A few weeks ago on holiday in Greece, I found myself suspended in mid-air at the top of a cliff – freaking out! My hands were shaking. My legs felt like water. There was no way I was going to abseil down this 70-foot cliff, my absolute intention a few moments before. Now, I was frozen. All I could see was a dramatic tumble to the rocks below or more likely, a humiliating clamber up to the safety of the ledge. I realised I was saying out loud, “I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I can’t do it!”

It was quite a moment. One of those moments when the world stands still. Slowly, I became aware that my instructor was calmly talking. He was telling me sensible things about it being totally safe and that it was my irrational mind talking. I realised I had a choice. I could funk it or I could fly. I took a breath. “I can do it. I am safe. I can do it!” I found myself saying.


And then… I was abseiling down. True, not particularly well, but I was abseiling. I could do it. Four abseils later, I was leaping down commando-style, loving every second.

Abseiling down that rock-face was one of the most exhilarating and rewarding experiences I have ever had. And I so nearly didn’t do it – because of the quality of what I was saying to myself in my head.

As Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you believe you can, or whether you believe you can’t, you’re probably right.”

In my work as a coach and trainer for the third sector, I find that clients can often be stuck in negative thought patterns which don’t serve them well.  “I’ve simply got too much to do” or “I’ll never find a job in a charity” or “My manager will never listen to me”. My experience is that success is quite often just a different thought away.

Our negative thought processes can easily become self-fulfilling prophecies. If I’d carried on thinking “I can’t do it”,  I absolutely 100% guarantee I would never have made that first descent. Our thoughts are powerful beyond measure. They create our feelings, which lead to actions which lead to results.

I believe that all of us in the third sector must use every weapon in our armour to get the results we want – a better and fairer world. We need to make sure we are thinking the kind of thoughts that will fast-track us there.

In my one-to-one coaching and training programmes, I support people working in the charity sector to harness the power of their thoughts to be more effective at work. Call me on 0208 772 7807 or email katieduckworth@mac.com to discuss how I can help you or your staff be the change you want to see in the world.