Episode 1: Introducing Marjorie

Introducing Marjorie and talking a little about why I am doing this.

My name is Marjorie Wharton and I am a coach, trainer and facilitator. My goal is to help people get their stuff done. I work with individuals and organizations to help them achieve the results they want.

Thank you for subscribing and thank you for listening to Succeeding at Life.

Want Success? Get Happy!

Want Success? Get Happy!

Did you know that each person has what is called a happiness set point?  Well we do. Each person has a built in level of happiness that they innately default to when moving through each day of their life.  So just imagine, when you look at a person and think to yourself that the individual just looks like a happy person or vice versa, like an unhappy person, on some level, you may be accurate in your assessment.

Now with this fact, there is some good and some bad news.  The bad news is that 50% of our happiness set point is determined by our genetics! 50%! Can you imagine? Right off the bat before you even had any say in how you would be as a person, your innate level of happiness is determined by something you have no control over.  Wow!

On hearing this fact some people might be tempted to get discouraged and think that there is no hope for them.  However, I ask you to remember that I mentioned that there was also some good news.  The good news is this.  Anyone can change their happiness set point. 

Many people assume that the secret to changing their happiness level is to change their situation.  They think that getting rich or getting thin or getting married, or divorced or having children, will be the secret to their happiness.  However, many find that even when they have realized their goals they have not attained any sustainable level of happiness. 

Research into the happiness set point shows that our circumstances only account for 10% of our feelings of happiness.  Notably, it also has found that even though we can improve our happiness by creating changes in our circumstances, this is not sustainable.  Therefore, that feeling of pleasure that we get when we first achieve our goals is not enough to ensure we are still in a positive state of mind when faced with the next challenge.  To create a more enduring state of happiness requires us to make a conscious decision that we are in fact going to be happy and then to commit to practicing the daily habits that will get us and keep us there.

While it is true that some people face circumstances that are extreme and as such they are challenged to find feelings of happiness in the face of their reality, it is important to note that this is not true for most.  Individuals who faced extreme poverty or other challenges while growing up and then went on to be massively successful, always reference the faith, hope and other positive outlook that they had in their lives.  There is proof that the treatment of serious diseases such as cancer or chronic conditions like fibromyalgia can be positively impacted by the patient choosing to focus on keeping their level of happiness high.  Laughter can in fact be a good medicine.

Research has shown that up to 40% of our happiness levels is determined by our intentional practices.  This means that we can choose to engage in activities that are deliberately designed to put us in a good mood and we can do this on a daily basis so that it becomes consistent.  It is important to note that these positive emotions move beyond just laughter.  They also include the feelings of gratitude, hope, faith, kindness to others, appreciation, joy, etc.

Therefore, there is a wide range of actions which we can adopt and incorporate as habits into our daily routines so that we can increase the sustainability of our feelings of happiness.  Finding time to focus on what you are grateful for, caring for someone else, finding ways to feel joy or laughter are some of the strategies that are most often recommended. 

We know that bad things happen.  We recognize that reality sometimes means that things go wrong, tragedies strike or plans fail.  However, having a deep reservoir of positive emotions means that we have the capacity to bounce back sooner and sometimes stronger.  When we can do this, when we can get to the point where we consistently feel more hopeful, more grateful, more kindly toward others, more joyful or more resilient, we have the power to influence our set point and by extension our potential to be successful.

Marjorie Wharton is a trainer, facilitator and coach who works with individuals and organizations to help them improve their performance.  She is based at the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business in Barbados.  For more of her writing visit https://marjoriewharton.live

Getting Unstuck Is Possible

If you are looking to make a change but you are not sure what should be your next step. Or you are great at generating ideas but lose your way when it comes to implementing them.  Or if you feel like you keep hearing the same feedback from those around you but you have no idea how to make the change.  If you are feeling stuck in any way, coaching is an option you could pursue.

Coaching is designed to be a collaborative process where a professional focuses on helping an individual be clear about where they are presently and where they want to be headed.  Coaches work to help their clients gain clarity about their vision or dream.  They also help them to identify and decide how best to eliminate obstacles to achieving the success they desire.  Coaching can also be used to accelerate the pace of personal growth and to outline the steps needed to empower a client to live their best life – professionally and personally. Those of us who practice it professionally are required to adhere to the principles and guidelines outlined by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

During your coaching journey you and your coach can decide what area of your life you will focus on for your development.  It can center on work and professional development, starting your own business, relationships, finances, spiritual life, physical health or well being. Coaching is forward-focused and works to help the client identify what they want to do next to achieve their dreams and visions.

As a development tool, coaching can often be confused with counseling as a methodology for achieving individual growth and development.  However, coaching is its own pathway to success and while individuals can choose to pursue either or both, there are some key differences between these two forms of development.

A simple rule of thumb to know whether an individual should choose coaching or counseling is as follows.  If your past is an issue that you want to focus on, study, explore and analyze, then chances are that counseling is the best option for you to pursue. If on the other hand, you view your past as simply a fact that happened and you have moved forward (regardless of whether the circumstances were difficult or negative), you are probably ready for coaching. Unlike counseling coaching does not deal with an exploration of past issues or engage in an in-depth analysis to understand how those issues are influencing you now.

With the support of a counselor or therapist, some individuals choose to engage in both coaching and counseling simultaneously, but with a focus on different areas of life for each service.

If you choose to pursue the coaching option it is important that you recognize the role that you must play in your own development.  The coach will help you to focus on the path that you must walk and will offer you support and guidance as you do so.  The coach will take responsibility for challenging you, helping you to consider alternatives and options that you may want to close off because of your self-limiting beliefs.  Your coach will help you to keep going when you are feeling doubt and help you to celebrate when you are achieving victories.  However, much of the work that must be done to achieve the desired results must come from you the client.  That helps you to feel ownership in the process and to recognize that in the end, you have the power within you.  Effective coaches simply help you peel back the layers.  The real gem is inside you all along.



Marjorie Wharton is a trainer, facilitator and coach based at the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business in Barbados.

You Can’t Manage Time

There is no such thing as time management.  Think about it.  You cannot manage time.  Time does not change.  It does not speed up nor does it slow down.  In spite of that, I can almost guarantee that there was at least one time in your life when you were convinced that it had.  When you are engaging in exciting activities on the holiday of your dreams and the time just seemed like it flew by.  Or alternatively you were engaged in some activity that you really did not want to have to do and it seemed like it was taking forever.

Well, I don’t really know how to tell you this but sadly, the issue is not with time.  The issue is with you.  As it is with me.  As it is with any of us who hope to be able to find a way each day to get done the things which are on our to-do list.  I fully understand that.  I am motivated and excited by the feeling of accomplishment that comes when you can tick an item off of your list.  Yes!  One done.  However, what I have learnt to do is rather than worrying about time and my perception of its inconstant speed, I had to start focusing on me.  I had to start figuring out a way to manage me.

If any of us hope to succeed at getting things done we need to focus not on cramming everything into our poor to-do list until it is extra long and we are overwhelmed just looking at it.  Instead we need to become more specific, more focused.  We need to be deliberate about what we give our energy to.  On any given day, you know the reality is that at most you can really only commit to getting one thing on your list done.  And you know that things are going to come up that were unplanned.  So why are you always so surprised and upset when they do?

I would recommend instead that you start planning the tasks that you want to get accomplished over a week rather than a day.  Be realistic about how much time it is going to take to get something done.  Also where possible break larger tasks into segments and list out the segments so that you can tick off each one as you complete it.  That way you can feel like you are making progress.

In your plan include time for interruptions and unexpected meetings.  You know they are coming.  You just don’t know when.  So leave enough space in your day to get them in.  This therefore should allow you to be more precise with your deadlines.  Do not promise something in a time frame that you cannot deliver given what you have planned and the interruptions that are going to come up.  This helps you to reduce that feeling of stress that you are not going to make it.

Also stop stressing about the things that are not on your list to get done today.  If you are scheduled to do something on Wednesday you should not be worrying about it on Monday.  Let each day’s worry be enough for that day.  But write it down.  We all know that a mind is a terrible place to store important information and it also becomes even more stressful when you are constantly worrying that you will forget something that is important.

Your planning system can be as simple or as complicated as you need it to be.  But I suggest that you look around and get one that will be interesting and easy for you to use and to maintain.  I use the reminders list on my phone.  That way it is always handy and I can write down anything that pops into my mind and I don’t have to worry about remembering it.  Before that I used to use a small notebook and a pen that I carried everywhere.  Simplicity works best for me.

Now as you are trying to better manage you, I ask that you be gentle with yourself.  Relax.  You got this.  Please remember to take a break.  Your mind needs to focus on something else sometimes just so you can get the energy to be creative and tackle what needs to be done.  I have to play rock music when I am really trying to be creative.  That’s just how my brain works.

To really get the most out of this approach to getting things done, you need to focus on managing your energy.  You therefore need to know yourself well enough to know when your energy is highest and what it takes to help you feel re-energized.  So you may be tempted to respond to all your emails first thing in the morning but if you know that this is your most energized time period, I suggest that you use some of that time to tackle some of your big tasks.  You might not be able to complete it but you could be pleasantly surprised at what you could accomplish in 30 minutes of truly focused effort.

Last point and this is a big one.  It is not up to you to save or carry the whole world.  You therefore cannot do everything.  Learn to say no, or not now or I know the perfect person who could help you with that and pass it on.  I understand that you don’t want to leave people hanging but sometimes just listening for a minute or two and then asking some variation of what would you suggest or what were you thinking about doing, can take the pressure off of you and inspire the creativity in someone else.

So, if we really want to be able to get things done, we need to be better at managing ourselves, our energy and our ability to engage in focused and concentrated effort.  Leave time alone.  It can take care of itself.  You need to take care of you.


Marjorie Wharton is a trainer, facilitator and coach based at the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business in Barbados.

I Am Not Looking For Balance

Is achieving balance one of your goals in life? If it is then that is very good. However, I have recently come to realize that it is not one of mine.  I am perfectly willing to become excellent at using my innate talents while accepting that there are areas of weakness or things that I am not good at accomplishing.  Just yesterday I was engaged in a discussion about the Strengths Based Approach to Leadership Development and this led me to realize that this is not true for everyone.

In a nutshell, the Strengths Based Approach concept is built around the theory that we all have within us some innate talent or talents and we would all be more successful in life if we were able to identify those talents, practice and become skilled at using them so that they become strengths for us and then leverage them on a daily basis to accomplish our goals.  The idea is that we could be more successful if we focused on developing our strengths rather than focusing on improving in our weak areas.

I firmly believe this to be true.  I believe that if we put our limited time, energy and attention into getting better at something we are innately good at, we have the real potential to become enormously successful doing it.  And long before I knew what to call this concept, I have been trying to identify those areas for myself and for those who work around me.  Therefore, you can imagine my shock yesterday when someone in my training program asked me whether that focus on developing their strengths would help them to achieve balance.  I told him that it really depended on what he meant by balance.  However upon reflection, I have come to realize I fundamentally do not believe that we need to be in balance to be successful in life.

In turn this has now led me to the realization that I have not been taking into consideration the fact that people have differing definitions of what it means to live a successful life.  My message has only been targeted to the individuals who were defining success the way I do, i.e. finding what you are really good and working at that to see how far it will take you.

I often tell a story I heard many years ago.

“Man met God on a mountain path and God told man that he wanted him to push against the boulder in the middle of the pathway.  Man did as he was told and for many years he pushed against that boulder even though it did not move.  When God returned Man hung his head in shame and said God I have failed you.  For years I have been pushing against the boulder and I was unable to move it.  God smiled and said to Man I did not ask you to move the boulder, I only asked you to push against it. That you have done and as a result you have grown strong and determined.”

For some people there is great growth that comes simply from working at the things that are not strengths for them.  They enjoy the struggle of consistently fighting to get things done and overcoming that feeling of challenge and increased level of difficulty.  It would appear however that I am not.  I like the sense of accomplishment from achieving something and the chance to win is my greatest motivation.

The problem is that for many of us, we take our strengths for granted because they come so easily and we seem to believe that the things which cause us to use more energy are the ones that we need to keep working at because that is where our growth potential lies.  Maybe some people find great happiness in working to overcome those weaknesses.

What is interesting is that we are often very accepting of individuals who long ago identified their own innate talent or talents and then spent years developing them to get better and better at them.  We reward them with fame, success and glory.  Yet for ourselves we live in constant fear that the one thing we are not good at will someday be our downfall and bring us to some point of ruination. (A little dramatic, I know.)

For years I have been telling people about the value in the Strengths Based Approach because I firmly believe that this is where we should all focus our energy if we really want to be successful.  When you are in a state where you are using your innate talents, practicing with them and building your skills in using them, you are less stressed. You feel more energized and you are able to accomplish more with little or no effort.  The more that you use your innate talents and strengths the easier it becomes for you to recognize those areas that are not your strong areas.  For those areas you work around them.

However, I will now amend this to start reminding myself that not everyone defines success in the same way.  Therefore if you are the kind of person that likes to constantly push against that boulder whether it moves or not, simply because you know that you are growing just by going through the struggle, then I suggest you continue working on those weak areas.  In the end, you will have achieved success and perhaps even the balance that you may be seeking.