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The 3 things that led me to my success and can lead you to yours

The 3 things that led me to my success and can lead you to yours

A lot of people say to me ‘I couldn’t do what you do, Jo’. I have always been baffled as to why people believe that. It’s like they think I have something special or a secret skill that allows me to do what I do…

…and truth is, there really isn’t.

So, I spent some time thinking about what it is I do, or how I think, that has allowed me to transform my life and fulfil my dream.

I want to share them with you now in the hope that you realise it’s never too late and you too can achieve your dreams. 

It’s all about choice and making a decision on how you want to live and the person you want to be.

Number 1 – Drive

I have valued drive since I was 18 years old.  Before then I just sort of wandered through life. I followed the popular gang around, kept my head down and did what I needed to do to get by.

My priority was to fit in, not to excel.

It was at 18 that I then saw how fragile and short life was when my father suddenly passed away in front of me. 

This was my life starting all over again. 

I often wonder, to this day, who I might have been if that hadn’t happened.

After the grieving process and the running away from pain, something ignited in me. I was always a hard-worker – having worked for my dad in a restaurant from the age of 12 – but now there was something new, which I now know as ‘Drive’.

Nothing was going to stop me from being a success. 

I didn’t get the qualifications expected at school and I didn’t pursue any further education, but this just fuelled my drive even more. 

I would show the world that I could be somebody and do well.  

3 ways to ignite your drive:

  1. Visualise the life you want for yourself 5 years from now
  2. Know your why and make sure it is bigger than you – this will get you out of bed
  3. Keep moving forward one step at a time (they can be small steps)

Now, drive on its own wasn’t enough.

Number 2 – Resilience

The second factor that I valued and have built on a daily basis.

Seeing your Dad pass, your Nan have 3 heart attacks in the same night and continuous tragedies over the following 6 years…

I had a choice: To be a victim or to dig into my resilience.

The mental commitment I had made to my dad to make him proud (even though he wasn’t here anymore) enhanced my ability and purpose to build my resilience.  

Don’t get me wrong, I can still get knocked down, and I did when I moved to Australia and very quickly found out the ‘dream job’ wasn’t going to work out. Now though, I am able to quickly rebuild myself to keep going, and with each knock my resilience just gets stronger and stronger. 

What is resilience? 

By definition it means: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

It’s also very important to understand that resilience is a state; it is not a personality trait. You can build your resilience levels and learn the tools and techniques to manage stress, uncertainty and adversity resourcefully to ensure your performance levels remain high. 

3 ways to build your resilience:

  1. Keep promises to yourself with your self-care
  2. Know how to be in charge of your own mind
  3. Realise that you are in control of how you see the world – no one else

Resilience has been one of the most important factors in being able to run my own business. 

Going from 20 years in corporate to being on your own in business is massive, especially when you find out as you go the amount of different hats you need to wear!

Being awarded International Coach of the Year 2020

Number 3 – be a continuous learner

I fell in love with learning again 5 years ago.  I was told I was average at school, which gave me the belief that everyone else was smarter than me.

This was very limiting and once I learnt how to let go of those limiting beliefs, the joy for learning flooded back into my life.

I cannot stress enough how doing just 15 minutes of learning everyday will move you towards the life and results you want. 

I do an hour every morning and I read every day. 

The world is full of the answers you are looking for and the inspiration to be the person you want to be.  

Don’t settle. 

It is proven by neuroscience that the brain can change, adapt and learn new ways of being.  Leverage this and fuel your drive, raise your resilience and learn what could be possible for you.

It won’t happen overnight. But if you really want it, then it can be yours. 


Joanna is an award winning international coach who is passionate about helping people achieve success. Combining 10 years of operational experience with her behaviour expertise and leadership coaching, Joanna has worked with leading companies like Getty Images and the BBC to increase performance and results. If you’re interested to learn how Joanna can help you and your team, book your free discovery session with Joanna here

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Business Leadership Self Development

3 proven strategies to make this year ‘Your Year’

3 proven strategies to make this year ‘Your Year’

We all tend to enter into a New Year with the mindset of it being an opportunity to reset, start again and achieve those goals we have been striving for.

How many of you have said to yourself ‘This is going to be the year’.

When I sat down to write this article, I knew I had a choice. To write the things that will stop you from making this your year (trust me, there are a lot!), or to give you some strategies to help set you up to achieve your goals and targets in 2021.

We are also coping with a 3rd National Lockdown and our initial motivation may have been somewhat knocked.  It’s all too easy to write and talk about what we do badly, so I’m going to share with you 3 strategies that will not only give you a head start, but help you to stay on track with both your business and leadership success this year.

Number 1 – The power of the decision

When someone decides to climb Everest, they don’t start by planning the ‘how’, they start by making the decision that they will get to the top. Once the decision is made, the path of ‘how’ will start to emerge.

For example, if you are thinking of taking your business from £10m a year to £15m a year, don’t start with ‘how’ you are going to do it.  

You first need to decide – with all your body and mind – that you will achieve £15m. If you start with the ‘how’ you can fall into the trap of finding so many reasons why you can’t do it or why it will be hard.

By starting with the committed decision to do it, you will start to find the natural energy and strategies that will help you achieve that goal.

So this year, make the decision on ‘what’ you are going to achieve and the ‘how’ will take care of itself.

Number 2 – Mindset first

STOP DOING! Start thinking. Your mindset is what will make this year great or average.  

“Everything begins inside your mind. With the right mindset you will succeed.”

To change your results you need to change the way you think.

Look back over the last year and reflect on your levels of thinking and how you thought about various situations.

For example: if you are currently resisting change and trying to keep things working the way you like them – yet you are not seeing the results you expect – then you are currently in a fixed mindset and will become stuck.

We are certainly in times of change and the key is to accept and adapt to what is being given to us.

Change your mindset to being curious and open to ideas and suggestions for alternatives.

Be okay if they don’t work straight away or need tweaking.

This is all part of growing and elevating the results you can achieve.  

A business or leader who doesn’t embrace change will get left behind and fade away.

Take charge of your mind and set it to the right place in order to move towards success.

Number 3 – You don’t need to be liked and you don’t need to be right

Too many leaders stay average because their core needs are to be liked and to be right.

It’s part of the leadership journey, but if this is to be ‘Your Year’ then this level of thinking needs to upgrade.

Set yourself up for success by backing your ideas, finding your signature voice and not falling into the trap of people-pleasing and wanting to fit in.  

Be totally okay to not know everything. It’s fine. You are human. Having a leadership title doesn’t mean you become a walking encyclopedia! It’s just not possible and putting this expectation on yourself will distract you from what really matters.

The best kind of leaders are open to learning and continued development. 

Be the difference that makes the difference. Your business and team will thank you for it.

So there you are. My gift to you for the start of the year – three manageable yet proven strategies to help set you up for success in 2021.  


Joanna Howes is a leading coach, behavioural expert, and No 1 best selling international author, who specialises in leadership and business operations. If any of these have resonated with you and you would like to explore how a coach can guide you to achieve your success, please book a free call using this link to discuss how Joanna can help you achieve your goals faster and easier than ever before. To see how else Joanna can help visit her website here.

Categories
Business Leadership Self Development Wellness

Are you a hidden leader?

Are you a hidden leader?

It’s an oxymoron right? A leader reaches the position that they’re in because they are marked out as someone who can guide others – they are the decision-maker, the figure in the spotlight. For all intents and purposes they are visible and accountable. But a huge swathe of leaders I have met recently  seem to feel like who they are as a leader, and the potential of what they can be or what they can achieve with their teams, exists in a parallel universe to the one they’re currently in. Outwardly they are performing and hitting the right notes, but their internal world is at war.  Enter, the ‘Hidden Leader’. 

In my experience this affects some of the most highly skilled, well-liked and tenacious leaders out there – and with the state of the world currently, Hidden Leaders seem to be multiplying. Leaders I am working with are telling me that they question their conviction in decision-making and they wonder about their ability to lead their teams in the way they need to be led during this period of time. The time to change this is now. As businesses face further uncertainty, we need leaders who can lead their teams from a place of certainty. I believe it’s time for Hidden Leaders to emerge from hiding, into a space where they can fully step into their power – if any of this resonates with you, here’s how you can start the process.

I constantly felt like there was more in me 

This topic is an easy one for me to write about because I completely relate to anyone who feels like this. I had a call with a prospective client last week who listed all of the obstacles in the way between where she was now and where she wanted to be and it was like having a conversation with my former self. Before I moved into leadership coaching, I was a Director of Operations for some of the world’s biggest creative agencies – and I spent a lot of this time feeling really disconnected with my leadership style and doubting the decisions I was making. I constantly felt like there was more in me, that I was taking a detour away from my potential.  It was only when I began to look inwards, and started to focus on the self-limiting beliefs I had and the habitual thinking patterns I had developed that I discovered that I could learn to shift these and make real change in my professional and personal life.

How to take control 

After reflecting on my own journey, the research I have undertaken as a behavioural and resilience expert and the case studies I have pulled together from my work as a leadership coach, I have discovered four key growth areas for leaders who are ready to begin this journey to work on. I guarantee if you invest the time in this, you will see the results. So let’s dive in. 

1. There is no such thing as failure it is feedback

We all put limiting beliefs on ourselves and these beliefs are the first blockers in place stopping you from progressing forward within your role and developing your leadership style. Changing your limiting beliefs is possible and the good news is you have full control to do this. It is time you called them out and challenged them.

A common limiting belief I encounter in leaders is: ‘I better not do that as I may fail and be judged’. This is a huge obstacle, as it immediately moves leaders out of a place of learning and growth into safety, and ultimately, inaction. When you shift the thinking around this, re-word it and instead deliver it as: ‘There is no such thing as failure it’s feedback’, it is transformed. This new belief creates huge potential for growth, risk taking and innovation. 

If you need an example to anchor you to this new belief, look no further than some of our greatest leaders, from Richard Branson to Tony Robbins to Oprah. These leaders all have the same thing in common, they have learnt their greatness from the things that didn’t go right.  

Ultimately, you have a choice, one is the path of safety, this will give you a comfortable and okay life, which suits a lot of people. However, if you are reading this, then it’s clear that this isn’t what you’re after. You are hungry to explore your own potential, and this means you need to challenge the beliefs you have about yourself.

One of the best books to get you started with this is, “Feel the Fear and do it anyway” by Susan Jeffers.  The key take out from the book is ‘what is the worst that can happen?’. If you can identify the worst thing, then ask yourself if you can handle it. 

2. Raise your standards

Our personal standards set the benchmarks for who we can become. Although many leaders feel like their personal standards are their driving force in how they conduct business and lead their teams, there are day-to-day behaviours many exhibit that can seriously undermine this. Look at the following and notice if you did any of these in the last two weeks:

  • Turned up to meetings late
  • Agreed in a meeting and then disagreed with a smaller group afterwards
  • Avoided difficult conversations
  • Treated all your team the same and expected them to deliver
  • Used your phone in meetings
  • Cancelled your 1-2-1’s with your team

Although these are seemingly small moments, they can have a big impact on your ability to advance in your leadership journey. Each one of these represents a low personal standard that you have displayed not only to yourself, but to your team. These standards will maintain the status quo, and keep you moving along at the same level. 

Instead, look at the people who are having the success you want to be achieving and delve into the standards that drive this success. This is called modelling excellence, and is an easy way to identify what personal standards you need to make central to your leadership. As an example, the standards below are some I have identified and modelled to achieve the success I now have:

  • Show up 100%
  • Commit to what I achieve to do
  • Be fully present when someone is talking to me
  • Give feedback to help people grow
  • Keep promises to myself
  • There is always a way

3. Be kind to yourself

To change and grow you need to ensure you have self-care rituals in place to look after your mind and body.  

The essential self-care step when it comes to being kind to yourself, is to notice how you talk to yourself. The voice in your head can have a lot of power over the decisions and choices you make for your life and career. The voice can completely determine the success levels you can achieve.

Being aware that you can control the voice is your starting point. You are then able to understand that the voice is ultimately trying to keep you safe. When we are trying to change, our ego (our subconscious brain), doesn’t want us to. It’s very happy with where you are, as you have taught it that this is what is safe for you. The biggest thing to note is that the subconscious brain doesn’t know the difference between what is good and bad for you, it learns that what you do on a repeated basis must be what you want. 

Begin the process of changing the voice and letting it know you are okay to grow. As you and your inner voice become more adept to change, you will start to reduce the anxiety around expanding your comfort zone.

4. Take action

It’s time to stop looking at the water and jump in the pool. Everything is in the action.

The previous steps we’ve looked at are very important but without taking action and starting to change how you show up and changing your strategy, you will remain a Hidden Leader.

It doesn’t need to be a big dramatic overnight change. The process of emerging as a courageous leader, one who operates with certainty, courage and resilience, is an evolving process. Start by focusing on small areas that you’d like to change. Below are some that could be relevant:

  1. Speak up in a meeting if you disagree with what is being said
  2. Have the difficult conversation and not find reasons to be busy to avoid it
  3. Share your ideas 
  4. Give feedback to peers if they are misaligned to the culture of the company

So, are you ready to trust yourself?

Yes your to-do list is endless and the pressures on your time may have increased. But this work is truly worth it. It will not only improve your performance as a leader but it will directly drive up your fulfilment in the role you are doing – you will be able to feel the ease that comes when you truly trust yourself and your decisions. And let me tell you, having experienced both sides of it, it’s wonderful to have stepped out into the light – come and get your Vitamin D hit, it’ll do you the world of good. 

If you want to explore your potential, I invite you to book your FREE 30 minute discovery call with me by clicking this link: https://calendly.com/joannahowescoaching/30min