Tag Archives: personal growth

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Giving Up The Old For The New

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We all experience change whether we want to or not.  Regardless of our age or life experience, change is difficult.  It’s not that we don’t like change or want it, it’s that we would prefer for it to happen more easily and on our terms. Unfortunately, change often requires us to give up what’s old and familiar in order for something new and better to take its place.  Just like it is hard to throw away that favourite shirt or those comfy old shoes, we somehow manage to find new shirts and shoes to take their place.

It’s a strange paradigm.  On the one hand, we have this desire to build our lives around something secure, familiar and lasting.  And on the other hand, we are forever being forced to make life changes that keep us from becoming stagnant.

Giving up what previously defined our lives can be painful, but there is a new anticipation and maybe even excitement about building a new life or new identity.

So what is there, on the wings of your life, waiting to make an entrance, if you could just make the space to welcome in the new?

 

Chimpanzee with fingers in ears

It’s Okay, I’m Not Listening

Given that communicating well is so important for our happiness and well being, how much time and effort do you put into ensuring you are highly proficient in this with all your relationships?

Some of us have behavioural preferences that make it easy for us to talk about the task in hand without any warm up with social niceties (something that is an enigma to others who want to hear the personal stories). Others need space to ‘think as they talk’ or a slower pace that allows for them to be quiet and think, and then share their thoughts.

Do you recognise the importance of adapting your natural style to suit the needs of the person you are communicating with or do you plough on regardless?

We all know we should take it turns to listen, to ask questions, to speak – but how many of us fall foul of the following communication ‘no no’s’ in our relationships, at work or at home – without meaning to?

1.     We ask a question but instead of following up with more in depth questions that show we are interested and have been listening, we switch the conversation back to what we want to talk about.

2.     We listen to someone expressing their feelings about a situation but promptly offer solutions to the situation rather than acknowledge and validate their feelings.

3.     We interrupt; assuming we know what else that person is going to say, ready to show our quality of thinking rather than listening to help that person understand their own thinking.

Now I’m sure you’ve all done the above at one time or another, and experienced those conversations where you’re left feeling unsatisfied, that somehow you’ve failed the mark, not been heard properly or unknowingly, made things worse. So perhaps knowing whether we, and who we are in conversation with, are in terms of an ‘I, We, or It’ state can help bring more awareness  – and ultimately more satisfaction – into our conversations.

I, We, It ,Conversations

In the ‘Bodywork for Coaches’ training course I am currently doing with Mark Walsh, he highlights the importance of knowing what kind of state we are in.

When we are in an ‘I’ state, we want to go into ourselves and reflect on what is going on.  We’re more likely to bring things back round to us and our needs because that is where we are.

At other times we may be in a ‘we’ state, when we are ready, willing and able to be with another, to listen with an aim to understand the other person.

And then there are the ‘It’ states, when it’s all about the task and getting things done.  There is little space here for feelings, to recognise subtle undercurrents or meaning. In an ‘It’ state, we are best able to focus on the job in hand.

Problems in communication arise when people are in different states (or cross states) and are unaware of what state they are in. You will just not be able to give someone the quality of listening and engagement required if they are in an ‘I’ state but you are in an “It’ state for example.

So, moving forwards;

Firstly, spend time and effort to realise what your behavioural preferences are.

Secondly, consider how you can recognise when you are in your ‘I, We’ It’ states. How can you best then respond or instigate conversations that will ensure you aren’t in a cross-state with that other person?

Do you know how to say no?

Do You Know How to Say No?

Stop, Look, Listen – And Say No!

Is time slipping away for you? Hardly believe we’re 5 weeks away from Christmas and the holiday season? Yes I know – where did 2015 go?

If that sounds like you, perhaps the following can help.

Traffic lights

Project management systems will often apply a ‘traffic light’ approach to seeing whether things are on track or not. I think it offers a useful tool to help us prevent overwhelm and consciously choose how we spend our time and energy, helping us to say ‘no’!

RED – STOP! 

How is what you are about to do (or thinking of doing) really going to serve you? Be aware if you are committing yourself to actions that are linked to feelings of guilt or inadequacy. We don’t need to keep up with ‘The Jones Family’. The children honestly don’t care about homemade cakes!

AMBER – Pause, Reflect

What do I really need to do right now? (remembering that doing nothing is always an option). Listen to your heart. Give yourself time to reflect. We can’t make good decisions when we’re frazzled. Go for a walk, run, have a bath, switch off the phone. Just ‘be’. Breathe.

GREEN – Go, Consciously

Being aware of your focus, of the reality behind your decisions, move forwards with action that is in tune with the ‘real’ you.

We seriously don’t have to do everything we think we have to. 80% of our results come from 20% of our action – the key is to understand what are those productive 20%. Applying a traffic light system to your reactions just might help.

 

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken

Behaviours of Confident People

Confidence is one of the most admired traits in people. But how can we recognise the behaviours associated with confidence so that we can learn to behave in these ways as well?shutterstock_148055588

Consider the following behaviours that can mark a confident person. A confident person…

  • Believes in their own abilities, talents and strengths, and is not paralyzed by doubts. They have assurance in their own beliefs and are not looking for the approval of others, knowing it’s not needed.
  • Knows they have much to offer the world, and respect the value they bring to life. They treat others well and expect the same in return. They are not hesitant to safeguard their own rights.
  • Is certain, yet realistic, about the goals they will accomplish. They believe in their plans, and failure is regarded as a temporary setback or challenge. A confident person is comfortable in taking on challenges and acting even in the face of risk.
  • Identifies themselves with other confident people. They celebrate others’ successes and relish in the realization of people’s inherent potential.
  • Dreams big and acts on those dreams. They can picture themselves as successful in whatever they do.
  • Accepts the recognition of others and does not diminish or deflect such recognition as if they believe it can’t possibly be warranted.
  • Accepts themselves as they are, yet are open to feedback that will help them become better.
  • Is open to new ideas and is willing to entertain them.

 

  • Is willing to accept mistakes.
  • Is always ready to do their best.

 

Confidence is like a muscle – it has to be exercised to get strong. It requires plenty of preparation and practice, and can be achieved by anyone who has a desire to be more confident in their lives!

How are you exercising your ‘confidence muscle’?

Focus on your strengths – It will make you happier and more effective

WHY ARE WE BAD AT BEING GOOD? 

When did you last tell yourself this?

When did you last tell yourself this?

What makes it so hard for us to acknowledge what we are good at?

Why is it that at the end of the day, we remember the stuff we didn’t do so well whilst experiencing amnesia over the great things we actually achieved?

Apparently it’s all to do with our evolutionary make-up. Focusing on where we need to improve helped us to evolve as a species, prevented us from being eaten and enabled us to adapt to the many challenges that were faced.

Today, an awareness of our strengths can be hugely beneficial. On an individual level, how we were parented has a considerable influence on how easily we can tune into what we are good at. Regardless of our ‘starting point’, the good news is that we can all learn to cultivate more awareness of our strengths, and use that information to ‘float our boat’ and navigate it through turbulent times, at work or at home.

HOW DOES KNOWING YOUR STRENGTHS MATTER?

It matters for several, important reasons.

  1. If you know and consciously use aspects of yourself you are good at, you’ll feel more positive and that in itself brings about huge benefits. For example, this includes being able to think more expansively and more creatively, as explored by Barbara Fredrickson in her ‘broaden and build theory of positive emotions’ (Positivity, 2009). This now well accepted theory states that positivity opens our minds, making us more receptive and more creative, whilst enabling us to build new skills, new knowledge, new ways of being.
      Going back to our ancestry, Fredrickson states “positive emotions were consequential to our human ancestors because over time those good feelings broadened our ancestor’s mindsets and built their resources for the future”  (2009). Working from our strengths, designing ways in which we can use more of them, more often, can be a highly successful way of bringing in more positive emotions into our daily lives.
  2. Knowing what our strengths are gives us a way of dealing with challenges. When you work from a place of strength, you are far more likely to be successful. As you accomplish more, you build more and more evidence of your abilities. Success breeds success, so applying your strengths to help you tackle difficult situations or conversations, for example, helps you build the self-belief and self-confidence to do more. It’s a virtuous circle, which when consciously acknowledged can be very powerful.
      Recently a coaching client of mine was having difficulty seeing their strengths, and keeping an evidence log in the form of a ‘what went well and why’ exercise made all the difference in building that awareness and insight.
  3. Knowing what your strengths are can also help you be aware of your ‘shadow’ side. This is the opposite, unhelpful aspect of having that strength. For example, ‘a love of excellence’ has a shadow of being a perfectionist; ‘optimism, zest and energy for life’ (one of mine) can also lead you to overcommitting and needing to take a few reality checks. Transactional Analysis (a theory of communication) frames someone’s character traits you may find annoying as a ‘strength overdone’. Developing insights to where you (and others) are perhaps overdoing some strengths can lead to better relationships, at work, at home, with friends, family and colleagues.
  4. Acting from our strengths makes it easier for us to go into ‘flow’ at work and find what we do more satisfying (Johnstone, 2013).  ‘Flow’ has been the subject of considerable research in the field of positive psychology. One leading researcher, Mikaly Csikszentmihalyi states that flow is “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter” (Flow, 1991). Researchers Clifton and Harter who reviewed work across this field concluded that workers who “have the opportunity to do what they do best every day” show less staff turnover, better customer loyalty and higher productivity (2003).

In Part 2, we examine how to identify your strengths and use them creatively across your daily life.

References:

Clifton, D. & Harter, J. K. (2003). Investing in strengths. In K. S., Cameron, J.E. Dutton, & R. E. Quinn, (Eds), Positive organizational scholarship: Foundations of a new discipline (pp. 111-121). San Francisco, CA: Berrett- Koehler

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2002), Flow: The Psychology of Happiness: The Classic Work on How To Achieve Happiness. Rider

Fredrickson, B. (2009), Positivity: Groundbreaking Research to Release Your Inner Optimist and Thrive. Oneworld Publications

Johnstone, C. (2013), Positive Psychology for Coaches and Health Professionals, online course materials, FindYourPower.com