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Making Better Connections

Written by Life Clubs


Whenever we run a communications workshop in the workplace someone will bring up networking and it’s an area where we all put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We expect to leave an event with an address book of interesting and useful contacts where we should be happy if we met one person and had something nice to eat. 

We can dread the thought of networking as we feel it involves us having to perform and think of interesting things to say. But if we can listen to the other person instead that can create more meaningful relationships. 

Yesterday I went to friends for a meal and the gentleman next to me turned to me at the start of the meal and asked ‘how’s your year been so far?’ It was a great question and we immediately got into a fascinating conversation as, of course, I then asked him the same question. It was a fun way to be brought up to date with someone’s life and see what their values are. 

Another good conversation opener I heard at a party was ‘what keeps you awake at night?’ What do we worry about in the small hours of the morning, especially when it’s so hot it can be difficult to sleep? Again it’s an opening gambit that shows interest in the other as it’s about what their concerns are. 

At Life Clubs we aim for you to have deep, compelling conversations. To find out more, why not get in touch?

Avoiding conflict using a random number generator (don't ask!)

Written by Life Clubs

As we’re coming up to the month of our fabulous Relaxing Your Life workshop, I thought I’d start trying to relax my life now. My son is back from university for the summer holidays and we enjoy watching films together and yet all it does is make us row. My husband wants to watch one thing, my son another and I a third. It is anything but relaxing.
It was easy when I was growing up to choose what to watch on telly. There were two channels and so (almost) no choice. The biggest debate we had was whether to watch the 9.00pm news or keep watching some drama we had started.

Last night, however, my son discovered a way to make us relax about what we were going to watch. Hooray! He found an incredible list of 5,000 films on the internet which comes with a random number generator so it picks films for you. In theory, you are only ‘allowed’ to reject nine films – it stops after choosing ten for you - and you can’t go back to one you’ve rejected if it turns out to be the best after all. 

Now that was relaxing and so spontaneous.
The first film that was randomly selected for us was a 1950s war film so we passed. Then we got a couple of horror films which I am far too frightened to watch, so we passed on those too, then another film from the ‘90’s which neither of us were particularly interested in and then it threw up ‘Magic Mike’, a film about male strippers which, co-incidentally my daughter had recently been talking about. 

I’m sorry to say I didn’t enjoy it much. I’d be delighted to hear your views, but I felt it didn’t really go anywhere. Lots of good acting and I love Channing Tatum’s dancing, but I’m not going to recommend it. What I am going to recommend is the relaxation of not having a
row with my family about what we’re going to watch. Spontaneity rules. 

Our next workshop Relaxing Your Life is, of course, a great way to roll into Summer.

If you’re not near any of our workshops, we are currently offering our video series, Prepare for the Summer (6 short workshops on film together with six accompanying mini-guides filled with extra tips, hints and a recipe - picture of mini-guide week 2 above), and we are keeping the price low for you for a little longer as the weather is still so hot. All yours for £60. I can only describe them as relaxing.

Meet the lovely Jo Henwood

Written by Life Clubs

Jo is a wonderful laugher. I love it... She laughs all the time - loudly and contagiously - and so Jo seemed a perfect Life Clubs host to introduce you too in the week of the International Day of Happiness. Jo runs the club in Leatherhead and really hopes you'll join her or tell all your friends about her (if they live near Leatherhead, that is). Anyone will get a warm and wonderful welcome.

We asked Jo a few questions so that you could get to know her better. Also Jo's next workshop is on April 4th in the evening, kick-starting our Eliminating Problems month.

1. What would your perfect holiday be? 

I have 3 teenage boys who get on really well together, and aren’t yet much interested in girls or parties so are still happy to come on holiday with their Mum and Dad. So holidays, even days out, with the family are my top favourite.

I also have an amazing group of close friends nicknamed 'The Squad' and we go away together for birthday celebrations and any other excuse we can find. Always very fun happy days with those guys.

2. What type of music do you like? 

I love high energy, happy, dance-y music. I was a big clubber in my youth and, if I can muster the energy, I am now and again these days as well, although I tend to wear trainers otherwise my feet hurt! I love Ibiza chill music and Hed Kandi dance music and artists like Alexander O'Neal and Daft Punk.

3. What type of books do you like to read? 

I always remember Daniel Pink saying you know what you really want to do for work if you look at what you do and read in your spare time. In my corporate role I always read books about spirituality, psychology and behavioral economics. Now that I work for myself - and Life Clubs - I am able to activate these learnings in my work. I am currently reading Brendan Burchard's book High Performance Habits where he shares his lessons on coaching senior executives. 

4. What is your favourite sport? 

With a house full of men and boys there is sport showing most of the time on the TV or radio. My husband does a lot of work with destinations in the US so we are layering American sports on top of the British ones. Two of my sons play rugby and football and I watch them play as much as I can. 

I am a regular at the gym preferring (no surprises) the dance type classes. I am also a member at the local tennis club and play when I can. Cardio tennis is a relatively new activity that is really fun and reminds me of school PE lessons where you have to line up a lot  - but in this case we are allowed to chat. 

5. One thing we should know about you? 

I also own and play the bongos and have a fine selection of percussion instruments which go back to my clubbing days when I went out with a percussionist who both taught me to play, and who I accompanied on stage at times when we used to duet - he played the Congas and I played the bongos.

Thank you, Jo.


Change can be vital and energising

Written by Life Clubs

by Rupert York, Account Executive at Life Clubs

Everyone has habits... it’s human nature to have them. We can’t change that, but what we can change is the habits we have and no longer want. Changing habits isn’t easy, but you may feel it’s become a necessary thing to do.

Bad habits, like being glued to your emails or social media or drinking every night, can clog up your days, pull you in different directions and make it hard to get anything done. Good habits, habits that are aligned with your goals, like going to bed early or walking 5,000 steps a day will make you feel positive and make your daily life more manageable. Your habits are now working for you.

Here are 5 ways to change your habits the Life Clubs way:       

1. Choose a goal and begin to work on it
It often doesn’t matter which goal you choose, as long as you focus on one and just go for it. For example if you want to go to the gym, pick a day and time, and make yourself go. That might well kick start a new habit, even if you have to force yourself the first few times.       

2. Don’t just focus on the long term
Working with short-term goals will bring you order, clarity and confidence. If you focus you can put more drive and energy into succeeding. Why not choose three small goals to achieve every day and do them first?  

3. Be decisive
As the playwright, Goethe, said, “Each indecision brings its own delays and days are lost lamenting over lost days. Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute; what you can do or dream you can, begin it. For boldness has magic, power, and genius in it. Begin it now.”

4. You’re not your habit
If you can, replace old habits with new ones. Find something that gives you the same physical and emotional sensation. If you need fifteen hours in bed at night to make you feel calm, try yoga or meditation. If you eat to avoid boredom, read the paper instead.

5. Decide what you really want
What emotions do you think your habit is due to? What do you really need to do to satisfy that emotion? Ask yourself, what is the habit helping you avoid? What are you using your habit instead of? How can you get more of what you want into your life today?

Please do let us know any of your own tips or experiences with changing your habits for the better, or, if you'd like to, share what habits make your life difficult.

Make a new friend...

Written by Life Clubs

Life Clubs would like to introduce you to our lovely hosts, and hope you can make friends with them too! 

Annie Lionnet, is our Frome host and someone I've known since I was in my twenties, so she comes with a huge recommendation. Like me, Annie is an author and has been my astrologer for as long as I've known her. She sorts my entire family out.

                                We have asked Annie a few questions so you can get to know her better...

What aspect of well-being do you enjoy?                                                I'm deeply interested in all aspects of well-being and I've always enjoyed cooking. I love preparing a delicious, healthy meal and really enjoy the whole social aspect of eating in company. I grew up with a French mother and some of my happiest memories are of spending hours over lunch with my French family in Paris.

What time of day are you at your best?                                                    I'm more of a morning lark than a night owl and I love starting the day with a swim. It's like a meditation for me and helps me to mentally plan my day.

What would your perfect holiday be?                                                          love all things Latino. I learned Spanish and Italian so that I could fully enjoy the experience of being in Spain and Italy, speaking with local people and discovering more about the way they live and think. I also adore the French Riviera and can think of no better holiday than taking a leisurely drive along that beautiful coastline into Italy. And beyond!

And now all you need to do is visit Annie's club... what could be easier?

Stay tuned to find out more about our hosts in the upcoming weeks. 


Big or small, scary or beautiful? How do you handle change?

Written by Life Clubs

Keeping up with change in this generation is not easy. Everything moves so fast. By the time you purchase the latest phone or laptop, a week later something better comes out – how frustrating.

Change is inevitable. From relationships ending, losing a job, or a family member dying. It’s these unexpected changes that affect us the most, we don’t anticipate their impact and often get confused as to what they mean. The difficult part of change is not knowing where to start.

It all starts with believing that you can change.

I remember how difficult it was for my best friend to lose a parent at a young age. The change to her life was immense.I now realise that building your confidence and strength during this time of suffering, and after it, is essential. It helps tackle the situation or accept it (hopefully both).

Change doesn’t have to be big and scary all the time. Something as small as a change in perspective can do magical things; looking at a problem from a different point of view for example, that of your favourite fictional character can help make adjusting to a change easier.

My favourite fictional character is Tinkerbell, purely because of her innocence, light heartedness and true joy of life. Advice from Tinkerbell, gives me the guidance I know I need, but I’m overlooking. It provides me with that extra push.   

A change I was faced with was deciding if I wanted to live at home or at university, but no matter who I spoke to, I always left the conversation confused. I took a step back, and thought about my situation from Tinkerbell’s perspective. I think of Tinkerbell as a childish inspiration making everything positive and taking risks. Her perspective was 'What's all the fuss about? Why are you hesitating. It's a new adventure.'

I would love to hear your thoughts on change. Feel free to leave a comment on our Facebook page. 
Written by Brunel Psychology student, Minal Vara. 

Low self esteem affects women in UK prisons

Written by Life Clubs

This was written about us by Sangeeta Waldron on her blog Justmeans.

Every year more than 9,000 women find themselves in UK prisons. For many, it is their first time. Employment for women following short prison sentences is three times worse than for men, as fewer than one in ten women have a job to go to on release. The lack of childcare support, qualifications and low pay are all barriers for many women offenders to find work. While research suggests that challenges such as mental illness, drug and alcohol dependency, educational gaps, low self-esteem and lack of confidence disproportionately affect women in the prison system. The combination of two or more of these disadvantages can severely restrict a woman’s ability to stay the course and succeed in learning and training.

Lauren Cherry was about to find out just how hard life could be when she faced these same challenges during her 11 months in a prison cell. Her journey inside was a combination of being constantly moved around the system, presented with new situations, new cellmates and different people throughout her prison stay. Cherry says, “The only certainty was uncertainty. In ten months, I read 65 books, one of which was Nina Grunfeld’s, The Big Book of Me.” This book changed Cherry’s life. After her release, Cherry found herself working with Grunfeld and Life Clubs.

Grunfeld is a best-selling author, along with her successful, Life Clubs and her “Get A Life” column in The Daily Telegraph.  

Through Life Clubs, Grunfeld has changed the lives of individuals and helped many FTSE 100 corporates, as well as the NHS. Life Clubs gave Cherry the tools to make a brighter future for herself and importantly, never to reoffend. Now Grunfeld runs Life Clubs at Work with the help of Cherry, who heads up the Prison and Community services, helping ex-offenders and those inside how to live in the present, understand that being happy is a choice rather than a result from external forces and giving them the tools to make better decisions.

If women have jobs that enable them to find and keep secure housing, look after their children and move away from abusive relationships, they are less likely to turn to crime or reoffend. But they need support. Inside, Cherry taught her fellow inmates about business and accounting, she studied hairdressing and trained as a Samaritan and a butcher. Close to her release, she began working with the award-winning UK charity, Working Chance, which supports women with criminal convictions and women care leavers to find quality work with mainstream employers.

This month, Cherry began co-presenting a weekly radio programme with National Prison Radio. The show Straightline, will be airing nationally and in prisons, so everyone can listen. Straightline wants to strengthen the bond between prisoners and their families and friends. It's proven that individuals are less likely to re-offend if they have strong connections on the outside.

Photo Credit: Women in Prison


What happened to bravery?

Written by Life Clubs

I find living in Central London very exciting. Right now we are fighting (interesting choice of word, 'campaigning' might be better, but sadly it feels like a fight) to try and protect our tiny local park, right next to the House of Lords. It's the kind of park that would be allowed to have a normal existence, dog walkers, picnickers, lovers etc were it anywhere else in London, but a year or so ago, David Cameron decided it should house a Holocaust memorial and exhibition centre (you may have seen the designs already) and we, a small but fierce, band of locals are bravely protesting. We want to keep our park a park.

I know, it doesn't make sense. My parents were refugees from Nazi Germany so I shouldn't want the world to forget about hatred - and I don't, but that doesn't mean I want another memorial and I know it's not what they would have wanted. My mother did nothing but praise the kind people who looked after her when she arrived here, but they were in Oxford and Sheffield, not Westminster. I'm sure she would want a plaque for them or, better still, for the £50 million the memorial and exhibition centre will cost, to go towards helping new refugees to settle here. Do memorials really do any good?

Our brave fight has introduced me to brilliant neighbours (campaigners) those full of energy who work 24/7 emailing, calling the press and printing leaflets alongside their full-time work. But it's also introduced me to people who will lie down and accept whatever is thrown at them rather than fight. And that I find hard to accept.

The first of these people was the headmaster of the local school who I casually asked which side he was backing? 'Neither' he replied 'I'm remaining neutral. But I wouldn't waste your time' he continued 'it's a fait accompli. You don't stand a chance.'

Life is full of people who don't believe you should try anything unless you have a 100% likelihood of succeeding. It's a simple but clear strategy and makes perfect sense. I remember many of those people from my childhood. The jewellery teacher who said I couldn't come to his class to make a Russian wedding ring - 'it's like wanting to run before you can walk' and the man who ran the car maintenance classes I wanted to attend who said to an enthusiastic 16-year old, 'you'll be eaten alive in this class, dear'.

Luckily there are those of us who want to fight for what we love whether or not we believe we're going  to win. Maybe we're naive in thinking we can make a difference or get our own way, but it's important for us to try. Our view is that so long as we give it our best shot and remain optimistic who knows what might happen.

What is it that drives us? I know for me it's largely to do with freedom. To me that park represents freedom and I want the political freedom to try and rescue it. I know that persistence comes into it too. I can be persistent if I want something. And I believe it's also important to be brave and to do your best. To give your all to a cause you believe in.

And what I want right now is for all those nay-sayers, the ones who insist that something cannot be done, to sit back, watch us fight and be open to what we're saying.

I don't know if it's my values of freedom, equality and bravery that make me so strident, but I've never given up and I won't now.

For those of you who are curious, a couple of excellent extra articles (one and two) on the subject and a link where you can join me in being brave.

7 reasons to be cheerful

Written by Life Clubs

I don’t want to get political but when I saw Lucy Mangan’s article with the same 'Reasons to be cheerful’ title in The Guardian I felt it was perfect timing. Below are my reasons to be cheerful and I hope they work for you too… We would love to hear your 7 reasons for being cheerful, get interactive by telling us on our Facebook and Twitter.

  1. I’m discovering the joy of putting down my phone and reading again. Loving the new Hogarth Shakespeare series – modern retellings of Shakespeare. Started with Jeanette Winterson and now on a roll.
  2. Walking the dog in Green Park after a long day at work and seeing her pink fairy light collar flashing in the dark as she frisks around.

  1. A new series of Suits, my guilty pleasure.
  2. Having friends to stay and being able to chat whenever we feel like it rather than just over a meal.
  3. Our kitchen is now almost finished after a pre-Brexit flood. I was so upset by the loss of our kitchen that it took me ages to decide what I wanted. Now it looks better than I could ever have imagined.
  4. The kindness of people (and this I’m copying from Lucy M). I love talking to strangers in the tube, smiling at people walking down the street – that warm, spontaneous interaction that can happen all the time if you allow it to.
  5. And finally, Life Clubs has started again for the year and I’m so excited. It’s all of you who make my life worthwhile and the kind things you say about Life Clubs and watching it help you change your lives. Book in today and let it support you in yours.
As you know by now, it doesn’t matter which month you join us in, if you buy for 10 months your payment will roll over into 2018. It’s a great investment in you. 

Before I learnt about what I valued...

Written by Life Clubs

Before I knew anything about personal development, I always rather fancied working as a Reality TV presenter. I went to lots of interviews and often got through to the third or fourth round of auditions only to sabotage my chances at the final stage. Things kept going wrong and I wasn't sure why. My final interview was for a programme which I would have been co-presenting with three other women, looking at people’s real life problems and offering live advice. A sort of TV Agony Aunt. It sounded a perfect fit.

Six of my potential co-presenters were at the audition too and the first person we were being asked to advise was a woman who was very heavily in debt and about to get married. The question was whether she should tell her fiancé about her debt. 

I sat there listening to the other would-be presenters making light of the problem, ‘She needn’t tell her fiancé at this stage – she’s allowed a few secrets.  You don’t always have to tell your partner everything. What matters is that they love each other.’ And the more they skirted round – what I saw as the seriousness of the woman’s predicament - the more I realised how strongly I felt about being honest.

I not only felt that there was no way this lady should be marrying a man she was going to lie to, but (big Lifebulb Moment coming up) I also realised that there was no way I could work in Reality TV, alongside presenters like these, offering what I thought of as flawed ‘advice’ to people for the sake of entertainment.

I sat quietly through that entire interview, knowing that by my silence I was once again sabotaging my chances of working in Reality TV.

Looking back over all my auditions I noticed a pattern emerging. Each time I had understood how distorting the truth would have made the program more interesting – and my presenting skills more impressive – because of my value of honesty I was unable to do it. It was clear that my future was not in Reality TV.

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