Don’t Panic! An easy mistake to make


Putting right this simple mistake could seriously change the way your life unfolds.
I see great results every time I work with people who make this change!


Don’t panic Mr Mainwaring!!

Dad’s Army is such an old programme now but most people know the phrase. Lance Corporal Jones would run about, flapping, shouting “Don’t Panic!” in a loud and panicky voice. You can even buy merchandise in a well known card shop that has the phrase printed on.
It’s silly, funny and obvious that his attempt at calming people isn’t going to work

What’s your ‘Don’t Panic’?

What’s your equivalent?
Here are a few examples, see if you can spot the problem:
“I want to lose weight, I’m not going to think about cake today”
“Stop running!”
“I don’t want to think about work tonight”
“You need to stop doing it like that”

Can you see the mistake?

We all fall into this trap from time to time. If it’s a regular habit though, it could be seriously damaging your plans for the life you want to lead.
Before I spell it out, here’s some brain stuff…

How we think

The brain makes sense of things by making pictures, even if we’re not conscious of it.
For instance, when you’re giving someone directions, you’ll use your memory of the journey to explain the route. If I asked you what’s in your fridge right now, your mind will imagine each shelf to remember what’s in there. When we’re decorating, we have to imagine what that wall will look like in different colours, or whether that cupboard will fit in its new place before we go to the trouble of lifting it.

What you CAN’T do

What the brain is pretty rubbish at, is picturing what ‘not’ doing something looks like.
If I scream “STOP RUNNING!”
What do you think about? You make a picture of someone running.
If I ask you to eat healthily all day today, and then I suggest you don’t think about a really lovely layer cake with butter icing on it…what happens? Got cake on the brain?

What you CAN do

If you really want to make something happen, you need to be saying, thinking and picturing what you WANT, instead of what you DON’T want.
The brain can’t make a picture of ‘don’t’.

Stay Calm Mr Mainwaring

More useful than ‘Don’t panic’ is ‘stay calm’
You’re more likely to eat healthily if you focus, talk and think about all the healthy food you enjoy.
If you want to switch off from work you need to decide what you’re thinking about instead, holidays? yoga? planting flowers?
If you want someone to stop doing something, tell them what you want them to do instead.
‘Stop running’ turns into ‘Walk slowly’
‘Stop shouting’ turns into ‘Speak quietly’

You (and them) at work

If you apply this principle to workplaces, imagine the difference in how people work, think and communicate.
How many times have you heard people focusing on the things that have gone wrong, that we need to stop doing, problems that needs to be sorted.
Imagine if the focus was on what’s going well that we need more of, if the conversations were about what’s been achieved and that people are pleased with.
Morale improves, clarity and focus increases and people feel more supported, empowered and optimistic.
With this one simple change in words, you can change the way you feel, the way a team works together and, potentially, the culture of a whole organisation.
It’s powerful for one person, imagine if everyone got the hang of this one thing!?

Start a ripple

Even if it’s just you, you’ll begin to notice the difference. If you encourage others to do it too, who knows what could happen next. You don’t even need to tell them what to do (that sometimes makes people resistant) you could just ask questions that get them to answer in the positive.

Questions that encourage a positive focus:

  • So, tell me what you want it to look like…
  • What would you like me to do more of?
  • How do you imagine this looking once we’ve solved it?
  • What’s going to help most?
  • What do you need?

These questions move someone on from the existing problem to the possibilities for the future.

And finally…

I’ll leave you with this thought…
What do you WANT and NEED today?
Focus on what happens next and move forward 🙂

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