Fruit baskets are useless! 5 ways to increase positivity at work.

Fruit baskets and massages, whilst well meaning, simply wallpaper over the cracks of a negative working environment.


We all know workplace positivity is a vital aspect of running a company. Yet we think that paying for gimmicks like a bowling night or painting a wall in bright colours will suddenly make everything wonderful.

It won’t.

Fruit won’t overcome intimidation, uncertainty or a constant ‘glass half empty’ attitude.

The only long lasting and cost effective strategy to increase workplace positivity is to work on each and every individual. To teach them how to decrease and resist their own negative tendencies – only then will you achieve lasting change.

So how do you get individuals to change, to be more positive? You teach them the following concepts.

Choose your attitude: Too often we let negative people choose our attitude for us. Why give someone else the power to determine how you think, feel and act? It is stupid when you think of it like that. Next time you start to get frustrated or angry… stop…breathe and ask, ‘is this the way I want to feel?’ By choosing your response you can then choose how long to stay in that emotion, and who gets to see that emotion. Not every colleague needs to see your anger, only those who deserve it. It stops you from letting an incident early in your day ruin yours and everyone’s whole day. Aside from learning to choose our attitude we must learn how our attitude and behaviour affects other people. Click here for additional information on choosing your attitude.

Celebrate: Too many businesses either forget or are scared to celebrate success. Often this is because the boss thinks people will then slacken off or rest on their laurels. This is garbage and often the excuse of lazy bosses masquerading as busy bosses. When was the last time you genuinely celebrated an achievement that wasn’t a birthday? It doesn’t have to cost a fortune as sometimes simply calling everyone together and saying well done, great job is enough.

Language: Simple things like saying thanks, hello, well done or are you ok can make a huge difference. In your next meeting, take time to sit back and listen to the language used, including the tone of the words. Are they appropriate to the situation, are they unnecessarily aggressive? Are people who might have something to say remaining quiet? Think of all the good ideas and creativity you aren’t hearing because of this. You need to assess the problems, then determine standards such as what type of language/tone you will or won’t tolerate anymore.

Gratitude: Instead of constantly highlighting the negatives, it is important to learn to see the positives that occur everyday. There is a process that teaches you to retrain your brain and make noticing the positives far easier. You’d be surprised how many there are when you begin to notice. Retraining your brain can turn what you think is a bad day into a not so bad day, or even a pretty good day. More info here at The Thankful Plan and here Kokoda.

Build relationships: Now you don’t have to be best buddies with everyone you work with, however understanding a bit more about who they are and what they do can increase empathy and tolerance. When this occurs you lose a lot of the petty infighting and rumors that run riot, creating unnecessary workplace tension. Redesigning your meetings and what you talk about in them is often the best place to start.

Apart from simply looking forward to going to work, the benefits of a positive workplace are numerous, including:

  • Greater job satisfactionimages-42
  • Greater productivity
  • Stronger loyalty
  • Stronger commitment
  • Lower absenteeism and attrition
  • Increased creativity

The mantra of ‘for things to change, first I must change’ has to be adopted by every member of your staff, especially your leaders.

Click here on the importance of actions over intentions.

If you would like to learn how to achieve this, please contact us here or fill in form below. We would be happy to drop by and discuss how we help workplaces and teams remove the burden of negativity… then flourish.

About the author:

Nathan Burke started his career as a schoolteacher before the demands of elite level football with St Kilda F.C. took over. Following a successful corporate career he founded Nathan Burke Consulting – a Melbourne based firm that offers High Performance Training and Coaching solutions to corporates, schools and sports teams.


5 ways to stop your kids being Sore Losers.


Growing up I reckon my 3 sisters and I finished board games about 20% of the time. Often the game would end when one person (usually me) was exposed for cheating; or as soon as it was inevitable one of us would lose, the board would become airborne. To this day I don’t know how a game of Monopoly ends.

Some would say we were competitive bunch, others a bunch of sore losers.

Often it is a fine line between the two.

It’s true that nobody likes a sore loser. So what do you do if your child’s competitiveness boils over into sore loser territory?

Here’s 5 things you should try.

  1. Praise effort not outcome.

If a child thinks the only way they will get a pat on the back is by winning, then that is what they will concentrate on. To them anything but a win will not be good enough. The pressure to always win builds and their under developed brains will not be able to cope – resulting in unsociable behavior.

The fact is; nobody wins all the time. Teach your child that the effort they apply to the game is more important than winning. If they give their all and lose, then that’s ok…it doesn’t mean they are a failure, they just need to get better at what they do. Sore losers don’t understand this; they are more likely to blame someone else for them losing and can’t consider their own contribution towards the outcome.

  1. Don’t ‘let’ them win.

As much as you think it is easier to ‘let’ them win e.g. board games, darts etc, it just doesn’t help them. It just reinforces that they ‘always need’ to win. As a parent you don’t have to be ultra competitive, just don’t throw the game to avoid a tantrum. It is far better to understand that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, you have to learn how to deal with both. My kids know that I will never ‘allow’ them to win at anything. Success must be earned or it isn’t a success.

  1. Show them how.

Regardless of the result, insist your child shows good grace after a game by shaking an opponents hand, and saying well done to the ref. Quite often the child becomes a sore loser because you have opened the door to allowing the bad behavior. Did you give in when they threw the tantrum or did you refuse to take them to McDonalds after they stormed off the field?

‘You get what you settle for’, so think about the bad behavior you have settled for in the past and agree not to tolerate it anymore. Role modeling good behavior is one of the most important jobs you have.

  1. Teach your child about feelings

Help your child recognize when they are sad, angry, frustrated, disappointed etc. Talk about how they are ‘feeling’ after a game, not just the game itself. Recognizing when and why they are frustrated helps the child deal with the emotions they are feeling. Combine this with coping strategies like deep breathing, removing himself from the situation or verbalizing that he is frustrated. This will help prevent the ‘uncontrolled behavior’ that sore losers exhibit. Invest time and energy into teaching your child specific anger management skills that will help him/her tolerate losing.

    5. Remind them why they play

Winning should never be the sole measure of success for kids. Playing sport at junior level should be more about fun, improvement, friends and activity than it is about winning…so make sure your child recognises this. Your first question should always be ‘did you have fun today?’ Sore losers lose perspective and see only win/loss as a measurement. Remind the kids of the other fun things besides winning. Point out small things they did in the game so they know that they don’t have to win in order to get praise from you or be seen as a good person.

Now, all this doesn’t mean you have to be ‘happy’ with losing. There aren’t many champions who are happy about losing. Playing to win is an important part of sports and indeed life. Again the key is keeping everything in perspective.

Without perspective a sore loser is unable to properly assess ‘why’ they lost or figure out what they ‘need to do’ to avoid losing again. This ability to reflect upon an event and make changes is vital.

It’s what good losers do….it’s what champions do,

About the author:

Nathan Burke started his career as a schoolteacher before the demands of elite level football with St Kilda F.C. took over. Following a successful corporate career he founded Nathan Burke Consulting – a Melbourne based firm that offers High Performance Training and Coaching solutions to corporates, schools and sports teams.

Call yourself a coach? – take our quiz to find out.


Somewhere along the line the word coach has been devalued. Give someone a track suit, clip board and a whistle and they are now a ‘coach’.
Give anyone 20 kids with 20 footballs for one hour a week and I guarantee the kids will improve. This however is not being a coach.
This is simply organic improvement bought about by touching a ball so often. It’s more like baby-sitting than coaching.

A COACH will drive improvement way beyond the levels attained just by using the balls for an hour a week.

To be a ‘coach’ you should answer YES to the following questions.

  1. Do you treat every player as an individual? This includes having an improvement plan for every player. It’s doesn’t mean asking the kid what they want to improve on – they will tell you the obvious… you’re the coach,  you tell them what they need to work on and importantly how you are going to help. Do you make every child feel appreciated…if you do they will give their all for you.
  2. Do you tell the parents what impact you are going to have? At the start of every season, and at regular intervals throughout, update parents and kids on what impact you will have on the team. Can you articulate how are you going to make this team and each individual better?
  3. Do you plan training sessions? Just turning up and moving cones is not coaching. Every session and drill must have a purpose.
  4. Do you ensure your kids loving playing? Put your hand on heart.  DO ALL YOUR KIDS LOVE PLAYING? Are they genuinely having fun?  Do they ‘want’ to come to training every night?
  5. Do you insist on fairness? Good coaches don’t have obvious favorites or openly promote some kids over others. This includes how much time you spend with each kid and the expectations you place on them. Are some kids there to make up the numbers so the stars get to shine? Do you use your ethics and values to help make difficult decisions?
  6. Do you have emotional intelligence? Do you know when a player has lost confidence, is a bit stressed or anxious? Do you instantly recognize the signs when  players are not enjoying themselves? Do you let inappropriate bullying or passive aggressiveness go on in your team? Do you act on this or hope it will just go away? Also do you know how your body language affects the kids? How do they react when you get grumpy?
  7. Do you tell the whole story? Do you tell the kids why you are doing things like changing their position, putting them on bench…or do you let them guess your motives? Coaches don’t let players guess, they tell the whole story understanding kids don’t have the wisdom to guess your motives. Especially girls.  Coaches don’t play mind games with kids.  YOU CANNOT COMMUNICATE TOO MUCH.
  8. Do you allow mistakes? Do you allow kids freedom to make mistakes? The pros make hundreds of mistakes every game – surely your under 13s can too.
  9. Do you coach life lessons? Do you insist on sportsmanship, develop leadership skills and life skills like resilience? This is far more lasting and important than win/loss ratios.
  10. Are you approachable? Do all the kids feel comfortable in coming to you with questions? Do they feel like you respect them as individuals? Do you consider parents to be a hindrance? Teachers will tell you that kids achieve more when parents and teachers work together.  The same applies to sports. Shutting parents out only causes conjecture and perpetuates issues BEHIND THE SCENES. You have to have an avenue and relationship where they can ask questions.
  11. Do you coach to the gender of your team? Do you understand the difference between coaching boys and girls? If you treat girls like boys you will fail…you will fail.

Recently I was mentoring a champion dance team and a coach made an interesting point – ‘every kid has a talent box; some open them early on, whilst others take a while to find the key. Your job is to make sure every kid eventually finds the key’.

I bet she scores highly on the quiz above…do you?


Best and Fairest Parent Seminars now available at your club- How to be the sports parent that gives your kid deserves. $20 per head*. Contact us for details

About the Author: Nathan Burke started his career as a schoolteacher before the demands of elite level football with St Kilda F.C. took over. Following a successful corporate career he founded Nathan Burke Consulting – a Melbourne based firm that offers High Performance Training and Coaching solutions to corporates, schools and sports teams.


Coaching girls… it is different!


When I say coaching girls is different from coaching boys most people respond with ‘of course it is, Captain Obvious’. But it’s amazing how many well-credentialed (on paper at least) coaches fail to change their approach based on the gender of their players.

The fact is youth girls are different to youth boys and treating them the same is a major reason why the drop out rate for girls is 6 times higher than boys (according to research undertaken by U.S based Positive Coaching Alliance)

The following is a list of the key differences between boys and girls. It is important to note that these are generalisations, and there will always be exceptions to the rules. However as a coach of females this must be your starting point until you get to know your players intimately. Because if you don’t, you risk turning them away from sport altogether.

Youth girls….

  1. Are more likely to insist on fairness. They don’t easily reconcile with injustice and notice favoritism readily. Boys may say it is ok to favour the good players, but girls won’t tolerate it. An even playing ground is vital. Information must be shared with all players, training available to all players and importantly time spent with all players.
  2. Hate to be played off against their peers. I don’t know any females young or old who enjoy being compared to other females. Challenging them with comments like “Kate has your position now” or “Kate would’ve kicked that goal” serve only to demoralize, not inspire. Making comparisons especially doesn’t work for sisters. Brothers may go hell for leather to beat the other, but girls who get a position over their sister are far more likely to feel upset for the sister rather than joy for themselves. Playing one sister against the other will simply turn both off you as a coach, or worse drive one away from the sport. It may force them to change the way they play and will most certainly not bring out the best in either girl.
  3. Are sensitive to changes in your body language and changes in your relationship with them. This includes grumpy looks, throwing your arms in the air after a mistake or simply going several sessions without talking to them. Girls are often more concerned with how you say things rather than what you say. Body language and the tone of your voice are important as a girl will not have fun with a coach they think doesn’t like them. Girls notice the small stuff and it can drastically affect their confidence. They want to be liked by their coach as a person and if they feel liked they will give their all for you.
  4. Need to hear the whole story. If you demote a player, bench them, train them with a different group or change their position without telling them why, they will assume the worst. They will make up their own story and it will rarely be right. When the parents add in their version of the story the situation becomes increasingly confusing. Younger ones especially don’t have the wisdom to understand coaching motives or tactics and are therefore likely to think negatively. Over communication must be your mantra. A coach who assumes players know the reasons behind their decisions is a fool.
  5. Are more likely to internalize criticism. Boys may deflect criticism onto the team, but girls will stew on it for days or weeks. Expecting them to just get over it won’t happen. Never single out girls for criticism in front of their peers because you will turn that girl off and most likely others who hear it. Girls are more sensitive and asking them to leave their problems at the door won’t work. A good coach will notice changes in demeanor and if the player is strong enough to bring the matter to you, then you have to applaud their courage, then treat what they say and ‘feel’ seriously. To dismiss their feelings, even if they are not based on fact, is to dismiss the person.
  6. Need to be taught that mistakes are OK. Girls are naturally more likely to avoid embarrassing situations than boys. They are less likely to take risks and potentially look silly, especially if you are a coach who publicly yells or constantly points out mistakes. Mistakes are learning opportunities and a coach who points them out without offering solutions is not actually a coach.
  7. Are more likely to form cliques and ostracise outsiders. You must keep a vigilant eye on the demeanor of your players and notice any subtle changes. Do they seem less happy than previously? Are they coming to training less often? If you notice something you have to act before it spirals out of control. Many coaches ‘choose’ the easy option which is to pretend not to notice.
  8. Are more sensitive to body image than boys. Off the cuff comments about size or athletic ability can cut deep. You need to understand that there will be tears as girls are more likely to cry and express their emotions. It isn’t a sign of weakness; it just shows they care. And any coach who disregards the effects of period pain on his players has his head in the sand. Its real, it can be debilitating… so try empathy rather than ignorance or derision.

A coach who does the above well will find coaching females could be the most rewarding experience of their coaching career. Many who have changed from boys to girls say they will never go back.

However, if you cant do the above then I recommend you not put your hand up to coach girls; and maybe even think about not coaching boys either for that matter. Coaching is more than developing skills and game strategies. It is also about motivating and getting the best out of people. As a coach it must  be about ALL your players and the TEAM…not YOU.

About the author:

Nathan Burke started his career as a schoolteacher before the demands of elite level football with St Kilda F.C. took over. Following a successful corporate career he founded Nathan Burke Consulting – a Melbourne based firm that offers High Performance Training and Coaching solutions to corporates, schools and sports teams.


Sportsmen worth emulating – 5 life lessons from the worlds best.


Becoming a better person by emulating sports people… boy that can be a dangerous thing to do at times. I certainly wouldn’t want my kids following in the footsteps of the Kyrgios types.

However the truth is, for every bad role model there are 50 good role models… if you want to look for them.

To prepare for a series of lessons on ‘Leaving a Legacy’ I am running at Melbourne Grammar, I went searching for some outstanding sportspeople. This is how I came across the New Zealand All Blacks; a team with an 86% winning ratio and a claim to be the most successful national sporting team of all time.

The All Blacks have developed a culture that has not only seen them be incredibly successful, but able to maintain that success over a prolonged period.

From the book Legacy, written by James Kerr, I picked up 5 key points about the All Blacks that are worth sharing.

  1. Humility – a key to their success is never getting ahead of themselves. Whilst the country is going feral over another dominating display against the Wallabies, the players have a broom in hand making sure they leave the change rooms in the state they find them. They understand that you are never too big to do the little things; you never get to the stage where you can rest. Sweeping the rooms keeps them grounded and humble.
  2. Better People equals Better All Blacks – The All Blacks understand that the greatest asset they have are their people. In order to make the organization better they have to make the people better. This isn’t limited to becoming more skillful players but involves every aspect of the person. This ties in very heavily with my first point, as good people are humble people. Unfortunately it is rare for teams (and corporations especially) to spend time ‘making people better’. What a waste of resources.
  3. Kiwi Kaizen – Kaizen loosely means constant and never ending improvement; finding marginal gains and looking for 100 things you can do 1% better. The compound effect of these little improvements over time can be enormous. Importantly it means that you never reach a stage where you cannot improve something at least 1%. It’s the key to staying ahead of the competition. There are no quick fixes; no miracle cures, just getting better each and every day.
  4. Pressure – the expectation on the All Blacks is that they win every single game they play. That pressure must be enormous. Instead of shying away from that, the All Blacks embrace the pressure. They ‘go out to win’ instead of ‘going out not to lose, there’s a subtle but important difference. A saying I like fits them well – No Pressure No Diamonds – meaning without embracing pressure you will never reach your potential, never become a diamond. Of course this takes mental strength, which is another differentiator. They work as hard on building up their minds as they do on building their biceps.
  5. Legacy – the All Black players begin with the end in mind. Thinking about the words they want people to say about them when they finish playing helps determine the actions they need to take now e.g. Legacy – I want to be known as a physically relentless player. Action – I hit the gym like an animal and treat my body like a temple.

Finally there is a commitment that every new player that comes into the team has to make in front of his teammates… he vows to leave the team in better shape than when he arrived.

The end result is a team that despite its dominance is continually restless and relentless in its pursuit of excellence and continued success.

These guys are role models I have no problem highlighting to the impressionable minds at Melbourne Grammar.

Nathan Burke started his career as a schoolteacher before the demands of elite level football with St Kilda F.C. took over. Following a successful corporate career he founded Nathan Burke Consulting – a Melbourne based firm that offers High Performance training and coaching solutions to corporates, schools and sports teams. To find more information on the Leaving a Legacy program please contact us here


Didn’t make the team? 6 tips to help kids cope.


“My kid should’ve got in… the selectors had no idea what they were doing.”

Both are common phrases we hear this time of the year as countless numbers of kids get the bad news that they missed out on a spot in their preferred sports team for 2017.

It can be a devastating time for young boys and girls. They have put themselves out there to be judged and in the eyes of some adults, they have been deemed less worthy than other kids. If the situation is not handled correctly it can ruin a kid’s love of sport, potentially for life.

As parents we need to control the situation. We need to make sure that perspective and most importantly, the child’s enjoyment of playing sport is maintained.

 Here are 5 things to help you and your child deal with the situation:

  1. Evaluate your trial performance. Honestly look at how you trialed and ask yourself, did you show all you could do? If not, then learn the lessons and take them into the next set of trials. If it was your skills that let you down then turn your attention to correcting these issues. The longer you moan, the less time you have to get better. Always ask the selectors what you can work on before the next trials, they will appreciate your attitude and be on the lookout for you next year.
  2. Avoid comparing your child to other kids who made the team. This is a tough one as it is easy to do especially if you know or played with the other kids. If you get down and dirty the kids will too. Instead of being resentful of others success, ask your child to send a message of congratulations to them. Take the higher ground and understand that being brave makes it very difficult to be distraught. You may not gain a spot in the team but you will gain respect.
  3. Talk to the child about choices. Openly discuss the choices the child has, either to fight back or walk away. Your attitude will set the tone here because if you look defeated they will soon follow. Don’t open the door to the child giving up as they may walk through it and then you have a whole new issue on your hands. Quitting is not a choice successful people make. Tell the child that you will help them improve, but they have to make the choice to want to do that. Don’t ‘tell’ them what they have to do because they may hate that sport right now and the thought of extra training may be the last thing they want to do. Tell them you are there to help, and when they are ready they can come to you and together you will work out a plan.
  4. Understand that there is more than one path to success. Whilst most sports have their elite pathways and representative teams, there are thousands of stories of successful players who took the more scenic route to greatness. Talent will shine no matter where it is displayed so have faith in the sport. The cream will rise to the top eventually so make the most of ‘where you are right now’. Understand that whatever path you take it will be filled with more setbacks than successes so use this first setback as a learning opportunity for future disappointments. There are thousands of examples of sports stars who missed out on junior teams – the great Michael Jordan was left off his high school team yet went on to be the best player ever.
  5. Avoid the blame game. This does no one any good. The quicker you move on and set a good example the quicker the child will too. The more you talk about the ‘idiot’ selectors and how ‘bad’ the process was the more the child will not take responsibility for their performance or their improvement. If you get angry the child may think that your anger is directed at them and this is when they will run from their sport. Tell them you love them, win, lose, draw, succeed or fail.
  6. This one is difficult for kids to grasp, but you have to make them see that they are more than just a soccer player or basketballer. A setback in sport does not make them   a bad person. A good person is someone who is polite, honest, respectful, loving, a good friend etc etc. All this has nothing to do with whether they can kick a ball or not, and being a good person is more important than anything.

As parents we want what is best for our kids. We want to see them succeed and instinctively we want to protect them. My own 3 kids have missed out on numerous teams and I have fallen into the traps above. I’ve seen how long the pain can drag on if not dealt with.

Sometimes the best thing we can do is to teach them to be resilient by taking ownership for their performance and learning that the good things in life don’t come easily.

At the end of the day you can choose to see it is a rejection, or an opportunity.

I know the choice champions make.

About the author:

Nathan Burke started his career as a schoolteacher before the demands of elite level football with St Kilda F.C. took over. Following a successful corporate career he founded Nathan Burke Consulting – a Melbourne based firm that offers High Performance training and coaching solutions to corporates, schools and sports teams.

4 Ways to ‘Smash’ Year 12

We thought it may be timely to repost this blog from last September. Good luck to all the students studying in 2016

Nathan Burke Consulting


Top 4 Ways to ‘Smash’ Year 12

Why do most articles on this subject start with How to Survive Year 12 exams? Survive…really? Do students who fail to get a significant ATAR get dragged into some Hunger Games type battle, never to be seen again? How about we give kids some tips that will help them ‘smash’ Year 12 exams. To me this is a far more positive way to approach the topic.

These are my top 4 tips that will help you ‘smash’ Year 12 exams (and other years for that matter).

  1. There’s no such thing as Time Management – Unless you are Dr. Who and have access to some sort of time machine, you can’t manage time. It just literally keeps ticking along. What you can ‘manage’ is your level of discipline. I guarantee you’ll have enough time to get everything done if you don’t waste time on unnecessary…

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