All Posts in emotional intelligence

February 15, 2022 - 9,049 comments

Less is More

February is the shortest month of the year.  And so, I am committing to Less is More and giving more Nos this year!  

For anyone who knows me, this is an almost impossible task. As an eternal optimist, I see everything as an opportunity. And following Richard Branson’s advice, I say Yes first and then find a way of doing it.  My default position has always been – “What if it’s good?” 

And yet, when we say Yes to something, we must consciously say No to something else.  A skill not easy to master for most of us, with the constant pull between Yes and No, and between opportunity and threat.  Being able to say more Nos is a sign of success. Warren Buffett said that most successful people are NOT the ones who say Yes to everything, they are the ones who say No to most things. 

Building tolerance for giving and receiving Nos is an art. Most people dread hearing a No, so they never ask. Many people dread giving a No, so they avoid the conversation all together. 

There are gracious ways of giving Nos. “Thank you so much for asking me. That is really kind of you. However, I am focusing right now on something which is very important to me. So, I will be a gracious No for now.” 

In his book “Never Split the Difference” Chris Voss emphasizes the power of giving and receiving a No, in enhancing any relationship, and especially in negotiations.  It seems counterintuitive, but Voss argues that you need to get a No first, to get to a big Yes.   He argues that a No to a properly phrased No oriented question is worth at least five Yeses.  

A simple tool to encourage a No from someone else would be to ask the question: “Do you disagree with this idea?” And if the answer is “No”, you carry on…. Or “Do you think this is a ridiculous idea?  No. So, let’s talk about it then.”  When someone says Yes, but they mean No, the commitment is almost useless. It’s a confirmation without buy-in and therefore without agreement. It’s what Voss calls a counterfeit Yes.  

To avoid giving a counterfeit yes, I teach my clients to say “No for Now” or “Yes for later”!   

It has taken me many years of practice to learn how to say No by reframing it, especially to my son Dan who cannot hear a No.  And in that time, we ended up with two dogs (three if I count our first failed attempt).  I said No to my son’s request to having a dog for many years.  After a counterfeit Yes in 2014 and not coping with our first dog Sally, who ended up with our friends in Romania, I gave in again to a genuine Yes and welcomed Lulu to our family in 2016. My ability to hold another No lasted for two more years, until I gave in again to welcoming Lucky, our second dog, into the family. I am pretty sure that my son knows that it’s only a matter of time before he gets his own horse! 

Until then, I am committing to holding my Nos and practicing the uncomfortable Less is More.  

According to Julia Sperling-Magro, “at any point in time, 11 million bits of information hit our brain, only 70 bits get processed consciously and we remember properly only 7 in our short-term memory.” (McKinsey article, “Bring your brain to work”, Jan 22). 

Because of our limited capacity to process information, neuroscience has found that 7 is a magical number, plus or minus 1 or 2.  That’s why phone numbers have 7 digits.  And apparently 4 is the ideal number at which we chunk information and 3 is the optimal number of speaking points in a speech and power point slide! 

Because of this enormous filtering effect, our brain seeks patterns that make it easier for it to perform. And so, I am leaving you with this 3x3x3 intentional learning approach to practice in the next few months: find 3 things to say No to in the next 3 months, engaging 3 people to support you and hold you accountable.  

My first clear No is saying goodbye to alina_d_addison on Instagram over the next few months (sorry Instagram lovers) and relying on Kora, Carmen and Tatiana as my accountability partners.  I will be cutting down my number of newsletters in 2022, as we are welcoming Sylvia into our team. As I am embracing the Less is More, I look forward to Sylvia’s newsletter in March and I will write to you again in three months, rather than the usual two! 

ADA, February 2022 

November 24, 2021 - 15,216 comments

Work hard, play hard, and be kind

I looked up the definition of workaholic today.

It’s very simple. A workaholic is a person who works compulsively at the expense of other pursuits.  Those other pursuits are often: health, family, relationships, love and of course... the pursuit of happiness itself.

In my work as a coach to corporate high achievers I’ve helped many workaholics... probably becauseI’ve been one myself. I know the cost of holding work as a constant priority above everyone and everything else.

During the month of NOvember, we chose to access our Inner Child, here at Adaptaa, be childish and say more Nos.  Work less and play more. Be carefree. Not easy for someone like me.

I forgot to be playful early in my life. I was this serious, curious, and guarded little girl. This little girl learned to conform early in life, as she navigated the nursery boarding system from the age of three!   She learned to follow the rules to protect her younger sister and avoid punishment and humiliation in the communist school system.

And as an adult, she became an expert in being serious, strong, a fighter, an advocate for others, who carried on like a soldier.  In fact, she became a general.  It didn't matter that life was not a war!  She learned to overcompensate for the inner seriousness, with big smiles. 

In my last few years of deep inner work, I am learning and re-learning to let go of soldering and be mischievous and playful.

I recently attended an Improv class with Patricia Ryan Madson, the author of the great book “Improv Wisdom”. A powerful experience of learning a new skill. Learning to let go and “relax your clever”. Improv is about being present. And being playful. Not being clever.

I’ve learned that innovation is about what’s “inside the box” and not what’s outside the box. And seeing it with new eyes. An improviser is like a person walking backwards. They have no idea where they are going.  They just know where they are! And they get excited about receiving gracefully whatever is presented to them! And the memory they create is more real than a real memory. Pure magic play!

Where are you in your life? Is your life all about grabbing the brass ring on the corporate merry go round or is there a part of you that knows in your heart you want it - you need it -  to be about more?

Chasing the lifestyle, we THINK is success is something many of my clients have confessed an addiction to... as well as the emptiness they found when they got there.

Success on the outside does not always lead to feeling successful on the inside. And success does not lead to happiness. It’s happiness that leads to success.

I’ve learned that in life all is love and play, everything else is a misunderstanding.  So play hard, work hard, and be kind!

ADA, 14 Nov 21

September 3, 2021 - 8,330 comments

Slowing down to speed up

When was the last time you had nothing on your mind? 

I never used to. I always had something on my mind. Until recently, on a coaching retreat, when I intentionally created space both physically and mentally. I totally emptied my cup. 

When you are a high performer, it can feel uncomfortable to have nothing on your mind. It’s a busy life. There are things to do, figure out, build, oversee, plan for. 

If you are like me, chasing some of your impossible dreams, you’ve probably had moments where your cup felt so overflowing with things “to do” that you didn’t know what “to do”. And when you’ve got no space or time to think straight, everything becomes important… which means nothing is. 

When your cup is overflowing, you need to empty it and start again.  Or bring a much larger empty bowl and learn new tools, new practices and new perspectives in order to fill it.  Expand into a larger cup.  Otherwise, you remain stuck and overwhelmed with your little overflowing cup and never fill the space beyond it.

I learned that feeling overwhelmed is a high-quality problem. It means you are being invited to raise your awareness to a broader perspective and see your life from a higher viewpoint.   It means that soon enough this larger empty bowl could be filling up with new ways of being and operating.  It means that you are being invited to experience a new level of ease, grace and vitality you never could have attained from your little cup. It’s called growing and expanding.

I can do “speeding up”. At 14, I was a 100m finalist in the National Championships of Athletics. Metaphorically speaking, I’ve been sprinting my entire life. So, yes. I can really relate to people who like to move quickly. 

And yet here I was, in a moment of having nothing on my mind. The space created in a week of emptiness and stillness has been extraordinary. The type of experience I only read in books.

Science has proven that slowing down is essential to the process of “acceleration”.  Slowing down to speed up has been an elusive concept for a sprinter like me. 

Think of a Formula 1 racing car. Winning the race is dependent on slowing down from 240 mph to a complete stop in order to change tires.  Otherwise, the tires will inevitably wear out, shred or burst into flames. And as much as it doesn’t make sense to slow down, doing so is what makes the winning difference.  

So, those who think high performance in business is a constant state of “go” might need to watch more Formula 1 races to catch up on reality. Being a TRUE high performer means that you understand what it means to sustain your own vehicle instead of shredding your treads, burning out or losing your grip on the racetrack. 

And the more you’re a high performer, the more you need to hold your renewal zone - as sacred.  When we remember to go into our own renewal zone and give ourselves time and space to breathe, that is when we feel regenerated and can springboard back creatively, solving problems and having more energy for what’s next. 

This is why we co-created our own coaching retreat in Transylvania for our community of audacious leaders. To accelerate our work, our life and our mission by slowing down, renewing and regenerating.  To empty our cups and access our mind, heart and gut and come back ready to create the next level of success in our lives and careers. 

Understanding the true nature of acceleration is what has you win this life race... and we want you to win. 

ADA, August 2021

November 9, 2020 - 9,273 comments

6 Insights in 6 Days – 6/9

This is my second article, reflecting on my biggest insights from days 3-6 of my 9-day personal development uplifting experience with my own mentor and his extraordinary community of leaders.  For those of you who didn’t read my first article “3 Insights in 3 Days”,  I am reflecting on the most powerful A insights for me, as I am writing my book where the only letter in my alphabet is A.  The 3A insights of the first 3 days were: Acceleration, Audacity and Advocacy. The following 3 days insights are: Authenticity, Authenticity and Authenticity.

  1. Authenticity

Authenticity leaves a Legacy.

The event was called 4PC Accelerator. It was meant to accelerate the growth of the extraordinary group of coaches and leaders attending it. Acceleration that occurred for all leaders both through facilitating brilliance sessions as well as those attending them like me. 


One of the sessions I chose to attend on the 5th day was run by Angela (yes serendipitously an A named leader!) called – “Leaving a Legacy”. 

You see, in 2007 Angela was inspired by a man with a big vision. With a vision that big that it sounded crazy. However, Angela really believed in his crazy vision and did what most people thought was the craziest thing at that time. She took a year out of her life to support him with his mission.  This man, with a big vision, was Senator Barack Obama and Angela took 3 years out of her life to support him in his campaign to become the President of the United States.  The story has a happy ending. He won and Angela continued to support him in the White House for almost 7 years.  

However, like all happy endings, there is a lot in the middle that never gets told. The ups and downs of all life stories. The struggle that’s inherent in any success. The one thing that’s always the same in all stories with a happy ending. The unshakable belief in standing for something bigger than you and making a positive difference. 

I was truly inspired by Angela’s story and authenticity. And even more inspired by the way she tells her story quietly. Always from the back of the room.  Always in a true supporting role! You have to listen really carefully to hear her!   And when she speaks, everyone goes truly quiet!  Mesmerized….And I am even more inspired by her desire to write her own book about leaving a legacy and helping other leaders out there to leave their own legacy. Angela is one of my role models of (quiet) Authenticity. 

My insight? Authenticity is both visible and invisible. It is about “I am who I am NOW!” both inside and outside. 

  1. Authenticity

Authenticity is not possible without Vulnerability.  

It’s been 7 years since Brene Brown’s blockbuster TED talk entitled “The Power of Vulnerability”.  She smashed the myth that “life's messy, clean it up, organize it and put it into a box" was a good strategy.  Keeping all our messy things in a box comes with a high price to our happiness, wellbeing and of course the ultimate success – feeling fulfilled in life! 

In her research at the time, Brene Brown found that when you ask people about love, they tell you about heartbreak. When you ask people about belonging, they tell you their most excruciating experiences of being excluded. And when you ask people about connection, they tell you their stories about disconnection. 

And all humans have a massive fear of disconnection. It’s called Shame. We all have it. We just don’t like to admit to it. The only people who don't experience shame have no capacity for human empathy or connection. No one wants to talk about it, and the less you talk about it, the more you have it. And the thing that underpins this is excruciating vulnerability. If we want connection to happen, we must allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.

And although I have read all Brene Brown’s books and seen her TEDs, I forgot all about it, when I signed up to another brilliance session called “Visibility and Vulnerability” run by Alexis (yes another A named leader) and Matt!

Boy, was I in for a treat? The stories in that session were 20/10 in terms of vulnerability and authenticity! And the human connections created in that session have been extraordinary. At least for me.  I have a feeling they will be amazing connections for life!  Actually, I am already certain that is the case. 

I pride myself on my Audacity. The vulnerability experienced in that session flipped into the opposite side of Audacity, which for me is Anxiety! And which I claim I have little… Not that day! I experienced anxiety at its highest level and leaning into it and allowing myself to be really seen and really see others paid off.  It’s not for everyone and can only be facilitated by masters of connection. I am hugely grateful to Alexis and Matt for making it possible. 

My insight?  You can’t have Authenticity without Audacity. And you can’t have Audacity without the Anxiety caused by Vulnerability. 

  1. Authenticity 

Authenticity is not possible without Alignment. 

Alignment to your deepest values. During the session above, I have connected with some extraordinary human beings. And I am extremely grateful and excited to have connected with George, someone who I feel in total Alignment.  Our energies matched like 2 flames of the same candle.  We are aligned with the same ultimate value of Forgiveness. 

And as always in life, there is no coincidence.  I have talked in the past about Synchronicity.  When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. And in this case, we are both a teacher and a student, learning from each other on our own amazing journeys. 

And one of the lessons George has taught me was to “empty my cup regularly and clean it with forgiveness first, before filling it up again with gratitude, acceptance and love!”  Emptying one’s cup before it spills, is crucial to slowing down to speed up. A skill that I am still learning. But the cleaning of the cup with the Forgiveness sponge first, was a magical discovery for me! 

My insight? Authenticity is a choice. And a very difficult one too.

What will you choose to accelerate your own growth?

ADA, 7 November 2020

October 20, 2020 - 16,082 comments

3 Insights in 3 Days – 3/9

I am reflecting on the first 3 days of my intense 9-day personal development experience with my own mentor. As always, there have been many, many insights. However, I am distilling them into the top 3 that resonated most with me. And as I am writing my book where the only letter in my alphabet is A, I am focusing on the most powerful 3A insights for me - Acceleration, Audacity and Advocacy.

1.           Acceleration

The event is called the 4PC Accelerator. Its mission is to accelerate the growth of the extraordinary group of coaches attending it. And our mentor is using the scientific definition of Acceleration, including all the 3 phases when velocity changes: a) speeding up; b) slowing down and c) changing direction. 

My insight? I can speed up. And I can change direction. I find it impossible to slow down.

I can speed up. At 14, I qualified into the national championship of athletics at 100m. I got into the finals and came 5th. Since then, speeding up has been my second nature. As a trader for a prestigious bank, I made quick decisions and moved fast on the corporate ladder to the Head of Trading. As a coach, I learned fast and got more qualifications and accreditations in 2 years than most of my peers in 10 years. And teaching my clients to go fast feels easy.

I can change direction. Whilst an university student in my final year in Bucharest, I left to study for another degree in the UK with $100 in my pocket. I went on to qualify as an accountant and then changed direction into investment banking. After a successful career in the City, I changed direction again and followed my heart to learn as much as I could about positive psychology, neuroscience and Emotional Intelligence. My main motivation was to help and support my son and in the process, I moved fast into helping others – both individuals, teams and organizations.

The insight? The next big thing to accelerate my growth to the next level is to learn to slow down. Leaning into my edge to make space. Learning to say No to even bigger things. And it feels edgy and audacious. But I can’t help my clients to accelerate to their full potential, unless I do it first. 

2.           Audacity

I love to be audacious. And I teach my clients to be audacious too. It’s one of the chapters in my book. And one of the sessions in our A-list leadership programme which I happened to run this week, whilst on the 4PC Accelerator.

In preparation for the session, I asked my A-list leaders to reach out to 3 team members or friends and ask them 3 questions: a) Name an event when you recall me being audacious (extra courageous); b) what audacious action and or behaviour did I specifically demonstrate? and c) how did my being audacious make you feel?  And I also decided to pose the 3 questions to my group of 4PC coaches and see what emerged.

Both groups discovered how they performed audacious acts they were not even aware of. And the impact those acts had on their friends and team members, ranging from making them feel proud and inspired to feeling grateful and empowered.

It never stops to amaze me what comes back from these little acts of courage. What other people see in us that we don’t see as courageous. That what someone views as ordinary, another views as extra-ordinary. 

The insight? The paradox of life is that what sometimes feels easy on the inside looks audacious on the outside. And that we wouldn’t know the impact we have on someone else’s life until we ask.

3.           Advocacy

Our mentor taught us how Advocate marketing works, based on a simple principle of 5 types of clients:

1s – those who’ll always hate you no matter what and you should not spend time worrying about.

2s – those who are not that into you, but not as vocal in their opposition as the 1s.

3s – the undecided. They may like you, but not enough to buy your products yet.

4s – they like you and may need some convincing. Once convinced, they may help move the 3s too.

5s – your loyal advocates. Your cheer leaders.

The insight? Use the 80/20 principle when targeting your clients. Spend 80% of your attention on your 5s. And 20% of your attention on your 4s.

And I realized that my 5s are my AAA leaders – those willing to become Audacious, Adaptable and Authentic, by leading with their sharp minds, as well as their kind hearts and strong guts.

And my biggest insight? That I have surrounded myself with a team of pioneer advocates – Tatiana, Carmen and Kora. They are my cheer leaders and I am their biggest advocate.

And I have also realized that I have been a big advocate of my own mentor for years. I have recommended his book to any new coach I met who I believed was serious about coaching. It’s a gift that Mandy, another wonderful advocate of Rich, gave me 4 years ago.

I have enrolled into all of my mentor’s new programmes during the last 2 years – his Deep Dive, his first Project Kairos and his first 4PC Accelerator. It’s the fast pioneer in me! And I got one of my team pioneers, Tatiana to join me too! We have grown exponentially in the process. And helped our clients to grow exponentially too. We now have to remember to slow down!

How will you accelerate your growth? Speeding up, slowing down or changing direction?

July 22, 2020 - 6,502 comments

Meet our future selves

Today at our 5th A-list session for our A-mazing leaders, entitled Aspiration, our Wisdom Queen, Tatiana, led us on a powerful visualization journey. We were transported to meet our future selves who told us what is the most important thing to pay attention to, in the next 20 years. Seeing and feeling the energy, the space and the place of where and who we subconsciously aspire to be in 20 years’ time. And learn to be NOW, who we aspire to be in 20 years' time.

It was truly A-mazing to really "SEE" us as us.

Most of our future selves, turned up to be our present selves, maybe just hidden away. It was fascinating and empowering to see that some of our A-mazing leaders are already living happily in their futures, whilst others are looking forward to the next 20 years’ journeys and what they will become. 

I wanted to capture the energy and the emotional journey that some so powerfully experienced. And some journeys were a lot more emotional than others. Travelling 20 years in 20 minutes. Discovering the nick names of our future selves given to us by the communities we will be living in. 

And writing our own stories:  Johnny being happy and content already, the Fighter celebrating all the massive achievements accomplished already, Boule d'Energie knowing she has all the energy to do what it takes, the Queen knowing she has the power to make it all happen, Living in the Present realizing the power of being present to what is and not worrying so much about the future, Sunny being a shiny positive force already, Saviour being on a mission to find and spread balance, Powerful Smile committing to not lose that smile as she gets older, Approachable committing to play this game with his wife and find a joint name for their life together, Yoga Lady finding the serenity and calmness she has been looking for, Wise Healer welcoming guests in her mountain retreat, Beautiful Soul writing her book that will touch other souls, Brave Kora seeing herself aging beautifully and never stop believing that the journey will be a great one ? and of course Wisdom Queen who will enchant all of us with her magic wisdom!

Tatiana taught us that our Thoughts are energy…as proven by recent science experiments.  So when we work on creating an image aligned with our values, aligning our thoughts with that image and feeling those thoughts and emotions in our body, we manifest the actions which are aligned to getting to that dream…and as if by magic, the Universe returns and reflects that energy back to us. The energy of Action and Re-action. 

Our present is very much influenced by our past. And in an equal measure, our present is also very much influenced by our ability to imagine the future. Imagining the future that we want to create and go about creating it already. 

Begin to look at yourself through the lens of your future self.  Asking myself “What would Beautiful Soul do?” She will write a book that will touch the souls of many more people. “What would Powerful Smile do?” She will keep her smile on, even when life gets difficult.  How would your future self see an opportunity in an adversity? And the truth is, she or he is already in you. Like Michelangelo said: “It is not carving the figure from the stone, it is freeing a figure from the stone.”

I recently came across a quote that really resonated with me and which fitted Tatiana’s session's theme today: "I don't have to change, I only have to remember who I really am!" Thank you for reminding us, our Wisdom Queen!

ADA, 18 July 2020