

Two of the questions are for you as a manager and one is for your team although there is nothing stopping you having everyone work through all three questions as a development exercise.

Question One – for yourself

Who is your most valuable client?

This is not necessarily the one that generates the most revenue or even the one that is the most profitable. It could be that a less profitable account when considered in the bigger picture is actually more valuable due to its strategic important or what having that client enables you to do (enter new markets etc.)

Once you have identified your most important client (or a short-list of three if you want to do this exercise in more depth) consider

  • When did you last speak to them?
  • When did you last visit them?
  • When did you last provide added value beyond the level they expected?

ACTION POINT If any of your answer to the above are ‘not recently or ‘not recently enough’ then either do it now or put a note in your diary system to do it soon!

Question Two – for your employees

The following makes an interesting, and potentially very useful, development exercise for your staff. Ask them the following as part of a development session

In your role what is your most valuable function?

Not a trick question but rather, in a similar vein as question one, an honest and direct question to get the person thinking. The question works best when the employee is allowed a chance to present their own ideas about their role. Whilst you might know what what they have been hired to do what they actual perceive as their most valuable role can be very illuminating.

TIP To get to the real heart of their role and unearth the most valuable function that a person performs it will be necessary to break their role down into it”s core components. Take a receptionist – they might greet people in person, screens calls, schedule diaries, order items, negotiate with suppliers etc. The question is within your business what is the most valuable function your receptionist does?

Once their most important role (or again three most important roles) have been agreed upon consider

  • What training has the person had recently to help them perform that aspect of their job?
  • How much time do they get to focus on it?
  • What prevents them from doing more of it?
  • Are they personally well suited to the task and do they enjoy it?
  • And finally – what can you do to help them fulfill that function easier, faster and generally better?!
ACTION POINT Ask your key members of staff if they would be willing to try a development exercise – make sure you present this as a positive thing – and then try the above. If the results are useful then roll out across the rest of your staff.

Question three – for yourself

What’s your most valuable skill set?

It’s always positive to take some time and consider our own skills. So take some time and make a list of your skills and whittle it down to either a single skill or a short-list of three or so.

Once you have done that consider

  • How much do you currently use it?
  • What results are you currently getting from using it that way?
  • In what way could you use it more?
  • What would have to be in place to facilitate you doing it more?
  • How could you increase your skill in this area?
ACTION POINT Make time to work through the above or at the very least sit back now and consider the questions!


A manager should be adding value to all their customers, whether internal or external.

Checking the value of activities and personnel on a regular basis will help keep your firm evolving and moving forward.

Until next time, add some value!

Stephen Hart

Where would Batman be without Alfred

Where would Batman be without Alfred?

From hero to psychologically crippled costumed vigilante the public perception of Batman has changed over the years. This is, I suspect, a reflection of society changing focus from beyond the obvious and into the specifics. As well heroes now seem to be something to be analysed and broken down rather than upheld as paragons of virtue.

Within the very lore and comic world of Batman itself there have also been significant changes over the years. Sidekicks have come and gone (dramatically so in recent years). Batman himself has ‘died’ and many varied costume changes have been witnessed.

In all that time though there has been one constant; Alfred.

Batman’s loyal and faithful butler has stood by his master’s side and been a voice of worldly advice, caution and encouragement.

I can live with Batman without Robin but I can’t picture him without Alfred. Alfred provides a grounding, a real person perspective and moral compass to this masked hero.

But here’s a question; why does Alfred stay? The easy answer is out of loyalty. And whilst that might be right that’s not a deep enough answer because it raises a bigger question – where does this loyalty come from?

Fundamentally Alfred recognises that no matter what Bruce Wayne as Batman may do he is working with better moral thoughts in mind. His intentions are good, even if his actions break legal and sometimes bend moral laws.

Alfred also recognises the risks and efforts that Bruce takes to be Batman – whether it is going out into the field injured, refusing to back down against overwhelming odds or spending years dedicating himself to his martial arts training. (Least we forget Bruce Wayne as Batman is a major league superhero in a fictional world populated by super powered aliens and mutants despite Bruce only being a biologically normal human being!)

But if his loyalty was based only on those points it would be more hero worship than genuine loyalty. Any examination of the relationship between the characters will show that their relationship is founded on much deeper connections.

Bruce Wayne recognises that Alfred has skills and abilities he does not have. Alfred is a moral compass and a voice of compassion and reason when Bruce gets too obsessed. Alfred remembers more clearly the lessons of the past and offers suggestions on the routes forward from a perspective less clouded by angst and fervour. He also acts as medic, supplies manager and sometimes match maker amongst other things!

But, and this is a key point, Bruce’s internal recognition of Alfred’s worth wouldn’t help build loyalty. What is needed is for Alfred to know that he is appreciated. And he does know it; so the real question is: how does he know he is appreciated?

First Alfred is told directly by Bruce that he is appreciated, but such direct validation is not practical, nor effective, all the time. Arguably, more powerfully, Bruce demonstrates his appreciation of Alfred. Further he shows an appreciation for different aspects of Alfred; which is a point worth bearing in mind.

This is transferable to the real world. Everyone has certain strengths and abilities. If you have someone in the office who is punctual and you hold them up as an example to the rest of the team that’s great recognition. However if that is the only strength or ability of theirs that you repeatedly refer to or highlight then it becomes singular and one sided.  Very often the person ends up frustrated that their other abilities are not being recognised especially when they believe they have stronger or more important strengths in other areas. So strive to identify multiple strengths in your people.

Back to Batman (a phrase you won’t see on just any business blog)…

Bruce recognises and makes it clear that Alfred is a good person with a strong moral core as well as being an individual with a significant range of skills and abilities – and almost supernatural powers of discretion.

He demonstrates it in the same way that a good manager should demonstrate their faith in their team members…

Bruce asks for help; he discusses matters with Alfred (actively seeking his views) and he keeps Alfred informed of events. By doing so he is sending the clear message that he respects Alfred on a number of levels; first as a person who has an intrinsic right to know what is going on and secondly as a talented individual with his own skills and views who might well be able to help.

Consider that you tend not to discuss something with someone where you do not expect them to be able to understand or comment sensibly. Consequently choosing not to share information, thoughts or ideas with someone sends the message that you don’t expect them to say anything of value. And if you aren’t interested in them why should they be interested in you?

Bruce and Alfred are also bonded through shared experiences. Yes Batman goes out fights crime, gets hurt, returns and Alfred patches him up. But that’s not the shared experiences I’m thinking of. There have been occasions where Alfred has taken centre stage and fought with various villains. Such front line, shared experiences build common ground and also create occasions for direct appreciation.

Let’s say you are a sales executive who works with an account manager. Unless you take them on a sales appointment with you it’s very hard to be able to say,

“Well done on dealing with those objections and thanks for the prompt to talk about our new services, (I’d forgotten about those)”


“I didn’t realise you spoke French, that was very helpful”

Or whatever the situation in the meeting might have brought up. The point is if you don’t create the opportunity for those situations to occur then you won’t have the chance to voice your appreciation.

Another aspect of sharing common experiences is that it tends to create a mutual flow of appreciation of each other’s worlds. People have views and opinions about what other people do for a living but experiencing it tends to be quite different. It pays real dividends for all managers to spend active time shadowing their team members to truly understand how they do business.

And in my experience, with understanding often comes recognition of other’s challenges which in itself can generate respect.

One of the most common mistakes I hear from managers is when they say,

“I know what they do”

Knowing and experiencing are two very different things – just ask any new mother!

Going back to the first example above and the final part; which was in brackets –  ‘I’d forgotten about those’ is obviously for those honest sales individuals who are willing to put their pride to one side. An important attribute as none of us are perfect and to admit a mistake sends a positive message that they happen and it’s okay to recognise that.

Again there have been occasions between Bruce and Alfred when Bruce has apologised and recognised that Alfred has been right all along. This builds respect between two people as being able to recognise a mistake and sharing that fact with another person demonstrates an openness of mind and an emotional maturity that people respond to well.

The act of giving recognition also generates respect. Nobody ever has to give recognition to another person; doing so is a selfless and generous gesture.

When you consider the above and think about Batman and Alfred, one thing perhaps underpins their relation more than any other – communication. And indeed on the occasions where their relationship is more strained typically this is through Batman withholding information and being secretive and self-centred.

In all relationships where you are hoping to cultivate loyalty increasing the flow of communication will work wonders.

Whether you are a morally ambiguous vigilante, a business leader with support staff or a sales consultant partnered with an account manager, the more respect you give, the more experiences you share with your team members and the more everyone communicates, the better the relationships will be.

Just leave the cape at home.

Until next time;

Stephen Hart

+44 (0)7733 88 11 90


Simply click the link Where would Batman be without Alfred


I’d like to thank Steve Townsley for the generous use of his fantastic art to head this blog – more of his work can be found at he is also open for commissions! 

The artist known as JWMC also generously said I could use his work and whilst I went with Steve’s pictures I think it’s only fair to say thanks to JWMC – his work can be found here

Be aware that not all of their art might be suitable for all audiences or for viewing at the workplace – you have been warned!

Batman and all associated trademarks are © DC Comics



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Flashpoint Five – Procrastination


Definition: the act of procrastinating; putting off, delaying or deferring an action to a later time*


Procrastination is like a cancer in the work place. It’s insidious, sneaky and takes hold before you are consciously aware of it.

I like to think I’m fairly proactive and get on with things but someone pointed out something the other day which made me realise just how sneaky procrastination can be even for slightly OCD people like myself.

Think about your desk right now, or have a look at it if you are sitting at it. And here’s my question;

How many papers or folders are on it?

And I ask this because what the person pointed out the other day was this

Ever item on your desk is something you’re choosing not to do; something you are procrastinating over

It sounded good but I was dubious…so I checked.

And sure enough every single item on my desk was either something to action (the majority of the items) or something to file. In both cases I simply hadn’t made the effort to do it.

And worst of all, (although I do believe the truth will set you free), I realised that I hadn’t taken action over the majority of the items because it would have required me making a firm decision about something.

As an exercise I went, systematically, top to bottom of the papers and folders on my desk (only one pile I would have you know I’m not too far gone just yet!), made solid decisions on each item and actioned those decisions. It took half a day and then my desk was clear.

Interestingly it has only stayed clear in the weeks since I did the exercise by being proactive enough to make decisions on all items and then action those decisions.

The key to beating procrastination would seem to be making firm decisions.

What I realised this morning was that the old procrastination habit had crept into my inbox management. So this afternoon I’m going to be going through that and rout out this business cancer before it takes a permanent hold!

I offer you the thought that doing the same with your desk or inbox might just make your business a little healthier.

Until next time; take action!


Owner, Edenchanges

*Definition Source:



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When I was growing up my parents were fond of saying that if something was worth doing, it was worth doing properly. As a child I found such statements incredibly annoying – especially as they always seemed to relate to the boring stuff like cleaning or tidying up.

Now I specialise in personal development through corporate training and coaching encouraging people to do things, if not ‘properly’ (which is very subjective) then better or differently to how they were doing them prior to working with me.

Funnily enough the irony of the situation, and my adult reasoning that my parents were actually right after all does little to pacify that part of me that is still seven years old. That part of me is frankly irritated that, yet again, my parents were right!

I do like to think that it isn’t just me that feels this way about the advice they received as a child. Certainly the people I have confided in on this topic have universally reassured me that I am not alone and that irritatingly their parents were right too with those particularly annoying pieces of advice that they trotted out repeatedly.

So at the risk causing you some irritation and flashbacks to your youth let me venture to put forth the following:

“A job worth doing is worth doing properly.”

(Did you hear your parents voices as you read it?)

Now here’s the thing, like many simple and obvious pieces of advice it often gets overlooked due to it’s simplicity. So let’s take the advice and map it to the business world and specifically the activity of management.

Management covers a wide range of activities and one of the most critical is the activity of directing, influencing and leading other people. Now within that I would suggested that you can find a lot of activities that can either be done, or done properly.

By properly I mean with quality.

For example whether you have a formal management meeting first thing in the morning or not the very first time you interact with someone you are managing that day you should do it with quality. Consider the following:

  1. What has the person been doing professionally since you last saw them?
  2. What has the person done privately since you last saw them?
  3. What are their expectations for the day?
  4. What could you do or ask that would make them think ‘wow my boss cares’

One of the best managers I have witnessed was frugal with his time (i.e. no casual conversation) but always made a point of asking ‘what can I do to help you today?’ to all of the people he met in the morning.

He wanted to achieve three things with the one question (and he succeeded):

  1. He wanted them to feel that he cared about them as people
  2. He wanted them to know that he was there to support them
  3. He wanted to give them the opportunity to ask for his help before there was a problem

That’s managing with quality.

And that’s just one example and yes sadly it does prove my parents, and very possibly yours, right.

SO it might be worth taking some time and considering what other management jobs you have that could be done properly; with greater quality. And I’ll throw in a quick tip – very often the management jobs where the quality slips are often the commonplace mundane ones. Something to consider.

Until next time, be successful.


Stephen Hart

Corporate trainer and coach


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