Andro Donovan is an author and leadership coach with over 20 years of experience in the field. She is dedicated to helping chief executives, entrepreneurs, and business owners improve their leadership skills through her unique “whole-life” coaching techniques.
She focuses primarily on facilitating retreats, worldwide, for her clients – helping them build the life they want through value-based life planning and finding a balance between their work life and home life.
On today’s episode, Andro explains how she rediscovers her natural rhythm and routine while travelling for her business, how she ‘grounds’ and prepares herself each day, her daily rituals that help her achieve her ideal outcomes, and why she chooses to work toward her ‘ideal outcomes’ instead of to-do lists. She also shares her insight on how you can identify your purpose and why you need to revisit and update your purpose throughout the course of your life and career.
This Week on the POWER to Live More Podcast:
- Coping with daily routine changes
- Daily routines while at work and on the road
- Why writing down your ideal outcomes each day is important and how it helps identify your purpose
- The difference between vital tasks and urgent tasks, why it’s important, and how it helps you manage your time and structure your daily goals, outcomes, and activities
- How life-planning helps link your daily activities to your purpose
- Turning your life-planning goals into actionable outcomes
- The importance of having an “envisioned process” to achieving your goals
- The difference between a to-do list and an ideal outcome list
- The importance of participating in peer groups with similar goals
- Overcoming barriers and challenges
5 Key Questions to Identify Your Purpose:
- What do I do? What is my one-line “elevator speech?”
- What do I love to do?
- What am I supremely qualified to teach people?
- Who do I want to do it for?
- What do people want from me and how do they change or transform as a result of receiving my contribution?
- 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts book by Gary Chapman
Connect with Andro Donovan:
- Grab your copy of her book! Motivate Yourself: Get the Life You Want, Find Purpose, and Achieve Fulfillment
Connect, Share, Inspire
Thank you for joining me for this week’s episode of POWER to Live More Podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and would like to help support the show, please head over to iTunes or Stitcher, subscribe to the show and leave your honest review of the show!
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Show notes provided brilliantly (my words not theirs!) by Lidwell Writing Services, LLC
Jo Dodds: Today I'm interviewing Andro Donovan, author and leadership coach. Really pleased to have you with me, Andro. How are you?
Andro Donovan: Hello there. Yes. I'm fine thank you. How are you?
Jo Dodds: Yes. I'm good too. Tell me a bit about you, what you do, and where you do it. I always sound like Cilla Black at this stage.
Andro Donovan: I suppose I'm gathering titles as I get older but basically I am an author, but my main job is I facilitate off-site retreats for chief executives and entrepreneurs and business owners, and the retreats are really designed to have them feel they can bring their best work into the world, whether that's through being a better leader, father, husband. The subject matter is quite broad because it's kind of whole life coaching.
Jo Dodds: Right. Okay. Those will be at venues. Where are you when you're not at those venues?
Andro Donovan: When I'm not at the venues?
Jo Dodds: Yes. When you're not running a retreat. Do you work from home?
Andro Donovan: When I'm not running a retreat, which can happen anywhere in the world, I am in my lovely country house in Wiltshire, in Salisbury, where I can relax and surrounded by lovely green fields and a moat and it's all very peaceful here, or I may be in London, so I live between the two but I'm mainly here because I've got two lovely children and a dog and a husband, and my children go to school in this area.
Jo Dodds: Lovely. When you do your retreats you said you can do them round the world. How many do you do in the year and what sort of places are you traveling to? Is it quite a lot of travel?
Andro Donovan: It's a lot of travel. Last year I clocked up I think about fifty. Just to give you an idea I went from something like bronze to gold status on British Airways miles very, very quickly. Felt a bit like George Clooney in Up in the Air. Yes. I do travel a lot and I have been trying to cut that down a little bit. I could be anywhere from sort of Istanbul to Petra, to greater Europe, because these guys that I work with I usually work in groups of about eight to ten. They'll select a venue and that could be anywhere, usually somewhere where they want to go where they want to relax, and I go over and work with them there.
Jo Dodds: Lovely. I'm intrigued because I don't do anything near as exciting as you, but I do travel a bit and run all day sessions when I'm speaking or training, and I find sometimes it can be a bit frustrating between having my lovely routine when I'm at home in my home office to then traveling and I sort of drop the routine and I'm in the moment wherever I am, but then I always find there's this period of catch-up when I get back and it feels like everything is upside down. How do you cope with that change in your routine all the time?
Andro Donovan: That's such a good question because there's two things going on. Firstly it's my physical stamina and health. Because as you can imagine waiting for flights, sometimes they're delayed, don't always travel business class, it can really cause you quite a lot of fatigue, wear and tear, and the best trips are where there's no delays, I'm sitting right at the front of the flight. I've learnt over the years to pack very lightly so I can whiz straight off. I'd say one of the most important things for me is sleep. I make sure if I'm arriving at a client venue, they often invite me for supper the night before a retreat, and I always check is it at the hotel, is it at a restaurant near the hotel, because when ten guys get together they can start wanting it to go on longer, and I don't really want to be out until sort of 11:00, 12:00, 1:00 in the morning.
I usually say as long as I can be home by, and I make that an absolute ground rule, and they will either put me in a taxi if it's in a safe environment, or one of them will escort me home, so my sleep, I've got to get seven hours sleep minimum. When I'm at home I usually go for eight hours sleep. That's a very big deal for me. I can't function if I don't have sleep. When I'm at home one of the things I find difficult is clicking back to my family life as a wife and a mum when I've had sort of guru status for three or four days, and I'll sort of come back and sometimes, I hope he's not listening to this, my husband will go, "What's for dinner?" Or, "Have you got the kid's uniforms sorted?"
We've learnt over the years to sort of divide and rule, but I have some rituals I do that help that process be a little bit more seamless, shall we say, but it doesn't always work.
Jo Dodds: Tell us more about those. That sounds intriguing because I agree with you. I have the same thing. It's the, "What have we got for tea?" My response is usually, "Well, I don't know. What have you thought of? I wasn't here." It doesn't really wash, does it?
Andro Donovan: Yeah. A couple of things, firstly, I mean I work with my clients a lot of the time on things like meaning and purpose and feeling sort of satisfied and fulfilled in life, and when I'm running on empty because I've been out on the road for a consecutive number of days or whatever, it's very important for me to stay connected to the home, and it's not always easy to phone and get a connection. I started to feel quite neglected if my husband hadn't sent me a text or a nice email. My husband being quite sort of male brain, if I send a message like how are the children, love you, miss you, or whatever, he might go, "Yes. They're all fine. See you on Sunday." Something really cryptic, so the impact on me can be, "Oh, he didn't say I love you and really miss you." It's not because he doesn't. It's just his style.
I had to give him feedback about that, and I said to him if we can't speak it's really important that I get a text from you even if it's just a symbol of a heart and "miss you," or some little cryptic thing so that I stay connected while I'm working, and when I go to a break and I check my phone there's some sort of connection. Do you know what I mean?
Jo Dodds: Yeah. Absolutely. I'd agree with you. My husband doesn't even send me text messages so I think you're one step ahead there. He doesn't even reply to mine half the time. Yeah. I do exactly know what you mean. You do get that feeling of I'm in some sort of different world which can be fun, and as you said, you're in some amazing places and so on, but then it's very different, isn't it, to sort of keep in with what's happening elsewhere. How old are your children?
Andro Donovan: My son is thirteen and my daughter is sixteen, and although you'd think a sixteen year-old will take responsibility for things like cooking when mummy is coming back, that doesn't always happen, in fact it never happens, so the other thing, I don't know if you read the lovely book called Five Love Languages. I think it's by David Chapman. He talks about diff-
Jo Dodds: I had it recommended twice and I haven't yet read it and I must, and now third time lucky I will. Yes. Please do tell me.
Andro Donovan: Okay. Yes. You must read it. It's a very sweet little book and it's a chap who has worked with couples and he says we all have a different channel for receiving love, and he goes into five different channels, and one of the channels that I think is my channel is acts of service, so I don't necessarily need to have lots of when I walk in presents and being made a fuss over, but I do like acts of service, so if I walk in and my husband says, "I've cooked you a lovely meal and it's in the Aga waiting for you," when I come home at 11:00, or I open the fridge and it's full of food and I'm not expected to go to Waitrose the moment I walk in, it feels good, but that wasn't happening.
When I read that book I realized it's really important for me because he's quite sort of male and thinks, "Oh, well she'll have eaten on the flight." Now he always says will you want to eat when you get home. He always make sure that there's something for me, and even if I don't eat it, it's a gesture of knowing someone has bothered, because when you walk in after having given a lot of myself, heart and soul, for three or four days and I walk in and the fridge is bereft and everyone is asleep, it can feel a bit poverty stricken. That's something I've explained to him and I now know his channel, and so I can make sure that I give him what he needs as well.
Jo Dodds: I'm off to read that book now. I have had it recommended, as I say, a few times, so I think that ... I found similar to you in that that's the sort of thing that would make a big difference to me, so I need to find out what my husband's is and then I can have that conversation.
Andro Donovan: A lot of the men I work with might say thing-, I mean they don't actually use this phraseology, "My wife doesn't understand me," but I think they are so busy traveling and running these complicated businesses and lives that it must be really tough when they go home to a wife that isn't involved in those projects, which is why the typical scenario is a lot of men will maybe have an affair or something like that, but it's usually less to do with lust and more to do with that person shares their life day-to-day, and what I often say to people is the [rocks 00:09:42] of a good marriage are in joint projects.
Because, yes, you have a project core if you can call children projects, you have that as a joint project, but you've always got to have something exciting that you're working with together, whether it's a house refurbishment or planning a longer term holiday or big trip, or something that dovetails purpose, otherwise when the children start to leave you can be bereft of a joint purpose.
Jo Dodds: That's a good point. Yeah. Say you're either at home or you're traveling, do you have a similar routine or is it quite different, I mean obviously you're in different places and sometimes things get in the way, but how do you start the day? Is there any similarity there?
Andro Donovan: When I'm traveling it's a very clear routine, and I try to simplify my life, so I always use the same driver. He always picks me up and I always charge the client for that chauffeur to the airport because that completely demystifies the stress of trying to get to the place on time, et cetera, so I get driven to the airport, I check in at the check in if I'm checking in luggage, otherwise I go straight to the business class lounge, I sit down, relax, maybe have a healthy meal, and if I don't have time for that I always buy a salad from Pret a Manger and I take it on the flight, because if I start eating wheat and sandwiches, and what I call polystyrene food on the flight, that's the first downer for me, and I can start to feel bloated, lethargic.
You get hungry when you're on a flight, so it's important that I go prepared. If I'm in business then the food there's usually a bit more choice and better, so always take a salad with me on the flight and I can see people looking over their shoulder a little bit jealous that I've got a lovely salad Niçoise while they're tucking into their plastic sandwich. Then when I get to the venue I always check out the room I'm working in first. That brings my stress levels down because I then know how much time I need to spend creating the space for this magic that's going to be happening. Invariably it's not right, there's a boardroom table or something going on that isn't going to work for me, so I try and do all that long before we even arrive at the morning.
Then I go to my room. If I'm having to have dinner then obviously I'll join the group for dinner, otherwise I usually order a healthy bit of room service if it's early enough, we'll have an early night. If I'm at home it's a very different routine. I always get up very early because I'm best in the morning, and I come down normally before anyone else is up and let my little dog Coco out, have a little walk around the garden just to get some fresh air, and then this does sound really cheesy but I do do a gratitude process. As I walk the dog around I breathe the air, but I'm lucky enough to live in a beautiful place and I just, just for a few minutes, just go, "Oh, wonderful. What do I want from my day?" I ask myself what do I want from my day today, how do I want to feel at the end of the day, what am I grateful for, what's working in my life.
I turn up the volume on some of those deeper questions because it's a way of grounding myself and prepare myself for the next thing that I'm going to do which is usually my outcomes list. I come back in, Coco comes in and I make myself a coffee which is naughty, but I do, lovely cappuccino or something, and then I sit down with a blank sheet of paper and it's really important it's a blank sheet of paper that's a loose sheet of paper. Bear in mind I will have done a lot of life planning and I've got a lot of outcomes that I'm going for in the year, but every morning I like to write my ideal outcomes down, and I ask myself once I've made the list, "Is this in line with my purpose?"
Will doing these things make me feel satisfied at the end of the day and take me closer to what it is I want? At the moment I've just launched a book, so a lot of my to-do list is around becoming a best seller, getting the message out there, this interview with you becomes a vital task for my day. Because you have a bit of a delay today. I could have, if I had deemed this not to be vital I could have just reprioritized it, but in my book I discuss the criteria that I use to decide how I use my time, and vital is when it's life giving, as in it gives vitality to my purpose, it takes me closer to the thing I really, the bigger thing, the big agenda.
If it's urgent, for instance, during this call I know that we're having some marble delivered. That's something that was urgent but something my husband can do. It's understanding the difference between vital that's going to really feed me and nourish me, and urgent which is just yet other task that I have to do that's demanding my immediate attention. Knowing the difference between those is so important because I can achieve much bigger chunks in smaller spaces of time because I've defined what's vital because it's in line with my purpose.
Jo Dodds: I love that phrase or that word vital. It just sort of speaks so much, makes it really clear about why you're doing what you're doing. I really like that. I do a gratitude thing in the morning purely and simply because I read a tip from a guy called Tim Ferris about an app in fact called My Five Minute Journal which I recommended on my newsletter a couple of weeks ago, and I just started doing that as a result of him doing it, and not because I particularly bought into the whole thing about it being really important and a ritual start to the day and so on, but I am finding it really useful and it is the sorts of questions that you've just shared that are in there.
I haven't been, I don't think, clear enough with the things for today based on that purpose, and using that word vital, I think, it's really helpful, so thank you for that because I'm going to take that away and improve my gratitude session in the morning.
Andro Donovan: It's very important for people to identify their purpose and it doesn't have to be this long mystical journey, but I think if you understand what you're here to do, and it doesn't, as I say, have to be anything very spiritual or global or massive. It can be something quite normal, but I think clarity about your purpose really creates your whole sort of alignment of the way you use your day and the way you use your days which lead to months, lead to years, and that purpose has to be reenergized, reviewed and possibly changed as your interests change and as your drivers change. I think it's important to be able to sit up and go, "Yeah. This is my purpose. This is what I love. This is what I do and this is what I want to do."
I do have, actually, I don't know if it will help listeners. I have four or five key questions people can ask themselves that's very, very quick when they're trying to identify what's my purpose. Would you like to hear them?
Jo Dodds: Yes please. Definitely.
Andro Donovan: You've probably already heard that it's really important to have an elevator speech. When someone says, "So, what do you do?" I think what you answer at that point really defines you subliminally and to the other person. Some people can be very dismissive by using things like, "Oh, I just do," or they minimise their effect. I think [inaudible 00:18:07] who you are is very important that you say that in a one liner and when you read it back to yourself you go, "Yeah, that's what I do," and it really does encapsulate what you do as a gift to the world, whether it's I cleanse toilets so that when people come in they have an uplifting experience, to I do charitable work all over the world. It doesn't really matter as long as you've got clarity on why you're doing that, you know, what is it or who you are.
Then what do you love to do. What are you supremely qualified to teach people is a good question because everyone's got some expertise, whether it's fixing the electrics or walking kids to school or baking cakes. Whatever is your, you know, what you're really supremely qualified in doing. Who do you do it for? My family, my kids, chief executives, whatever. When you're giving this gift of yours, what do people want from you? What are they wanting? How do they change or transform as a result of receiving that gift from you or your contribution? I think those questions are quite good ones to ask because ultimately we do things for other people, ultimately, that in their own way feeds us.
That to me is the loop, because we think we're doing it for ourselves, but ultimately we do things in relationship and to make a contribution. The more that we have visibility of that contribution, the more we feel good about ourselves.
Jo Dodds: Lovely. Purpose is the key, the first thing. How do you then link that into what you're doing on a monthly, weekly, daily basis? You've talked about your gratitude ritual in the morning. How else do you turn that purpose into real life and things getting done?
Andro Donovan: One of the things I do regularly is I do life planning, and I do that on my own but I also do it with my husband and I started this years ago. Life planning is really when you look at all the key areas of your life but coming from a point of fundamental core values. For instance, I've honed down my values to maybe four or five, but I know that I can't breathe unless they're in my life. They're not values like integrity, loyalty, that kind of thing. They're values like love and connection, a sense of contribution, vitality and health, family, that kind of thing. Friendship. Good friendships.
I know if they're not present in my life part of me will start to shut down, so, for instance, if I've been in the field for ages running around doing retreats, et cetera, but I've really neglected my friends at home, I can start to feel really disconnected, isolated, a little bit of what's the point of all this, so I know what the indicators are and I need to bring myself back into that balance. That's the [inaudible 00:21:52] aspect. Then I will literally want to achieve certain things in areas of my life, whether it's my personal environment, my health, my friends, my business, and then those get translated into five year, two year, one year, daily actions.
Every phase of my life I have a different focus. I said about three years ago I want to write a book, so that's when the planning of that started, and now I've actually launched a book, it's been published and I'm talking to you, and that wasn't a coincidence. That was planned. The stages were planned and you need a bit of luck, but I always say to people if they want something they've got to be prepared to do the pedalling, you know, the pedalling up the hill or the pedalling to the direction and then something will pop up that may not be what they're expecting but it may be even better than what they were looking for, but you have to have an intention to get somewhere, and whatever that intention may be.
It could be around your kids. It could be something you're going for, like something like writing a book. The rituals in the morning when I've translated that is what action can I do today to tick off on a vital level that purpose coming to fruition. For instance, years ago when I lived in a busy city, London, I had a yearning to be in the country to have a quiet life, and that came from my value of serenity and tranquillity. I really wanted calm, peace, serenity, and I decided that in order to have that I needed to change my environment. I needed five, ten years from now to be living somewhere that nurtured me.
For instance, if my ten year goal is to have a beautiful country house in Wiltshire, but now I'm in a flat in London in a very busy area, how can I get from there to there? There's ways of translating that. I knew that on the Monday I had to do something specific to have that goal manifest, so what I did was I called Country Life and started to subscribe to the Country Life magazine. Every time that magazine entered my door on a Thursday I think it was delivered, suddenly my future was in my present and any action I took lead me closer to that. That's the way I do it, and hey presto, I had the environment I wanted within about five years of setting that goal, not ten years because I took more focus over it.
Jo Dodds: Lovely. Just exploring that further, so you've got the life plan and we're talking about purpose. It sounds fairly simple, as you say, to make sure that what you're doing sort of fits with that on a daily basis, but of course there's tons of actions that could be taken every day and we've always got an overflowing to-do list or certainly an overflowing list of things that perhaps might make it to the to-do list. How do you then hone that down from the life planning, the purpose, into the actual actions? The example you gave with subscribing to the magazine I guess was a very maybe not obvious at the time but now sounds quite an obvious next step. I suppose that's why it was a priority, it was a sort of early step, but then there were a lot of other things that you needed to do to go from there to living in Wiltshire.
How do you then make it happen? Do you plan projects or orders of events, or how does that work for you?
Andro Donovan: I think different people respond to different things. When I coach people I give them different ways of getting to the same answer, because it's a bit like spaghetti, some things work for some people and they don't work for others. I happen to be quite visual so when I've got time and space and I'm going for something big, you know, I don't have to life plan now for another six months because I've got some big things on my horizon, but if I get to that point of I've levelled out what next sort of energy, I may do a big vision board, for instance, where I'll cut out images of magazines and things that I, experiences I want to create in my life whether it's tranquillity, me doing a TED Talk, writing a book, having a fantastic figure, doing amazing yoga, whatever it may be that I want in my life, order, I will create that as an image personally. Other people may do it differently.
They may do arrival points. They may describe it in a more kinaesthetic way, but there's visual, there's how do you feel about things, what kind of feelings do you want to have in the future, or you could indeed include auditory in that as well, but I think it's really important to have some sort of envisioned process and in the book I've written I talk about the importance of meditating and contemplating. Aristotle said the first stage of action is contemplation, because these pictures and images and feelings and sounds, they stimulate your mind's eye and your imagination, because if you can't imagine yourself having this life or this job or this relationship, you're never going to create it, so you have to first imagine it.
Then you've got to really desire it, want it, and then you've got to tune in and this is a really important part. You've got to tune into all the negative voices, those little saboteurs in your head, I call them rats, little rats, rational mind, saying you can't have it. You don't have a degree, or you can't write because you're dyslexic, or whatever, these limiting beliefs. You've got to be aware of those because those will undermine you and those will keep you stuck. Knowing that they're going to be there, allowing them to surface, maybe even recording them in a journal or a recorder, then you can transform them, then you can start to get in control of them because you become more conscious of them.
Once you've transformed those that's an ongoing moment to moment daily practice. You can't just transform them one day and that's it, but it get easier as you start to believe in yourself more. You would start in a macro way with a vision board, a life plan, et cetera, and then day-to-day things become more simple, but one of the things I do do is I don't do to-do lists. I do ideal outcomes, and I think that's a big shift. It doesn't matter whether I'm going into a meeting or whether I'm facing my day of a million things to do, if I do a to-do list I could be working all day and still feel dissatisfied at the end, whereas if I do ideal outcomes and then ask myself what do I want to feel like at the end of the day, what do I want it to give me at the end of the day, and out of all these things which is going to give me the biggest delivery, I have to really force myself to make that my priority.
Because it's so easy to go into your office and spend the best part of your morning when you're at your freshest, or certainly I am, decluttering, doing a bit of admin, writing your bills, clearing the decks so that you can do the big thing and you never get around to doing the big thing.
Jo Dodds: Absolutely. Can you perhaps give us an example-
Andro Donovan: Doing the big thing when you're energetic is great.
Jo Dodds: Yeah. Can you perhaps give us an example of what an outcome might be and what that might lead to doing during the day?
Andro Donovan: Yes, for instance, an ideal outcome may be I'm going to a meeting to talk to somebody about something I want to pitch to them as an idea. Rather than going, "Right, I need to get them to sign off this. I need an agreement for that," which puts pressure on a specific thing like getting a signature, I talk about, I go, "Wouldn't it be great if that person said let's collaborate?" I imagine that person sort of shaking my hand and smiling and going, "Do I really just want this signed off or do I want X?" Then I try to envision, that's not giving you a great example because it's probably not going to be familiar to a lot of people.
Let me think again about something more specific as an ideal outcome. I might, for instance, want to create something special for my kids when they're coming home if I've been on a trip, so I go what's my ideal outcome, and I want them when they walk through the door to have a big smile of their face, so one of the things I'd make sure is I've clocked off from my working day in time to get their favourite food, create a lovely meal, lay the table beautifully, maybe buy them a little treat, and be in a high energy state when they walk through the door so what they see is mummy running towards them with her arms open and smiling faces.
It's very subtle. If they walk in and I'm on my computer and I haven't made eye contact, "Hello darlings. Be with you in a second." I've ruined it. Because the first thing they've seen is mummy letting them know they're not a priority. Little things like that make huge differences even in couples because I do some couples work, and so much pivots on the greeting. You think about it, if you walk in and someone is on their whether it's a meeting or a social chat or whatever, if someone is finishing off an email before they've got time to look up and smile at you, how does that feel? It diminishes you doesn't it?
Jo Dodds: I love that phrase. I heard it the other day on a TV programme or it was in a book I read or something, something about so and so was diminished, and I thought, "Oh, I love that phrase. I must remember that," and it came up again.
Andro Donovan: They can spend the next two hours validating you and making you feel good, but nothing compares to you going, "Hi, I'm here for you." I always make sure with my clients as far as I can that the first greeting is so important in the morning and when they walk through the door they're the most important thing in my life. I don't want them walking in while I'm checking off a text and I'm distracted for a second. It just sends off the wrong signal. I don't know if that's answered your question, but ideal outcome is imagining how I want the impact to be on the other person and what's that going to give me, because what's my ideal outcome? My ideal outcome is to have my children feel happy and feel that they're the centre of my universe.
Jo Dodds: Yeah, and I think in fact-
Andro Donovan: Versus I need to go to Waitrose and buy the food. I need to clean the house and I need to lay the table.
Jo Dodds: Yeah. It does help, and I mean I do use to-do lists but what I find myself doing quite often is completely ignoring my to-do list and probably working on the basis of an outcome without realizing, and doing some of the things from the list even though I haven't been checking it because they contribute to that outcome, so, yeah, I think that it's really key. We normally do know what we need to do. We don't necessarily need to list things down if we know what the end result needs to look like, because some of that stuff will come naturally through the things that you just do because you need to do them for that to happen. Yeah. I think that was really helpful. Thank you.
We've talked quite a bit about health throughout the interview without focusing on it. You've mentioned sleep and you've talked about nutrition, taking your salads on the plane with you. You mentioned yoga. You mentioned meditation. It sounds like it's something that you do have a focus on. Would that be the case?
Andro Donovan: Yes. I mean I don't always have time to go to a yoga class, and sometimes I'm found in my hotel room. I work with a lady who has helped me over the years, but I thought everybody can do three asanas or asanas, however you want to pronounce it. Before I go to bed I always do a couple of salutations, a downward facing dog, a cat, if nothing else to ease off the strain because I've been on a flight or whatever, and then I do those in the morning as well. It just becomes a routine a little bit like brushing your teeth. The moment something becomes a routine, that's brilliant because it's part of your daily action that you don't even think about anymore.
I wouldn't say I do tons of fitness because I don't, but I do when I'm home, you know, always walk the dog. I go for a swim. I belong to a gym. Don't like doing too much gym, but I do do the basics. I'll attend a yoga class. Another one is your mind, body, spirit because I love that. If I have time I'll do potential a body pump or something a bit more physical or active, but I try and do something at least three or four times a week but that takes me into a movement, a little action. I wouldn't say I was frenetic or a fanatic. My husband is a fanatic. You can't talk to him unless he's been to the gym for two hours. I'm not like that.
I wouldn't say I'm naturally ... It doesn't come easy to me to go to the gym and be active. I'm not like the goddess energies of Karl Jung, Artemis. Some people, like the goddess Artemis who is goddess of the wild, who is always running. You know those girls who are always running or doing a marathon. I'm not that type. I have to work at it. I'd be lying if I didn't. For me it's really important that I feel attractive in my body. I'm presenting all the time so I've got to feel good in my body, and it makes me feel more attractive when I've nurtured myself, and whether that's walking, eating properly, or whatever, but I'm not a saint.
I still like a glass of wine in the evening, or my naughty very expensive chocolate that's sixty, seventy percent cocoa. I love a little bit of chocolate. I have a glass of wine. I do do the regular things well. I don't eat pasta or I don't have bread. I don't do that kind of thing [crosstalk 00:36:30].
Jo Dodds: That's still part of the whole nurturing, I think, the wine and chocolate. It's definitely part of nurturing.
Andro Donovan: Yeah, well I mean get a life, you know? I always say to people I could be jacking up with heroin, but, no, I'm having a glass of wine. Also when I've had a really good day it's so lovely to sit down with a client and have a lovely glass of wine, and, you know? Why not treat yourself? I always say a little bit of what you fancy does you good, and I personally find people who overdo that balance. I think it was in Style Magazine a few weeks ago, it's the opposite of being unhealthy but it's becoming a syndrome. It's addition ...
Jo Dodds: It's called orthorexic.
Andro Donovan: ... to healthy food. Sorry?
Jo Dodds: Yeah. Orthorexic was the word for it. Yes.
Andro Donovan: That's it. That's it.
Jo Dodds: Yeah.
Andro Donovan: I've met a lot of those people and some of them are really unhappy.
Jo Dodds: Exactly. What about learning and improving yourself. I guess you probably do that as part of your work anyway and your lifestyle, by the sound of it. What sort of things do you do?
Andro Donovan: I love learning. I'm always either reading an article or reading a book. I think it's part of my duty to keep myself fresh, so I often listen to great TED Talks. I think they're brilliant because you can get a pulse of some new ideas very, very quickly listening to a TED Talk. I normally would within a year do a seminar, attend a seminar myself. I really love being in the situation where I'm not running it and I'm listening and growing myself. I'll probably do one or two of those, a workshop or something. I also have a connection to other facilitators and we ... There's a conference once a year where we share knowhow and we chill and resource each other.
I belong to various peer groups where we connect in and we talk about whatever it is, so for instance I've just written a book. I have several different places now that I tap into with other authors, because I think it's very, very important when you're learning and growing that you create a peer group that has similar goals because then you're in with the right crowd. For instance, if you want to lose weight and you're with your "mates," in inverted commas, and you say, "No. No. No. I'm not drinking. I'm on a bit of a regime." They'll go, "Oh, come on. We love you the way you are. Can't you give up drinking after the hen do?" Or that kind of thing. It's not very supportive.
I find that people who have never written a book don't understand people who have written a book. It's one of those challenges you've just got to have done it. The conversation with people who have gone through that particular challenge is a very, very different ball game, and you've got to surround yourself with people you want to become like.
Jo Dodds: Absolutely. What about if things don't go right? What about if your day doesn't quite pan out as you were planning? How do you deal with that?
Andro Donovan: You mean when I've hit a barrier?
Jo Dodds: [inaudible 00:39:41].
Andro Donovan: This is another thing that I talk about in the book because we all hit barriers, and I've honed it down to some specific emotions, and you have to become a little bit of a robot because you've got to learn to decode yourself. The key emotions anyone hits in the day, and that certainly I do, is apathy where you can't be bothered. You have thoughts like, "What's the point? I can't be bothered." I sometimes hit that in the morning when I arrive somewhere, I'm jet lagged. For me it's in the middle of the night, but the alarm has gone off and it's 6:00 and it's, "Oh, no." The first thing I may hit is apathy, and then the thoughts of, "What's the point? I really can't believe that's the time."
At that point I go, "That's interesting. I'm in apathy and I'm having these sort of thoughts." Then I tell myself set a short term goal. The short term goal for me at that moment is shower, coffee. Shower, coffee. At that point I physically move and there's a big, big hint there. You have to physically move so you change your resource state. You become more motivated as you physically get yourself out of the bed, walk to the shower, and then I'm in a whole new realm because I've moved, my thoughts are changing to, "Hey, I wonder who I'm going to meet today. Great. Where's the coffee machine? Can I work it?" Because they're all different in these hotels.
Then suddenly I'm in a different space. You may hit apathy. You may hit that very, very common one, "It's not fair. Why me? Why does this keep happening to me?" I know through practice that's me being a victim, and when I'm being a victim in know I can't change things, so I have to somehow do some positive self talk and move myself out of grief into what can I do about the situation. I really highly recommend tuning into the thoughts you're having when you're in these barriers, because they're always different. You will have different thoughts in apathy to when you're in grief, to when you're in fear, to when you're in anger, to when you're in pride.
Pride is just as much of a stuck position as all those others. I work with people to understand the typical ones they fall into and how they can get better at moving out of that, but the fundamental principle is move, go for a run, walk, just literally change your energy, up your energy and focus on the short term goal, and then you're in breakthrough. You're in a sort of "I can, I will" world, unless it's something heavy like someone has died in which case you have to give yourself time to grieve, but even there you still have to get to a point of moving forward with your life and going, "I have to accept it now and move forward."
I'm talking about the sort of day-to-day barriers that we hit because you have a bad phone call or your boss was horrible or you missed your train and it's screwed up your whole day, those sort of barriers.
Jo Dodds: On a day when you actually have had a good day, you end the day knowing that you've had the chance to live more and I call it, or I describe living more as getting to do the things that you want to do rather than the things that you feel you should do or you have to do. What have you done? What does that day look like for you?
Andro Donovan: Actually I've just had a fantastic day on Saturday. It was one of those days where ... I was being interviewed in London by Radio, I think it was Monocle 24, that's what it's called. I've never had this experience before in London, and I said to my husband, "I've got an interview. I've got to be in London at 1:00." We live in Wiltshire, and he said, "So will you be taking the train?" That's our first barrier. I said, "Well, I thought it might be fun if we just went down together." He said, "Shall we leave the children?" Because I've got a dog. I said, "No. Wouldn't it be lovely for them to come with us?"
Bella my daughter, sixteen year-old did her grunt and said, "No. I don't want to go hours on the drive, da-dum, da-dum." Anyway, cut a very long story short, I managed to enrol them into my little vision for the day knowing that it could be a real damp squib and didn't know what to expect, but we went down for the day. I walked in. Georgina Goodwin of that radio station was wonderful and allowed them to sit and listen in the actual radio room, so they saw mummy being interviewed for about twenty minutes live, and it was absolutely fantastic. They were fascinated. They had a lovely morning and then we took them to had a lovely walk around the shops, and then we went to the Hard Rock Café where they were allowed to have anything they wanted on the menu.
I said to them, "You can either have a drink, a milkshake, or you can have a pudding, but you can't have both." Then lucky for me by the end of their triple burger they didn't have room for anything else. We had a lovely day that was those two roles merging where my business life, if you like, and my personal life just worked beautifully together. We came back. We were absolutely shattered, and my son said, "Is it my bedtime yet mummy because I'm absolutely knackered?" I said, "Yes. You can go to bed." That was a really lovely day.
Jo Dodds: It sounds good. It's funny when children actually ask to go to bed you know you've done a good job in the day. I think my daughter has asked me about twice in her whole life.
Andro Donovan: Yes. You know you're doing something right.
Jo Dodds: Lovely. That sounds really good. It sounds like you're doing lots of radio style interviews.
Andro Donovan: They're starting to happen, Jo, yeah. They're just starting. I think this is about the third one I'm doing, and it's because the book only came out last week.
Jo Dodds: Lovely. I was just about to move onto how can people find out more about you, but perhaps the lead-in to that is tell us a bit more about the book. You've mentioned it as we've gone through, so what's it about? How can it help us?
Andro Donovan: Absolutely. It's called Motivate Yourself, and the strapline is "get the life you want, find purpose, and achieve fulfilment." It's a book that is absolutely practical. It's a step-by-step guide. It's based on twenty years of experience in the field, and all these processes I've used with live groups and got people to work through it, but I've distilled it into three sections. The first section is finding out who you are at your core and what your core values are, what lights you up. It's not that easy actually for some people, so there's a number of different processes that take you to that answer. Then the second section is about understanding what gets in the way of your happiness and that is including your own rational mind, your subliminal belief system, where you got them from, and it's identifying all those things and starting to literally rewire yourself, which sounds painful but it isn't.
You do have to do the work. You have to sit there and do the work with a journal or with a recorder or your iPhone. You can't just sort of read it and expect it to descend upon you from grace. You've got to actually physically do some of the thinking processes. Then the final piece is the practical designing your life life plan bits, and I end up with ten motivational principles, and one of my favourites is "be positive; choose to be happy."
Jo Dodds: Lovely. I like that choose to be happy. I put something on Facebook the other day about trying really hard to be happy and somebody said, "That sort of doesn't make sense. You're not supposed to be trying really hard." It's like what I mean is creating situations and a life where I am happy. It's not that it's a difficult thing as such, but it is definitely a mindset thing, isn't it?
Andro Donovan: You can be attached to the drama. You can be attached more to the argument than the, "You know what? I could just choose to be happy here." It's that letting go process. There's some nice neat little ten principles at the back which I quite like. They're a little bit like my mini desiderata, but the other one is make sure you're leaving your comfort zone on a regular basis, because this is where the magic is. Whatever you're doing whether you're skiing or whether you're going for something bigger, if you're not challenging yourself a little bit every day, you start to go really flabby on all levels, certainly around the middle.
Jo Dodds: Tell us more about how people can get ahold of the book and how they can contact you and how they can connect with you.
Andro Donovan: The book is published by Capstone. It's a Wiley brand, and it's available on Amazon which is very easy. They can get hold of me. I've got a website, AndroDonovan.com. Andro is A-N-D-R-O, so that should be quite straightforward, and Donovan is D-O-N-O-V-A-N, not the other round. They can get the book on Amazon, come to my website. I'm going to be developing all sorts of little freebies and tips and if you become a subscriber then we can stay in touch.
Jo Dodds: Lovely. Thank you. Really appreciate your time today, Andro. I've really enjoyed it. I think it's always good to interview people who are working with some of the self improvement side of things anyway, because then we tend to go deeper into that side of things, and probably less about technology and apps and things that I might do with other people, so it's been a really interesting conversation. Thank you for joining me.
Andro Donovan: I've really enjoyed it, and just the final thing I wanted to say is somebody sent me a postcard, this is when I was having a difficult, a very difficult retreat last year and it said, "Don't forget to be awesome." I keep that on my bathroom mirror so that I just check in if I'm feeling a little bit in a low energy state, I look at that and it lifts my spirits, so anything you can do by giving yourself a little placard to give yourself that little kick is great, but I've really enjoyed this conversation, and I look forward to speaking to you again some time, Jo.
Jo Dodds: Lovely. Thank you.