Excuses and loopholes

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Excuses and loopholes that hold us back achieving what we want from life.

1. False choice loophole - “I can’t do this, because I’m so busy doing that” – this is one I often use, myself
2. Moral licensing loophole - “I’ve been so good, it’s okay for me to do this”
3. Tomorrow loophole - “It’s okay to skip today, because I’m going to do this tomorrow”
4. Lack of control loophole - “I can’t help myself”
5. Planning to fail loophole - formerly known as the “Apparently irrelevant decision loophole”
6. “This doesn’t count” loophole - “I’m on vacation” “I’m sick” “It’s the weekend”
7. Questionable assumption loophole -“Look, it says it’s healthy on the label”
8. Concern for others loophole - “I can’t do this because it might make other people uncomfortable”
9. Fake self-actualisation loophole - “You only live once! Embrace the moment!”
10. One-coin loophole -“What difference does it make if I break my habit this one time?”

What stops breakthroughs

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Brain Lightbulb

Our brain want to keep us safe and so we often approach life counting on a certain order of things, thinking that predictability and control will keep us safe. Then we encounter the experience of uncertainty, often with chaos close hard on its heels. This ambiguity and randomness can sometimes be disconcerting, as we struggle to understand and make sense of what is happening. 

We try to deal with things dealing rationally, sometimes emotionally. Neuroscientist David Eagleman captures the duality: “There is an ongoing conversation among the different factions in [our] brain, each competing to control the single output channel of [our] behaviour. The rational system is one that cares about the analysis of things in the outside world, while the emotional system monitors the internal state….”

Because we don’t see a ready way to relate powerfully with these dual realities, we attempt to apply patterns of order and the more we do that, the less effective we become. Predictability and control in a world where you are moving to the next level. There is no certainty as an inevitability or predictability of an outcome. We are the ones saying something and looking for a breakthrough to make it happen. Real power occurs when we know we have something to say about the way things are. Recognising that shifts the horizon of what’s possible, and it’s from there the full range available in being human can be explored and lived.

What does it take to be a leader?

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Being a leader and the effective exercise of leadership as one’s natural self-expression does not come from learning and trying to emulate the characteristics or styles of noteworthy leaders, or learning what effective leaders do and trying to emulate them (and most certainly not from merely being in a leadership position, or position of authority).

If you are not being a leader, and you try to act like a leader, you are likely to fail. That’s called being inauthentic (playing a role or pretending to be a leader), deadly in any attempt to exercise leadership.

Imagine someone who wants to be a great leader?

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Imagine someone who wants to be a great leader. In the normal course of events, such a man or woman would start off by, let’s say, studying leadership, perhaps in school, in books, or as an apprentice. Eventually, he or she would collect all the things that great leaders hav, degrees, credentials, diplomas, great track records, and great biographies. Then, at that point, we say, “Well, Mr. or Ms. X is a great leader!” Later, we send our children to the same schools so that they can become great leaders too.
 
Except, most of the children who go to those schools never do become great leaders. And we explain that failure on the basis of genes, environment, intelligence, opportunity, and the like. It never occurs to us that our template for becoming a great leader, or, more accurately, for becoming a great anything, is backwards. Never do we consider that what makes a great leader is NOT the school, books, or education, but simply BEING a great leader.
 
Now, I know that statement looks absurd at first, but it’s a very interesting possibility. If you discipline yourself to look for what’s present, for what is occurring in the moment, then you can ask yourself, “When someone is being a great leader, what is present?” What’s present (and all that is present, really) is being a great leader. What produces greatness, at the moment when greatness shows up, is being great, period. All the credentials follow from that, not the reverse.

What’s Really Holding Back Your Success (You’ll Be Surprised)

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glass_celing

What is it that high achievers DO to get ahead in life?

Do you…

▪ take control and make sure everything goes exactly how you know it needs to?

▪ play the hard ass to get people in line?

▪ know how to make everyone like you?

▪ swoop in at the very last minute and fix everything?

▪ question everything and leave no stone unturned?

▪ act agreeable and be the ultimate team player?

▪ pride yourself in being organised and disciplined to get things done?

▪ look for opportunities to debate, and win every time?

Think about it for a second and consider this, that part you admire in yourself that keeps you “winning” is exactly what’s defining what is possible and impossible for you.  It’s exactly this thing that keeps you from taking your business, your career of you personal life to the next level.

For the sake of this conversation, let’s call this thing your “winning strategy”.

WHAT’S YOUR WINNING STRATEGY?

You’re the type of person everyone likes.

There’s a lot you can accomplish with this way of being: you’re totally on board with the team player stuff, you probably get great reviews, and you’re consistently considered for projects. Good stuff.

However, as long as you continue to rely on people pleasing as a way of succeeding, you’ll never become the CEO you wildly dream of being. If how you get ahead is getting everyone to like you then making the hard calls, taking risks that compromise other’s feelings, and calling shots that concern others are out of your realm of comfort and experience. Those actions will be out of reach as long as you choose people pleasing to get ahead.

You’re that detail-oriented control freak.

It’s caused you to earn a crazy amount of respect and create a successful work persona that you’re proud to have. You always expect the promotions and others look to you for expertise. BUT, the impossible for you is to move into executive level management where strategy and vision are focused on, not the nitty gritty. To be considered for that type of leap would require an uncomfortable step back from the control you wield on a daily basis. You’d have to move away from your successful way of being and begin to do the opposite of what’s familiar: strategise and delegate.

You’re the tireless leader.

You work very hard and achieve great things. You’re the executive type that excels at taking risks. Your impossible is probably having a harmonious balance between family, work, and play. To continue succeeding in your career, you believe you need that unapologetic, all-or-nothing focus that got you here. But it’s this way of being that makes balance impossible. So as long as you choose it, you’ll never achieve an easy flow between family, play and work.

You’re an entrepreneur

You are a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of success and profit.  You identify the business as your possession and thus get a huge amount of self-worth from its success.  The drawback is that you inadvertently put a ceiling on how big the business can grow and end up working long hours.  Your reluctance to share the business means you will never employ or enter in to partnership with one who threatens your position.

Continually relying on your winning strategy keeps the impossible exactly that… impossible.

TELL ME SOMETHING I DON’T KNOW

This might seem obvious but I share this because I have countless conversations about the things that hold people back. Most people believe it’s a thing, or person, or circumstance that keeps them from breaking through to the next level of greatness or happiness.

“If only I had more support from my spouse.”

“If only I had more money to invest.”

“If only I had more time.”

While addressing these things could help, it won’t SOLVE the underlying issue.

YOUR WINNING STRATEGY PRODUCES THE POSSIBLE ONLY

The possible is deemed possible because of your winning strategy. But as there is a realm of possible, there’s the realm of impossible. Continuing to deploy your winning strategy to succeed further defines and strengthens the boundary of the impossible. So as long as you continue to rely on your winning strategy to succeed, you’ll never break through.

What now?

Most of the challenge is recognising that your “best” ability could be keeping you from realising your biggest desires. So look within, question that coveted part of you and ask what the impact of constantly relying on your winning strategy really is. When you find yourself playing it out believing it’s getting you ahead, see if you can determine the cost.

I’ll admit, I’m engrossed with concern for people’s feelings. My unspoken mission in life is to make sure everyone feels fulfilled. While this “best trait” keeps me moving forward, it takes a toll on my bigger vision. To break through I have to step away from a fear-based focus on everyone else and stand for something larger. It’s uncomfortable. It’s unfamiliar. But I know it’s very possible with willingness and practice.

I’d like you to tell me what your winning strategy is. Do you rely on your best trait to get you ahead? How might it be keeping your impossible from becoming a reality? If this article has you re-thinking your relationship to your winning strategy and you’d like to further the conversation, feel free to reach out anytime. 

David

Note: This article was inspired by the book: The Last Word on Power, by Tracy Goss.

 

Focus on what you are doing not how you are doing.

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When you are focused on how you are doing not what you are doing you are operating out of self-consciousness, this promotes fear and insecurity. It stops you being in the present moment, making it difficult to get in touch with that still and powerful place in your brain.

What is the purpose of your life?

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What is the purpose of your life? It’s a big question, a question some people say they don’t know the answer to.  Often it is because they haven’t spent enough time listening to themselves carefully and in silence. Deep listening is very useful here.  Deep listening is the practice of listening  without judgement or advice. Before you can listen deeply to someone else you need to listen to yourself.  Sit down, clear your mind and ask yourself in silence “What do I really want what is my life for?” Intention will emerge if you go deep enough.

The Psychology of Sport

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Sports

 

Tony Robbins says “In sport I’ve found success is 80 percent psychology and 20 percent skills,”

All sports are a mental game, especially elite sports.  For this reason it is important for people involved in sport to develop a strong inner game or mental toughness.  You see all the time, those who have “great talent”, but rarely play up to their full potential. The problem is that in sport people are not educated about the mental game mostly because their instructors or coaches didn’t stress the importance of mental toughness when their student’s were learning to play.

In Golf your decisions, thoughts, images, and feelings set up each swing. Mental training helps players develop key mental skills to compliment the mechanics or physical aspects of their game. What most people do not know is that mental training isn’t just for players who have challenges with their game, but also for players who want to improve their overall performance. Coaches and players have used mental training for years to gain a competitive edge.  Confidence, trust, focus, and composure are the everyday lessons I teach my clients.  Understanding these components allows players to become mindful and improve their performance.

To develop mindfulness in sport there are several mental skills that you can learn. Sports people playing in the zone are composed, in control, confident, and focused. Most have experienced “the zone”, if only for a short time. And everyone can learn to develop a mindset that helps them enter “the zone” more frequently by learning how to be confident, focused, and in control of game.

Mentally tough sports people are at an advantage in competition because they have…

  • An awareness of the zone and the feelings associated with playing in the zone.
  • High self-confidence or a strong belief in their skills or ability to play well.
  • The ability to fully immersed in the task or totally concentrate in the present.
  • A narrow focus of attention or the ability to focus on one specific thought without distraction.
  • The ability to perform effortlessly or let it happen when it counts.
  • Emotional control or the ability to remain calm under pressure.
  • Clear and decisive mind or not over thinking and doubting their decisions.
  • The ability to refocus or collect themselves after mistake.
  • Fun, whether they are 10th or 1st.

A strong mental game is crucial for all. To develop a strong mental game it takes commitment, learning how your brain works and what drives you.  Through mindfulness you can then learn to be in the moment, without distractions.  Be in “the zone” and be your best. The key is to find access to your mental game, then apply it, practice it and use it on a daily basis.

 

Be in flow

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I have just read a passage from a book which describes a great way to “be” and one I aspire too. “be in flow and live fully in the present moment. Respond and adapt to what is happening around you rather than reacting and fighting against it. Let situations speak to you, observe and learn.  Always be upbeat, kind and generous. Yet hold others accountable without making them wrong.”

How Leaders Can Make a Real Impact at Work

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How can leaders drive engagement and make a real impact in their organisations? This is a question confronting nearly all business leaders.

Polls by Gallup found that worldwide employee engagement is startlingly low, with just 15% of workers indicating they are engaged with their work.

With so many employees not engaged with their work, what does it really take to make an impact on engagement in organisations? Here are 4 tips to help leaders drive engagement and make a real impact at work.

  1. Take an Interest in People

I believe Leadership is the key to engaging today’s workers. You can have the noblest commitment but without leadership you don’t have anything. In my opinion, lack of leadership is a leading cause of today’s high disengagement numbers. Leaders who don’t think about how they are influencing others often undertake patterns of behaviour that drive people away from their commitment, creating disengagement and conflict.

What kind of leadership does drive engagement? Increasingly, it’s leadership that takes an interest in the personal development of employees. Gallup recently found that 59% of Millennials and 41% of Baby Boomers are seeking opportunities to grow and develop at work. Leaders that understand this can influence their employees and inspire them to bring their best to achieving the organisation’s commitment.

  1. Make Connections to Bigger Commitment

People may not always realise it, but their future is happening now. The future you envision is what empowers you in the present. Employees who see a future for themselves with an organisation where they can make a difference and express their talents are more empowered in their day-to-day activities. When people feel connected to their organisation’s commitment and understand why what they do is important, they are more satisfied and productive.

That sense of connection comes from aligning organisational and individual commitment. You want people to experience their contribution and fulfillment inside the organisation. Everyone should be working toward the same overarching commitment, from the CEO to the post room.

  1. Give Space to Fail

One of the most crippling challenges in any organisation is fear of failure. It can lead to resistance to change and limits an organisation’s ability to generate and act on ideas, innovate and adapt. This fear can corrupt an entire culture, leading to higher levels of disengagement.

Creating space to try and possibly fail allows an organisation and its individuals to learn from their failures, which can ultimately be empowering. Failure is a necessary part of growth, an organisation needs to provide space for that and provide support for staff when they are feeling most vulnerable.

  1. Don’t Forget to Have Fun

In many organisations, people are encouraged to “work hard, play later,” as if the two were mutually exclusive. But a study by the University of Warwick indicates this is the wrong approach. According to the study, workers who were happy and had fun at work were actually 12% more productive than those who were not.

Fun is important due to its critical role in generating engagement, having fun is at the core of a company’s success. If you look at employee engagement, we are asking people to consistently be engaged and give those extra ounces of energy that they might have otherwise given elsewhere in their lives. Having fun, enjoying the work and the people they do it with helps to create energy and influences people to give more of themselves.

One reason fun is so important is the idea of employee choice. Studies show that employees are not choosing to stay with employers as long as they did in the past. A recent survey indicated that the average length of time an employee stays in a job is down in 2016 to 4.2 years, compared to 4.6 years in 2014. Among younger workers the decline was even starker: workers between the ages of 25 and 34 sank to 2.8 years.

If you really want to make an impact and transform your organisation, begin by taking an interest in what truly influences and motivates your people. Build stronger connections by aligning individual and organisational commitments. Most importantly, remember that people and organisations are more than the sum of past successes and failures, and that fun is a critical part of creating a more engaged organisation.

Meaning

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We live in a world where meaning is attached to almost everything. But we don’t see we put the meaning out there and talk as if it is real! If we remove the meaning, what is left?

Book Review: The Empathy Instinct: How to create a more civil society

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images

There’s a lot of gloom in the press about what looks increasingly like the re-emergence of the extreme right wing in politics, feeding, as always, on resentments within the population about the way the pie is shared.  How terrifying that these resentments have had reason to grow to the point that people succumb to the temptations of deeply rooted evolutionary instincts towards xenophobia, racism, nationalism, protectionism.

The Empathy Instinct sets out that the ills sketched out above testify to an empathy deficit in society. The books explores how the lack of empathy has been at the root of most of the 20th century’s horrendous acts.

But it also sets out how we can change society and create the sort of world most people would choose to live in with a “Empathy Charter”. I recommend this book to anyone wanting to make a difference in the world.

Life Audit

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3d small people - lupe audit

Audits are standard in both personal and business finance, but in many ways, life audits are much more crucial. That’s because life audits evaluate well-being not just in one area but in basically everything. They can mean massive changes to relationships, work, activities, and even what you put on your plate. If you haven’t conducted your own life audit, these are some of the top questions you need to be asking yourself.

• What are my assets and liabilities (not just things but also personality traits, skills, habits, etc.)?
• How could I be kinder to or support myself?
• How could I be kinder to or support others?
• What would I still like to learn and how could I do so?
• Do I have one to five good friends I can trust and count on?
• Do I feel energized, neutral, or let down about my work?
• Am I in good health or pursuing it to the best of my ability?
• Do I spend my free time doing a variety of enjoyable activities?
• What emotion is dominant for me?
• What do I get excited about consistently?
• What core principles (e.g., honesty) do I have, and how does my way of living reflect them?
• What would I do with more or less money?
• What am I grateful for and why?
• What do I regret and why?
• How close is what I’m doing professionally to what I dreamed of doing?
• Am I consistently challenging myself?
• What fears do I have?
• What are the top five words I think others would use to describe me?
• What are the top five words I would use to describe myself?
• Are the motivations behind my original goals still present?
• What do I find myself daydreaming about when I’m supposed to be doing other things?
• What is my financial or material standard of living, and have I achieved it?
• What in my current environment do I like or dislike?
• How am I influencing others for better or worse?
• Is my income stable?
• How is my weight?
• Do I feel confident in my appearance?
• Do I feel like I have worth?
• Can I do most things with independence and confidence?
• Am I able to make decisions easily?
• Am I able to lead myself and others spiritually?
• What goals do I have?
• Why didn’t I meet goals I’ve previously had?
• Am I engaged in personal development?

Life audits aren’t something you need to finish overnight. They’re supposed to make you really consider what you’re doing, where you can improve or have strengths, and what you want or need. That can take some time to sort out mentally and emotionally. So if going through these questions takes you a while, you’re probably on the right track. You don’t have to look at these questions in any particular order, either. Just be honest with yourself for each one, have determination, and commit to moving forward.

5 SIGNS YOU’RE APPROACHING A BREAKTHROUGH

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Direction to breakthrough

1. Situation —  You’ve had enough. Enough of your financial problems, enough of your uninspiring career, enough of that extra 20 pounds you’ve been carrying around, your relationship heading for the rocks.

2. Dissatisfaction — Whatever you’re doing doesn’t work for you anymore. Maybe it’s not profitable, and maybe it’s not fun. Maybe you’re tired of not having the energy you know you need to accomplish your desired result. Your current approach might have been successful in the past, but it hasn’t adapted to your current conditions.

3. Threshold — Change becomes a “must.”

4. Insight — You get an insight, or deep understanding of something, and that creates an opening.

5. Opening — A door opens…and you step through right through it.

Breakthroughs

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image

Breakthroughs begin with holding a picture of what could be. Then from being committed to something even if the path to achieve it is unclear. Breakthroughs aren’t something we make, because to make something is to take what’s there and change it. A breakthrough is to take what isn’t there and have it be. Breakthroughs evidence themselves quantifiably, they’re always moving in a positive direction. Breakthroughs allow for sudden powerful insights that take us past our self-imposed limitations. Breakthroughs alter our sense of who we are, alter the quality of our life, alter being alive. Breakthroughs are brought forth, created, generated through a bold declaration.

We don’t give the idea of breakthroughs a whole lot of thought, we mostly focus on the day-to-day business of living. If we get stopped or stuck along the way, we naturally attempt to figure out more, better, or different scenarios to accomplish what we are after, but most often do so within the same framework, leading only to incremental improvements. Given, however, that both what we’re engaged with and how things occur for us are shaped by language, we have the power to be the author of our lives. Language gives us direct access to ourselves, to who we are, to creating possibility, not possibility like options, but possibility like the boundless dimension that’s added to the world by the human ability to create. Things that live as a possibility have a much different impact on the quality of our lives than those things that live like more, better, and different. Breakthroughs are about creating an extraordinary life as a place from which to come, rather than a place to get.

The Story of the Mexican Fisherman

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mexican-fisherman

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.  Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna.  The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos.  I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part.  When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire.  Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

Culture Change

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Implement-Business-Changes

An organisation’s culture is like gravity. You can’t see it or touch it, but it exerts a constant pull that holds things in place. Like gravity, culture is made tangible by its effects; it can be seen in the behaviours and practices of an organisation’s management and employees. An unseen culture is restrictive, disruptive and can undermine morale, productivity and profits.

The need for culture change is becoming more and more frequent. In order for organisations to face the challenges and opportunities the future will bring, addressing the question of culture change is widely accepted by business leaders as essential. However, what is meant by culture change can cause confusion.

Most leaders attempt to bring about cultural change through top-down initiatives that are aimed at influencing behaviours and practices. These programs often fail because they address the effects of culture, leaving its causes unseen and unchanged. Executive Coaching works with its clients to create initiatives in which people can successfully step outside their familiar frameworks to identify and address the embedded attitudes, assumptions and ways of thinking that drive behaviour and hold the culture’s limitations in place. In doing so, participants gain the freedom to act in new ways, and to forge a new culture based on common commitment.

Among the principal benefits of culture change are improved morale and productivity.

Being Ourselves

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Our “identity,” who we consider ourselves to be, is essentially arrived at by default, assembled to adapt to something we saw as wrong or some seeming insufficiency. Mostly when we were young and learning to deal with life, we made decisions to get through the circumstances we encountered. Those decisions worked at the time, so we kept them around, inadvertently defining who we are today, and leaving us with a subtle but disconcerting inability to be fully at home with ourselves.

A kind of absurdity lies in acting as if who we are today is a compilation of those ways of being we put together way back then. Once our “identity” is seen for what it is, it becomes clear that it’s not fixed or set and we’re not in any way stuck with those ways of being. Stepping outside of our identity, however, isn’t so easy, as our identity has achieved a certain density throughout our lives. In recognising that who we consider ourselves to be is not an absolute, we reveal what’s possible in being human—giving us hands-on access to a world that’s malleable and open to being invented.

Does Gossip Matter?

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office_gossip

Has your drinks machine talk taken a turn toward the nasty? Gossip is one of the “five telltale signs” of job burnout along with frequent complaints, chronic tardiness, exhaustion and lowered standards,

People experiencing job burnout often resort to acts of sabotage, using gossip as a destructive force, says Aimee Cohen, author of “Woman Up! Overcome the 7 Deadly Sins that Sabotage Your Success” (Morgan James Publishing, 2014).

Sometimes, gossip is merely a “diversion from what they’re supposed to be doing,” Cohen says. But at other times it serves as a cover-up. Feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated, burnout sufferers may become unreliable. They blow deadlines, come unprepared to meetings and fail to meet their usual high standards. As these sorts of self-sabotaging behaviors ramp up, they may speak poorly of others to make themselves look better, Cohen explains.

Those who experience what Cohen calls “burnout with bitterness” are looking to sabotage others. “When that happens, typically you’re looking to take someone down with you,” usually because your target has imposed unrealistic expectations on you or subjected you to harsh working conditions, she says. Gossip then becomes a way to discredit the perceived tormentor.

When gossip stems from a legitimate “gripe”, it builds a narrative around the complaint in which the teller is the put-upon good person and someone else is the bad person.

But gripe gossip seldom if ever improves things for the good person. Others may agree with the gossiper that things are bad and shouldn’t be that way, but a misdirected complaint never gets resolved.

Turn the complaint into a request and take it to the right person. Ongoing complaining and whining saps what little energy you have left, but requests produce results.

Ask yourself first what the complaint is underneath the gossip. Has the boss assigned more work than you can handle? Are coworkers not doing their share and expecting you to pick up the slack?

If you’ve got more on your plate than you can handle, instead of complaining to coworkers, ask your boss to sit down and prioritise what you’ll do now, what you’ll put off and what can be done by someone else, often, this process eliminates things from the to-do list altogether.

Don’t be surprised if the source of your troubles turns out to be you. Your problems could be self-imposed. I call it the competency curse, always wanting to say yes, to lend a helping hand. Men as well as women, we tend to overextend ourselves,” Cohen says.

You may need to follow a series of red flags back to your underlying complaint, and even to the realisation that what you’re experiencing is burnout. “No one likes to admit they’re burned out because we all want to be the superhero with endless capacity and drive,” Cohen says.

Gossip or any other behaviors that are out of character are red flags, including a short temper, trouble remembering names, misplacing things and sleeping through the alarm. “Everyone has a finite bandwidth, and these are all signs that we’ve exceeded it,” Cohen says.

When the red flags point to self-imposed burnout, recovery starts with clarifying your career goals. Once those goals are clear, it is easier to turn down work that does not bring you closer to achieving them, Cohen says.

To regain control and credibility, list all your unfinished work and missed deadlines, and schedule time for each to-do item. Get it down on paper. It’s too overwhelming if it’s just in your head.
Experiencing burnout does not necessarily mean it’s time to change jobs, but if expressing your concerns to the right person doesn’t improve your situation, it may be best to explore other options.

Find out more about how Executive Life Coaching can help.

How to have a great Christmas without any stress!!!

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Christmas-de-stress

Although this insight is aimed at people celebrating Christmas, whatever your religion, this insight is one that can apply to any special occasion.

It’s easy to get frustrated and overwhelmed when preparing for Christmas. Every year we start off with an image in our head of the perfect Christmas. So, how can you make the most of Christmas, rather than be preoccupied with everything (and everyone) not living up to your expectations of how it should be? It should snow? Everyone should be happy? Everyone should go to church? Whatever it is that is there for you.

In reality, no one can control the weather or has the time and energy to do all the things that create your picture perfect Christmas. 
The key to overcoming unrealistic ideals is to identify where your picture comes from and how that gets in the way of you having a great Christmas. Once you understand that those ideals are not of your own making, you can start to create your perfect day based on what is really important to you.

Want to avoid the pitfall of “perfection seeking” and have a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas? Ask yourself these three simple questions:

What’s your picture of the ‘perfect’ Christmas? 
Get clear on the picture in your head that you’re trying to live up to. Maybe it is providing a Christmas dinner like your mum did when you where a child, a house that’s impeccably and tastefully decorated? Or maybe it is your children being charming and well behaved with no disagreements? Think about what perfect means to you.

Where did that picture come from? 
Maybe it’s from a film where everyone is singing Christmas songs around the piano. Or, it is snowing and you are playing snowballs and building a snowman. Are you aiming for “A Christmas Carol” or other Christmas pictures painted in your head by other books? Are you trying to keep up with the friend you admire? Once you realise this picture isn’t something you created, you are free to create your own version now, in the present. This is where the last question comes into play.

What’s really important to you? 
Maybe it is not about the snow or how many presents you get. Maybe it is about family and friends spending time together, guests feeling welcome in your home, everyone feeling appreciated and special. Maybe your special Christmas is about being relaxed and having fun. Create your own theme and when Christmas is underway, keep that theme front and center. Theme suggestions might be: fun, relaxation, appreciation or anything that truly inspires you.

Come up with a theme that expresses what gets to the heart of what Christmas is for you. Let that guide you. Anytime you notice you’re getting upset or annoyed, stop and ask yourself, “to be true to that theme, what would I do or say right now?”

Let your theme, such as appreciation, be your guide when it comes to planning what you will and will not do to prepare for Christmas. This will help you stay grounded and present during Christmas. 
The point is to connect with people – having them know you care, being gracious, whatever is important to you. Truly focus on the things that really matter to you and practice accepting Christmas and yourself, exactly as they are. You’ll see that not so perfect can really be, perfect.

 

The Return of Werner Erhard, Father of Self-Help

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29ERHARDJPA-master675I found this an interesting article about a very interesting man, Werner Gerhard’s ability to package life coaching concepts and make them accessible to the mainstream marks him out as one of the internationally recognised leaders in personal and professional development and training.

 

 

Control Your Negative Thoughts (Before They Control You)

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imageI was just at the Railway Station, and the place was packed. The weather was awful and everyone seemed stressed out. I was standing looking at the departures board, my train was delayed. It was obvious that the chap in front of me was not a happy camper – because the first words out of his mouth were, “Here we go again!”

That was it. That’s all it took. The spell had been cast. Let the curse begin.

Without ever realising it, this chap opened the door to the “negative zone”. It opened the moment he shook his head and said those magic words. He was now vulnerable and defenseless.

That one statement and the negative resolve behind it might seem like no big deal. Who hasn’t expressed frustration in a situation like that? However, it is the one little pebble shift that leads to an avalanche of similar, more dangerous thoughts… and that’s exactly what happened next.

He took out his mobile and proceeded to call a friend. I don’t know who his friend was, but I’m sure felt sorry for him. (The following is very close to what spewed out of the angry chap’s mouth.)

“This is absolutely ridiculous! I just can’t depend on the trains anymore. In fact, I can’t depend on anyone anymore! Here I am waiting at the end of a long line and there’s only one agent at the counter. If they cared, they’d have more people trying to accommodate us. Why do I give them my business anyway? Now I’m going to lose the account because I’m going to be late. I’m probably wasting my time anyway.”

Seconds after hanging up the phone he turned to me and started complaining about the people who were in line to speak to the beleaguered gate agent. “Look at this guy! What an idiot. Doesn’t he know he should have his ticket ready before he gets to the counter? No wonder this line isn’t moving. No one knows what the hell they’re doing!” He paused for a few breaths, looking around. He saw a little boy struggling with his mother. “I wish that kid would shut up. If parents can’t control their children, they shouldn’t bring them to the to the station! Why is it that every time I’m in line somewhere I’m surrounded by idiots?”

This guy was falling fast into the dark hole of the negative zone. He was well on his way to believing that every aspect of his life was in total chaos, that things were stacked against him.

Have you ever felt that way? How do we stop the “woe-is-me” stories when bad stuff really is happening in our life? How do we keep ourselves from feeling victimised every time some situation in our life doesn’t turn out the way we want it to?

If at some point in his meltdown this chap became aware of what he was doing to compound a bad situation, if he were to acknowledge that his negativity was feeding upon itself or if he were to come to understand the consequences of remaining in that negative emotional state, he could have chosen to shift his way of thinking and create thoughts that would make him feel better. Anyone can make that choice.

Here’s what he could had said to himself instead: “Wow, I have to calm down. I’m making this worse than what it really is. I have a meeting today. It’s important that I’m in the right frame of mind. I know from past experience that being upset won’t get me what I want. The cancellation is really out of my control. So is that kid who won’t shut up. The good news is that I was smart enough to get here early and I have enough time to catch another train. That poor ticket agent is doing the best she can. When it’s my turn, I’ll do it with a smile and understanding. Not only does she need a break, but so do I. I can handle this”.

Does that sound like the most unrealistic dialogue ever? Maybe. But just one of those thoughts could be enough to get the situation under control. This shift in thinking could very well have brought creative solutions to his current situation. Why? Because the more attempts you make to think positive thoughts, the more positive your reality will become. Even the slightest shift in thinking will give you a feeling of relief and start you on your way to a more productive day.

How do you get yourself out of the negative zone?

Our Greatest Fear

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Our Greatest Fear —Marianne Williamson

it is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear,Our presence automatically liberates others.


—Marianne Williamson

Often said to have been quoted in a speech by Nelson Mandela. The source is Return to Love by Marianne Williamson, Harper Collins, 1992. —Peter McLaughlin

 

Harvard Business Review: 4 Reasons Managers Should Spend More Time on Coaching

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By Joseph R. Weintraub and James M. Hunt

MAY 29, 2015

 

There are managers who coach and managers who don’t. Leaders in the latter category are not necessarily bad managers, but they are neglecting an effective tool to develop talent. We’ve been researching managers who coach and what distinguishes them. What has stood out in our interviews with hundreds of managers who do coach their direct reports is their mindset: They believe in the value of coaching, and they think about their role as a manager in a way that makes coaching a natural part of their managerial toolkit. These are not professional coaches. They are line and staff leaders who manage a group of individuals, and they are busy, hard-working people. So why do they so readily give coaching an important place in their schedule? Here are four reasons:

They see coaching as an essential tool for achieving business goals. They are not coaching their people because they are nice — they see personal involvement in the development of talent as an essential activity for business success. Most managers will tell you that they don’t have the time to coach. However, time isn’t a problem if you think coaching is a “must have” rather than a “nice to have.” Whether it’s because they are competing for talent, operating in a highly turbulent market place, trying to retain their budding leaders, or aiming to grow their solid players, they believe that they simply haveto take the time to coach.

There are two assumptions behind this belief. First, that extremely talented people are hard to find and recruit. If you are known as a manager who will help those people thrive, they will gravitate to you. Second, that an organization cannot be successful on the backs of the extremely talented alone. You need solid players just as you need stars, and they will need a manager’s help to build skills and deal with the changing realities of their marketplace.

They enjoy helping people develop. These managers are not unlike artists who look at material and imagine that something better, more interesting, and more valuable could emerge. They assume that the people who work for them don’t necessarily show up ready to do the job, but that they will need to learn and grow to fulfill their role and adapt to changing circumstances. Coaching managers see this as an essential part of their job. They believe that those with the highest potential, who can often contribute the most to a business, will need their help to realize their often-lofty ambitions. As one manager told us recently, “Isn’t helping others to be more successful one of the key roles of a manager?”

The manager must adapt his or her style to the needs and style of each particular individual. This of course takes a good deal of work on the part of the manager, but again, this is perceived as being part of the job, not a special favor.

They are curious. Coaching managers ask a lot of questions. They are genuinely interested in finding out more about how things are going, what kinds of problems people are running into, where the gaps and opportunities are, and what needs to be done better. Typically, they don’t need to be taught how to ask questions because it’s a natural strength. This curiosity facilitates the coaching dialogue, the give-and-take between coach and learner in which the learner freely shares his or her perceptions, doubts, mistakes, and successes so that they together reflect on what’s happening.

They are interested in establishing connections. As one coaching manager stated, “That is why someone would listen to me, because they believe that for that time, I really am trying to put myself in their shoes.” This empathy allows the coaching manager to build an understanding of what each employee needs and appropriately adjust his or her style. Some employees might come to coaching with a “Give it to me straight, I can take it” attitude. Others need time to think and come to their own conclusions. A trusting, connected relationship helps managers better gauge which approach to take. And coaching managers don’t put too much stock in the hierarchy. As a coaching manager recently told us, “We all have a job to do, we’re all important, and we can all be replaced. Ultimately, no one is above anyone else. We just need to work together to see what we can accomplish.”

Achieving this mindset is doable. It comes down to whether the business case is sufficiently compelling to motivate a manager to develop a coaching mindset. Managers need to ask themselves a few questions: Does your organization (or group or team) have the talent it needs to compete? If not, why not? Have you done a poor job hiring, or are people not performing up to their potential? It’s really either one or the other. If the latter is true, it’s your job to help get them to where they need to be.

For managers who want to start coaching, one of the first steps is to find someone who isa good coach in your organization and ask her or him to tell you about it. What do they do? Ask why they coach. Listen and learn.

Second, understand that before you start coaching, you need to develop a culture of trust and a solid relationship with the people you will be coaching. In spite of your good intentions, all the techniques in the world will make little difference if those you are trying to coach don’t feel connected to you in some way. The relationship you develop is more important than the all of the best coaching methods that are available.

Third, learn some of the basic principles of managerial coaching that will help you develop your own expertise as a coach. One of the core lessons for managers is that coaching isn’t always about telling people the answer. Rather, it is more about having a conversation and asking good, open-ended questions that allow the people you are coaching to reflect on what they are doing and how they can do things differently in the future to improve performance.

Finally, the mindset should be focused on the people you are coaching. Always remember the main principle: coaching is about them, not about you.

Who’s Right Who’s Wrong?

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In virtually every human society, ‘he hit me first’ or ‘he started it’ provides an acceptablerationale for what comes next. It’s thought that a punch thrown second is legally and morallydifferent than a punch thrown first. The problem with the principle of even-numberedness is thatpeople count differently. People think of their own actions as the consequences of what camebefore. They think of other people’s actions as the causes of what came later, and that theirreasons and pains are more palpable, more obvious and real, than that of others.

These are positions and ideas we all “wind up” playing out. When we “are” right, it appears to usto be the truth. For us to be right it is an equal truth that someone else is wrong, it’s not a matterof accuracy, it’s a matter of who we believe ourselves to be. We can’t be happy, vital, and lovingwhile we’re being right, making someone wrong, or justifying our positions, one displaces theother. The “rightness” of our positions also precludes us from being open to seeing other pointsof view.

We have a choice about our actions. When we choose to change the way we wound up “being”,we move to a place of freedom, a place where we can be free from stress and live the lives wewish for. Our points of view and positions can then move from fixed to malleable, from closed toopen, where each person can be listened to and appreciate you have listened.  We get to act inaccordance we the sort of person we want to be rather than the person we ended up.

YOU GET TO SAY HOW YOUR LIFE WORKS RATHER THAN REACTING TO LIFEHAPPENING TO YOU.

Leadership – Making something happen that wasn’t going to happen anyway.

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Leadership is not something bestowed upon the privileged few. Leadership is open to all. So, what is it that stops us? First we must look at our view of ourselves as a leader. Not to let that voice in your head that tells you that ‘you aren’t up to it” and bully you in to a small life, not even to try. On top of that, what is your opinion of a good leader? How do you measure up? All these internal conversations keep you fixed and restricted from achieving your dreams. It stops from making a difference and having the feelings of self-fulfillment.

So what is leadership? Leadership is about making a stand for how we want things to be, a vision that inspires us to go beyond what we think we and others can do. Plus, the ability to enroll others in to your vision of how thing could be and for them to make it their own. It is something each of us can bring to anything with which we’re involved or is important to us. It may be in our work, our families, our communities, our nations. Leaders are ordinary men and women who dare to be related to a possibility bigger than themselves. They attract and enroll people to the world that’s opened up by their vision and their commitment.

To assume that leaders just started out as extraordinary people is to overlook what it took along the way. The majority of the time, leaders face being thwarted or think they may be inadequate for the task. Taking a stand for a future when it’s only a possibility is a purely existential act and exists only in language, when we say it will be. If we say something is impossible then that is how we relate to it. If we say it is possible then your brain has to work out how to do it.

The reality, conditions, and circumstances of the future do not exist as “facts.” They exist only as a product of our conversations, making language and communication the most important and fundamental access to fulfilling what matters, what’s important, what’s possible.

To lead is to have a vision of how you want things to be. To create something new and not to settle for recreating what has already happened, especially if it isn’t working.

GIVING BEYOND YOURSELF

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http://bbc.in/1BM62uo

Just watched a fantastic program on BBC 1 about called Transplant Tales. On the program there were two brothers from Scotland, both healthy men who chose to be living kidney donors. To donate your kidney to a loved one is an amazing gift. However, These two amazing men not only donated their kidneys but did it for complete strangers. They will never know the difference they have made to the other family, but I think it is safe to say they will have changed their lives!

 

Being Authentic Takes Courage

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Authenticity

“One afternoon, in the middle of a particularly boring grammar class, my English teacher set aside her book and took nominations for the best song on our local Top 40 radio station. For the first time that year, all hands were in the air. There was no ‘right answer’ to a question of personal taste, or so I thought until she eventually called on me, and I announced my choice and that it was not only the best song in the Top 40 but possibly the best song ever…. What I remember is not my recommendation so much as the silence that followed it, an absence of agreement I can only describe as deafening.

“The first time I heard the song, I was hooked…. I bought it and played it over and over again. The song satisfied me on every level, but if nobody else liked it, I guessed that I didn’t, either. That evening, alone in my room, I found that I was too ashamed to listen to my record, or even to look at it, really. It reminded me of my wretched eagerness to please. From this point on, whenever someone asked my opinion, I would turn the question around, and then proceed accordingly. If the person I was with loved game shows and Deep Purple, then so would I, and if I was caught contradicting myself—watching or listening to something I’d sworn to have hated—I would claim to be doing research, or to be enjoying the thing for its very badness. You could do this, I learned, and people would forgive you, consider you interesting, even.” Having spent my life trying to fit the will of others, I was unable to distinguish between what I enjoyed and what I thought I should enjoy.”1

We are all familiar with the old imperative “To thine own self be true,” and clear that much would be resolved if only we operated consistently with it, but the pull for getting approval from others and the need to fit in is a strong one. Even when we’re fully aware that we’re being inauthentic, and know that we don’t really believe in what we’re doing or saying, we still act as if we do—because we’re afraid we might risk losing approval of some kind. Even though we know the standards we’ve set for ourselves are impossible to realise, we still keep trying—we hide our perceived shortcomings, or pretend they don’t exist. In doing so, we unwittingly add yet another layer of inauthenticity.

It’s hard to be at ease when we have to keep up a pretense and not be true to ourselves in some way. Yet it’s not as if we woke up one morning and intentionally said, “Gee, I think I’m going to act inauthentically today. What my life’s going to be about is looking good and avoiding looking bad.” This way of being is just kind of automatically there. Every time we opt for looking good or avoiding looking bad over what’s actually true for us, inauthenticity creeps in and we compromise who we are.

We don’t much like thinking of ourselves as being inauthentic, but we live in societies today in which the name of the game is to “make it,” to “fit in,” to “look good,” so a great deal of what we think and do becomes shaped by a kind of cultural commitment to that. That pull or gravitational force is an ontological phenomenon, not a psychological one—it’s the already/always condition of being human (a term which kind of speaks for itself). This condition is ubiquitous—it influences everything: How we see and respond to situations, what we’re concerned with, what’s important to us. While we might think we are responding in true, authentic ways, what is actually happening is that our responses are essentially just a fallout of that already/always condition. And it is against that pull—the enormous gravitational force of that condition—that we attempt to be authentic.

When we compromise, even in the tiniest of matters, it’s easier for those compromises to become more and more commonplace; we begin to feel as if doing that is a normal and O.K. way of behaving. Over time, bit by bit, this erodes our sense of self. It’s like stirring one drop of red paint into a can of white. The paint may turn only the palest shade of pink, and while that might seem barely noticeable—no matter what we say about it—the paint is no longer what it was. Similarly, when the wholeness and completeness of who we are is jeopardised in some way, albeit imperceptible at first, our sense of ourselves gets obscured, making it harder to return to who we are. When that begins, there’s really no starting point to become ourselves—it’s all flailing around.

To be authentic requires putting aspects of our present ways-of-being on the line—letting go of pretenses, letting things show themselves in new ways, and acknowledging whatever inauthenticity is at play. The possibility of fully being ourselves occurs in proportion to our being authentic; said another way, it occurs in proportion to the degree we own our inauthentic ways of being. In not owning them, we essentially resign ourselves to inauthenticity staying around. Living with a pretense, or being afraid that some aspect of ourselves might be found out, precludes any real freedom. We live, rather, with a kind of fabricated freedom—a large price to pay.

Sartre said that facing one’s freedom can be terrifying and uncomfortable—because facing it makes one feel insecure, and inevitably produces some level of anguish. Hence, we are constantly tempted to live inauthentically, pretending to ourselves that we are not free. To maintain this pretense, we try to convince ourselves that our actions are determined—by our character, our circumstances, our nature, or whatever. The last thing we want to admit is that our actions are determined only by our free, unconstrained choices.2

Being authentic—stepping outside of the swirl of the already/always condition—requires courage. Humorist Josh Billings said, “This undertaking is not only the most difficult thing to do, but the most inconvenient as well.” In being authentic, the already/always condition becomes stripped of its power and is no longer the determining force in shaping who we are. Here, the context for the question “who am I?” shifts from flailing about, trying to find ourselves somewhere out there, to a context of creation. This is more difficult, because there is no zeitgeist to read, no template to follow, no known path to success. It’s a blank slate. It’s a matter of courage—a matter of creating possibility. It gets made up as we go along, and it is this shift that makes available to us the full possibility of being human.

What does every coaching client want?

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A4_Coaching
Did you know that (from experience and observations) over 80% of coaching clients are looking for a life coach because they are stuck and looking for a breakthrough in there lives.
They’re struggling with something and don’t know what to do to change the direction of their lives.
They want a coach to help them see what they’re struggling with, and what they can to do to transform it.
Come along to my introduction to life coaching event in Leeds on the Wednesday 15th July to find out more about life coaching and how it can help you.

Stop Generating Stress!

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In today’s world, it is clear that stress can have an enormous negative impact on people. It ultimately robs us of our ability to operate effectively and to enjoy life fully. When coaching clients ask about stress, I often share the following ways to begin to interrupt the natural progression of stress. Here are a few to think about. Give yourself room. It is helpful to remember that it is completely natural to experience stress from time to time. When this happens, allow yourself time and space to experience just how you are being impacted. A natural response to serious events, or numerous events that require your attention at the same time, is to sometimes become numb, distracted or angry. This takes away our ability deal with the situation in an effective way. It helps to create a distinction between what stress is and what causes it. Stress is not based upon outside sources but rather how we perceive a circumstance and then react to it. Observe your reaction. The key here is to react appropriately to “what’s really happening” rather than “overreacting.” How does one know if he or she is overreacting? You can begin by making a distinction between “what’s actually happening” versus “what you think about what’s happening.” This will open up unseen possibilities as to how to handle the crisis. As you start to action your stress will begin to disappear.

Another thing that I have noticed is that most people experience stress when they are feeling like something is out of their control. There are many demands and expectations that are placed on each of us, from others and from ourselves, and we often fall into the trap of mistaking these expectations as the way things “should” or “must” go. To deal with stress that results when our expectations go unfulfilled, I invite you to try letting yourself be 100% present to a situation, to watch the events unfold rather than trying to force those events to conform exactly to your expectations. For example, even if we know better, we “expect” people to do exactly what they say they will do by the time at which they say they will do it. Therefore, when people fall short of doing what they said, our unfulfilled expectations leave us upset and stressed. We may even blame them for our feeling so upset. This over reaction then leaves us stuck in the middle of how things “should have gone” vs. “how things went”. This robs us of the power to deal with what needs to be accomplished with the available resources at hand.

Ultimately, when people experience stress, they are simply reacting to life not working out the way they want or expect. Becoming aware of what is really happening, separating what happened from our interpretation about what is happening, allows us to discover that much of what we considered already determined, given or fixed, may in fact not be. Situations that may have been challenging or stressful can become more fluid and open to change. This can create new levels of ease and enjoyment. You may actually surprise yourself and find areas in your life where you have said good-bye to stress!

What sort of person has a Life Coach?

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I have found that the kinds of people who participate in Life Coaching are those who consider life an ongoing opportunity:

  • They are people not satisfied with reaching a particular plateau—they see life as an opportunity to keep learning. Their interests may range from communicating and relating more effectively to going beyond their current levels of performance.
  • Others are curious. They like what they see and hear from their friends, and they want to find out about it for themselves.
  • They are people who have a high interest in shaping the course of their lives.
  • Others are interested in giving themselves a certain advantage or edge in dealing effectively with, and even embracing, change.
  • They are people interested in living life fully; in making the right choices and pursuing what is important to them.

If you are in the Leeds area, please come along to my introduction event click here or get in touch to arrange a free introduction call.

Gossip, what damage is it doing to your organisation?

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How To Avoid Workplace Gossip

Has your water cooler talk taken a turn toward the nasty? Uncharacteristic gossip at work could be a sign of burnout.

Gossip is one of the “five telltale signs” of job burnout along with frequent complaints, chronic tardiness, exhaustion and lowered standards, according to Landmark, a personal and professional development firm based in San Francisco.

People experiencing job burnout often resort to acts of sabotage, using gossip as a destructive force, says Aimee Cohen, author of “Woman Up! Overcome the 7 Deadly Sins that Sabotage Your Success” (Morgan James Publishing, 2014).

Sometimes, gossip is merely a “diversion from what they’re supposed to be doing,” Cohen says. But at other times it serves as a cover-up. Feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated, burnout sufferers may become unreliable. They blow deadlines, come unprepared to meetings and fail to meet their usual high standards. As these sorts of self-sabotaging behaviors ramp up, they may speak poorly of others to make themselves look better, Cohen explains.

Those who experience what Cohen calls “burnout with bitterness” are looking to sabotage others. “When that happens, typically you’re looking to take someone down with you,” usually because your target has imposed unrealistic expectations on you or subjected you to harsh working conditions, she says. Gossip then becomes a way to discredit the perceived tormentor.

When gossip stems from a legitimate complaint, Landmark trainer David Cunningham calls it “gripe gossip.” It builds a narrative around the complaint in which the teller is “the put-upon good guy and someone else is the bad guy,” he explains.

But gripe gossip seldom if ever improves things for the good guy. Others may agree with the gossiper that things are bad and shouldn’t be that way, but a misdirected complaint never gets resolved.

“Turn the complaint into a request and take it to the right person,” says Landmark trainer Josselynne Herman-Saccio. “Ongoing complaining and whining saps what little energy you have left, but requests produce results.”

Ask yourself first what the complaint is underneath the gossip. Has the boss assigned more work than you can handle? Are coworkers not doing their share and expecting you to pick up the slack?

“If you’ve got more on your plate than you can handle, instead of complaining to coworkers, ask your boss to sit down and prioritize what you’ll do now, what you’ll put off and what can be done by someone else,” Cunningham advises. Often, this process eliminates things from the to-do list altogether, he adds.

Don’t be surprised if the source of your troubles turns out to be you. “Your problems could be self-imposed. I call it the competency curse ¬– always wanting to say yes, to lend a helping hand. Men as well as women, we tend to overextend ourselves,” Cohen says.

You may need to follow a series of red flags back to your underlying complaint, and even to the realization that what you’re experiencing is burnout. “No one likes to admit they’re burned out because we all want to be the superhero with endless capacity and drive,” Cohen says.

Gossip or any other behaviors that are out of character are red flags, including a short temper, trouble remembering names, misplacing things and sleeping through the alarm. “Everyone has a finite bandwidth, and these are all signs that we’ve exceeded it,” Cohen says.

When the red flags point to self-imposed burnout, recovery starts with clarifying your career goals. Once those goals are clear, it is easier to turn down work that does not bring you closer to achieving them, Cohen says.

To regain control and credibility, list all your unfinished work and missed deadlines, and schedule time for each to-do item. “Get it down on paper. It’s too overwhelming if it’s just in your head,” Herman-Saccio says.

Experiencing burnout does not necessarily mean it’s time to change jobs, but if expressing your concerns to the right person doesn’t improve your situation, it may be best to explore other options.

Be the Confident You

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The moment you step into a room, people are immediately forming some sort of impression of you. They’re making snap judgments about what type of person you are — trustworthy, sincere, capable. And a lot of this is based on how you carry yourself.

If you appear genuinely confident, people will be more inclined to give you the attention and respect that you deserve. If you appear uncomfortable and insecure, on the other hand, people may be quick to dismiss or discredit you. Because body language is an integral part of communication, and the way you carry yourself may be communicating more than you know to the outside world.

Did you know that non-verbal cues represent 55% of our communication? Vocal inflection is just 38%, while our words constitute only 7% of our communication. No wonder why we say that actions speak louder than words.  Because the most subtle physical cues — from how you have your hands placed to how you set your shoulders — set a tone.

So how do you set a positive tone that reinforces your intelligence and capability? By carrying yourself with confidence. Unfortunately, many struggle with self-doubt. Many also believe that if you aren’t born with confidence then you are out of luck. But that’s far from the truth. Self-confidence is a skill. It is something that you can learn how to exude, even by making simple changes to your physical movements.

To learn more about being self-assured and having confidence, arrange a free introduction call today.

REARRANGED DATE AND VENUE – LEEDS FREE COACHING EVENING EVENT

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The Evening Event will now take place on Wednesday 15th July at the ODI Leeds, Munro House, Duke St, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS9 8AG. Doors open at 6.00pm, coffee and tea available, starts at 6.30pm, finishing approximately 9:30pm . As I mentioned, it is an opportunity for you to find out what coaching is, what its benefits are for you. Some of the reasons people take coaching are:

• Being a leader and making a difference
• Finding a new job or career
• Being a powerful leader
• Achieving greater career success/satisfaction
• Exploring what really matters in life – restructuring priorities
• Dealing with stress and anxiety
• Finding work-life balance
• Increasing self esteem, confidence and motivation
• Releasing true potential – discovering skills, talents and dreams
• Dealing with difficult or challenging people
• Finding a new relationship or resolving problems in an existing one

Please bring along any family, friends, work colleagues or anyone you know who coaching may benefit or who may have an interest in personal development.

Numbers are restricted, so please register your interest at http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/introduction-to-coaching-evening-tickets-17245284109

The evening will last approximately three hours, during which, you will learn how coaching works, the principles it’s based on, what it costs, and the benefits it offers. You will also have an opportunity to ask questions and hear from people who have experienced coaching and see for yourselves how it has improved lives.

Burnout – Do you bring your work home?

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Stress and burnout coaching can help you cope

No one ever said that this journey through life has to be done alone. Many times people are too proud to admit when a challenge is more than they can handle. For loved ones to witness this struggle, they will want to do whatever they can to help the person cope and get through the challenges they face. Stress and burnout coaching has evolved and was developed specifically to assist those individuals, many of whom are executives in high-pressure positions, deal with the everyday and the not-so-everyday battles within their lives.

Many people take their stresses home

Stress in the workplace is a challenge to physical and mental health. But it also often affects other aspects of a person’s life, such as their family. When most people go home from their nine-to-five jobs, whether they are working in the construction field or are assistants in an office somewhere, more often than not their work stays behind; they don’t bring their work home with them. However, for executives and those professionals whose careers are on the line every day, they tend to bring the pressure of work home with them.

This can lead to a number of problems within their family life as well. Using stress and burnout coaching to help cope with the struggles and the strife of modern life is one of the most efficient ways to manage all of the stress that career and family can throw at us.

Forbes Article – Who Needs An Executive Coach?

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Executive coaching is hot. What was stigma (“You’re so broken you need a coach?”) has become status symbol (“You’re so valuable you get a coach?”). Tiger Woods and Michael Phelps have coaches. Even President Barack Obama has a coach, if you count David Axelrod. Microsoft ‘s young high-potential leaders get coaches. If elite athletes and organisations think they need coaches, shouldn’t you have one too? Shouldn’t we all?
No. Executive coaching–personal training in leadership from someone who provides it for a living–should be used like a powerful prescription drug that works best under certain conditions. When employed as a cure-all, it is less effective, too expensive and has negative side effects.

Executive coaching is not aspirin. It’s interferon. So when should it be prescribed for an executive? When should it be avoided?

Based on the latest research and 25 years I’ve spent coaching senior executives and high-potential young leaders, here are five diagnostic questions you should ask before making the decision to hire a coach.

1. How valuable is this person’s performance and potential to your organization?

When done right, executive coaching is expensive and time-consuming. It should be reserved for people who are critical to your organization’s success, or will be in the future. In general, this includes everyone at C-level, heads of major business units or functions, technical or functional wizards, and your bench of high-potential young leaders.

Just how expensive and time-consuming is executive coaching? Although there is tremendous variation in fees and arrangements among coaches, be prepared to pay a C-level coach what you pay your top attorney. If this seems excessive, consider that a coach must have the experience and expertise to quickly grasp a leader’s situation, challenge assumptions and choices, and bring credible, fresh ideas to the table. Doing this with your best and brightest is not easy. And given the influence a coach can have on an executive’s decisions and actions over the course of a typical six-to-12-month engagement involving bimonthly meetings, regular phone calls and e-mail check-ins, a bargain coach whose sophistication does not match the client’s is a big mistake.

2. What is the challenge the person is facing right now?

People, relationships, organizations and behavioral change are what executive coaches know best. When an executive is struggling to learn how to best manage herself and engage others, you’ve found the sweet spot for executive coaching.

He might be a chief executive officer trying to figure out how to work with his board chair. Or a regional vice president scaling up to global responsibility, learning how to lead her former peers. Or a technical wizard who destroys teams with his resistance to all ideas but his own.

But be warned: An executive coach is not a consultant. He may have technical or functional expertise. But he should not be used as an answer person, an extra pair of hands or a bolster for a weak leader. He helps executives think through and tackle their own problems. Self-reliance, not dependency, is the goal.

3. How willing and able will the executive be to work with a coach?

The client has got to want to change. A bright, motivated coaching client can step up to most challenges. A bright, unmotivated one will waste everyone’s time and money. Working with an executive who has been pressured into coaching by his boss or human resources department is an uphill battle, though it’s not impossible.

Coachability is important. Look for a track record of unusual growth under the guidance of teachers and mentors. Coachable executives readily share their experience. They are realistic about their strengths and weaknesses. They learn from others but do it their own way, taking responsibility for whatever happens. They know how to leverage a coach.

4. What alternatives to coaching are available?

There are many ways to help executives grow as leaders. High-level training, mentoring, reading, job rotation and special assignments are just a few. The most overlooked alternative is attention from the individual’s own manager. As coaching has become more fashionable, I’ve seen too many managers abdicate their own coaching responsibilities, turning a struggling executive over to a professional. Sometimes the problem is beyond what the manager can handle. But often managers hand off executives because they’d rather not deal with messy people stuff.

The manager is already being paid to coach. Don’t incur an executive coaching expense if the problem is within that manager’s capabilities.

5. Are key people in the organization ready to support this person’s efforts to grow and change?

Changing the way you think and act is tough even when you have support from others. But when key leaders above or beside you are indifferent, skeptical or hostile to changes you’re trying to make, things get exponentially more difficult. Coaching works best when key people in the executive’s world stand solidly behind her. They need to provide tailwinds, not headwinds. Coaching relationships in a vacuum of support fall apart before any goals are achieved.

When conditions are right, executive coaching can be one of the best people investments you’ll ever make. But it is not a panacea for every executive development problem. Answer these five questions, and you’ll make better decisions about who is likely to benefit from coaching. And who isn’t.

SELF-IMPROVEMENT: HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

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self-improvement-books

 

Self-Improvement is a common-place term you likely hear on a daily basis. Walk into any bookstore and you will most likely find a substantial section entitled “Self-Help” that provides you with information on topics ranging from how to improve your relationship, manage your mood, communicate more effectively, lose weight, feel happier, reach your goals, eat healthier, improve your self-esteem, find love, and change bad habits (to name a few!). We are also bombarded with media that provide endless tips about how to fix every possible problem of being human – physical, emotional, mental, and social.

Our culture is full of messages that tell us we can be better and do better as human beings.  An underlying assumption in this is that we are inherently flawed or under-developed as beings and that we need to strive for constant self-improvement, self-growth, or evolvement. It involves an assumption that we are not good enough or adequate as we are, and that we should constantly be “working on ourselves” to be better people.  No pressure, right?

And what does “better” even mean? What exactly is that perfect ideal that we should all be working towards? Should there be an ideal? Or is it different for every individual? How exactly do we measure self-improvement?

As a life coach, these questions are particularly interesting to me. Often within the coaching, the primary focus is change. Changing how one feels, how one thinks, or how one behaves. It could also include resolving a problem that causes discomfort or distress. However, some other important goals of coaching could also include self-growth and development, increasing self-awareness, or improving self-understanding. This could involve simply (or not-so-simply) clarifying one’s feelings, thoughts, or behavior without the goal of modifying, altering, or making these “better” in some way. Gaining self-awareness and clarity are themselves processes of change.

This is an interesting concept – being aware of oneself without trying to change or be different from who you already are. Developing an awareness of your current experience as it is, your thoughts and feelings as they currently are, and observing your own choices and behavior.  Self-awareness can be the goal itself (versus self-improvement). Above, I spoke of the inherent assumptions embedded in the notion of “self-improvement”.  Primarily that we are not good enough as we are, and that we should strive to be better in some way.  Alternatively, self-awareness does not share these assumptions. In fact, there is no judgment about what is good or bad, what needs fixing or what doesn’t, what is flawed and what isn’t. It is about recognition and acknowledgement of oneself.

Now, I want to clarify – I am not saying that self-improvement is a bad concept. Practicing habits that improve your mental and physical health are important. Taking action to promote your sense of well-being is also important. It is logical to make choices such as eating nutritious food, getting sleep and rest, being physically active, or socially connecting with others. It is also logical that if you have a medical condition that requires ongoing management through healthy lifestyle, that you would take the steps required. All of these things promote health and well-being. I am not suggesting that, for example, simply being aware that you have diabetes but not taking steps to manage this through diet and exercise is the best option.  Rather, when it comes to the psychological aspects of ourselves, I am suggesting to take a moment and reflect on what you feel needs improving and why. What is the need behind the desire to improve yourself in some aspect or another.  Does it come from feelings of inadequacy, self-criticism, perfectionism, shame, or guilt? Or from a desire to be strong, healthy, and well-balanced? And what impact does this have on your self-concept (ie. how you view yourself as a person)?  How you perceive yourself, understand yourself, and relate to yourself is key to your psychological functioning. Your relationship with yourself is the most important and long-lasting relationship in your life.

Becoming aware of one’s own inner world (thoughts and emotions), and recognising one’s own behavior without trying to change anything, encompasses a degree of acceptance. It is not always easy to accept things which we perceive to be undesirable or uncomfortable, including aspects of ourselves that we may not like so much. But think for a moment about how life might be different if you were to befriend yourself exactly where you’re at right now, as an alternative to striving for improvement? If you were to accept all aspects of yourself, including what you judge to be negative or unwanted. If you were to experience self-appreciation before trying to change into a new, improved version of your being. How would this change your relationship with yourself? And how would that change the way you experience life?

My hope is that this article does not leave you with the impression that self-improvement is a negative notion. My intention is to encourage reflective thought about self-improvement as a current movement in our society, and where its place is in our lives. I encourage you to set personal goals from a place of self-acceptance, appreciation, and respect. Before joining in this culture of self-improvement, reflect on your motivations for doing so.

Changing ‘what if’ to ‘bring it on’!

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It’s so easy to slip into doom and gloom.  Worrying or over-thinking along the lines of “What if I don’t get that job” or “What if I make that presentation” with dreadful predictions of it all going horribly wrong.

It drags us into a negative downward spiral and destructive thought patterns. The things we fear can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  For example, you may fear becoming tongue-tied and coming across as not interesting in your presentation, or not good enough.  Because your mind is set in a fearful way, you set yourself up for failure and your worst predictions can become a reality.  This pushes your negative spiral still further: “I told you I’d not be good enough”, so the chance for success next time becomes even less likely.

40% of sick days are believed to be related to stress

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Why should business owners/leaders consider using a life coach for their employees?

Stress affects businesses by a loss of productivity, increased staff turnover and absenteeism, a number of workplaces in the UK are implementing stress management techniques company-wide to counter it. The UK Health and Safety Executive estimate that 40% of sick days are believed to be related to stress. Life coaching can come in to a businesses to help manage employees stress levels.

Your health is a key factor in your overall happiness and well-being, and shouldn’t be neglected. There are many aspects to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and just as many ways a health coach can help.

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