Saga of the Saboteurs – The Stickler

Saga of the Saboteurs – The Stickler

Hello there!

Apologies for stating the obvious but we are on Part III of what decided, by itself, to be a series.

If this is the first article you landed on, then you might understandably be a little confused but don’t worry, I’ve got you. Just head over to the blog page and you’ll see Parts 1 and 2.

Thank you for stopping by and for sharing in the things that light me up!

Our guest minion today is……

Drumroll, please…………

The Stickler

The dictionary definition of a stickler is

a person who insists on exactness or completeness in something

That’s a good thing right?

Wanting things to be done properly, on time, in full, and within budget. Those details are important. Right?

So at what point does the Stickler become one of the Saboteurs?

Simply put, when taken too far and perfectionism becomes the order of the day.

When there’s only one right way to do things — my way or the highway.

When there’s no space created to learn from mistakes — do it perfectly or don’t do it all.

When nobody can match up to exacting standards that are set ridiculously high — if you want something done right, do it yourself.

That my friend is the voice of the Stickler.

“But wait” the Stickler will tell you “I have a good reason, hear me out”

And so you listen. And you start to nod your head because, honestly, it kind of makes sense.

Who really wants to spend time correcting mistakes? Surely that’s time that could be better spent elsewhere?

Who doesn’t like the warm, fuzzy feel of accomplishment for a job perfectly done?

Doing things right is the hallmark of excellence and everyone should aspire to excellence, surely?

Why wouldn’t you want to feel proud of being a standard-bearer of the highest order that people look up to?

And that’s the seductive nature of our Saboteur voices.

The ability to tap into our deepest desires and present their behaviour as a totally acceptable way of attaining those desires.

But are they really?

Photo by Mulyadi on Unsplash

The Stickler is usually very methodical and almost always punctual. Both are fantastic traits, particularly when things need to get done.

On the flip side, however, because of the inherent drive to be perfect, the Stickler can have quite a few not-so-fantastic characteristics as well.

They can be intolerant. Not only of other people but of themselves as well.

And that can come out in how they use language. Cutting jibes, underhanded comments, backhanded compliments, constant criticism and painful sarcasm can become par for the course.

Because they’re focused on being a beacon of perfectionism, there’s little space for relaxation or enjoyment. The Stickler is a master of self-control and self-restraint. They don’t respond well to teasing it and view it often as a mark of disrespect.

Interestingly, although they often hand out criticism, they’re rarely able to take it well.

But it wouldn’t look good to complain about that, so they sit with a lot of unexpressed anger.

Since nobody but the Stickler can achieve their high standards, they’re plagued by a sense of deep disappointment and frustration at being surrounded by incompetents (picture Scar and how he felt about the hyenas in The Lion King. The original. I’m yet to acknowledge the remake).

And since noone else is “good enough”, the Stickler lives with constant anxiety based on the impending sense of doom that accompanies what they see as inevitable failure.

And that’s only the impact on them.

Being a Stickler also has an impact on the people around them.

Because they’re so convinced that their way is the only way, they inhabit a world where diversity is seen as a challenge which means not only do they not do well with people whose style differs from theirs, but they also don’t manage change very well because they can be quite inflexible and rigid.

Then the people around them end up living a life resigned to the “reality” that they’ll never be enough, that they’re barely competent which causes self-doubt, plummeting self-worth, anxiety and resentment.

It becomes hard to deal with the constant barrage of criticism and so they can turn inwards to avoid having to deal with it.

The Stickler is what happens when the pursuit of progress and growth unwittingly evolve into a rigid adherence to perfectionism.

When we get so caught up in the end result that we don’t enjoy the process.

What do you think, friend, do you recognise this minion?

This series is based on one of the coaching tools that I use in my practice known as Positive Intelligence. Created by Shirzad Chamine, it’s a framework designed to maximise people’s potential by helping them to enhance their best qualities while also helping them learn how to minimise and quiet the qualities that stand in their way.

Saga of the Saboteurs – The Avoider

Saga of the Saboteurs – The Avoider

This series is based on one of the coaching tools that I use in my practice known as Positive Intelligence.

Created by Shirzad Chamine, it’s a framework designed to maximise people’s potential by helping them to enhance their best qualities while also helping them learn how to minimise and quiet the qualities that stand in their way.

You probably already know that our minds can be either our best friend or our worst enemy.

That’s why we so often have great intentions but very rarely succeed in following through on them.

Positive Intelligence is about recalibrating that relationship with your mind so that your mind works for you more often than it works against you.

According to Chamine, the reason we don’t follow through is because we all have thoughts and behaviours that stop us from doing so.

He calls those thoughts and behaviours Saboteurs.

We change the relationship you have with your mind by highlighting, recognising and learning how to tone down the Saboteurs’ voices.

We also focus on how you can learn to dial up the volume on the voice of your inner wisdom or knowing, which he calls the Sage.

As I’ve said before, coaching is a very individual experience and so it’s not a tool that I use with every single client and sometimes I just use part of it.

I do, however, think it’s a very cool concept which is why I decided to share it.

So as you’ve probably guessed by now, this series is called Saga of the Saboteurs because I’m sharing with you the story of each individual Saboteur.

In Part 1, I introduced the Judge and I shared that absolutely everyone has one but that each person’s judge has evolved somewhat differently and so shows up differently.

The Judge is like the Saboteur in Chief and it works hand in hand with nine Saboteur minions (not the cute, yellow kind). Chamine calls them Accomplices. I like my version better.

Usually, the Judge kicks off our negative thought process and then tosses the ball to one or more of the minions so they can tag-team us.

This is where things get interesting.

While everybody for sure has the Judge, we all have different minion saboteurs. Usually 1, 2 or even 3 quite strong ones and maybe 1 or 2 more to a lesser extent.

Let’s see if, through the course of this series, you can identify yours.

Photo by Jaroslav Devia on Unsplash

So welcome to Part 2, friend.

Today we’re meeting:

The Avoider

As the name suggests, this minion is a master of not dealing with things that it deems unpleasant or hard.

I’m going to put my hand up here — I so relate to this one.

If you have a tendency of putting off unpleasant discussions or tasks while low-key hoping that they will somehow miraculously sort themselves out…..

If you find saying “no” borderline impossible and you say yes just to keep the peace…..

If you often find that you don’t want to do something or go somewhere but instead of saying so you act out………

If you think by not doing or saying certain things that are important to you then you’re less likely to hurt anyone’s feelings……

If you value balance and equilibrium over potentially “rocking the boat” because you have a different view…..

If you’d rather “not create a scene” than stand up for what you truly want or think…..

If you’re worried that by speaking your mind then other people won’t like you or want to be around you….

If any of the above just made you feel either seen or called out, then maybe the Avoider is strong in you (yes, I made a Star Wars joke, it helps break up the serious stuff).

So here’s the thing, as soon as you read that list, your Avoider probably jumped up and started whispering (or yelling depending on how strong they are)

“But putting other people’s feelings first makes me a good person!”

“What’s the point of getting into things with people, nothing good could possibly ever come out of it”

“I’m just easygoing and flexible, I don’t have strong opinions about most stuff so it’s not worth fighting those that do”

“Y’all, somebody needs to keep the peace around here — it might as well be me.”

Sound even vaguely familiar?

That’s not surprising, the Avoider needs to justify their existence.

But what the Avoider isn’t telling us is the toll that being that person takes.

Because, if you’re honest, you can feel the weight of all the anger and resentment that you’ve suppressed.

You can feel the constant anxiety that you have to live with because even though you’re ignoring the thing, your subconscious is taunting you that it still exists and is probably growing in size while you ignore it.

Your even-tempered demeanour is a façade, one wrong word, and the mask will crumble and you’ll be revealed as the mass of anxiety you actually are.

I’ve been there, friend, and you could not pay me to go back.

See the Avoider stops us from growing because for as long as we’re not learning how to constructively deal with conflict and negativity, we’re denying ourselves the chance to see opportunities for growth, and areas that we could improve in.

The Avoider stops us from having deep meaningful relationships because people can sense that we’re holding back and that makes it look like we’re only interested in presenting the best version of ourselves which often doesn’t feel like the most authentic version.

How do you truly trust someone you don’t feel like you know?

By learning to mute or dial down our response to negativity, we also, inadvertently mute and dial down our responses to the positives in our lives.

The Avoider is literally out here stealing our joy.

Like the Judge, the Avoider in us evolved to protect us at a time when we needed protection and avoidance was the only way we knew how.

Are we still in that place friend?
Or is it time, maybe, to start to tell the Avoider to tone it down?

Saga of the Saboteurs – The Judge

Saga of the Saboteurs – The Judge

Tell the truth now, just how judgy are you?

Let’s face it, we’re all pretty judgmental people.

I like to think I’m easy-going and open-minded, but I can also be pretty darn judgmental.

And I’m guessing you can be too.

Think about it.

“Wow, that was stupid!” When you realise you have no idea how far 200m actually is and took the turn before the one your GPS meant you to.

“What on earth is he/she wearing?” When you see someone dressed in a way that somehow offends your sensibilities.

“Why am I still single?” Well, when you’re single and don’t like it.

Every time you call yourself names or judge yourself harshly for something you’re doing now or you’ve done in the past, that’s you judging yourself.

Every time you hone in on someone’s differences and choose to see them as somehow being inferior to you in some way, you’re judging another person.

Every time you see an outcome or a circumstance as bad, you’re judging that circumstance or outcome.

That little (or maybe not so little) voice in your head that is constantly giving negative feedback in some way or another?

That’s the voice of your Judge.

And it’s time to call them out.

Because as much as they make up part of who we are, they’re not good for us.

In fact, they’re often the cause of negative feelings swirling up like envy, dissatisfaction, anxiety, shame, and guilt to name a few.

All those not-so-good feels.

From an evolutionary standpoint, the Judge developed to ensure we stayed alive.

We needed to be able to discern what was safe to eat, whether danger was coming so we could retreat to safety, and so on. We needed to develop sound judgment.

What evolution didn’t take into account was just how many false alarms our Judge would throw at us. Or the fact that in this day and age, my mushrooms come pre-packaged from a store and are unlikely to kill me. Also, not much of a chance that I’m about to be run over by a herd of rampaging wildebeest (although, honestly, if you’re in the middle of the Masaai Mara during the migration this could actually be a thing).

The point being, that the Judge evolved to ensure we survived.

Now because we’re all unique, we all have very specific survival needs which mean our Judges all evolve differently.

But broadly speaking, they show up in any of the three ways I already mentioned:

You judge yourself;

You judge other people or

You judge your circumstances or outcomes.

Any one of those or any of them in combination, any of the time.

Photo by Kzenon on Shutterstock

So for instance, I have a client whose Judge comes out most strongly when faced with women dressed in a way she would consider provocative.

She instinctively dismisses them as “attention-seeking bad girls”.


Because she grew up in an ultra-conservative Christian household where any hint of sensuality was seen as a precursor to eternal damnation and hellfire.

So to avoid eternal torment, her Judge evolved to ensure that rather than seeing herself as the outlier (which would have made it hard for her to navigate through life) she saw other people who dressed or behaved that way as inherently flawed.

Despite now being an adult and breaking away from that lifestyle, her Judge still makes that link and association even though intellectually, she doesn’t believe it.

We all have things that helped develop the strength of our Judge, whether we know what they are or not.

Initially, the Judge’s role is helpful, it only becomes a problem when we can’t see that its view no longer serves us.

Or that its presence is causing us to feel internally conflicted or even creating conflict with others.

The thing about the Judge is, that they’re a master at convincing us that we can’t do without them.

“You know you only succeed if you push yourself and don’t allow for any slip-ups.”

“Let’s just go through that to-do list one more time. So what if it’s 3 am and I should be sleeping?”
 “If this pitch doesn’t go according to plan tomorrow, my career will be over”

Hello, perfectionism! Yep, that’s your Judge.

“Don’t be like those party animals they’re never going to succeed. If you’re like them you’ll never succeed either. You need my voice of reason to protect yourself and the best way to do that is to realise just how foolish/useless/clueless other people are” Yep, that’s your Judge too.

“Well if you don’t feel bad about how utterly awful your life is going to turn out to be then you’ll never do anything to change so you need to see just how bad it is.” You guessed right, your Judge again.

Is any of this sounding familiar, friends?

How strong is your Judge and what types of things are they likely to judge?

Have you ever asked yourself why?

This article is the first in a series based on one of the coaching tools that I use in my practice known as Positive Intelligence.

Created by Shirzad Chamine, it’s a framework designed to maximise people’s potential by helping them to enhance their best qualities while also helping them learn how to minimise and quiet the qualities that stand in their way.

The reason you love the way you lie

The reason you love the way you lie

I’m perpetually fascinated by the human mind and its capacity for self-deception.

What do I mean?

Well, as an example, when I say “I’m going to start working out on Monday” I actually believe it.

Despite the numerous instances in my past where Monday has never arrived.

Even though, as I write this, another Monday has been and gone and I have yet to do anything remotely resembling exercise.

Well, I wore a tracksuit this morning for the school run but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count!

Or that friend (and we’ve all had, or even been, that friend) who swears blind that they’ll not be getting back together with their on-again, off-again partner this time. And means it.

And before you know it, their IG posts are all #couplegoals.

How and why are we able to completely ignore all evidence, rationale, and experience to the contrary and staunchly stick with a clearly illogical point of view?

It would seem one view is that it hinges on something called Cognitive Dissonance Theory which was first investigated by a psychologist named Leon Festinger.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional psychologist, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.Any views I hold and share are based on my understanding of the things that I read and learn to help both myself and my clients grow.

So, now that’s out of the way!

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

If you’ve read any of my work, you’ll know I love a good definition! I like to make sure we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet.

Dissonance is an inconsistency, lack of harmony, or lack of agreement between two or more things.

Cognitive dissonance is basically when two or more of your thoughts, ideas, or principles don’t agree with each other causing you to feel uneasy.

When that happens, we try to relieve the conflict and discomfort by aligning the differing thoughts, etc. Sometimes, in order to do that we have to deceive ourselves about one of the things for it all to make sense.

Take the example of me and my (non-existent) workout regimen.

One thought I have (and this is probably at a subconscious level) is that to be a “good” person, I should be fit and healthy.

Obviously, therefore, I want to do what it takes to be a “good” person namely eat well and exercise regularly.

The other thought I have is that I really don’t enjoy exercise all that much and will pretty much do what I can to avoid it. If I follow that train of thought, then I won’t exercise and therefore can’t be a “good” person as described above.

Instant dissonance!!


Because by any other measure, I consider myself a good person but this parameter tells me that I’m not.

I don’t like that parameter and what it says about me, so I change the parameter.

I create the deception that I am a person who exercises, albeit infrequently. I plan it and schedule it, have the right clothes for it and so I’m most of the way there. It’s just that life gets in the way and prevents me from executing my good intentions.

With that self-deception in place, I can continue merrily on my way believing that I’m now a “good” person as per my original thought, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

It’s fantastic, isn’t it?


It helps resolve our internal anxiety and stops us from expending energy on second-guessing the choices we might make.

But it begs the question — why not just do the thing instead of fabricating this whole mental framework to validate its avoidance?

Photo by Eden Constantino on Unsplash

Turns out, there are three main ways in which we can reduce or eliminate cognitive dissonance.

We can:

Change what we believe (or a behaviour if one of the things is behaviour based)

Reduce the importance of our beliefs or

Add new beliefs

You guessed it, reducing the importance of our beliefs or adding new ones is often easier than changing what we already believe, resulting in that self-deception.

Reducing importance can look like “well, life’s short, may as well live for today”.

Adding a new belief could be “there’s no conclusive evidence that X food causes Y, besides, there will always be new research!”

Raise your hand if that sounds familiar.

Yeah, me too.

Changing our beliefs and our behaviour is the hardest thing to do. So naturally, we try to avoid it all costs.

But if we’re serious about ridding ourselves of cognitive dissonance, it’s the route most likely to result in lasting change.

That’s where having a support system can come in handy.

Lasting change is more likely to occur with repetition and over time. Having someone hold you accountable for that will yield better results than self-help.

I touched on the science of change in this article if you’d like to know more.

So tell me, are there places in your life where you’ve experienced or continue to experience cognitive dissonance?

I’d love to hear from you.

What exactly is holistic coaching?

What exactly is holistic coaching?

I get asked this a lot.

Not surprisingly since I’m a Holistic Life Design Coach.

People want to know what I mean by holistic, what my secret sauce is and why it’s different from any other type of life coaching.

If we’re going to be totally accurate, I’m officially a Whole Person Certified Coach.

What does that actually mean?

Before I get into it, in the interests of transparency, this is actually a soft sales pitch masquerading as an article. But it’s also informative, so as you were!

A great way to answer that is to tell you what Whole Person coaching not.

It’s not solution or performance-oriented, and it’s not autocratic.

If you’re looking for a solve for a specific problem like how to implement a social media strategy for your small business, or how to be a better fiction writer, you can find a specific coach to help you arrive at that goal.

You could take a course, but coaching will be more focused on finding the right fit solution for you.

It’s not focused on one aspect of who you are.

It’s not solely about your health, or your mindset, or mindfulness.

It is (in my opinion) better than all those things.

In a nutshell, it hinges on the belief that everything in your life is interrelated.

I’ll be the one coaching you through why it’s important to you to reach the outcome that you desire, whether the conditions in the rest of your life are optimal to support that outcome, how to overcome any obstacles you perceive, and what experience you can draw on to help you achieve it amongst other things.

Different, right?

I make no distinction between what you want in terms of your health versus what you want for your career.

It’s all about you. Your mind, your body, and your spirit. You as a whole person.

The primary focus is to increase your sense of well-being and satisfaction with who and where you are in your life and to integrate all of who you are into your way of life. (Side note: integration, not balance — I’m not a fan of that term, but that’s a discussion for a different day)

It’s more about your way of being than what exactly you’re doing.

It’s about helping you realise your maximum potential in the things and ways that matter most to you. Helping you awaken to the possibilities that exist for you when you embrace your limitlessness.

It does have tangible benefits and for my core clientele of multi-passionates, those tend to be:

Radical clarity on the life they want to live;

Improved satisfaction in their relationships, careers, community and selves;

Deeper self-trust from the identification and reframing of limiting beliefs and patterns;

The increased ability to set goals, follow-through, and achieve them;

Better financial security;

Lowered stress levels and improved overall health.

So who could benefit most from Whole Person coaching?

Anyone who is in a transitional stage in their life and is looking for transformation. With a few caveats, of course. I outlined those in this Medium article:

Honestly, it’s rough out there.
I’m going to give you a few pointers that will hopefully help you narrow down your d

Hopefully I managed to shed some light on holistic life coaching for you!

OK, here comes the sales stuff!

If you’d like to know more and think Whole Person Coaching is for you, you can get hold of me for a free Catalyst Conversation here.

If you’re curious but not keen to commit yet to a full coaching relationship, I developed a short course called Awesomely Aligned that allows you to walk yourself through a similar process to the one I use with my clients in the discovery stages of our relationship.

If you’d like to watch me geek out about coaching and my multi-passionate people, there’s video evidence of it right here:

Why cheating can be a spectacularly good thing

Why cheating can be a spectacularly good thing

I’m a cheater. I said what I said.

No judgment please, this is neither the time nor the place.

I’m confessing here and that’s always hard enough without any additional difficulty that comes with being judged as well.

I know, it’s not every day someone tries to sell you on cheating as a good thing.

Well, today is your lucky day (keep reading and you’ll get why I chuckled there).

Just so we’re clear, let me define cheating for you as I’m using it today:

Cheat: to avoid something (usually undesirable) by luck or skill.

Don’t believe me? Google it, I’ll wait……..

Are you back? Great!

If you stopped by, thinking this was going to be an article extolling some perceived virtues of infidelity or trickery, then you’re out of luck, sorry!

Instead, I’m more interested in how we consider ourselves lucky and what that could mean.

Luck is defined simultaneously as:

  • A force that brings good fortune or adversity;
  • The events or circumstances that operate for or against an individual and
  • Favouring chance, also known as success.

What all those viewpoints have in common is that luck is considered something outside of us, that operates independently of our actions or decisions.

When I say I’m a cheater, what I’m actually saying is, that I don’t subscribe to the idea that my fate rests in the hands of the universe, I create my own luck.

Or in the words of Roman Stoic philosopher, Seneca the Younger, I believe that

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”.


I don’t think good things happen to me by chance, I think when they happen, I’m primed and ready to take advantage of the opportunity offered. 

In the same vein, if I miss out on an opportunity, it’s not because it was bad luck, it’s because I wasn’t prepared or ready.

My solution? Stay prepared for the things that light you up so that when the slightest opportunity presents itself, you’re ready to seize your “luck”.

It’s scary though.

Because it means truly taking responsibility and accountability for our actions or lack thereof.

That’s not something a lot of people are comfortable doing.


Most of us would rather judge and blame our circumstances and other people than look in the mirror and truly believe that maybe we are the ones that need changing.

Please don’t get me wrong. 

There are instances where the only option is to change your circumstances or surroundings or where it’s even impossible. Instances of abuse, untenable relationships, chronic illness or pain, and extreme poverty come to mind.

Truly though, not all of us are grappling with those huge issues in our day-to-day lives.

We have things that cause us irritation, minor frustration, and low to mid-level annoyance. 

But we’re mostly mildly uncomfortable in our comfort zones.

What’s our reason for not flexing our muscles, staying prepared, and creating our own luck?

It’s confronting, isn’t it? The idea that we should all take responsibility for our own lives?

I know.

I’ve been there.

Happily sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle that was my life. Except I wasn’t really happy.

And blaming situations or people was starting to get old.

And so I decided to stop.

It’s been many years of five steps forward and three steps back, oscillating between “I am the captain of my ship” and “why is adulting so hard!” 

And it’s not over.

I don’t think it’ll ever be over, because in my opinion, that is exactly what life is about. 

The constant growth to be better. 

If I’m not growing, I’m declining, there’s no auto-hold that keeps me in place.

I’ve learnt to take responsibility, I’ve learnt what works for me in terms of accountability, and I’ve learnt how to avoid the things I don’t want. 

I’ve learnt how to cheat.

And my clients and I work together to learn their cheat codes too.

The upside of getting spectacularly good at cheating? 

Feeling more seen, more fulfilled, more grounded, more purposeful and more passion-driven.

So tell me about yourself, friend. Are you a cheater and proud, or could you do with learning a trick or two?