Author Archives: Aodan Enright

The practice of being yourself

The biggest shift in opinion that I’ve noticed in my eleven years of executive coaching practice is our attitudes to the concept of mental health.

Back in the day, most of the non-useful attitudes and judgements fell into two main categories: weirdness and weakness.

The diversity movement has encouraged us to celebrate that which is different, but we’re still prone to harshness when noticing a struggle in one of our colleagues (and we’re absolutely our own harshest critic when we’re struggling ourselves).

So, despite significant progress, we’re not there yet. As an example, in my work, and this is also true of many of my colleagues, I tend to refer to mental fitness and mental strength rather than mental health. This is for a variety of reasons, mostly to lower our resistance to self-examination and to making progress without unhelpful judgement.

My favourite mental fitness/strength/health quote is from Canadian author Mark Freeman:

Mental health is the practice of being yourself.

Of course, the key word here is practice. Acting in alignment with who we are and who we want to be is useful in the moment and allows us to build strength in different arenas.

The opposite is also true: acting out of alignment with who we are creates greater suffering for ourselves and others.

Mark’s book is called You Are Not A Rock and I’ve given this to many clients, and recommended it in talks, since it came out.

It’s far more useful for us to realise that all of us are on a continuum of mental health, just like physical health. So, rather than wasting time creating judgements about good or bad, strong or weak, we shouldn’t lose sight of our ability to improve our mental fitness through our own choices and actions.

Go practice being yourself. ❤️

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This post was adapted from one of Aodan’s Sunday morning newsletters, eagerly anticipated by hundreds of readers. This extract is part of a summer series sharing great quotes from great books. Give yourself the gift of that weekly wisdom by signing up here.

Online registration open for Evening Offsite

The long summer evenings offer a chance to press pause and take stock, without using up a full working day.

On the evening of Thursday, July 11th, we’re hosting a special Smarter Egg Offsite that provides the magical elements of a regular offsite day, but over the course of an evening.

This is designed for those who just can’t afford to take a day off right now, but know that they need this kind of in-depth reflection to ensure they are giving themselves the very best chance of making progress in their working lives.

This event includes a light dinner on arrival and registration fee includes all materials as well as our ‘Book of the Quarter’, which provides ongoing inspiration for participants as the conversations continue after the offsite.

 

 

 

If selected

If you ever listen to sports people with a humble disposition, they’ll often qualify a preview of a forthcoming contest with the words, “if selected”.

Not everyone can be picked on the team. There are only so many spots. So, all dreams are contingent on being selected.

But you and I don’t have that dilemma. We can select ourselves. We can stand up, and enter the arena.

We can choose our own path, we can pick our sport, we can change our team. The full expression of who we are requires us to select ourselves.

It might feel more comfortable to hide and tell yourself that the rules of the game mean you have first to be selected to play.

Do you want to be the person who looks back and says, “I coulda been somebody, if selected”?

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This post was adapted from one of Aodan’s Sunday morning newsletters, eagerly anticipated by hundreds of readers. Give yourself the gift of that weekly wisdom by signing up here.

 

Extra places available for Summer Offsites

“Life cannot blossom into its true potential until you embrace the challenge of paying attention to what is in front of you right now.”

We’ve designed our Smarter Egg Offsites as an antidote to this challenge of overwhelm in this age of busyness and always-on connection, and to give ourselves the opportunity to slow down and see more clearly.

When it comes to ‘big picture’ work, we often prioritise our businesses or departments or projects over our own needs as professionals, who also happen to be human beings. But this isn’t in our interest, and doesn’t help us at all in the medium to long term.

We’ve developed a proven process that reduces overwhelm and brings greater clarity, focus and purpose to those who participate.

Summer is an ideal time to invest in yourself in this way. A little more space opens up in our calendars, many activities slow down and everything seems that bit more possible.

We have a programme of Offsites over the next couple of months that will gather professionals from many different lines of work in an environment carefully designed to provide the kind of quality reflection time we struggle to find day-to-day.

Our available Offsites this summer are:

To register your interest, just send us your details, and we’ll guide you through the process.

On giving up

“Never Give Up” was the slogan of the week in the football world recently.

It turns out, though, that giving up is often a wise strategy.

Sometimes we realise that we should have given up sooner. Think of dysfunctional projects that dragged on too long, jobs that didn’t fit, toxic relationships, habits that suited a younger version of ourselves (the list is longer than you think) – for all of these we clung on a bit too tight. Shoulda given up.

Here’s the twist: never give up on yourself.

By all means, let go of activities and beliefs and involvements that are past their ‘Best Before’ date, but never give up on the project that is you.

You deserve your own backing. You deserve the best chance you can give yourself. You deserve your own compassion when it might be in short supply elsewhere.

When it comes to being the best version of you, never, ever give up.

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This post was adapted from one of Aodan’s Sunday morning newsletters, eagerly anticipated by hundreds of readers. Give yourself the gift of that weekly wisdom by signing up here.

Maximum vs Optimum

Much of what drives us points towards the maximum. We’re looking for more, and acting to get the most.

But sometimes we notice that maximising isn’t always in our best interest. 

As it happens, a lot of the coaching work I do is to help people untangle knots that have arisen from prioritising maximum over optimum.

Often, we chase the maximum based on external (unhelpful) influences, largely unconsciously. This also can work in tandem with primal motivation, driven by fear or greed (again, unconsciously).

When we assess our options from a wiser perspective, we almost always reset the pointer towards the optimum.

It’s worth spending more time finding that wiser perspective.

Optimising for what?

The good news: we’ve never been more capable, never had more resources available to us, never before had so many platforms to go do great work.

The bad news: we’re tripping over ourselves with opportunity.

We can do this, or that, or this other very cool thing. Or we can do all of that and this new latest shiny thing over there.

When it comes to activities and aspirations, we have become experts in addition (it’s fun, makes us feel good, less mortal) but we tend to avoid subtraction (it’s painful, requires tough choices, reminds us of our vulnerability).

This tendency manifests in what is known as ‘priority creep’, where our list of priorities grows over time, thus negating the value of the concept of a priority.

Faced with this bountiful overwhelm, a question I often ask in coaching is “For what are you optimising?” Put another way, what one value stands above all others?

We’ve learned from science that it’s near impossible to optimise for multiple variables i.e. you can change the formula to optimise either x or y, but not both. Sometimes you can improve both (sometimes a rising tide *does* lift all boats) but you can only optimise for one.

So, that’s the hard question for us: what do we optimise for?

Is it health? Is it wealth? Is it security? Is it status? Is it impact? Is it power?

There may well be no one ‘right’ answer for you here, but there is an answer if you’re willing to be brave enough to ask.

Every decision and action you take is positively or negatively impacting every one of the above variables. Only when we’re clear on what we’re optimising for can those decisions and actions align most effectively.

What are you optimising for?

Spring Offsite Series now available

This Easter season we have two Smarter Egg Offsite Days available

  1. Friday, April 12th (at Cork International Hotel)now full, waitlist in operation
  2. Saturday, April 27th (at Garryvoe Hotel)

Our specific theme for these offsites will be habit development/adjustment. We’ll be using James Clear’s excellent “Atomic Habits” as the source for some of our work. All participants will get the book as well as three months of challenge and support.

Many of our aspirations perish on the slippery rocks of habit change. But the encouraging news is that some straightforward adjustments can have a massive impact. Knowing where to start is half the battle.

These offsites work off a proven process and are an excellent return on investment given the affordable fee level of just €295+VAT for such a high quality, high calibre experience.

Get in touch ASAP to grab one of the remaining places – invest in yourself!

 

Why courage trumps pride

In the multiple domains of our complicated professional lives, it’s perfectly normal that some aspects are working better than others.

That’s a very polite way of saying we tend to have areas where we’re struggling.

But in a world where the expected answer to “How are you?” is a version of Great!/Good/Grand, is it any surprise that our pride blinds us from admitting where those struggles lie?

So much of our unnecessary suffering in life comes from our denial of struggle, our refusal to accept or acknowledge that which is unpleasant to us.

That can change.

Just a tiny bit of courage can allow us to take the first step, to allow ourselves to open to the discomfort, and to express that in our own way with someone we trust.

You already know it’s never as bad as you fear, don’t you?

 

Red Chair: Pat Divilly


Pat Divilly is one of Ireland’s most in-demand personal development & wellness speakers as well as being a best-selling author and provider of online courses and content.

This interview with Smarter Egg founder Aodan Enright reveals a lot about Pat’s motivation for doing the work that he does. He talks about his journey from aspirations of being a cage fighter to ups and downs in the fitness world, before finding a breakthrough in the online space.

Pat’s story is fascinating, but equally enthralling are the many lessons he has learned about himself along the way, many of which are useful for us all.

Pat Divilly in the Red Chair at The White Horse (Photo: Donagh Glavin)

 

At the same event, Martin Brennan spoke on the topic of fear, which is referred to several times in Pat’s interview.

This conversation was recorded at a Smarter Egg event at Upstairs at the White Horse, Ballincollig, Ireland in April 2018. The video footage was filmed and edited by AV3 Productions.

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